Viewpoint: Iran's 'inalienable right' to nuclear energy

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    Viewpoint: Iran's 'inalienable right' to nuclear energy
    Enver Masud

    January 19, 2006

    -- Iran has an "inalienable right" to use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes such as the production of electric energy, and the enrichment of uranium for its nuclear reactors. Could it be that Iran's plan for an oil exchange trading in Euros is the real issue? Or is it Israel?

    Article IV of the 1968 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), which entered into force on March 5, 1970, states:

    1. Nothing 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 without discrimination and in conformity with Articles I and II of this Treaty.

    2. All the Parties to the Treaty undertake to facilitate, and have the right to participate in, the fullest possible exchange of equipment, materials and scientific and technological information for the peaceful uses of nuclear energy. Parties to the Treaty in a position to do so shall also cooperate in contributing alone or together with other States or international organizations to the further development of the applications of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes, especially in the territories of non-nuclear-weapon States Party to the Treaty, with due consideration for the needs of the developing areas of the world.

    Thus, not only does Iran have an "inalienable right" to use nuclear energy for electricity, the NPT obligates the nuclear powers to "further development of the applications of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes". Iran has gone beyond its obligations under the NPT to assure others of its peaceful intentions.

    According to Dr. Gordon Prather, a nuclear physicist who was the top scientist for the army in the Reagan years, in December, 2003, Iran signed an Additional Protocol to its Safeguards Agreement and had volunteered to cooperate with the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) - pending ratification by the Iranian Parliament - as if the Additional Protocol were actually "in force".

    Iran also offered, says Dr. Prather, "to voluntarily forego a complete fuel cycle ... if the Europeans would get the United States to reverse the campaign of denial, obstruction, intervention and misinformation".

    Iran had already offered on March 23, 2005, a package of "objective guarantees" (developed by an international panel of experts) that met most of the demands later made by the conservative, Washington based Heritage foundation, says Dr. Prather.

    The IAEA has found no "smoking gun" in Iran that would indicate a nuclear weapons program, says Dr. Mohamed ElBaradei, the director-general of the IAEA.

    Thirty years ago, Iran developing a nuclear capacity "caused no problems for the Americans because, at that time, the Shah was seen as a strong ally, and had indeed been put on the throne with American help", says Tony Benn, Britain's secretary of state for energy from 1975-79.

    "There could hardly be a clearer example of double standards than this, and it fits in with the arming of Saddam to attack Iran after the Shah had been toppled, and the complete silence over Israel's huge nuclear armory" he says.

    With world oil production expected to peak in five to 25 years, and demand to exceed supply sometime after that, it makes sense for Iran to look toward alternative means for generating electricity, and to reserve its oil supply for other purposes including increasing revenues from export.

    A major reason for the US invasion of Iraq, says William R. Clark, author of Petrodollar Warfare: Oil, Iraq and the Future of the Dollar, was "to install a pro-US government in Iraq, establish multiple US military bases before the onset of global Peak Oil, and to reconvert Iraq back to petrodollars while hoping to thwart further OPEC momentum toward the euro as an alternative oil transaction currency".

    Iran is about to commit a far greater "offense" than Saddam Hussein's conversion to the euro for Iraq's oil exports in the fall of 2000. In March 2006 the Tehran government plans to begin competing with New York's NYMEX and London's IPE with respect to international oil trades - using a euro-based international oil-trading mechanism, Clark says.

    According to Toni Straka, a Vienna, Austria-based financial analyst who runs a blog, The Prudent Investor, Iran's "proposal to set up a petroleum bourse was first voiced in Iran's development plan for 2000-2005 ... Cheaper nuclear energy and increases in oil exports from the current level of roughly 2.5 million barrels a day will result in a profitable equation for Iran.

    "Only one major actor stands to lose from a change in the current status quo: the US" says Toni Straka, "which with less than 5 percent of the global population, consumes roughly one-third of global oil production".

    Yes, given the technology and knowledge Iran could develop a nuclear weapon, but so could 35 to 40 other countries with peaceful nuclear programs. And "under the current regime, there is nothing illicit for a non-nuclear state to conduct uranium-enriching activities ... or even to possess military-grade nuclear material", says ElBaradei.

    Israel - not a signatory to the NPT - has had this capability for years, and is believed to have more than 200 nuclear weapons, plus the missiles to deliver them to Iran, and it is no secret that it has been threatening strikes on Iran's Bushehr nuclear electric power plant, just as it launched an unprovoked and illegal attack on Iraq's Osirak nuclear electric power plant in 1981.

    The US news media is showing the same timidity that it displayed before and during the Iraq war in investigating US allegations against Iran.

    John Ward Anderson of the Washington Post recently wrote that "the foreign ministers of Britain, Germany and France called for Iran to be referred to the UN Security Council for violating its nuclear treaty obligations".

    Neither Anderson nor the editors, nor the ombudsman at the Post have responded to our request to identify which "nuclear treaty obligations" is Iran violating.

    In fact it is the US and other nuclear powers that have not fulfilled their obligations under the NPT, including those stated in Article VI:

    "Each of the Parties to the Treaty undertakes 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."

    Writing in the November/December 2005 issue of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, Jack Boureston and Charles D. Ferguson say, "In pursuing a civilian nuclear program, Iran has international law on its side ... The best way to know the full extent of Iran's nuclear doings is to offer it help."

    Enver Masud is an engineering management consultant, author of The War on Islam, and founder of The Wisdom Fund. Acknowledgement to Media Monitors Network (MMN)

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