January 16, 2006 (Updated Jan 21)
The Wisdom Fund

Iran Has an 'Inalienable Right' to Nuclear Energy

Is Iran's plan for an oil exchange trading in Euros the real issue? Or is it Israel? And why haven't the nuclear powers fulfilled their treaty obligations?

by Enver Masud

Iran has an "inalienable right" to use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes such as the production of electric energy, and the enrichment of uranium for its nuclear reactors. Could it be that Iran's plan for an oil exchange trading in Euros is the real issue? Or is it Israel?

Article IV of the 1968 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), which entered into force on March 5, 1970, states:

1. 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 and in conformity with Articles I and II of this Treaty.

2. 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. Parties to the Treaty in a position to do so shall also cooperate in contributing alone or together with other States or international organizations to the further development of the applications of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes, especially in the territories of non-nuclear-weapon States Party to the Treaty, with due consideration for the needs of the developing areas of the world.

Thus, not only does Iran have an "inalienable right" to use nuclear energy for electricity, the NPT obligates the nuclear powers to "further development of the applications of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes." Iran has gone beyond its obligations under the NPT to assure others of it's peaceful intentions.

According to Dr. Gordon Prather - a nuclear physicist who was the top scientist for the army in the Reagan years, in December, 2003, Iran signed an Additional Protocol to its Safeguards Agreement and had volunteered to cooperate with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) - pending ratification by the Iranian Parliament - as if the Additional Protocol were actually "in force."

The IAEA Safeguards Statement for 2004 states: "As of the end of 2004, 40 non-nuclear-weapon States party to the NPT had not yet brought comprehensive safeguards agreements with the Agency into force."

Iran also offered, says Dr. Prather, "to voluntarily forego a complete fuel cycle . . . if the Europeans would get the United States to reverse the campaign of denial, obstruction, intervention, and misinformation."

Iran had already offered on March 23, 2005 a package of "objective guarantees" (developed by an international panel of experts) that met most of the demands later made by the conservative, Washington based Heritage foundation says Dr. Prather.

The IAEA has found no "smoking gun" in Iran that would indicate a nuclear weapons program, said Dr. Mohamed ElBaradei - Director General of the IAEA, on December 6, 2005.

To further ease U.S. fears, "America can take part in international bidding for the construction of Iran's nuclear power plant if they observe the basic standards and quality," said Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi at a news conference on December 11, 2005.

Thirty years ago, Iran developing a nuclear capacity "caused no problems for the Americans because, at that time, the Shah was seen as a strong ally, and had indeed been put on the throne with American help", says Tony Benn, Britain's secretary of state for energy from 1975-79. "There could hardly be a clearer example of double standards than this, and it fits in with the arming of Saddam to attack Iran after the Shah had been toppled, and the complete silence over Israel's huge nuclear armoury" he says.

With world oil production expected to peak in 5 to 25 years, and demand to exceed supply sometime after that, it makes sense for Iran to look toward alternative means for generating electricity, and to reserve its oil for other purposes including increasing revenues from export.

Iran is about to commit a far greater "offense" than Saddam Hussein's conversion to the euro for Iraq's oil exports in the fall of 2000. Beginning in March 2006, the Tehran government has plans to begin competing with New York's NYMEX and London's IPE with respect to international oil trades - using a euro-based international oil-trading mechanism," says William R. Clark - author of Petrodollar Warfare: Oil, Iraq and the Future of the Dollar

According to Toni Straka, a Vienna, Austria-based financial analyst who runs a blog, The Prudent Investor, Iran's "proposal to set up a petroleum bourse was first voiced in Iran's development plan for 2000-2005. . . . Cheaper nuclear energy and increases in oil exports from the current level of roughly 2.5 million barrels a day will result in a profitable equation for Iran.

"Only one major actor stands to lose from a change in the current status quo: the US" says Toni Straka, "which with less than 5% of the global population, consumes roughly one third of global oil production."

Yes, given the technology and knowledge Iran could develop a nuclear weapon, but so could 35 or 40 other countries. And "under the current regime, there is nothing illicit for a non-nuclear state to conduct uranium-enriching activities . . . or even to possess military-grade nuclear material," says ElBaradei.

Israel - not a signatory to the NPT - has had this capability for years, is believed to have more than 200 nuclear weapons, the missiles to deliver them to Iran, and it is no secret that it has been threatening strikes on Iran's Bushehr nuclear electric power plant - just as it launched an unprovoked and illegal attack on Iraq's, Osirak nuclear electric power plant in 1981.

U.S. news media's timidity, and the Israeli lobby, helped launch the illegal, U.S. invasion of Iraq.

This invasion has claimed the lives of over 2000 U.S. soldiers, and over 180,000 Iraqis. It has left uncounted others wounded and maimed. It has destroyed much of Iraq's - indeed the world's - cultural heritage.

And it is estimated to cost U.S. taxpayers "between $1 trillion and $2 trillion, up to 10 times more than previously thought," according to Linda Bilmes - former assistant secretary of Commerce, and Joseph Stiglitz - recipient of the 2001 Nobel Prize in economics.

The U.S. news media is showing the same timidity that it displayed before and during the Iraq war in investigating U.S. allegations against Iran, and again Israel is pushing the U.S. to attack.

John Ward Anderson of the Washington Post wrote: "The foreign ministers of Britain, Germany and France called Thursday for Iran to be referred to the UN Security Council for violating its nuclear treaty obligations." Neither he, nor the editors, nor the ombudsman at the Post have responded to our request to identify which "nuclear treaty obligations" is Iran violating.

In fact it is the U.S. and other nuclear powers that have not fulfilled their obligations under the NPT, including those stated in Article VI:

Each of the Parties to the Treaty undertakes to pursue negotiations in good faith on effective measures relating to cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date and to nuclear disarmament, and on a Treaty on general and complete disarmament under strict and effective international control.
In 1996, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) unanimously held that Article VI obligates states to "bring to a conclusion negotiations leading to nuclear disarmament in all its aspects."

And Robert S. McNamara, U.S. Secretary of Defense from 1961 until 1968, has written: "I have never seen a piece of paper that outlined a plan for the United States or NATO to initiate the use of nuclear weapons with any benefit for the United States or NATO."

Despite the ICJ decision, the questionable utility of a nuclear arsenal, and 37 years after agreeing to "pursue negotiations" toward "complete disarmament," Russia and the U.S. maintain a stockpile of about 10,000 nuclear weapons each, and the Guardian has reported that the U.S. is considering "the construction of a new generation of nuclear weapons, including 'mini-nukes', 'bunker-busters' and neutron bombs designed to destroy chemical or biological agents, according to a leaked Pentagon document."

Writing in the November/December 2005 issue of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, Jack Boureston and Charles D. Ferguson say, "In pursuing a civilian nuclear program, Iran has international law on its side. . . . The best way to know the full extent of Iran's nuclear doings is to offer it help."

[Enver Masud is the founder of The Wisdom Fund - a nonprofit corporation.]

Robert Lindsey, "Reagan Says America Should Not Bar Others from A-Bomb Output," New York Times, February 1, 1980 ("America and the Islamic Bomb: The Deadly Compromise," Chapter 5, Note 90)

"9/11, U.S. Accusations, and the Facts About Iran's Nuclear Program," The Wisdom Fund, July 21, 2005

[Although a matter of conjecture, some observers consider Iran's threat to the petrodollar system so great that it could provoke a US military attack on Iran, most likely under the cover of a preemptive attack on its nuclear facilities, much like the cover of WMD America used against Iraq.

In November 2000, Iraq began selling its oil in euros, its Oil For Food account at the UN was also transferred into euros and later it converted its $10 billion UN held reserve fund into euros. --Emilie Rutledge, "Iran - a threat to the petrodollar?," Aljazeera, November 3, 2005]

Simon Tisdall, "Ahmadinejad on Israel: Global Danger or Political Infighting?," Guardian, December 20, 2005

[Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has said that his country does not need nuclear weapons.--"Iran 'does not need nuclear arms'," BBC News, January 14, 2006

[There is little doubt Israel is preparing to attack Iran's nuclear infrastructure, repeating its 1981 destruction of Iraq's Osirak reactor. The US has provided Israel long-ranged F-15I strike aircraft and new deep penetrating bombs for this mission. Israeli aircraft need only overfly Jordan, which is a virtual US-Israeli protectorate, then US-controlled Iraq, to reach Iran. A similar route would be used to attack Pakistan's nuclear infrastructure.--Eric Margolis, "Nuclear Showdown With Iran,", January 16, 2006]

Aluf Benn, "Israel in talks with U.S., Europe on Iran sanctions," Haaretz, January 18, 2006

[United States . . . is deploying a larger and more accurate preemptive nuclear strike capability in the Asia-Pacific region--Robert S. Norris and Hans M. Kristensen, "U.S. nuclear forces, 2006," Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, January/February 2006]

Daniel Dombey and Roula Khalaf, " ElBaradei rejects EU's request to condemn Iran," Financial Times, January 19 2006

[The US government assumes that global demand will grow to around 120 million barrels a day, 43 billion barrels a year, by 2025. . . . the oil industry won't come close to producing 120 million barrels a day; . . .

Most US presidents since the Second World War have ordered military action of some sort in the Middle East. American leaders may prefer to dress their military entanglements east of Suez in the rhetoric of democracy-building, but the long-running strategic theme is obvious. It was stated most clearly, paradoxically, by the most liberal of them. In 1980 Jimmy Carter declared access to the Persian Gulf a national interest to be protected "by any means necessary, including military force". . . .

Michael Klare concludes, "the US military is being converted into a global oil-protection service."--Jeremy Leggett, "What they don't want you to know about the coming oil crisis," Independent, January 20, 2006]

[In fact the issue is a proxy for Iraq: try looking in the media prior to the events in Fallujah, Iraq, for anything more than desultory mention of this "issue". But once factions in Iran funded Muqtada al-Sadr to the tune of $50 million and the US body count started to rise, then the issue began to attain its current level of importance.--Chris Cook, " What the Iran 'nuclear issue' is really about," Asia Times, January 21 2006]

["Without advanced nuclear technology, scientific development would not be possible in the agricultural, industrial, medical, and other scientific fields,"--" 765 academics write to Annan on Iran's nuclear research rights," Tehran Times, January 25 2006

[Iran's publicly stated intention to advance its nuclear technology threatens a key element of Japan's energy strategy--development of the Azadegan oil field.--Takashi Kamiguri and Hideaki Abe, "Iran dilemma," Asahi Shimbun, January 25, 2006]

[The Bush administration is preparing a plan to expand civilian nuclear energy at home and abroad while taking spent fuel from foreign countries and reprocessing it, . . .

The main purpose for reprocessing spent fuel is to extract the radioactive plutonium within it and use that to fuel a reactor. But the process is considered dangerous, and many countries gave up civilian reprocessing years ago.--Peter Baker and Dafna Linzer, "Nuclear Energy Plan Would Use Spent Fuel," Washington Post, January 26 2006]

[State Department officials appointed by President Bush have sidelined key career weapons experts and replaced them with less experienced political operatives who share the White House and Pentagon's distrust of international negotiations and treaties.--Warren P. Strobel, "State Department sees exodus of weapons experts," Knight Ridder Newspapers, February 7, 2006]

Dafna Linzer, "Strong Leads and Dead Ends in Nuclear Case Against Iran," Washington Post, February 8, 2006

[It would be suicidal for a country with a tiny nuclear arsenal to attack a county with a large arsenal. One should not confuse repulsiveness with suicidal tendencies. The current government of Iran is certainly repulsive, but it has never given evidence that it is suicidal. --Ted Galen Carpenter, "Dubious Assumptions about Iran,", February 8, 2006]

"Iran - The Media fall into line," Media Lens, February 9, 2006

[Liberation speculates that while potential targets are "secret", it is clear they include the Middle East or Asia--Kim Willsher, "France secretly upgrades capacity of nuclear arsenal," Guardian, February 10, 2006]

[Leaving the NPT is allowed under the treaty, and would allow a state free to develop nuclear power and weapons without inspection.

North Korea announced its withdrawal from the NPT in January 2003, the first state to make such a move.

Several states with nuclear weapons - Israel, India and Pakistan - have never joined the treaty."Iran 'could quit nuclear treaty'," BBC News, February 11, 2006]

Sarah Baxter, "Bush urged to stir rebellion within Iran," Sunday Times, February 12, 2006

Philip Sherwell, "US prepares military blitz against Iran's nuclear sites," Telegraph, February 12, 2006

[Other countries enriching uranium on an industrial scale are the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Russia, China and Japan.--Jack Chang, "Brazil takes a major nuclear step," Knight Ridder, February 12, 2006]

[Like the invasion of Iraq, an attack on Iran has a secret agenda that has nothing to do with the Tehran regime's imaginary weapons of mass destruction. That Washington has managed to coerce enough members of the International Atomic Energy Agency into participating in a diplomatic charade is no more than reminiscent of the way it intimidated and bribed the "international community" into attacking Iraq in 1991. Iran offers no "nuclear threat." There is not the slightest evidence that it has the centrifuges necessary to enrich uranium to weapons-grade material. The head of the IAEA, Mohamed ElBaradei, has repeatedly said his inspectors have found nothing to support American and Israeli claims. Iran has done nothing illegal; it has demonstrated no territorial ambitions nor has it engaged in the occupation of a foreign country - unlike the United States, Britain and Israel. It has complied with its obligations under the Non-Proliferation Treaty to allow inspectors to "go anywhere and see anything" - unlike the US and Israel. The latter has refused to recognize the NPT, and has between 200 and 500 thermonuclear weapons targeted at Iran and other Middle Eastern states. . . .

Next month, Iran is scheduled to shift its petrodollars into a euro-based bourse. The effect on the value of the dollar will be significant, if not, in the long term, disastrous. At present the dollar is, on paper, a worthless currency bearing the burden of a national debt exceeding $8trn and a trade deficit of more than $600bn. The cost of the Iraq adventure alone, according to the Nobel Prizewinning economist Joseph Stiglitz, could be $2trn. America's military empire, with its wars and 700-plus bases and limitless intrigues, is funded by creditors in Asia, principally China.--John Pilger, "The Next War - Crossing the Rubicon," New Statesman, February 13, 2006]

[It would have been Plame's job to debunk Ali's tall tales. . . . All indications are that an active campaign to set up Iran for attack was going full gear even as George W. Bush was declaring "mission accomplished" in Iraq. As we look at the different pieces of the puzzle, a definite picture begins to emerge: what we are seeing are the outlines of a coordinated covert action, engineered by neoconservative ideologues in and around the Pentagon and Dick Cheney's office, and carried out in cooperation with the Israelis. Their objective: gin up a war with Iran--Justin Raimondo, "Masters of Deception,", February 15, 2006]

"Report: Iran wants 20 nuclear power plants," United Press International, February 19, 2006

Barry R. Posen, "We Can Live With a Nuclear Iran," New York Times, February 27, 2006

[The International Atomic Energy Agency "has not seen any diversion of nuclear material to nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices," Director General Mohamed ElBaradei said in a report to the IAEA's board. But the agency was not "in a position to conclude that there are no undeclared nuclear materials or activities in Iran," the report added.--Molly Moore and Dafna Linzer, "IAEA: Iran Advancing Uranium Enrichment: Report Noncommittal On Pursuit of Arms," Washington Post, February 28, 2006]

[In 1976, President Gerald R. Ford signed a directive that granted Iran the opportunity to purchase U.S. built reprocessing equipment and facilities designed to extract plutonium from nuclear reactor fuel.--Ed Haas, "U.S. endorsed Iranian plans to build massive nuclear energy industry,", March 6, 2006]

[ACCORDING to the World Nuclear Association, there are now 441 nuclear power plants in 30 countries.--Liz Minchin and Richard Baker, "Power to the people," The Age (Australia), March 7, 2006]

AUDIO/VIDEO: Tony Benn, "U.S. and Britain's 'Total Hypocrisy' on Nuclear Energy," Democracy Now!, March 10, 2006

["For the euro to begin to challenge the reserve role of the U.S. dollar, a virtual revolution in policy would have to take place in Euroland," Mr. Engdahl wrote. "First the European Central Bank . . . would have to surrender power to elected legislators. It would then have to turn on the printing presses and print euros like there was no tomorrow."

A full challenge to the U.S. dollar as the world central bank reserve currency, Mr. Engdahl added later, would entail a "de facto declaration of war on the 'full-spectrum dominance' of the United States today," and that is something no country or group of countries is yet willing to launch.--Richard Baker, "Launch of Iranian oil trading hits wall: Oil exchange unlikely to begin till at least midyear,", March 14, 2006]

[Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad announced Friday that in July Iran will abandon dollar payments for its oil and natural gas exports in favor of euros.--"Iran to require oil payments in euros," UPI, May 15, 2006]

[Mohamed ElBaradei, director-general of the International Atomic Energy Agency and responsible for verifying to NPT signatories that no source or special nuclear materials are used in furtherance of a military purpose, had just reported, after more than two years of unprecedented highly intrusive inspections, "I have seen no nuclear weapons program in Iran." . . .

On March 23, 2005, Iran had offered a "confidential" package of "objective guarantees" that included a voluntary "confinement" of Iran's nuclear programs--Gordon Prather, "Condi vs. the Truth,", July 12, 2006]

[The material produced so far would have to undergo further enrichment before it could be transformed into bomb-grade material, and to accomplish that Iran would probably have to evict the I.A.E.A. inspectors--David E. Sanger, "Inspectors Cite Big Gain by Iran on Nuclear Fuel," New York Times, May 15, 2007]

[Ronald Reagan told reporters on the campaign trail that he did not believe the United States should stand in the way of other countries developing nuclear weapons. "I just don't think it's any of our business," the future president said.--David Armstrong and Joseph J. Trento, "America and the Islamic Bomb: The Deadly Compromise," Steerforth (October 23, 2007), p94]

VIDEO: Michael Shellenberger, "Why I changed my mind about nuclear power," TEDxBerlin, November 17, 2017

Copyright © 2006 The Wisdom Fund - Provided that it is not edited, and author name, organization, and web address ( are included, this article may be printed in newspapers and magazines, and displayed on the Internet.
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