This past Wednesday The Race for Iran Publisher and New America Foundation/Iran Initiative Director Flynt Leverett appeared with Stanford University Director of Iran Studies Abbas Milani to discuss the United States’ policy toward the Islamic Republic of Iran.
Leverett suggested that the Obama administration has struggled to make the difficult choices necessary to pursue strategic engagement with Iran, while Milani placed more of the blame on the Iranian side.
One aspect of the discussion between Leverett and Milani deserves special attention.
The United States remains committed to its policy of “no enrichment” – meaning that the United States continue to oppose the enrichment of uranium on Iranian soil. Leverett points out that this is a faulty basis for U.S. policy given that Iran is already enriching uranium – an activity explicitly permitted by the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) – and is extremely unlikely to give up its uranium enrichment program at this point.
In response, Milani claims that the NPT says that the right to uranium enrichment is “abrogated” if a country is found to be in violation of the Treaty. As Leverett points out in the segment above, the treaty does not, in fact, include such a provision.
I have pasted the relevant articles of the NPT below to illustrate this point:
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 co-operate 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.
Each Party to the Treaty undertakes to take appropriate measures to ensure that, in accordance with this Treaty, under appropriate international observation and through appropriate international procedures, potential benefits from any peaceful applications of nuclear explosions will be made available to non-nuclear-weapon States Party to the Treaty on a non-discriminatory basis and that the charge to such Parties for the explosive devices used will be as low as possible and exclude any charge for research and development. Non-nuclear-weapon States Party to the Treaty shall be able to obtain such benefits, pursuant to a special international agreement or agreements, through an appropriate international body with adequate representation of non-nuclear-weapon States. Negotiations on this subject shall commence as soon as possible after the Treaty enters into force. Non-nuclear-weapon States Party to the Treaty so desiring may also obtain such benefits pursuant to bilateral agreements.
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.
The full text of the NPT can be found here.
— Ben Katcher