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Nuclear Weapons Program

"5+1" Group's Iran Proposal Won't Likely End Iran's Nuclear Weapons Program
By Don Sutherland

On June 6, the European Union’s High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy, Javier Solana, delivered the “5+1” working group’s (Britain, France, Germany, Russia, China and the United States) proposal aimed at enticing Iran to end its illicit nuclear activities to the Iranian leadership. In response, hopes for a peaceful resolution of Iran’s nuclear standoff to soared. Unfortunately, actual prospects for such an outcome did not.

On the surface, the proposal’s incentives appear attractive. They include an affirmation of Iran’s “inalienable right to nuclear energy for peaceful purposes,” a commitment to provide Iran with light water reactors, and a fast track for Iranian membership in the World Trade Organization (WTO).

It also provides penalties for non-compliance. Penalties would include an international ban on the export of goods and technologies associated with nuclear energy, a curb on industrial investment connected to those activities, a ban on exporting “unique products” to Iran, and objections to Iran’s request for membership in the WTO.

Unless Iran chooses to act in good faith, this proposal could become just another failed effort to bring Iran into compliance with its international obligations concerning its nuclear activities. Don’t count on it. In its past dealings with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Iran has demonstrated anything but good faith. That body’s April 2006 report noted, “After more than three years of Agency efforts to seek clarity about all aspects of Iran's nuclear program, the existing gaps in knowledge continue to be a matter of concern… Additional transparency measures…are…still needed for the Agency to be able to verify the scope and nature of Iran's enrichment program,…and the alleged studies which could have a military nuclear dimension. Regrettably, these transparency measures are not yet forthcoming.”

Neither the proposal’s incentives nor its penalties are likely to prove sufficient to terminate Iran’s nuclear weapons program. Iran’s pro-Khamenei daily, Keyhan, which often speaks for Iran’s leadership, declared, “The announcement of the completion of the nuclear fuel cycle carries three messages for the West. Firstly it proves that the language of threat and pressure is not instrumental for Iran. Secondly, it proves that Iranian scientists are so efficient that they can create extraordinary moments every minute, and finally the most important message was that Iran has joined the international atomic club.” In short, Iran feels that the West is powerless to hinder its nuclear destiny.

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Nuclear Energy