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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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:
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.