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.