First Published: 2011-06-13

 

Changing Western Attitude and Resolution of Iranís Nuclear Issue

 

The first admission by the former European ambassadors is that they recognize that Iranís nuclear activities are consistent with international law and that there has been no diversion of nuclear activities in Iran to military purposes, notes Abolghasem Bayyenat.

 

Middle East Online

 Former ambassadors of major European powers to Tehran, led by the former head of the British diplomatic mission to Tehran, Richard Dalton, recently published a memo in some major British and American newspapers on the current status of nuclear negotiations between Iran the P-5+1 countries, which marks a break from the conventional representation of Iranís nuclear issue in the West. The memo has been written by the former European ambassadors in recognition of the failure of the current Western strategy towards Iranís nuclear issue and with a view to offering Western powers a solution to the existing deadlock in their relations with Iran.

The publication of the memo is striking not for the reason that it offers any consistent practical proposals for the resolution of the current standoff between Western powers and Iran but because it makes several rare and daring admissions, which if recognized and followed suit by a wider spectrum of Western political elites, can potentially serve as a basis for a logical solution to Iranís nuclear issue in the future.

The first admission by the former ambassadors is that they recognize that Iranís nuclear activities are consistent with international law and that there has been no diversion of nuclear activities in Iran to military purposes. The former ambassadors note ďnothing in international law or in the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty forbids the enrichment of uraniumĒ and that ďthe IAEA has never uncovered in Iran any attempted diversion of nuclear material to military useĒ. The public recognition of this fact by the former European ambassadors to Tehran is praiseworthy, given that the general public in the West are systematically bombarded with contrary claims by mainstream Western media on an almost daily basis.

The former ambassadors further recognize that there is no issue from the perspective of international law with achieving a nuclear threshold status by Iran either, even if this turns out to be Iranís ultimate goal. The former ambassadors write ď Again, nothing in international law or in the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty forbids such an ambition. Like Iran, several other countries are on their way to or have already reached such a threshold but have committed not to acquire nuclear weapons. Nobody seems to bother themĒ.

 In addition to questioning the conventional Western assumptions about Iranís nuclear program, the former European ambassadors also challenge some of the main practical aspects of the current Western strategy towards Iranís nuclear issue. More specifically, they denounce the goal of "zero centrifuges operating in Iran, permanently or temporarily," as unrealistic and as a key culprit for the failure of the current Western strategy towards Iranís nuclear issue. They accurately recall that ďin 2005 Iran was ready to discuss a ceiling limit for the number of its centrifuges and to maintain its rate of enrichment far below the high levels necessary for weaponsĒ, and that ďTehran also expressed its readiness to put into force the additional protocol that it had signed with the IAEA allowing intrusive inspections throughout Iran, even in non-declared sitesĒ, and blame Western unrealistic demands for the failure of those negotiations.

While doing an outstanding job of critiquing the main foundations of the current Western strategy towards Iranís nuclear issue, the memo suffers from some notable shortcomings too. The main drawback of the memo is that the former European ambassadors do not draw consistent conclusions from their own assumptions and arguments and fail to offer any genuinely different solution to Iranís nuclear issue. They note ďThe next step should be for the two sides in this conflict to ask the IAEA what additional tools it needs to monitor the Iranian nuclear program fully and provide credible assurances that all the activities connected with it are purely peaceful in intent. The agency's answer would offer a basis for the next round of pragmatic negotiations with IranĒ.

The former European ambassadors do not explain why, despite their own assumptions about Iranís nuclear program, they believe Iran still deserves a discriminatory treatment as compared to other members of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. If Iranís nuclear activities are consistent with international law and if there has been no diversion of nuclear material in Iran to military use, the question remains unanswered as to why Iranís nuclear activities would need additional IAEAís monitoring beyond its existing mandate.

The former ambassadors also do not discuss how to reverse the wrong course that has been taken by Western powers over the past several years towards Iranís nuclear issue. If Western strategy towards Iranís nuclear issue has been misguided over the past several years, as the former ambassadors convincingly argue, will it be possible to build a new structure with a view to resolving Iranís nuclear issue before deconstructing the existing edifice? Is it reasonable to speak of enhanced confidence-building measures by Iran while maintaining enhanced economic sanctions that have been imposed on it by the West over the past several years? While deserving credit for some of their daring and honest statements about Iranís nuclear issue, it should be clear that the former European ambassadors to Tehran would have made a more persuasive case had they answered a number of hard questions before offering any practical solutions to Iranís nuclear issue.

Abolghasem Bayyenat is an independent political analyst and a current PhD candidate of political science at an American University. He covers Iran's foreign policy developments on his weblog www.irandiplomacywatch.com.  

 

Van ploughs through pedestrians in Barcelona terror attack

13 killed in Barcelona van attack

Qataris to do hajj on Saudi king expenses

Saudi Arabia, Iraq draw closer with wary eye on Iran

Civilians stay on frontlines despite dangers in Raqa

Iraq acknowledges abuses in Mosul campaign

Netanyahu under fire for response to US neo-Nazism

Israel to free high-profile suspects in money laundering probe

Spanish police shut down jet-ski migrant smugglers

Syrian actress, activist Fadwa Suleiman dies in Paris

Israeli court extends detention for Islamic cleric over Ďincitementí

UAE to provide $15 million a month to Gaza

Sudan's Bashir 'satisfied' with Nile dam project

US-backed rebels say American presence in Syria to last Ďdecadesí

Tunisian clerics oppose equal inheritance rights for women

Israel strikes almost 100 Hezbollah arms convoys in 5 years

UN hopes for eighth round of Syria talks before yearís end

LONG READ: How Syria continues to evade chemical weapons justice

Civilians killed in US-led raids on Raqa

Qatari pilgrims begin flooding into Saudi by land

Turkey arrests 9 more journalists for alleged ĎGulen linksí

Iranís Karroubi on hunger strike over 6-year house arrest

Saudi Arabia to restart work on Grand Mosque expansion

Algeria reshuffles cabinet, nominates three new ministers

Syria rebels lose heavyweight faction

ICC orders Mali ex-jihadist pay 2.7 m euros for Timbuktu destruction

Libya seeks to Ďorganiseí NGOs carrying migrant rescue Ops

More than one million South Sudan refugees in Uganda

Beirut, Damascus pledge to boost economic ties

Two killed on Gaza-Egypt border

Fire breaks out at UNESCO heritage site in Saudi Arabia

Iran military chief in Turkey for talks on Syrian war

Saudi Electricity announces $1.75b in international loans

Israel to strip Jazeera journalist of press credentials

Bahrain state media accuses Qatar of trying to topple regime

Iran's Khamenei blasts US over Charlottesville

Libyan forces snub ICC over warrant for commander

Iranís detained opposition leader starts hunger strike

Arab fighters struggle to make impact in battle for Raqa

IS suicide bombers kill seven Iraqi security personnel

Lebanon repeals 'marry your rapist' law

Qatarís sovereign fund plans new investments despite sanctions

Turkey asks Germany to investigate 'top coup fugitive' sightings

Iran laments Ďhypocriticalí US religious freedom report

No single pattern in radicalisation of foreign fighters, says Tunisian study