Saturday, March 08, 2014
Thursday, February 27, 2014
We Design Good Looking and Professional Website in HTML / WORDPRESS / JOOMLA with 15-20 pages only in 4200 INR or 50$ . We will provide free web hosting for one year.
Other offer we have are ADWORDS 2000 INR COUPON BING 800$ COUPON - BING 82$ COUPON - GOOGLE ADWORDS 100$ COUPON FOR USA (REQUIRED 25$ SPENDING) FACEBOOK 50$ COUPON AVAILABLE.
Thursday, January 30, 2014
Eight Ways You're Wrong About Iran's Nuclear Program
Such use of force would further inflame the Middle East and could push Iran to start a full-scale nuclear weapons project. US national security would further erode as a result—just like it has with the Iraq debacle. The 'aluminum tubes', 'mobile biological-weapons labs', and 'yellow cake from Niger' memes fueled the march to that war. Let's examine some of the current false Iran nuclear memes before we’re led down the yellow-cake road again :
Meme 1: “If the world powers fail to reach a deal with Tehran the alternative is bombing.”
An incarnation of this shopworn meme appears in Matthew Kroenig's recent piece in Foreign Affairs . He states “A truly comprehensive diplomatic settlement between Iran and the West is still the best possible outcome, but there is little reason to believe that one can be achieved. And that means the United States may still have to choose between bombing Iran and allowing it to acquire a nuclear bomb.” Er, no. That's a false choice. Iran is not acquiring a nuclear bomb—the US Director of National Intelligence (DNI) has a “high level of confidence”  that no decision to weaponize has yet been taken in Tehran. This conclusion of the DNI is not based on an absence of evidence but on actual information  that whatever weaponization research Iran may have been doing up to about 2003 has been wrapped up a decade ago.
The P5+1 nations—the five permanent members of the Security Council: the US, UK, France, Russia and China, plus Germany—are not negotiating with Iran to stop it from making a nuclear bomb. They are negotiating with Iran on how to continue to keep its nuclear program peaceful. The discussion is about the methods used to verify that Iran continues its peaceful nuclear program. Even if the nuclear talks fall apart the IAEA inspectors would still continue to inspect Iranian nuclear facilities.
If we—or our allies—bomb Iran the IAEA inspectors would most certainly be expelled, Iran would likely leave the NPT, and Tehran would likely kick off a full-blown nuclear weapons development project. Iraq's nuclear weapons project also started in earnest after Israel bombed  Iraq's Osirak reactor in 1981.
To sum up: The negotiations with Iran are about the methods to use to continue to make sure Iran's nuclear program is peaceful. Not reaching a deal is not the end of the world. And if we do bomb Iran, it is likely to bring about the very thing the bombs were trying to prevent: a full-blown nuclear weapons program.
That said, a deal is still the best outcome: it would give even more reassurance about Iran's nuclear program, and it would end the sanctions which are punishing the weakest of the Iranian civilians while enriching the Revolutionary Guards  who profit from busting sanctions.
Meme 2: “Sanctions forced Iran to the table and extracted concessions from Iran.”
This meme has been expressed,  for example, by Senator Robert Menendez, among many others. He has stated that “Current sanctions brought Iran to the negotiating table and a credible threat of future sanctions will require Iran to cooperate and act in good faith at the negotiating table.” However cliché, the statement is untrue. Iran was at the negotiating table almost ten years ago  and offered the same concessions back then. The sanctions are not what resulted in the recent breakthrough  interim agreement between the world powers and Iran. The main thing that changed is the improved atmospherics, which “allowed” the P5+1 to sign a deal with Iran. The election of Iranian president Rouhani, a moderate and erudite leader, permitted the world powers to sign a deal with Iran—a “reward” the US was unwilling to bestow upon the loudmouthed and provocative Ahmedinejad, mostly for domestic reasons .
It is important to underline that Iran has offered nothing more in terms of concessions now than what it offered in 2005 . The sanctions did not bring Iran to the negotiating table —Tehran was always there —and the sanctions definitely did not wring out extra concessions from Iran. Basically, were it not for western intransigence  and the bad atmospherics , the interim deal signed in late 2013 could have been signed in 2005.
This brings us to next false meme:
Meme 3: “Iran has dragged out negotiations unnecessarily—the West sees the nuclear issue as an urgent matter and desperately wants to resolve it but is frustrated by Tehran's foot-dragging”
As mentioned above, the world powers could have gotten the same concessions  out of Iran back in 2005 but have only now decided to seriously engage  with Iran. As the New York Times has reported , “Mr. Obama’s aides seem content with stalemate.” The main thing this foot-dragging by the west indicates is that it does not see the Iranian nuclear issue as particularly important. This is unsurprising because the US Intelligence community is aware—with a “high level of confidence” — that there is no nuclear weapons program in Iran right now.
Even now, after the interim agreement with Iran has been signed, elite US analysts and commentators are yawning at the prospect of an Iranian bomb and actually urging a lackadaisical approach to negotiations with Iran. For example, Mitchell Reiss and Ray Takeyh argue  that "to succeed in nuclear negotiations with Iran, the Western powers should be mindful...[that] Iran needs an agreement more than the United States does...There is no reason for Washington to seem more eager than Tehran to reach an agreement..." Yes, if one chooses to dismiss the issue of an alleged nuclear weapons capability in Iran, then indeed the advice of such commentators may be worth heeding. But one needs to decide: is the alleged Iranian nuclear weapons capability a serious issue or not? If not, then why place such draconian sanctions on Iranian civilians to begin with? The sanctions are causing tremendous harm to the weakest civilians in Iranian society while enriching the Revolutionary Guards who profit from sanctions-busting . If, as these commentators suggest, the West does not need a deal urgently they cannot simultaneously pretend that the issue is important enough to launch military action.
If stopping an alleged Iranian nuclear weapons capability is worth going to war, it's certainly worth taking the issue seriously and undertaking serious sanctions relief .
Meme 4: “ The P5+1 is extra-tough on Iran because Iran signed the NPT, whereas other nations like Pakistan, India, and Israel did not, and so it's okay to tolerate nuclear weapons in the latter states and even help them with nuclear know-how and technology.”
If the P5+1 nations want to invoke the NPT to try to limit nuclear know-how in signatory states like Iran they need to at least first show a firmer hand with the nuclear-armed NPT non-signatories. For instance, because Iran is being sanctioned for its past violations of its nuclear safeguards agreements—which were somewhat gratuitously interpreted as a “threat to the peace” by the UN Security Council  (UNSC)—then certainly Pakistan, India and Israel should be similarly sanctioned.
After all, the sanctions are applied to Iran only because the “trigger” of the IAEA nuclear safeguards violations raised the issue to the level of the UNSC. The only reason such triggers have not gone off for India, Pakistan and Israel is that, since they are outside the framework of the NPT, their safeguards agreements are watered-down and similar triggers simply don't exist. But since these nations already have nuclear weapons and are outside the NPT they are objectively a bigger “threat to the peace” than Iran, which is an NPT signatory and has been determined by the US DNI has having no current nuclear weapons program with a “high level of confidence”. [The UNSC sanctions are applied under Chapter VII of the UN Charter, Article 39, in which the Security Council can determine a “threat to the peace, breach of the peace, or act of aggression and may recommend, or decide what measures to take...to maintain or restore international peace and security.”]
Under no circumstances should nations who have signed the NPT—whether or not they are currently seen to be in good standing—be sanctioned and treated more severely than those that haven't signed on to the NPT and have nuclear weapons. Such heavy-handedness with signatory nations will undercut the desire of many nations to sign on to new arms control initiatives, like the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.
In fact, the actions of some of the P5+1 nations, namely China and US, go against the spirit and intentions of the NPT. US and China are helping the nuclear-armed NPT non-signatory states India and Pakistan, respectively, with their civilian nuclear programs. (And before it signed the NPT in 1992, France helped Israel with its nuclear program.) But the 'firewall' between civilian and military nuclear sectors in Pakistan, India and Israel is somewhere between porous to non-existent. And, at the least, civilian nuclear assistance frees up nuclear resources—scientists and materiel much of which are dual-use—which can be applied to the military nuclear programs in these non-NPT nations. Thus the nuclear assistance given by China and the US to Pakistan and India can legitimately be seen as a violation of the NPT.
As Daniel Joyner puts it in his book, “Interpreting the NPT ”: “Many NPT Non Nuclear Weapon States see this granting of nuclear technology concessions to India by an NPT Nuclear Weapon State as a positive reward for India’s decision to remain outside the NPT framework, and develop and maintain a nuclear weapons arsenal, which is the precise opposite to the incentive structure which the NPT sought to codify into international law.”
Meme 5: “Iran is in violation of its NPT obligations.”
This meme is often repeated in the media and by policy wonks but is not true. For instance, former Obama administration official Robert Einhorn has argued , “[W]hat is not debatable is that Iran has forfeited—at least temporarily—any right to enrichment (and reprocessing) until it can demonstrate convincingly that it is in compliance with its NPT obligations.”
But Iran has never been found to be in non-compliance with the NPT: in fact, there is no agency or international body tasked with checking compliance with the NPT. And there is no automatic nuclear fuel-cycle “forfeiture” provision in the NPT. So statements such as Einhorn's overreach.
In older treaties like the NPT and the Outer Space Treaty, there aren't any enforcement mechanisms. There is the IAEA, but it is not responsible for—nor does it have the ability to—verify compliance with the NPT. The IAEA's monitors a different set of bilateral treaties: the narrowly focused “Comprehensive Safeguards Agreements” (CSAs). And it's entirely possible for a state to be in noncompliance with its bilateral CSA and still be in compliance with the NPT. The CSA deals mostly with the precise accounting of nuclear material whereas the threshold of NPT violation for NNWSs—nuclear weaponization—is much higher and much more vague. The CSAs and the NPT are independent legal instruments, although they both deal with nuclear nonproliferation.
As Dr. Hans Blix, former head of the IAEA, recently stated : “So far, Iran has not violated the NPT,” adding, “and there is no evidence right now that suggests that Iran is producing nuclear weapons.” And Mohamed ElBaradei, the Nobel Peace Prize laureate who spent more than a decade as the director of the IAEA, said that he had not "seen a shred of evidence"  that Iran was pursuing the bomb. “All I see is the hype about the threat posed by Iran,” he concluded.
Meme 6: “There is no right to enrich uranium in the NPT”
This meme is deceptive, being more irrelevant than wrong. The right to enrich uranium exists independent of the NPT: this right, like many many others, does not need to be spelled out in the NPT . In fact, theoretically—according to the letter of the NPT—signatory nations can enrich uranium to arbitrarily high concentrations, including weapons grade, so long as the enrichment is done under safeguards. The important point is that uranium enrichment is not prohibited in the NPT: the inherent right to enrich uranium is not interfered  with by the NPT.
The official US government view on the subject was expressed early on. On July 10, 1968, then-Arms Control and Disarmament Agency Director William Foster testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee about the NPT. In response to a question regarding the type of nuclear activities prohibited by Article II of the NPT, Foster said :
“It may be useful to point out, for illustrative purposes, several activities which the United States would not consider per se to be violations of the prohibitions in Article II. Neither uranium enrichment nor the stockpiling of fissionable material in connection with a peaceful program would violate Article II so long as these activities were safeguarded under Article III. Also clearly permitted would be the development, under safeguards, of plutonium fueled power reactors, including research on the properties of metallic plutonium, nor would Article II interfere with the development or use of fast breeder reactors under safeguards.” [emphasis added]
So not only does the NPT not interfere with the inherent right of nations to pursue nuclear fuel-cycle activities, but the official US government view was that such activities are explicitly permitted under the NPT.
As Mark Hibbs recently explained : “...like Iran, countries negotiating 123 agreements, including Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and Vietnam, refused to have Washington dictate and limit their future nuclear technology choices. Some protagonists in debates on Iran and broader nuclear policy insist there is no “right” to enrich. Yet, if this were self-evidently true, it would not have been a big deal for the UAE to have agreed not to undertake enrichment.”
Meme 7: “If a country acquires a nuclear-weapons capability, that nation is intending to acquire nuclear weapons.”
Not so. Much nuclear know-how and technology is dual use and can be used for peaceful or military purposes. Under the NPT, it is not illegal for a member state to have a nuclear-weapons capability: if a nation has a developed civilian nuclear infrastructure—which the NPT actually encourages—this implies it has a fairly solid nuclear-weapons capability. Just like Iran, Argentina, Brazil, and Japan also have a nuclear-weapons capability—they, too, could break out of the NPT and make a nuclear device in short order. Capabilities and intentions cannot be conflated.
This is like owning a car that can go faster than 35 miles per hour—having the capability to race through your neighborhood and exceed the speed limit does not mean you intend to do so.
To be sure, this is not an ideal state of affairs. It would certainly be preferable if the NPT had more teeth to prevent the research of nuclear weaponry in member states, or outlawed the collection of excess low-enriched uranium. But the treaty that exists today reflects the political compromises made to win broad international support. The current NPT is simply not a very stringent treaty. Even Pierre Goldschmidt, a former deputy director of the IAEA Safeguards Department, admits that the organization "doesn't have the legal authority it needs to fulfill its mandate. "
I have proposed a stricter “NPT 2.0” which would strike a  bold new ”more-for-more” bargain. The nuclear-weapon states —or at least Russia and the United States, with a hefty 95 percent of the world’s nuclear weapons between them—would offer swift and drastic reductions in their weapons stockpiles in exchange for the outright elimination of nuclear fuel processing activities (such as dual-use uranium enrichment and plutonium processing) in non-nuclear weapon states. A notable difference between the current incarnation of the NPT and the proposed NPT 2.0  would be that the updated version would not encourage the propagation of nuclear power. It no longer makes any sense is to have a treaty force-feeding a flawed and dangerous 1960's technology to developing nations, as the NPT now does.
Meme 8: “Iran has been deceptive in the past so we cannot trust them.”
Iran’s nuclear enrichment program was not covert by initial design. Iran’s nuclear program was kicked off in the 1950s with the full encouragement and support of the United States , under president Eisenhower’s Atoms for Peace program. In 1983, after the Islamic revolution, Iran went—in an overt way—to the IAEA to get help in setting up a pilot uranium enrichment facility. And the IAEA was then quite receptive to the idea. According to an authoritative account by Mark Hibbs in Nuclear Fuel , “IAEA officials were keen to assist Iran in reactivating a research program to learn how to process U3O8 into UO2 pellets and then set up a pilot plant to produce UF6, according to IAEA documents obtained by Nuclear Fuel.” But, according to Hibbs , “when in 1983 the recommendations of an IAEA mission to Iran were passed on to the IAEA’s technical cooperation program, the U.S. government then ‘directly intervened’ to discourage the IAEA from assisting Iran in production of UO2 and UF6. ‘We stopped that in its tracks,’ said a former U.S. official.”
So when Iran’s open overture to the IAEA was stymied politically, they used more covert means to set up their enrichment facilities. Enrichment facilities by their nature can be dual-use, of course, but they are certainly not disallowed under the NPT. Iran’s allegedly “covert” or “sneaky” behavior may thus have been a response to the politicization at the IAEA documented in Hibbs' Nuclear Fuel article .
A good way to stop the propagation of dual-use nuclear technology is to implement a revamped “NPT 2.0”  that explicitly discourages the propagation of nuclear fuel-cycle and nuclear power technology.
Yousaf Butt, a nuclear physicist, is director of the Emerging Technologies Program at the Cultural Intelligence Institute, a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting fact-based cultural awareness among individuals, institutions, and governments. The views expressed here are his own.
Image: Flickr/James Vaughan . CC BY-SA 2.0.
Friday, January 17, 2014
The United States has opened the first serious talks with Iran in 34 years. Some members of Congress are attempting to sabotage this diplomatic effort by calling for increased sanctions against Iran. This is an unwise action during this negotiating period. Americans should support peaceful diplomacy whenever feasible.
That's why I created a petition to Sen. Amy Klobuchar (MN-1) and Sen. Al Franken (MN-2), which says:
"We the undersigned urge you to support diplomacy with Iran concerning Iran's nuclear program during the six month negotiation period recently agreed upon by the United States and its P5+1 European partners and Iran. We also strongly urge you to oppose legislation directed at the imposition of additional sanctions on Iran during this period--a move that will lead to the likely failure of these talks. "
Will you sign my petition? Click here to add your name:
Second, I am convinced that many of the supporters of the bill haven't read it, or considered its implications. The bill goes far, far beyond dealing with Iran's nuclear program, including trying to put restrictions on conventional weapons. Iran's "rocket" program would conceivably be covered by this agreement--rockets that are currently used to launch communications satellites.
Third, the supporters are ignorant of the implications this bill has for all American diplomatic efforts going forward. Pre-configuring the outcomes of diplomatic negotiations effectively renders them moot. Why even have diplomats if their hands are tied in this way?
The bill is a fantasy desire on the part of Israel and its supporters, such as Senator Kirk, whose ideological biases are quite evident, to cripple Iran's general technology. It is overreach, and if it passes, will backfire in really terrible ways. This is a bad bill in every sense of the word.
University of Minnesota
Monday, November 25, 2013
Iran Has a Right to Enrich—And America Already Recognized It (Muhammad Sahimi--The National Interest)
Iran Has a Right to Enrich—And America Already Recognized It
it has always been the U.S. position that that article IV of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty does not speak about the right of enrichment at all [and] doesn't speak to enrichment, period. It simply says that you have the right to research and development. And many countries such as Japan and Germany have taken that [uranium enrichment] to be a right. But the United States does not take that position. We take the position that we look at each one of these [cases]. And more to the point, the UN Security Council has suspended Iran's enrichment until they meet their international obligations. They didn't say they have suspended their right to enrichment, they have suspended their enrichment, so we do not believe there is an inherent right by anyone to enrichment.Another thorny issue, which France claimed motivated its objection to the emerging accord, is the heavy water nuclear research reactor under construction in Arak (southwest of Tehran), which is not expected to come online before late 2014, at the earliest. The reactor’s spent fuel contains plutonium, which can be used for bomb making if Iran can reprocess the spent fuel. But Iran does not currently have any reprocessing facility or even the know-how to undertake such a course of action.
Who is right?
Historically, the United States recognized an Iranian right to enrich in the 1970s, although the U.S. has no authority to interpret the NPT in an arbitrary manner that suits its interests. Many legal scholars disagree with the U.S. position. Ironically, in the 1970s, the U.S. offered Iran both uranium enrichment and spent-fuel technologies.
A bit of history
As first pointed out by this author in 2004 , the Ford administration recognized Iran’s right to uranium enrichment, fuel reprocessing, and related technologies. On March 14, 1975, in National Security Study Memorandum 219 , signed  by then deputy national security adviser Brent Scowcroft, President Gerald R. Ford directed
"a study of the issues involved in reaching an acceptable agreement with the Government of Iran which would allow nuclear commerce between the countries—specifically, the sale of the U.S. nuclear reactors and materials, Iranian investment in the U.S. enrichment facilities, and other appropriate nuclear transactions in the future."President Ford then instructed the U.S. negotiators to offer Iran uranium enrichment and reprocessing facilities. Specifically, National Security Decision Memorandum 292 , dated 22 April 1975, stated that the U.S. shall "permit U.S. materials to be fabricated into fuel in Iran for use in its own reactors and for pass-through to third countries with whom we have Agreements."
In addition, the U.S. offered to allow Iran to invest in its uranium enrichment facilities, for which Iran had proposed investing $2.75 billion (see, Department of State Secret Report, "Current Foreign Relations: US-Iran Commission cements bilateral ties; Iran and Iraq agree to settle differences,” which can be found here ). This is stated in Memorandum 292 : The U.S. shall "agree to set the fuel ceiling at a level reflecting the approximate number of nuclear reactors planned for purchase from the U.S. suppliers. We would, as a fallback, be prepared to increase the ceiling to cover Iran's full nuclear reactor requirement under the proviso that the fuel represents Iran's entitlement from their proposed investment in an enrichment facility in the U.S...."
The U.S. was also eager to allow Iran to reprocess the spent fuels, which Memorandum 292 also discussed: The U.S. shall "continue to require U.S. approval for reprocessing of U.S. supplied fuel, while indicating that the establishment of a multinational reprocessing plant would be an important factor favoring such approval...." The motivation for this “generosity” was that the Ford administration did not want to give up that market to France.
Then, in National Security Decision Memorandum 324 , dated April 20, 1976 and signed by General Brent Scowcroft, President Ford authorized the following negotiation position for the US with Iran: The US side should "seek a strong political commitment from Iran to pursue the multinational/binational reprocessing plant concept, according the U.S. the opportunity to participate in the project....."
So, it is clear that if Iran does need U.S. recognition of its rights to uranium enrichment and reprocessing of spent fuel—Iran claims it claims it does not—the U.S. has already “granted” such rights and the associated technologies to Iran. That was, of course, when Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, an ally of the United States who had been put back in power by the CIA coup of 1953, was Iran’s ruler.
Item 1 of Article IV of the NPT states  that
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.The article implies all aspect of nuclear fuel technology, including uranium enrichment. Of about 190 countries that have signed the NPT, there is not a single country, aside from the United States, Britain, France, and Israel—and the last one is not even a NPT signatory—that has claimed the rights to be anything other than inalienable.
However, as the author argued in an article in 2007 , Iran does not even need the blessing of the NPT—or the U.S. for that matter—for its right to uranium enrichment. Neither the United Nations Security Council nor any other international organization has the authority to take away any nation's sovereign rights. Iran has such rights to exploit its natural uranium deposits, and to diversify its energy sources, including the use of nuclear energy, both of which imply that Iran has the fundamental right to uranium enrichment. These rights were not bestowed upon Iran by international agreements and treaties. The NPT simply reaffirmed such rights. These are the same rights that the US, France, China, Britain, and the then Soviet Union invoked before the NPT ever existed, in order to develop their nuclear weapons and nuclear industries. One may put this another way: these rights precede the NPT. They are also the same rights that Israel, South Africa, India, Pakistan and North Korea declared after the NPT, in order to develop their nuclear arsenals. Thus, contrary to what Wendy Sherman claimed, the Security Council does not have the authority to take such rights away.
It might be argued that Article 103 of the UN Charter  does give the UNSC such rights. This Article states, “In the event of a conflict between the obligation of the Members of the United Nations under the present Charter and their obligations under any other international agreement, their obligations under the present Charter shall prevail.” Thus, one might argue that, because Iran's rights under the NPT have conflict with the UN Charter, the Charter prevails. However, as described in the author’s 2007 article , Iran's rights to peaceful nuclear technology, including uranium enrichment, are not treaty-based rights; they are sovereign rights. Article IV(1) of the NPT simply recognized this right; it did not grant it to Iran. So the argument based on Article 103 is erroneous.
Professor Daniel Joyner of University of Alabama School of Law, a widely recognized authority on international law and proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, puts this in another way : Article 103 “does not speak to the legal obligations of the Security Council as an organ of an international organization. Nor does it speak at all to conflicts between the obligations of the UN Charter, and the rights of states in international law. So again, Article 103 of the UN Charter is inapposite and inapplicable to this question.” In addition, as quoted by Dapo Akande of St. Peter’s College, University of Oxford, in his wonderful article , Sir Gerald G. Fitzmaurice  (1901-1982), the distinguished legal scholar and a Judge of the International Court of Justice, has stated that
The Security Council, even when acting genuinely for the preservation or restoration of peace and security, has a scope of action limited by the State's sovereignty and the fundamental rights without which the sovereignty cannot be exercised.The Security Council and Jus Cogens Prohibitions
As described earlier  by the author, even if the Security Council can take away Iran’s right, it can do so only in a manner consistent with “the Purposes and Principles of the United Nations” as well as with other international laws. For example, in a ruling in the case of Bosnia and Herzegovina vs. Yugoslavia, for which the Security Council had issued Resolution 713 , Judge Sir Elihu Lauterpacht of the International Court of Justice, declared that 
Nor should one overlook the significance of the provision in Article 24 of the Charter that, in discharging its duties to maintain international peace and security, the Security Council shall act in accordance with the Purposes and Principles of the United Nations.This implies that the Security Council must not violate jus cogens  (Peremptory Norm)  prohibitions, a fundamental principle of international law that acts as a norm from which no derogation is ever permitted. For example, that no law can be enacted that permits genocide is a jus cogens matter. It is a well-established principle that jus cogens prohibitions are also applicable with equal force when it is acting pursuant to Chapter VII, under which the UN Security Council issued its resolutions against Iran. For example, in the same Bosnia and Herzegovina vs. Yugoslavia case, Judge Lauterpacht stated that the UNSC could not take action under Chapter VII contrary to jus cogens: “It is not to be contemplated that the Security Council would ever deliberately adopt a resolution clearly and deliberately flouting a rule of jus cogens ...” He also declared that, “The relief which Article 103 of the Charter [of UN] may give the Security Council in case of conflict between one of its decisions and an operative treaty obligations cannot—as a simple hierarchy of norms—extend to a conflict between a Security Council Resolution and jus cogens.”
What is the relevance of jus cogens prohibitions to Iran's case? An important aspect of the UN Charter, explicitly recognized by Article 2 of the Charter, is the principle of Equal Sovereignty . Article 2 states that, “To develop friendly relations among nations based on respect for the principle of equal rights and self-determination of peoples, and to take other appropriate measures to strengthen universal peace.” The principle of Equal Sovereignty is a jus cogens matter and, hence, cannot be violated. Thus, even if the Security Council can demand that Iran suspend its enrichment program—i.e., suspend Article IV(1) of the NPT for Iran—it must do so for all other Member States of the NPT as well. But by not suspending Article IV(1) rights of all Member States of the NPT, except Iran's, the UNSC has violated the jus cogens prohibition.
Thus, it is clear that Iran has sovereign rights to uranium enrichment and the U.S. has, indeed, recognized such rights in the past.
Iran analyst Muhammad Sahimi, a Professor at the University of Southern California , is the editor of the website Iran News & Middle East Reports .
Image: Flickr/Denis Dervisevic . CC BY 2.0.
The Iran Accord -- Profoundly, and Primarily, Symbolic
November 24, 2013
William O. Beeman
Posted: 11/24/2013 7:33 pm
The principal benefit of the negotiations between Iran and the P5+1 nations
on November 23 is that Iran and the United States were able to down to talk
and reach an agreement on *something*. Given 33 years of estrangement and
non-communication, this is an extraordinarily important development --
nearly equivalent to the U.S. breakthrough to China -- perhaps the signal
achievement of the Nixon administration.
The profound symbolism of the moment more than outweighs the lighter
substantive elements of the temporary agreement. The United States and its
partners appeared tough and got very little. Iran appeared tough and gave
up very little. Both sides saved face. This is the essence of a successful
agreement. No one "won" and no one "lost."
Iranians have been both sincere and clever in the negotiations. They played
up to the insubstantial straw-man accusations promulgated by the U.S. and
its partners, making them seem weightier than they were in reality. By
yielding to the P5+1 demands, in essence Iran has allowed itself to be
persuaded to stop temporarily doing what it never intended to do -- make a
nuclear weapon. The bottom line is that Iran did not give up very much in
the negotiations, (but it didn't gain very much either).
Reviewing the terms of the agreement in conjunction with the reality on the
ground in Iran, one can see how easy it was for Iran's negotiators to agree
to these terms.
Low Enriched Uranium
Iran's enrichment of uranium was the crux of the matter. The United States
and its allies had fetishized Iran's uranium enrichment program. They had
made the improbable leap that having enriched uranium would immediately
lead to a nuclear weapon. This is an immense mistake -- so large that one
must suspect that it is essentially hyped for public consumption. The
public has certainly been convinced of this.
However, Iran's low-enriched uranium stockpile cannot be used for any
military purpose, short of the rather improbable construction of a "dirty
bomb" -- a conventional warhead containing radioactive material, not to
explode, but to pollute. Such a primitive weapon has no practical use.
Under the agreement, Iran would cease adding to this stockpile.
Under the agreement, Iran will be allowed to continue to enrich uranium at
less than 5 percent purity -- a concession that preserves Iran's rights
under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty to peaceful nuclear development
-- its fundamental demand going into the talks.
High Enriched Uranium
Iran's stockpile of 20 percent enriched uranium would be eliminated through
conversion to fuel plates for use in a research reactor or oxidized. It
could then not be further enriched or weaponized in any way. This seems
like a major concession, but when one understands why Iran was enriching to
the 20 percent level to begin with, it is less so.
Iran has a research reactor, the Tehran Research Reactor
(TRR)<http://www.nti.org/facilities/182/>that produced medical
isotopes for the treatment of cancer. The reactor had
been supplied by the United States in 1967. The United States at that time
provided weapons grade fuel for running the reactor. Iran was running out
of 20 percent fuel, and was expected to deplete the supply entirely by
2011. Iran tried to broker a deal for more 20 percent fuel with the United
States. A preliminary agreement was reached on October 1, 2010. The United
States reneged on the agreement. Iran then began enriching its own uranium
to the 19.75% level -- technically below the high-enriched uranium
threshold of 20%. After converting part of this this indigenously produced
fuel into non-weaponizeable reactor plates, it was introduced into the TRR
in February, 2012 <http://www.isisnucleariran.org/static/443/> . The
November 23 agreement will allow Iran to do what it was going to do anyway,
and finish converting the rest of its 19.75 percent fuel into
non-weaponizable reactor plates.
Arak Heavy Water Research Reactor
The agreement requires Iran not to activate its new small heavy water
research reactor in Arak. This small reactor was known to nuclear
inspectors for some time, but because it contained no fissile material, it
was not required to be monitored. The reactor was suddenly seized upon by
Israel and later by French Prime Minister François Hollande as a "path to
plutonium" -- a massive over-reaction. This was quickly echoed and
exaggerated in the press. The Christian Science monitor suggested that this
facility was in truth a "red herring" in the
The reactor has faced considerable delays in construction and is not
scheduled to open until 2016. It will produce a small amount of
electricity, but it is designed to eventually supplement then replace the
TRR, producing medical isotopes. Plutonium can be extracted from spent fuel
rods, but only if there is a completely new facility constructed to so
this. Iran has no such facility. If Iran were to decide to make a weapon
from this extracted plutonium, it would then need a third facility.
Additionally, as former IAEA nuclear inspector Robert Kelley points
out:"the reactor doesn't do anything without fuel, and so if you don't
have fuel, the reactor doesn't run. If the reactor doesn't run, it doesn't make
All of this time, the International Atomic Energy Agency would be
monitoring the use of the fissile material. Parallels with India, Pakistan
and Israel , who did use heavy-water reactors to extract plutonium and
build bombs are inaccurate, because as non-signatories to the NPT, the
actions of these nations were not monitored.
Building a Bomb?
There is a strange irony in President Obama's announcement of the temporary
agreement. He mentioned the term "nuclear weapon" multiple times in his
announcement, implying that Iran was on a path to develop such a weapon.
One wonders if he actually believes this or if his repeated implied
accusation was a rhetorical device designed to placate his hard-line
The president must know by this time that there is no evidence that Iran
has or ever had a nuclear weapons program. Every relevant intelligence
agency in the world has verified this fact for more than a decade. Two U.S.
National Intelligence Estimates that were made public in 2007 and 2011
underscored this. The International Atomic Energy Agency has also
consistently asserted that Iran has not diverted any nuclear material for
any military purpose.
Even Israeli intelligence analysts agree that Iran is "not a danger" to
Israel. Typical is ex-Mossad chief Efraim Halevy who said on March 16 this
year that Iran "will not make it to the bomb," and that Israel's existence
"is not in danger and shouldn't be questioned"<http://www.timesofisrael.com/iran-is-dead-scared-of-israel-says-ex-mossad-chief/>
What Iran Gets in Return
Though Iran is not giving up very much in the November 23 agreement, it is
also not receiving a great deal in return. It will receive 6 to 7 billion
dollars' worth of sanctions relief, more than 4 billion of which is money
already owed to Iran in oil revenues, but frozen. In addition, Iran has
saved face; it did not give up on its inalienable right to enrich uranium
as guaranteed in the NPT. This may be enough to placate hardliners in the
Islamic Republic who have objected to dealings with the United States and
its allies in the past.
There will be some good feelings both in Washington and Tehran that this
astonishingly long impasse has finally been broken. Could either side have
gotten more from these talks? Probably not. In fact the limited gains for
both sides may well be a sign of the success of the negotiations.
The vitriolic nay-sayers trying to torpedo these talks in both capitals and
elsewhere have been thwarted for the moment, but they will certainly begin
condemning this process immediately. However, leaders in both nations
should flatly ignore them. The world can only hope that this small accord
will lead to more substantive rapprochement in the near future.
CORRECTIONS TO THE ABOVE--November 25
I wish to make a few corrections to my comments above, based largely on technical feedback I received after publication. I have no desire to promulgate mistakes.
1. I probably should not have even raised the idea of a "dirty bomb" made from low-enriched uranium. It is a really crazy idea--but one that has been widely used as a rhetorical device in the press attacking Iran's program. The idea that a nation would go to the trouble of building centrifuges and enriching uranium only to pack it into a warhead to spew radioactive material, and not very lethal material at that, defies logic.
2. The National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) of 2007 asserted that Iran did not have a nuclear weapons program after 2003. Numerous people have questioned whether the NIE had evidence of Iran having such a weapons program before 2003, and the NIE was silent on this issue. I am informed that Iran was in fact contemplating nuclear weapons in the late 1980's. Iran and Iraq fought a debilitating war from 1980-88 and Iraq was suspected of having or being in the process of developing nuclear weapons.
3. There is a typo in the original article, corrected above. Iran HAS (not had) the Tehran Research Reactor (TRR) at present. It is aging but still active.
4. The Arak Heavy Water reactor is not accurately described as "small" It will be a large reactor by international standards. It was designed in the 1980's, so it has been in development. Its stated purpose to the IAEA is to serve as a research reactor for generation of medical and scientific isotopes.