On U.S. Efforts to Take Away Iran’s Rights by (Unilaterally) Rewriting the NPT: And the Complicity of America’s Iran “Experts” in the Charade
One of the more striking passages in President Obama’s address to the United Nations General Assembly last month presented Obama’s view of Iran’s nuclear rights. Specifically, the President noted, “We respect the right of nations to access peaceful nuclear power, but one of the purposes of the United States is to see that we harness that power for peace.”
This is a more restrictive formulation than Obama and senior officials in his administration have deployed in previous statements, which emphasized that Iran has a right to “pursue peaceful nuclear energy.” In normal English usage, the verb “to pursue” implies that, in the official American view, Iran might at least have a right to generate its own “peaceful nuclear energy.” By contrast, Obama’s more recent phrasing implies that, in Washington’s current reading, Iran does not even have a right to generate its own nuclear power, but may have to content itself with trying to “access to peaceful nuclear power” that is generated by others.
Needless to say, all of this is far removed from Iran’s longstanding insistence on its right to enrich uranium if it chooses to do so. And, of course, Iran has long recognized that, as a signatory to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), it must exercise that right under international monitoring.
Initially, even the George W. Bush administration acknowledged that there was, somewhere in a vague legal ether, an Iranian right to enrich—but it argued that Tehran had somehow managed to “forfeit” this right. Such an argument did not persuade most of the lawyers working on the issue in the Bush administration, much less most of the other nations of the world. Eventually, the Bush administration retreated to a rigid demand that the Islamic Republic obey Security Council resolutions calling on it to suspend enrichment before the United States would negotiate with Tehran—and without ever stipulating that a negotiated settlement would include an explicit recognition of Iran’s nuclear rights. Predictably, this stance was diplomatically dysfunctional.
When the Obama administration came in, it dropped the Bush administration’s insistence on suspension as a precondition for negotiations. But it has been even less willing than the Bush administration to acknowledge Iran’s nuclear rights—and it, too, has the diplomatic (non)results to show for its obtuseness.
From a global perspective, the positions of the Bush and Obama administrations on Iran’s right to develop indigenous nuclear fuel cycle capabilities and to pursue internationally safeguarded enrichment of uranium on its own territory make the United States a real outlier. This reality was underscored in August at the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) summit, convened in Tehran, where NAM members—including the vast majority of the world’s nation-states—strongly endorsed the Islamic Republic’s right to pursue uranium enrichment. Although hardly covered in the American media, the NAM summit marked a significant international repudiation of U.S. policy regarding the nuclear rights of Iran and, by extension, other non-Western NPT signatories.
In the United States, this prompted defenders of the Bush/Obama line to spring into action. One of them, David Albright of the Institute for Science and International Security, co-wrote a piece for the U.S. government-sponsored Iran Primer last month, see here, which argued that the NAM communique “misconstrues the NPT.” This sparked a vigorous online exchange between Albright—who is not a lawyer or student of international legal regimes—and Daniel Joyner, professor at the University of Alabama’s School of Law and one of the legal academy’s most accomplished scholars of the NPT. That exchange reveals much about the contribution of many Western Iran “experts” to America’s Iran debate.
According to Albright and his co-author,
“Under Article IV [of the NPT], Iran cannot claim the right to nuclear energy production—or a right to enrich at all—while under investigation for possible non-peaceful uses of these capabilities. Iran’s right to nuclear energy is qualified—a long as there are no major lapses in its Article II obligations…the NAM communique failed to acknowledge the need for Iran to fully comply with the international treaty on nuclear weapons. Iran tried to portray that the final communique represented a diplomatic victory for Tehran and its controversial nuclear program. But the summit’s resolution instead undermined the Non-Aligned Movement’s credibility, since it demonstrated that developing nations cannot be counted on to deal seriously with nuclear nonproliferation issues.”
Leaving aside the patronizing tone of the last sentence—in effect, Albright and his co-author are positing that responsible Americans and Europeans (the rightful masters of the universe) cannot possibly think non-Westerners are “dealing seriously” with important international issues unless those non-Westerners simply accept, uncritically, the views advanced by their Western superiors—this statement is wrong on several substantive points. Among other things, it is wrong as an interpretation of the NPT and in its assertion that there have been “major lapses” in Iran’s Article II obligations. These features prompted Daniel Joyner to offer the following observations on his blog, Arms Control Law, see here:
“Why is it that in the nonproliferation area everyone, including engineers, physicists, chemists and general policy wonks, think they can do legal interpretation? You won’t find me writing articles about the technical aspects of missile capabilities, or the internal physics of a warhead core. I know these things are outside of my training and qualification to do. But apparently everyone thinks they can do legal analysis. With respect, I think David should stick to obsessing over satellite pictures of tarps at random military bases in Iran.”
On our own, we found Joyner’s comment mildly amusing. But it clearly touched a nerve in David Albright, see here, who responded with a remarkable broadside characterized by ad hominem invective and fallacious arguments from authority:
“I have belatedly read Joyner’s rant about our Iran Primer article with amusement and likewise find his chorus of lackeys a pathetic bunch. Now I understand that Joyner’s blogging is supposed to be an ego trip for him and a safe haven for commentators, but Joyner’s blogging is particularly egotistical and, with respect, off-the-wall. In the comments and in Joyner’s writings, I can see the deep ignorance of the NPT. I certainly see no need to revise our analysis and statements in our Iran Primer article. We have consulted with many lawyers who find Joyner’s analysis deeply flawed and agenda driven… I would recommend that Joyner have his work reviewed by competent lawyers. He would need to revise most of his work.”
Joyner responded vigorously, see here, making the point, among his other rejoinders, that he has published two peer-reviewed books, with Oxford University Press, on interpreting the NPT. But, for our purposes, the most important part of his response concerns the public posture adopted by too many Washington, DC-based policy “experts” and the motives for their adoption of such a posture. Joyner’s analysis focuses on nonproliferation specialists, but, in our view, it also applies very well to many who claim expertise on other Iran-related issues:
”A colleague in D.C. once said this to me about the U.S. nonproliferation epistemic community—and by this community we both meant the entirety of the various NGOs and think tanks and the few University based centers that focus on nonproliferation studies in the U.S.: that the community is very D.C. centric, cliquish, incestuous and self-referential, to its detriment. These words have really stuck with me, because I find them to be absolutely true, and both insightful and parsimonious as I’ve observed the community over the years.
I would take it even further and say that in addition, in my opinion, the whole U.S. based nonproliferation experts community—with few exception—is systematically biased toward support of USG positions on all the top nonproliferation issues. They maintain an essentially common narrative and set of emphases that is in line with, and that provides support for, the narrative and emphases of the USG, with only the smallest amounts of quibbling around the edges (Albright will talk all day long about his “aluminum tubes” work). I think that there is in the work of the U.S. nonproliferation epistemic community far too little real, independent evaluation and criticism of USG positions. As I see it, the U.S. nonproliferation community almost acts as a second wave of apologists for U.S. policy, after the USG itself—though it sometimes shrouds this effort in a lot of technical and sometimes academic-looking jargon. But in the end what the U.S. nonproliferation community ABSOLUTELY DOES NOT DO is serve in the role of an independent, rigorous, analytical check on USG nonproliferation positions, as it could and should do, and as the nongovernmental nonproliferation community in other countries does. And I think there are some clear reasons for this. Much more so than in other countries, the members of the U.S. based nonproliferation community tend, with very few exceptions, to
1) have been employed by the USG in the past;
2) want to be employed by the USG in the future;
3) be funded by or hope to be funded by the USG; and/or
4) want to maintain the access and good favor they have with USG officials, for the sake of information and for the sake of invitations to cool events, etc.
Basically what I’m saying is that they are biased towards the positions of the USG, because of their overly close personal and institutional associations with the USG, and because they see their own professional success as being tied to the favor of the USG.
I think there’s also a significant degree of media whorishness at work here as well. As a colleague once wrote to me while we were discussing this topic: ‘I think there is another—very important—aspect you may be missing that may even over-ride the ones you mention: aside from taking USG positions, the non-proliferation community likes the high-media profile allotted it, when it loudly tut-tuts 3rd world nuclear arms capacities (or enemies of the west’s nuclear arms capacities), whether or not such capacities are consistent w/ NPT and/or CSAs. People like being quoted, appearing on TV, and generally feeling important. The Non-proliferation community “loves” the attention and basks in this glow, and though they would “privately” acknowledge that Iran is not so far outside bounds (if at all), they nonetheless pass on statements and innuendo to media indicating the alleged dangers and thus wittingly or not, fan the flames. Others like ISIS simply pass on opinions dressed as expert findings. It just would not do for Non-proliferation types to tell the media: “well, no, Iran’s program is actually not a threat to world peace yet” like the DNI did.’”
Not surprisingly, Joyner sees David Albright as embodying this description, as he points out in criticizing some of Albright’s analysis on Iran’s nuclear activities:
“All [Albright] really does is make provocative speculations about what “could” be happening at locations in Iran, and what “maybe” Iran will do in the future. And it’s so clear that he’s working on the basis of a set of unproven, but firmly held assumptions about Iran—the same assumptions he had about Iraq, for which his work has been widely discredited—that they have a nuclear weapons program, and he is ginning up all the evidence he can that might support that assumption, speculating about what that evidence may mean, but only in a direction that would tend to support his preexisting assumption. There’s no rigor here in thoroughly considering and evaluating other possible explanations for the same observations—like a real academic or even a real, quality NGO analysis would. Maybe it’s because David has never done PhD level academic work, and so he doesn’t understand what is expected of quality scientific analysis. But this is an assumption-driven piece of provocative speculation that serves only to provide support for the USG’s contentions about Iran’s nuclear program. That’s just what he infamously did in the lead up to the 2003 Iraq war too. That’s not rigorous and independent analysis. That’s biased and low quality work…
I know very well how the D.C. nonproliferation crowd feels about me… They think my work is pro-Iranian and generally pro-developing country, and anti-U.S. They say I’m biased and agenda driven… Am I personally sympathetic to or biased towards the policies of the Iranian government? Absolutely not… However, do I think that the legal arguments of the current government of Iran deserve a fair and independent and rigorous hearing and analysis by the international community, just as the legal arguments of any other government do? Yes I do, for many reasons, not least of which is the prevention of unnecessary and unjust economic sanctions and possibly war against the Iranian people, and the fairness and perceived legitimacy and relevance of international law. I don’t see anyone else stepping up to make these arguments, and make sure that they are taken seriously in the West, and that’s why I keep doing it.
Am I sympathetic to developing countries’ positions in the nuclear energy area generally? Yes I am. I admit that freely. And it’s because I genuinely think that they are bullied by the West in the nuclear area, as in many other areas, for a whole range of political and economic reasons, and that the legal advisors of Western governments have concocted erroneous legal arguments to give perceived credibility to these policies. I can’t change the policies and the politics they’re based on, but I think there is a real need to lend whatever professional abilities I have to making sure that their legal arguments are made at a high level of competence and sophistication, and are given due consideration by the international community. Again, no one else seems to be doing this in the West, and so I keep doing it. But I maintain that my legal analysis is independent and essentially objective, and that I follow the proper analysis of a legal source to its most persuasively correct conclusion, no matter what that conclusion is.
I think that the U.S. nonproliferation community, linked so closely as it is to the USG itself, generally takes a negative view of my work for a number of reasons. One of the primary reasons is that they are so used to being able to effectively tell the rest of the world what to think about the NPT regime, and how to interpret the law associated with it, that when someone independent comes along and poses a genuine intellectual challenge to the warped and USG driven legal views of the NPT regime that they’ve been spouting for decades, they genuinely don’t know what to do about it. With the errors and intellectual bankruptcy of their legal arguments laid bare, they make only feeble attempts to defend themselves substantively because, honestly, they don’t have very good substantive arguments to make and they never have. The only argument they have left to make is to argue in desperation that the challenger is biased and agenda driven—which is in the end the ultimate irony, because it’s precisely their own bias and USG-centric agenda that has made their arguments so weak, and has provided the legal errors that the challenger now corrects, to the persuasion of everyone else in the world.”
Our compliments to Prof. Joyner.
- NAM demands that Israel join the NPT without further delay (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- IAEA resolution casts doubt on benefit of NPT: Iran (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- Iran Urges Israel to Join NPT (en.rian.ru)
- NAM calls for total nuclear disarmament (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- What If Iran Leaves the NPT? (nationalinterest.org)
TEHRAN – In a statement read out at the United Nations Headquarters in New York on Monday, Iran and other members of the Non-Aligned Movement called for total nuclear disarmament in the world.
The statement was read out by the Iranian ambassador to the UN, Mohammad Khazaee, on behalf of the NAM member states, during a meeting of the First Committee on all disarmament and international security agenda items.
Following are the main points of the statement:
- NAM reaffirms its principled positions on nuclear disarmament, which remains its highest priority. The movement reiterates its deep concern over the threat to humanity posed by the continued existence of nuclear weapons and of their possible use or threat of use and expresses its concern over the lack of progress by the Nuclear-Weapon States (NWS) to accomplish the total elimination of their nuclear arsenals.
- NAM reaffirms that the total elimination of nuclear weapons is the only absolute guarantee against the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons and reaffirms further that all Non-Nuclear-Weapon States (NNWS) should be effectively assured by the NWS against the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons.
- The movement remains deeply concerned by the strategic defense doctrines of the Nuclear-Weapon States and NATO’s Deterrence and Defense Posture Review adopted at its summit in May 2012 that set out the rationales for the use of nuclear weapons. NAM strongly calls for the complete exclusion of the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons from their military doctrines.
- The movement also calls on the NWS to immediately cease their plans to further modernize, upgrade, refurbish, or extend the lives of their nuclear weapons and related facilities.
- NAM calls for convening a high level international conference to identify ways and means of eliminating nuclear weapons, at the earliest possible date, with the objective of an agreement on a phased program for the complete elimination of nuclear weapons, to prohibit their development, production, acquisition, testing, stockpiling, transfer, use or threat of use, and to provide for their destruction.
- NAM recognizes the need to enhance the effectiveness of the UN disarmament machinery. NAM notes that the main difficulty of the disarmament machinery lies in the lack of genuine political will by some states to achieve actual progress, including in particular on nuclear disarmament.
- NAM considers the establishment of nuclear-weapon-free zones as an important measure, and, in this context, NAM continues its strong support for the establishment in the Middle East of a nuclear-weapon-free zone. Pending its establishment, NAM demands that Israel, the only country in the region that has not joined the NPT nor declared its intention to do so, renounce any possession of nuclear weapons, accede to the NPT without precondition and further delay, and place promptly all its nuclear facilities under IAEA full-scope safeguards. The movement also calls for the total and complete prohibition of the transfer of all nuclear-related equipment, information, material and facilities, resources or devices and the extension of assistance in the nuclear related scientific or technological fields to Israel. NAM also supports the establishment in the Middle East of a zone free of nuclear weapons and all other weapons of mass destruction.
- NAM reaffirms the inalienable right of each state to develop research, production and use of nuclear energy, including the sovereign right to develop full national nuclear fuel cycle, for peaceful purposes without discrimination. The movement once again reaffirms the sovereign right of each state to define its national energy policies, including the inalienable right of each state to develop a full national nuclear fuel cycle.
- NAM is of the firm belief that non-proliferation policies shall not undermine the inalienable right of states to acquire and access material, equipment, and technology for peaceful purposes.
- NAM expresses its deep concern at the continued imposition of and/or maintaining limitations and restrictions on exports to developing countries of nuclear material, equipment, and technology for peaceful purposes.
- NAM once again reaffirms the inviolability of peaceful nuclear activities and that any attack or threat of attack against peaceful nuclear facilities – operational or under construction – poses a great danger to human beings and the environment, and constitutes a grave violation of international law, principles of the UN Charter and regulations of the IAEA.
- While noting that considerable progress has been made in developing and applying the latest information technologies and means of telecommunication, the movement expresses concern that these technologies and means can potentially be used for purposes that are inconsistent with the objectives of maintaining international stability and security and may adversely affect the integrity of the infrastructure of states to the detriment of their security in both civil and military fields. NAM emphasizes that these technologies and means should be utilized by member states in a manner consistent with international law and the principles and purposes of the UN Charter.
- NAM stresses the need for a multilaterally negotiated, universal, comprehensive, transparent, and non-discriminatory approach toward the issue of missiles in all its aspects, as a contribution to international peace and security.
- NAM stresses the importance of the sovereign rights and security concerns of all states at regional and global levels in any approach to the issue of missiles in all its aspects. NAM further stresses the importance of contribution of peaceful uses of space technologies, including space launch vehicle technologies, to human advancement.
- NAM states parties to the Chemical and Biological Weapons Conventions call for their balanced, effective, and non-discriminatory implementation.
- NAM reaffirms the sovereign right of states to acquire, manufacture, export, import and retain conventional arms and their parts and components for their self-defense and security needs.
- NAM demands that Israel join the NPT without further delay (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- NAM calls for total abolition of chemical weapons (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- Iran FM Salehi: NAM Should Oppose Sanctions, Foreign Intervention Unacceptable (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- Iranian defense minister: Israel should set red lines for itself (theuglytruth.wordpress.com)
TEHRAN – The 120-nation Non-Aligned Movement on Friday demanded that Israel join the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty without precondition and further delay.
The demand was made during the United Nations High Level Meeting on Countering Nuclear Terrorism in New York. The demand was read out by Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi on behalf of the NAM bloc.
Iran assumed the rotating presidency of NAM for a three-year term on August 30.
Following is the text of Salehi’s speech:
1. I am honored to speak on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement.
2. The Convention on the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism reflects the success of multilateralism to which NAM attaches great importance. The movement values this opportunity to express its views on this subject of cotemporary interest.
3. NAM strongly and unequivocally condemns as criminal and rejects terrorism in all its forms and manifestations as well as all acts, methods, and practices of terrorism wherever, by whomever, against whomsoever committed, including those in which states are directly or indirectly involved, which are unjustifiable (no matter what) considerations or factors… may be invoked to justify them.
4. NAM expresses its satisfaction with the consensus among states on measures to prevent terrorists from acquiring weapons of mass destruction. NAM welcomes the adoption by consensus of the General Assembly Resolution 66/50 entitled “Measures to prevent terrorists from acquiring weapons of mass destruction” and underlines the need for this threat to humanity to be addressed within the UN framework and through international cooperation.
5. While stressing that the most effective way of preventing terrorists from acquiring weapons of mass destruction is through the total elimination of such weapons, NAM emphasizes that progress is urgently needed in the area of disarmament and non-proliferation in order to help maintain international peace and security and to contribute to the global efforts against terrorism.
6. NAM calls upon all UN member states to support international efforts to prevent terrorists from acquiring weapons of mass destruction and their means of delivery. It also urges all member states to take and strengthen national measures, as appropriate, to prevent terrorists from acquiring weapons of mass destruction, their means of delivery and materials and technologies related to their manufacture.
7. While noting the adoption of resolution 1540 (2004), resolution 1673 (2006), resolution 1810 (2008) and resolution 1977 (2011) by the Security Council, NAM underlines the need to ensure that any action by the Security Council does not undermine the UN Charter and existing multilateral treaties on weapons of mass destruction and of international Organizations established in this regard as well as the role of the General Assembly.
8. NAM further cautions against the continuing practice of the Security Council to utilize its authority to define the legislative requirements for member states in implementing Security Council decisions. In this regard, NAM stresses the importance of the issue of non-state actors acquiring weapons of mass destruction to be addressed in an inclusive manner by the General Assembly, taking into account the views of all member states.
9. The NAM emphasizes the need to improve national, regional, and international preparedness and response to nuclear accidents and calls for a strengthened role of the IAEA in emergency preparedness and response, including through assisting member states, upon their request, on emergency preparedness and response to nuclear accidents, promoting capacity building, including education and training in the field of crisis management.
10. The NAM underlines that measures and initiatives aimed at strengthening nuclear safety and nuclear security must not be used as a pretext or leverage to violate, deny, or restrict the inalienable right of developing countries to develop research, production, and use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes without discrimination.
11. NAM affirms the need to strengthen the radiological safety and protection systems at facilities utilizing radioactive materials as well as at radioactive waste management facilities, including the safe transportation of these materials. The movement reaffirms the need to strengthen existing international regulations relating to safety and security of transportation of such materials.
12. The primary responsibility for nuclear safety and nuclear security rests with the individual states. In that sense, NAM underlines that the states with nuclear power programs have a central role in their own countries in ensuring the application of the highest standards. NAM also emphasizes that the IAEA is the sole intergovernmental organization within the UN system with the mandate and expertise to deal with the technical subjects of nuclear safety and nuclear security.
13. NAM reaffirms the inviolability of peaceful nuclear activities and that any attack or threat of attack against peaceful nuclear facilities – operational or under construction- constitutes a grave violation of international law, principles and purposes of the UN Charter and regulations of the IAEA. NAM recognizes the urgent need for a comprehensive multilaterally negotiated instrument prohibiting attacks or threat of attacks on nuclear facilities devoted to peaceful uses of nuclear energy.
14. NAM stresses its concern at the threat to humanity posed by the continued existence of nuclear weapons and of their possible use or threat of use. NAM reaffirms that the total elimination of nuclear weapons is the only absolute guarantee against the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons.
15. NAM reaffirms its principled positions on nuclear disarmament, which remains its highest priority, and on the related issue of nuclear non-proliferation in all its aspects. NAM stresses the importance that efforts aiming at nuclear non-proliferation should be parallel to simultaneous efforts aiming at nuclear disarmament.
16. NAM emphasizes that progress in nuclear disarmament and nuclear non-proliferation in all its aspects is essential to strengthening international peace and security.
17. NAM reiterates deep concern over the slow pace of progress towards nuclear disarmament and the lack of progress by the Nuclear-Weapon States (NWS) to accomplish the total elimination of their nuclear arsenals in accordance with their relevant multilateral legal obligations. The movement reaffirms the importance of the unanimous conclusion of the ICJ (International Court of Justice) that there exists an obligation to pursue in good faith and to bring to a conclusion negotiations leading to nuclear disarmament in all its aspects under strict and effective international control. In this regard, NAM underscores the urgent need to commence and to bring to a conclusion negotiations on comprehensive and complete nuclear disarmament without delay.
18. NAM reaffirms the importance of the application of the principles of transparency, irreversibility, and verifiability by the NWS in all measures related to the fulfillment of their nuclear disarmament obligations.
19. Pending the total elimination of nuclear weapons, NAM reaffirms the need for the conclusion of a universal, unconditional, and legally binding instrument on negative security assurances to all NNWS as a matter of high priority.
20. NAM urges the UN Secretary General and the co-sponsors of the 1995 Resolution on the Middle East, in consultation with the states of the region, to exert utmost efforts in ensuring the success of the Conference to be convened in 2012, to be attended by all states of the Middle East on the establishment of a Middle East zone free of nuclear weapons and all other weapons of mass destruction. NAM stresses the need to avoid any further delay in convening this Conference.
21. NAM also demands (that) Israel, the only country in the region that has not joined the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) nor declared its intention to do so, to renounce possession of nuclear weapons, to accede to the NPT without precondition and further delay, and to place promptly all its nuclear facilities under the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) full-scope safeguards.
22. NAM reiterates that the issues related to proliferation should be resolved through political and diplomatic means, and that measures and initiatives taken in this regard should be within the framework of international law, relevant conventions, and the UN Charter, and should contribute to the promotion of international peace, security, and stability.
23. Mindful of the threat posed to humankind by the existing weapons of mass destruction, particularly nuclear weapons and underlining the need for the total elimination of such weapons, the movement reaffirms the need to prevent the emergence of new types of weapons of mass destruction, and therefore supports the necessity of monitoring the situation and triggering international action as required.
24. Finally, on behalf of the movement, I express the hope that the secretary general will duly reflect these views in his summary of today’s proceedings as well as the views of member states. Any possible follow-up should be inclusive and member state driven.
Thank you, Messrs. Co-chairs.
Seated alongside Iranian leader Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on the day that Iran took over presidency of the NAM of 120 nations, the presence of Ban could be seen as a blow to the diplomatic machinations of the United States and its Western allies, including Israel.
But, rather than making a forthright statement of support for Iran, the veteran South Korean diplomat showed his true colours as a servile puppet of American imperialism.
In the weeks leading up to the 16th summit of the NAM, Washington had been calling on the UN top official to decline attending the conference in Tehran. When Ban announced last week that he was going ahead, the US government was evidently peeved, calling his decision “a bit strange”.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was predictably more strident, denouncing Ban’s visit to Iran as “a big mistake”. In typical vulgar and provocative language, Netanyahu subsequently attacked the NAM summit as “a stain on humanity”.
What the United States and its Western allies feared most from the NAM summit was a global display of goodwill and solidarity towards Iran. For more than three decades now, Washington has invested huge political capital in a global campaign of vilification against Iran, denouncing the Islamic Republic as a “rogue state”, a sponsor of “international terrorism” and, over the last 10 years, as “a threat to world peace” from alleged nuclear weapons development.
The Western powers of the US, Britain and France in particular continually arrogate the mantle of “international community” to browbeat Iran, claiming that the nation is in “breach of its obligations”.
In attempting to portray Iran as a “pariah state” these powers, along with Israel, have partly succeeded in turning reality on its head and to assume the outrageous right to threaten Iran with pre-emptive military strikes and enforce crippling economic sanctions.
However, the attendance of some 120 nations in Tehran this week – two-thirds of the UN General Assembly – is a clear statement by the international community that resoundingly rejects this Western campaign of vilification.
Clearly, the majority of the world’s people do not see Iran as a rogue state or a threat to world peace. Indeed, the endorsement of Iran’s presidency of the NAM for the next three years is vindication of the country’s right to develop on its own terms, including the pursuit of peaceful nuclear technology.
In one fell swoop, the NAM summit liquidated Washington’s political capital for denigrating and isolating Iran as worthless. Seated at the top of the summit’s gathering in Tehran, the mere presence of the UN General Secretary to witness the appointment of Iran as the new leader of the Non-Aligned Movement was partially a symbolic vote of confidence.
But then, in his speech on this historic day, Ban engaged in a disgraceful diplomatic offensive. He pointedly denounced those who “deny the [Nazi] holocaust” and who call for the Zionist state’s destruction. Ban championed “Israel’s right to exist” without a word of condemnation of Israel’s decades-long crimes against humanity on the Palestinian people and its violation of countless UN resolutions. In that way, the UN chief was peddling the spurious Western propaganda that seeks to besmirch Iran’s principled opposition to the Zionist state’s record of criminality.
Ban went on to cast bankrupt Western aspersions on Iran’s nuclear rights. He said that Iran needed to use its presidency of the NAM to demonstrate peaceful intent, allay fears that it was developing nuclear weapons and to engage positively with the International Atomic Energy Agency and the Western-dominated P5+1 group – the group that has used every step in bad faith to hobble and hamper a negotiated agreement with Iran.
The question is: what planet has Ban Ki-Moon been living on? The fact is that Iran has done everything to comply with the IAEA and its obligations to the Non-Proliferation Treaty. Iran has consistently demonstrated its peaceful nuclear ambitions and its responsibility to the NPT – unlike the Western powers and their illegal nuclear-powered Zionist rogue state. Just this week, Iran even invited the member states of the NAM to visit its nuclear facility at Natanz – an unprecedented show of openness.
For Ban to reiterate such unfounded, scurrilous suspicions against Iran on the day that it assumes the presidency of the NAM is a reflection more of his abject servility to Western powers – and it underscores the urgent need for a total structural reformation of the UN to make it more democratically accountable.
What was even more telling was what Ban omitted to say in his speech at the NAM summit. Unlike his pointed jibes at Iran, he only used the vaguest language to condemn the violence raging in Syria whenever the evidence is glaring that the US, Britain, France and their Turkish, Israeli and Persian Gulf Arab allies are now openly flouting international law by fueling a covert war of aggression in that country.
Just this week, a US Congressional report revealed that the United States is responsible for nearly 80 per cent of all global arms sales in 2011 – some $66 billion worth – a figure that has tripled on previous years. Half of this trade in weapons and death has been plied by the US to the Persian Gulf monarchies who are in turn laundering the arms to Syria. No words of condemnation from Ban on that.
Nor did the UN chief speak out to condemn the illegal economic sanctions that Washington and its coterie of imperialist allies have slapped on Iran – sanctions that are, in effect, an act of war and are viciously imposing hardship on Iranian civilians, including thousands of infirm people in need of vital medicines.
Nor did Ban condemn the Western powers’ covert war of sabotage and assassination of Iranian scientists, some of whose bereaved families were attending the NAM summit as he spoke.
In a further reprehensible omission, the UN General Secretary lauded the Arab Spring pro-democracy movements. He mentioned several countries by name, but significantly did not include Bahrain even though the people of that country are being butchered and incarcerated daily since their uprising in February 2011. The Western powers and their corporate media do not mention the depredations of their despotic ally in Bahrain against women and children. And neither does Ban Ki-Moon.
No, he would rather engage in pejorative, baseless innuendos against Iran, while disgracefully covering up Western crimes of aggression in Palestine, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Iran and the ongoing slaughter of innocents with US drones in Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen.
NAM stands for solidarity against imperial aggression. In his address to the NAM, Ban Ki-Moon was acting like an ambassadorial puppet for his Western masters. Maybe in reforming the UN, the Non-Aligned Movement should from now on seek to ensure that any future head of the United Nations be truly representative of the concerns and anguish of the world’s majority, and not a diplomatic salesman for imperialist powers.
Finian Cunningham has written extensively on international affairs, with articles published in several languages. He is a Master’s graduate in Agricultural Chemistry and worked as a scientific editor for the Royal Society of Chemistry, Cambridge, England, before pursuing a career in journalism.
- NAM Agrees on 688 Articles of Draft Statement: Sanctions, Palestine on Top (alethonews.wordpress.com)
Condemnation of “unilateral” actions — particularly sanctions on Iran and other nations — and a demand for a greater say in UN decision-making dominated NAM talks on Tuesday preparing for a Non-Aligned summit later this week.
Foreign ministers from NAM states were holding two days of discussions to prepare the ground for the summit, which will gather dozens of heads of state and government on Thursday and Friday.
According to the Agence France Presse, other issues to be covered included a call for the creation of a Palestinian state based on 1967 borders, and an appeal for nuclear disarmament, particularly in the Middle East, as a path to world peace, according to draft documents before the ministers.
Combating terrorism, and upholding human rights and development were also included.
A working document made available on Iran’s official NAM website said one of the general principles being upheld was strengthening solidarity with NAM members “living under colonial or alien domination or foreign occupation, and with those experiencing external threats of use of force, acts of aggression or unilateral coercive measures.”
Elsewhere, it called on members to refuse to follow “unilateral economic sanctions” on NAM states.
More than 50 foreign ministers were involved in the discussions, according to Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast. They were building on work done in the two preceding days by lower-ranking officials and experts.
Tehran’s summit is seen as a blow to US-led efforts to isolate it internationally.
The NAM is a 120-member organization founded in 1961, at the height of the Cold War, by nations considering themselves independent of the US-led Western bloc or the then-Soviet Union. It represents nearly two-thirds of the UN’s 193 member states, accounting for much of the developing world.
Overall, the NAM seeks greater accountability from the UN Security Council and a greater weight for the UN General Assembly — where it is strongly represented — in making global decisions.
UN chief Ban Ki-moon will be attending the Tehran summit, in a customary observer role, despite criticism from the United States and the Zionist entity.
- Iran FM Salehi: NAM Should Oppose Sanctions, Foreign Intervention Unacceptable (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- Egyptian president to attend NAM summit in Tehran (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- Ban Ki-moon to attend NAM summit in Tehran: UN spokesman (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- Iran Opens Nonaligned Summit with Call for Nuclear Arms Ban (2012indyinfo.com)
TEHRAN – Egypt’s Civil Aviation Minister Samir Embaby called for the start of direct flights between Tehran and Cairo due to the two nations’ enthusiasm for making reciprocal visits.
“The measure is necessary due to the eagerness of many Egyptian and Iranian people to make reciprocal visits,” Embaby was quoted by the Egyptian weekly, al-Youm al-Sabe’.
He also underlined that starting direct flights between the two countries would play a vital role for trade and economic ties between Iran and Egypt, and said the economic studies carried out in Iran indicate that 60% of Iranians like to visit different Egyptian cities, partly for religious tourism.
In relevant remarks in June, new Egyptian President Mohammad Mursi also underlined his enthusiasm for the further expansion of ties with Iran, and said relations between Tehran and Cairo will create a strategic balance in the region.
“The issue will create a strategic balance in the region,” Mursi told FNA in June, hours before the final results of the presidential election was announced.
Also in July, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Mursi, in their first telephone conversation, conferred on the two Muslim countries’ ties and the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) now underway in Tehran.
President Ahmadinejad said Tehran welcomes close interactions with the Egyptian government and nation, and attaches no limitations to the expansion of ties and cooperation with Cairo.
Ahmadinejad expressed Iran’s preparedness to transfer capabilities, achievements and experiences in various scientific, technological, industrial and economic fields to the Egyptian people.
Mursi is due to travel to Iran on August 30 to attend the NAM summit.
- Egyptian president heads to China for investment talks (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- Egyptian president to attend NAM summit in Tehran (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- Ahmadinejad personally invites Morsi to attend Non-Aligned Movement summit in Tehran (alethonews.wordpress.com)
As he urged the Non Aligned Movement (NAM) members to stand against the sanctions imposed against the Islamic Republic, Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi stressed that the foreign interference in the events taking place in our region was unacceptable.
“The NAM… should seriously confront unilateral sanctions of certain nations against some members of the NAM,” Salehi said in a speech opening days of preparatory meetings for the summit on Thursday and Friday.
“So far, the NAM has condemned these measures,” he noted, adding: “we take this opportunity to thank the NAM for its support to the legitimate rights” to nuclear activities.
“Regarding our peaceful nuclear program… we have always said that we are only seeking our legitimate rights” to nuclear energy as permitted under the Non-Proliferation Treaty, Salehi said.
The Iranian FM called for the active role of the NAM in annihilation of the weapons of mass destruction (WMDs), saying that the Zionist entity should be forced to respect the non-proliferation of WMDs.
“Israel’s refusal to sign Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) is a hurdle to the globalization of non-proliferation of nuclear weapons,” he added.
Talking about the regional events, and especially the Arab revolutions, Salehi said the foreign interference was unacceptable.
“We have learned from the events which our region has witnessed that any forces cannot ignore the legitimate demands of people.”
“The popular uprisings and the regional events that follow it, affect the consecutive developments on the International level,” Salehi added.
“The participation of the real independent political powers in a comprehensive dialogue needs a political operation based on the internal views of a country,” the Iranian FM stressed, noting that this operation should not be away from the foreign interference.
Salehi also said that the Palestinian issue, as the most important problem in the region, should be taken seriously during the ongoing NAM meeting and the “criminal measures of Israeli regime, as the biggest threat to the region” must be taken into consideration.
The United Nation Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will attend the upcoming Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) summit in Iran despite pressures from the US and Israel, UN spokesman Martin Nesirky says.
Reuters reported earlier on Wednesday that according to several UN diplomats, Ban would attend the upcoming summit in Iran’s capital, Tehran.
“It’s a very important bloc of nations. Of course the SG [secretary-general] is going. He can’t not go,” Reuters quoted a diplomatic source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, as saying.
This is while Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu earlier this month urged the UN secretary general not to attend the summit.
The US has also been trying to dissuade NAM member states, particularly the UN chief, from attending the summit.
The 16th summit of the NAM member states will be held in the Iranian capital August 26-31.
The Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei will address the Tehran NAM summit during which the Islamic Republic will assume the rotating presidency of the movement for three years.
NAM, an international organization with 120 member states and 21 observer countries, is considered as not formally aligned with or against any major power bloc.
NAM’s purpose, as stated in the Havana Declaration of 1979, is to ensure “the national independence, sovereignty, territorial integrity and security of non-aligned countries.”
- Egyptian president to attend NAM summit in Tehran (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- Iran plans to establish international NAM news agency (alethonews.wordpress.com)
Iran plans to accomplish one of the main objectives of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) since its inception by launching the movement’s international news agency.
Mohammad Sheikhan, deputy head of the 16th NAM summit for public relations and communications, said in a Tuesday briefing in the Iranian capital city, Tehran, that the establishment of the news agency has long been an unfulfilled objective of the NAM.
“Since Iran assumes the presidency of the NAM for the next three years, we plan to establish the news agency and the decision will soon be put into action,” he said.
The 16th summit of the NAM member states will be held on August 26-31 in the Iranian capital, Tehran, during which the Islamic Republic will assume the rotating presidency of the movement for three years.
Sheikhan expressed Iran’s readiness to provide media coverage for the summit and noted that Tehran will prepare all the equipment required by the press.
NAM, an international organization with 120 member states and 17 observer countries, is considered as not formally aligned with or against any major power bloc.
The organization was founded in the former Yugoslavia in 1961. NAM’s purpose, as stated in the Havana Declaration of 1979, is to ensure “the national independence, sovereignty, territorial integrity and security of non-aligned countries.”