Overthrowing the NPT the American Way

Let there be no mistake about it: It is the position of the regime in Washington—and, therefore, the position of every other government this regime can drag after it—most recently, by "spinning a web" for the Government of India—that Tehran must surrender its "inalienable right" as a Party to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons "to develop, research, production and use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes" (Art. IV.1), and that any resistance to surrendering its right should be treated as a violation of its obligations under the NPT, sanctionable through UN Security Council mechanisms or, ultimately, by the aggression of the American state and its allies. 

To quote the American Ambassador to the United Nations, a public statement that he made in New York on Monday ("No uranium enrichment &undefined;permissible&undefined; for Iran — US envoy," Agence France Presse, March 6):

[I]t&undefined;s been a core element of our view and the view of the EU-3 (Britain, France and Germany) and certainly of the Russian Federation that no enrichment in Iran is permissible.  The reason for that is that even a small so-called research enrichment program could give Iran the possibility of mastering the technical deficiencies it&undefined;s currently encountering in its program.  Once Iran has the scientific and technological capability to do even laboratory size enrichment, that knowledge could be replicated in industrial-size enrichment activities elsewhere, that&undefined;s why we&undefined;ve felt very strongly that no enrichment inside Iran should be permitted, and that remains our position. 

Clearly, the American position is (to repeat John R. Bolton&undefined;s exact words) that no enrichment in Iran is permissible.  This, after all, is, and throughout has been, the core American demand.  The rest is the merest truism.  And is just as true of every other nuclear power&undefined;s peaceful uses of nuclear energy.  As it is true of the Americans&undefined; scientific and technological capabilities.  Including the Americans’ peerless nuclear-weapons arsenal

So let us be clear about what the Americans are demanding.  For the American position vis-à-vis Iran amounts to a calculated violation of the NPT on every front: Iran is to surrender its "inalienable right" to develop nuclear energy for peaceful purposes or face sanctions and/or state violence; while for their part, the Americans (and the other nuclear-weapons states) simply are to remain free to reject their NPT obligations under Article VI (1970) "to pursue negotiations in good faith on effective measures relating to cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date and to nuclear disarmament, and on a treaty on general and complete disarmament under strict and effective international control."  (About which, I suggest that everyone monitor the efforts shepherded by the National Nuclear Security Administration to so-called "upgrade" or “modernize” the American nuclear-weapons stockpile.  Also see "U.S. Plans to Modernize Nuclear Arsenal," Walter Pincus, Washington Post, March 4.)

The American position ought to be rejected.  And rejected flat out.  In fact, it ought to be treated as nothing more than a form of belligerence, and the Americans forced to explain their belligerence before the UN Security Council.  First, because it is the position of a predatory and recidivist belligerent that seeks, above all else, to maintain its nuclear-weapons.  And second, because the American position seeks to overthrow the NPT.  And to eliminate any hope of controlling nuclear-weapons in the contemporary world.  Not to mention nuclear-weapons disarmament. 

Except, of course, and in typically American fashion, that which can be achieved by the threat or use of force.

Or bribery.  Another version of the same.

Belligerence is all.  Clearly.  At least where the Americans are concerned.


In Focus: IAEA and Iran (Homepage) 
"Introductory Statement to the Board of Governors," Mohamed ElBaradei, IAEA, March 6, 2006
"UN atomic chief sees no breakthrough at meeting on Iran’s nuclear programme," UN News Center, March 6, 2006

Campaign Against Sanctions and Military Intervention in Iran (Homepage)

Iran Webpage, U.S. Department of State
United States Mission to the United Nations (Homepage)

"U.S. nuclear forces, 2005," Robert S. Norris and Hans M. Kristensen, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, January/February 2005
"Upgrades planned for U.S. nuclear stockpile," James Sterngold, San Francisco Chronicle, January 15, 2006
"U.S. Plans to Modernize Nuclear Arsenal," Walter Pincus, Washington Post, March 4, 2006 

"Spinning a Web for India," Randeep Ramesh, The Guardian, March 3, 2006

"The Iran ‘Crisis’,” Edward S. Herman and David Peterson, ColdType, November, 2005

"Iran I," ZNet, February 25, 2005
"Iran II," ZNet, February 25, 2005
"Iran III," ZNet, February 27, 2005
"Iran IV," ZNet, March 2, 2005
"Iran V," ZNet, March 6, 2005
"The Language of Force," ZNet, January 16, 2006
"Overthrowing the NPT the American Way," ZNet, March 7, 2006



Postscript (March 7 -): Examples of American belligerence for which, in a world governed by the rule of law rather than the threat or use of force, the American political leadership would be hauled before some international forum, and, in the very least, made to explain itself.—By the way, if these are the kind of remarks that the Americans are willing to make in public, imagine what kind of messages they must convey to their subordinates and inferiors while addressing them behind closed-doors!

No doubt the primary threat that Israel and the United States face from the Iran regime is its clear and unrelenting drive to acquire nuclear weapons and the means to deliver those weapons.  For years the international community has been hearing of the mounting and voluminous evidence—confirmed by IAEA inspectors-of Iran‘s deception and denial in violation of its treaty obligations with the IAEA and international community.  Through intense diplomatic work, the IAEA Board of Governors has finally reported Iran’s failure to allay concerns about the nature of its nuclear program to the United Nations Security Council, a step it would have been fully justified in taking several years ago, but that was postponed in the hope that Iran would choose cooperation over confrontation.  Thus far, this hope has been in vain.    

I find it deeply ironic that the United States is so often accused of aggressive unilateralism when we have been the ones pursuing multilateral efforts through the IAEA, including in conjunction with the EU3 and the Russians, and now the United Nations.   Following the conclusion of the IAEA Board of Governors meeting that will begin tomorrow in Vienna, Director General ElBaradei will convey to the Security Council his latest report on Iran&undefined;s nuclear activities.  The longer we wait to confront the threat Iran poses, the harder and more intractable it will become to solve.  

This is not to say that we do not support the ongoing diplomatic efforts by the British, French, and Germans — or EU-3 as we call them — and the Russians, but we must not ignore Tehran‘s refusal to address the concerns of the international community.  For over two years, the EU-3 has engaged in active diplomacy with Tehran and presented one reasonable proposal after another.  The mullahs in Iran accepted these agreements reached in Paris and then unilaterally broke the agreement by resuming uranium conversion work last fall.  In the case of the ongoing negotiations with the Russians, we are observing double-speak on the part of the Iranian regime.  With one voice, they are saying that they welcome the discussions with the Russian Federation and view it as a possible solution to the impasse.  With another voice, though, they are flatly refusing to consider the core condition that Russia, the EU-3 and we would require — namely that Iran give up access to the technology and materials that would enable them to have indigenous capability  — a  nuclear fuel cycle — to develop nuclear weapons.


The government of Tehran‘s trumpeting of its right to a civil peaceful nuclear program is a canard.  The Russian proposal enables the Iranians to reap the benefits of civil nuclear power while addressing concerns that they are really pursuing nuclear weapons.  The EU-3 proposal even opened the possibility of technical cooperation on nuclear power. As the President has said, we do not oppose Iran enjoying the benefits of peaceful, safeguarded nuclear energy.  It is clear, however, that Iran‘s pursuit of the nuclear fuel cycle is neither peaceful nor for nuclear energy.   Frankly, Iran&undefined;s track record justifies this fear.  As the resolution passed by the IAEA Board of Governors notes, there have been "many failures and breaches of its obligations to comply with its NPT Safeguards Agreement".   Put differently, with rights come responsibilities — responsibilities that Iran has not come close to meeting. 

It is unclear exactly how events will play out once the Security Council takes up the agenda item of Iran.  As a number of officials, myself included, have noted earlier, there are a range of options available.  Letting it languish, however, is not one of them.  Failure by the Security Council to act on this matter would be a highly detrimental abrogation of the duties it is charged with under the UN Charter.  Forgive my moment of facetiousness when dealing with a matter literally of life and death, but if the pursuit of nuclear weapons by a state with a leader who calls for another to be "wiped off the map" is not considered a threat to international peace and security, I daresay one must ask — what is?  The Security Council should take due note that failure to act in a timely manner and with a seriousness of purpose will do lasting damage to the credibility of the Council. 

The Security Council will likely take a graduated approach to dealing with this issue, but it is critical that we use the Council to help mobilize international public opinion.  Rest assured, though, we are not relying on the Security Council as the only tool in our toolbox to address this problem.  In addition to our diplomatic efforts at the IAEA, the UN Security Council, and bilaterally, we are beefing up our defensive measures to cope with the Iranian nuclear threat.  As Secretary Rice has stated, "In conjunction with our multilateral diplomacy, the United States will develop sensible measures, security measures, including looking further at our Proliferation Security Initiative and those who cooperate with us to try and deny to regimes like Iran, North Korea and others the materials for covert programs that threaten the international system." 

This combined pressure, we hope, will persuade the Iranian regime to make the strategic decision to forego their pursuit of nuclear weapons.  Unlike North Korea, the Iranian people have many ties to the world, whether economic, social, or cultural.  We must use those ties to help to raise the pressure on the Iranian regime.  The United States already imposes numerous bilateral sanctions on Iran, and while it is too soon to begin sanctions by the Security Council, it is noteworthy that many other governments around the world have begun to include the word "sanctions" in their discourse when discussing Iran.  The Iran regime must be made aware that if it continues down the path of international isolation, there will be tangible and painful consequences.  

Alternatively, if Iran follows the course of Libya and makes the strategic decision that the pursuit of weapons of mass destruction, the sponsorship of terror and the oppression of its people makes it less, not more secure, then relations with the outside world can improve dramatically.  Thus, the question of how far the Security Council will go, and whether it eventually will have to consider the imposition of sanctions, or the extent to which we need to develop defensive measures against Iran, is really a question for Mr. Ahmadi-nejad and the Iranian regime to answer.

—- "Statement by Ambassador John R. Bolton to the AIPAC Policy Conference," U.S. Mission to the United Nations, March 5, 2006 



America supports, as well, the democratic aspirations of the people of Iran. (Applause.) Iranians have endured a generation of repression at the hands of a fanatical regime. That regime is one of the world&undefined;s primary state sponsors of terror. The current President has spoken openly of wiping Israel off the map, and of a world without America. He&undefined;s made despicable statements doubting the crimes of the Nazis, aligning himself with the rest of the fantasy-world Holocaust deniers.

The regime in Tehran also continues to defy the world with its nuclear ambitions. Of course, this matter may soon go before the U.N. Security Council. The Iranian regime needs to know that if it stays on its present course, the international community is prepared to impose meaningful consequences. (Applause.) For our part, the United States is keeping all options on the table in addressing the irresponsible conduct of the regime. (Applause.) And we join other nations in sending that regime a clear message: We will not allow Iran to have a nuclear weapon. (Applause.)

The people of Iran can be absolutely certain that we respect them, their country, and their long history as a great civilization — and we stand with them. Iranians desire and deserve to be free from tyranny and oppression in their own homeland. Freedom in the Middle East requires freedom for the Iranian people — and America looks forward to the day when our Nation can be the closest of friends with a free and democratic Iran. (Applause.)  

—- "Vice President&undefined;s Remarks to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee 2006 Policy Conference," Office of the Vice President, March 7, 2006







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