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12/09/09

A Threat with Unpredictable Consequences

By Majid Tafreshi, Historian, Iran-Britain Affairs Analyst and Researcher at University College London 
Source: ranian Diplomacy; Translated By: Iran Review

Since the Iranian nuclear crisis has hit the headlines up to the present time, some Iranian politicians, experts, analysts, and journalists supporting Iran's positions have frequently recommended that Iran should quit the Non-Proliferation Treaty or do it if there were continued and heightened pressure from the United States and the European Union, the International Atomic Energy Agency, or the United Nations Security Council. Examples of such remarks were those of Dr. Akbar E'temad, the first chairman of Iran Atomic Energy Organization as well as recent remarks by a number of Iranian politicians.

In recent years, despite undeniable scientific and political achievements of Iran with regard to its nuclear program, various resolutions have been adopted against it by the International Atomic Energy Agency and the United Nations. On the one hand, Western countries, especially the United States, have changed their position on Iran's nuclear activities from previously uncompromising opposition which was clearly announced under President George Bush by his Secretary of State Colin Powell, to a recent position which is complete acceptance of Iran's right to make peaceful use of the nuclear energy (including uranium enrichment). On the other hand, various anti-Iran resolutions have changed conditions toward an international consensus which has been long sought by the United States.

Quitting the NPT on the grounds that it is of no use to us would more than anything else make Iran's enemies happy. Some politicians are sure to consider that as a reaction by Iran to the recent resolution and further sanctions which shows that Iran is serious in its political campaign. This will amount to a gamble which, in my opinion, will have vague and risky consequences.

In my opinion, possible withdrawal from the Non-Proliferation Treaty, even if a wise decision would change conditions in medium and long terms in a direction which would help big powers concoct an international consensus against Tehran.

Apparently, Iranian politicians should pay attention to the message which has been given to them by China and Russia through their positive role to the recent resolution adopted by the Board of Governors (which has been the first of its kind in the past four years). Both countries had tried thus far to oppose adoption of anti-Iranian resolutions and Iranian politicians should now try to change the international balance in favor of the country by changing their tactics and strategies.

Perhaps, if Iran had not been a party to the Non-Proliferation Treaty from the first, as is the case with Pakistan, India and Israel, we did not have to be concerned about membership of our country in this international treaty. However, quitting the Non-Proliferation Treaty under existing circumstances would convince the international public opinion that Iran has decided to forget its international obligations and this would be an indirect confirmation of nuclear changes against Iran. This would lead to an international consensus against Iran which has been long sought by Israel as well as radical American and Israeli politicians.

Those who believe that Iran should quit the NPT either as a necessary action or as a threat and reaction to the West, assume that Iran's defiance of West's threats or North Korea's inattention to its nuclear obligations have been successful experiences which can be repeated now.

However, the unique conditions in the Middle East and the limited maneuvering room of Iran, especially in the 10 months that have passed since the election of President Barack Obama, clearly prove that the situation of Tehran is totally different from Pyongyang. In addition, we must study the situation of North Korea and see whether inattention to resolutions passed by the International Atomic Energy Agency Board of Governors and the United Nations Security Council have worked to protect that country's national interests.

In reality, under the present circumstances, we must not rely on few countries which have abstained or given negative votes to the Board of Governors' resolution just in the same way that we must not be deceived by baseless political compliments of neighboring states that, on the one hand, talk about Tehran's inalienable right to nuclear energy, but on the other hand, take sides with the United States and Europe against Iran.

Those who insist that Iran should quit the Non-Proliferation Treaty should evaluate their demand away from slogans and temporary anger to see whether this political gambling would finally serve Iran's national interests or, on the contrary, lead to more isolation of Iran and prompt the international community to make the final decision in the absence of Iran's representatives.

About Iran Review: Iran Review (www.iranreview.org) is the leading independent, non-governmental and non-partisan website - organization representing scientific and professional approaches towards Iran's political, economic, social, religious, and cultural affairs, its foreign policy, and regional and international issues within the framework of analysis and articles.

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