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Opinion response to Peter Jenkins interview article

By Vahid Javid

Sanctions Could Not Force Iran to Negotiate: Interview with Peter Jenkins, the former British Ambassador to IAEA
Interviewed by F. Marjai and C. Safdari
February 16, 2012,

The interviewers should be commended for this informative discussion. It provided a valuable insight into the mindset of a diplomat who was involved in the Iranian nuclear negotiations and participated in making decisions that profoundly affected the lives of so many Iranians. In my observation, in this interview Mr. Jenkins demonstrated his great diplomatic skills to manipulate the discussion in order to portray himself as an agent of peace, validate his side’s viewpoint, and hide what might be considered the illegal, or at least questionable, aspect of the West's negotiation stands. I know that in the current anti-IRI environment, any criticism of the western powers' policies vis-a-vis Iran might be interpreted as the advocacy of an unpopular dictatorial regime. That is not the intent of this opinion piece. However, I feel that it is important to freely debate and criticize when we see injustice or wrong being perpetrated; or, when we see wrong-doers attempt to distort the facts and justify their actions. Here are three inconsistencies or misrepresentations that I noted in Mr. Jenkins' responses; I am sure that more informed readers could find many others.

Regarding IAEA's November 2011 report

In the interview Mr. Jenkins admitted that "The report has been misrepresented in the Western media. It does not contain evidence that Iran has decided to manufacture nuclear weapons, or to divert nuclear material to a Nuclear Weapon program, or to contravene the NPT in any other way." However, he skillfully put aside any suspicion that the whole report production -- starting from the highly dubious circumstances around Yukiya Amano's election, to resurrecting the old accusations about the contents of the infamous stolen laptop -- was a well-coordinated effort by the western countries to isolate and incriminate Iran. In fact, he stretched the truth as far as implying that the IAEA officials were innocent bystanders who did not have any clue about how their report would provide the most damning ammunition for the Iran Sanctions movement. "I wonder", said Mr. Jenkins "whether IAEA officials foresaw that the report would be so misrepresented by those who wanted to build political pressure for further sanctions. I am not sure they did".

But, we know that this is not true! If indeed IAEA felt that their report was being misrepresented and misused to advance the sanctions, why did not anyone from the board come forth and clarify its intent? Wikileaks cables had revealed that from the beginning of appointment to the IAEA director general position, Amano had a cozy relationship with the US. Why didn't he take an exception to, or correct, the statements of Susan Rice, US representative to the UN, when she declared in her speech to the Security Council on December 21, 2011 that "the IAEA Director General has released a damning report on the status of Iran’s implementation of its NPT Safeguards Agreement ... The report is clear: the IAEA’s information indicates that Iran has carried out activities that are -- and I quote -- 'relevant to the development of a nuclear explosive device'.”

For those who search various sources of information and listen to the statements of the opposing sides of the argument, it is clear that people like Rice, Amano, and Jenkins knew very well that the questions raised in the report were mainly based on unproven allegations that Israel and Mojahedin-e-Khalgh had supplied and Iran had dismissed them as fabrications. They even knew that CIA had conducted extensive espionage to find slightest traces of undeclared nuclear material in Iran -- as Seymour Hersh had reported, they even installed radioactive detectors in the Iranian cities' traffic signs -- but, they did not find any smoking gun. However, they all stayed quiet and let the sanctions policy go through.

In an interview with Aljazeera in Davos, on January 30, 2012, Yukiya Amano said, "Iran placed activities under IAEA safeguards and we can confirm that declared activities are in peaceful purposes. But, we do not know if they have undeclared activities and we don't know if all of them are for peaceful purposes." This statement is very interesting in that it essentially precludes resolution. In effect, as long as Iranians say that they do not have any undeclared activity, the case would remain open. Hence, nothing short of a total capitulation and dismantling of the entire technical infrastructure, as it was done in Libya and was demanded of North Korea, would satisfy the West. Regardless of what IRI might have, or have not, done in the nuclear enrichment or experimentation arena, in my opinion, western powers' brazen and deliberate manipulation of the IAEA offices and misrepresentation of its rules has long ago exposed their hypocrisy and discredited any claims to their peaceful intent.

UN and Adherence to International law

Mr. Jenkins stated that in 2005 "the Board of Governors decided to report Iran’s past non-compliance to the UN and to ask the Security Council to turn suspension into an 'international obligation' under Chapter VII of the UN Charter". Of course, that was during the time that he was the UK representative in Vienna, and, without a doubt, he was instrumental in achieving that goal. But, he never mentioned the controversy and many questions that were raised regarding the legality of the UN action to unilaterally change principal components of the NPT agreement and deny enrichment right of a member country. Later in the interview, he admitted that "That requires eliminating all enrichment from Iranian soil. I am not aware of any basis in international law for making such a demand of Iran". He had reiterated similar concerns in other occasions. For example, on September 26, 2011 in his presentation to Chatham House, he stated "there is a whiff of illegitimacy about our present policy. The fact is, and it is an awkward fact, an unwelcomed fact, but it is a fact, that neither the NPT nor the IAEA statute require a state that has been in non-compliance with its safeguard obligations, as of course Iran was during 18 years, require such state to suspend or abandon any of the nuclear activities that they are allowed under the treaty." Well, if he indeed believed that there was not any basis in international law to require suspension of Iran's uranium enrichment activity , how did he justify asking the UN Security Council in 2005 to "turn suspension into an international obligation"? How could this diplomat say that the action that is without any legal basis in 2012, was lawful in 2005, or vice versa? I may be a cynic, but it appears to me that for Mr. Jenkins and his colleagues, international law, very much like truth, is flexible; it can be twisted and bent to suite their objectives.

Regarding a Middle East “Nuclear Weapon Free sub-regional Zone”

Mr. Jenkins has attempted to justify his novel invention because "it seems a very remote possibility that Israel will agree to accede to the NPT as a non-nuclear-weapon state. So, a Middle East 'Nuclear Weapon Free Zone' is a fine goal but irrelevant to current nuclear non-proliferation needs." Then, in an impeccable leap of logic he has arrived at the conclusion that "Better, therefore, to conceive of a sub-regional zone covering all the states that abut the Persian Gulf." What credibility does such a limited sub-regional agreement have in a geographic area where, for instance, Israeli supersonic bombers or missiles can reach any target in the region within an hour? How could he expect that people not laugh when he closes his eyes to the elephant in the room and declares the room to be a "wild life-free zone"!

There are strong indications that the majority of Iranians have no desire to have atomic weapons in their country. They may even accept that uranium enrichment and nuclear power plants are detrimental to the public well-being, environmental safety and regional stability. But, the fact is that these capabilities are very important deterrents against the persistent belligerence, expansionism and aggressive intents of the only nuclear-power state in West Asia. No Iranian politician should be allowed to concede or bargain away such an important national right, unless it is within the framework of a real, verifiable and long-lasting agreement to have a comprehensive nuclear-free zone all the way from Mediterranean Sea to Indian Sub-continent. If Mr. Jenkins and his cohorts think that this goal is too aloof and unreachable, I would ask him how is it that they are willing to deploy sanctions, assassinations, threat of invasion, and all out war against a nation that is a signatory to NPT in order to deny her prescribed rights; at the same time that they do not want to lift a finger to alter the illegal actions of countries that openly defy the NPT and boast their nuclear proliferation activities? But, then again, it seems that for these people international law is flexible; it can be twisted and bent to suite their objectives.

... Payvand News - 02/20/12 ... --

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