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The Race for Iran

Robert Wright On The Upcoming Nuclear Conference

(Photo Credit: United Nations Photostream)

Another nuclear conference is on the horizon. That’s right – the 2010 Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons – a once-every-five-years gathering of the nearly 200 parties to the treaty – begins next week and lasts through May 28.

New America Foundation Senior Research Fellow Robert Wright has posted an informative post at the New York Times on the conference’s likely outcomes.

Wright’s entire piece is worth reading, but one theme I want to highlight is Wright’s emphasis on the harmful legacy of the Bush years – a problem particularly acute in the nuclear non-proliferation arena.

In particular, Wright takes aim at the Bush administration for its nuclear agreement with India (a non-signatory to the NPT) and its opposition to the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.

Here is what he says:

In 2006 President Bush reached a deal with India — which had refused to join the treaty and built nuclear weapons instead — that actually gave India American nuclear technology!

Though the assistance was to the civilian part of India’s nuclear program, the deal frees up resources for India to build more nuclear weapons should it decide to. So the message from Bush was: If you stay out of the treaty so you can build nuclear weapons, we’ll help you build even more — so long as you’re our friend. And, since the India deal remains intact, so does that message.

The Bush administration also opposed ratification of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, which would keep us, and the rest of the world, from setting off nuclear explosions for test purposes (and which, notwithstanding hawk hysterics, wouldn’t erode the strength of our nuclear arsenal). This is one reason that the last nonproliferation treaty review conference, in 2005, collapsed in acrimony. (For a fuller sense of how thoroughly Bush undermined the 2005 conference, read the third paragraph of this.)

With reference to Iran, Wright also calls for a more principled American position on nuclear weapons:

But, believe it or not, not everyone shares America’s views of which nations seem responsible and restrained. Some Indians aren’t sure Pakistanis are responsible stewards of nuclear weapons (and might say, as we say about Iran, that Pakistan sponsors terrorism). Among some Pakistanis the feelings are mutual. And there are Arabs who consider Israel manifestly capable of disproportionate response to provocation.

The point isn’t that these Indians, Pakistanis and Arabs are right. The point is that if you’re serious about international laws and norms, you have to make their application independent of judgment calls like this. Otherwise you wind up looking as if you’re just saying that your friends can have nukes and their friends can’t, which leads to annoyance.

Wright’s full piece can be read here.

— Ben Katcher


42 Responses to “Robert Wright On The Upcoming Nuclear Conference”

  1. James Canning says:


    More advice for Iranian PR would be for Ahmadinejad to keep the focus on Israel as a non-signatory of the NPT, and the common goal of eliminating nukes from the Middle East, rather than attacking the US for its nuclear weapons deployment. The average American can readily comprehend it is hypocritical for the US to insist on intrusive IAEA inspections of Iranian nuclear sites while allowing Israel to keep the inspectors out of the country entirely.

  2. James Canning says:


    Good advice (that Iran send a video team into the “new” nuclear facility at Qom.

    In The Wall Street Journal this past weekend, Jay Solomon quoted a “senior US official involved in the nuclear diplomacy” as stating: “The Iranians are clearly intending to spoil the party”. Iran, seeking to stregthen the NPT, is “spoiling the party” according to this foolish “senior US official involved in the nuclear diplomacy”!

  3. kooshy says:

    A few interesting points in this interview
    Interview with Dr. Ali Bagheri, Deputy Secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council.
    Dr. Ali Bagheri, closely involved with Iran’s nuclear diplomacy as Deputy Secretary of the Supreme National Security Council, spoke on April 18 in Tehran to Atul Aneja on the international disarmament conference in Iran and its likely impact on the upcoming Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference in New York. He sought to counter allegations about Iran’s lack of cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency. He emphasised that Iran and India ought to coordinate their work in Afghanistan. Excerpts:

  4. kooshy says:


    Not the time to crank up rhetoric against Iran
    May 3, 2010
    I WAS disappointed to read your April 26 editorial “Prepare now for a nuclear Iran.’’ It seems designed to provoke rather than calm. Words like “sanctions,’’ “sabotage,’’ and “containment’’ only serve to inflame. Cranking up the rhetoric against Iran is not likely to produce positive results; rather, it is pushing forward things we don’t want. Isn’t Iran doing what any reasonable country would do given the threatening environment we and Israel have created? We can and should change that environment.
    Increasing pressure on Iran will only make its leaders redouble their efforts. The lesson of nuclear North Korea and non-nuclear Iraq is not lost on the Iranians. No doubt other nations are watching. What lessons will they learn?
    If it is a nuclear-free Middle East that we desire, then we should work toward that goal. That will be best served by making Iran feel more secure, not less. We should offer Iran a guarantee that it will not be attacked by us or by Israel. We should begin a process where nuclear weapons will be removed from the Middle East. This would improve the security of everyone, and it would avoid the regional nuclear arms race that is otherwise likely.
    Your rhetoric has an eerie echo to the rhetoric that drove us into the Iraq war. Is it not time to crank down the language on Iran? To me, and surely to Iran, this attention sounds like the rationalization for a new war.

    Peter Reilley
    Londonderry, N.H.

  5. Fiorangela,

    “In other words, when Iran says its nuclear project is for energy, what I have seen causes me to give them at least the benefit of the doubt.”

    Your description of far-sighted infrastructure development that makes sense if and only if some source of inexpensive energy will eventually be plugged in (i.e. nuclear energy) makes it even more clear to me that Iran would be well-served by some good public relations advice. Just send a video team to Natanz to film and comment on the very things you describe. Let viewers see it all and ask themselves whether this doesn’t make Iran’s “peaceful energy” claims sound plausible after all.

    Maybe you could hire on as the narrator, Fiorangela.

  6. Rehmat says:

    Well done Islamic Republic….

    Despite the baseless allegations made by the Zionist-controlled Western governments about Islamic Republic’s human right record – Tehran was elected to four high-profile UN commissions, two working on human rights issues. The four commissions are; Commission on the Status of Women (UNCSW), Human Settlement Program (UN-HABITAT), Commission on Science and Technology for Development (CSTD) and the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII). Iran along with other ten elected members (Belgium, Congo, Estonia, Georgis, Jamaica, Liberia, Netherlands, Spain, Thailand and Zimbabwe) will help set United Nations policy on gender equality and the advancement of women’s rights………


  7. James Canning says:

    Since Wright discusses the merits of having nuclear fuel controlled from outside the country using the nuclear fuel, he perhaps should have mentioned the stupidity of the Bush administration, when it refused to support Russia’s efforts to retain control of the nuclear fuel cycle for the Iranian nuclear power plants.

  8. James Canning says:


    Is it not true that the so-called “new” nuclear facility near Qom was known to western intelligence for many many months before the staged “exposure”? And, even now, have the centrifuges been installed? Is an empty cave in the mountains a “nuclear facility” in the deranged or dishonest “thinking” of the Iranophobes?

  9. James Canning says:


    Ronald Lauder is an intelligent businessman. So what drives his effort to demonize Iran? Is he a proponent of the insane “Greater Israel” scheme (retention of the West Bank and the Golan Heights)?

  10. James Canning says:

    Full points for stupidity and pettiness to the Obama administration for its refusal of visas to the Iranian press delegation that was to accompany Ahmadinejad to New York. Does Hillary get credit for this?

  11. Fiorangela Leone says:

    without a doubt the ‘real’ Iranians who comment here know more about Qom than my one visit afforded to me. Nevertheless, I did see and learn that an entire region around Qom, which is on the edge of a desert, is now green and productive, and provides wealth to a number of landowners, mostly clerics, and employment and food to many. As I understand it, as mullahs gained power after Khomeini’s rise, Qom’s mullahs also gained influence and were able to force a project that diverted water from another region. That’s observation #1.

    Observation #2 is that the region around the nuclear facility at Natanz is also in the 20+ year long process of being greened for development. Power lines radiate from the nuclear plant to high-tension towers many miles distant. Acres and acres have been planted with pine trees to cool the area in preparation for future residential and commercial development. Along the roadways, as far as the eye can see bushes have been planted to keep the desert sands from blowing over the roads and blocking them. There’s a massive windmill farm not too distant from the Natanz facility. In other words, when Iran says its nuclear project is for energy, what I have seen causes me to give them at least the benefit of the doubt.

    The development of green infrastructure at Natanz suggests that the purpose of the facility at Qom might also be related to planning for future energy needs for new residential and commercial development.

    Keep in mind that Iran is rapidly urbanizing; it’s topography is extremely challenging; there are few cities in Iran and they are extremely crowded — Tehran is tremendously congested, very expensive, and, it’s on an earthquake fault. Real estate development in Iran is not as simple a project as it was in Florida. There’s a good reason why the most prestigious occupation for an Iranian is in the engineering field.

    Among the many appalling aspects of the Obama admin’s discourse and policymaking on Iran is the way that policymakers display their ignorance of some very basic facts of Iranian life. It’s embarrassing as well as frightening to think these people are making life-and-death decisions, based on swiss-cheese knowledge with ideological flavoring.

    James Canning — I thought I was responding to a comment of yours, posted on the Dimitri Simes thread.

  12. kooshy says:


    “Is he suggesting that Iran would spend millions of dollars and thousands of man-hours on a nuclear site, and then close it down and scurry off to a new one the moment the first site is discovered?”

    I think David A. got the idea from the gofer in the 1980’s Chevy Chase movie Caddyshack, which Bill Murray was never able to catch chasing the gofer from one hole to next.

  13. Kooshy,

    Thanks for the reference to the WP article. Here’s a somewhat amusing quote from it:

    “After being forced to acknowledge the existence of the Qom site, Iran may well have decided to start another enrichment plant to keep its nuclear options open, he said. ‘The logic is that, if a site is discovered, start building another one or two,’ [David] Albright said.”

    I must be missing Albright’s “logic” (though I’ll confess that I tend to miss the “logic” in quite a bit of what Albright says and writes). Is he suggesting that Iran would spend millions of dollars and thousands of man-hours on a nuclear site, and then close it down and scurry off to a new one the moment the first site is discovered?

    Why do people take Albright seriously?

  14. Alan,

    From the Al Ahram article you cited:

    “Tel Aviv does not seem confident about the military option, but at the same time the Israeli government is unlikely to be prepared to pay the political price of Washington’s taking the lead in imposing further sanctions against Iran.”

    I haven’t read the article, which might clear up my confusion, but I thought it best to turn to you. I don’t understand what “political price” the Israeli government would pay.

  15. Alan,

    From the Al Ahram article you cited:

    “Tel Aviv does not seem confident about the military option, but at the same time the Israeli government is unlikely to be prepared to pay the political price of Washington’s taking the lead in imposing further sanctions against Iran.”

    I haven’t read the article, which might clear up my confusion, but I thought it best to turn to you. I don’t understand what “political price” the Israeli government would pay.

  16. Rehmat says:

    According to JTA – World Jewish Congress president Ronald S. Lauder called for the United Nations delegates to demonstrate their outrage against the presence of Iranian president Dr. Ahmadinejad at the NPT Review Conference.

    “The United Nations cannot continue to countenance the appearance and participation of an abusive regime bent on the acquisition of nuclear capability. The intentions of its use by Iran have been clearly enunciated time and again by its president, a denier of the Holocaust who repeatedly threatens the United States and Europe, and who continuously issues menacing threats to 'wipe Israel off the map.' A country that supports terrorist activity worldwide and intimidates its own people with egregious human rights violations should not be given a platform by the organization that is the repository of international human rights,”

    The Israeli Hasbara idiot reminds me of Michael Schneider, secretary general of World Jewish Congress (WJC) in a statement published on WJC’s website on January 5, 2010, said that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Israel) has requested that Jewish “working groups should examine different ways to meet Iranian incursion into Latin America and its rising influence on that Continent – and make recommendations how to combat that danger”.

    Joseph Goebbels must be miising these guys not being on his team:


  17. James Canning says:

    White House spokesman Tommy Vietor said today the US will continue its foolish “suuport” for Israel at the UN, and therefor encourage more stupidity on the part of the government of Israel. Should we be surprised?

  18. James Canning says:


    My understanding is that Marc Rich received protection from high levels of the US government, because he was an agent of Mossad. Rich arranged the emigration of Jews from the Soviet Union, and later from Russia. Israel desperately needed new immigrants, to keep the Palestinian element of the population from growing relative to that of the Jews.

  19. James Canning says:


    Are you arguing the Iranian nuclear programme merely provides a pretext for foolish American efforts to injure Iran, as retaliation for Iran’s assistance to the Palestinians Israel is trying to crush? By extension, this is essence is an argument that the Israel lobby is conspiring to subvert the national security of the US, in order to aid and abet idiotic “Greater Israel” scheme.

  20. James Canning says:

    I recommend Justin Wintle’s review in the Financial Times today (May 1/2) of Dilip Hiro’s new book: After Empire – -The Birth of a Multipolar World. The review is captioned: “Hit and Missed – – The US squandered its unigque opportunity in the new world order”. Hiro insists G W Bush did more damage to the US than Osama bin Laden. I agree with this view wholeheartedly, and in fact Bush did easily 100 times as much damage to the US, as the terrorists on “9/11”.

  21. kooshy says:


    Hi there, here is today’s published article by your new pen pal friend, Joby of WP

    Iran’s advances in nuclear technology spark new concerns
    By Joby Warrick
    Washington Post Staff Writer


    Have a good one

  22. Alan says:

    kooshy – Al-Ahram is one of the best sources of analysis of Palestinian politics, and this week they are surpassing themselves. A good friend of mine knows Graham Usher very well (he was until recently based in Pakistan, and before that in Palestine up until the 2006 PA elections), but all 3 writers in your link paint a vivid picture of the mess Obama appears to be creating for himself here by getting this all the wrong way round.

    This paragraph struck me though:

    “However, despite the impression of strength which it is trying to convey, Israel’s options in dealing with Iran’s nuclear programme are very limited. Tel Aviv does not seem confident about the military option, but at the same time the Israeli government is unlikely to be prepared to pay the political price of Washington’s taking the lead in imposing further sanctions against Iran.”

    This is something one imagines Washington is well aware of, which should mean Obama has almost unprecedented scope to follow his own specific agenda here. To continue on the current path would be to miss a huge opportunity.

  23. Rehmat says:

    If one study the history of US sanctions against Tehran since the 1979 Islamic Revolution – one might come to the conclusion that pro-Israeli had been at the top who had economically benefited from such sanctions. And once Barack Obama obeys his masters in Tel Aviv and places Bibi’s new Crippling Sanctions, with or without the approval of UNSC, through AIPAC-controlled Congress that would curtail US companies from being involved in sale of gasoline and refining equipment to the Islamic State – it would be Zionists like billionaire Marc Rich. Rich was indicted in the US for making millions of dollars through illegal oil deals with Tehran during the American embassy staff taken hostages for spying against Iranian people in the 1980s. “Rich escaped arrest by taking refuge in Switzerland where he remained until former US president Bill Clinton pardoned him on January 20, 2001 under pressure from AIPAC and Israeli government of Ehud Barak and Shimon Peres (US author Grant F. Smith, in ‘Israel Violates Economic Sanctions Against Iran’, February 10, 2010)”.


  24. Dan Cooper says:

    Sanction on Iran has nothing to do with its nuclear program.

    Iran has no nuclear weapon and is a signatory to NPT.

    Israel has over 200 illegal nuclear weapons, is not a signatory to NPT and is in violation of numerous UNSC resolutions.

    However, the west does not impose sanction on this rouge state but is so eager to impose crippling sanction on Iran.

    The Hypocrisy is impossible to stomach.

    America and Israel Lobby have blood on their hands. 7 years ago, they painted Iraq as a threat and destroyed the country.

    Now they are painting Iran as a threat over its non-existent nuclear weapon.

    Iran is on a verge of becoming a very powerful country in the Middle East and this is intolerable to the US and Israel, because it directly challenges their supremacy in the region.

    In order to stop Iran becoming a super power in the region, they would do everything in their power to impose crippling sanctions to weaken Iran’s economy and its technological progress.

    So long as Israel lobby keeps its stranglehold on Washington, the policy towards Iran will be sanction, isolation and containment.

  25. Dan Cooper says:


    Even if Iran did not have a nuclear program, they would have found another excuse to impose sanctions.

    Their objective is isolation, containment and ultimately destabilization to divide and break Iran.

  26. James Canning says:


    ElBaradei of course is quite right. Full points to Tufts U. for inviting him to Boston.
    Rather pathetic, is it not, that Obama seems to pay so little attention to the offers Iran has made (re exchanging LEU for the 20% U)?

  27. Dan Cooper says:

    ElBaradei says sanctions on Iran will fail:

    In rare interview, former head of UN nuclear agency says sanctions in Iran are likely, but doomed.


  28. Dan Cooper says:

    What can possibly justify the relentless U.S. diplomatic (and mainstream media) assault on Iran ?


  29. James Canning says:


    Stuart Levey is an excellent illustration of the degree of penetration Aipac has achieved in the Obama administration. A continuation of the distrubing conditions that obtained under the moron who was in the White House before Obama.

  30. James Canning says:


    I don’t think many astute observes of the scene in the Middle East see Iran as a threat to the US. But Iraq obviously was not a threat, and look what happened.

    Israel wants to have complete freedom of movement in deciding how it deals with the Palestinians. To enable further oppression, of course. Dupes and stooges in the US try to convince the average American Iran poses a threat to him (or her). Again, a distrubing re-run of the drive toward war with Iraq.

  31. James Canning says:


    Bravo! Jerry Bremer was an idiot. Totally lacked ability to think strategically. No wonder he was made Viceroy.

  32. Eric A. Brill says:


    I think I speak for all of us in telling you you’re doing a great job in the absence of Flynt and Hillary. It’s true that this article hasn’t got as many comments as Flynt’s brief note about Hillary’s having delivered their new daughter. But you can quickly catch up if you really want to — just go out and have a baby.

  33. kooshy says:

    Interesting point of view published in Al Ahram

    Playing peace to target Iran
    Every time the US president tries painstakingly to build a coalition against Iran up pops Israel, writes Graham Usher in New York


  34. Fiorangela Leone says:

    kooshy, thank you for the link to the Tabriz bazaar.

  35. Fiorangela Leone says:

    Castellio, the “benefits” Russia reaped from its loss of as many as 25 million of its citizens must be understood in the same mindset as Iraq “benefited” from the deaths of 1.5 million of its citizens and the displacement, internally or externally, of another 4 or 5 million and the nearly complete obliteration of Iraq’s cultural institutions. Under Bremer’s Order 81, even the seeds of Iraq’s farmers were brought under the control of US benefits-grantors.

    “The 100 orders enacted by Paul Bremer to privatise and sell Iraq’s economy and natural resources, the main motive behind the US invasion and occupation of Iraq, [are rightly called by] Antonia Juhasz of the Foreign Policy in Focus … the “Bush economic invasion of Iraq”. The US is embarking on the wholesale privatisation and colonisation of Iraq’s economy.”

    As with Iraq, Iran’s nuclear “threat” is a pretext to enable the US and Israel to carry out the same agenda regarding Iran as that carried out against Iraq. The article linked, above, continues:

    “The most brutal of these 100 orders is Order 39 which essentially forced the sale of 200 Iraqi state-owned companies would be privatised, and that foreign companies could have complete control of Iraqi Banks, factories and mines. These companies could transfer all their profits outside Iraq.”

    The US and its Israel lobby have jump-started the financial domination of Iran. WINEP, a Washington-based think tank sponsored by AIPAC, forced legislation creating the office manned by Stuart Levey, whose job is to strangle Iran’s banks and the blackmail other nations who might otherwise trade with or invest in Iran to refrain from doing so under threat from the US government. http mondoweiss dot net/2010/04/treasury-officials-are-sure-cozy-with-israel-lobby dot html

  36. Dan Cooper says:

    “Iran is perceived as a threat because they did not obey the orders of the United States. Militarily this threat is irrelevant.

    This country has not behaved aggressively beyond its borders for centuries.

    Israel invaded Lebanon with the blessing and help of the U.S. five times in thirty years. Iran has not done anything like this”

    Most of the countries in the world belong to the non-aligned bloc and strongly support Iran’s right to enrich uranium for peaceful purposes.

    It has repeated often and openly that it is not considered part of the so called “international community.” Obviously only those countries that follow U.S. orders belong to it. It is the U.S. and Israel threatening Iran and this threat must be taken seriously.


  37. Castellio says:

    I confess I jumped, hearing for the first time, that Russia “benefited” from the Second World War. I can’t imagine any Russian saying that. Somewhere between 11 to 22 million Russians died in that war, which was a continuation of the first, wherein another 3 million Russians perished, again more than any other country. The desolation in Russia during those wars is hard to really grasp.

    There is a profound misreading of Russia in the twentieth century that still plagues rational thought. As if those wars were initiated by Russia to spread communism, when they were nothing of the kind…

  38. Rehmat says:

    The 118-strong Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) states are planning to use the coming NPT Conference to turn the heat on the Zionist entity which refuses to sign NPT Charter and allegedly posseses between 240-400 nuclear bombs. Israel daily Jerusalem Post (April 14, 2010) reported that US President Barack Obama while calling every country to join NPT – dogded a question regarding Israel’s nuclear program. Tel Aviv’s top Arab ally, Egypt’s Ambassador at UN, Maged Abdel Aziz, said on Tuesday that Israel must sign NPT to defuse nuclear tension in the Middle East. Out of 189 UN members only Israel, India, Pakistan and North Korea are not signatory to NPT. N. Korea originally joined NPT but later withdrew.

    The 2005 NPT Review Conference was widely regarded failure due to Washington’s refusal to discuss Israel’s nuclear program while blaming Iranian nuclear program as a great threat to world security. The five bullies with veto-power at the UNSC – have turned most of United Nations Watchdog groups nothing but part of international circus. After 42 years the signing the NPT, there still exist close to 23,000 nuclear weapons and the nuclear powers have increased from five to nine – but ‘the monster’ is Islamic Republic which may join the nuclear club in the distant future. During Dr. Ahmadinejad’s 2005 visit to New York, he was received by anti-Zionist Jewish Rabbis who threw their support behind Tehran’s policy toward Israel (watch video below).


  39. James Canning says:


    Did the US “benefit” from the Second World War? The war resulted in the occupation of Eastern Europe by the USSR, etc etc etc. Truman tried to rein in the “defence” establishment in the wake of the war, but the outbreak of the Korean War put paid to that effort. And ever since, the US has been in the thrall of the armaments manufacturers.

  40. kooshy says:

    A total out of subject link

    Tabriz Bazaar the largest in the world and the one visited by Marco Polo, Ibn Battuta, Jean Chardin and Clavijo who was the ambassador of Henry III of Castile in 1403-05

    Sorry is dubbed in Persian with English subtitles


  41. kooshy says:

    I like to repost what I had posted on an earlier tread on this site last night, since this article is closely related to the topic on hand on this tread

    The Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty:
    Last Gasp of a Moribund Civilization
    By Prof. John Kozy

  42. James Canning says:

    Ahmadinejad will be attending the conference, and his object is to seek to stregthen the NPT. US hypocrisy on treaty compliance/noncompliance does not serve the best interests of the American people.