Monday, April 22, 2013

Iran Remains Committed to NPT, Despite Bluster from MPs, While U.S. Ignores Treaty Obligations

 Bilateral meeting between Iranian Delegation and IAEA Directorate, July 12, 2011
(Photo Credit: Dean Calma / IAEA)

On April 8, 2013, Alaeddin Boroujerdi, an Iranian parliamentarian who heads the Majlis Security and Foreign Policy committee, said, "It's not acceptable that Iran respects NPT [the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty] but the U.S. and the West ignore NPT's Article 6 — reducing nuclear weapons — and Article 4 — right to enrichment. Therefore, there is no reason for Iran to remain an NPT member under such circumstances."

Alaeddin Boroujerdi
Such a statement is nothing new from Iranian lawmakers, often occurring after frustrating and fruitless negotiations or in anticipation of illegal sanctions imposed on Iran over its nuclear program.

Nevertheless, despite such rhetoric from parliamentarians, the Iranian Foreign Ministry has again affirmed its continued commitment to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and it safeguard agreement with the IAEA.

In response to a recent statement by the five permanent, nuclear-armed members of the United Nations Security Council which claimed the Iranian nuclear program constituted a "serious challenge" to the treaty and called for the establishment of a Nuclear Weapons Free Zone in the Middle East, on Saturday April 20, 2013, Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast reiterated Iran's role as a steadfast signatory of NPT.

He said, "Iran has continued its completely peaceful nuclear program under the permanent monitoring of the IAEA inspectors," adding, "We are a committed member of the agency. We were one of the countries which signed the NPT first. We comply with our commitments under the treaty."

"The Iranian foreign ministry official also noted that the country will continue its cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)," reported the Iranian Students' News Agency (ISNA).

During his annual Nowruz speech last month in Mashhad, Iranian leader Ali Khamenei reiterated that Iran has "never [been] opposed to the supervision and regulations of the International Atomic Energy Agency."  Indeed, Iran has never been found to have violated the NPT.

Additionally, on Monday April 22, 2013, Iran and the 119 other members of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) urged the total elimination of nuclear weapons, under the auspices of the NPT and its attendant obligations.  Similar statements have been routinely made by the organization, which represents the vast majority of the world's nations.

In a statement delivered by Mohammad-Reza Sajjadi, Iran's UN envoy to Geneva, NAM - which is currently chaired by Iran - "described Israel and its nuclear program as the main threat to regional peace and security and condemned Tel Aviv's move to develop its arsenals. It also urged a ban on nuclear cooperation with the regime," according to Iran's PressTV.  The United States, while at times paying lip-service to the notion of a Nuclear Weapons Free Zone in the Middle East, has constantly condemned and blocked any move in that direction, solely in order to protect Israel's hegemonic nuclear monopoly in the region.

"The statement said that possession, use or threat to use nuclear weapons all violated the UN Charter and international law, adding total elimination of nukes was the only guarantee against the use or threat to use such arms," and also stressed NAM's support for "talks on the conclusion of a global, binding, unconditional, unbiased and irrevocable convention that would compel nuclear-armed countries to give assurances to non-nuclear states that they would not use or threat to use such weapons against them."

In a clear rebuke to the attempts to abrogate the inalienable national right to a civilian nuclear energy program, the statement also "backed the development of peaceful nuclear activities and the countries' right to use civilian nuclear technology."

The same day, Thomas Countryman, U.S. Assistant Secretary for International Security and Nonproliferation, accused Iran's wholly legal, monitored and safeguarded nuclear program of being the single greatest threat to the legitimacy of the NPT the world has ever known.

Meanwhile, earlier this month, The Center for Public Integrity (CPI) reported that the "Obama administration will propose a deep cut in funding for nuclear nonproliferation programs at the Energy Department largely so it can boost the department's spending to modernize its stockpile of nuclear weapons."

Under Obama's new budget, nuclear weapons funding is being "both accelerated and expanded," and includes a 7% increase (roughly $500 million) is spending on explicitly military capabilities, including "modernization efforts for bomber-based and missile-based warheads."  Meanwhile, funding for non-proliferation and nuclear weapons reduction is being slashed by 20%.

"The new weapons-related spending would expand efforts to upgrade the W76, W88, W78, and B-61 warheads," reported CPI, efforts that explicitly contradict Obama's own pledges to move towards total global disarmament of nuclear weapons.

The Guardian's Julian Borger detailed the plan yesterday, explaining that "nearly 200 B61 gravity bombs stockpiled in Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, Italy and Turkey would be given new tail fins that would turn them into guided weapons that could be delivered by stealth F35 fighter-bombers."

"This will be a significant upgrade of the US nuclear capability in Europe," Hans Kristensen, a nuclear weapons expert at the Federation of Nuclear Scientists, told Borger. "It flies directly in the face of the pledges Obama made in 2010 that he would not deploy new weapons."

In its Nuclear Posture Review in 2010," The Guardian adds, the United States "undertook to do reduce the role and numbers of its nuclear weapons, in part by not developing new nuclear warheads, and pledging it would not 'support new military missions or provide for new military capabilities'."

Not only this, but the very same Nuclear Posture Review also stated clearly that a nuclear first-strike against Iran, a non-nuclear weapons state, would not be ruled out. Such a statement directly contravenes both the spirit and letter of the NPT itself.

In October 2009, during his very first year in office, Barack Obama was inexplicably awarded the Nobel Peace Prize primarily for his "vision of and work for a world without nuclear weapons."  Clearly, while Obama and his envoys continue to make a big show of saving the world from Iran's non-existent nuclear arsenal, the U.S. not only protects Israel's massive stockpile of atomic warheads but continues to upgrade and threaten the world with its own.


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