The presence of weapons of mass destruction, otherwise known as WMD, have become measures as to how powerful a nation is regardless of intense discrimination from “weapon-less” countries. After Afghanistan and Iraq, Iran has grown to be the center of attention and has been the subject of a global anathema. Iran’s growing interest in uranium and plutonium, the main ingredients of nuclear weapons, has perked the interest of many equally interested parties. What is it about the existence of said uranium and plutonium? Does this follow that Iran has defied the international law of nuclear armory? Or, are their claims of utilizing and researching on uranium and plutonium for peaceful purposes trustworthy?
To determine Iran’s true intentions with its uranium enrichment activities is a debatable issue owing to the fact that the countries and personalities which are criticizing Iran have their own motives of stopping Iran from strengthening its nuclear program, if ever it has one. The legitimacy of its uranium research is alarming several organizations including the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the International Court of Justice (ICJ) and the United Nations for fear that Iran might utilize its nuclear-powered weapons to wage war especially that its neighboring countries, Iraq and Afghanistan, were both attacked singlehandedly by American troops. For a better understanding of the stand of Iran on the nuclear weapons controversy, it is best to have the basic insights of the international law as stipulated in the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NNPT or NPT) or the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons.
On July 1, 1968, the NPT was signed initially by 68 countries in New York, United States of America. It became effective on March 5, 1970 with the condition that there is ratification by the United Kingdom, the United States, and forty (40) of its signatories. At present, there are 189 which succumbed to the agreement which emphasized control of the breeding of nuclear weapons. Composed of a preamble and eleven (11) articles, the NPT was proposed in Ireland. Among the countries identified to possess said nuclear armaments or the nuclear weapon states (NWS) include the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Russia and the People’s Republic of China which happened to be permanent members of the United Nations Security Council. Meanwhile, India, Pakistan, Israel and North Korea were the only sovereign states which are not part of the accord. The interpretation of the NPT is oftentimes described according to three pillars specifically, non-proliferation, disarmament, and the right to use nuclear technology peacefully. It should be remembered that the NPT is the “centerpiece of world security.” Without it, nuclear weapons must have destroyed the world already.
On the non-proliferation pillar, this is preventing the spread of nuclear weapons and its technological advancement for destructive purposes. Here, the NWS members shall not “receive,” “manufacture” or “acquire” nuclear weapons or to “seek or receive any assistance in the manufacture of nuclear weapons” as stated in Article II of the NPT. The five (5) NWS swore not to use nuclear weapons except in cases where they are attacked using nuclear arsenal or during predictable nuclear attacks with fellow NWS. The objective of non-proliferation is promoted in the NPT to establish a safeguards system through the guidance of the IAEA. The IAEA is expressly authorized to check and confirm the strict observance of the signatories of the non-nuclear weapons’ states to the NPT. Said safeguards system shall inhibit the conversion of uranium and related materials to nuclear weaponry. This also served to strengthen the confidence and cooperation between states in consensus with the NPT.
On disarmament, this pertains to agreements on various nuclear weapons focused on reducing, banning their deployment, limiting its propagation and ending nuclear tests. The preamble of the NPT is designed to give way to permanently stop production of nuclear weapons and to promote relief among nations where nuclear advancement is concerned. The
NPT’s Article VI expands the preamble’s tenor convincing all states in favor of the NPT, both nuclear-weapon states and non-nuclear-weapon states, “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.” Further, in 1996, the International Court of Justice explored the legality of nuclear weapons, and it was unanimously suggested that states are accountable “to pursue in good faith and bring to a conclusion negotiations leading to nuclear disarmament in all its aspects”
On the peaceful use of nuclear energy pillar, this implies that the nuclear weapon states can pursue national nuclear energy programs as long as they are for nonviolent purposes. One of the functions of nuclear power is for energy generation but since only few of the NPT states use such energy for domestic ends, they are agreeable to abandon nuclear fuel control. However, this is not a total rejection of nuclear fuel. Once proven that it is not for reasons that proliferate nuclear weapons, then it is negotiable and allowable in conformity with Articles I and II of the NPT which otherwise comprise the first pillar on non-proliferation.
To wit, Article I asserts that “Each nuclear-weapons state (NWS) undertakes not to transfer, to any recipient, nuclear weapons, or other nuclear explosive devices, and not to assist any non-nuclear weapon state to manufacture or acquire such weapons or devices.” Subsequently, Article II states that “Each non-NWS party undertakes not to receive, from any source, nuclear weapons, or other nuclear explosive devices; not to manufacture or acquire such weapons or devices; and not to receive any assistance in their manufacture.”
With a population of around seventy million, the Islamic Republic of Iran is one of the biggest countries of the world in terms of land area. The former Persia is bordered by Armenia, Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan on the north; by Pakistan and Afghanistan on the east; by Turkey and Iraq on the west; and by the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman on the south. In the Middle East, it is one of the political, cultural, commercial, and industrial centers and considered as a powerful nation. Because of its abundant petroleum and natural gas reserves, Iran has become an important figure in international energy security and world economy.
Previously in 2005, the IAEA Board of Governors declared that Iran has defied the NPT safeguards agreement as earlier stated. However, such statement was an odd non-consensus with 12 abstentions. Demands for Iran’s suspension of its nuclear program were then passed by the Security Council even without enough proof of its said non-compliance. After referral to the Security Council, it was freed from further postponement of its uranium enrichment program.
The concern for Iran’s nuclear programs gained prominence when it resumed its uranium enrichment activities in 2006. From an educated perspective, such endeavors are legitimate as far as the NPT is considered. Iran claims that its uranium enrichment agenda is allegedly a component of its civilian nuclear energy program which is allowed under Article IV of the NPT. To wit, Article IV maintains 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.”
Another investigative body, the National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) of the United States, construed in late 2007 that Iran had stopped its nuclear weapons agenda since 2003 and had remained as such from the middle of 2007. Nevertheless, the group specified that it was only “nuclear weapon design and weaponization work and covert uranium conversion-related and uranium enrichment-related work” that was halted in 2003. This issue was what led the IAEA to poke about. So in its deepest sense, the NIE implied that what was stopped by Iran were those areas which were considerable in its program.
It is interesting to note that Iran’s nuclear energy programs were centered at Natanz, which specializes in uranium enrichment and in Arak, which concentrates on a heavy water reactor designed for plutonium manufacture. These activities began cautiously long before investigations by NIE were made. Since the production of plutonium and the fortification of uranium which are materials for making nuclear weapons, have not been technically stopped, this fact has bothered many concerned bodies worldwide. The possibility of diverting these fissile materials may still continue notwithstanding the stoppage of some aspects of its programs. With the suspicion that there may be undeclared actions, the IAEA had found no evidence that may satisfy its doubts. Recently, ongoing studies on nuclear energy in Iran are still questionable but no substantial data were found that something fishy is in the process. But despite these apprehensions, Iran firmly affirms time and again that it has the legal prerogative to pursue uranium enrichment activities for peaceful purposes as mandated in the NPT. In addition, it expresses that it “has constantly complied with its obligations under the NPT and the Statute of the International Atomic Energy Agency.” All documents and so-called proofs released by the investigators were, according to Iran, cock-and-bull stories and were groundless.
Given the abovementioned facts, is Iran violating the international law as specified in the NPT?
Suspicions are synonymous to doubts, qualms, worries, uncertainties, reservations and fears. So far, Iran has not attacked anyone using nuclear weapons for that matter. The concerned parties especially the United States is particularly alarmed because if ever Iran is nuclear-ly ready, the possibility that it may threaten the former’s position in terms of world power is at stake. All that investigations had were speculations, rumors, and gossips. There were no nuclear weapons found. Just because Iran is engaging in uranium and plutonium researches does not necessarily mean they are making nuclear arsenals. From the perspective of international law, what right does the United States have to track down Iran’s activities when in fact it possesses the biggest nuclear weapons supply in the world?
Iran has sustained discreet relations with all United Nations constituents except the United States and Israel. The irony is the United States possesses the biggest nuclear weapons in the world while Israel is the only country in the Middle East which has nuclear weapons. Why is Iran receiving “double-standard” treatment? Based on the NPT, all countries which signed in the treaty have the legal right to conduct nuclear energy enrichment activities as long as they are for peaceful purposes. Iran has shown no aggression or imminent threat as far as nuclear weapons proliferation is concerned. All that Europe, the United States and Israel have are mere theories and plain guesswork since no material or substantial evidence was found during their series of inspections. Why does all the pressure placed on Iran among all the countries in the Middle East (except Afghanistan and Iraq of course which were already attacked by the Bush administration for the same reason, the alleged weapons of mass destruction which were not even there)?
To understand the NPT’s one-sidedness, it should have given equal treatment to all states which signed it. Why is Israel’s possession of nuclear weapons considerable? What makes it different from Iran?
Since the unwritten power that United States has over the United Nations and taking into account that Israel is its ally, there is no doubt why the NPT in inconsistent. Poor Iran. The world is hoping that it will not be the next Iraq or Afghanistan. The world is hoping the Barack Obama will be true to his words of withdrawing the U.S. troops in Iraq and stop the war. In the real sense, the terrorist is not Iraq. It is not Bin Laden and Afghanistan. It is not Iran’s Mahmoud Ahmadinejad who was accused of being a tyrant. It is the United States and Israel, the true antagonists of Iran.
Given the above facts. What is all behind Europe, the United States and Israel’s contradiction to Iran? As mentioned earlier, Iran is rich in petroleum and natural oil reserves. For an oil-dependent country like the United States, upon hearing the sound of the word “oil” gives it shivers. In its desire to acquire more oil, it will do anything within its jurisdiction to take over those oil-rich nations. The same goes for Europe. As for Israel, it is afraid to be defeated by Iran in terms of nuclear weaponry.
In addition to this greed for oil, the United States is “afraid” that Iran might use its nuclear weapons (if indeed they have since this information is ambiguous as of the moment) in fighting back at them considering that Iraq and Afghanistan are its close neighbors. It is significant to note that both Iraq and Afghanistan were heartlessly invaded by the United States because of the supposed possession of weapons of mass destruction which they later realized to be untrue at the expense of the lives of American soldiers and the innocent Iraqi civilians and military as well.
From the NPT’s perspective, Iran has not violated international law. Those assumptions that Iran is secretly producing nuclear weapons are a misnomer. There is no concrete proof. No nuclear weapons were found during IAEA’s inspection of nuclear facilities. As it had been said, “the rule of law should apply without fear or favor.” But this has been violated by the Security Council as proven by the preferential treatment it has given the United States who happen to be the real intruders, the true terrorists here. Intense Western interference with Israel’s nuclear program is clearly evident and clandestine at the same time. When it comes to Iran’s case, the international law is deaf. However, in fairness to the recent developments, Iran was given freedom to continue its civilian nuclear energy enrichment endeavors because no evidence of nuclear military hardware was found. There is unrealistic threat to international peace and security as far as Iran is considered.
Another irony to be considered here is that the United States has been selling chemical weapons to Iran such as poisonous substances and deadly biological viruses which cause anthrax and bubonic plague. The United States became the top rank supplier of military weapons in 1991. Though this is not concerning nuclear weapons, this implies that Iran and the United States have established business connections already. But still, the United States cleared itself from being threats themselves.
In 2003, an additional protocol was signed for Iran alone inclusive in the NPT which allowed for short-notice inspections of nuclear facilities. This was an unfair condition because it was exclusive to Iran. How about the other states who signed the treaty? North Korea withdrew itself from the NPT. If Iran prided itself that much or if indeed it has the intention of proliferating nuclear weapons as accused, it would have departed from the NPT a long time ago. But it has not and it has complied with the intentions of the NPT. Further, Iran has not attacked any state using nuclear weapons so far. Meaning, it has no plan of going against the international law.
What is in conflict here actually is the application of international law and the passionate politicking of some parties due to some ambitious goals for more power and world domination. Seeing Iran as a potential rival, the best thing to do is to destroy Iran by any means. What is being referred to here is again, the United States. Its attacks in Iraq and Afghanistan will provoke Iran to retaliate and if this happens, the United States will have a just reason to wage war against Iran and label it as another “War on Terror.” Bush was a failure as a president as evidenced by the crises the American nation is going through at present. If it wants to improve its condition, it must work together with other states and establish diplomatic relations instead of finding faults among potential threats to its power and containing it instead. It is hoped again that the Islamic State of Iran will not be another Iraq or Afghanistan.
The right to pursue nuclear research for peaceful purposes is a right guaranteed under Article IV of the NPT. What Iran did with its uranium was utilizing it for energy production. There were no nuclear weapons found but civilian nuclear energy programs to be able to make use of its resources for the benefit of its people. The moment that Iran withdraws itself from the NPT, that is the time that the investigative bodies start hovering around to look for proofs of nuclear weapons propagation. As of the moment, there’s none. As of the moment, Iran has not attacked any country or has not planned of invading any state. In fact, it has established cooperative linkages with the members of the United Nations.
Article VI of the NPT states that “Each of the Parties to the Treaty undertakes to pursue negotiations in good faith on effective measures relating to cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date and to clear disarmament, and on a treaty on general and complete disarmament under strict and effective international control.”
Iran showed no signs that it wants to compete with other nuclear weapon states. It expressed no sentiments on this issue but it has made clear that they are not going to stop the holding of its nuclear energy enrichment activities because these are for peaceful purposes. Iran has succumbed itself to disarmament according to the agreement espoused in the NPT.
Iran is conducting its peaceful nuclear energy enhancement endeavors “in good faith” based on its behavior so far. Despite pressure from Europe, the United States and other western states, it has remained firm and unrelenting to demands for the stoppage of their innocent undertakings. This is not a pro-Iran defense but based on their actions as a nation and not an opinionated point of view. Even if it failed to report that it acquired uranium enrichment technology, this does not necessarily follow that they were fabricating nuclear weapons to wage war or attack a country. This does not affect its “inalienable right” to enjoy its resources such as uranium and plutonium perhaps and develop them to become more useful.
As the law says, “innocent until proven guilty.” Iran should be given due process of law and not immediately accuse them of doing things without just cause. It is good that the IAEA has expressed concern for Iran’s activities but this will only gain respect if this organization did that because they were concerned about international peace and security and not to satisfy the desires and motives of some real tyrants like the United States.
The NPT is not a defective agreement. Its flaws come from its implementation. Since its indefinite extension since 1995, many are taking advantage of it. It is with fervent hope that international law should not be impartial. It must uphold equality, justice and integrity for it to become successful.
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