Iran and the Non-Proliferation Treaty

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Common Dreams

Iran and the Non-Proliferation Treaty

Soon after President Obama's speech before AIPAC's annual convention, the potential attack on Iran, which just a few weeks earlier had seemed so imminent, faded quietly into the background. Gone from the headlines were the daily threats of military options 'on the table' and bellicose rhetoric that did little to calm the fevered war pitch that was building prior to the AIPAC meeting.

In what seemed like walking a political tightrope, the president offered an impressive inventory of his administration's support for Israel with caution against "too much loose talk of war" and that "now is not the time for bluster" as the president appeared to distance himself from beating the tom-tom for war. Missing, however, was any mention of the president's earlier suggestion implementing UN Resolution 242 which requires a return to the 1967 borders regarding the Palestine-Israel dispute -- an issue at the top of a long list of grievances on U.S. Mideast policy with undeniably deep roots in creating terrorism.

Yet, the president's declarations that a "nuclear armed Iran is completely counter to Israel's security interests... and counter to the national security interests of the United States' along with the alarming assurance that "when the chips are down, I have Israel's back" represent another unsettling, if incoherent, shift in U.S. foreign policy. Setting a new threshold for war, the president, who came in to office with no foreign policy experience, has now identified uranium enrichment, allowed under the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), as a provocation for military action. The NPT is an international treaty dedicated to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons and represents a binding commitment to nuclear disarmament. To date, 190 countries have signed the Treaty including Iran.

At AIPAC, the president played into the hands of Israel's shrewd Prime Minister when he gave the green light for "Israel's sovereign right to make its own decisions about what is required to meet its security needs." According to Haaretz, in a speech to the Knesset upon his return, Netanyahu 'hinted' at Obama's tacit endorsement of an attack "under the guise of opposition. Obama will speak out against it but act for it, just as the past U.S. administrations speak against the settlements in the territories but allow their expansion." The public record to date confirms Netanyahu's view that not only has the president boxed himself into an untenable political corner but seems willing to take the country into yet another unprovoked war in the Mideast.

As the 'fog of war' intensifies, days after AIPAC adjourned, Israel's Ma'ariv newspaper reported that Obama had requested Israel delay its attack on Iran until after Election Day in exchange for a supply of GBU 28 bunker busting bombs and long range refueling aircraft. Ma'ariv and other media outlets added that Israeli Defense secretary Ehud Barak and Secretary Leon Panetta would work out the details. In yet another display of escalating tensions, the New York Times disclosed that a full-scale classified war simulation had been recently completed with the not surprising conclusion that a military strike on Iran "would lead to a wider regional war which could draw in the United States." That conclusion against the backdrop of former high level military leaders and intelligence officials urging no war has apparently not deterred the president who, while attending the recent nuclear security conference in South Korea, warned that the 'window is closing' for "Iran to act" to avoid 'even worse consequences."

While presidential candidate Obama pledged to 'engage in aggressive personal diplomacy' with Iran without any preconditions, President Obama has shown no inclination to do so and has not directed Secretary of State Clinton to conduct diplomacy with Iranian leaders. Even as Russian diplomats were asserting that Secretary Clinton had requested an ultimatum be delivered to Iran, a State Department spokesperson denied any such warning. In any case, informed insiders are suggesting that the attack on Iran is inevitable with only the 'when' and the precise level of U.S. participation uncertain.

Consistently cited as the compelling reason for war, is Iran's enrichment of uranium that opponents suggest is imminently approaching the level of 'weapons grade' necessary to construct a nuclear bomb. According to U.S. intelligence reports, Iran has enriched 120 kilograms of uranium to 20 percent which is consistent with producing nuclear medical isotopes for a research reactor. Any nuclear bomb would require uranium to be enriched at 90 percent. According to Ma'ariv, the U.S. is prepared to wait until Iran has 250 kg of 20 percent enriched uranium as if that threshold is proof-positive of Iran's commitment to build a nuclear bomb and therefore, a legitimate rationale for war.

Under its 'zero problem with neighbors' policy, Turkey joined with Brazil in 2010 to negotiate an agreement to swap 1,200 kilos of Iran's uranium stockpile in exchange for uranium fuel rods for use in Iran's medical research reactor, thereby eliminating the need for Iran to enrich uranium. The agreement would have left Iran with less than the 1,000 kg's required to produce a nuclear weapon and was signed by the three parties on May 19, 2010. Within hours Secretary Clinton issued a statement that the agreement was "not satisfactory" and "too little too late" insisting that "major world powers had agreed on a draft sanctions resolution against Iran." Despite attempts to alleviate international concerns with the Turkey-Brazil-Iran deal, President Obama signed new 'toughest ever' sanctions on July 7, 2010 citing Iran's defiance of international calls to halt its uranium enrichment program.

Rarely mentioned is that as a 1968 signer of the NPT, Iran has an 'inalienable right' under Section IV (1) to enrich uranium for peaceful purposes. Demands that Iran abide by international rules smack of an unreasonable double-standard when strategic allies like Pakistan, India and Israel, all armed with nuclear weapons have refused to join and continue to function outside the NPT.

What does it say to the Arab world when the U.S., regarded for its punitive behavior, exempts ten EU countries from its 'harsh' financial sanctions against Iran and that with a gargantuan military budget and sophisticated war-making technology, the U.S. attacks nuclear-deprived country's with no ability to defend itself, third world sovereign country's like Iraq, Afghanistan and Vietnam that are easily crushed by the threat of U.S. nuclear superiority.

Renee Parsons

Renee Parsons was a lobbyist for Friends of the Earth in Washington, D.C. focusing on nuclear energy issues. While at FOE, she was responsible for a TRO that stopped the Dept of Energy from conducting an experimental drilling program at 12 locations along the perimeter of Canyonlands National Park as a possible high-level nuclear waste repository. Her efforts included opposing the Nuclear Waste Policy Act and organizing the coalition that successfully defunded the Clinch River Breeder Reactor. She also served as staff in the U.S. House of Representatives. In 2005, she was elected to the Durango City Council (Colorado) and served four years as Councilor and Mayor. Renee is a member of the Treasure Coast Board of the ACLU.

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