At 9/25/12 08:21 PM, adrshepard wrote:
Then how do you explain the fact that France and Britain and at times Russia and China have gone along with the sanctions? Why did the security council unanimously (except Qatar) support the resolution for Iran to halt enrichment? Do we have France, Russia, and China in our pocket now, not to mention the other non-permanent members who were part of the council at the time? In fact, every UN resolution that either added sanctions or demanded an end to enrichment was passed with nearly unanimous support. It seems to me that the concern over Iran's nuclear program is shared by many nations who weren't involved in the Iranian coup and don't have unilateral sanctions in place against it.
It's true that the UN Security Council has ordered Iran to cease its nuclear program and the construction of the Iran Nuclear Research Reactor, which Iran says is necessary top produce medical isotopes (which Iran does not have access to due to sanctions). And I'll give you that Iran's claims are are controversial to say the least, given the fact the reactor will operate on fuel more highly enriched than that for power generation (albeit far less than for nuclear weapons). So yes, Iran is violating international law here. Iran's perspective is that they aren't violating the NPT, and that in fact the UNSC resolution contravenes the NPT by effectively depriving Iran of the right to pursue peaceful uses of nuclear technology. Either way, it isn't as though the Security Council resolution is the result of some objective assessment of Iranian compliance or non-compliance with the actual internationally agreed-upon non-proliferation regime rather than U.S. demands.
I don't understand; you seem to think that there is no way Iran could carry out any weapon research without the IAEA discovering incontrovertible proof that it had happened, and that the organization decided to say that some aspects may be ongoing without any justification. Do you not believe it's possible that Iran could be conducting a secret nuclear weapons program and that they're doing it so well that there couldn't be any definitive evidence of it before they accomplished their goal? (Hint: the IAEA says that it is, otherwise they wouldn't say that they can't verify the peaceful nature of Iran's nuclear program)
A meaningful weapon program? Not really, no. Like I said, a real threat would be plutonium-based implosion devices, and like you said, they aren't at that level yet. If IAEA inspectors start seeing undeclared plutonium then yes, there is some very fishy going on and something would need to be done about it. Uranium nukes? I'd like to think I've made it clear it isn't feasible/intelligent/useful.
No, it's exactly the point I'm trying to make. Your demand for incontroverible evidence is just absurd because there will never BE incontrovertible evidence in these types of situations.
Of course there would be, why do you think this? Building a nuke/R&D for one isn't just some 2 scientists spinning centrifuges, it is a massive multi-billion dollar endeavor that employs tens of thousands of people. If you're going to make the claim that the military is on the hunt for one and wants to use one, then that number becomes tenfold. It is a massive logistical operation and you can't hide it, no matter how deep you build your research laboratories underground. A bird doesn't shit in the ME without the US knowing about it. Preparations for the deployment of a nuke would be extremely obvious to intelligence officials. Right now the "evidence" for a purported weapons program is "dual use technology" and "they won't follow these specials rules!" and "HEZBOLLAH!!!!!!!" which isn't enough, at all, to justify crippling their country with sanctions that don't do a god damn thing.
Here's my position. Did Iran have a nuclear weapons program prior to 2003? Yes, it seems so. Should Iran cooperate more fully with the IAEA? Yes, I think they should, because non-proliferation is important, but it's a two way street: there is no reason to cooperate if they aren't going to get anything out of it, and there is no indication that international pressure for Iran to stop operating a domestic nuclear program would cease regardless of Iran's degree of compliance. Could Iran be pursuing nuclear weapons still, or the possibility of acquiring them, or perhaps a sort of near-nuclear readiness like Japan? It is possible, and from a Realist political perspective it seems quite rational. Nuclear proliferation is a bad thing, but it is difficult to stop sovereign states from pursuing nuclear weapons. Assuming Iran is pursuing nukes, the U.S. and Israel are doing a really bad job at stopping them, and barring an airstrike campaign against their facilities, it doesn't seem like anything we have done or realistically will do will stop them in the long run.
The whole idea of the NPT is to create an international incentive NOT to have nukes, and to help countries develop nuclear power for peaceful purposes, while promising non-proliferation and eventual disarmament among other countries. Well, we're certainly failing there. And attempting to ostracize Iran and turn them into a pariah state, on top of literally invading two countries that border them is not exactly a great way to convince them that pursuing nukes will make them worse off. In a certain sense, it's almost as though the U.S. has been doing everything in its power to convince Iran to get nukes despite Khamenei foolishly issuing a fatwa against them.
One thing that is being overlooked is the damage being done to the already-fragile NPT by the U.S.'s treatment of this issue. Again, even if we assumed Iran does have a nuclear weapons program, they could be complying with inspections more than they do now and still probably substantially hide it from the IAEA since the truth of the matter is that (without the Additional Protocol), the IAEA isn't really that powerful, and indeed they are supposed to be an advisory agency that assists with nuclear technology as much as a supervising agency. The crux of the issue is that, while the U.S. obviously doesn't want Iran to have nukes, we aren't willing to work within the NPT to try to achieve this goal. What is the point of the NPT if you can just make new rules for a specific country to follow exclusively? I don't even think it is just about concerns over its effectiveness: it is about taking a unilateral rather than multilateral approach, and it is also about making weakening the Iranian regime a priority. Even if we knew with 100% certainty Iran only wanted nuclear power and not nuclear weapons, we would still try to stop them, since hindering Iran both in terms of energy independence and their ability to control domestic policy would be a win for the U.S. with its anti-Iranian goals. I sincerely believe that if the U.S. had simply taken a different tack, Iran would be more compliant and the NPT and IAEA would have maintained much more credibility than they have.