Monday, May 28, 2012

Iran sanctions

"In fact, a careful reading of the legislative text of the sanctions shows that the sanctions have very little to do with Iran's nuclear program and everything to do with regime change. For instance, the U.S. sanctions can only be lifted after the president certifies to Congress:

that the government of Iran has: (1) released all political prisoners and detainees; (2) ceased its practices of violence and abuse of Iranian citizens engaging in peaceful political activity; (3) conducted a transparent investigation into the killings and abuse of peaceful political activists in Iran and prosecuted those responsible; and (4) made progress toward establishing an independent judiciary.

Just in case those conditions are insufficiently implausible, the president has to certify further that "the government of Iran has ceased supporting acts of international terrorism and no longer satisfies certain requirements for designation as a state sponsor of terrorism; and [that] Iran has ceased the pursuit, acquisition, and development of nuclear, biological, chemical, and ballistic weapons."

Many U.S. allies, such as Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, could not satisfy all these conditions. So even if Tehran were to stop all uranium enrichment and dump all of its centrifuges into the Gulf and shutter its nuclear program entirely, Iran would still continue to be sanctioned by the U.S.

The irony of it all is that Iran is not currently doing anything that violates its legal right to develop nuclear technology. Even by agreeing to talks about suspending its 20% enrichment, Iran is showing a sign of good faith that it is not legally obligated to do.

Under the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) – to which Iran is a signatory – it is not illegal for a member state to have a nuclear weapons capability – or a "nuclear option." If a nation has a well-developed civilian nuclear sector – which, of course, the NPT actually encourages – it, essentially, already has a pretty solid nuclear weapons capability.

Like Iran, Argentina, Brazil, and Japan also maintain a "nuclear option." They, too, could break out of the NPT and make a nuclear device in a few months. And like Iran, Argentina and Brazil also do not permit full "Additional Protocol" IAEA inspections."