[DEBATE] : US, nukes, Iran
hein at marais.as
Fri Jun 2 16:56:36 BST 2006
Apropos war talk vs Iran, two recent pieces - first from Counterpunch, the
other from this morning's New York Times.
June 1, 2006
Will the Security Council Go Along for the Ride Again?
Iran: a Manufactured Crisis
By DAVID PETERSON
Is it within the right of the Security Council to impose demands upon UN
member states that not only violate treaties and conventions, international
law and World Court decisions" but also the UN Charter according to whose
"functions and powers" the Security Council presumably acts?
The answer, of course, is no. Nor is the question merely academic. Because
at a meeting of six global powers scheduled to be held in Vienna perhaps as
early as June 1, representatives of the five Permanent Members of the
Council (Britain, China, France, the Russian Federation, and the United
States) plus Germany very well could finalize an agreement on Iran's nuclear
program that makes UN Charter- and Nuclear Non-Proliferation
Treaty-violating demands on Iran. Should this or any subsequent meeting
among these powers produce a draft Security Council resolution that calls
upon Iran to surrender its "inalienable right" under Article IV.1 of the NPT
"to develop research, production and use of nuclear energy for peaceful
purposes without discrimination" (1970), along with enforceable, Chapter
VII-type penalties in case Iran resists their orders, the UN Charter and the
NPT will have been overthrown, and the current crisis greatly heightened"
all in the name of maintaining "international peace and security."
The position of Tehran with respect to its nuclear program has been repeated
almost daily since last August 1, when Tehran stated that "no incentive
would be sufficient to compromise Iran's inalienable right to all aspects of
peaceful nuclear technology," and informed the International Atomic Energy
Agency that it had decided to resume uranium enrichment at Esfahan. "As this
right is inalienable'," Tehran explained, "it cannot be undermined or
curtailed under any pretext. Any attempt to do so would be an attempt to
undermine a pillar of the Treaty and indeed the Treaty itself." Then just
days ago, Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki told a gathering of the
114-member Non-Aligned Movement in Malaysia that any agreement must
"recognize the essential right of Iran to have nuclear technology." A
final declaration adopted by the NAM on May 30 "reaffirmed" this right. And
in the same spirit, added that "states' choices and decisions in the field
of peaceful uses of nuclear technology and its fuel cycle policies must be
respected," and that "any attack or threat of attack against peaceful
nuclear facilities constitutes a grave violation of international law."
Washington's position also has been expressed many times in recent months.
Perhaps most forcefully by UN Ambassador John Bolton, who in early March
asserted point-blank the American demand that "no enrichment in Iran is
There is no doubting that as a signatory to the NPT, Iran enjoys the right
to engage in every phase of the nuclear fuel cycle, including uranium
enrichment of the kind it had been clandestinely researching for most of the
past two decades, and reportedly accomplished in early April"the two
conditions being that in concealing its activities, Iran was in breach of
its Safeguards Agreement to the NPT, and that such activity must be for
peaceful purposes. When Iran's President announced the "historic moment"
during a nationally televised address on April 11, he was quite explicit
about its civilian end-use: "[T]he nuclear fuel cycle has been completed at
laboratory scale and uranium enrichment for nuclear power plants was
achieved,'' Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said. Never once has the Islamic Republic
of Iran (1979-) asserted an intent to develop or acquire nuclear weapons. In
fact, Iran's clerical leadership has consistently rejected nuclear weapons
as contrary to Islamic custom and law. And Tehran long has advocated the
creation of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East" yet another
NPT-related goal (Article VII), reiterated by the Secretary-General of the
League of Arab States while visiting Beijing on May 30. What is more, not
one of the IAEA's 17 (or so) written reports to its Board of Governors has
ever produced serious evidence to the contrary" not even the reports dated
February 27 and April 28 of this year, the release of which has been
accompanied by the referral of Iran's nuclear dossier to the Security
Council. Indeed, for its strongest case today, the IAEA has adopted a Mad
Hatter's logic to the effect that it is unable to confirm the absence of
undeclared nuclear material and activities inside Iran--a sop to every state
that seeks to keep the issue of Iran's nuclear program at the front and
center of the global stage. To repeat the irresistible Rumsfeldian line from
the Secretary of Defense's days hawking the ballistic missile threat to the
United States back in the 1990s: The absence of evidence is not evidence of
absence. Therefore, Iran's nuclear program poses a grave threat to
international peace and security. Say no more.
Similarly, there is no doubting that as a signatory to the NPT, Washington's
rejection of Iran's "inalienable right" not only places Washington in
violation of the treaty, but also in violation of its obligations as well.
Article IV.2 of the NPT calls on parties to the treaty to share their
material and technological expertise with non-nuclear weapons parties "with
due consideration for the needs of the developing areas of the world"
"again, the one caveat being for peaceful purposes. But far more important
to five of the six states now bartering over the fate of Iran's nuclear
program, Article VI imposes an obligation on nuclear weapons parties "to
pursue negotiations in good faith on effective measures relating to
cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date and to nuclear
disarmament, and on a treaty on general and complete disarmament under
strict and effective international control." To date, I am unaware of any
serious effort on the part of Britain, France, Russia, China, and in
particular the United States to uphold their Article VI obligations.
Although it is unimaginable that these five states will ever find their
nuclear dossiers hauled before the Security Council" the absolute vetoes
they enjoy as Permanent Members of the Council being one of the major
constitutional flaws of the international order"who in all honesty
believes that the fabled "international community" for which the Permanent
Five serve as proxies is outraged over its failure to confirm the absence of
undeclared nuclear material or activities inside Iran?
At this stage in the dangerous and escalating, largely U.S.-manufactured,
and wholly unnecessary "crisis" over Iran's nuclear program, the question
the world ought to ask is not whether Iran intends to develop nuclear
weapons, and therefore poses a Chapter VII-type threat to international
peace and security. Quite the contrary. The crucial question is whether the
United States, as the most belligerent and serially aggressive power in the
world today, will be able to use its considerable influence over the three
peripheral belligerents (Britain, France, and Germany) to bribe and cajole
both China and Russia into enforcing from the floor of the Security Council
the NPT-violating principle that "no enrichment in Iran is permissible"?
"They are trying to turn the denial of rights of developing states into an
international standard," in the words of Iran's Foreign Minister before the
Non-Aligned Movement in Malaysia. "Even more dangerous is their effort to
turn nuclear disarmament, which has a serious priority for the international
community and NAM, into a secondary issue."
What responses Britain, France, Germany, and especially China and Russia
summon will ultimately go a long way toward deciding whether the American
crimes of Afghanistan and Iraq are extended to Iran.
David Peterson is an independent researcher and writer in Chicago.
1. Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (1970-),
2. Note Verbal No. 350-1-17/928 (IAEA INFCIRC/648), August 1, 2005, pp. 4-5
3. In Eileen Ng, "Iran's FM plays down incentive plan for suspending uranium
enrichment," Associated Press, May 29.
4. For these excerpts from the Putrajaya Declaration, see "Non-aligned
nations back Iran's nuclear program," Japan Economic Newswire, May 30.
5. In "No uranium enrichment permissible' for Iran"US envoy," Agence France
Presse, March 6.
6. For a summary of IAEA findings with respect to Iran's clandestine work on
the nuclear fuel cycle through October, 2003, see Implementation of the NPT
Safeguards Agreement in the Islamic Republic of Iran (GOV/2005/67), pars.
4-8 and pars. 42-52, September 2, 2005.
7. In Anton La Guardia, "Has Iran reached nuclear point of no return?" Daily
Telegraph, April 12, 2006
8. "Arab League chief calls for nuclear-free Middle East," Xinhua, May 31,
9. See Implementation of the NPT Safeguards Agreement in the Islamic
Republic of Iran (GOV/2006/15), ; and Implementation of the NPT Safeguards
Agreement in the Islamic Republic of Iran (GOV/2006/27).
10. Significantly, none of the Security Council "reforms" proposed by the UN
Secretary-General have gone so far as to eliminate the absolute veto of the
Permanent Five members of the Security Council. See In Larger Freedom:
Toward Security, Development, and Human Rights for All, March, 2005, pars.
251-258 . Also see David Peterson, "'In Larger Freedom' I," ZNet, March,
11. In P. Vijian, "IAEA Fails To Detect Misuse Of Nuclear Material, Says
Iran," Malaysian National News Agency, May 30
U.S. seen undermining limits on nuclear arms
By Warren Hoge The New York Times
FRIDAY, JUNE 2, 2006
UNITED NATIONS, New York Hans Blix, the former chief UN weapons inspector,
says that American unwillingness to cooperate in international arms
agreements is undermining efforts to curb nuclear weapons.
Blix said Thursday that it was essential that Washington act to end what he
called the stagnation of arms limitation. "If it takes the lead, the world
is likely to follow," he said. "If it does not take the lead, there could be
more nuclear tests and new nuclear arms races."
Blix, who left his arms inspection post in 2003 shortly after the invasion
of Iraq, made his comments in the introduction to a report by an
international commission financed by Sweden. The report was delivered
Thursday to Secretary General Kofi Annan.
The panel, with Blix as chairman and members from more than a dozen
countries, listed 60 recommendations for nuclear disarmament.
It concluded that treaty-based disarmament was being set back by "an
increased U.S. skepticism regarding the effectiveness of international
institutions and instruments, coupled with a drive for freedom of action to
maintain an absolute global superiority in weaponry and means of their
Blix, 77, a Swedish constitutional lawyer, was the director general of the
International Atomic Energy Agency from 1981 to 1997. He was disparaged by
the Bush administration for failing to turn up unconventional weapons during
the three years he was chief of the UN inspection team in Iraq.
The report drew a direct link between the rise of individual action and the
decline of cooperation.
"Over the past decade, there has been a serious and dangerous loss of
momentum and direction in disarmament and nonproliferation efforts," it
said. "Treaty-making and implementation have stalled, and, as a new wave of
proliferation has threatened, unilateral enforcement action has been
The commission urged all countries to sign and ratify the Comprehensive Test
Ban Treaty and called on nuclear nations to reduce their arsenals and stop
producing plutonium and highly enriched uranium for more nuclear weapons.
The United States has not ratified the test ban treaty, and in 2002 it
withdrew from the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty.
"While the reaction of most states to the treaty violations was to
strengthen and develop the existing treaties and institutions," Blix said,
"the U.S., the sole superpower, has looked more to its own military power
One result, he said, was that "the nuclear weapons states no longer seem to
take their commitment to nuclear disarmament seriously."
The commission said there were 27,000 nuclear weapons in the world, with
12,000 of them deployed.
Blix said he feared that the number would rise because of efforts to develop
more sophisticated new weapons and place them in space. He said he also
feared that a missile shield proposed by the United States would lead to
countermeasures by Russia and China.
The commission said nuclear weapons should be banned the way biological and
chemical weapons have been.
"Weapons of mass destruction cannot be uninvented," the report said. "But
they can be outlawed, as biological and chemical weapons already have been,
and their use made unthinkable."
It identified as "two loud wake-up calls" the breakdown of the UN conference
a year ago on the future of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty and the
failure of a UN summit meeting of heads of state last autumn to include
mention of unconventional weapons, a lapse Annan described as a "disgrace."
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