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Iran’s Right to the Peaceful Use of Nuclear Energy

There is nothing whatever inflammatory or revolutionary in President Obama’s statement about Iran’s right to use nuclear energy peacefully:

LONDON — President Barack Obama reiterated that Iran may have some right to nuclear energy _ provided it takes steps to prove its aspirations are peaceful.

In a BBC interview broadcast Tuesday, Obama also restated plans to pursue direct diplomacy with Tehran to encourage it to set aside any ambitions for nuclear weapons it might harbor.

Iran has insisted its nuclear program is aimed at generating electricity. But the U.S. and other Western governments accuse Tehran of seeking atomic weapons.

“Without going into specifics, what I do believe is that Iran has legitimate energy concerns, legitimate aspirations. On the other hand, the international community has a very real interest in preventing a nuclear arms race in the region,” Obama said.

The comments echo remarks Obama made in Prague last month in which he said his administration would “support Iran’s right to peaceful nuclear energy with rigorous inspections” if Iran proves it is no longer a nuclear threat.

That’s completely prosaic. As acknowledged by the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty of which Iran is a signatory, Iran has a right to pursue the peaceful application of nuclear energy as do all other signatories. The problems lie elsewhere.

First, back in 2006 the IAEA noted that Iran had failed to comply with its obligations under the NPT, raised the question of whether its program was for peaceful purposes, and requested it to voluntarily suspend its enrichment activities, a request with which Iran has never complied:

Recalling Iran’s many failures and breaches of its obligations to comply with its NPT Safeguards Agreement and the absence of confidence that Iran’s nuclear programme is exclusively for peaceful purposes resulting from the history of concealment of Iran’s nuclear activities, the nature of those activities and other issues arising from the Agency’s verification of declarations made by Iran since September 2002…

Second, the United Nations Security Council ordered Iran to cease its enrichment activities over concern that Iran’s program was not exclusively for peaceful purposes, an order with which Iran has never complied. I recognize that whether the UNSC has the power to give such an order has been questioned.

Third, as recently as November of last year the IAEA has complained about a lack of complete cooperation from Iran in the organization’s efforts to exclude the possibility that Iran’s nuclear development program had military dimensions.

Finally, while Iran has a right to pursue the peaceful application of nuclear energy doing so to maintain energy independence makes little sense and it’s a waste of Iran’s resources to do so. They can get more results for less money simply by modernizing their oil production facilities.

The bottom line is that, yes, Iran has a right to pursue the peaceful application of nuclear energy but we’re perfectly justified in wondering if that’s what they’re doing.

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About Dave Schuler
Over the years Dave Schuler has worked as a martial arts instructor, a handyman, a musician, a cook, and a translator. He's owned his own company for the last thirty years and has a post-graduate degree in his field. He comes from a family of politicians, teachers, and vaudeville entertainers. All-in-all a pretty good preparation for blogging.

Comments

  1. Triumph says:

    That’s completely prosaic

    What’s your point? This has been the US position for years. There is nothing that HUssein said which counters Security Council Resolution 1803–which Bush supported.

    Finally, while Iran has a right to pursue the peaceful application of nuclear energy doing so to maintain energy independence makes little sense and it’s a waste of Iran’s resources to do so. They can get more results for less money simply by modernizing their oil production facilities.

    You forget something called “state sovereignty.” One country can’t force domestic policy on another. It makes more sense to export the stuff for foreign exchange and develop less polluting forms of domestic energy.

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  2. Steve Plunk says:

    Why can they pursue peaceful nuclear power when we can’t?

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  3. The Strategic MC says:

    “President Barack Obama reiterated that Iran may have some right to nuclear energy _ provided it takes steps to prove its aspirations are peaceful.”

    After all, “…Iran has a right to pursue the peaceful application of nuclear energy as do all other signatories (of the NPT)”.

    Who, btw, has said that Iran cannot have a demonstrably “peaceful” nuclear power program? The U.S., China, Russia, the E.U. and the U.N. appear to be “down” with that. Even Israel, pre-Khomeini, wasn’t overly concerned about this.

    I see a strawman argument here, coming from the current master of strawman arguments.

    The real issue, and the subject of any meaningful discussion to be held with Tehran, is Iran’s near-certain effort to acquire a military nuclear capability. And the development of missiles that will deliver the end-product to the vicinity of Tel Aviv.

    Is it too confrontational for Obama to state this directly?

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  4. Zelsdorf Ragshaft III says:

    Obama said in a dispute, he would stand with the Muslims.

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  5. G.A.Phillips says:

    You forget something called “state sovereignty.” One country can’t force domestic policy on another.

    lol, since when?

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  6. Tlaloc says:

    Finally, while Iran has a right to pursue the peaceful application of nuclear energy doing so to maintain energy independence makes little sense and it’s a waste of Iran’s resources to do so. They can get more results for less money simply by modernizing their oil production facilities.

    Or maybe Iran’s production is at or near peak, or they fear it may be. Petrostates faced with a sure and rapid decline in their primary export as well as own energy source are likely to e a little panicked.

    That said Iran surely would like to play the “do I don’t I” game that Israel does. Actually leaving aside geopolitical interests Iran would probably be one of the better ME states to have the bomb and keep Israel in check. Virtually all the rest are more actually warlike or closer to a revolution by fundies (Hi, saud!). Iran already had its fundamentalist take over and has become a pretty stable bureaucratic state (if unfriendly to the US).

    I’d vastly prefer neither had a bomb but if Israel does, and given Israel’s behavior, it’d be best to have some detente with teeth.

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  7. Tlaloc says:

    Why can they pursue peaceful nuclear power when we can’t?

    We could, but it’d be stupid. There just isn’t enough fuel available to make it worthwhile to increase the current share of energy provided by nuclear.

    I did a writeup on the subject here.

    Unless something major changes Fission is dead end (and that’s ignoring the very serious issues of wastes and proliferation).

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  8. DMan says:

    Who, btw, has said that Iran cannot have a demonstrably “peaceful” nuclear power program? The U.S., China, Russia, the E.U. and the U.N. appear to be “down” with that. Even Israel, pre-Khomeini, wasn’t overly concerned about this.

    I see a strawman argument here, coming from the current master of strawman arguments.

    This isn’t exactly a strawman argument if you understand that you aren’t the target audience here. The Iranian people, many of which feel the US and foreign powers are trying to dictate their domestic energy policy are the target audience in this address.

    The article Dave linked to goes on to say:

    Iranian state television described the news as Obama recognizing the “rights of the Iranian nation,” a phrase typically used to refer to Iran’s nuclear program.

    I think reassuring the Iranian people that the US is not looking to dictate their energy policy is a good thing don’t you? Or do you prefer we drive up anti-Americanism in Iran as much as possible and hope for a peaceful outcome from that?

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  9. Michael says:

    The real issue, and the subject of any meaningful discussion to be held with Tehran, is Iran’s near-certain effort to acquire a military nuclear capability. And the development of missiles that will deliver the end-product to the vicinity of Tel Aviv.

    Iran doesn’t want nuclear weapons to attack Israel, they want them for defense. More specifically, they want them so they can offer protection to other ME states against Israeli (or US) attacks in exchange for their loyalty. Nuclear weapons are the key to Iran’s hegemony in the ME, just as they were our key to hegemony in Europe and the Pacific.

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  10. hcantrall says:

    Bargaining chips of mass destruction, awesome!

    Why though do they keep threatening Israel then if they have no intention of attacking? It makes no sense to me, maybe I’m too logical to understand the mind-games at play here.

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  11. Michael says:

    Why though do they keep threatening Israel then if they have no intention of attacking?

    They only threaten Israel with retaliation. Their standard rhetoric is never a direct threat of aggression, but rather the anti-Israel position they are setting up for themselves in their community of nations.

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  12. Eric Florack says:

    Well, look, Iran has the right to Nuclear power the same way Germany had the right to walk-in oven technology…. and for the same reason.

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  13. Michael says:

    Well, look, Iran has the right to Nuclear power the same way Germany had the right to walk-in oven technology…. and for the same reason.

    Godwin’s Law isn’t a race. You don’t win by getting there first.

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  14. Eric Florack says:

    Screw Godwin. If the comparison is an apt one, I’ll use it. It certainly qualifies, here.

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  15. An Interested Party says:

    So we are to assume that just because Ahmadinejad has made some ridiculous statements that it is now the official state policy of Iran to wipe Israel off the map? That the people of Iran want nuclear weapons so that they can be launched at Tel Aviv? I had no idea that the leadership and people of Iran hated Israel so much that they would be willing to commit suicide…but hey, invoking Nazis is always good for shit and giggles…hell, Saddam was compared to Hitler before our oh so glorious occupation of Iraq…

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  16. Tlaloc says:

    Screw Godwin. If the comparison is an apt one, I’ll use it. It certainly qualifies, here.

    Totally! I mean sure Nazi Germany was a military powerhouse and it invaded its neighbors whereas Iran is a big fish in a small (but important) pond that has never attacked a neighbor in modern history. Other than that the two could be twins.

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  17. Eric Florack says:

    So we are to assume that just because Ahmadinejad has made some ridiculous statements that it is now the official state policy of Iran to wipe Israel off the map?

    And on what basis do you consider he’s not serious? As one of the biggest exporters of state sponsored terrorism, most of it directed against Israel, I have little doubt he’d do it given the chance.

    Totally! I mean sure Nazi Germany was a military powerhouse and it invaded its neighbors whereas Iran is a big fish in a small (but important) pond that has never attacked a neighbor in modern history. Other than that the two could be twins.

    What you seem to be missing here, is we’re talking about giving Iran an advantage that Germany sought, but thankfully never got. Nukes.

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  18. Michael says:

    I have little doubt he’d do it given the chance.

    He already has the change, he has enough conventional weapons to attack Israel. He’s had them for quite some time now, and he hasn’t once used them.

    What you seem to be missing here, is we’re talking about giving Iran an advantage that Germany sought, but thankfully never got. Nukes.

    An advantage currently held by Russia, China, Britain, France, Israel, Pakistan, India and South Africa. Adding Iran to that list isn’t going to change the balance of world power. This isn’t 1945, having nuclear weapons doesn’t make you unstoppable or invulnerable anymore.

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  19. anjin-san says:

    Given the level of expertise Bit has on the subject of Iraq, perhaps we should just defer to him. Let’s examine this fun fact he shared with us a while back:

    Look, gang, you keep mouthing platitudes about how Iran doesn’t have the ability. In a conventional sense, that’s true. But since when has Arab extremism been limited to a conventional fight?

    Posted by Bithead | April 12, 2008 | 10:50 am

    Ignorant, and damn proud of it. A true modern “conservative”.

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  20. Eric Florack says:

    So, Anjin… you think nuke attacks are limited to missles?

    Face it, guys.. here’s your problem:

    http://bitsblog.florack.us/wp-content/uploads/2009/06/cfnuclearends-x.jpg

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  21. anjin-san says:

    So, Anjin… you think nuke attacks are limited to missles?

    No, I think Iraq is a Persian, not an Arab nation. Wave your ignorance flag proudly dude.

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  22. Michael says:

    So, Anjin… you think nuke attacks are limited to missles?

    Missiles or planes, and planes get shot down quite easily these days. If Iran is going to attack with a nuke, it will be on a missile.

    And no, they won’t be giving backpack nukes to Hamas or Hezbollah, so don’t even try that fallacious argument.

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  23. The Strategic MC says:

    “…they want them so they can offer protection to other ME states against Israeli (or US) attacks…”

    Other than Syria, what other ME state would place themselves under the aegis of Iranian missiles and more practically, which of them would risk transcending the Shia-Sunni divide to make this happen? A Hezbollah-dominated Lebanon, perhaps?

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