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Iran's Rights and Nuclear Non-Proliferation
[Analysis] U.N. Security Council processes fail to consider all the issues
Ronda Hauben (netizen2)     Print Article 
Published 2007-03-29 18:16 (KST)   
The recent United Nations Security Council Resolution 1747 (2007) imposing increased sanctions on Iran exposes the seriousness of the problem represented by the processes and composition of the Security Council as a mechanism of international law.

In his response to the resolution, Manouchehr Mottaki, Iran's Minister of Foreign Affairs, charged that the Security Council is acting contrary to law. "Iran's peaceful nuclear activities cannot be characterized as a threat by any stretch of law, fact or logic. Rather," he explained, "certain members of the Security Council decided to hijack the case from the IAEA...and politicize it." (1)

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Mottaki is referring to the political pressure exerted on the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to have the issue of Iran's development of uranium enrichment for peaceful purposes transferred from the IAEA to the Security Council.

Iran contends that under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) the IAEA does not have the legal authority to force it to stop peaceful activity. Only by having the case transferred to the Security Council could legal machinery be put into effect to pressure Iran to give up what it contends is its right under the NPT, the right to enrich uranium to the degree needed for nuclear energy production.

The U.S. government claims that Iran should be denied the right to do any uranium enrichment, that Iran is seeking to develop nuclear weapons and that allowing Iran to develop the technology to enrich uranium will provide Iran with the technical knowledge and experience it will use for nuclear weapon development. (2)

The U.S. does not present any actual proof for this charge. The burden is transferred to Iran to prove its intentions, in a way that is reminiscent of how Iraq was told it had to prove that it did not possess Weapons of Mass Destruction.

Proving what Mottaki calls "a negative fact" is not possible, he explains. Iran had voluntarily suspended its uranium enrichment program for two years but that did not lead to any solution. Instead Iran was presented with the demand that it permanently give up any uranium enrichment activity. To give this up, Iran contends, leaves it vulnerable to the political maneuvers of outside suppliers which, in its past experience had proven unreliable and left it with no source of enriched uranium.

In his book, Target Iran, Scott Ritter, who has worked as an IAEA weapons inspector described the politicization of the weapons inspection process inside the IAEA at the hands of the U.S., Israeli and German intelligence agencies. (3)

They provided various information to the IAEA, much of which was false. Ritter also recognizes that in the past there were failures on Iran's part to inform the IAEA of all the information it was required to reveal.

He attributes the failure to Iran's need to seek black market equipment due to U.S. sanctions denying it access to other channels. Ritter identifies a serious breakdown in the NPT processes. Ritter argues that France, Britain, and Germany caved into political pressure from the U.S. to cease negotiating in good faith with Iran and instead to require the permanent abandonment of Iran's right to develop a nuclear enrichment capacity.

When Iran recognized this was the result of its voluntary suspension of nuclear enrichment development, Ritter maintains, the negotiation process broke down. This breakdown also, according to Ritter, contributed to the hardliners gaining political dominance in Iran.

Ritter claims that John Bolton and others in the U.S. government campaigned in both open and hidden ways for the negotiation process to break down. The transfer of the situation regarding Iran to the Security Council allowed the imposition of international sanctions on Iran to force it to cease developing its nuclear enrichment processes, something not available within the IAEA processes.

Not only was the referral of Iran's case to the Security Council a mechanism of imposing sanctions on a dispute in negotiation, but the process within the Security Council is one where the accused is denied even a pretense at procedural due process or other rights of self defense. An example is that the spokesperson for Iran was only allowed to speak after the vote.

The U.S., France, Britain, China and Russia, the five permanent members of the Security Council (P-5), are some of the few nations who have a monopoly on the production of enriched uranium and on nuclear weapon production.

IAEA Director General Mohamed ElBaradei says that there are currently only 12-13 nations with the capacity to enrich uranium.(4) By the P-5 denying other nations the right to develop nuclear enrichment technology, they are able to maintain the economic, political and technical monopoly of a few nations over the supply of enriched uranium which is necessary for nuclear energy production.

Having the Security Council veto they are able to control the resolutions passed by the Council. With the power to veto resolutions they oppose, the P-5 are also able to control the process of how resolutions are created and then presented to the non-permanent members. The power of the veto means that the P-5 maintain control over what if any amendments to a resolution from non-permanent members can be included in the final form of the resolution, if the resolution is to survive the threat of a veto.

Iran has expressed its willingness to enter negotiations over its nuclear program as long as there are no preconditions.

Iran says if the precondition is removed which attempts to deny it the right to develop uranium enrichment for peaceful purposes, it will sign the Additional Protocol providing for stepped up inspection by the IAEA of Iran's nuclear program. (5)

The technological know-how for nuclear enrichment for nuclear energy production needs to be scaled by a factor of ten to produce weapons grade enriched uranium, and the design and manufacture of nuclear weapons devices requires different design and manufacturing capability and infrastructure.

The IAEA has advised that there is a need for the inspections provided for under the Additional Protocol to prevent the development of these particular nuclear weapon capabilities. ElBaradei indicates that it is preferable to keep Iran's nuclear program under the watchful eyes of the IAEA with the Additional Protocol powers while negotiations continue.

France, Britain and Germany maintain that allowing Iran to continue developing a uranium enrichment capacity rewards it for violating international law, as Iran has not yielded to the demand in resolutions 1696 and 1737 that it cease uranium enrichment even if only for peaceful uses.

The Russian Ambassador to the U.N., Vitaly Churkin, said that opening negotiations with Iran without any precondition would lead to the illusion that Iran's program is acceptable when it isn't and that Iran could then be developing a weapons grade capacity. He claims this even though Iran would be under the oversight of the IAEA and the obligations of the Additional Protocol if the precondition was removed.

Since the U.S. will not agree to allow Iran the right to develop a uranium enrichment and reprocessing capacity for peaceful purposes, however, ElBaradei's recommendations appear not to have been considered by the Security Council to be an option. But why should U.S. policy goals override the IAEA director general's recommendation?

In discussing the draft for resolution 1347, South Africa, Qatar and Indonesia, who are non-permanent members of the Council, offered amendments to protect U.N. processes and Iran's rights. It is reported that the U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice called the heads of State of South Africa, Qatar and Indonesia to talk about the resolution. (6)

In an often cited case when a non-permanent member of the Security Council voted against a resolution desired by the U.S., the nation lost foreign aid funding. An article in Inter Press Service explains the details of what happened:

"After the 1990 Yemeni vote against the U.S. resolution, THE U.S. ENVOY TURNED TO THE YEMENI AMBASSADOR AND TOLD HIM THAT HIS VOTE WOULD BE 'THE MOST EXPENSIVE 'NO' VOTE YOU WOULD EVER CAST.' The United States then promptly cut the ENTIRE 70 MILLION dollar U.S. aid budget to Yemen." (7)

In a similar vein, a nation that is likely to vote against a resolution desired by powerful nations like the U.S. may be prevented from gaining a seat on the Security Council, as when the U.S. government campaigned actively against and helped to defeat Venezuela's bid for a seat on the Security Council in the Fall of 2006.

Using such mechanisms of political pressure on international organs like the Security Council, the U.S. government is able to gain legal cover for its geo-political policy objectives.

Similar tactics were used by the U.S. in the resolutions it gained against Iraq which became some of the basis for the U.S. invasion of Iraq, despite the opposition of many Americans and of people around the world.

The actions of the U.N. Security Council in putting sanctions on Iran in response to U.S. political pressure demonstrates that U.N. institutions continue to be abused to provide legal cover for the aggressive actions of the powerful countries.

The recent attempt by Dumisani Kumalo, the South African Ambassador to the U.N., to open up the Security Council processes was a notable effort. Holding the rotating presidency of the Council in March, he continually informed the press of what was happening with the resolution process.

Also, he introduced a serious set of amendments for desirable changes in the Iran resolution. The results of the effort, however, was that only minor changes were accepted for inclusion in the final resolution from Kumalo's proposed amendments.

This helped, however, to demonstrate the fact that despite such efforts, the P-5 hold the power and the other 10 nonpermanent members of the Security Council have little power regardless how gallant their effort to change the content of a resolution which shows little or no understanding of the problem it claims to be solving.

1. Statement by H.E. Mr. Manouchehr Mottaki, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Islamic Republic of Iran before the United Nations Security Council, New York, March 24, 2007

2. Ronda Hauben, "Hostile Act: Is the Security Council Action Against Iran a Replay of the Iraq Scenario?" 12/30/2006, Telepolis http://www.heise.de/tp/r4/artikel/24/24319/1.html

3. Scott Ritter, Target Iran: The Truth About the White House's Plans for Regime Change, Nation Books, 2006.

4. Ronda Hauben, "ElBaradei Argues for Negotiation with Iran," 3/1/2007, OhmyNews, http://english.ohmynews.com/articleview/article_view.asp?no=347904&rel_no=1

5. Arms Control Association Fact Sheets for "The 1997 IAEA Additional Protocol at a Glance" http://armscontrol.org/factsheets/IAEAProtocol.asp

6. See for example "Rice calls South African president over Iran resolution"

7. Thalif Deen, "U.S. Dollars Yielded Unanimous U.N. Vote Against Iraq," 11/11/2002, Inter Press Service.
©2007 OhmyNews
Other articles by reporter Ronda Hauben

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