Iran’s Options

BY ALEJANDRA GUARNEROS — On Monday, September 5th, Iran made a surprise negotiation in an effort to ease the political tensions with the West. After years of maintaining a firm stance on its nuclear program, the “head of Iran’s atomic energy agency, Fereydoon Abbasi,” has offered to allow international inspectors ‘full supervision’ of the country’s nuclear activities for five years.” This offer came days after it became known that Iran moved its nuclear fuel production to a heavily defended underground military facility outside the holy city of Qum.” The facility was first discovered and revealed to the world in September 2009.”

While this proposal may seem like the beginning of a possible negotiation in compliance with the UN’s Nuclear Weapon Non- Proliferation Treaty, the government of Iran still remains stagnant to negotiating a fuel swap” with the United States, one that had been proposed and rejected by Iran back in 2009. “Iran has allowed periodic visits by inspectors, but refused to provide information they demanded about the facility.” Iran also seems to be accelerating key components of its nuclear program” The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA or Agency), affiliated with the United Nations, also indicated concerns regarding “research by Iranian scientists on nuclear warhead design” In its report the IAEA officials were unable to provide credible assurance about the absence of undeclared nuclear material and activities in Iran, and therefore to conclude that all nuclear material in Iran is in peaceful activities.

“The current controversy over Iran’s nuclear program began in August 2002 when the National Council of Resistance on Iran,” provided information that Tehran had built nuclear facilities unknown to the IAEA. Prior to this while the IAEA had suspicions that not all “relevant information” regarding the nuclear programs had been divulged it never found Iran to be violating its agreement. Since then, the United Nations “has issued four sets of sanctions” each was a way of placing economic pressure on Iran. This has caused for Iran to “encounter difficulties in obtaining parts for its nuclear program.” as well placing trade barriers with Europe. The purpose of this offer is for the UN sanctions to be lifted According to “Iranian Security analyst Mojtaba Bideli … Iran was trying to demonstrate the ‘transparency’ of its Nuclear Programs.” President Nicholas Sarkozy of France stated that “suspicions that Iran was pursuing nuclear weapons could lead to preemptive strikes.” Iran nonetheless continues to express that their nuclear program is peaceful. But, the Agency has been “unable to provide credible assurance about the absence of undeclared nuclear material.

Questions To Be Addressed

The question is how has Iran violated the International treaties and what does Iran’s proposal of “full supervision” have to constitute for the United Nations to lift the sanctions imposed, and for Iran to abide by Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), created by the United Nations and entered into force back in 1970?

Iran and the IAEA Agreement

In the agreement with the IAEA, Iran agreed to allow the Agency access to ensure that the activities being conducted were peaceful. In Article 2 of this agreement with the IAEA, Iran agrees to allow the Agency the right to ensure that Iran is following all the safeguards and not diverting to use fissionable material to make nuclear weapons. Furthermore, Article 8 (b) (II) states, “information pertaining to facilities shall be the minimum necessary for safe-guarding nuclear material subject to safeguard under this Agreement.” Iran, had up until 2009 kept its facility in the city of Qum a secret, but for, “Western Intelligence operatives discovery” of this facility, it would not have been known to world. It has also “refused to allow access” to other facilities. Iran is also in violation of articles 42 and 43, which specify what information regarding the nuclear facilities Iran must provide the Agency. By keeping design plans and other facilities hidden from the Agency, Iran has violated the provisions stipulated above.

IAEA and the U.N. Security Council

Under the agreement between the IAEA and the U.N. Security Council there are several actions that the IAEA must take if a member is not in compliance with the agreement. Specifically, ­Article XII C stipulates that when IAEA inspectors find non-compliances issues these must ultimately report the non-compliance to members of the General Assembly of the United Nations and the Security Council.

U.N. Charter and the Security Council

If the Security Council finds a member to be violating the agreement, then under U.N. Charter, Chapter VII, the council is authorized to take necessary measures if it determines “the existence of any threat to the peace, breach of the peace, or act of aggression.

Treaty of the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons and Iran

The creation of this treaty stemmed from the belief that “proliferation of nuclear weapons would seriously enhance the danger of nuclear war.” The idea was to move towards the direction of nuclear disarmament. This treaty was first signed in 1968, and went into force in 1970. Iran is one of the countries that signed on to this treaty.

While the treaty is meant to move towards disarmament, it does allow peaceful use of nuclear energy. According to Article IV (1) of the treaty, each party to the treaty still holds “inalienable rights… to develop research, production and use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.” Article III (4) calls for each of the parties to this treaty to conclude agreements with the IAEA to meet requirements set forth in the NPT. Iran did reach an agreement with the IAEA; Agreement between Iran and the Agency for the Application of Safeguards in Connection with the Treaty on the Non Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons. The agreement went into force May 15, 1974. Interestingly enough, it is uncertain whether or not Iran has actually violated the NPT. The treaty does not contain any stipulations to determine whether or not a member has violated the treaty. Furthermore, U.N. Security Council has not declared that Iran has violated the NPT.

Iran’s Offer of “Full Supervision”

In order to abide with the treaties to possibly reach a level of compliance Iran must fully declare activities such as: the importation of natural uranium, processing and use of the imported natural uranium, in what facilities the uranium was received, provide design information of research reactors and nuclear facilities, information on waste storage sites, uranium conversion experiments, and provide ease to the implementation of safeguards. All of which have been reported as failures and breaches to the Board of Governors from IAEA Director-General.

Iran’s Second Choice

Under the NPT, Article X, a party can withdraw from the agreement. “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….” Thus, Iran still has the option to provide notice to the United Nations Security Council and withdraw from the treaty. Along with the notice, the NPT requires a “statement of the extraordinary events it regards as having jeopardized its supreme interests.”

For now, we will wait to see how Iran will approach its new offer of “full supervision,” and whether or not this is enough transparency for the United Nations to lift the sanctions previously imposed.


The New York Times

The Washington Post

Federation of American Scientists

The Los Angeles Times

The International Atomic Energy Agency

The United Nations

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