Hostile Act

Is the Security Council Action Against Iran a Replay of the Iraq Scenario?

The U.N. Security Council has passed resolution 1737 (2006) imposing sanctions on Iran for its nuclear program. The goal of the sanctions, members of the Security Council claim, is to encourage Iran to negotiate with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA ) so as to build confidence that Iran's program is being conducted with peaceful intentions. Iran, however, claims that over a three year period of time it endeavored to satisfy the IAEA's requests but that the process provided was not one that could be satisfied. For two of the those three years Iran suspended its development of uranium enrichment technology.


Iranmaintains that the resolution imposing sanctions is a hostile act by the Security Council denying Iran its sovereign right to develop nuclear technology for peaceful purposes.

Iran is committed to defending what it maintains is its right under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) to carry on the enrichment and reprocessing of nuclear fuel for the peaceful purpose of nuclear power generation.

Iran began its program of nuclear technology development in the 1950s under the Shah with the full support of the U.S. Government. After the overthrow of the Shah's regime in 1979, however, the U.S. government's support for Iran's nuclear program ended and Iran had difficulty continuing its program. Despite the obstacles, Iran continued to work to develop nuclear technology toward creating a series of nuclear power plants.

Javad Zarif, the Iranian Ambassador to the UN, responding to the passage of Security Council Resolution 1737 on December 23, 2006, accused the European permanent members of the council and the U.S. of not negotiating in good faith, but instead of using the UN processes as an "instrument of pressure and intimidation to compel Iran to abandon its rights" to develop nuclear technology. Zarif cites the response that Iran provided to the June 6 Package offered by the U.S. and EU.

He said that a detailed reply was submitted offering a point by point response to the June 6 package, along with proposals to deal with what Iran saw as the shortcomings in the Package. Iran's submission, however, received no reply. Instead, several countries sought and obtained Security Council resolution 1737 condemning Iran for not cooperating with the UN and initiating sanctions to penalize Iran. This process, Zarif said, was similar to its experience with the IAEA and the Security Council in response to Iran's earlier efforts to engage in negotiations over its nuclear program in accord with the NPT.

Security Council Resolution 1737 requires that Iran cease enrichment and reprocessing activity and related research. Iran claims this is asking it to give up its right under the NPT to the development of nuclear technology for peaceful purposes. The IAEA doesn't deny that under the NPT a nation has the right to a nuclear enrichment program.

Mohamed ElBaradei, director-general of the IAEA recommends that the right of nations to nuclear technology be preserved but that "capabilities useful in building arms be put under multinational control and supervision."


This is not a requirement, however, of the NPT. Iran's response is that it has proposed some ways of meeting the IAEA suggestion, but that to require that it suspend its right to enrichment and reprocessing is contrary to the spirit and letter of the NPT.

The fact that the NPT allows nations to develop nuclear technology for peaceful purposes has been called a "loophole" in the treaty by the U.S. President George Bush.

For example, in a speech he gave in 2004, Bush urged:

The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, one of the most important tools for preventing the spread of nuclear weapons, is undermined by a loophole that allows countries to seek nuclear weapons under the cover of civilian nuclear power programs. I propose that the world's leading nuclear exporters close that loophole. The Nuclear Suppliers Group should refuse to sell enrichment and reprocessing equipment and technologies to any state that does not already possess full scale, functioning enrichment and reprocessing plants.

Such actions, however, could be seen as urging "the unilateral abrogation of the treaty".

Hans Blix, formerly the chief weapons inspector at the UN, expressed hisconcern about the futility of requiring Iran to suspend nuclear enrichment research and development as a precondition for negotiation:

I'm a little worried about the conditions set by the Security Council that Iran should first suspend its research program and thereafter the council members, the U.S., the UK, France, Germany, the Russians and the Chinese would be willing to sit down. If it is negotiations, I don't see that a party, in this case Iran, would, in advance do away with the chief object of the negotiations, namely the continuation of enrichment.

Though Germany is not currently a member of the Security Council, it joined the five permanent members in their negotiations to create Resolution 1737 and was present during the vote approving the resolution in the Security Council on Saturday, December 23 2006.

Russia and China, in the statements they made approving the resolution, said that they were supporting the resolution against Iran in order to urge it to return to negotiations with the IAEA. Several of the nonpermanent members of the Security Council said they had a similar motivation for their votes in favor of the resolution. There was no indication, however, that any of members of the Security Council had made any effort to understand the problem Iran had encountered in the IAEA process. The IAEA essentially had been asked to certify that Iran did not have weapon related goals for its nuclear program.

Like the impossibility of Iraq proving to the IAEA that it did not have "weapons of mass destruction", Iran is now being confronted with the obligation of proving it does not have illegal intentions for its nuclear power program. Instead of the obligation for proving an accusation falling on the accuser, the accused is considered guilty by fiat.

In a statement issued in September, 2006, the Nonaligned Nations supported Iran's right to develop and research nuclear enrichment. There have been several other statements of support for Iran's position, including one from India and another from the Pakistani opposition.

Qatar, which is currently one of the nonpermanent members of the Security Council, voted against an earlier Security Council Resolution on Iran, Resolution 1696 (2006) which required that Iran suspend uranium enrichmentby August 31, 2006.

Just two days prior to the passage of the Resolution 1737, Qatar's Ambassador to the UN told reporters that he feared a new resolution would only would increase tension in the Middle East and make it less likely that Iran would feel support for further negotiation over the dispute. After Qatar voted in favor of Resolution 1737, however, he explained its vote saying that it was opposed to nuclear proliferation and that it would bedangerous for Iran to pursue nuclear development outside of the technicalexpertise and oversight of the IAEA.

The Iranian government responded to the passing of Resolution 1737 by saying that it would not allow its right to develop nuclear technology for peaceful purposes to be taken away. The resolution made Iran "more decisive in realizing our nuclear aims".

The IAEA has been told it must report to the Security Council in 60 days on the progress in negotiations with Iran. For negotiations to succeed, both sides must be willing to negotiate. Iran has said that it will negotiate. It will not, however, accept ultimatums. It accuses the European countries creating the Security Council resolution and especially the U.S., of failing to negotiate in good faith but instead of creating a pretext to carry out their aggressive agenda against Iran.

In Bush's State of the Union speech in January 2002, he labeled Iran along with North Korea and Iraq part of an "axis of evil." Since then the U.S. has initiated activity in the Security Council to get them to take action against these three sovereign countries. Will the lessons from the experience of how the UN was manipulated to set a basis for the U.S. to invade Iraq help to alert the countries and peoples of the world to be wary of similar claims against other nations? The recent Security Council Resolution 1737 is a warning that what happened to Iraq can be repeated again and again. (Ronda Hauben)