Inter Press Service » Nuclear Energy – Nuclear Weapons News and Views from the Global South Wed, 25 Nov 2015 16:25:54 +0000 en-US hourly 1 U.N. Plans New Working Groups Aimed at Nuclear Disarmament Wed, 28 Oct 2015 23:56:07 +0000 Thalif Deen By Thalif Deen

Against the backdrop of a potential military confrontation between the world’s two major nuclear powers – the United States and Russia – the United Nations is taking a significant step towards a hitherto impossible goal: nuclear disarmament.

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon (front row, centre right) poses for a group photo with this year’s participants of the United Nations Disarmament Fellowship Programme. On his right is Kim Won-soo, Acting UN High Representative for Disarmament Affairs. Credit: UN Photo/Evan Schneider

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon (front row, centre right) poses for a group photo with this year’s participants of the United Nations Disarmament Fellowship Programme. On his right is Kim Won-soo, Acting UN High Representative for Disarmament Affairs. Credit: UN Photo/Evan Schneider

The 193-member General Assembly, through its Committee on Disarmament and International Security (also known as the First Committee), is expected to establish an open-ended working group — or possibly two such groups — to deliberate or negotiate on effective measures for nuclear disarmament.

One of the draft resolutions, currently in circulation, calls for the Working Group to convene in Geneva in 2016, as a subsidiary body of the General Assembly and under its rules of procedure.

The Working Group is expected to submit a report, reflecting the negotiations and its recommendations, to the General Assembly at its 71st session in September next year.

This draft resolution, sponsored by Mexico, has several co-sponsors, including Austria, Brazil, Chile, Costa Rica, Ghana, Liechtenstein, Ireland, Malta, Nigeria, the Philippines and South Africa.

A second draft resolution, sponsored by Iran, calls on a second Working Group to transmit its report to the U.N.’s high level international conference on nuclear disarmament to be held no later than 2018, and to the Conference on Disarmament and the Disarmament Commission.

John Burroughs, Executive Director of the New York-based Lawyers Committee on Nuclear Policy, told IPS: “The relevant resolutions are still under negotiation.”

This development, he said, builds on the momentum created by the 2013 open-ended working group to develop proposals for multilateral negotiations; the 2013 and 2014 conferences on humanitarian impacts of nuclear weapons in Oslo, Nayarit, and Vienna; and the draft final document of the May 2015 NPT Review Conference.

“Regardless of the short-term output of a new working group, its operation would definitely be positive because it would keep the momentum going and create an opening for further steps.”

The United States, he pointed out, has shifted its position from its opposition to the 2013 working group, saying that it would support a new working group, though it insists on a consensus procedure and says that a working group should explore all effective measures (e.g. verification) for nuclear disarmament, not negotiate legal measures.

Which other members of the Permanent Five — including Britain, France, China and Russia — will come out, remains to be seen, he added.

“But the U.S. shift is a sign that the environment is changing for the better,” said Burroughs, who is also Director of the U.N. Office of International Association of Lawyers Against Nuclear Arms.

Jackie Cabasso, executive director of the Western States Legal Foundation, one of the strongest advocates of nuclear disarmament, told IPS that all resolutions forwarded from the Committee on Disarmament and International Security are overwhelmingly adopted each year by the General Assembly, which is not bound by consensus.

This year, she pointed out, the General Assembly is expected to establish an open ended working group (open to all 193 member states) to take forward proposals to implement nuclear disarmament.

She said a statement made Oct. 21 by a coalition of over 135 non-governmental organisations (NGOs) from 19 countries has an unequivocal message: “We call on (member) states to stop fiddling while Rome burns.”

In a statement endorsed by the 135 organizations, Cabasso told the First Committee the nuclear-armed countries are edging ever closer to direct military confrontation in conflict zones around the world, from Ukraine to Syria and the broader Middle East to the Western Pacific.

“The danger of nuclear war is growing again on a scale measured in months or years,” she said.

And those who rule in the nuclear-armed states appear comfortable approaching disarmament on a time scale measured in generations — and show no interest in taking up the task again anytime soon.

The coalition that endorsed the statement includes Global Action to Prevent War, International Peace Bureau, International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War, Soka Gakkai International, Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, Project Ploughshares, International Association of Lawyers Against Nuclear Arms, Israeli Disarmament Movement, Swedish Peace Council, Acronym Institute for Disarmament Diplomacy, CODE PINK, Western States Legal Foundation and Lawyers Committee on Nuclear Policy, among others.

Aaron Tovish, International Director, 2020 Vision Campaign, and Mayors for Peace, told IPS: “Given the ongoing abuse of the consensus rule in the Conference on Disarmament, already back in 2006, Mayors for Peace began promoting the creation of a working group that would operate under U.N. General Assembly rules of Procedure.”

He said the 2013 Open-Ended Working Group on ‘Taking Forward Multilateral Negotiations on Nuclear Disarmament’ was a successful, albeit too short, exercise.

“It is most timely to revive the Working Group with a stronger mandate.”

“I see nothing wrong with having working groups being held in both Geneva and New York next year. Each venue has strengths and weaknesses, so those prepared to work for nuclear disarmament in good faith, should be willing to contribute to both venues” he added.

Tovish also said: “We are just at the beginning of getting full-fledged negotiations (on establishing a Nuclear Weapons-Free World) underway, so it is too early to be prejudging which way forward will be most productive. It is conceivable that a good division of labour could be agreed upon for two (or more) forums.”

In her statement, prepared by Andrew Lichterman on behalf of the coalition, Cabasso said: “No amount of tinkering with the disarmament machinery can turn it into a vehicle for disarmament progress when those in the driver’s seat have no intention of moving forward.”

She said the new round of conflicts and confrontations, and the resumption of arms racing, are driven by those who have the power to shape policy in the nuclear-armed states.

“Primary responsibility for the continued scourge of industrialized warfare world-wide lies with the military-industrial complexes and national security state elites at the apex of the global war system, and those in the United States above all.”

Cabasso said nuclear-armed states account for three quarters of global arms exports; the United States and Russia together for over half.

They provide the kinds of weapons that turn local, low-intensity conflicts into industrial-scale wars that fragment societies, destroy vital infrastructure, and destabilize entire regions.

She said these human catastrophes are used to justify competing armed interventions that raise the stakes even higher, with nuclear-armed militaries operating in close quarters in proxy confrontations that easily could spiral out of control.

A small fraction of humanity benefits in the short run from these high stakes competitions; all of us bear the risk, she declared.

The writer can be contacted at

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Opinion: The Nuclear Deal’s Impact on Iranian Domestic and Foreign Policy Mon, 19 Oct 2015 16:08:02 +0000 Farhang Jahanpour

Farhang Jahanpour is a former professor and dean of the Faculty of Foreign Languages at the University of Isfahan and a former Senior Research Fellow at Harvard University. He is a tutor in the Department of Continuing Education and a member of Kellogg College, University of Oxford. This is the final of a series of 10 articles in which Jahanpour looks at various aspects and implications of the framework agreement on Iran’s nuclear programme that was reached in July 2015 between Iran and the United States, United Kingdom, Russia, France, China and Germany, plus the European Union.

By Farhang Jahanpour
OXFORD, Oct 19 2015 (IPS)

As in most countries, in Iran too there are hardliners and moderates. All polls show that a large majority of Iranians support the nuclear deal (or Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, JCPOA) between Iran and the P5+1 (the United States, Russia, China, Great Britain, France and Germany), while a small but powerful group of hardliners opposes it. The Iranian parliament has finally approved the deal, but after a great deal of controversy and with some reservations.

Farhang Jahanpour

Farhang Jahanpour

Despite the fact that in the 2013 presidential election, in which 72 per cent of eligible voters participated, more than half of the electorate voted for Hassan Rouhani, a centrist and moderate cleric, hardliners have a tight grip over practically all other branches of power in Iran.

Hardliners control the judiciary, and have a majority in the current Majles or Iranian Parliament. They control the Assembly of Experts that has the power to elect the Supreme Leader’s successor, the Guardian Council that acts as a second chamber, the National Broadcasting Organization that has a virtual monopoly of all radio and television broadcasting, and many other organizations.

However, with President Rouhani’s election, the dominance of hardliners over the executive branch came to an end, and elections for parliament and the Assembly of Experts are due on 26 February 2016, and they could alter the internal balance of power. The nuclear agreement has begun to swing public support back to the reformists.

After the initial revolutionary upheaval that isolated Iran from most of the world, and after 36 years of estrangement from the West, this landmark agreement has ushered in a new era of relations between Iran and the West. While most analysts in the West are primarily concerned about its effect on Iran’s foreign relations, for most Iranians its significance lies in what it can do to improve the economic and political situation at home.

The fact of the matter is that Iran has made many concessions, but its nuclear program has received the seal of approval from the Security Council and the West. Even above and beyond the nuclear issue, the JCPOA has opened the prospect of the reintegration of Iran into the global economy and of it playing a much more prominent role in world affairs.

This is precisely what the hardliners fear, because they are worried that Iran’s revolutionary values would be undermined and that Western values would weaken Islamic sentiments. Iran’s powerful Revolutionary Guards chief warned of “nuclear sedition,” aimed at derailing the Islamic Republic from its revolutionary path.

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has also warned against “infiltration” attempts by the West and has banned further negotiations with Washington.

The main question is whether Iran still wishes to remain in the past and retain its revolutionary zeal, or whether she feels confident enough to look forward and embrace change. It is quite clear that the majority of Iranians have shown that they are in favor of change and coexistence with the rest of the world, while also retaining their distinct religious and cultural values.

Most Iranians are strongly opposed to regime change in the way that has happened in a number of neighboring countries. They are in favor of evolution and reform, rather than revolution and violence. Nevertheless, they have a number of legitimate demands that cannot be suppressed by force.

President Rouhani pledged repeatedly during his campaign to expand political and social freedoms for all Iranians, including freedom of expression. Although some restrictions have been eased, the pace of change has been far too slow. Iran still has one of the largest numbers of executions per capita in the world, and one of the highest numbers of political prisoners. Iranian women still do not enjoy equality with men.

It is true that the government does not have much control over the judiciary or security organizations, but it cannot use this excuse to shirk its responsibilities towards the Iranian people. It must understand that the maintenance of the status quo is not an option. If change is not to be imposed through violence or from outside, the government with the support of the majority of the population must bring about meaningful change.

The JCPOA has opened new horizons for Iran. In the foreign policy field, it has lifted the shadow of war and has made Tehran the diplomatic and economic capital of the Middle East. Now, it is time for Iranian leaders to begin a new chapter of relations with the world. As Ambassador John Limbert, a former US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Iran and a former US hostage during the Iranian hostage crisis, has said: “Both sides, after 34 years, have made a very startling discovery, that diplomacy ­ long-neglected tools of listening, of seeking small areas of agreement, of careful choice of words ­ can actually accomplish more than shouting insults, making threats and the wonderful self-satisfaction of always being right.”

The same principle also applies to the domestic situation. Iranian leaders will be surprised to see how much small areas of agreement and small but steady steps towards greater freedoms and democracy can accomplish in putting an end to the alienation between the people and the government, and allow Iran to find its rightful place in the world, and avoid the chaos rampant in many neighboring countries. It is time to use this great opportunity to move forward both at home and abroad, confident in the common sense and patriotism of Iranian people.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, IPS – Inter Press Service.

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U.S. 100th Member State to Join Nuke Terrorism Treaty Wed, 30 Sep 2015 21:14:29 +0000 Thalif Deen The ratification of the International Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism by the U.S. “is good news – as with the ratification of any Treaty or Convention limiting the use of nuclear weapons by a major nuclear weapon state,” says Jayantha Dhanapala, the former U.N. Under-Secretary-General for Disarmament Affairs.

The ratification of the International Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism by the U.S. “is good news – as with the ratification of any Treaty or Convention limiting the use of nuclear weapons by a major nuclear weapon state,” says Jayantha Dhanapala, the former U.N. Under-Secretary-General for Disarmament Affairs.

By Thalif Deen

A 1997 movie titled “The Peacemaker” –partly shot outside the United Nations – dramatised the story of a Yugoslav terrorist who acquires a backpack-sized nuclear weapon, gone missing after a train wreck in rural Russia, and brings it to New York to detonate it outside U.N. headquarters.

Was it another Hollywood fantasy? Or a disaster waiting to happen?

Conscious of the remote possibility of a terrorist group arming itself with stolen nuclear weapons, the International Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism was adopted by the U.N. General Assembly back in April 2005 and entered into force in July 2007.

Currently, there are 99 states parties who have ratified the treaty, including the nuclear powers China, France, India, Russia, and the United Kingdom.

On Wednesday, the United States became the 100th state party when it handed over the instruments of ratification to the U.N. Treaty Section.

“This is good news – as with the ratification of any Treaty or Convention limiting the use of nuclear weapons by a major nuclear weapon state,” Jayantha Dhanapala, the former U.N. Under-Secretary-General for Disarmament Affairs, told IPS.

He said it is useful to recall that it was Russia that initiated this Convention in 2005 and to date there are 115 signatories and 99 states parties.

“Nuclear terrorism has been widely feared especially after 9/11 and it is well know that non-state actors like Al Qaeda and now ISIL (Islamic State in the Levant) are engaged in a quest for nuclear materials to make a nuclear weapon, however rudimentary,” said Dhanapala, who has been President of the Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs, since 2007.

“And yet we must not delude ourselves into over estimating the significance of this action when more urgent treaties like the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) await ratification by the United States and seven other states in order to ensure its entry into force rendering permanent the norm against nuclear weapon testing – an important brake on the development of nuclear weapons,” he added.

As long as 15,850 nuclear warheads are held by nine countries – 93 percent with the United States and Russia – their use in a war, caused by deliberate political intent or by accident and by nation states or non state actors – remain a frightening reality with appalling humanitarian consequences and irreversible ecological and genetic effects, said Dhanapala, who also serves as a member of the Board of Sponsors of The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists and a governing board member of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI)

The Nuclear Terrorism Convention is described as part of global efforts to prevent terrorists from gaining access to weapons of mass destruction.

It details offences relating to unlawful and intentional possession and use of radioactive material or radioactive devices, and use or damage of nuclear facilities.

The convention is also designed to promote cooperation among countries through the sharing of information and the provision of assistance for investigations and extraditions.

Dr. M.V. Ramana, a physicist and lecturer at Princeton University’s Program on Science and Global Security and the Nuclear Futures Laboratory, told IPS: “I would like to take the conversation in a different direction and ask what is nuclear terrorism?”

He said Webster’s dictionary defines terrorism as “the systematic use of terror especially as a means of coercion.”

Nuclear weapons can cause massive death and destruction; any population faced with this possibility would be terrorized, he argued.

“Think of the people in any number of countries in the Middle East who are told by the U.S. President or some senior official that ‘all options are on the table’, implying, of course, the use of nuclear weapons.”

Under any fair and just definition of terrorism, anyone who uses a nuclear weapon to threaten another population would be a terrorist. This includes those who use nuclear weapons “just for deterrence,” he declared.

Remember that the ability to credibly project terror is ultimately at the heart of the strategy of deterrence and the safety that it is supposed to derive from deterrence is, as Winston Churchill proclaimed, “the sturdy child of terror.”

“I think the challenge for those seeking peace is to shift the discourse away from “nuclear terrorism by non-state actors” and turn the attention onto nuclear weapon states, which base their policies on the threat of nuclear death and destruction, and the urgency of disarming them,” said Dr Ramana who is author of several publications, including “The Power of Promise: Examining Nuclear Energy in India.”

Rose Gottemoeller, U.S. Under Secretary for Arms Control and International Security said last week that when it comes to nuclear terrorism, “we are safer now than we were five years ago, but more remains to be done.”

The United States, she said, will continue to work with international partners to ensure that dangerous nuclear materials are accounted for and secured worldwide.

“Unending vigilance is required if we are to ensure that terrorist groups who may seek to acquire these materials are never able to do so.”

She said the United States is the largest national contributor to the IAEA’s (International Atomic Energy Agency) Nuclear Security Fund, providing more than 70 million dollars since 2010.

These funds support cost-free experts, mission and technical visits to Member States, the development of nuclear security guidance and best practices, and the Incident and Trafficking Database.

She said the State Department’s Counter Nuclear Smuggling Program (CNSP) is also working with key international partners to strengthen capacity to investigate nuclear smuggling networks, secure materials in illegal circulation, and prosecute the criminals who are involved.

Countries such as Georgia and Moldova are to be commended for their recent arrests of criminals attempting to traffic highly enriched uranium (HEU); significant progress has been made in this area. Unfortunately, continued seizures of weapon-usable nuclear materials indicate that these materials are still available on the black market, she pointed out.

According to the United Nations, some of the key provisions of the Convention include: the criminalization of planning, threatening, or carrying out acts of nuclear terrorism; the requirement for States to criminalize these offenses through national legislation and to establish penalties in line with the gravity of such crimes; conditions under which States may establish jurisdiction for offenses; and guidelines for extradition and other measures of punishment.

Additionally, there is the requirement for States to make every effort to adopt appropriate measures to ensure the protection of radioactive material; and the distinction that the Convention does not cover the activities of armed forces during an armed conflict or military exercise and cannot be interpreted as addressing the “legality of the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons by States.”

The writer can be contacted at

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Iran’s nuclear deal and the regional countries Tue, 29 Sep 2015 15:50:55 +0000 Farhang Jahanpour

Farhang Jahanpour is a former professor and dean of the Faculty of Foreign Languages at the University of Isfahan and a former Senior Research Fellow at Harvard University. He is a tutor in the Department of Continuing Education and a member of Kellogg College, University of Oxford. This is the ninth of a series of 10 articles in which Jahanpour looks at various aspects and implications of the framework agreement on Iran’s nuclear programme that was reached in July 2015 between Iran and the United States, United Kingdom, Russia, France, China and Germany, plus the European Union.

By Farhang Jahanpour
OXFORD, Sep 29 2015 (IPS)

Although some regional countries initially opposed the nuclear deal between Iran and the P5+1 (the United States, Russia, China, United Kingdom, France and Germany), once the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) was signed by the two sides in July 2015, practically all regional countries welcomed it. After the initial agreement in Lausanne, U.S. President Barack Obama invited all the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) leaders to a Camp David summit in May and all of them expressed support for the deal.

Farhang Jahanpour

Farhang Jahanpour

After the nuclear agreement was announced, the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait both congratulated Iran and the Secretary General of the Arab League Nabil al-Arabi hailed the deal as a historic event which constituted the first step to rid the Middle East of weapons of mass destruction. He called on the international community to put pressure on Israel to get rid of her nuclear weapons. As the head of the Arab League he speaks officially for all the Arab countries.

After the meeting between Obama and the Saudi King Salman at the White House on September 4th, the two sides issued a joint statement. In the statement King Salman expressed his support for the JCPOA “which once fully implemented will prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon and thereby enhance security in the region.”

For his part, Obama has indicated that the region needs a new approach toward regional security. He said the Sunni Arab states shouldn’t blame Iran for all their problems, and he called on them to engage Iran in a “practical conversation” to reduce sectarian divisions and address shared threats from terrorism.

At the same time, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has talked about the possibilities for cooperation with Iran’s neighbors on common challenges in a spirit of “mutual respect, good neighborliness, and Islamic brotherhood.”

Turkey, which has worked closely with Iran over many years to resolve the nuclear issue (in May 2010, Turkey and Brazil tried to broker a deal between Iran and the West), is also fully supportive of this agreement. This leaves Israel as the only regional country that still opposes the deal.

With the very sensitive nuclear issue taken off the table, it is much easier now to deal with a number of critical regional issues. If the U.S. focuses exclusively on the agreement and does not test opportunities for collaboration with Iran on other issues, it may miss a historic opportunity to reshape relations with the Islamic Republic, as well as to usher in a new political and security order in the Middle East as a whole.

Iran of course poses a number of challenges to U.S. interests in the region, and in many arenas American and Iranian interests seem to be fundamentally at odds. Chief among these disagreements are Iran’s policies towards Israel, Syria, Iraq, Lebanon and Yemen.

Dubbed the “axis of resistance,” the Iran-Iraq-Syria-Hamas-Hezbollah grouping was supposed to highlight Iran’s commitment to the Palestinian cause. Iran is accused of supporting the Shi’a militias in Iraq to the detriment of the Sunni minority. Iran supports and arms the Bashar al-Assad regime in Syria, and is also accused of supporting the Houthis in Yemen.

However, as the result of changed circumstances in the region none of these problems is insurmountable. As far as Hamas is concerned, after the civil war in Syria and the expulsion of Palestinians from that country, Hamas turned initially towards Turkey and towards the Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi. Since the coup in Egypt, Hamas has turned more towards Qatar and has even mended relations with Saudi Arabia. Therefore, hardly any links exist at the moment between Hamas and Iran.

Hezbollah forces are fighting in Syria to support Assad’s government against ISIS, the al-Nusra Front and other terrorist groups. This is a cause that the West shares. With the flood of refugees towards Europe, many European leaders have realized that no matter how much they loathe Assad, he is preferable to the terrorists that pose a deadly threat to the region and even to the West.

In a joint press conference in London, the U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and the British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said that although Assad had to go, nevertheless, it might be necessary to talk to him as part of a deal over a transitional period. Neither Iran nor Russia has said that Assad should rule Syria forever, but they argue that first the terrorists should be defeated, and then Assad’s fate should be decided by the Syrian people in a supervised election.

As far as Yemen is concerned, U.S. officials have admitted that Iran does not play any direct role in that conflict. In an interview with The New York Times in July, Obama said that Tehran had even tried to dissuade the Houthis from capturing Sana’a back in 2014. According to a report released on September 19 by Yemen’s Civil Coalition, over 6,000 Yemenis have so far lost their lives, and a total of 14,000 people have been injured, most of them civilians. The latest deadly stampede during the Hajj pilgrimage in Mecca, killing at least 717 and injuring over 800 with a few hundred people still missing, has added to Saudi woes. The combination of these tragedies, as well as growing domestic discontent, might persuade the Saudi rulers to turn towards diplomacy and regional cooperation.

Turkey has recently softened her position towards Assad, and by placing its airports at the disposal of U.S. aircraft fighting ISIS, Turkey has shown that it takes the terrorist threat seriously. Recently, there have been some moves by the Russian President Vladimir Putin to form a security belt, including Russia, Iran, Egypt and Syria against ISIS. The response from the U.S. to Putin’s proposal has not been hostile. In the wake of their meetings in New York on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly, the U.S. and Russian presidents might reach an agreement over how to jointly tackle the menace of terrorism.

During his recent visit to New York to take part in the U.N. General Assembly, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said that ties with the U.S. had improved, but there was still a “long road to travel” before they could normalize their relations. Nevertheless, what we are seeing on the ground looks quite different. If the new rapprochement between Iran and the West is not to fizzle out, there is a need to broaden the scope of cooperation over regional issues.

Recent developments have shown that there is an increasing possibility for new geopolitical alignments throughout the region. The growing menace of terrorism, Iran and the U.S.’s tacit cooperation in Iraq, Saudi Arabia’s growing problems in Yemen, Turkey’s shift to greater cooperation with the U.S, and now Russia’s greater involvement in the fight against ISIS show that all these countries have some shared interests in fighting terrorism, and establishing security and stability in the region through cooperation.

The status quo in the Middle East cannot survive much longer. The winds of change are blowing throughout the entire region, and there is a possibility of new beginnings. This opportunity should not be missed.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, IPS – Inter Press Service.

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Israel’s Opposition to the Nuclear Treaty with Iran Sat, 26 Sep 2015 21:12:45 +0000 Farhang Jahanpour

Farhang Jahanpour is a former professor and dean of the Faculty of Foreign Languages at the University of Isfahan and a former Senior Research Fellow at Harvard University. He is a tutor in the Department of Continuing Education and a member of Kellogg College, University of Oxford. This is the eighth of a series of 10 articles in which Jahanpour looks at various aspects and implications of the framework agreement on Iran’s nuclear programme that was reached in July 2015 between Iran and the United States, United Kingdom, Russia, France, China and Germany, plus the European Union.

By Farhang Jahanpour
OXFORD, Sep 26 2015 (IPS)

Relations between Iran and Israel go back almost to the foundation of the State of Israel in 1948. Iran was the second Muslim-majority country to recognize Israel as a sovereign state, following Turkey, and the two countries had very close diplomatic and even military cooperation for many decades.

Farhang Jahanpour

Farhang Jahanpour

After the 1953 coup, which restored the Shah, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, to power, relations improved further, and Israel and the CIA played a significant role in establishing the dreaded SAVAK, Iran’s intelligence organization, and training its personnel. Also, after the Six-Day War in 1967, Iran supplied Israel with a significant portion of its oil needs.

However, after the 1979 revolution, Iran severed all diplomatic and commercial ties with Israel. The Islamic government does not recognize the legitimacy of Israel as a state, but despite hostile revolutionary rhetoric against Israel, relations between the two countries have not always been too acrimonious. Indeed, during the Iran-Iraq war, in order to prevent Saddam Hussein’s victory, Israel joined the mission to Iran under U.S. President Ronald Reagan and even provided Iran with some weapons in what later on came to be known as the Iran-Contra Affair.

Iranian funding of groups like Hezbollah, Islamic Jihad and Hamas, which Israel regards as terrorist organizations, and Israeli support for terrorist groups such as the Mojahedin-e Khalq Organization, the Jundullah, a militant terrorist organization based in Baluchestan that has carried out a number of deadly attacks against Iran, as well as Israeli covert operations in Iran, including assassinations and explosions, have intensified animosity between the two countries and have led to a number of tit-for-tat attacks on each other’s citizens.

The turning point from cold peace toward hostility occurred in the early 1990s, shortly after the collapse of the Soviet Union and the defeat of Iraq in Desert Storm. Before the collapse of the Soviet Union, Israel was regarded as a U.S. bulwark against pro-Soviet Arab governments.

With the collapse of the Soviet Union, Israel could no longer continue to play that role. The removal of Saddam Hussein also removed a formidable enemy. Therefore, Israel directed all its attacks against a new enemy, namely Iran.

So, it is not a mere coincidence that Israel’s intense opposition to Iran’s nuclear program coincided with the collapse of the former Soviet Union and the removal of the threat from Iraq. Although Iran’s nuclear program had developed under the late Shah with active Israeli, South African and U.S. participation, after the revolution, when Iran tried to revive her program, Israel became its most vociferous opponent. Under the Iranian reformist government of President Mohammad Khatami there were some moves for a rapprochement with the West, including the recognition of Israel, but the George W. Bush Administration rebuffed those offers.

Meanwhile, the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been continuously warning that Iran is on the verge of manufacturing a nuclear weapon and posing an “existential threat” to Israel. As early as 1992, he predicted that Iran would be able to produce a nuclear weapon within three to five years. In 1993, he claimed that Iran would have a nuclear bomb by 1999.This has been his constant refrain ever since the early 1990s and right up to the present time.

The interesting point is that the current and some former heads of Israel’s intelligence agency Mossad have contradicted Netanyahu’s claims. They maintain that there has been no indication that Iran is moving towards the acquisition of nuclear weapons or poses an existential threat to Israel.

It is important to remember that Netanyahu has not only tried to incite war against Iran, he even made the same false claims prior to the Iraq war in 2003.

Therefore, the propaganda against the Iraqi and Iranian alleged nuclear weapons have had less to do with the existence of such weapons and more to do with the perception that those two countries were hostile to Israel and had to be attacked in order to bring about a regime change.

It should be stressed that Netanyahu’s views in no way represent the views of the majority of American Jews who are on the whole liberal and peace loving. Indeed, poll after poll has shown that the support for the nuclear deal with Iran is stronger among American Jews than among the population at large.

Netanyahu’s attempts to kill the deal with Iran have been futile and counterproductive. His intrusion into American domestic politics, and his cynical use of the U.S. Congress to undercut a major foreign policy achievement, have been acts of gross discourtesy to the president and to the American people, and a violation of diplomatic protocol.

The real reason for Israeli opposition to Iran’s nuclear program has been the fear of becoming irrelevant in the eyes of the U.S. administration as far as the Middle East is concerned. Iran’s alleged nuclear bomb also been used as an excuse to divert attention from Israel’s own nuclear arsenal and illegal expansion into occupied Palestinian territories.

Instead of continuing with this campaign of vilification and inciting a military attack on Iran, it would be wiser for Israel to try to reach a settlement with the Palestinians and pave the way for peaceful coexistence with regional countries, including Iran. The emergence of terrorist organizations that pose a serious threat to the entire world should bring Iran and Israel closer to fight that dangerous menace. The two countries should tone down their ugly rhetoric and violent activities against each other, and realize that dialogue and compromise always produce better results than war and bloodshed.

Meanwhile, it is time to focus on Israel’s nuclear weapons and establish a nuclear-free zone in the Middle East.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, IPS – Inter Press Service.

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Iran’s commitments under the Nuclear Treaty are just short of total surrender Fri, 25 Sep 2015 14:12:24 +0000 Farhang Jahanpour Farhang Jahanpour

Farhang Jahanpour

By Farhang Jahanpour
OXFORD, Sep 25 2015 (IPS)

Speaking about the framework agreement on Iran’s nuclear programme that was reached between Iran, the P5+1 (China, France, Russia, United Kingdom, United States­ plus Germany) and the European Union, Joseph Cirincione, a leading nuclear expert and president of Ploughshares Fund, said:

“We have just achieved what may be the biggest diplomatic triumph in a generation. We have reached an agreement that not only stops Iran from getting a nuclear bomb, but it prevents a new war in the Middle East. It has profound implications for the security of America, for the security of Israel, for the security of the world. It sets a new gold standard for nuclear agreements. Every state that wants even a token enrichment capability now will have to agree to the same intrusive verification measures Iran has just agreed to…”

Contrary to the extensive propaganda about it being good for Iran and bad for the United States, the deal – also known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) – has achieved something that no one thought was possible. Speaking at the American University shortly after the agreement was signed, President Barack Obama said:

“After two years of negotiations, we have achieved a detailed arrangement that permanently prohibits Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. It cuts off all of Iran’s pathways to a bomb. It contains the most comprehensive inspection and verification regime ever negotiated to monitor a nuclear program.”

After 13 years of intensive talks and a fast-developing nuclear enrichment program, Iran has agreed to the most intrusive, restrictive and comprehensive set of demands to which any member state of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) has ever been subjected. In reality, as some Iranian commentators have argued, Iran has relinquished most of her rights as an NPT member, short of total surrender.

In order to understand the magnitude of what Iran has given up and what she is required to do in return for the lifting of the sanctions, one has to look at some of the main provisions of the JCPOA. All the following actions must be verified by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) as complete before the implementation day, which comes 90 days after the unanimous approval on 20 July of the United Nations Security Council resolution 2231 endorsing the JCPOA, assuming that Iran provides the IAEA with the required information.

The Security Council requested that the IAEA undertake verification and monitoring of Iran’s compliance, and it reaffirmed that Iran should cooperate fully with the agency to resolve all outstanding issues. Upon receipt of a positive report from the IAEA, the Council would terminate the sanctions set out in resolutions adopted between 2006 and 2015.

Iran must disassemble, remove and store under IAEA seal more than 13,000 excess centrifuges, including excess advanced centrifuge machines.

Out of more than 15,651.4 kg of uranium enriched to 3.6[DSJ1] , and 337.2 kg to 20 percent, Iran must reduce its stockpile of low-enriched uranium to no more than 300 kg.

Iran had built its Fordow uranium enrichment facility deep in the mountains in order to have a more secure site for enrichment in case Israel or America bombed its main facility at Natanz. However, according to the agreement, Iran must convert the Fordow site to a research & development facility with no fissile material.

Iran had built a heavy water plant in Arak to have a different route to nuclear fuel, but she must remove and disable the core of the Arak heavy-water reactor.

Although Iran had not officially signed the Additional Protocol, an expanded set of requirements for information and access adopted in 1997 to assist the IAEA in its verification work, she must allow and make the necessary arrangements for additional IAEA access and monitoring in keeping with its requirements.

Key restrictions that will last significantly more than a decade include:

Iran may retain no more than 5,060 of the 19,000 centrifuges that Iran had installed.

She is not allowed to install more advanced centrifuges than she has already developed, and is allowed to carry out only limited research & development on advanced centrifuges for the next 15 years.

She is allowed only limited development of advanced centrifuges so that enrichment capacity remains the same.

Testing of centrifuges with uranium may carried out only at Natanz.

IAEA access to the site must be provided within 24 hours.

No new heavy-water reactors, no reprocessing or R & D allowed.

Iran makes a commitment not to process spent fuel.

There will be continuous surveillance of centrifuge production areas.

There will even be continuous surveillance of uranium mines and mills. Thus, the IAEA will have access to all Iranian activities from the mining of uranium to the construction of mills and centrifuges.

Even after all those initial restrictions, the NPT will remain in force banning the pursuit of nuclear weapons. This restriction has no time limit and will remain in force for as long as Iran remains a member of the NPT. Leaving the NPT would of course constitute a grave violation of the rules, and strong action would be taken against Iran.

In order to sabotage the talks, some critics of the nuclear deal, supported by fabricated documents, had raised the issue of Iran’s alleged military experimentations (the so-called previous military dimension, or PMD). Nevertheless, Iran must provide the IAEA with all the information necessary to complete its PMD investigation by October 15.

Another excuse that the opponents of the deal have used to undermine it was the issue of “the breakout period.” There is no provision in the NPT for any such limitation. The member states will be able to have any amount of enrichment to any level of purity, so long as they do not manufacture a nuclear weapon. However, an exception is made in the case of Iran regarding how long it would take her to have enough enriched uranium sufficient for a single bomb.

This is despite the fact that Iran does not possess any reprocessing facilities and that even if she enriches uranium to the more than 90 percent purity needed for a bomb, she still has to weaponise[DSJ2] it, test it and find the necessary means of delivery, none of which Iran possesses at the moment and which would be easily detected by the IAEA. Nevertheless, the agreement has required that Iran should have a breakout period of at least one year.

In addition to all the nuclear-related restrictions, the Security Council still prohibits Iran from importing or exporting weapons for five years and missile parts for eight years. In other words, the fuss was not only about Iran’s nuclear program, but her military capabilities as well.

As the result of this agreement, the P5+1 have re-written the rules and have gone completely beyond the requirements of the NPT and even the Additional Protocol. Nevertheless, all Republican and some Democratic senators in the U.S. still oppose it and are trying to legislate amendments that would undermine its implementation, despite the fact that this international agreement has been endorsed by more than 100 U.S. former ambassadors, 60 former top national leaders, 75 nuclear non-proliferation experts and another 29 top U.S. nuclear scientists, as well as by all the other five leading countries of the world.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, IPS – Inter Press Service.

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The Rubicons That Have Been Crossed Fri, 18 Sep 2015 13:41:54 +0000 Farhang Jahanpour Farhang Jahanpour

Farhang Jahanpour

By Farhang Jahanpour
OXFORD, Sep 18 2015 (IPS)

In their attempts to sabotage Iran’s nuclear program, the United States and Israel have resorted over time to a number of unorthodox, illegal and in some cases criminal methods to achieve their aims. They have included the following:

1. Constant vilification of the Iranian nuclear program despite evidence to the contrary.

Since the resumption of the Iranian nuclear program after the Islamic revolution, Western leaders have openly accused Iran of pursuing a military program, despite the lack of any evidence. The claims regarding Iran’s military intentions have been repeated non-stop, along with allegations that Iran was a few years away from manufacturing a bomb.

Here are just two early examples. An April 24, in a 1984 article entitled “‘Ayatollah’ Bomb in Production for Iran,” United Press International warned that Iran was moving “very quickly” towards a nuclear weapon and could have one as early as 1986. In April 1987, the Washington Post published an article with the title “Atomic Ayatollahs: Just What the Mideast Needs – an Iranian Bomb,” in which reporter David Segal wrote of the imminent threat of such a weapon.

This pattern of reporting by Western and Israeli press has continued unabated, despite the fact that they have been proved to be wrong time and again.

2. Assassination of Iranian nuclear scientists.

There have been at least four documented cases in which Iranian nuclear scientists have been assassinated on the streets of Tehran. Israeli agencies have been implicated in those assassinations. A number of suspects who had been arrested testified that they were members of the terrorist organization, the Mojahedin-e Khalq, who had been recruited by Mossad, taken to Israel and trained in the use of those explosive devices.

A month after the January 2012 assassination of Ahmadi Roshan, an Iranian nuclear scientist and university professor, NBC News reported: “Deadly attacks on Iranian nuclear scientists are being carried out by an Iranian dissident group that is financed, trained and armed by Israel’s secret services, U.S. officials tell NBC News, confirming charges leveled by Iran’s leaders… U.S. officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the Barack Obama administration is aware of the assassination campaign but has no direct involvement.”

This seems to be a continuation of the plan to assassinate Iraqi nuclear scientists prior to and after the U.S. invasion of Iraq. In his best-selling book By Way of Deception, Victor Ostrovsky, a former Mossad officer, revealed that Israel had targeted and had killed Iraqi nuclear scientists.

3. Acts of sabotage against Iranian nuclear and military installations.

On 12 November 2011, there was a massive explosion at an Iranian military base that killed Major General Hassan Moghaddam and 16 soldiers of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, as well as causing extensive damage to the base. As usual, Israel did not confirm or deny responsibility for the explosion, but Israeli media pointed to the possible involvement of Mossad. The Yediot Aharonot newspaper reported that “some assessments” indicated that the blast was “the result of a military operation based on intelligence information.”

According to Annex III of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) on “civil nuclear cooperation,” otherwise known as the framework agreement on the Iran nuclear program, the signatories commit to “co-operation through training and workshops to strengthen Iran’s ability to protect against, and respond to nuclear security threats, including sabotage, as well as to enable effective and sustainable nuclear security and physical protection systems”.

However, it seems that far from condemning Israeli acts of sabotage against Iranian installations, some U.S. officials are even worried that the deal might prevent Israel from continuing these illegal activities. This provision of the deal doesn’t mention any countries by name, but U.S. Senator Marco Rubio wondered if this was included in the deal because of Iranian concerns related to a specific US ally.

“If Israel decides it doesn’t like this deal and it wants to sabotage an Iranian nuke program or facility, does this deal that we have just signed obligate us to help Iran defend itself against Israeli sabotage or for that matter the sabotage of any other country in the world?” Rubio asked at a congressional hearing on the agreement. U.S. Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz replied that “all of our options and those of our allies and friends would remain in place” after the deal goes into effect.

4. Cyber terrorism

In 2010, Iran announced that uranium enrichment at Natanz had been disrupted and as many as 1,000 centrifuges had been damaged. It was subsequently reported that the destruction was due to cyber terrorism. In June 2010, anti-virus experts discovered a sophisticated computer worm dubbed “Stuxnet,” which had spread to Iranian centrifuges at the Natanz plant and had damaged many of them. The New York Times subsequently reported that Stuxnet was part of a U.S. and Israeli intelligence operation called “Operation Olympic Games,” initiated by President George W. Bush and expanded under President Barack Obama.

At the time that the worm was reportedly infecting the Iranian machines, International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) cameras installed in Natanz recorded the sudden dismantling and removal of approximately 900–1,000 centrifuges. These were quickly replaced, however, and Iran resumed uranium enrichment. The West regards cyber terrorism as an act of war, yet it is willing to cooperate with Israel in cyber terrorism against Iran. This will open Pandora’s box.

5. Spying on allies during the nuclear negotiations

U.S. officials have accused Israel of spying on nuclear negotiations with Iran and of “cherry-picking specific pieces of information and using them out of context to distort the negotiating position of the United States.”

Subsequently, it was revealed that hotels that served as venues for the talks including the Beau-Rivage Palace in Lausanne, the Intercontinental in Geneva, the Palais Coburg in Vienna, the Hotel President Wilson in Geneva, the Hotel Bayerischer Hof in Munich and Royal Plaza Montreux had been targeted by an Israeli spy virus in order to eavesdrop on all the conversations.

It is clear that Israel did not even trust her closest ally, the U.S., whose officials normally informed her of all the details of the negotiations.

6. Plans to attack Iran

Apart from the repeated threats to attack Iran’s nuclear installations, Ehud Barak, Israel’s former defense minister and former prime minister, has revealed that at least on three occasions Israeli forces were ordered to get ready for an attack on Iranian nuclear installations. Israeli Channel 2 Television aired a recording of Barak revealing the details of those planned attacks. To this one should add repeated Israeli incitements for the U.S. to attack Iran, and U.S. officials constant refrain of “all options are on the table”.

7. Racist comments

It has become commonplace for U.S. and Israeli politicians to demonize Iran and Iranians and to refer to them in racist language. The Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs and chief U.S. negotiator Wendy Sherman declared in Congressional testimony in 2013 that Iranian leaders couldn’t be trusted because “We know that deception is part of the DNA.” Tom Donilon, a former National Security Advisor to the Obama administration, also said in 2011 that Iran had “a record of deceit and deception.”

In order to see how ugly and insulting such remarks are, it is enough to replace “Iranians” with “Jews” or “Americans” to see how offensive they sound. Many Republican senators and presidential candidates have even used much more disgusting language referring to Iranians. It is sad to note that even President Obama in his meeting with Jewish leaders felt it necessary to say: “And I keep on emphasizing we don’t trust Iran. Iran is antagonistic to the U.S. It is anti-Semitic. It has denied the Holocaust. It has called for the destruction of Israel.”

These are just a few examples of the many red lines and Rubicons that have been crossed with total impunity. Instead of condemning those illegal and criminal activities by Israel, American officials have collaborated with them in these outrageous acts.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, IPS – Inter Press Service.

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Nuke Test Ban Treaty Still in Limbo, U.N. Complains Wed, 16 Sep 2015 22:53:12 +0000 Thalif Deen By Thalif Deen

The Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT), which was adopted by the U.N. General Assembly back in 1996, has still not come into force for one primary reason: eight key countries have either refused to sign or have held back their ratifications.

The three who have not signed – India, North Korea and Pakistan – and the five who have not ratified — the United States, China, Egypt, Iran and Israel – remain non-committal 19 years following the adoption of the treaty.

When the United Nations last week commemorated International Day Against Nuclear Tests, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon appealed once again to all remaining States – especially the eight holdovers — to sign and ratify the Treaty as “a critical step on the road to a nuclear-weapons-free world.”

Currently, there is a voluntary moratoria on testing imposed by many nuclear-armed States.

“But moratoria are no substitute for a CTBT in force. The three nuclear tests conducted by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea) are proof of this,” Ban said

The warning comes amidst reports Tuesday that North Korea has re-started its programme to produce nuclear weapons.

But chances of all eight countries coming on board in the not-too-distant future are remote, says John Hallam of the Human Survival Project (HSP) and People for Nuclear Disarmament (PND), a joint project between PND and the Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies at the University of Sydney, Australia.

“I think it is most unlikely that the recalcitrant 8 states will sign and ratify by 2016,” Hallam told IPS.

They include the United States itself, which though has signed, he said, but the Republicans have made it very clear they will not ratify..

Hallam said this also includes both India and Pakistan who have made it clear they have no intention of either signing or ratifying – “least of all, India under current Prime Minister Narendra Modi (although the nuclear disarmament movement in India has over the years advocated signature and ratification of the CTBT for India).”

Finally, he said, it includes China and one or two others who say they will ratify as soon as the United States has done so.

At a high-level panel discussion last week to commemorate International Day Against Nuclear Tests, Ban said: “The goal of ending nuclear tests has been a leading concern throughout my diplomatic career. “

As Secretary-General, and depository of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty, “I have made achieving a legal ban on nuclear testing a personal priority.”

He said he has been to Semipalatinsk in Kazakhstan, the site of 456 tests, including some of the largest in history.

“I have met with victims of nuclear tests. I have witnessed the lasting societal, environmental and economic damage nuclear tests have caused.”

Since the first test in New Mexico 70 years ago, he pointed out, the world has endured over two thousand nuclear tests. Those tests devastated pristine environments and local populations around the world.

Many have never recovered from the legacies of nuclear testing – including poisoned groundwater, cancer, birth defects and radioactive fallout, he noted.

“The best way to honour the victims of past tests is to prevent any in the future,” he declared.

The CTBT is a legally-binding, verifiable means by which to constrain the quantitative and qualitative development of nuclear weapons.

Hallam told IPS over 1100 nuclear tests were carried out by the United States in Nevada, Alaska, the Marshall Islands, other parts of the Pacific, and in outer space.

Tests carried out in Nevada resulted in large-scale contamination of downwind inhabitants and large-scale morbidity.

He said the largest ever U.S. test was the 15Megaton Castle Bravo test, which contaminated the crew of the Japanese fishing boat Lucky Dragon, bringing about an agonizing slow death from radiation sickness, and contaminating the Marshall Islands.

The largest nuclear test ever was carried out by the Soviets in the early ’60s in Novaya Zemlya, a large island above the arctic circle, and known as ‘Tsar Bomba’ (King of Bombs), he noted.

At 60 megatons, it vaporized the sacred hunting grounds of the Nenets people, sent fallout right around the world and caused the planet to ring like a bell with seismic shock for hours.

Hallam said the Soviets carried out around 800 nuclear tests, many of them at the Semipalatinsk test site, and causing widespread radioactive contamination with catastrophic effects on local populations.

In addition, nuclear tests have been carried out by the UK, (many of them in Maralinga and Emu Field, Australia), France (Algeria and the Pacific), China (Sinkiang), India (Pokhran, Rajasthan) Pakistan (Baluchistan), and the North Korean, French, Chinese, and British tests have all inflicted radiation-based disease and death on local populations and participants.

Nuclear testing is the backbone of nuclear arms-racing and proliferation. A resumption of nuclear testing, or the conducting of a new nuclear test by any country – including the DPRK – helps to inch the world toward an abyss into which we hope it will never go, Hallam said.

The best way to halt proliferation and nail down a ‘no nuclear testing’ norm is for the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, which outlaws nuclear testing, to come into force, he declared.

Meanwhile, President Nursultan Nazarbayev of Kazakhstan has launched an international Project, called ATOM (the acronym for Abolish Testing. Our Mission), a worldwide e-campaign, calling on world leaders to end nuclear tests, once and for all.

The writer can be contacted at

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Opinion: Iran and Nuclear Weapons, a Dangerous Delusion Mon, 14 Sep 2015 16:12:41 +0000 Farhang Jahanpour Farhang Jahanpour

Farhang Jahanpour

By Farhang Jahanpour
OXFORD, Sep 14 2015 (IPS)

Despite all the propaganda about the Iranian leaders’ rush to acquire nuclear weapons, ever since the start of the country’s nuclear programme, Iranian leaders have been adamant that they only wish to make peaceful use of the nuclear energy to which they are entitled as a member of the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

This was true under the former government of Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi, who started Iran’s nuclear programme, and it has continued to be true under the Islamic Republic.

Shortly after the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) was agreed on Jul. 14, 2015, a number of documents belonging to the U.S. Department of Defence were declassified. Among them was a confidential cable dated Jun. 24, 1974, in which the then ruler of Iran Mohammad Reza Shah is quoted as saying:

“I am ready to repeat what I have proposed several times, that is, to declare our zone – a geographic zone whose borders could clearly be delimited – non-nuclear. Because, honestly, I believe that this nuclear armaments race is ridiculous. What would one do with them? Use them against the great powers? One could never have parity. Use them to kill each other? A country which would procure this means to attack would not wait long before being crushed by another country which also would be in the avant-garde. But if there is not enough vision, if in this region each little country tries to arm itself with armaments that are precarious, even elementary, but nuclear, then perhaps the national interests of any country at all would demand that it do the same. But I would find that completely ridiculous.”

So, contrary to some claims that the Shah was after a bomb, it is clear that he had a very rational attitude towards nuclear weapons.

The Shah once said that Iran too would develop nuclear weapons if other countries in the region did so, but his remarks were partially in response to the 1974 Indian test of a nuclear weapon and Pakistan’s efforts to do the same. He also knew that Israel already possessed nuclear weapons.

Nevertheless, he repeatedly insisted that he was not looking for nuclear weapons. At the same time, he was adamant that Iran should not be treated as a second-class citizen in the region. The Shah’s common-sense attitude has been borne out by facts.

Nuclear weapons can have a deterrent effect only if the country that possesses them has the capability to respond in kind and sustain and survive the initial attacks. They can only work to serve as a deterrent in the context of MAD (Mutual Assured Destruction) between superpowers, but even that is a very foolish proposition, because it works until it fails, and if it fails once deliberately or by accident it would be the end of civilisation as we know it.

Pakistan has been a nuclear power for many decades, yet shortly after the Sep. 11, 2001 attacks on the United States, U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage went to see President Pervez Musharraf and allegedly threatened him that the United States would bomb Pakistan back to the Stone Age if he did not cooperate against the Taliban, and Musharraf had no option but to comply.

Israel has long possessed nuclear weapons, but this has not stopped it fighting a number of wars against weaker neighbours which do not possess them. It would be a dangerous delusion for a country such as Israel to believe that its possession of nuclear weapons would ensure its safety, instead of resolving its differences with its Arab neighbours and reaching a fair agreement with millions of dispossessed and stateless Palestinians. The only use for nuclear weapons is that of suicide.

This is a lesson that even post-revolutionary Iranian leaders have learned. During the past few decades, Iranian leaders have turned towards the West many times to resolve their nuclear issue only to be rebuffed.

The most audacious offer was the one that was made by President Mohammad Khatami’s government to the U.S. Administration under George W. Bush in May 2003. Iran offered a “grand bargain”, including strict limits on enrichment. The Bush administration ignored the offer, and instead included Iran in the ‘Axis of Evil’.

The current Iranian president, Hassan Rouhani, was Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator between 2003 and 2005. He reached an agreement with the European “Troika” (United Kingdom, France and Germany) for a very limited enrichment programme in Iran, and he even suspended enrichment for two years as a confidence-building measure, but President Bush rejected the deal.

In a letter published by TIME on May 9, 2006, Rouhani wrote: “A nuclear weaponized Iran destabilizes the region, prompts a regional arms race, and wastes the scarce resources in the region. And taking account of U.S. nuclear arsenal and its policy of ensuring a strategic edge for Israel, an Iranian bomb will accord Iran no security dividends. There are also some Islamic and developmental reasons why Iran as an Islamic and developing state must not develop and use weapons of mass destruction.”

He went on to say: “Three years of robust inspection of Iranian nuclear and non-nuclear facilities by the IAEA [International Atomic Energy Agency] inspectors led [IAEA Director-General] Dr. El-Baradi to conclude and certify that to date there are no indications of any diversion of nuclear material and activities toward making a bomb.”

In the same letter, he said that Iran would ratify the NPT’s Additional Protocol and would accept an IAEA verifiable cap on the enrichment limit of reactor grade uranium. Stressing Iran’s intention to produce nuclear fuel domestically for both historic and long-term economic reasons, he pointed out that Iran’s offer “to welcome other countries to partner with Iran in a consortium provides additional assurance about the peaceful nature of Iran’s nuclear programme.”

He could not have been clearer about Iran’s intention to be open in its nuclear intentions, to cooperate with the IAEA and even partner with the West in pursuit of peaceful nuclear energy.

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has been equally emphatic about the peaceful nature of Iran’s nuclear programme. Delivering the inaugural address at the 16th Non-Aligned Summit in Tehran on Aug. 30, 2012, he said:

“Nuclear weapons neither ensure security, nor do they consolidate political power, rather they are a threat to both security and political power. The events that took place in the 1990s showed that the possession of such weapons could not even safeguard a regime like the former Soviet Union. And today we see certain countries which are exposed to waves of deadly insecurity despite possessing atomic bombs.

The Islamic Republic of Iran considers the use of nuclear, chemical and similar weapons as a great and unforgivable sin. We proposed the idea of ‘Middle East free of nuclear weapons’ and we are committed to it. This does not mean forgoing our right to peaceful use of nuclear power and production of nuclear fuel. On the basis of international laws, peaceful use of nuclear energy is a right of every country.”

He even issued a fatwa stressing that the production, storage and use of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction were religiously forbidden (haram).

Even when he was president, Mahmud Ahmadinezhad, whose inflammatory rhetoric made him a bête noire of the West and who was accused of wanting to gain access to nuclear weapons, said: “The period and era of using nuclear weapons is over… Nuclear bombs are not anymore helpful and those who are stockpiling nuclear weapons, politically they are backward, and they are mentally retarded.”

He stated that if Iran wanted to manufacture a nuclear bomb, it would not be afraid of saying so, but he rightly asked what use would a single Iranian bomb be against Israel’s hundreds and the West’s thousands of nuclear weapons.

From all the statements by Iranian leaders and 12 years of intrusive inspection of Iranian nuclear installations by the IAEA, it is clear that, contrary to the incessant propaganda about Iran’s “nuclear ambitions”, there is no shred of evidence that Iran has ever been trying to manufacture nuclear weapons.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, IPS – Inter Press Service.

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Campaign to End Nuclear Tests: Kazakhstan Launches ATOM E Sat, 12 Sep 2015 19:14:20 +0000 Kairat Abdrakhmanov

Ambassador Kairat Abdrakhmanov is Permanent Representative of the Republic of Kazakhstan to the United Nations

By Kairat Abdrakhmanov

Despite United Nations General Assembly resolutions since 1946, calling for an end to lethal arsenal, the possession of nuclear weapons has continued to be a symbol of scientific sophistication or military power, until 29 August 1991, when Kazakhstan, upon gaining independence, closed its Nuclear Test Site in Semipalatinsk – the second largest in the world.


Kairat Abdrakhmanov, Permanent of Representative of the Republic of Kazakhstan to the United Nations. Credit: UN Photo/Mark Garten

This action and the renunciation of our nuclear arsenal – the fourth largest in the world, were unprecedented acts to demonstrate to the world that Kazakhstan does not need these powerful nuclear weapons tests and weapons. The closure of Semipalatinsk led the way for the closure of other sites in Nevada, Novaya Zemlya, Lop Nur, Moruroa, Kiribati and others.

The detonation of over 600 warheads, one fourth of all 2000 nuclear tests globally, were conducted in a span of four decades on the territory of the Semipalatinsk test site covering a total area is 18.000 sq. km, affecting over 1.5 million people and a land mass of 300,000 sq. km.

In fact, the entire territory of Kazakhstan, was one big polygon, comprising of 11 units spread over the country. Besides nuclear, these included also air, space, missile defence and warning systems, as well as high-powered laser weapons test sites. Among these I would also like to mention the deadly biochemical and bacteriological weapons tested in the Aral Sea (which was the Barkhan Test Site on the former Renaissance Island).

Considering the actions taken by my country, Kazakhstan thus has the full right to call for the universal and prompt measures on the Path to Zero. This frightening data cited here and the 1996 Advisory of the International Court of Justice should spur the global community to act more decisively for the ultimate and irrevocable prohibition of nuclear tests and weapons.

President Nursultan Nazarbayev of Kazakhstan has launched a worldwide e-campaign, an international project, called ATOM (Abolish Testing. Our Mission), calling on world leaders to end nuclear tests, once and for all. To draw attention to the campaign, Karpek Kuyukov, the Goodwill Ambassador of the ATOM project, himself a victim of nuclear radiation, has travelled from Kazakhstan and is here in New York to share his life experiences with us.

Despite being the largest producer and supplier of uranium in the world, Kazakshtan’s firm position demonstrates that harmony and cooperation can be stronger armaments for global peace and security than any weaponry.

Disarmament critics still insist that nuclear weapons cannot be dis-invented and that the nuclear genie is well out of the bottle. Kazakhstan and several other countries have proven that it is within our power to put this monstrous genie back into the bottle.

Kazakhstan was amongst the first countries to sign the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT). My country is committed to the Treaty, and along with Japan will co-chair the International Conference on Article XIV to CTBT on 29 September 2015, to work intensely to bring its entry into force.

This year marks the 70th Anniversary of the United Nations and the start of a transformative Post-2015 development agenda. We must thus have the political will to invest vast resources that would be available as a result of nuclear disarmament to meet compelling human needs and achieve a peaceful and secure world.

Today, a new impetus is needed to move the disarmament machinery forward, considering that the 2015 review of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) did not fulfil its anticipated outcome. We commend the three meetings held in Oslo, Nayarit and Vienna, and the many unilateral, bilateral and collective efforts of several countries, together with the dynamic efforts of civil society.

These actions serve as a wake-up call to unite for a nuclear-weapon-free world. We, therefore, welcome the momentum gained by the Humanitarian Pledge put forward by Austria, which Kazakhstan endorsed on 10 July 2015. Likewise, we seek support at the forthcoming First Committee Meeting in October this year for the initiative of our President calling on the international community to adopt the Universal Declaration on the Achievement of a Nuclear-Weapon-Free World. We do not consider this document as the basis for a major debate or tying down the United Nations disarmament machinery. Its value lies in the fact that, despite ongoing disagreements on the means to achieve nuclear disarmament, there is full agreement on the fundamental goal of a world free of nuclear weapons.

I would like to point to other examples of successful cooperation between the East and West with the participation of Kazakhstan:

1. When our country became the “epicentre of the world” after renouncing its nuclear arsenal, it was the collaboration with the Russian Federation and the U.S. that made possible the removal and disposal of our nuclear warheads and missiles, as well as the destruction and decommissioning the infrastructure of the former test site.

2. Kazakhstan, along with other countries of the region, established the Central Asian Nulear-Free-Zone with the signing of the Treaty of Semipalatinsk in 2006, which speedily came into force in 2009. In May 2014, representatives of the “nuclear five” (the P5) signed a Protocol on negative security assurances to the participant states of that Treaty, of which four have already ratified it.

This year, the Central Asian states adopted an Action Plan to strengthen nuclear security in the region. Now we are elaborating regional instruments for the prevention of illicit trafficking in nuclear materials and combating nuclear terrorism.

3. In 2014, we worked to ensure the safety and preservation of hundreds of kilograms of nuclear material, remaining in the galleries at the Massif Degelen, also known as Plutonium Mountain, located at the former Semipalatinsk Nuclear Test Site. This measure will prevent leakage and improper use of these materials. The constant and perennial trilateral cooperation between Kazakhstan, Russia and the U.S., was announced in Seoul in 2012 by the Presidents of the three countries. It is a striking proof that only a spirit of trust and mutual understanding will make our world secure. Today Kazakhstan is actively preparing for the Fourth Summit to be held in Washington D.C., in 2016 and will host a preparatory Sherpas Meeting in Almaty from 2-4 November 2015.

4. Another significant achievement has been the Agreement signed on 27 August 2015 by the Government of Kazakhstan and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) for establishing the International Bank of Low-Enriched Uranium (LEU) in 2017 in Eastern Kazakhstan. This initiative is yet another concrete contribution of Kazakhstan in strengthening the non-proliferation regime, and eliminating lacunae existing in the international legal framework. The Bank will allow Member States the right to reliable access to fuel for peaceful uses of nuclear energy. It was again the collaboration between the East and West, particularly, Kazakhstan, the P5, as well as the European Union, Norway, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates -as the main donors of the project – that the Bank became a reality.

5. A most recent example of cooperation is related to the unique Cosmodrome Baikonur located in Kazakhstan – the only site in the world from where space crafts are launched to the International Space Station. On 2 September 2015, the spacecraft “Soyuz” was launched with a new crew, comprising of Kazakh, Russian and Danish cosmonauts, the latter from the European Space Agency. This, once again should inspire us to work together with hope for the future.

I would like to quote President Nazarbayev, who at the Nuclear Security Summit in The Hague reminded the world that “general and complete nuclear disarmament” is the only guarantee of nuclear security. He said that we should all live up to our responsibilities to our citizens and the global community to deliver political rather than military solutions in the name of international peace. It is therefore the collective responsibility and commitment of everyone, to increase the momentum for anti-tests and anti-nuclear weapons and to find and implement such peaceful solutions so that we do not forget our common humanity.

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The Recent Stages of Iran’s Nuclear Programme Sat, 12 Sep 2015 17:09:00 +0000 Farhang Jahanpour Farhang Jahanpour

Farhang Jahanpour

By Farhang Jahanpour
OXFORD, Sep 12 2015 (IPS)

When negotiations between Iran and the European “Troika” broke down, the reformist government of Mohammad Khatami was discredited in the eyes of the Iranian electorate which had seen the futility of negotiating with the West.

Despite Iran’s support for the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan and its help in persuading the Northern Alliance leaders in Afghanistan to join talks in Bonn, Iran was rewarded with U.S. President George Bush’s ‘Axis of Evil’ speech.

Right-wing candidate Mahmud Ahmadinezhad won the 2005 presidential election, with the massive support of hardliners, including the paramilitary Basij forces and some sections of the Revolution Guards. His new government was dubbed “the government of the barracks” because it included many former and serving Revolution Guards officers and veterans of the Iran-Iraq war.

Having seen the futility of negotiations with the West, Ahmadinezhad resumed Iran’s nuclear programme. During a large, carefully staged and nationally televised celebration in Mashhad on Apr. 11, 2006, Ahmadinezhad announced that Iran had enriched uranium to 3.6 percent and proudly declared: “The nuclear fuel cycle at the laboratory level has been completed, and uranium with the desired enrichment for nuclear power plants was achieved … Iran has joined the nuclear countries of the world.”

After a great deal of pressure by the West, on Feb. 4, 2006, the Board of Governors of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) voted to report Iran to the U.N. Security Council if it did not stop enrichment within a month. In response, Iran ended snap U.N. nuclear checks the following day.

In subsequent months and years, the Security Council passed eight resolutions demanding that Iran suspend all enrichment-related activities, and imposed some of the harshest sanctions ever imposed on a country. Iran declared all those resolutions illegal, maintaining that it had not violated any provisions of the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). Instead of complying with those resolutions, Iran intensified its enrichment activities.

When Ahmadinezhad came to power, Iran had suspended all its nuclear activities. By the time he left office in 2013, Iran had installed more than 15,000 centrifuges, more than 9,000 of them being fed with UF6, as well as installing over 1,000 more advanced IR-2 centrifuges, despite all the sanctions that had been imposed.

After the West refused to provide Iran with uranium fuel of 20 percent purity required for the Tehran research reactor that is used for producing medical isotopes, Iran proceeded to produce enough uranium fuel of this purity. Altogether, Iran produced 15,651.4 kg of uranium enriched to 3.6, and 337.2 kg to 20 percent, some of which was used to produce fuel for the Tehran research reactor.

In 2004, the U.S. government came into possession of a laptop that contained a large number of documents purporting to be from an Iranian research program on nuclear weapons. It allegedly contained studies on high explosives testing for a nuclear detonation, and a uranium conversion system, all of which were purportedly done from 2001 through 2003.

From the start, there was uncertainty about how the documents had been obtained from Iran, if indeed they had originated in that country. While the material gave rise to a great deal of publicity in the media, the U.S. intelligence community remained sceptical about the document.

Without allowing either the IAEA or Iran to have access to the laptop, the United States called on IAEA Director-General Mohamed El Baradei to issue a report on the basis of the alleged document.

El Baradei passed the material to a team of experts who soon concluded that the material was fraudulent and in an interview with The Hindu on Oct. 1, 2009, El Baradei declared: “The IAEA is not making any judgment at all whether Iran even had weaponisation studies before because there is a major question of authenticity of the documents.”

A second alleged clandestine nuclear research project involved a “process flow chart” for a bench-scale system for conversion of uranium ore for enrichment. However, when Iranian officials were shown the flow chart, they immediately spotted multiple technical errors and these were so clear that the head of the IAEA Safeguards Department, Olli Heinonen, acknowledged in his 2008 briefing that the diagram had “technical inconsistencies.”

It has now been established, almost without a shadow of doubt, that both documents were forgeries, allegedly the work of Mossad, Israel’s intelligence service.

Meanwhile, as some Israeli leaders and their supporters in the United States were pushing for an invasion of Iran on the excuse of its nuclear programme, the U.S Intelligence Community (a federation of 17 separate intelligence agencies) assessed in a 2007 National Intelligence Estimate that Iran had ended all “nuclear weapon design and weaponisation work” in 2003.

Yet, instead of welcoming that positive report, the then Israeli Minister of Defence Ehud Barak said that it was a kick to the gut, and many neo-conservatives in the United States also dismissed its findings.

On May 17, 2010, in talks held in Tehran, the leaders of Iran, Turkey and Brazil announced a major breakthrough in Iran’s nuclear dispute with the West. In a joint declaration, they reported that Iran had agreed to send 1240 kg of its stockpile of low-enriched uranium to Turkey for safe keeping under IAEA supervision as part of a swap for nuclear fuel for a research reactor in Tehran, thus preventing any possibility of using it for any eventual bomb.

However, with indecent haste, a day after that important agreement, the then U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, testifying before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, announced that a new package of sanctions against Iran had been approved by the major powers and would be sent to the U.N. Security Council later in the day, resulting in Resolution 1929 which imposed a fourth round of sanctions on Iran.

The move angered both Turkey and Brazil which thought that they had acted in keeping with U.S. President Barack Obama’s wishes to take most of Iran’s enriched uranium out of the country. In her statement to the U.N. Security Council meeting, the Brazilian envoy said: “As Brazil repeatedly stated, the Tehran Declaration adopted 17 May is a unique opportunity that should not be missed. It was approved by the highest levels of the Iranian leadership and endorsed by its Parliament.”

In an interview with the Brazilian press, El Baradei supported the Tehran Declaration and said that the deal “should be perceived as a first good confidence-building measure, a first effort by Iran to stretch its hand and say [they] are ready to negotiate”.

He also argued that “if you remove around half of the material that Iran has to Turkey, that is clearly a confidence-building measure regarding concerns about Iran’s future intentions. The material that will remain in Iran is under IAEA safeguards and seals. There is absolutely no imminent threat that Iran is going to develop the bomb tomorrow with the material that they have in Iran.”

In July 2009, Yukiya Amano was elected Director-General of the IAEA to succeed El Baradei. In November 2010, the Guardian published a diplomatic cable leaked by WikiLeaks originating a year earlier in Vienna by the then U.S. envoy to the IAEA Board of Governors Geoffrey Pyatt.

According to that cable, Amano said that he was “solidly in the U.S. court on every key strategic decision, from high-level personnel appointments to the handling of Iran’s alleged nuclear weapons programme.” Amano published the alleged contents of the laptop, which have been seized upon by the opponents of Iran’s nuclear programme as evidence of Iran’s military intentions.

Finally, in the June 2013 presidential election, tired by their isolation in the world and suffering under the weight of sanctions, Iranians elected Hassan Rouhani who had vowed to resolve the nuclear dispute with the West as their next president. Rouhani had been the chief nuclear negotiator under President Khatami who reached the nuclear deal with the European “Troika”.

Rouhani chose the former Iranian envoy to the United Nations, Mohammad Javad Zarif, who had also been involved in earlier negotiations, as Iran’s foreign minister and head of the Iranian negotiating team. After two years of talks with the P5+1 (China, France, Russia, United Kingdom, and United States; plus Germany), the agreement known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) was eventually reached.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, IPS – Inter Press Service.

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Opinion: The Early History of Iran’s Nuclear Programme Wed, 09 Sep 2015 19:08:04 +0000 Farhang Jahanpour

Farhang Jahanpour is a former professor and dean of the Faculty of Foreign Languages at the University of Isfahan and a former Senior Research Fellow at Harvard University. He is a tutor in the Department of Continuing Education and a member of Kellogg College, University of Oxford.This is the third of a series of 10 articles in which Jahanpour looks at various aspects and implications of the framework agreement on Iran’s nuclear programme reached in July 2015 between Iran and the United States, United Kingdom, Russia, France, China and Germany, plus the European Union.

By Farhang Jahanpour
OXFORD, Sep 9 2015 (IPS)

Iran has had a nuclear programme since 1959 when the United States gave a small reactor to Tehran University as part of the “Atoms for Peace” programme during Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi’s reign.  When the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) was introduced in 1968 and entered into force in 1970, Iran was one of the first signatories of that Treaty.

Farhang Jahanpour

Farhang Jahanpour

The Shah had made extensive plans for using nuclear energy in order to free Iran’s oil deposits for export and also in order for use in petrochemical industries to receive more revenue. The Shah had planned to build 22 nuclear reactors to generate 23 million megawatts of electric power.  By 1977, the Atomic Energy Organisation of Iran (AEOI) had more than 1,500 highly paid employees, with a budget of 1.3 billion dollars, making it the second biggest public economic institution in the country.

In 1975, the Gerald Ford administration in the United States expressed support for the Shah’s plan to develop a full-fledged nuclear power programme, including the construction of 23 nuclear power reactors.

President Gerald Ford has been reported as having “signed a directive in 1976 offering Tehran the chance to buy and operate a U.S.-built reprocessing facility for extracting plutonium from nuclear reactor fuel. The deal was for a complete ‘nuclear fuel cycle’.”“Iran has had a nuclear programme since 1959 when the United States gave a small reactor to Tehran University as part of the “Atoms for Peace” programme during Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi’s reign”

The Shah donated 20 million dollars to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) to train Iranian nuclear experts, many of whom are still working for Iran’s Nuclear Energy Organisation, including the current head of the organisation and one of the chief negotiators, Dr. Ali Akbar Salehi.  In 1975, Iran also paid 1.18 billion dollars to buy 10 percent of Eurodif, a French company that produces enriched uranium. In return, Iran was supposed to receive enriched uranium for its reactors, a pledge that the French government reneged on after the Iranian revolution.

In 1975, Germany’s Kraftwerk Union AG started the construction of two reactors in Bushehr at an estimated cost of 3-6 billion dollars. Kraftwerk Union stopped work on the Bushehr reactors after the start of the Iranian revolution, with one reactor 50 percent complete, and the other 85 percent complete. The United States also cut off the supply of highly enriched uranium (HEU) fuel for the Tehran nuclear reactor.

After the revolution, the Islamic Republic initially stopped all work on the nuclear programme. However, in 1981, Iranian officials concluded that after having spent billions of dollars on their programme it would be foolish to dismantle it. So, they turned to the companies that had
signed agreements with Iran to complete their work. Nevertheless, as the result of political pressure by the U.S. government, all of them declined. Iran also turned to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) for help to no avail.

In the late 1980s, a consortium of companies from Argentina, Germany and Spain submitted a proposal to Iran to complete the Bushehr-1 reactor, but pressure by the United States stopped the deal. In 1990, U.S. pressure also stopped Spain’s National Institute of Industry and Nuclear Equipment from completing the Bushehr project.  Later on, Iran set up a bilateral cooperation on fuel cycle-related issues with China but, under pressure from the West, China also discontinued its assistance.

Therefore, it was no secret to the West that Iran was trying to revive its nuclear programme.

Having failed to achieve results through formal and open channels, Iranian officials turned to clandestine sources, and using their own domestic capabilities.  A major mistake was to receive assistance from A.Q. Khan, the father of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons programme.  In 1992, Iran invited IAEA inspectors to visit all the sites and facilities they asked. Director General Hans Blix reported that all activities observed were consistent with the peaceful use of atomic energy.

On Feb. 9, 2003, Iran’s programme and efforts to build sophisticated facilities at Natanz were revealed allegedly by Iranian dissident group, the National Council of Resistance of Iran, the political wing of the Mojahedin-e Khalq Organisation (MKO), for years regarded as a terrorist organisation by the West. It has been strongly suggested that MKO had received its information from Israeli intelligence sources.

President Mohammad Khatami announced the existence of the Natanz (and other) facilities on Iranian television and invited the IAEA to visit them. Then, in late February 2003, Dr. Mohammad El-Baradei, the head of IAEA, accompanied by a team of inspectors, visited Iran.  In November 2003, the IAEA reported that Iran had systematically failed to meet its obligations under its NPT safeguards agreement to report its activities to the IAEA, although it also reported no evidence of links to a nuclear weapons programme.

It should be noted that at that time Iran was only bound by the provisions of the NPT, which required the country to inform the IAEA of its nuclear activities only 180 days before introducing any nuclear material into the facility.  So, according to Iranian officials, building the Natanz facility and not declaring it was not illegal, but the West regarded it as an act of concealment and violation of the NPT’s Additional Protocol, which Iran had not signed. In any event, the scale of Iran’s nuclear activities surprised the West, and it was taken for granted that Iran was developing nuclear weapons.

In May 2003, in a bold move, the Khatami government in Iran sent a proposal to the U.S. government through Swiss diplomatic channels for a “Grand Bargain”, offering full transparency, as well as withdrawal of support for Hamas and Hezbollah, and resumption of diplomatic relations, but the offer went unanswered.

In October 2003, the United Kingdom, France and Germany undertook a diplomatic initiative to resolve the problem. The foreign ministers of the three countries and Iran issued a statement known as the Tehran Declaration, according to which Iran agreed to cooperate with the IAEA and to implement the Additional Protocol as a voluntary confidence-building measure. Iran even suspended enrichment for two years during the course of the negotiations.  On Mar. 23, 2005, Iran submitted to the EU Troika” a plan of “objective guarantees” with the following elements:

(1) Spent reactor fuels would not be reprocessed by Iran.

(2) Iran would forego plutonium production through a heavy water reactor.

(3) Only low-enriched uranium would be produced.

(4) A limit would be imposed on the enrichment level.

(5) A limit would be imposed on the amount of enrichment, restricting it to what was needed for Iran’s reactors.

(6) All the low-enriched uranium would be converted immediately to fuel rods for use in reactors (fuel rods cannot be further enriched).

(7) The number of centrifuges in Natanz would be limited, at least at the beginning.

(8) The IAEA would have permanent on-site presence at all the facilities for uranium conversion and enrichment.

In early August 2005, the EU Troika” submitted the “Framework for a Long-Term Agreement” to Iran, recognising Iran’s right to develop infrastructure for peaceful use of nuclear energy, and promised collaboration with Iran. However, as the result of extreme U.S. pressure, the EU Troika was unable to respond to Iran’s call for nuclear collaboration, and subsequently Iran withdrew its offer and resumed enrichment.

The rebuff by the West to President Khatami’s outstretched hand resulted in the weakening of the Reformist Movement and the election of hardline candidate Mahmud Ahmadinezhad as the next president of Iran in June 2005. (END/COLUMNIST SERVICE)

Edited by Phil Harris   

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, IPS – Inter Press Service. 

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Opinion: Nuclear States Do Not Comply with the Non-Proliferation Treaty Sat, 05 Sep 2015 09:43:07 +0000 Farhang Jahanpour

Farhang Jahanpour is a former professor and dean of the Faculty of Foreign Languages at the University of Isfahan and a former Senior Research Fellow at Harvard University. He is a tutor in the Department of Continuing Education and a member of Kellogg College, University of Oxford.This is the second of a series of 10 articles in which Jahanpour looks at various aspects and implications of the framework agreement on Iran’s nuclear programme reached in July 2015 between Iran and the United States, United Kingdom, Russia, France, China and Germany, plus the European Union.

By Farhang Jahanpour
OXFORD, Sep 5 2015 (IPS)

Article Six of the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) makes it obligatory for nuclear states to get rid of their nuclear weapons as part of a bargain that requires the non-nuclear states not to acquire nuclear weapons. Apart from the NPT provisions, there have been a number of other rulings that have reinforced those requirements.

However, while nuclear states have vigorously pursued a campaign of non-proliferation, they have violated many NPT and other international regulations.

Farhang Jahanpour

Farhang Jahanpour

An advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice in 1996 stated: “There exists an obligation to pursue in good faith and bring to a conclusion negotiations leading to nuclear disarmament in all its aspects under strict and effective international control.” Nuclear powers have ignored that opinion.

The nuclear states, especially the United States and Russia, have further violated the Treaty by their efforts to upgrade and diversity their nuclear weapons. The United States has developed the “Reliable Replacement Warhead”, a new type of nuclear warhead to extend the viability of its nuclear arsenal.

The United States and possibly Russia are also developing tactical nuclear warheads with lower yields, which can be used on the battlefield without producing a great deal of radiation. Despite U.S. President Barack Obama’s pledge to reduce and ultimately abolish nuclear weapons, it has emerged that the United States is in the process of developing new categories of nuclear weapons, including B61-12 at a projected cost of 348 billion dollars over the next decade

India, Pakistan, Israel and North Korea cannot be regarded as nuclear states. Since Article 9 of the NPT defines Nuclear Weapon States (NWS) as those that had manufactured and tested a nuclear device prior to 1 January 1967, it is not possible for India, Pakistan, Israel or North Korea to be regarded as nuclear weapon states.“All nuclear powers have continued to strengthen and modernise their nuclear arsenals. While they have been vigorous in punishing, on a selective basis, the countries that were suspected of developing nuclear weapons, they have not lived up to their side of the bargain to get rid of their nuclear weapons”

All those countries are in violation of the NPT, and providing them with nuclear assistance, such as the U.S. agreement with India to supply it with nuclear reactors and advanced nuclear technology, constitutes violations of the Treaty. The same applies to U.S. military cooperation with Israel and Pakistan.

Nuclear states are guilty of proliferation 

Paragraph 14 of the binding U.N. Security Council Resolution 687 that called for the disarmament of Iraq also specified the establishment of a zone free of Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMDs) in the Middle East.

It was clearly understood by all the countries that joined the U.S.-led coalition to oust Saddam Hussein from Kuwait that after the elimination of Iraqi WMDs, Israel would be required to get rid of its nuclear arsenal. Israel – and by extension the countries that have not implemented that paragraph – have violated that binding resolution. Indeed, both the United States and Israel are believed to maintain nuclear weapons in the region.

During the apartheid era, Israel and South Africa collaborated in manufacturing nuclear weapons, with Israel leading the way. In 2010 it was reported that “the ‘top secret’ minutes of meetings between senior officials from the two countries in 1975 show that South Africa’s Defence Minister P.W. Botha asked for nuclear warheads and the then Israeli Defence Minister Shimon Peres responded by offering them ‘in three sizes’.”

The documents were uncovered by an American academic, Sasha Polakow-Suransky, in research for a book on the close relationship between the two countries. Israeli officials tried hard to prevent the publication of those documents. In 1977, South Africa signed a pact with Israel that included the manufacturing of at least six nuclear bombs.

The 1995 Non-Proliferation Treaty Review and Extension Conference also called for “the early establishment by regional parties of a Middle East zone free of nuclear and all other WMDs and their delivery systems”. The international community has ignored these resolutions by not pressing Israel to give up its nuclear weapons. Indeed, any call for a nuclear free zone in the Middle East has been opposed by Israel and the United States.

The 2000 NPT Review Conference called on “India, Israel and Pakistan to accede to the Treaty as Non-Nuclear Weapons States (NNWS) promptly and without condition”. States Parties also agreed to “make determined efforts” to achieve universality. Since 2000, little effort has been made to encourage India, Pakistan or Israel to accede as NNWS.

The declaration agreed by the Iranian government and visiting European Union foreign ministers (from Britain, France and Germany) that reached an agreement on Iran’s accession to the Additional Protocol and suspension of its enrichment for more than two years also called for the elimination of weapons of mass destruction throughout the Middle East.

The three foreign ministers made the following commitment: “They will cooperate with Iran to promote security and stability in the region including the establishment of a zone free from weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East in accordance with the objectives of the United Nations.” Twelve years after signing that declaration, the three European countries and the international community have failed to bring about a Middle East free of weapons of mass destruction.

While, during the Cold War, the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) refused to rule out first use of nuclear weapons due to the proximity of Soviet forces to European capitals, this policy has not been revised since the end of the Cold War. There have been repeated credible reports that the Pentagon has been considering the use of nuclear bunker-buster weapons to destroy Iran’s nuclear sites.

For the past 2,000 years and more, mankind has tried to define the requirements of a just war. During the past few decades, some of these principles have been enshrined in legally-binding international agreements and conventions. They include the Covenant of the League of Nations after the First World War, the 1928 Pact of Paris, and the Charter of the United Nations.

A few ideas are common to all these definitions, namely that any military action should be based on self-defence, be in compliance with international law, be proportionate, be a matter of last resort, and not target civilians and non-combatants.

Other ideas flow from these: the emphasis on arbitration and the renunciation of first resort to force in the settlement of disputes, and the principle of collective self- defence. It is difficult to see how the use of nuclear weapons could be compatible with any of these requirements. Yet, despite many international calls for nuclear disarmament, nuclear states have refused to abide by the NPT regulations and get rid of their nuclear weapons.

In his first major foreign policy speech in Prague on 5 April 2009, President Barack Obama spoke about his vision of getting rid of nuclear weapons. He said: “The existence of thousands of nuclear weapons is the most dangerous legacy of the Cold War… Today, the Cold War has disappeared but thousands of those weapons have not. In a strange turn of history, the threat of global nuclear war has gone down, but the risk of a nuclear attack has gone up.”

He went on to say: “So today, I state clearly and with conviction America’s commitment to seek the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons…”

Sadly, those noble sentiments have not been put into action. On the contrary, all nuclear powers have continued to strengthen and modernise their nuclear arsenals. While they have been vigorous in punishing, on a selective basis, the countries that were suspected of developing nuclear weapons, they have not lived up to their side of the bargain to get rid of their nuclear weapons. (END/COLUMNIST SERVICE)

Edited by Phil Harris   

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, IPS – Inter Press Service. 

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Opinion: Iran and the Non-Proliferation Treaty Fri, 04 Sep 2015 16:48:29 +0000 Farhang Jahanpour

Farhang Jahanpour is a former professor and dean of the Faculty of Foreign Languages at the University of Isfahan and a former Senior Research Fellow at Harvard University. He is a tutor in the Department of Continuing Education and a member of Kellogg College, University of Oxford.This is the first of a series of 10 articles in which Jahanpour looks at various aspects and implications of the framework agreement on Iran’s nuclear programme reached in July 2015 between Iran and the United States, United Kingdom, Russia, France, China and Germany, plus the European Union.

By Farhang Jahanpour
OXFORD, Sep 4 2015 (IPS)

Iran’s nuclear programme has been the target of a great deal of misinformation, downright lies and above all myths. As a result, it is often difficult to unpick truth from falsehood. 

Farhang Jahanpour

Farhang Jahanpour

As President John F. Kennedy said in his Yale University Commencement Address on 11 June 1962: “For the great enemy of the truth is very often not the lie – deliberate, contrived and dishonest – but the myth – persistent, persuasive, and unrealistic. Too often we hold fast to the cliché of our forebears. We subject all facts to a prefabricated set of interpretations. We enjoy the comfort of the opinion without the discomfort of thought.”

In order to understand the pros and cons of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) agreed by Iran and the P5+1 (United States, United Kingdom, Russia, China, France and Germany) on 14 July 2015, and the subsequent U.N. Security Council Resolution 2231 passed unanimously on 20 July 2015 setting the agreement in U.N. law and rescinding the sanctions that had been imposed on Iran, it is important to study the background to the whole deal.

The Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) regulates the activities of the countries that wish to make use of peaceful nuclear energy. The NPT was enacted in 1968 and it entered into force in 1970. Its objective is to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons, while promoting the peaceful use of nuclear technology. Iran was one of the first signatories to that Treaty, and so far 191 states have joined the Treaty.“Iran’s nuclear programme has been the target of a great deal of misinformation, downright lies and above all myths. As a result, it is often difficult to unpick truth from falsehood”

It has been one of the most successful disarmament treaties in history. Only three U.N. member states – Israel, India and Pakistan – did not join the NPT and all of them proceeded to manufacture nuclear weapons. North Korea, which acceded to the NPT in 1985, withdrew in 2003 and has allegedly manufactured nuclear weapons.

This treaty was a part of the move known as “atoms for peace”, which allowed different nations to have access to nuclear power for peaceful purposes, but prevented them from manufacturing nuclear weapons.

The treaty was a kind of bargain between the five original countries that possessed nuclear weapons (all the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council) and the non-nuclear countries that agreed never to acquire nuclear weapons in return for sharing the benefits of peaceful nuclear technology.

The Treaty is based on four pillars:

Pillar One – Non-Proliferation:  Article 1 of the NPT states that nuclear weapon state countries (N5) should not transfer any weapon-related technology to others.

Pillar Two – Ban on possession of nuclear weapons by non-nuclear states: Article 2 states the other side of the coin, namely that non-nuclear states should not acquire any form of nuclear weapons technology from the countries that possess it or acquire it independently.

Pillar Three – Peaceful use of nuclear energy: Article 4 not only allows the use of nuclear technology for peaceful purposes, but even stresses that it is “the inalienable right” of every country to do research, development and production, and to use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes, without discrimination, as long as Articles 1 and 2 are satisfied.

It further states that all parties can exchange equipment, material, and science and technology for peaceful purposes. It calls on the nuclear states to assist the non-nuclear states in the use of peaceful nuclear technology.

Pillar Four – Nuclear disarmament: Article 6 makes it obligatory for nuclear states to get rid of their nuclear weapons. The Treaty states that all countries should pursue negotiations on measures relating to cessation of the nuclear arms race and “achieving nuclear disarmament”.

While nuclear powers have worked hard to prevent other countries from acquiring nuclear weapons, they have not abided by their side of the bargain and have been reluctant to give up their nuclear weapons. On the contrary, they have further developed and upgraded those weapons, and have made them more capable of use on battlefields.

Sadly, 37 years after its final ratification, the number of nuclear-armed countries has increased, and at least four other countries have joined the club.

After it was realised that unfettered access to enrichment could lead some countries, such as Iraq and North Korea, to gain knowledge of nuclear technology and subsequently develop nuclear weapons, the NPT was amended in 1977 with the Additional Protocol, which tightened the regulations in order to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons.

According to the Additional Protocol, which Iran has agreed to implement as part of the JCPOA, “Special inspections may be carried out in circumstances according to defined procedures. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) may carry out such inspections if it considers that information made available by the State concerned, including explanations from the State and information obtained from routine inspections, is not adequate for the Agency to fulfil its responsibilities under the safeguards agreement.” 

However, as the above paragraph makes clear, these inspections will be carried out only in exceptional circumstances when there is valid cause for suspicion that a country has been violating the terms of the agreement, and only if the IAEA decides that the explanations provided by the State concerned are not adequate. Also, such inspections will be carried out on the basis of “defined procedures”

The countries that have ratified the Additional Protocol have agreed to “managed inspections”, and the Iranian authorities have also said that such managed and supervised inspections can be carried out. This of course does not mean “anytime, anywhere” inspections, but inspections that are in keeping with the provisions of the Additional Protocol as set out above.

Meanwhile, in addition to the nuclear states, there are 19 other non-weapons states which are signatories to the NPT and which actively enrich uranium. They have vastly more centrifuges than Iran ever had. Iran’s array of 19,000 centrifuges (only 10,000 of them were operational) prior to the agreement was paltry compared with the capabilities of other countries that enrich uranium.

During the talks between Iran and the P5+1, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali  Khamenei said that Iran wanted to have at least 190,000 centrifuges in order to get engaged in industrial scale enrichment.

It should be remembered that the sale of nuclear fuel is a lucrative business and the countries that do not have enrichment facilities but which have nuclear reactors, are forced to purchase fuel from the few countries that have a monopoly of enriched uranium. Iran had openly stated that it wished to join that club, or at least to be self-sufficient in nuclear fuel.

However, under the JCPOA, Iran has given up the quest for industrial scale enrichment and is even reducing the number of its operational centrifuges from 19,000 to just over 5,000. (END/COLUMNIST SERVICE)

Edited by Phil Harris   

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, IPS – Inter Press Service. 

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Opinion: Can Nuclear War be Avoided? Thu, 03 Sep 2015 15:58:53 +0000 Gunnar Westberg

Gunnar Westberg, Professor of Medicine in Göteborg, Sweden, and Co-President of International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW) from 2004 to 2008, describes himself as “generally concerned about with what little wisdom our world is governed”

By Gunnar Westberg
GÖTEBORG, Sweden, Sep 3 2015 (IPS)

The Canberra Commission on the Elimination of Nuclear Weapons had as members former leading politicians or military officers, among others a British Field Marshal, an American General, an American Secretary of Defence and a French Prime Minister.

The commission unanimously agreed in its report in 1996 that “the proposition that nuclear weapons can be retained in perpetuity and never be used – accidentally or by decision – defies credibility. The only complete defence is the elimination of nuclear weapons and assurance that they will never be produced again.”

Gunnar Westberg

Gunnar Westberg

So that’s it: Nuclear weapons will be used if they are allowed to remain with us. And even a “small” nuclear war, using one percent or less of the world’s nuclear weapons, might cause a worldwide famine leading to the death of a billion humans or more.

Lt Colonel Bruce Blair was for several years in the 1970s commander of U.S. crews with the duty to launch intercontinental nuclear missiles. “I knew how to fire the missiles, I needed no permission,” he states. In the 1990s he was charged with making a review for the U.S. Senate on the question: “Is unauthorised firing of U.S. nuclear weapons a real possibility?”

Blair’s answer was “Yes”, and the risk is not insignificant.

On Hiroshima Day, Aug. 6, this year, a major newspaper in Sweden, Aftonbladet, carried an interview with Colonel Blair, now head of the Global Zero movement for the elimination of nuclear weapons. The reporter asked: “Mr Blair, do you think that nuclear weapons will be used again?” Mr Blair was silent for a while and then responded: “I am afraid it cannot be avoided. A data code shorter than a Twitter message could be enough.”

Blair reminds us of the story of the ‘Permissive Action Link’, a security device for nuclear weapons, the purpose of which is to prevent their unauthorised arming or detonation.

When Robert McNamara was U.S. Secretary of Defence in the mid-1960s, he issued an order that to be able to fire missiles from submarines, the commanding officer must have received a code which permitted the launch.

However, the navy did not want to be prevented from firing on its own initiative, such as in the case that contact with headquarters was interrupted. The initial code of 00000000 was for this reason retained for many years and was generally known. McNamara, however, did not know this until many years after he left the government.

A Soviet admiral once told me that as late as around 1980 he could fire the missiles from a submarine without a code.

When systems of control of the launch systems are discussed, we often learn – as a kind of post scriptum – that there is a Plan B: If all communication with HQ is dead and the commanders believe the war is on, missiles can be fired. We are never told how this works. But there is a plan B.

What is the situation today? Can an unauthorised launch of nuclear weapons occur? Colonel Blair says “Yes”. Mistakes, misunderstandings, hacker encroachments, human mistakes – there are always risks.

After the end of the Cold War, we have learnt about several “close calls”. There was the Cuban missile crisis and especially the “Soviet submarine left behind”. There was the Petrov Incident in September 1983. There was the possibly worst crisis – worst but little known – of the NATO exercise ‘Able Archer’ in November 1983 when the Soviet leaders expected a NATO attack any moment – and NATO had no insight into the Soviet paranoia.

There are numerous other dangerous incidents about which we have less information.

Martin Hellman, a mathematician and expert in risk analysis, guesses that the risk of a major nuclear war may have been as high as one percent per year during the 40 Cold War years. That sums up to 40 percent. Mankind thus had a slightly better than even chance of not being exterminated. We were lucky.

Maybe the risk is smaller today. But with the risk of proliferation, with new funds allocated to nuclear weapons research and with the increasing tension in international relations, the risk may be increasing again.

As long as nuclear weapons exist the risk exists. The risk of global omnicide, of Assured Destruction.

It is nuclear weapons or us. We cannot co-exist. One of us will have to go.

A prohibition against nuclear weapons is necessary. And it is possible.

Edited by Phil Harris   

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, IPS – Inter Press Service. 

* This article was originally published by the Transnational Foundation for Peace and Future Research (TFF)

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Disarmament Conference Ends with Ambitious Goal – But How to Get There? Fri, 28 Aug 2015 13:00:18 +0000 Ramesh Jaura Cloud from an atmospheric nuclear test conducted by the United States at Enewetak Atoll, Marshall Islands, in November 1952. Photo credit: US Government

Cloud from an atmospheric nuclear test conducted by the United States at Enewetak Atoll, Marshall Islands, in November 1952. Photo credit: US Government

By Ramesh Jaura
HIROSHIMA, Aug 28 2015 (IPS)

A three-day landmark U.N. Conference on Disarmament Issues has ended here – one day ahead of the International Day Against Nuclear Tests – stressing the need for ushering in a world free of nuclear weapons, but without a consensus on how to move towards that goal.

The Aug. 26-28 conference, organised by the Bangkok-based United Nations Regional Centre for Peace and Disarmament in Asia and the Pacific (UNRCPD) in cooperation with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) of Japan and the city and Prefecture of Hiroshima, was attended by more than 80 government officials and experts, also from beyond the region.

It was the twenty-fifth annual meeting of its kind held in Japan, which acquired a particular importance against the backdrop of the 70th anniversary of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and the founding of the United Nations.“In order to achieve a world free of nuclear weapons, it is extremely important for political leaders, young people and others worldwide to visit Hiroshima and Nagasaki and see for themselves the reality of atomic bombings. Through this, I am convinced that we will be able to share our aspirations for a world free of nuclear weapons” – Fumio Kishida, Japanese Foreign Minister

Summing up the deliberations, UNRCPD Director Yuriy Kryvonos said the discussions on “the opportunities and challenges in nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation” had been “candid and dynamic”.

The Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) Review Conference from Apr. 27 to May 22 at the U.N. headquarters drew the focus in presentations and panel discussions.

Ambassador Taous Feroukhi of Algeria, who presided over the NPT Review Conference, explained at length why the gathering had failed to agree on a universally acceptable draft final text, despite a far-reaching consensus on a wide range of crucial issues: refusal of the United States, Britain and Canada to accept the proposal for convening a conference by Mar. 1, 2016, for a Middle East Zone Free of Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMDs).

Addressing the issue, Japan’s Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida joined several government officials and experts in expressing his regrets that the draft final document was not adopted due to the issue of WMDs.

Kishida noted that the failure to establish a new Action Plan at the Review Conference had led to a debate over the viability of the NPT. “However,” he added, “I would like to make one thing crystal clear. The NPT regime has played an extremely important role for peace and stability in the international community; a role that remains unchanged even today.”

The Hiroshima conference not only discussed divergent views on measures to preserve the effective implementation of the NPT, but also the role of the yet-to-be finalised Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) in achieving the goal of elimination of nuclear weapons, humanitarian consequences of the use of atomic weapons, and the significance of nuclear weapon free zones (NWFZs) for strengthening the non-proliferation regime and nuclear disarmament.

Speakers attached particular attention to the increasing role of local municipalities, civil society and nuclear disarmament education, including testimonies from ‘hibakusha’ (survivors of atomic bombings mostly in their 80s and above) in consolidating common understanding of the threat posed by nuclear weapons for people from all countries around the world regardless whether or not their governments possess nuclear weapons.

UNRCPD Director Kryvonos said the Hiroshima conference had given “a good start for searching new fresh ideas on how we should move towards our goal – protecting our planet from a risk of using nuclear weapons.”

Hiroshima Prefecture Governor Hidehiko Yuzaki, the city’s Mayor Karzumi Matsui – son of a ‘hibakusha’ father and president of the Mayors for Peace organisation comprising 6,779 cities in 161 countries and regions – as well as his counterpart from Nagasaki, Tomihisa Taue, pleaded for strengthening a concerted campaign for a nuclear free world. Taue is also the president of the National Council of Japan’s Nuclear-Free Local Authorities.

Hiroshima and Nagasaki city leaders welcomed suggestions for a nuclear disarmament summit next year in Hiroshima, which they said would lend added thrust to awareness raising for a world free of nuclear weapons.

Though foreign ministry officials refused to identify themselves publicly with the proposal, Japan’s Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida, who hails from Hiroshima, emphasised the need for nuclear-weapon and non-nuclear weapon states to “work together in steadily advancing practical and concrete measures in order to make real progress in nuclear disarmament.”

Kishida said that Japan will submit a “new draft resolution on the total elimination of nuclear weapons” to the forthcoming meeting of the U.N. General Assembly. Such a resolution, he said, was “appropriate to the 70th year since the atomic bombings and could serve as guidelines for the international community for the next five years, on the basis of the Review Conference”.

The next NPT Review Conference is expected to be held in 2020.

Mayors for Peace has launched a 2020 Vision Campaign as the main vehicle for advancing their agenda – a nuclear-weapon-free world by the year 2020.

The campaign was initiated on a provisional basis by the Executive Cities of Mayors for Peace at their meeting in Manchester, Britain, in October 2003. It was launched under the name ‘Emergency Campaign to Ban Nuclear Weapons’ in November of that year at the 2nd Citizens Assembly for the Elimination of Nuclear Weapons held in Nagasaki, Japan.

In August 2005, the World Conference endorsed continuation of the campaign under the title of the ‘2020 Vision Campaign’.

Foreign Minister Kishida expressed the views of the inhabitants of the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki when he pointed out in a message to the UNRCPD conference: “… the reality of atomic bombings is far from being sufficiently understood worldwide.”

He added: “In order to achieve a world free of nuclear weapons, it is extremely important for political leaders, young people and others worldwide to visit Hiroshima and Nagasaki and see for themselves the reality of atomic bombings. Through this, I am convinced that we will be able to share our aspirations for a world free of nuclear weapons.”

Edited by Phil Harris   

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Call for Global Ban on Nuclear Weapons Testing Thu, 27 Aug 2015 09:58:00 +0000 Katsuhiro Asagiri and Ramesh Jaura A group of eminent persons (GEM) launched a concerted campaign on Aug. 25, 2015, for entry into force of a global ban on nuclear weapon tests such as this one at Bikini Atoll in 1946. Credit: United States Department of Defense via Wikimedia Commons

A group of eminent persons (GEM) launched a concerted campaign on Aug. 25, 2015, for entry into force of a global ban on nuclear weapon tests such as this one at Bikini Atoll in 1946. Credit: United States Department of Defense via Wikimedia Commons

By Katsuhiro Asagiri and Ramesh Jaura
HIROSHIMA, Aug 27 2015 (IPS)

As the international community gears up to commemorate the 20th anniversary next year of the opening up of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) for signature, a group of eminent persons (GEM) has launched a concerted campaign for entry into force of a global ban on nuclear weapon testing.

GEM, which was set up by Lassina Zerbo, the Executive Secretary of the September 2013 Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO) at the United Nations headquarters in New York, met on Aug. 24-25 in Hiroshima, a modern city on Japan’s Honshu Island, which was largely destroyed by an atomic bomb during the Second World War in 1945.

“Multilateralism in arms control and international security is not only possible, but the most effective way of addressing the complex and multi-layered challenges of the 21st century” – CTBTO Executive Secretary Lassina Zerbo
Hiroshima and Nagasaki are the only two cities in the world which have suffered the devastating and brutal atomic bombs that brought profound suffering to innocent children, women and men, the tales of which continue to be told by the ‘hibakusha’ (survivors of atomic bombings).

“There is nowhere other than this region where the urgency of achieving the Treaty’s entry into force is more evident, and there is no group better equipped with the experience and expertise to help further this cause than the Group of Eminent Persons,” CTBTO Executive Secretary Zerbo told participants.

The GEM is a high-level group comprising eminent personalities and internationally recognised experts whose aim is to promote the global ban on nuclear weapons testing, support and complement efforts to promote the entry into force of the Treaty, as well as reinvigorate international endeavours to achieve this goal.

The two-day meeting was hosted by the government of Japan and the city of Hiroshima, where CTBTO Executive Secretary Zerbo participated in the commemoration of the 70th anniversary of the atomic bombing early August.

On the eve of the meeting, Zerbo joined former United States Secretary of Defence and GEM Member William Perry and Hiroshima Governor Hidehiko Yuzaki as a panellist in a public lecture on nuclear disarmament which was attended by around 100 persons, including many students.

In an opening statement, Zerbo urged global leaders to use the momentum created by the recently reached agreement between the E3+3 (China, France, Germany, the Russian Federation, United Kingdom and the United States) and Iran to inject a much needed dose of hope and positivity in the current discussions on nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament.

“What the Iran deal teaches us is that multilateralism in arms control and international security is not only possible, but the most effective way of addressing the complex and multi-layered challenges of the 21st century. [It] also teaches us that the measure of worth in any security agreement or arms control treaty is in the credibility of its verification provisions. As with the Iran deal, the utility of the CTBT must be judged on the effectiveness of its verification and enforcement mechanisms. In this area, there can be no question,” Zerbo said.

Also speaking at the opening session, Perry expressed his firm belief that ratification of the CTBT served U.S. national interests, not only at the international level but also at the strictly domestic level for national security measures. He considered that the current geopolitical climate constituted a risk for the prospects of entry into force and reiterated the importance of maintaining the moratoria on nuclear testing.

Participating GEM members included Nobuyasu Abe, former U.N. Under-Secretary-General for Disarmament Affairs, Japan; Des Browne, former Secretary of State for Defence, United Kingdom; Jayantha Dhanapala, former U.N. Under-Secretary-General for Disarmament Affairs; Sérgio Duarte, former U.N. High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, Brazil; Michel Duclos, Senior Counsellor to the Policy Planning Department at the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs; Wolfgang Hoffmann, former Executive Secretary of the CTBTO, Germany; Ho-Jin Lee, Ambassador, Republic of Korea; and William Perry, former Secretary of Defence, United States.

István Mikola, Minister of State, Hungary; Yusron Ihza Mahendra, Ambassador of Indonesia to Japan; Mitsuru Kitano, Permanent Representative, Ambassador of Japan to the International Organisations in Vienna; and Yerzhan N. Ashikbayev, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Republic of Kazakhstan, participated as ex-officio members.

The GEM took stock of the Plan of Action agreed in its meetings in New York (Sep. 2013), Stockholm (Apr. 2014) and Seoul (Jun. 2015). The Group considered the current international climate and determined that, with the upcoming 20th anniversary of the opening for signature of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty, there was an urgency to unite the international community in support of preventing the proliferation and further development of nuclear weapons with the aim of their total elimination.

Participants in the meeting discussed a wide range of relevant issues and debated practical measures that could be undertaken to further advance the entry into force of the Treaty, especially in the run-up to the Article XIV Conference on Facilitating Entry into Force of the CTBT, which will take place at the end of September in New York, with Japan and Kazakhstan as co-chairs.

One hundred and eighty-three countries have signed the Treaty, of which 163 have also ratified it, including three of the nuclear weapon states: France, Russia and the United Kingdom. But 44 specific nuclear technology holder countries must sign and ratify before the CTBT can enter into force. Of these, eight are still missing: China, Egypt, India, Iran, Israel, North Korea, Pakistan and the United States. India, North Korea and Pakistan have yet to sign the CTBT.

The GEM adopted the Hiroshima Declaration, which reaffirmed the group’s commitment to achieving the global elimination of nuclear weapons and, in particular, to the entry into force of the CTBT as “one of the most essential practical measures for nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation”, and, among others, called for “a multilateral approach to engage the leadership of the remaining . . . eight States with the aim of facilitating their respective ratification processes.”

The GEM called on “political leaders, governments, civil society and the international scientific community to raise awareness of the essential role of the CTBT in nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation and in the prevention of the catastrophic consequences of the use of nuclear weapons for humankind.”

Edited by Phil Harris   

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Iran Deal a ‘Net-Plus’ for Nuclear Non-Proliferation Worldwide Tue, 18 Aug 2015 21:17:28 +0000 S. Chandra By S. Chandra
WASHINGTON, Aug 18 2015 (IPS)

As the U.S. Congress prepares to vote next month on the landmark Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), which was agreed on July 14 between the world’s leading powers and Iran, and has been approved by the U.N. Security Council, eminent nuclear non-proliferation experts are mobilising international support for its immediate implementation.

In a joint statement, more than 70 of the world’s leading nuclear non-proliferation specialists outline why the JCPOA “is a strong, long-term, and verifiable agreement that will be a net-plus for international nuclear non-proliferation efforts.”

The non-proliferation specialists’ statement, organised by Daryl G. Kimball, executive director of the Arms Control Association, point out that the July 14 agreement, “ … advances the security interests of the P5+1 nations (China, France, Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States), the European Union, their allies and partners in the Middle East, and the international community.”

The joint statement is endorsed by former U.S. nuclear negotiators, former senior U.S. non-proliferation officials, a former director-general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), a former member of the U.N. Panel of Experts on Iran, and leading nuclear specialists from the United States and around the globe.

The experts “… urge the leaders of the P5+1 states, the European Union, and Iran to take the steps necessary to ensure timely implementation and rigorous compliance with the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.”

The statement concludes: “… we believe the JCPOA meets key nonproliferation and security objectives and see no realistic prospect for a better nuclear agreement.”

“This statement … underscores, as President Barack Obama recently noted, the majority of arms control and non-proliferation experts support the P5+1 and Iran nuclear deal,” said the Arms Control Association’s executive director Daryl G. Kimball in a new release on Tuesday.

It said: “The JCPOA will establish long-term, verifiable restrictions on Iran’s sensitive nuclear fuel cycle activities, many of which will last for 10 years, some for 15 years, some for 25 years, with enhanced IAEA monitoring under Iran’s additional protocol agreement with the IAEA and modified code 3.1 safeguards provisions lasting indefinitely.”

When implemented, eminent nuclear non-proliferation experts say, the JCPOA will establish long-term, verifiable restrictions on Iran’s enrichment facilities and research and development, including advanced centrifuge research and deployment.

“Taken in combination with stringent limitations on Iran’s low-enriched uranium stockpile, these restrictions ensure that Iran’s capability to produce enough bomb-grade uranium sufficient for one weapon would be extended to approximately 12 months for a decade or more,” they add.

“Moreover,” the experts say in a joint statement, “the JCPOA will effectively eliminate Iran’s ability to produce and separate plutonium for a nuclear weapon for at least 15 years, including by permanently modifying the Arak reactor, Iran’s major potential source for weapons grade plutonium, committing Iran not to reprocess spent fuel, and shipping spent fuel out of the country.”

Edited by Kitty Stapp

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Protests Greet Japan’s Relaunch of Nuke Power Mon, 10 Aug 2015 22:41:50 +0000 Kitty Stapp A reporter stands at a roadblock outside Fukushima's 20 kilometre exclusive zone in March 2011. Credit: Suvendrini Kakuchi/IPS

A reporter stands at a roadblock outside Fukushima's 20 kilometre exclusive zone in March 2011. Credit: Suvendrini Kakuchi/IPS

By Kitty Stapp
NEW YORK, Aug 10 2015 (IPS)

Protesters rallied outside Japan’s Sendai nuclear plant a day ahead of its planned opening and four years after the Fukushima disaster galvanised opposition to nuclear power in the country.

In a statement, Kyushu Electric Power Co. said it will begin bringing online the No. 1 reactor at its Sendai facility on Aug. 11, start power generation as early as Aug. 14 and return it to normal operations next month.

“We will continue to seriously and carefully cooperate with the country’s inspections, making safety our top priority, cautiously advancing the restart process,” the company said in the statement.

However, local activists say that there is no adequate plan in place to quickly evacuate tens of thousands of residents in the event of a Fukushima-style meltdown.

Triggered by a massive March 2011 earthquake, Fukushima was the largest nuclear disaster since the Chernobyl disaster of 1986 and the second disaster (along with Chernobyl) to measure Level 7 on the International Nuclear Event Scale.

It led to a complete shutdown of Japan’s nuclear power plants in 2013, which will end Tuesday, if the Sendai facility opens as planned.

Nuclear power had previously provided 30 percent of Japan’s electricity.

Although the new plant meets overhauled safety regulations, opponents point out that Japan records more earthquakes than any other country — and the reactor that opens tomorrow is 60 kilometres from an active volcano in the country’s northwest.

“There are schools and hospitals near the plant, but no one has told us how children and the elderly would be evacuated,” Yoshitaka Mukohara, a representative of a group opposing the Sendai restart, told the Guardian.

“Naturally there will be gridlock caused by the sheer number of vehicles, landslides, and damaged roads and bridges.”

The Shinzo Abe government’s energy plan relies heavily on nuclear power, setting a goal to have it meet more than 20 per cent of the country’s energy needs by 2030.

“We believe it is important for our energy policy to push forward restarts of reactors that are deemed safe,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told reporters.

But Jan Vande Putte, a specialist in radiation safety and an energy campaigner with Greenpeace Belgium, notes that, “Japan has been nuclear-free for over a year, and no electricity blackouts have occurred. The Japanese government should turn its back on nuclear power and instead opt for an energy policy based on improving energy efficiency and expanding renewable energy.

“This would protect its citizens from a repetition of the horrors of Fukushima and set the country on track to meet its climate commitments by 2020.”

Edited by Kanya D’Almeida

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Hiroshima and Nagasaki Mayors Plead for a Nuclear Weapons Free World Mon, 10 Aug 2015 09:49:20 +0000 Ramesh Jaura The mayor of Nagasaki, Tomihisa Taue, presents the Nagasaki Peace Declaration, saying that “rather than envisioning a nuclear-free world as a faraway dream, we must quickly decide to solve this issue by working towards the abolition of these weapons, fulfilling the promise made to global society”. Credit: YouTube

The mayor of Nagasaki, Tomihisa Taue, presents the Nagasaki Peace Declaration, saying that “rather than envisioning a nuclear-free world as a faraway dream, we must quickly decide to solve this issue by working towards the abolition of these weapons, fulfilling the promise made to global society”. Credit: YouTube

By Ramesh Jaura
BERLIN/TOKYO, Aug 10 2015 (IPS)

Seventy years after the brutal and militarily unwarranted atomic bombings of the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki on Aug. 6 and 9, a nuclear weapons free world is far from within reach.

Commemorating the two events, the mayors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki made impassioned pleas for heeding the experiences of the survivors of the atomic bombings and the growing worldwide awareness of the compelling need for complete abolition of such weapons.

The atomic bombings in 1945 destroyed the two cities, and more than 200,000 people died of nuclear radiation, shockwaves from the blasts and thermal radiation. Over 400,000 have died since the end of the war, from the after-effects of the bombs.

As of Mar. 31, 2015, the Japanese government had recognised 183,519 as ‘hibakusha’ (explosion-affected people), most of them living in Japan. Japan’s Atomic Bomb Survivors Relief Law defines hibakusha as people who were: within a few kilometres of the hypocentres of the bombs; within 2 km of the hypocentres within two weeks of the bombings; exposed to radiation from fallout; or not yet born but carried by pregnant women in any of these categories.“Our world still bristles with more than 15,000 nuclear weapons, and policy-makers in the nuclear-armed states remain trapped in provincial thinking, repeating by word and deed their nuclear intimidation” – Kazumi Matsui, mayor of Hiroshima

During the commemorative events in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, reports in several newspapers confirmed that those bombings were militarily unwarranted.

Gar Alperovitz, formerly Lionel R. Bauman Professor of Political Economy at the University of Maryland, wrote in The Nation that that “the war was won before Hiroshima – and the generals who dropped the bomb knew it.”

He quoted Adm. William Leahy, President Harry S. Truman’s Chief of Staff, who wrote in his 1950 memoir ‘I Was There’ [that] “the use of this barbarous weapon at Hiroshima and Nagasaki was of no material assistance in our war against Japan. The Japanese were already defeated and ready to surrender …”

Gen. Dwight Eisenhower, the U.S. president from 1953 until 1961, shared this view. He was a five-star general in the United States Army during World War II and served as Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces in Europe.

Eisenhower stated in his memoirs that when notified by Secretary of War Henry Stimson of the decision to use atomic weapons, he “voiced to him my grave misgivings, first on the basis of my belief that Japan was already defeated and that dropping the bomb was completely unnecessary.”

Even the famous “hawk” Maj. Gen. Curtis LeMay, head of the Twenty-First Bomber Command, went public the month after the bombing, telling the press that “the atomic bomb had nothing to do with the end of the war at all,” wrote Alperovitz.

“The peoples of this world must unite or they will perish,” warned Robert Oppenheimer, widely considered the father of the bomb, as he called on politicians to place the terrifying power of the atom under strict international control.

Oppenheimer’s call has yet to be followed.

In his fervent address on Aug. 6, Kazumi Matsui, mayor of the City of Hiroshima, said: “Our world still bristles with more than 15,000 nuclear weapons, and policy-makers in the nuclear-armed states remain trapped in provincial thinking, repeating by word and deed their nuclear intimidation.”

He added: “We now know about the many incidents and accidents that have taken us to the brink of nuclear war or nuclear explosions. Today, we worry as well about nuclear terrorism.”

As long as nuclear weapons exist, he warned, anyone could become a hibakusha at any time. If that happens, the damage would reach indiscriminately beyond national borders. “People of the world, please listen carefully to the words of the hibakusha and, profoundly accepting the spirit of Hiroshima, contemplate the nuclear problem as your own,” he exhorted.

As president of Mayors for Peace, comprising mayors from more than 6,700 member cities, Kazumi Matsui vowed: “Hiroshima will act with determination, doing everything in our power to accelerate the international trend toward negotiations for a nuclear weapons convention and abolition of nuclear weapons by 2020.”

This, he said, was the first step toward nuclear weapons abolition. The next step would be to create, through the trust thus won, broadly versatile security systems that do not depend on military might.

“Working with patience and perseverance to achieve those systems will be vital, and will require that we promote throughout the world the path to true peace revealed by the pacifism of the Japanese Constitution,” he added.

“We call on the Japanese government, in its role as bridge between the nuclear- and non-nuclear-weapon states, to guide all states toward these discussions, and we offer Hiroshima as the venue for dialogue and outreach,” the mayor of Hiroshima said.

In the Nagasaki Peace Declaration issued on Aug. 9, Nagasaki mayor Tomihisa Taue asked the Japanese government and Parliament to “fix your sights on the future, and please consider a conversion from a ‘nuclear umbrella’ to a ‘non-nuclear umbrella’.”

Japan does not possess any atomic weapons and is protected, like South Korea and Germany, as well as most of the NATO member states, by the U.S. nuclear umbrella.

He appealed to the Japanese government to explore national security measures, which do not rely on nuclear deterrence. “The establishment of a ‘Northeast Asia Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone (NEA-NWFZ),’ as advocated by researchers in America, Japan, Korea, China, and many other countries, would make this possible,” he said.

Referring to the Japanese Parliament “currently deliberating a bill, which will determine how our country guarantees its security”, he said: “There is widespread unease and concern that the oath which was engraved onto our hearts 70 years ago and the peaceful ideology of the Constitution of Japan are now wavering. I urge the Government and the Diet to listen to these voices of unease and concern, concentrate their wisdom, and conduct careful and sincere deliberations.”

The Nagasaki Peace Declaration noted that the peaceful ideology of the Constitution of Japan was born from painful and harsh experiences, and from reflection on the war. “Since the war, our country has walked the path of a peaceful nation. For the sake of Nagasaki, and for the sake of all of Japan, we must never change the peaceful principle that we renounce war,” the declaration said.

The Nagasaki mayor regretted that the Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) held at the United Nations earlier this year had struggled with reaching agreement on a Final Document.

However, said Taue, the efforts of those countries which were attempting to ban nuclear weapons had made possible a draft Final Document “which incorporated steps towards nuclear disarmament.”

He urged the heads of NPT member states not to allow the NPT Review Conference “to have been a waste”. Instead, they should continue their efforts to debate a legal framework, such as a ‘Nuclear Weapons Convention (NWC),’ at every opportunity, including at the General Assembly of the United Nations.

Many countries at the Review Conference were in agreement that it was important to visit the atomic-bombed cities of Nagasaki and Hiroshima.

Against this backdrop, the Nagasaki mayor appealed to “President [Barack] Obama, heads of state, including the heads of the nuclear weapon states, and all the people of the world … (to) please come to Nagasaki and Hiroshima, and see for yourself exactly what happened under those mushroom clouds 70 years ago.”

No U.S. president has ever attended the any event to commemorate the atomic bombing of Hiroshima. Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Rose Gottemoeller was the highest-ranking U.S. official at the Aug. 6 ceremony. She was reported as saying that nuclear weapons should never be used again.

Edited by Phil Harris   

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