UN should end Iran curbs
By Abdul Sattar
On merits alone UN Security Council should now rescind sanctions against Iran because legal and political rationale for penalties is no longer valid.
Iran has complied with the bulk of demands of International Atomic Energy Agency for more information on its nuclear program, and the U.S.-EU suspicion Iran was engaged in secret pursuit of nuclear weapons has been falsified.
The United States has been proved wrong and Iran has been proved right.
The U.S. National Intelligence Council has stated with ‘high confidence that in fall of 2003 Tehran halted its nuclear weapons program.’
Actually there is no proof Iran ever had such a program. Iran repeatedly declared it remained faithful to its obligation not to acquire nuclear weapons.
If President George W. Bush still remains adamant in his suspicions the world community should not allow a single state to become ‘judge and jury’ and condemn Iran to unjust sanctions.
Particularly France and Germany should reconsider support for sanctions. They earned credit in 2003 by joining the majority in Security Council to oppose war on Iraq by USA and UK.
China and Russia have been vindicated in their reservations about sanctions against Iran. They should feel emboldened now to lead a call for an end to unjust sanctions.
Grounded in principles of international law, Non-Proliferation Treaty and IAEA’s Statute, Iran’s right to use atomic energy for peaceful purposes cannot be denied.
IAEA Board of Governors called for suspension of uranium enrichment pending settlement of outstanding issues relating to compliance with safeguards obligations in respect of projects about which Tehran had failed to provide requisite information.
Tehran could and should have acted sooner but it has finally complied with the demands, answered most of the questions, given access to officials and scientists and is in the process of further negotiations with IAEA in respect of residual issues. The sooner these are settled the stronger will be the case for withdrawal of sanctions. Meanwhile, there is no justification in U.S. demand for more stringent sanctions.
Throughout the past three years IAEA Director General Mohamed ElBaradei has acted with independence and propriety, upholding Iran’s right to peaceful uses but urging it to comply with its safeguards obligations.
Meanwhile he courageously defied pressures to support U.S. and EU allegations stating IAEA inspections found no evidence to support the charge Tehran was embarked on a weapons program.
The U.S. intelligence community also appears to have decided to return to path of objectivity and thus save itself from further damage to its credibility which was fatally wounded by its performance in 2003 when it succumbed to Bush administration’s pressure to misinterpret and even manufacture evidence about possession of weapons of mass destruction by Saddam Hussein.
Ignoring President Bush’s preference manifest in his recent statements of suspicion and hostility towards Iran, U.S. National Intelligence Estimate of October 31, 2007 has publicly declared ‘Iran does not currently have a nuclear weapon’ and even though it ‘has made significant progress in installing centrifuges in Natanz, but . . . it still faces significant problems operating them.’
Acting on basis of IAEA’s declared view that Iran is not engaged in pursuit of nuclear weapons, now conceded even by the U.S. intelligence estimates, the Security Council has a clear obligation to rescind sanctions.
In doing so it will face difficulties on account of U.S. veto. Unlike China and Russia which refrained from using veto to block the resolution of sanctions, USA under the present administration is unlike to evince equal consideration for equity and descent opinion. Still an attempt should be made by some courageous members of the Security Council to rescue humanity’s hope in an equitable international order.
Mohamed ElBaradei has suggested immediate negotiations should begin between Iran and Western critics. Prospects for rapid progress might be better if EU’s foreign affairs chief Javier Solana resumed contacts with Tehran. He has a merited reputation for objectivity and patience. He seemed to express frustration at lack of progress in his meeting with Iran’s envoy last week, the testimony to Iran’s credibility implicit in the U.S. intelligence community’s report should help him regain confidence in the value and usefulness of his characteristic open-mindedness towards the other side.
If President Bush still sounded hawkish against Iran in his December 4 comment on the NIE he might be only dissembling. It is too much to expect he would have exhibited penitence. But he should feel relieved he will be no longer under pressure of dogmatistists in his party who led him in to the historic blunder of invading Iraq that has ruined his hope of a place of respect in history. A wiser course would aim to earn some credit by promoting a just settlement between Palestinians and Israel and even normalization with Iran.
Abdul Sattar is a former foreign minister and ambassador of Pakistan.
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