In an op-ed in The Philadelphia Inquirer, anti-nuclear weapons activist Tad Daley writes:
It may well be that Tehran does ultimately aspire to produce not just nuclear electricity, but also a few nuclear weapons to deter the aggression that others keep threatening to launch. But no one claims that it is doing so now. Indeed, the day before Khalilzad and Casey spoke, IAEA head Mohammed ElBaradei told CNN: “Have we seen Iran having the nuclear material that can readily be used into a weapon? No. Have we seen an active weaponization program? No.”
So, contrary to Casey’s declaration, the U.S. government is hardly conceding that “any country” meeting his stated criteria is acting in a manner “perfectly acceptable to us.” The Bush administration, instead, subjectively and unilaterally, is assessing the “record, rhetoric, policies and connections” of both Egypt and Iran, and pronouncing, in our wisdom, that the one may proceed down the nuclear road while the other may not.
No other possible conclusion can be drawn, since Iran, in pursuing, so far at least, merely a nuclear “capability,” is in fact in accord with its obligations under the NPT.
They’re fully within their rights to go that way.
Can anyone read the text of Non-Proliferation Treaty and conclude that Iran doesn’t have a right to pursue the peaceful use of nuclear energy? That’s the plain text of the treat to which both the United States and Iran are signatories. See here
Affirming the principle that the benefits of peaceful applications of nuclear technology, including any technological by-products which may be derived by nuclear-weapon States from the development of nuclear explosive devices, should be available for peaceful purposes to all Parties to the Treaty, whether nuclear-weapon or non-nuclear-weapon States,
1. Nothing in this Treaty shall be interpreted as affecting the inalienable right of all the Parties to the Treaty to develop research, production and use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes without discrimination and in conformity with Articles I and II of this Treaty.
My blog-friend and goad Cernig takes Charles at LGF to task for failing to understand either the op-ed or, presumably, the NPT.
It’s been some time since I’ve written about Iran and its nuclear development program, largely because I’ve said what I have to say on the subject and new developments haven’t warranted expanding on the subject. While the Iranians are, indeed, within their rights under the NPT to pursue nuclear development for peaceful purposes and the Bush Administration is wrong in stepping beyond the terms of the treaty in its criticisms of the Iranians, there’s plenty of reason to doubt the Iranians’ bona fides and to be concerned about the situation.
The IAEA found the Iranians to be in breach of their obligations under the NPT in 2004 (“Iran’s Nuclear Stance Criticized,” BBC News, 8 March 2004), in 2005 (“UN Call for Iranian Co-Operstion,” BBC, 28 February 2005), and 2006 (Mark Heinrich, “Iran’s inspection curb hobbles key IAEA atom probe,” Washington Post, 7 February 2006). The Iranians’ have strenuously resisted adopting measures which would be less useful for adapting their nuclear research to military use e.g. the offer by the Russians to enrich fuel for Iranian nuclear reactors, pursuing a heavy water reactor rather than a light water reactor. Further, Iran’s explanations for why they are pursuing even peaceful use of nuclear technology simply aren’t credible: improving their existing oil and gas facilities would result in greater energy savings than nuclear reactors could produce; Iran doesn’t have enough indigenous uranium to prevent their nuclear energy program from being dependent on outside resources.
That means you’re left with one (or more) of the following conclusions, none of which are particularly comforting:
- The Iranian regime is irrational.
- The Iranian regime is developing nuclear weapons.
- The Iranian regime wants somebody (its own people, us,the Israelis, the Europeans) to believe that they’re developing nuclear weapons.
- The Iranian regime wants to be in a position to development nuclear weapons in the near term so is maximizing the availablility of dual-purpose technologies.
I don’t oppose Iran’s having nuclear power. I don’t oppose Iran’s developing nuclear power. I don’t even oppose Iran having nuiclear weapons. I do oppose this Iranian regime’s having nuclear weapons but I’ve been consistent in my prescription: the U. S. should stop sabre-rattling unless it’s prepared to back up the threats (as my friend John Burgess has aptly commented, the only successful military action against Iran would be carpet bombing with nuclear weapons) and start offering some carrots that are appealing to the present regime.