violating a legally binding demand by the United Nations Security Council that
Apparently, the â€œobligationsâ€ in question are compliance with the Security Council resolution calling on it to suspend uranium enrichment activities. Complying with the resolution is a â€œconditionâ€ of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT Treaty), according to the Times.
This is useful propaganda, but incorrect. (Incidentally, the Times seems to have had a hard time of things getting it right on
The NPT Treaty obligates parties to â€œundertake to accept safeguardsâ€ under the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) â€œfor the exclusive purpose of verification of the fulfillment of its obligations assumed under this Treatyâ€, which are to prevent the use of nuclear technology to construct weapons.
These safeguards â€œshall be implemented in a manner designed to comply with Article IV of this Treaty, and to avoid hampering the economic or technological development of the Parties…â€
Article IV states that â€œNothing in this Treaty shall be interpreted as affecting the inalienable right of all the Parties to the Treaty to develop research, production and use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes….â€
In short, under the NPT Treaty,
The Times isnâ€™t alone in getting it wrong on
As for the UN resolution demanding that Iran halt enrichment activities, resolution 1696 notes â€œwith serious concernâ€ that â€œIran has not taken the steps required of it by the IAEA Board of Governors, reiterated by the Council in its statements of 29 March and which are essential to build confidence, and in particular Iranâ€™s decision to resume enrichment-related activities….â€
The language of the resolution is thus carefully vetted. It â€œCalls upon Iran without further delay to take the steps required by the IAEA Board of Governors in its resolution GOV/2006/14â€ and â€œDemands, in this context, that Iran shall suspend all enrichment-related and reprocessing activities…â€ (â€œthis contextâ€ emphasis added). The UN Security Council has no more authority than the IAEA to issue such â€œdemandsâ€ absent clear evidence that such activities are intended for military purposes, as it prejudices Iranâ€™s rights under the NPT Treaty.
The demand is in the â€œcontextâ€ of the IAEA resolution, which clearly recognizes that â€œArticle IV of the Treaty on the Non Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons stipulates that nothing in the Treaty shall be interpreted as affecting the inalienable rights of all the Parties to the Treaty to develop research, production and use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes without discrimination…â€
The IAEA resolution â€œExpresses serious concernâ€ that the Agency could not yet â€œclarify some important issuesâ€ and â€œDeeply regretsâ€ that Iran had disinclined to acquiesce to requests to re-suspend enrichment activities after ending a voluntary suspension. It â€œRequestsâ€ that Iran â€œextend full and prompt cooperation to the Agencyâ€. This, Iran, under the NPT Treaty, must do. But â€œcooperationâ€ cannot be interpreted, under the Treaty, to include acquiescing to requests that prejudice its rights to enrich uranium.
This, then, is the â€œcontextâ€ of the UN â€œdemandâ€. Iran is under no obligation to acquiesce to â€œdemandsâ€ that prejudice its rights under the NPT Treaty, and any demand which prejudice Iranâ€™s rights is itself a violation of the Treaty. While â€œIranâ€™s responseâ€ is dismissed, Iran is correct that â€œa suspension would abrogate its rights under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treatyâ€. Furthermore, Iran has â€œsurrenderedâ€ none of its rights by claiming its rights under the Treaty and refusing to acquiesce to requests and demands that prejudice those same rights in violation of the very same Treaty.
 George Perkovich and Pierre Goldschmidt, â€œA Limited Time Offer to Iranâ€, Op-Ed, The New York Times, December 2, 2006
 William J. Broad, â€œAs
 Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, April 22, 1970
 Letter from the IAEA to Peter Hoekstra, Chairman of the U.S. House of Representatives Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, September 9, 2006
 UN Security Council resolution 1696, July 31, 2006
 IAEA resolution GOV/2006/14, â€œImplementation of the NPT Safeguards Agreement in the Islamic Republic of Iranâ€, February 4, 2006