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The Iranian Threat That Never Was

By Sheldon Richman | Future of Freedom Foundation | March 26, 2014

If you take politicians and the mainstream media seriously, you believe that Iran wants a nuclear weapon and has relentlessly engaged in covert efforts to build one. Even if you are aware that Iran signed the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and is subject to International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspections, you may believe that those who run the Islamic Republic have cleverly found ways to construct a nuclear-weapons industry almost undetected. Therefore, you may conclude, Democratic and Republican administrations have been justified in pressuring Iran to come clean and give up its “nuclear program.”

But you would be wrong.

Anyone naturally skeptical about such foreign-policy alarms has by now found solid alternative reporting that debunks the official narrative about the alleged Iranian threat. Much of that reporting has come from Gareth Porter, the journalist and historian associated with Inter Press Service. Porter has done us the favor of collecting the fruits of his dogged investigative journalism into a single comprehensive and accessible volume, Manufactured Crisis: The Untold Story of the Iran Nuclear Scare.

A grain of truth can be found at the core of the official story. Iranian officials did indeed engage in secret activities to achieve a nuclear capability. But it was a capability aimed at generating electricity and medical treatments, not hydrogen bombs.

Porter opens his book by explaining why Iran used secretive rather than open methods. Recall that before the 1979 Islamic revolution, Iran was ruled by an autocratic monarch, the shah. The shah’s power had been eclipsed in the early 1950s by a democratically elected parliament. Then, in 1953, America’s Eisenhower administration sent the CIA in to foment civil discord in order to drive the elected prime minister, Mohammad Mossadegh, from office and restore the shah’s power.

During his reign, the shah, a close ally of the United States and Israel, started building a nuclear-power industry — with America’s blessing. Iran’s Bushehr reactor was 80 percent complete when the shah was overthrown.

When Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini became Iran’s supreme leader in 1979, he cancelled completion of the reactor and stopped related projects. But “two years later, the government reversed the decision to strip the [Atomic Energy Organization of Iran] of its budget and staff, largely because the severe electricity shortages that marked the first two years of the revolutionary era persuaded policymakers that there might be a role for nuclear power reactors after all,” Porter writes.

The new regime’s goals were “extremely modest compared with those of the shah,” Porter adds, consisting of one power plant and fuel purchased from France. Take note: the Iranian government did not aspire to enrich uranium, which is the big scare issue these days.

Iran brought the IAEA into its planning process, Porter writes, and an agency official, after conducting a survey of facilities, “recommended that the IAEA provide ‘expert services’ in eight different fields.” Porter notes that the IAEA official said nothing about an Iranian request for help in enriching uranium, “reflecting the fact that Iran was still hoping to get enriched uranium from the French company, Eurodif.”

Had things continued along this path, Iran today would have had a transparent civilian nuclear industry, under the NPT safeguard, fueled by enriched uranium purchased from France or elsewhere. No one would be talking about Iranian centrifuges and nuclear weapons. What happened?

The Reagan administration happened.

Continuing the U.S. hostility toward the Islamic Republic begun by the Carter administration, and siding with Iraq when Saddam Hussein’s military attacked Iran, the Reagan administration imposed “a series of interventions … to prevent international assistance of any kind to the Iranian nuclear program.” Not only did President Reagan block American firms from helping the Iranians; he also pressured American allies to participate in the embargo. This was in clear violation of the NPT, which recognizes the “right” of participating states to acquire nuclear technology for civilian purposes.

No wonder Iran turned to covert channels, most particularly A.Q. Khan, the Pakistani who “was selling nuclear secrets surreptitiously.” This would have been the time for Iran to buy weapons-related technology — however, Porter writes, “there is no indication that [Khan’s Iranian contact] exhibited any interest in the technology for making a bomb.”

This is indeed a manufactured crisis.

March 27, 2014 Posted by | Deception, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

IAEA rejects Israel’s anti-Iran nuclear rhetoric

Press TV – March 1, 2014

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has rejected Israel’s demand to release an alleged report about the Iranian nuclear energy work, saying there is no report that may indicate any diversion in Tehran’s program.

“The IAEA has not prepared any report containing new information relating to possible military dimensions of Iran’s nuclear program,” spokeswoman Gill Tudor said on Friday.

The remarks came after Israel demanded that the UN nuclear watchdog agency go public with all information it has regarding the Iranian nuclear energy work.

The demand was made following a Thursday report by Reuters alleging that the agency had held off an update over the Iranian nuclear energy program last year due to concerns that it may undermine nuclear talks with Tehran.

“The agency’s reports on Iran to its Board of Governors are factual and impartial. Their content is not influenced by political considerations,” Tudor added.

Iran has repeatedly emphasized that its nuclear energy program is meant for civilian purposes.

Officials in Tehran have already called on the IAEA to come clean on anything it has regarding the suspicions over the diversion of the Iranian nuclear energy program.

However, the agency has so far found no diversion in Iran’s nuclear program to publicize it.

Iran is in talks with the five permanent members of the UN Security Council — Russia, China, France, the UK and the US — plus Germany to fully resolve the decade-old dispute over the Tehran’s nuclear energy program.

The two sides inked an interim nuclear deal in Geneva, Switzerland, on November 24, 2013. The Geneva deal took effect on January 20. The two sides are now in pursuit of a final comprehensive deal.

Israel’s allegations against Iran come as the Tel Aviv regime, which is widely believed to be the only possessor of nuclear arms in the Middle East, reportedly maintains between 200 and 400 atomic warheads.

Furthermore, the Israeli regime has never allowed any inspection of its nuclear facilities and continues to defy international calls to join the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

March 2, 2014 Posted by | Deception, Wars for Israel | , , , , | Leave a comment

NAM urges global nuclear disarmament

Press TV – February 14, 2014

The Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) has renewed its call for the elimination of nuclear weapons across the world.

In a statement on Thursday, NAM labeled nuclear arms as a major threat and expressed deep concern over the destructive repercussions of the use of such weapons on present and future generations as well as the environment.

The statement said that using or threatening to use nuclear weapons was in contravention of international law, urging all countries to fulfill their denuclearization commitments.

It said that global nuclear disarmament is the first step toward creating a world free of nuclear weapons, stressing that the elimination of all such weapons is the only way to guarantee that they will not be used as a threat against countries.

Calling on world countries to respect international law and meet their legal commitments, NAM also urged an immediate conference attended by the leaders of world countries to discuss global disarmament.

It also urged the full implementation of a UN General Assembly resolution on nuclear disarmament, which was passed last year.

In December 2013, the UN General Assembly unanimously adopted a nuclear disarmament resolution that includes proposals forwarded by Iranian President Hassan Rouhani as the head of NAM.

The resolution, adopted on December 5, 2013, calls on nuclear-power states to make more efforts to scale down and ultimately eliminate all types of nuclear arms.

According to the resolution, non-nuclear states should be given guarantees that they will not be threatened or attacked by nuclear weapons.

It also calls on the General Assembly to urge all signatories to the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) to follow up on the implementation of their obligations as agreed in the 1995, 2000 and 2010 Review Conferences.

February 14, 2014 Posted by | Militarism, War Crimes | , , , , | Leave a comment

The endless arms race

By Lawrence Wittner | International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War | January 21, 2014

It’s heartening to see that an agreement has been reached to ensure that Iran honors its commitment, made when it signed the 1970 nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), to forgo developing nuclear weapons.

But what about the other key part of the NPT, Article VI, which commits nuclear-armed nations to “cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date and to nuclear disarmament,” as well as to “a treaty on general and complete disarmament”? Here we find that, 44 years after the NPT went into force, the United States and other nuclear powers continue to pursue their nuclear weapons buildups, with no end in sight.

On January 8, 2014, U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel announced what Reuters termed “ambitious plans to upgrade [U.S.] nuclear weapons systems by modernizing weapons and building new submarines, missiles and bombers to deliver them.” The Pentagon intends to build a dozen new ballistic missile submarines, a new fleet of long-range nuclear bombers, and new intercontinental ballistic missiles. The Congressional Budget Office estimated in late December that implementing the plans would cost $355 billion over the next decade, while an analysis by the independent Center for Nonproliferation Studies reported that this upgrade of U.S. nuclear forces would cost $1 trillion over the next 30 years. If the higher estimate proves correct, the submarines alone would cost over $29 billion each.

Of course, the United States already has a massive nuclear weapons capability — approximately 7,700 nuclear weapons, with more than enough explosive power to destroy the world. Together with Russia, it possesses about 95 percent of the more than 17,000 nuclear weapons that comprise the global nuclear arsenal.

Nor is the United States the only nation with grand nuclear ambitions. Although China currently has only about 250 nuclear weapons, including 75 intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), it recently flight-tested a hypersonic nuclear missile delivery vehicle capable of penetrating any existing defense system. The weapon, dubbed the Wu-14 by U.S. officials, was detected flying at ten times the speed of sound during a test flight over China during early January 2014. According to Chinese scientists, their government had put an “enormous investment” into the project, with more than a hundred teams from leading research institutes and universities working on it. Professor Wang Yuhui, a researcher on hypersonic flight control at Nanjing University, stated that “many more tests will be carried out” to solve the remaining technical problems. “It’s just the beginning.” Ni Lexiong, a Shanghai-based naval expert, commented approvingly that “missiles will play a dominant role in warfare, and China has a very clear idea of what is important.”

Other nations are engaged in this arms race, as well. Russia, the other dominant nuclear power, seems determined to keep pace with the United States through modernization of its nuclear forces. The development of new, updated Russian ICBMs is proceeding rapidly, while new nuclear submarines are already being produced. Also, the Russian government has started work on a new strategic bomber, known as the PAK DA, which reportedly will become operational in 2025. Both Russia and India are known to be working on their own versions of a hypersonic nuclear missile carrier. But, thus far, these two nuclear nations lag behind the United States and China in its development. Israel is also proceeding with modernization of its nuclear weapons, and apparently played the key role in scuttling the proposed U.N. conference on a nuclear weapons-free zone in the Middle East in 2012.

This nuclear weapons buildup certainly contradicts the official rhetoric. On April 5, 2009, in his first major foreign policy address, President Barack Obama proclaimed “America’s commitment to seek the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons.” That fall, the UN Security Council — including Russia, China, Britain, France, and the United States, all of them nuclear powers — unanimously passed Resolution 1887, which reiterated the point that the NPT required the “disarmament of countries currently possessing nuclear weapons.” But rhetoric, it seems, is one thing and action quite another.

Thus, although the Iranian government’s willingness to forgo the development of nuclear weapons is cause for encouragement, the failure of the nuclear nations to fulfill their own NPT obligations is appalling. Given these nations’ enhanced preparations for nuclear war — a war that would be nothing short of catastrophic — their evasion of responsibility should be condemned by everyone seeking a safer, saner world.

Lawrence S. Wittner (http://lawrenceswittner.com) is Professor of History emeritus at SUNY/Albany. His latest book is a satirical novel about university corporatization, What’s Going On at UAardvark?

January 22, 2014 Posted by | Militarism, Progressive Hypocrite | , , , , , | Leave a comment

UN adopts disarmament resolution embodying Iran proposals

Press TV – December 6, 2013

The UN General Assembly has unanimously adopted a nuclear disarmament resolution that includes proposals forwarded by Iran President Hassan Rouhani as head of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM).

The resolution, adopted on Thursday, calls on nuclear-power states to make more efforts to scale down and ultimately eliminate all types of nuclear arms.

In an address to the UN Disarmament Conference in New York on September 25, President Rouhani called for the “total elimination” of nuclear weapons across the world and said no one should possess such weapons.

Rouhani’s proposals included the holding of immediate negotiations on the conclusion of a comprehensive international convention on banning the production, proliferation and use of nuclear weapons; the holding of a high-level conference in 2018 on nuclear disarmament; and designating September 26 as the international day for total elimination of nuclear weapons.

The UN General Assembly’s resolution urges nuclear-weapon states to rapidly adopt the necessary measures in order to abide by their international commitments regarding disarmament. It specifically calls for the full annihilation of nuclear arsenals, transparently, irrevocably, and under international supervision.

According to the resolution, non-nuclear states should be given guarantees that they will not be threatened or attacked with nuclear weapons.

It also calls on the General Assembly to urge all signatories to the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) to follow up on the implementation of their obligations as agreed in the 1995, 2000 and 2010 Review Conferences.

December 6, 2013 Posted by | Militarism, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , , | Leave a comment

Nuclear Rights and the P5+1 Talks with Iran

By Flynt Leverett and Hillary Mann Leverett | Going to Tehran | November 22, 2013

Yesterday, while taping a discussion of the latest round of P5+1 nuclear talks with Iran on Russia Today’s CrossTalk that was broadcast today (see here or, on You Tube, here), Flynt said, “I hope I’m wrong, but I’m not particularly optimistic about a deal being reached this week.  I don’t think that there’s been a lot of progress on the issues that kept agreement from being reached the last time the parties convened in Geneva:

There’s the issue of Iran’s nuclear rights, and how they get acknowledged or not acknowledged in an interim agreement.

There is disagreement about how to handle, during an interim deal, this heavy water reactor facility at Arak which the Iranians are building.

There are still disagreements about the disposition of Iran’s stockpile of near-20 percent enriched uranium.

I don’t really see much sign that either the United States or the French are backing down from some of the positions they took on those issues ten days ago—and if there’s not some give on that, I don’t know how the Iranians will be in a position to accept the P5+1 proposal.

On the positions that the United States and France took on these issues in the November 7-9 Geneva talks, Flynt recounts,

“Going into the last round at Geneva, I think the Iranians anticipated getting a draft from the P5+1 where they had clearly worked out understandings about how some of these contentious issues—about Arak, about the 20 percent stockpile, about some acknowledgement of Iran’s nuclear rights; the Iranians had expectations from their previous discussions about the kind of proposal they were going to see.  And, basically, the United States and France reneged on those understandings.  And so the draft proposal that went in front of Iran was different from what Foreign Minister Zarif and his team were expecting to see, and they weren’t in a position to accept that.

Unless the P5+1—in particular, the United States and France—are willing to stick to understandings that the Iranians thought they had reached, at least verbally, on some of these issues, I don’t think that the Iranians are going to feel, either in terms of substance or in terms of the atmosphere of trust, they’re not going to feel comfortable with going ahead with an agreement.”

Currently, the most fundamental sticking point in Geneva is—as we have long anticipated—the Obama administration’s refusal to recognize Iran’s clear legal right to enrich uranium under safeguards and to acknowledge that the Islamic Republic will have to be treated like any other NPT party.  As we’ve written before, see here, Iran and all other states have a sovereign right to pursue indigenous fuel cycle capabilities—a right recognized in Article IV of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) as an “inalienable right,” which non-nuclear-weapon states pledge to exercise in line with Article II (where non-weapons states commit not to build or obtain nuclear weapons) and Article III (where states commit to conducting their nuclear activities under safeguards to be negotiated with the International Atomic Energy Agency).

As Flynt explains, the Obama administration—like the George W. Bush administration before it—resists recognizing this legal reality:

“There are basically four countries in the world that try to deny that the NPT recognizes the right of a non-nuclear weapon state like Iran to enrich uranium under safeguards.  Those four countries are the United States, France, the United Kingdom, and Israel, which isn’t even a signatory to the NPT.  Those are the only four countries that take this position.  The rest of the world—the BRICS, the Non-Aligned Movement, key U.S. allies like Germany and Japan—have held consistently that the Treaty recognizes a right to enrich.  And what is so perverse is that…when the U.S. and the Soviet Union first opened the NPT for signature in 1968, senior U.S. officials testified to Congress that the NPT recognized a right to safeguarded enrichment.  That was the position of the United States until the end of the Cold War—and then we decided to try to unilaterally rewrite the Treaty because we didn’t want non-Western countries getting fuel cycle capabilities.”

We’ll see if the Obama administration can do any better this weekend.

November 23, 2013 Posted by | Deception, Progressive Hypocrite | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The elephants in the room: Israel’s weapons of mass destruction

By David Morrison | Friends of Lebanon | November 19, 2013

Israel is not a party to the Chemical Weapons Convention.  It signed the Convention in 1993 when it opened for signature, but it has never ratified it.

Now that Syria has become a party to the Convention, Israel is one of only 6 states in the world that are not. They are: Angola, Egypt, Israel, Myanmar, North Korea and South Sudan [1].

As a matter of fact, Israel isn’t a party to any of the three “weapons of mass destruction” treaties, that is, the nuclear non-proliferation treaty (NPT) [2] and the Biological Weapons Convention (BWC) [3], in addition to the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) – and it is the only state in the Middle East that isn’t a party to any of them.

Almost all states in the Middle East (including Iran) are party to all three, the exceptions being:

NPT              Israel

BWC              Israel, Egypt, Syria

CWC              Israel, Egypt

What is more, Israel is the only state in the world (apart from South Sudan, which only came into existence in 2011) that isn’t a party to any of these treaties. Since it also holds the world record for being in breach of Security Council resolutions that require action by it and it alone, unkind people might say that it deserves the title of a rogue state.

(North Korea isn’t party to either the BWC or the CWC. Having joined the NPT as a ‘non-nuclear-weapon’ state in 1985, it withdrew in 2003, but its withdrawal has not been formally accepted and the UN still lists it as a party [2].)

Mainstream media carried very little

The mainstream media carried very little about this during the controversy about Syria’s chemical weapons, when one might have thought that Israel should have been asked to explain why it was refusing to become a party to the CWC, while being enthusiastic about its Syrian neighbour doing so. Could it be that it didn’t want to give up its chemical weapons?

Fox News did run a story called Syria deal shines light on suspected Israeli chemical weapons program on 16 September 2013 [4], in which a spokesman for the Israeli Foreign Ministry, Paul Hirschson, is quoted as saying that “Israel could not ratify the treaty in such an uncertain environment”.  He continued:

“These things are regional and we’re not going to go out there on our own.”

That is close to an admission that Israel does possess chemical weapons – which will only be given up when all other regional players have given up theirs. Syria has done so. Presumably, the Israeli spokesman had Egypt in mind.  Like Israel, it is suspected of having chemical weapons (and of using them during its intervention in the civil war in Yemen in the 1960s).  Like Syria, Egypt has linked its refusal to join the CWC to Israel’s possession of nuclear weapons and refusal to join the NPT.

(The Fox News article also quoted from former Israeli Defense Minister, and Labour Party leader, Amir Peretz, on the issue. He said the international community’s attitude toward Israel is “different” from Syria, because “it’s clear to everyone that Israel is a democratic, responsible regime” – that has invaded every one of its neighbours, in its short life, and has occupied large tracts of territory not its own for nearly half a century, and annexed East Jerusalem and a bit of Syria, he might have added.)

Has Israel got chemical and biological weapons too?

Nobody seriously doubts that Israel has an arsenal of nuclear weapons, perhaps as many as 400 of them, though it refuses to confirm or deny this. But does it also possess chemical weapons? There are strong suspicions that it does and that it has biological weapons as well. See, for example, Israel’s Weapons of Mass Destruction: An Overview (2008) by Professor Anthony Cordesman of the Center for Strategic & International Studies [5], which was published in 2008.

Recently, on 9 September 2013, Foreign Policy magazine published an article entitled Does Israel Have Chemical Weapons Too? [6]. This quoted from a 1983 CIA intelligence estimate which said that Israel had a “probable chemical weapon nerve agent production facility and a storage facility… at the Dimona Sensitive Storage Area in the Negev Desert”.  It continued:

“several indicators lead us to believe that they have available to them at least persistent and nonpersistent nerve agents, a mustard agent, and several riot-control agents, matched with suitable delivery systems.”

Of course, none of this constitutes conclusive proof that Israel had a chemical arsenal in the 1980s let alone now. Nor does conclusive proof exist that it possesses biological weapons. But, given its distinction as the only state in the world (apart from South Sudan) that isn’t a party to any of the three “weapons of mass destruction” treaties, one might expect a little more media attention to the matter.

Monumental double standard

For more than two decades, Israeli political leaders have claimed that Iran is developing nuclear weapons and demanded that the world put a stop to it, otherwise Israel would have to take military action to do so.  As long ago as 1992, the present Prime Minister, Benyamin Netanyahu, predicted that Iran was 3 to 5 years from being able to produce a nuclear weapon – and that the threat had to be “uprooted by an international front headed by the US” [7].

While insisting that Iran must not have nuclear weapons, Israel has continued to enhance its own nuclear weapons systems. This is a double standard of monumental proportions. But, in all this time, the mainstream media have rarely drawn attention to the fact that Israel has a nuclear arsenal, let alone challenged Israeli leaders to justify the application of this double standard.

The two exceptions to the latter that I am aware of were both on the BBC Today programme recently, the first on 14 June 2013 [8] (and that was down to Jack Straw) and the second on 26 September 2013.  See my article The BBC spreads untruths about Iran’s nuclear activities [9] for transcripts of these.

Mainstream journalists know that Israel has nuclear weapons and it is clearly newsworthy that Israel is applying a monumental double standard by demanding that Iran must not acquire what Israel itself already possesses in large numbers. So why is the question rarely put? Presumably, because mainstream journalists are simply too craven to put it for fear of the consequences from their employer or from Israel itself.

Since it is Israeli policy neither to confirm nor to deny that it has nuclear weapons, it is impossible for Israeli spokesmen to answer such a question if it were put.

1969 Nixon/Meir deal

The same is true of US spokesmen, since it is also US policy neither to confirm nor deny that Israel has nuclear weapons.

The US took a vow of silence on this issue over 40 years ago: to be precise, on 26 September 1969, when President Nixon made a secret, unwritten, agreement with Israeli Prime Minister, Golda Meir, in a one-to-one meeting in the Oval Office in the White House. Since then, the phrase “Israel’s nuclear weapons” has rarely if ever come out of the mouth of a US spokesman.

Under the Nixon/Meir deal, the US agreed not to acknowledge publicly that Israel possessed nuclear weapons, while knowing full well that it did. In return, Israel undertook to maintain a low profile about its nuclear weapons: there was to be no acknowledgment of their existence, and no testing which would reveal their existence. That way, the US would not be forced to take a public position for or against Israel’s possession of nuclear weapons.

(For the fascinating story of how this came to be US policy, see Israel crosses the threshold by Avner Cohen and William Burr, published in the May-June 2006 issue of the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists [10]).

US refuses to discuss Israel’s nuclear weapons

In accordance with the Nixon/Meir deal, the US has refused ever since to acknowledge that Israel possesses nuclear weapons. This leads to the absurd situation in which US discussion of nuclear matters has to proceed without Israel’s nuclear weapons being mentioned.

Thus, for example, in his speech in Prague on 5 April 2009, when Obama announced “America’s commitment to seek the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons” [11], Israel’s nuclear arsenal was off limits. This led to an amusing exchange at a press briefing onboard Air Force One en route to Prague between a journalist and a White House briefer, Denis McDonough (now Obama’s Chief of Staff). The dialogue included the following [12]:

Q Have you included Israel in the discussion [about a world without nuclear weapons]?

MR. McDONOUGH: Pardon me?

Q Have you included Israel in the discussion?

MR. McDONOUGH: Look, I think what you’ll see tomorrow is a very comprehensive speech.

It is rare for journalists to ask the US administration awkward questions about Israel’s nuclear arsenal. However, at the President’s press conference on 13 April 2010 after the Nuclear Security Summit in Washington, Scott Wilson of the Washington Post asked:

“You have spoken often about the need to bring US policy in line with its treaty obligations internationally to eliminate the perception of hypocrisy that some of the world sees toward the United States and its allies. In that spirit and in that venue, will you call on Israel to declare its nuclear program and sign the Non-Proliferation Treaty? And if not, why wouldn’t other countries see that as an incentive not to sign on to the treaty that you say is important to strengthen?” [13]

President Obama replied:

“… as far as Israel goes, I’m not going to comment on their program.”

That’s the Nixon/Meir deal in action 40 years after it was done.

Israel stood outside the international non-proliferation regime

Iran was one of the original signatories to the NPT on 1 July 1968 as a ‘non-nuclear-weapon’ state, forbidden under Article II of the Treaty to acquire nuclear weapons. After the Islamic revolution in 1979, when the Islamic Republic reviewed all its international treaty commitments, the new rulers continued its adherence to the Treaty.

Over the past 20 years, there has been a continuous stream of accusations from Israel, the US and others that Iran was engaged in nuclear weapons development, contrary to its NPT commitments, but there has been little in the way of hard evidence to that effect. Even its detractors agree that it hasn’t got any nuclear weapons today, let alone an operational nuclear weapons system.

In their book, Going to Tehran: Why the US must come to terms with the Islamic Republic of Iran published earlier this year, Flynt and Hillary Mann Leverett (who both served on the US National Security Council in the first Bush administration until 2003) put it this way:

“American, Israeli and other Western intelligence services have claimed since the early 1990s that Iran is three to five years away from acquiring nuclear weapons; at times, Israel has offered more alarmist figures.  But twenty years into this resetting forecast, no Western agency has come remotely close to producing hard evidence that Iran is trying to fabricate weapons. In Russia, which has its own extensive intelligence and nuclear weapons communities and close contacts with the Iranian nuclear program, high-level officials say publicly that Iran is not seeking to build nuclear weapons – a judgment echoed privately by Russian officials knowledgeable about both nuclear weapons and Iran’s nuclear programme.  Mohamed ElBaradei, who served as director general of the IAEA from 1997 to 2009 … has said on multiple occasions that there is no evidence that Iran is trying to build nuclear weapons.” (p81-2)

Unlike Iran, for more than 40 years, Israel has stood outside the international non-proliferation regime, refusing to join the NPT so that it could be free to develop nuclear weapons. Today, it has the ability to deliver them by aircraft, ballistic missile and submarine-launched cruise missiles (using submarines supplied at knockdown prices by Germany [14]). It is in a position to wipe off the map every capital in the Middle East (and probably much further afield). It is guilty of nuclear proliferation on a grand scale.

It introduced nuclear weapons into the Middle East. Without this, the Middle East would be a nuclear weapons free zone today.

Yet, it is Iran that has been treated as a pariah state and subjected to fierce economic sanctions by the US/EU and their allies, while Israel is showered with largesse by the US/EU. It receives over $3bn a year in military aid from the US, more than any other state in the world, even though its GDP per capita is on a par with that of the EU.  And, since 2000, it has enjoyed privileged access to the EU market for its exports. Not only that, Germany has subsidised the enhancement of Israel nuclear weapons systems by supplying it with submarines.

Iran and other Israeli neighbours can withdraw from NPT

Clearly, Iran made the wrong choice in 1968 by signing the NPT. Had it taken the same route as Israel and refused to sign, it would have been free to engage in any nuclear activities it liked in secret, including activities for military purposes, without breaking any obligations under the NPT.

In fact, given Israel has acquired a nuclear arsenal since Iran signed the NPT in 1968, under Article IX of the NPT, Iran would be well within its rights to withdraw from the Treaty and remove the constraints upon it due to NPT membership (and so would every one of Israel’s neighbours). Article IX says:

“Each Party shall in exercising its national sovereignty have the right to withdraw from the Treaty if it decides that extraordinary events, related to the subject matter of this Treaty, have jeopardized the supreme interests of its country. It shall give notice of such withdrawal to all other Parties to the Treaty and to the United Nations Security Council three months in advance. Such notice shall include a statement of the extraordinary events it regards as having jeopardized its supreme interests.” [15]

By any objective standard, Iran (and other neighbours of Israel) has good grounds for withdrawing, because of the build up over the past 40 years of an Israeli nuclear arsenal directed at them. There could hardly be a better example of “extraordinary events, related to the subject matter of this Treaty”, which “have jeopardized [their] supreme interests”.

Thanks to Germany, Israel has second strike capability

A further point: the impression is often given, not least by the Israeli leadership, that Iran’s possession of even one nuclear weapon would put Israel’s existence as a state in jeopardy. But, once account is taken of Israel’s possession of a nuclear arsenal, this proposition loses its force, especially since, thanks to German generosity with submarines, it is impossible for any aggressor to destroy Israel’s nuclear weapons systems in a first strike. Thanks to Germany, Israel has second strike capability.

The plain fact is that if Iran were ever foolish enough to make a nuclear strike on Israel, it is absolutely certain that Israel would retaliate in kind and overwhelmingly and, as a result, many Iranian cities would be razed to the ground. The rulers of Iran know that to be the case and are not suicidal.

The Israeli leadership is well aware of this. In February 2010, when he was Israeli Defense Minister, Ehud Barack said:

“I don’t think the Iranians, even if they got the bomb, [would] drop it in the neighbourhood. They fully understand what might follow. They are radical but not totally crazy. They have a quite sophisticated decision making process, and they understand reality.” [16]

What he is saying – obliquely, since he doesn’t want to state openly that Israel possesses nuclear weapons – is that Iran would not make a nuclear strike against Israel if it had the capacity to do so, because its leadership is fully aware of the awful consequences.

NPT signatories agree to Middle East WMD free zone

The 1995 NPT Review and Extension Conference (attended by all parties to the NPT and therefore excluding Israel) passed a resolution calling for the creation of WMD free zone in the Middle East – to be precise, “an effectively verifiable Middle East zone free of weapons of mass destruction, nuclear, chemical and biological, and their delivery systems” [17]. It also called for all states in the region to accede to the NPT as soon as possible. This resolution was co-sponsored by the US, UK and Russia.

Nuclear weapons free zones have come into existence in other areas of the world since the late 60s (for example, in Latin America & the Caribbean and in Africa), where states in the area have agreed to ban the use, development, or deployment of nuclear weapons.

The creation of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East had been the subject of resolutions in international fora since the mid 70s, when evidence began to emerge that Israel was developing nuclear weapons. In December 1974, for example, the UN General Assembly passed resolution 3263 (XXIX) [18], proposed by Iran and Egypt, calling for the establishment of such a zone and for all states in the region to adhere to the NPT.  The resolution was adopted almost unanimously, with only Israel (and Burma) abstaining.

Security Council Resolution 687, the resolution passed at the end of the Gulf War in April 1991, which demanded the destruction of Iraq’s “weapons of mass destruction”, also called on UN member states “to work towards the establishment in the Middle East of a zone free of such weapons.” [19].

NPT signatories agree to conference on Middle East WMD free zone

The 1995 NPT resolution calling for a WMD free zone in the Middle East was reaffirmed at the next NPT Review Conference in 2000. However, needless to say, there was no progress whatsoever on its implementation.

In December 2003, when Syria was a member of the Security Council, it introduced a resolution reiterating the clause from the Iraq disarmament resolution calling for a WMD free zone in the Middle East, but the US threatened to veto it and it was never voted on [20].

The 2005 NPT Review Conference failed to agree a final consensus declaration, a sticking point being the lack of progress on implementing the 1995 resolution. The US had refused to put its name to any text which involved taking additional measures to induce Israel to give up its nuclear weapons and accede to the NPT.

The Obama administration was anxious to avoid a similar outcome at the 2010 NPT Review Conference. This time, a coalition of the 118 states in the Non-Aligned Movement, led by Egypt, lobbied strongly for progress on this (and other) issues. In order to achieve a final consensus declaration, the US had to agree to “a process leading to full implementation of the 1995 Resolution on the Middle East”, to quote from the conference final document [21] (p30).

Specifically, in a resolution on the Middle East, the Conference agreed that,

“The Secretary-General of the United Nations and the co-sponsors of the 1995 Resolution [the US, UK and Russia], in consultation with the States of the region, will convene a conference in 2012, to be attended by all States of the Middle East, on the establishment of a Middle East zone free of nuclear weapons and all other weapons of mass destruction, on the basis of arrangements freely arrived at by the States of the region, and with the full support and engagement of the nuclear-weapon States. The 2012 Conference shall take as its terms of reference the 1995 Resolution;”

The resolution also specifically stated that Israel should accede to the NPT as a “non-nuclear weapon” state (ie that it should give up its nuclear weapons) and place all its nuclear facilities under comprehensive IAEA safeguards (p29/30). Iran’s nuclear activities weren’t mentioned in the resolution. Surprisingly, the US put its name to this, since it effectively calls for Israel to give up its nuclear weapons.

US postpones conference

The proposed conference, which was supposed to be held in 2012, has yet to take place. At one point it was scheduled to be held in Finland in December 2012, with Finnish Undersecretary of State Jaakko Laajava as the facilitator. But, the US called it off at the last moment, a statement issued by the State Department on 23 November 2012 saying:

“As a co-sponsor of the proposed conference on a Middle East zone free of weapons of mass destruction (MEWMDFZ), envisioned in the 2010 Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference Final Document, the United States regrets to announce that the conference cannot be convened because of present conditions in the Middle East and the fact that states in the region have not reached agreement on acceptable conditions for a conference.” [22]

At that time, one state in the Middle East was refusing to attend. No marks for guessing that the odd man out was Israel.

At the time of writing (7 November 2013), the conference has not been rescheduled.

US accords Israel veto over holding conference

It wasn’t a surprise that the US called the conference off because Israel didn’t want to attend, because immediately after the US had put its name to the consensus declaration on 28 May 2010, President Obama’s National Security Advisor, General James Jones, stated that the US had “serious reservations” about the proposal for the conference [23]. He went on:

“The United States has long supported such a zone, although our view is that a comprehensive and durable peace in the region and full compliance by all regional states with their arms control and nonproliferation obligations are essential precursors for its establishment.”

So, as far as the US is concerned, it is OK for Israel to keep its nuclear weapons until there is a comprehensive peace settlement in the Middle East

General Jones continued:

“As a co-sponsor charged with enabling this conference, the United States will ensure that a conference will only take place if and when all countries feel confident that they can attend. Because of [the] gratuitous way that Israel has been singled out, the prospect for a conference in 2012 that involves all key states in the region is now in doubt and will remain so until all are assured that it can operate in a[n] unbiased and constructive way.”

So, within hours of the 189 signatories of the NPT, including the US, agreeing to the conference being held, the US unilaterally accorded Israel a veto over whether the conference would be held.

Lest there be any doubt about this, listen to this from President Obama, meeting with Prime Minister Netanyahu in Washington a couple of months later on 6 July 2010:

“The President emphasized that the conference will only take place if all countries feel confident that they can attend, and that any efforts to single out Israel will make the prospects of convening such a conference unlikely.” [24]

Israel has to be singled out

General Jones’ assertion that it is gratuitous to single out Israel when talking about a WMD free zone in the Middle East is beyond absurdity.

Israel is the only state in the Middle East that isn’t a party to any of the three WMD treaties. The only state in the Middle East that possesses nuclear weapons is Israel (and they are the only weapons which merit the name “weapons mass destruction”).

Egypt and Syria (and Israel) may possess other forms, but it is generally believed that their pursuit of them was driven by Israel’s possession of nuclear weapons. The Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI) organisation says of Egypt:

Cairo continues to lead efforts to establish a Weapons of Mass Destruction Free Zone (WMDFZ) in the Middle East and to criticize Israel’s alleged nuclear weapons program, linking its refusal to participate in further arms control agreements such as the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) to Israel’s nonparticipation in the NPT.” [25]

And of Syria:

“The country’s primary motivation for pursuing unconventional weapons and ballistic missiles appears to be the perceived Israeli threat, as Israel has superior conventional military capabilities and is widely believed to possess nuclear weapons.” [26]

So, unless Israel is singled out for WMD elimination, there will never be a WMD free zone in the Middle East.

US accords Israel veto over creation of Middle East WMD free zone

However, it is clear that the US is not going to be singling out Israel any time soon. When he met Prime Minister Netanyahu on 6 July 2010:

“The President told the Prime Minister he recognizes that Israel must always have the ability to defend itself, by itself, against any threat or possible combination of threats, and that only Israel can determine its security needs.” [24]

In that, the Obama administration accepts that Israel has a right to nuclear weapons for deterrence purposes – and the right to decide when, if ever, it no longer needs nuclear weapons for deterrence purposes. That accords Israel a veto over the creation over a WMD free zone in the Middle East – and over the achievement of “a world without nuclear weapons”, which he embarked on rhetorically in Prague in April 2009.

If the US were to apply that principle universally, then every state in the world would have a right to nuclear weapons, if it believed that their possession was necessary to deter aggression. However, it’s likely that the US will restrict the application of this principle to very special friends.

References

[1] http://www.opcw.org/about-opcw/non-member-states/

[2] disarmament.un.org/treaties/t/npt

[3] disarmament.un.org/treaties/t/bwc

[4] http://www.foxnews.com/world/2013/09/16/syria-deal-shines-light-on-suspected-israeli-chemical-weapons-program/

[5] http://www.csis.org/media/csis/pubs/080602_israeliwmd.pdf

[6] http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2013/09/09/does_israel_have_chemical_weapons_too

[7] http://www.csmonitor.com/layout/set/print/World/Middle-East/2011/1108/Imminent-Iran-nuclear-threat-A-timeline-of-warnings-since-1979/Earliest-warnings-1979-84

[8] cpa.org/rowhani-and-the-iranian-elections-dore-gold-debates-former-british-foreign-secretary-jack-straw-on-bbc-radio-4-morning-program-june-14-2013/

[9] http://www.david-morrison.org.uk/iran/bbc-spreads-untruths-on-iran.htm

[10] http://www.david-morrison.org.uk/other-documents/israel-crosses-threshold-2006May-Jun.pdf

[11] http://www.whitehouse.gov/the_press_office/Remarks-By-President-Barack-Obama-In-Prague-As-Delivered/

[12] http://www.whitehouse.gov/the_press_office/Press-Gaggle-aboard-AF1-en-route-Prague-by-General-Jones-Denis-McDonough-and-Robert-Gibbs-4/4/2009/

[13] http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/press-conference-president-nuclear-security-summit

[14] http://www.commondreams.org/headlines02/0615-03.htm

[15] http://www.iaea.org/Publications/Documents/Infcircs/Others/infcirc140.pdf

[16] usatoday30.usatoday.com/news/world/2010-02-26-israel-iran-nuclear_N.htm?csp=34

[17] http://www.un.org/disarmament/WMD/Nuclear/1995-NPT/pdf/Resolution_MiddleEast.pdf

[18] http://www.un.org/en/ga/search/view_doc.asp?symbol=A/RES/3263%28XXIX%29&Lang=E&Area=RESOLUTION

[19] http://www.un.org/en/ga/search/view_doc.asp?symbol=S/RES/687%281991%29

[20] http://www.huffingtonpost.com/stephen-zunes/us-record-on-chemical-wea_b_3901888.html

[21] http://www.un.org/ga/search/view_doc.asp?symbol=NPT/CONF.2010/50%20%28VOL.I%29

[22] http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/ps/2012/11/200987.htm

[23] http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/statement-national-security-advisor-general-james-l-jones-non-proliferation-treaty-

[24] http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/readout-presidents-meeting-with-prime-minister-netanyahu-israel-0

[25] http://www.nti.org/country-profiles/egypt/

[26] http://www.nti.org/country-profiles/syria/

David Morrison is a Political Officer of Sadaka: The Ireland Palestine Alliance and co-author of A Dangerous Delusion: Why the West is Wrong about Nuclear Iran (April 2013).  Morrison can be reached at david@sadaka.ie.

 

November 19, 2013 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Militarism, Progressive Hypocrite, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

NPT useless in Middle East: Israel PM

Press TV – November 16, 2013

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) has no use in the Middle East.

Problematic countries are not the ones which have refused to sign the NPT, Netanyahu said in an interview with French-language daily Le Figaro on Friday.

The Israeli premier accused Iran of seeking nuclear weapons despite being a signatory to the NPT.

He said Iran should not possess heavy water reactors or centrifuges, stressing Israel and Arab countries in the Persian Gulf are united in their stance against the Iranian nuclear issue.

Netanyahu labeled Tehran as an aggressive and violent state which poses a threat to the US and European countries such as France and Britain.

He called on France to stand firm on its stance against Iran in the upcoming nuclear talks between Iran and the five permanent members of the UN Security Council -Russia, China, US, UK, and France- plus Germany.

Israel is widely believed to be the only possessor of nuclear weapons in the Middle East with an estimated 200 to 400 nuclear warheads.

The Israeli regime, which rejects all regulatory international nuclear agreements, particularly the NPT, maintains a policy of deliberate ambiguity over its nuclear activities and refuses to allow its nuclear facilities to come under international regulatory inspections.

November 16, 2013 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Obama’s Refusal to Respect Iran’s Sovereign and Treaty Rights Continues to Thwart Diplomacy, Leaving America on the Self-Defeating Path to War

Obama-says-refusal-to-lift-debt-ceiling-would-hurt-economy

By Flynt Leverett and Hillary Mann Leverett | Going to Tehran | November 12th, 2013

Notwithstanding France’s simultaneously arrogant and craven grandstanding over Iran’s Arak heavy water reactor, the main reason for the failure of last week’s nuclear talks between the Islamic Republic and the P5+1 was the Obama administration’s imperious refusal to acknowledge Tehran’s right to enrich uranium under international safeguards. On this point, we want to highlight a recent post by Dan Joyner on Arms Control Law, titled, “Scope, Meaning and Juridical Implication of the NPT Article IV(1) Inalienable Right.”

Dan opens with a favorable reference to our recent post on the issue, see here; he then focuses on how to interpret the NPT Article IV(1) right to peaceful nuclear energy—a subject he has already written about at some length. He usefully inserts an excerpt from his excellent 2011 book, Interpreting the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, Interpreting the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty Pages 79-84.  This excerpt lays out Dan’s argument that the right to peaceful use of nuclear technology should be interpreted as “a full, free-standing right of all NNWS [non-nuclear-weapon states] party to the treaty, and not as a contingent right, contrary to the interpretation of some NWS [nuclear-weapon states].” After elaborating this basic point, Dan continues:

“The question of the scope of this right is one that continues to be debated. I have looked to the Lotus principle in international law (see the excerpt from my book) to show that the lawfulness of NNWS’, and in fact all states’, indigenous nuclear fuel cycle activities can be shown to derive from the absence of any prohibition of these activities in international law. This observation will, I have argued, serve to legally justify the full nuclear fuel cycle of activities within a NNWS, subject only to the positive requirements of Articles II and III of the NPT—i.e. no manufacture of nuclear explosive devices, and the conclusion of a safeguards agreement with the IAEA.

The question of just what exactly is the nature and scope of the right recognized in Article IV(1) of the NPT, and what are its juridical implications (e.g. in tension with the UN Security Council’s order in Resolution 1696 for Iran to cease uranium enrichment), is a subject that I have been thinking/researching about recently… These questions actually raise some very deep issues of international law, and analyzing them properly requires serious work… But let me say this here.

Article IV(1) 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.” In my view, the recognition by over 190 states parties to the NPT that all states have such an inalienable right, which I interpret to include all elements of the full nuclear fuel cycle including uranium enrichment, strongly suggests that the right to peaceful nuclear energy research, production and use is one of the fundamental rights of states in international law. In my view, both fundamental and acquired rights of states should be understood to create in third parties, both states and international organizations, a legal obligation to respect those rights.

This means that other states and international organizations are under an international legal obligation not to act in serious prejudice of states’ rights. In the case of fundamental rights, this reciprocal obligation is of a jus cogens order, meaning that all states and international organizations are under a jus cogens order legal obligation not to act to seriously prejudice the fundamental rights of other states. When states or international organization do act in serious prejudice of a state’s fundamental rights, that action is an internationally wrongful act, and implicates the international responsibility of the acting state or international organization.

According to this analysis, UN Security Council Resolution 1696, which commands Iran to cease uranium enrichment, constitutes a violation of international law, at least as to this particular command, and is void of legal effect (See Article 25 of the UN Charter).

Note that the often heard rebuttal to this argument, which references Article 103 of the UN Charter, is in fact erroneous and inapplicable.  Article 103 of the UN Charter provides that “In the event of a conflict between the obligations 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.” My analysis, which is based on the recognition of a fundamental right of states in international law, and the juridical implication of an obligation in other states and international organizations to respect that right, is unaffected and unanswered by this provision, which merely recognizes that in the case of a conflict between UN member states’ international legal obligations under the Charter, and their obligations deriving from other sources, the Charter obligations trump.  It 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.”

Dan’s work on these issues is both breathtakingly clear and, as far as we are concerned, definitive.  (For more of his analysis on the illegality of Security Council resolutions calling on Iran to suspend uranium enrichment, we refer everyone to his brilliant article, “The Security Council as Legal Hegemon,” published last year in the Georgetown Journal of International Law, see here.)

More immediately, Dan’s work underscores an important reality:  the Obama administration’s hegemonically abusive refusal to recognize Iran’s right to safeguarded enrichment is not just diplomatically and strategically counter-productive—it is illegal.

November 13, 2013 Posted by | Progressive Hypocrite, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes, Wars for Israel | , , | 1 Comment

America’s Lead Iran Negotiator Misrepresents U.S. Policy (and International Law) to Congress

332915_Wendy Sherman

By Flynt Leverett and Hillary Mann Leverett | Going to Tehran | November 3, 2013

Last month, while testifying to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Wendy Sherman—Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs and the senior U.S. representative in the P5+1 nuclear talks with Iran—said, with reference to Iranians, “We know that deception is part of the DNA.”  This statement goes beyond orientalist stereotyping; it is, in the most literal sense, racist.  And it evidently was not a mere “slip of the tongue”:  a former Obama administration senior official told us that Sherman has used such language before about Iranians.

If a senior U.S. government official made public statements about “deception” or some other negative character trait being “part of the DNA” of Jews, people of African origin, or most other ethnic groups, that official would—rightly—be fired or forced to resign, and would probably not be allowed back into “polite society” until after multiple groveling apologies and a long period of penance.

–But a senior U.S. official can make such a statement about Iranians—or almost certainly about any other ethnic group a majority of whose members are Muslim—and that’s just fine.

Of course, it’s not fine.  But that’s the America we live in.

Putting aside Sherman’s glaring display of anti-Iranian racism, there was another egregious manifestation of prejudice-cum-lie in her testimony to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that we want to explore more fully.  It came in a response to a question from Senator Marco Rubio (R-Florida) about whether states have a right to enrich under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).  Here is the relevant passage in Sherman’s reply:

It has always been the U.S. position that Article IV of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation 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.”

Sherman goes on to acknowledge that “many countries such as Japan and Germany have taken that [uranium enrichment] to be a right.”  But, she says, “the United States does not take that position.  We take the position that we look at each one of these [cases].”  Or, as she put it at the beginning of her response to Sen. Rubio, “It has always been the U.S. position that Article IV of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty does not speak about the right of enrichment at all” (emphasis added).

Two points should be made here.  First, the claim that the NPT’s Article IV does not affirm the right of non-nuclear-weapons states to pursue indigenous development of fuel-cycle capabilities, including uranium enrichment, under international safeguards is flat-out false.

Article IV makes a blanket statement 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 it’s not just “countries such as Japan and Germany”—both close U.S. allies—which affirm that this includes the right of non-weapons states to enrich uranium under safeguards.  The BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa) countries and the Non-Aligned Movement (whose 120 countries represent a large majority of UN members) have all clearly affirmed the right of non-nuclear-weapons states, including the Islamic Republic of Iran, to pursue indigenous safeguarded enrichment.

In fact, just four countries in the world hold that there is no right to safeguarded enrichment under the NPT:  the United States, Britain, France, and Israel (which isn’t even a NPT signatory).  That’s it.

Moreover, the right to indigenous technological development—including nuclear fuel-cycle capabilities, should a state choose to pursue them—is a sovereign right.  It is not conferred by the NPT; the NPT’s Article IV recognizes states’ “inalienable right” in this regard, while other provisions bind non-weapons states that join the Treaty to exercise this right under international safeguards.

There have been many first-rate analyses demonstrating that the right to safeguarded enrichment under the NPT is crystal clear—from the Treaty itself, from its negotiating history, and from subsequent practice, with at least a dozen non-weapons states building fuel-cycle infrastructures potentially capable of supporting weapons programs.  Bill Beeman published a nice Op Ed in the Huffington Post on this question in response to Sherman’s Senate Foreign Relations Committee testimony, see here and, for a text including references, here.  For truly definitive legal analyses, see the work of Daniel Joyner, for example here and here.  The issue will also be dealt with in articles by Flynt Leverett and Dan Joyner in a forthcoming special issue of the Penn State Journal of Law and International Affairs, which should appear within the next few days.

From any objectively informed legal perspective, denying non-weapons states’ right of safeguarded enrichment amounts to nothing more than a shameless effort to rewrite the NPT unilaterally.  And this brings us to our second point about Sherman’s Senate Foreign Relations Committee testimony.

Sherman claims that “It has always been the U.S. position that Article IV of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty does not speak about the right of enrichment at all [and] doesn’t speak to enrichment, period.”  But, in fact, the United States originally held that the right to peaceful use recognized in the NPT’s Article IV includes the indigenous development of safeguarded fuel-cycle capabilities.

In 1968, as America and the Soviet Union, the NPT’s sponsors, prepared to open it for signature, the founding Director of the U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency, William Foster, told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee—the same committee to which Sherman untruthfully testified last month—that the Treaty permitted non-weapons states to pursue the fuel cycle.  We quote Foster on this point:   “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.”  [Note:  In Article II of the NPT, non-weapons states commit not to build or acquire nuclear weapons; in Article III, they agree to accept safeguards on the nuclear activities, “as set forth in an agreement to be negotiated and concluded with the International Atomic Energy Agency.”]

Thus, it is a bald-faced lie to say that the United States has “always” held that the NPT does not recognize a right to safeguarded enrichment.  As a matter of policy, the United States held that that the NPT recognized such a right even before it was opened for signature; this continued to be the U.S. position for more than a quarter century thereafter.

It was only after the Cold War ended that the United States—along with Britain, France, and Israel—decided that the NPT should be, in effect, unilaterally rewritten (by them) to constrain the diffusion of fuel-cycle capabilities to non-Western states.  And their main motive for trying to do so has been to maximize America’s freedom of unilateral military initiative and, in the Middle East, that of Israel.

This is the agenda for which Wendy Sherman tells falsehoods to a Congress that is all too happy to accept them.

November 4, 2013 Posted by | Deception, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments