Has Iran violated the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty? That depends on who you ask.
Yesterday, at the opening session of the May 3-28 conference in New York meant to review the NPT, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton suggested Iran has violated its international obligations.
“Iran has defied the UN Security Council … and placed the future of the non-proliferation regime in jeopardy,” Clinton said. “Potential violators must know that they will pay a high price if they break the rules.”
However, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad once again denied his country has nuclear ambitions. Instead, he berated the U.S. for its possession and use of nuclear weapons.
“The possession of nuclear bombs is not a source of pride; it is disgusting and rather shameful.” Ahmadinejad said in a speech on the conference’s opening day.
Iran is often accused of violating section 3 of the NPT which reads in part:
“Each non-nuclear-weapon State Party to the Treaty undertakes to accept safeguards, as set forth in an agreement to be negotiated and concluded with the International Atomic Energy Agency in accordance with the Statute of the International Atomic Energy Agency and the Agency’s safeguards system, for the exclusive purpose of verification of the fulfillment of its obligations assumed under this Treaty with a view to preventing diversion of nuclear energy from peaceful uses to nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices.”
The key phrase is “accept safeguards” as determined by the IAEA. Article XII of the IAEA Statute outlines these safeguards which include “To examine the design of specialized equipment and facilities” and “To call for and receive progress reports.”
The fact is, Iran has allowed AIEA inspectors in the country since the early 90s and continues to do so. However, it has sometimes not reported otherwise legal activity until after it has been discovered. Iran’s has failed to meet its “obligations” not by violating the NPT, but by failing to report. The IAEA has consistently reported Iran’s activity as peaceful.
Rhetoric against Iran by the international community is gaining momentum. The accusations are not dissimilar to those that were used against Iraq and made to justify a U.S. invasion. While nations such as Pakistan, India, North Korea and Israel posses nuclear weapons and refuse to sign the NPT, the international community is concerned with Iran: a basically compliant signatory who has yet to be proven in pursuit of nuclear energy for non-peaceful purposes.