Listening, on 15 April, to the House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing on US policy towards Iran put me in mind of the inscription Dante imagined over the entrance to Hell: “Abandon hope all you who enter here”.
There seemed no notion among members of the committee that territories beyond the borders of the United States of America are not subject to US jurisdiction – still less that reasoned persuasion and reciprocity can be more effective tools for achieving US foreign policy goals than sanctions (how the good Congressmen love sanctions!) and the infliction of pain.
Wendy Sherman, the Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs who heads the U.S. delegation in the P5+1 negotiations with Iran, must have come away from that hearing with the feeling that she has an impossible task. Congress will howl if the administration makes the slightest concession to secure Iranian agreement to non-proliferation assurances and restrictions on nuclear activities. Yet if Iran is offered nothing in return for measures it deems to be voluntary, because they lie beyond the provisions of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), it will continue to defy the US and its allies.
Still, it is hard to avoid the thought that the administration could have made more of this opportunity.
Ambassador Sherman’s opening statement contained no reference to the US intelligence community’s confidence that Iran’s leaders have not taken a decision to acquire nuclear weapons. Instead, it referred to “Iran’s nuclear weapon ambitions” and to the need for Iran to “change course”, which the congressmen could be forgiven for taking as confirmation of their chairman’s opening assertion that Iran is trying to build a nuclear arsenal.
On top of that, Ambassador Sherman fed the Congressmen’s appetite for a penal approach by stressing that the goal of US policy is to have Iran live up to its “international obligations”. The Congressmen were left undisturbed in their conviction that Iran is entirely in the wrong and most certainly should not be rewarded for mending its ways. The opportunity to start helping their Honours to understand that the reality is more complicated went begging.
I hope LobeLog readers who know what lies behind that last sentence will forgive me for explicating it.
Iran’s “international obligations” come in two forms. One lot of obligations stem from the provisions of the NPT. Iran accepts that these are genuine obligations under international law and is ready to comply fully with them without reciprocity. Indeed some observers believe Iran is already fully compliant.
The other lot stem from the provisions of four Security Council resolutions adopted under article 41 of the UN Charter. Iran refuses to accept the legally-binding nature of these, not unreasonably, given that, when they were adopted, the Council had not determined that Iran’s nuclear activities represented a threat to international peace and security. Instead, Iran offers to proceed on the basis of reciprocity, volunteering the steps specified in these resolutions in return for recognition that Iran has NPT rights as well as obligations, and also for the lifting of nuclear-related sanctions.
The third missed opportunity was ethical in nature. The administration had no need to indulge in misrepresentation and distortion but succumbed to temptation.
The Congressmen were told that Iran is “isolated”. In reality, Iran maintains full diplomatic relations with some 100 states. Iran’s Foreign Minister is received courteously almost everywhere in Asia and Europe apart from the UK and Israel. Just this week Iran assumed the chair of the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva. Currently Iran presides over the 120-member Non-Aligned Movement
Ambassador Sherman implied that responsibility for the appalling civil conflict in Syria must be ascribed to Iran, “a destabilising influence across the entire Middle East”. The initial supply of weapons to the Syrian opposition by Turkey, Qatar and Saudi Arabia was not mentioned. Some Middle Eastern states are allowed to have interests beyond their borders, it seems, and others are not.
Oh, and in Syria all the violence against “the Syrian people” is being inflicted by the Assad regime, supported by its Iranian ally. Perish the thought that the opposition has shed a single drop of Syrian blood!
Most Europeans yearn for the objectivity and ethical agnosticism that underlay the US opening to China, détente with the Soviet Union, and the final flurry of US/USSR agreements heralding the end of the Cold War. That sort of objectivity should come naturally, one might think, when the adversary is Iran, a state so very much weaker than the US. Alas, the opposite seems to be the case!
- Israel says no ‘compromise’ should be made with Iran (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- US obstructing global disarmament: Iran (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- Nuclear Iran: What’s at Stake for the BRICS (alethonews.wordpress.com)
Saeed Kamali Dehghan, writing for the Guardian, attempts to explain Iran’s presidential elections by promoting some standard nonsense propaganda, for example by claiming that the so called Green Movement was a “pro-democracy” movement when in fact they were attempting to violently undo an election whose results have since been vindicated as truly representative of Iranian public opinion by multiple independent polls.
Furthermore, on the topic of Iran’s nuclear program, he simply and matter-of-factly asserts that the sanctions are “over suspicions that the programme has military ambitions” and that Iran has “failed to abide by its international obligations” when in fact by now anyone who has followed the nuclear dispute is unquestionably aware that the sanctions have nothing to do with the nuclear program and instead, that the dispute over the nuclear program is merely a pretext pushed by the US as a cover for a policy of imposing regime-change in Iran. Furthermore, Iran has not violated any such non-existent “international obligation” (as Dehghan claims matter-of-factly) to give up her sovereign right to enrich uranium — if anything it is the US and EU who violated their international obligations under the NPT, with respect to not just Iran, by forcibly attempting to deprive countries of their rights as recognized by the NPT (and also not disarming their own nuclear weapons as the NPT requires them to do, never mind murdering civilian scientists and making illegal threats of attacking Iran on a daily basis etc etc.)
So here we go again with the Western media and complicit journalists promoting bullshit under the guise of analysis. just watch how this Dehghan character has repeated some of the standard talking points of the US about iran’s nuclear program without even a hint of objectivity. You can of course expect more of this. Note that there is no option to post comments regarding this piece by Dehghan on the Guardian site; you’re just supposed to accept it.
The controversy over Iran’s nuclear activities has at least as much to do with the future of international order as it does with nonproliferation. For this reason, all of the BRICS have much at stake in how the Iranian nuclear issue is handled.
Conflict over Iran’s nuclear programme is driven by two different approaches to interpreting the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT); these approaches, in turn, are rooted in different conceptions of international order. Which interpretation of the NPT ultimately prevails on the Iranian nuclear issue will go a long way to determine whether a rules-based view of international order gains ascendancy over a policy-oriented approach in which the goals of international policy are defined mainly by America and its partners. And that will go a long way to determine whether rising non-Western states emerge as true power centers in a multipolar world, or whether they continue, in important ways, to be subordinated to hegemonic preferences of the West—and especially the United States.
The NPT is appropriately understood as a set of three bargains among signatories: non-weapons states commit not to obtain nuclear weapons; countries recognised as weapons states (America, Russia, Britain, France, and China) commit to nuclear disarmament; and all parties agree that signatories have an “inalienable right” to use nuclear technology for peaceful purposes. One approach to interpreting the NPT gives these bargains equal standing; the other holds that the goal of nonproliferation trumps the other two.
There have long been strains between weapons states and non-weapons states over nuclear powers’ poor compliance with their commitment to disarm. Today, though, disputes about NPT interpretation are particularly acute over perceived tensions between blocking nuclear proliferation and enabling peaceful use of nuclear technology. This is especially so for fuel cycle technology, the ultimate “dual use” capability—for the same material that fuels power, medical, and research reactors can, at higher levels of fissile isotope concentration, be used in nuclear bombs. The dispute is engaged most immediately over whether Iran, as a non-weapons party to the NPT, has a right to enrich uranium under international safeguards.
For those holding that the NPT’s three bargains have equal standing, Tehran’s right to enrich is clear—from the NPT itself, its negotiating history, and decades of state practice, with at least a dozen states having developed safeguarded fuel cycle infrastructures potentially able to support a weapons program. On this basis, the diplomatic solution is also clear: Western recognition of Iran’s nuclear rights in return for greater transparency through more intrusive verification and monitoring.
Those recognising Iran’s nuclear rights take what international lawyers call a “positivist” view of global order, whereby the rules of international relations are created through the consent of independent sovereign states and are to be interpreted narrowly. Such a rules-based approach is strongly favoured by non-Western states, including BRICS—for it is the only way international rules might constrain established powers as well as rising powers and the less powerful.
Those who believe nonproliferation trumps the NPT’s other goals claim that there is no treaty-based “right” to enrich, and that weapons states and others with nuclear industries should decide which non-weapons states can possess fuel cycle technologies. From these premises, the George W Bush administration sought a worldwide ban on transferring fuel cycle technologies to countries not already possessing them. Since this effort failed, Washington has pushed the Nuclear Suppliers’ Group to make such transfers conditional on recipients’ acceptance of the Additional Protocol to the NPT—an instrument devised at US instigation in the 1990s to enable more intrusive and proactive inspections in non-weapons states.
America has pressed the UN Security Council to adopt resolutions telling Tehran to suspend enrichment, even though it is part of Iran’s “inalienable right” to peaceful use of nuclear technology; such resolutions violate UN Charter provisions that the Council act “in accordance with the purposes and principles of the United Nations” and “with the present charter.” The Obama administration has also defined its preferred diplomatic outcome and, with Britain and France, imposed it on the P5+1: Iran must promptly stop enriching at the near-20 per cent level to fuel its sole (and safeguarded) research reactor; it must then comply with Security Council calls to cease all enrichment. US officials say Iran might be “allowed” a circumscribed enrichment programme, after suspending for a decade or more, but London and Paris insist that “zero enrichment” is the only acceptable long-term outcome.
Those asserting that Iran has no right to enrich—America, Britain, France, and Israel—take a policy-or results-oriented view of international order. In this view, what matters in responding to international challenges are the goals motivating states to create particular rules in the first place—not the rules themselves, but the goals underlying them. This approach also ascribes a special role in interpreting rules to the most powerful states—those with the resources and willingness to act in order to enforce the rules. Unsurprisingly, this approach is favoured by established Western powers—above all, by the United States.
BRICS need to call Washington’s bluff
All of the BRICS have, in various ways, pushed back against a de facto unilateral rewriting of the NPT by America and its European partners. Since abandoning nuclear weapons programmes during democratisation and joining the NPT, Brazil and South Africa have staunchly defended non-weapons states’ right to peaceful use of nuclear technology, including enrichment. With Argentina, they resisted US efforts to make transfers of fuel cycle technology contingent on accepting the Additional Protocol (which Brazil has refused to sign), ultimately forcing Washington to compromise. With Turkey, Brazil brokered the Tehran Declaration in May 2010, whereby Iran accepted US terms that it swap most of its then stockpile of enriched uranium for new fuel for its research reactor. But the Declaration openly recognised Iran’s right to enrich; for this reason, the Obama administration rejected it.
The recently concluded 5th BRICS Summit in Durban saw a joint declaration Declaration that referred to the official BRICS position on Iran:
“We believe there is no alternative to a negotiated solution to the Iranian nuclear issue. We recognize Iran’s right to peaceful uses of nuclear energy consistent with its international obligations, and support resolution of the issues involved through political and diplomatic means and dialogue.”
At the same time, the BRICS have all, to varying degrees, accommodated Washington on the Iranian issue. Russian and Chinese officials acknowledge there will be no diplomatic solution absent Western recognition of Tehran’s nuclear rights. Yet China and Russia endorsed all six Security Council resolutions requiring Iran to suspend enrichment. Beijing and Moscow did so partly to keep America in the Council with the issue, where they can exert ongoing influence—and restraint—over Washington; at their insistence, the resolutions state explicitly that none of them can be construed as authorising the use of force against Iran.
Russia, China, and the other BRICS have also accommodated Washington’s increasing reliance on the threatened imposition of “secondary” sanctions against third-country entities doing business with the Islamic Republic. Such measures violate US commitments under the World Trade Organisation, which allows members to cut trade with states they deem national security threats but not to sanction other members over lawful business with third countries. If challenged on this in the WTO’s Dispute Resolution Mechanism, America would surely lose; for this reason, US administrations have been reluctant actually to impose secondary sanctions on non-US entities transacting with Iran. Nevertheless, companies, banks, and even governments in all of the BRICS have cut back on their Iranian transactions—feeding American elites’ sense that, notwithstanding their illegality, secondary sanctions help leverage non-Western states’ compliance with Washington’s policy preferences and vision of (US-dominated) world order.
If the BRICS want to move decisively from a still relatively unipolar world to a genuinely multipolar world, they will, at some point, have to call Washington’s bluff on Iran-related secondary sanctions. They will also have to accelerate the development of alternatives to US-dominated mechanisms for conducting and settling international transactions—a project to which the proposed new BRICS bank could contribute significantly.
- Nuclear warheads in US, Europe threaten all of humanity, Soltanieh says (alethonews.wordpress.com)
Egypt said it quits Non-Proliferation Treaty talks to protest the failure of the parties involved to implement a resolution aimed to free Middle East from nuclear weapons. Although not articulated, Israel is said to be the reason for the withdrawal.
“We cannot continue waiting forever for the implementation of this resolution,” Egypt’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Monday, as talks in Geneva entered second week.
Cairo said it was pulling out of the talks “to send a strong message of non-acceptance of the continued lack of seriousness in dealing with the establishment of a nuclear-free zone in the Middle East.”
Egypt called for more responsibility from member states in “implementing legitimate international resolutions” saying there is “continued lack of seriousness in dealing with the establishment of a nuclear-free zone in the Middle East.”
Egypt’s comments are largely seen as reference to neighboring Israel, which neither confirms nor denies the possession of nuclear weapons.
“Egypt along with many Arab countries has joined the treaty with the understanding that it would lead to a Middle East completely free of nuclear weapons. However, more than 30 years later, one country in the Middle East, namely Israel, remains outside the NPT,” Egypt`s Assistant Foreign Minister Hisham Badr told a news conference in Geneva earlier this month.
Arab states and Iran have repeatedly warned that the Israeli purported nuclear program threatens peace in the region.
Editor of the website Palestinian Chronicle, Ramzy Baroud, believes Egypt’s move is a significant step, but one that mainly emphasizes the double standards of how some country’s nuclear ambitions are handled by Western states.
“It is very important what Egypt has done. Because what applies to Israel should apply to everyone else and Israel should not expect preferential treatment as far as this issue is concerned.” But Baroud also believes that such apparent favoritism is unlikely to change anytime soon, given what’s at stake for countries like the US.
“They [Israel] are living up to the US governments’ expectations in the past, keeping hush about their nuclear power, but at the same time [the US] asked them not to declare it openly because, if they do so, it will become a very difficult legal issue for the US to deal with, and they would be subject to international pressure.” US and Israeli officials have said that one of the necessary conditions to enable a nuclear arms-free zone in the Middle East is Iran’s nuclear program curbed. Meanwhile, Tehran claims its nuclear program solely pursues peaceful purposes such as energy and research.
The Geneva talks were meant to prepare for the next major review of the Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT). Held every five years, the next one is scheduled for 2015.
The NPT, originated in 1970, was introduced to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons and to promote the peaceful use of nuclear energy. According to the document five states were recognized as nuclear-weapon states: the US, Russia, the UK, France and China.
A total of 190 parties have signed the treaty. Israel, India, Pakistan, North Korea and South Sudan are not signatories to the NPT. Pyongyang withdrew from the treaty in 2003 when it was accused of launching an enriched uranium weapons program.
The Iranian ambassador to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) says that the tens of thousands of nuclear warheads in the United States and around Europe pose a direct threat to humanity.
Ambassador Ali Asghar Soltanieh made the remarks in a speech at meeting of the Preparatory Committee for the 2015 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference in Geneva on Tuesday.
“The continued existence of tens of thousands of nuclear warheads in the stockpile of the nuclear-weapon states, most of them on high-trigger alert, and their day by day modernization, constitute the most serious threat to the survival of mankind,” Soltanieh told the committee.
He also condemned the US for conducting its 27th subcritical nuclear test in Nevada in December 2012, saying the experiment was “a flagrant violation” of Washington’s “international obligations” and “a recipe for global destabilization.”
“Such subcritical tests and computer simulations to design new weapons, a case of non-compliance by the United States with its international obligations under the NPT, could be a resumption of the nuclear arms race and a revival [of the] risk of global disaster,” the Iranian ambassador stated.
The US National Nuclear Security Administration said the experiment, known as Pollux, was conducted to ensure that the United States “can support a safe, secure and effective stockpile” of nuclear weapons.
According to the United Nations, the US — which is the only country that has ever used nuclear weapons against human beings — has conducted over 1,000 nuclear tests since 1945.
Soltanieh noted that spending on nuclear weapons has increased dramatically since 2010 and will reach at least one trillion US dollars over the next decade, adding, “The United States itself will spend untold billions of dollars to operate its nuclear armada during its 50-year planned lifespan (from 2030 to 2080).”
He added that the British government’s plan to spend 100 billion pounds to upgrade its Trident nuclear-armed submarines is a “clear breach of Article VI of the NPT and the commitments [made] during the 2010 NPT Review Conference.”
He went on to say that the sale of German-made Dolphin-class submarines to the Israeli regime, which is not a signatory to the NPT, is “an unconcealed case of proliferation and non-compliance,” since the submarines are capable of carrying nuclear warheads.
Since 1958, when Israel began building its Dimona plutonium- and uranium-processing facility in the Negev desert, it has secretly manufactured over 200 nuclear warheads, making it the only player in the Middle East that possesses nuclear weapons.
- Obama’s nuclear U-turn: Billions set aside for B61 nukes (alethonews.wordpress.com)
US President Barack Obama has reportedly requested more funding to further upgrade American nuclear weapons at the cost of reduced spending on nuclear nonproliferation measures, which it demands from other nations.
The Obama administration’s funding request for continued modernization of its atomic arsenal has reportedly been included in its 2014 federal budget proposal that was released on Wednesday, according to a report in US-based Foreign Policy magazine.
The Obama administration’s plan to further “modernize” American nuclear weapons comes nearly four years after the US president received the Noble Peace Prize in 2009 for the promotion of “nuclear non-proliferation.”
Despite massive cuts in public spending and even some Defense Department programs, under the new budget proposal, funding for US Energy Department’s nuclear arms-related programs would increase by nearly seven percent or about USD500 million, according to the report, which cited American officials that spoke on the condition of anonymity.
The current budget for such programs reportedly stands at more than USD7 billion.
The Energy Department’s nonproliferation programs, however, would be slashed by about 20 percent, or nearly USD460 million, under the new budget plan, according to the report. Its current annual budget stands at almost USD2.5 billion.
The proposed funding would reportedly cover the continuing upgrade of older American atomic warheads as well as the construction of a uranium processing plant in the State of Tennessee.
The so-called modernization program for aging US nuclear weapons is part of a deal between the Obama administration and Congress as part of the ‘New START’ (Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty) agreement with Russia, its major rival in maintaining massive numbers of atomic weapons.
According to the pact, both nuclear powers should slash their atomic warheads to 1,500 by 2018.
US lawmakers reportedly agreed to support the reduction of the quantity of the country’s atomic warheads if the ones remaining active are upgraded.
The only category of the US Energy Department’s nonproliferation activities that would receive increased funding is its research and development division. It is intended to finance the development of a satellite-based nuclear detonation sensor, according to the Foreign Policy report.
This is while the Energy Department’s nuclear weapon programs was reportedly hindered by mismanagement and overspending issues, prompting the department to ask the Pentagon to cover cost overruns for its W76 warhead upgrade operations, though it only received three billion of the seven billion dollars it had requested.
Meanwhile, the Obama administration’s 2014 budget proposal is reportedly billions of dollars higher than the spending caps mandated by the 2011 Budget Control Act. It is, therefore, expected to face strong opposition from congressional members. The White House and US lawmakers have been battling for the past two years over budgetary issues, and are yet to reach a common ground.
- Proponents of ‘first strike’ nuclear war against Iran rob billions from their own citizens (rt.com)
- US to upgrade nuke arsenal while cutting nonproliferation efforts – report (rt.com)
- Nonproliferation in a time of austerity (thebulletin.org)
- Israel hinders efforts aimed at nuke-free Middle East: Iran (alethonews.wordpress.com)
The New York Times (4/7/13) reports that progress on the Iran nuclear negotiations appears rather bleak. But the piece, by David Herszenhorn, passes off a key fact as if it were a mere Iranian claim.
The article presents one take from Iran’s top negotiator, Saeed Jalili–along with a curt response from the U.S.:
“Of course, there is some distance in the position of the two sides,” Mr. Jalili said. But he said Iran’s proposals, which required recognizing “our right to enrich and ending behaviors which have every indication of enmity toward the Iranian people,” were designed “to help us move toward a constructive road.”
A senior American official called Iran’s demands unreasonable and “disproportionate.”
The piece elaborates:
Western countries fear that Iran is trying to develop nuclear weapons, while Iran has insisted that its program is for peaceful purposes, including atomic energy and medical research, to which it claims a right as a signer of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty.
We’re accustomed to “Iran says X, the West says Y” in Iran coverage. But despite the evident confidence of the U.S., there is still no evidence that Iran is actually pursuing a weapons program.
But what of this idea that Iran “claims” a right to enrich uranium? That is, as Steve Rendall wrote for Extra! (9/05), a fact:
Under the NPT, non-nuclear-weapons countries agree not to pursue or possess nuclear weapons, while nuclear-armed countries agree to pursue disarmament and to share nuclear energy technology with the non-nuclear countries. (See Extra!, 7-8/05.) Under the agreement, non-nuclear-weapons states may develop nuclear programs, enrich uranium, etc., as long the programs are for non-military purposes and they are disclosed to the IAEA.
Another fact about the NPT that goes mostly unmentioned is that it calls on countries that possess nuclear weapons “to facilitate the cessation of the manufacture of nuclear weapons, the liquidation of all their existing stockpiles, and the elimination from national arsenals of nuclear weapons and the means of their delivery.”
But to the New York Times, Iran’s appeals to the treaty are “claims,” which can be challenged by anonymous U.S. officials (the “official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity,” which has become the State Department’s standard practice at the talks).
And while we’re on the subject of Iran, here’s a pretty revealing exchange from ABC‘s This Week (4/7/13)
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: The nuclear talks with Iran basically failed again. And you have to believe Iran is watching this as well, and says, ‘He’s got nuclear weapons, he has a stronger hand.’
MARTHA RADDATZ: Not only watching it, but I think there’s cooperation between North Korea and Iran. In fact, that’s something else General Thurman and other U.S. officials have told me.
STEPHANOPOULOS: What kind of cooperation?
RADDATZ: Cooperation on a nuclear program. Certainly North Korea wants money. And Iran wants nukes.
Huh. Anything else U.S. officials want you to share with the public, absent even a shred of skepticism?
Israel has rebuffed a UN call to adhere to the Nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and open itself to international inspectors, calling the suggestion a “meaningless mechanical vote” of a body that “lost all its credibility regarding Israel.”
In a 174-6 vote, the United Nations General Assembly demanded in a non-binding call that Tel Aviv join the NPT “without further delay,” in an effort to create a legally binding nuclear-free Middle East.
Washington, Israel’s strongest ally, surprised no one by voting against the resolution – but did approve two paragraphs that were voted on separately, which called for universal adherence to the NPT and for all non-signatory governments to join.
The UN body “has lost all its credibility regarding Israel with these types of routine votes that are ensured passage by an automatic majority and which single out Israel,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor was quoted by the Jerusalem Post as saying.
The Assembly’s call on Israel comes days after a large majority of its members voted to grant Palestine statehood state status and just weeks after the an escalation of violence between Gazans and Israel’s occupation forces. Palmor stressed, however, that since the NPT vote takes place annually, the Palestinian victory is not connected.
Israel is not a signatory to the 1970 Nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty, the main objective of which is to is to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons and weapons technology. Despite near-universal acknowledgement that Tel Aviv maintains a powerful nuclear arsenal, Israeli officials promote a position claiming their government will “not be the first country to introduce weapons into the Middle East.”
The Middle East’s only democracy possesses as many as 400 nuclear warheads, along with various ways to deliver them. It is also one of four countries known to have nuclear weapons that are not recognized as Nuclear Weapons States by the NPT. The others are India, North Korea and Pakistan.
Israel follows a policy known as “nuclear opacity,” which it sees as a deterrent against its neighbors.
The timing of the Israeli dismissal of the call for transparency comes less than two weeks after Washington’s withdrawal from December’s nuclear-free Middle East conference, to be held in Finland and sponsored by Russia, the UK and the US.
State Department officials said the international effort is being postponed because of “a deep conceptual gap [that] persists in the region on approaches towards regional security and arms control arrangements,” and because “states in the region have not reached agreement on acceptable conditions” for the meeting, quotes the IPS.
But many blamed Israel’s refusal to accept the terms as the real reason for postponing the regional nuclear drive.
“The truth is that the Israeli regime is the only party which rejected to conditions for a conference,” Iranian diplomat Khodadad Seifi told the General Assembly on Monday, as he called for “strong pressure on that regime to participate in the conference without any preconditions.”
The meeting is now expected to be held early next year.
There are currently five nuclear-weapon-free zones in the world, according to the UN: Latin America and the Caribbean, the South Pacific, South-East Asia, Central Asia, and Africa.
- NAM slams nuclear meeting cancellation, urges Israel to join NPT (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- World tells Israel to open up its nukes (morningstaronline.co.uk)
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 – Iranian Majlis Speaker Ali Larijani has said that the most recent resolution issued against Iran by the International Atomic Energy Agency raises doubt about the benefit of being a signatory to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).
Larijani made the remarks in a speech during an open session of the Majlis on Sunday in reference to the resolution that the 35-member IAEA Board of Governors adopted in Vienna on Thursday, which condemned Iran’s refusal to meet international demands to curb uranium enrichment and its alleged failure to allay international concerns about its nuclear program.
The Iranian parliament speaker said, “The recent resolution by the Board of Governors raises this question for the public: What is the benefit of the NPT and membership in the International Atomic Energy Agency for countries?
“If Iran had not been committed to the NPT, would Western countries have taken other measures?”
He stated that IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano has a responsibility to encourage the world’s countries to join the NPT, adding, “Will Mr. Amano be able to succeed in his job through such high-handed decision-making?”
“If the path taken by the West and the United States is the adoption of resolutions and sanctions against Iran, then why are they seeking negotiations between Iran and Western countries? However, these countries must be aware that the result of the negotiations is predetermined with the adoption of such an attitude,” Larijani noted.
He also said, “The main text of the resolution was definitely drafted by a few Western countries. It seems that certain tyrannical countries made their intention to make excessive demands at the 5+1 talks more public with (their) insistence on the adoption of the resolution.”
The latest round of high-level talks between Iran and the 5+1 group (the five permanent members of the UN Security Council and Germany) over the country’s nuclear program was held in Moscow on June 18 and 19.
After the Moscow talks, both sides agreed to hold expert talks, the most recent round of which was held in Istanbul on July 24.
No decision has yet been made on the next round of negotiations.
- Analysis of latest IAEA report on Iran – August 2012 (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- Iran’s right to enrichment questioned again (alethonews.wordpress.com)
So the latest IAEA report on Iran is out. The media have been trying very hard to put as scary a spin on the report as possible. Here’s my analysis.
Paragraphs 1 and 2 attempt to portray UNSC resolutions on Iran, demanding that Iran give up enrichment, as being “binding”. They further demand that Iran ratify the Additional Protocol.
Sorry, but the UNSC is not legally authorized to make such demands. A very fundamental principle of the international law of treaties is the principle of “voluntariness” – treaties are only binding when a country voluntarily agrees to them, and the UNSC cannot demand that any country sign and ratify a treaty. This is a basic principle of international law: “International treaty law comprises obligations states expressly and voluntarily accept between themselves”
Nevertheless Iran not only implemented the Additional Protocol for a period of about 3 years in the past (with no evidence of any nukes found) but has offered to permanently ratify the treaty as long as its rights under the NPT are also recognized. Thus far, the US has refused.
There are also references to the “Annex” published by the IAEA in the Nov 2011 report which was touted as proof positive of Iranian nuclear perfidy. But as reporters like Scott Peterson and Seymor Hersh pointed out, it was just a repeat of well-known and still unsubstantiated claims that the previous IAEA head Elbaradei had refused to endorse. The same Annex in the news in Sept 2009, having been partially leaked to George Jahn of the AP. Back then, Elbaradei stood accused of “censoring” this “secret annex” which supposedly proved that Iran had an on-going nuclear weapons program, contrary to the NIEs. The IAEA denied there was such a “secret” annex, and the IAEA spokesman characterized it as simply information that was insufficiently verified to be included in the IAEA reports. Apparently, with the replacement of ElBaradei with Amano, this view changed, and the annex was included in the latest report, but under Elbaradei the IAEA issued a press release stating that “it has no concrete proof that there is or has been a nuclear weapon programme in Iran.”
Paragraph 3 attempts to justify the expanded role of the IAEA as the “enforcer” of the NPT on Iran, but in fact if you read the text of Iran’s safeguards agreement you’d see that the role of the IAEA is quite limited — its function is “exclusively” to send inspectors to measure the declared nuclear material in Iran to ensure non-diversion to weapons use — and the IAEA has fulfilled this role already, which is why every single IAEA report on Iran (including this one) states that there is no evidence of such a diversion.
Paragraphss 5 – 7 are mainly about Parchin. The IAEA demands access to this site — even though it is not a declared nuclear facility, and therefore falls outside of the IAEA’s legal inspection authority. However Iran voluntarily allowed the IAEA to inspect this site already in 2005 — twice — with no evidence of any nuclear material or activities found. If the IAEA was serious about the “suspicions” here, all it has to do is present the evidence to the IAEA Board and get a “special inspections” authorization which Iran is legally required to allow — but the IAEA has not done so because the IAEA simply does not have any actual evidence of any nuclear work there. In fact the IAEA officials complained previously that the US intel on Iran’s nuclear program were bogus. Note that the Iranians have not refused another visit to Parchin, but want a “structured approach” to be determined beforehand. This was arranged for the previous IAEA visits to Parchin so why is the IAEA not doing so for this visit?
Paragaph 9 is the key paragraph where the IAEA verifies the non-diversion of nuclear material to non-peaceful uses. This is key, because that’s the relevant standard in determining whether Iran is in compliance with the NPT or not. As Michael Spies of the Lawyer’s Committee on Nuclear Policy has explained:
The conclusion that no diversion has occurred certifies that the state in question is in compliance with its undertaking, under its safeguards agreement and Article III of the NPT, to not divert material to non-peaceful purposes. In the case of Iran, the IAEA was able to conclude in its November 2004 report that that all declared nuclear materials had been accounted for and therefore none had been diverted to military purposes. The IAEA reached this same conclusion in September 2005.
Paragraphs 10-12 admits that all of the nuclear activities in the declared nuclear sites and facilities in Iran are under IAEA safeguards, which again means Iran is in full compliance with the actual requirements of the NPT, even though the UNSC has tried to impose additional demands and restrictions on Iran.
Footnote 14 is interesting because it states that Iran reportedly intends to make several more reactors that manufacture medical isotopes. This again is in full compliance with Iran’s rights under the NPT
Paragraphs 13-16 are about the Natanz enrichment facility, which operates under IAEA safeugards, and specifically paragraph 16 essentially states that the operations are not violating the NPT either, and the uranium is enriched to less than 5% which is low-enriched uranium used for reactors.
Footnote 17 states that a small amount of uranium is enriched to slightly more than 5% due to a “known technical phenomenon associated with the start up of centrifuge cascades”. This was previously misrepresented in the media as evidence of Iranian perfidy when the same phenomenon was found at Fordo, the site where Iran enriches uranium to 20%, but is in fact simply an unavoidable phenomenon: when introducing uranium into the centrifuges, the process takes a bit of time, so some of the uranium initially introduced into the a centrifuge may be enriched to slightly higher levels than the rest. In fact paragraph 26 , which addressese this “overshoot” phenomenon at Fordo, confirms that this “Iran’s explanation is not inconsistent with the further assessment made by the Agency.”
Paragraphs 18-22 are about the Pilot Fuel Enrichment Plant — again in Natanz, which according to paragraph 22 continues to operate in accordance with the NPT.
Paragraphs 23-26 are about the enrichment facility at Fordo, which makes the 20% enriched uranium for use in the Tehran Research Reactor. It states that Iran has expanded the number of centrifuges there, but that they’re not operating. In any case this hasn’t stopped the media scaremongering about the facility, which operates under IAEA safeguards. Of course, the media scaremongers don’t bother mentioning that Iran would not have had to start 20% enrichment had the US not interferred with Iran’s right to acquire the fuel for the Tehran Research Reactor in the first place, nor that Iran has already announced plans to covert 1/3 of this material into fuel rods thus precluding their use for bomb-making. In fact Iran has suggested that it would agree to a plan of immediately converting all of its enriched uranium into fuel rods. This is not what a country intent on making nukes would do.
Paragraph 27 states that the IAEA is awaiting information about Iran’s plans to make new reactors in the future. Well, according to Iran’s safeguards agreement, Iran is only required to formally disclose such reactors 180-days prior to the introduction of nuclear material into them. Since these reactors have yet to be built, then Iran is under no obligation to provide any other information – yet.
Paragraph 28 states that Iran is not reprocessing uranium — a process that is used to extract plutonium from reactor fuel rods, and Iran has stated that it has no intention of doing so. Again, no NPT violatons there either.
Paragraphs 29-31 are about the heavy water reactor that Iran is building which according to the report continues “under Agency safeguards”. Specifically Paragraph 31 complains that the IAEA has not been allowed “further access” to the Heavy Water Production plant. However, since heavy water is not fissile material, and the IAEA’s inspection authority is limited to the inspection of fissile material and places where fissile material is stored, Iran is not obligated to allow ANY IAEA inspections of the plant at all – even though it has already done so voluntarily.
Paragraphs 32-37 are about Iran’s Uranium conversion and fuel plate manufacture facilities. It is interesting to note that the report states Iran has been making fuel plates on its own, when a few years ago we were told that Iran could not possibly figure out how to do this, and so any enriched uranium it was making was necessarily intended for nukes rather than reactor fuel (the fact that making fuel plates is a lot easier than making nukes, went unmentioned). Again, nothing violates the NPT here either.
Section H (paragraphs 38-44) are about the continued saga of the “alleged studies” from the Laptop of Death, as well as allegations about Parchin, specifically the “explosives testing container”. Note however that the IAEA report does not state that there were nuclear activities here — rather it refers to “undisclosed nuclear related activities” — which is funny because the IAEA’s inspection authority is limited to nuclear material not “nuclear related” material. The report states that the IAEA has “become increasingly concerned about the possible existence in Iran of undisclosed nuclear related activities” since 2002, but in fact Elbaradei stated clearly that the IAEA has no evidence of any such “undisclosed” activities. Furthermore Robert Kelley and others have already debunked a lot of the allegations about this “explosives testing chamber“
In fact, the chamber is far too small to contain explosive proof tests of a full scale mock-up, and far too big to contain smaller tests of research interest. Thus, a container of this size is irrelevant to a Iranian nuclear weapons program.
If you’re interested, here’s what the former IAEA head Elbaradei had to say about these alleged studies.
Section I (paragraphs 45-47) are the IAEA’s complaints that Iran should provide information on plans to build nuclear facilities (such as the Fordo enrichment facility) earlier than what its standard safeguards agreement requires. This is a long-standing technical dispute between the IAEA and Iran about when precisely Iran should provide design information on planned nuclear facilities. For a while Iran agreed, as a gesture of good faith, to adopt a “Modified” version of a safeguard agreement that required it to provide this info earlier than its existing standard safeguards require, but Iran ended that voluntary cooperation after the Paris Agreement negotiations fell apart. Since then, the IAEA has been insisting that Iran is somehow obligated to continue this practice, but this demand is legally questionable. The bottom line, however, remains that regardless of when Iran declares a nuclear facility, the declared facility will still operate under IAEA safeguards and so cannot be used to secretly make nukes anyway, so this is really a side issue and involves no violation of the NPT as long as the IAEA continues to verify the non-diversion of nuclear material.
Section J (paragraph) 48 says that Iran hasn’t implemented the Additional Protocol, and so the IAEA cannot verify the absence of undeclared material until it does. Which is true, but the same is true for many other nations including Egypt, Argentina, Brazil. However, unlike those countries Iran voluntarily implemented the Additional Protocol, and has since allowed inspections that exceed even the Additional Protocol, with no proof of any nuclear weapons work found.
Section K is about other technical matters that involve no violation of the NPT either.
So that’s about it: Iran continues to work on enrichment, and the IAEA continues to verify this program and there’s still no proof of any nuclear weapons work
- Iran’s right to enrichment questioned again (alethonews.wordpress.com)
It was once claimed that Iran had no right to enrich uranium, and anything that the NPT may have to say about sopporting that right was just a “loophole” in the treaty that had to be closed. This was a hard sell since so many countries other than Iran vehemently defended the right to enrichment. So the US changed its tune, and claimed that it actually recognized Iran’s right to enrich uranium however it was simply demanding that Iran “suspend” this right indefinitely until when the US and friends say that it can implement the right safely. No one was fooled by that change in tune, of course, but nevertheless that was the official face-saving position.
So you gotta love it when some horse’s ass goes back and tries to make a legal argument that enrichment is not recognized as a right under the Non Proliferation Treaty. It is not only just an easily refutable argument from a legal standpoint, but it also betrays one of the real agendas of the Iran-hawks: to make an example out of Iran for other developing nations in the on-going effort to get them all to give up their rights under the NPT.
So let me explain: first, the author of this article, a Michael Makosky, identified as a former “Pentagon official”, says about Iran’s right to enrichment: “The Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) grants no such right.” Why does he think so? Because he argues, 1- the right is not explicitly listed in the NPT, and 2- because Iran has supposedly not met its obligations under Article III (which requires countries to implement safeguards and allow inspections.)
Well as for the first count — that the right is not explicitly written into the treaty — is total nonsense. The Treaty speaks of nuclear technology in broad terms rather than specific ones, and there’s no reason to assume that a particular type of nuclear technology which is absolutely necessary for a country to independently produce nuclear power is not included. The NPT is not just about non-proliferation, as the author claims. It is also very much about expanding nuclear technology worldwide, which is why there’s even a provision in the NPT that obligated the recognized nuclear-armed states to provide nuclear technology and even information from their test explosiions to the other signatories.
Anyway, considering how many other nations have enrichment technology, then it is far too late in the day to proclaim that enrichment isn’t part of the deal. Certainly, the other nations of the world don’t think that enrichment was excluded, and theyv’e gone to extreme ends to make their voice on the matter clear, as I’ve written before. The Developing Nations and the Non-Aligned Movement have repeatedly gone on record defending Iran’s right to enrichment. Even US allies such as Brazil and Turkey have explicitly recognized that right.
Then we come to the second argument, that Iran is not in compliance with other Articles of the NPt and therefore the “right to enrichment” does not apply to it. This is nonsense for many reasons, but for starters it simply shows a profound ignorance of the NPT. See, as Daniel Joyner has written, the right is simply not “conditional” on the implementation of the other articles. But entirely apart from that, Iran hasn’t violated Article III anyway — it has “maintained” a safeguards agreement with the IAEA as Article III requires, and has allowed all the inspections that its safeguards agreement actually requires, whilst on several occasions going beyond them to allow inspections of places — such as Parchin, twice in 2005 — where the NPT does not apply and which falls outside of the IAEA’s legal inspection authority (which is limited to only measureing nuclear material and sites where nuclear material is stored — not to go on fishing expeditions in missile testing facilities etc.) In fact, it is the demands placed on Iran which are themselves illegal and in violation of the NPT. Note that if the IAEA has any valid basis of suspicion that Iran has failed to declare a nuclear site, all it has to do is present the evidence to the IAEA Board and get a “special inspection” permit that Iran would be obliged to allow. This has not happened because the US has not been able to provide much useful intelligence to the IAEA on Iran’s nuclear program.
And that is why other informed international affairs experts have agreed that Iran’s nuclear program is not in breach of international law.
- Iran’s enrichment program: “intransigence” or US stupidity? (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- The media and nuclear weapons: spot the difference between Britain and Iran (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- Iran’s IAEA envoy: Britain and France violating NPT (EndtheLie.com)