“Nothing in this Treaty shall be interpreted as affecting the inalienable right of all the Parties to the Treaty to develop research, production and use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes without discrimination.”
-- Article 4 of the 1968 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT)
There’s only one country that has used nuclear weapons on civilian population centers.
There’s only one country that has ever threatened to use nuclear weapons on non-nuclear countries.
There’s only one country that has over 10,000 nuclear weapons, many of which are on hair-trigger alert for enemies real or imagined.
There’s only one country that has developed a regime of low-yield, bunker-busting, “usable” nuclear weapons, suggesting that they could be legitimately used, not to deter aggression or to stave off an imminent threat, but simply to eliminate the “suspicion” of weapons programs.
There’s only one country that justifies unprovoked aggression (preemption) in its National Security doctrine, allowing it to attack any potential rival to its global dominance.
There’s only one country that currently occupies a Muslim nation of 25 million inhabitants without any proof the latter posed an imminent threat, had weapons systems, or had plans for territorial aggression.
The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT)
The purpose of the NPT (Nonproliferation Treaty) is to reduce or eliminate the development of nuclear weapons. If it is to have any meaning at all it must be directed at nations that not only have weapons, but that demonstrate a flagrant disregard for the international laws condemning their use. The IAEA should focus its attention on those states that have a clear record of territorial aggression, military intervention, or who consistently violate United Nations resolutions.
In its present form the IAEA and the NPT are utterly meaningless. Rather than leading the world towards nuclear disarmament, the agency and the treaty have simply ignored the misbehavior of the more powerful nations and humiliated the non-nuclear states with spurious accusations and threatening rhetoric.
The NPT was never intended to be a bludgeon for battering the weaker nations; nor was it set up as a de-facto apartheid system whereby the superpower and its allies can lord above the non-nuclear states coercing them to act according to their diktats. It was designed to curb the development of the world’s most lethal weapons, eventually consigning them to the ash heap.
The political maneuvering surrounding Iran’s “alleged” nuclear weapons programs demonstrates the irrelevance and hypocrisy of the current system. As yet, there is no concrete evidence that Iran is in non-compliance with the terms of the treaty. That hasn’t deterred the Bush administration from intimidating its allies and adversaries alike to assist them in dragging Iran before the Security Council. The Bush administration is asking the Security Council to enforce “additional protocols” which will preclude Iran from enriching uranium for use in electric power plants, a right that is clearly articulated in the NPT.
Article 4 section 2 states:
“All the Parties to the Treaty undertake to facilitate, and have the right to participate in, the fullest possible exchange of equipment, materials and scientific and technological information for the peaceful uses of nuclear energy.”
Iran’s determination to enrich uranium is protected under international law and should not be abridged to accommodate the regional ambitions of the United States. By giving up its legal rights Iran would be undermining the fundamental principle that underscores all such agreements and tacitly accepting that the Bush administration alone has the final say-so on issues of global concern.
Why should Iran accept a standard for itself that is different than that for every other signatory of the NPT?
No nation should willingly accept being branded as a pariah without evidence of wrongdoing.
The fact that the United States is occupying the country next door and has yet to provide a coherent justification for the invasion is a poignant reminder of the irrelevance of both the United Nations and the IAEA. The two organizations have remained resolutely silent in the face of the massive incidents of human rights abuses, war crimes, and crimes against humanity. While Iran is roundly condemned by heads-of-state and the corporate media, the greatest crime of our generation continues into its third year without a word of reproach from the world body. The international community simply looks away in fear.
This alone should illustrate the ineffectiveness of the institutions that are designed to keep the peace.
If the ruling body at the IAEA is to have any relevance, it must direct its attention to the real threats of nuclear proliferation posed by those nations that consider nuclear weapons a privilege that should be limited to a certain group of elite states. If the IAEA cannot perform its duties in a neutral manner that respects the rights of all nations equally, it should disband and abolish the NPT without delay.
If the IAEA is uncertain about the real threats to regional peace, they should take note of the many recent polls that invariably list the same belligerent nations as the leading offenders. It is these countries that should be scrutinized most carefully.
It is not the purview of the IAEA to keep the weaker nations out of the nuclear club. That simply enables the stronger states to bully their enemies with threats of using their WMD. In fact, it’s plain to see that the current disparity in military power has created a perilous imbalance between nations that is rapidly spreading war throughout the world.
One only has to look at Haiti, Afghanistan, Iraq or Kosovo to see the glaring failures of the unipolar model; where the military prowess of one country is so great it is emboldened to resolve its differences through conflagration. The NPT was not created to facilitate the imperial ambitions of the superpower, but to protect the innocent from the increasing likelihood of nuclear holocaust.
If the NPT cannot decrease the threat of nuclear war from conspicuously hostile nations, it should be abandoned altogether.
Mike Whitney lives in Washington state, and can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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