Iran was not ordered to Stop Enrichment
By Mike Whitney
-- -- It’s easy to get confused about
developments in Iran because the media does everything in its
power to obfuscate the facts and then spin the details in way
that advances American policy objectives. But, let’s be clear;
the Security Council did NOT order Iran to stop enriching
uranium. It may not even be in their power to do so since
enrichment is guaranteed under the NPT (Nuclear Nonproliferation
Treaty). For the Security Council to forbid Iran to continue
with enrichment activities would be tantamount to repealing the
treaty itself. They didn’t do that.
What they did was “request” that Iran suspend enrichment
activities so that the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency)
could further prove that Iran’s nuclear programs were entirely
for peaceful purposes.
Iran, of course, did the only thing they could do; they
graciously declined. After all, Iran followed every minute step
that the Bush administration took in the long march to war with
Iraq, so it is only natural that they would choose to take a
different path. Why would they invite more intrusive inspections
allowing the UN to ferret through every inch of Iranian
territory in an attempt to uncover every armory, radar station,
and missile site before the inevitable US bombing? Why would
they endure the humiliation of being singled out and scorned for
complying with the NPT when nuclear cheaters like India are
rewarded with praise and offered banned nuclear technology by
The Security Council is looking for a peaceful way out of the
standoff, so they are bending as much as possible, but, make no
mistake, there will be no sanctions, no Chapter 7 resolutions,
and no outright ban on Iran enriching uranium.
It won’t happen.
In fact, as nuclear scientist Gordon Prather reports, the
Security Council actually confirmed Iran’s right to enrich
uranium in a terse Presidential Statement which they issued
after two weeks of deliberation:
"The Security Council reaffirms its commitment to the
Treaty on the Nonproliferation of Nuclear Weapons and recalls
the right of States Party, in conformity with articles I and II
of that Treaty, to develop research, production and use of
nuclear energy for peaceful purposes without discrimination”.
Should we be surprised that not one newspaper in the western
press printed this astonishing vindication of Iran’s conduct
under the terms of the NPT?
The media routinely characterizes Iran’s behavior as “defiance”,
as if anyone who stands in the way of American foreign policy is
inherently evil. In fact, there is an important principle
involved in Iran’s response that is never adequately explored.
The right to enrich uranium is the central tenet of the NPT.
That is why in the language of the treaty, it is referred to as
an “inalienable right”. This point is oftentimes overlooked but
it is crucial to understanding the true spirit of the treaty.
Every nation is entitled to the full benefits of nuclear
technology as long as they comply with inspections that ensure
their programs are strictly being used for peaceful purposes.
There’s no way to strip “enrichment” out of the NPT and still
have a treaty that means anything. . Without the prospect of
enrichment, there is no incentive for countries to join the NPT.
The signatory would simply be accepting an apartheid system
which rewards nuclear states without any practical benefits for
the non-nuclear members. It is the right to utilize nuclear
technology without developing nuclear weapons that makes the
For the United States to say that they want Iran to forgo
enrichment is the same as saying they want to unilaterally
repeal the treaty.
For Iran, this is totally unacceptable. It is the equivalent of
buying a car from a dealership only to discover that the
steering wheel, engine, and transmission have been removed.
Iran has fully complied with the most rigorously monitored
inspections in the history of the IAEA. They have willingly
submitted to “additional protocols” negotiated with the EU-3
(Germany, France and England) as a way of allaying concerns
about noncompliance and to build confidence among the members of
the international community. Their eagerness to negotiate in
good faith was intentionally subverted by the Bush
administration which has stubbornly refused to provide any of
the security guarantees that Iran sought in exchange for
sacrificing its rights. Iran wants a non-aggression pact from
the Bush administration, something that Washington is unprepared
At no point, have the inspections produced “any evidence” that
Iran is secretly developing nuclear weapons or diverting nuclear
material from its use in peaceful technology. This hasn’t
stopped the administration from pursuing an aggressive media
strategy to feed public hysteria.
Will it work?
Iran’s struggle represents a fundamental clash between the
rights of individual sovereign states and an increasingly
mettlesome superpower. No one disputes that the NPT allows its
members to enrich uranium. The dispute is whether or not the
United States can arbitrarily overturn international law and
rescind a treaty for a nation it simply dislikes.
Treaties are the foundation blocks upon which the international
order rests; without them we are doomed to an endless cycle of
bloody conflicts. Iran’s demand that its rights be respected is
in fact a defense of the basic principle which underscores
civilization itself; that even the weakest among us can take
refuge in the law. The Mullahs are right to think that that is a
principle worth fighting for.
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