zondag 7 november 2010
Arguing that the threat of a military strike can only reinforce Iran’s determination to acquire deterrence, Alexander Pyka , a law student, suggests taking the military option off the table. The author questions the legality of the UNSC resolutions pressing Iran to suspend its programme. The IAEA found no evidence of a nuclear weapons programme, a statement that was never repeated but neither revoked. The IAEA merely expressed "concerns" about the "possible existence" of a military programme. For the author, the US lacks the moral authority in demanding a suspension of Iran's programme. In the discussion, the author explains that Iran did violate its safeguard agreement by not declaring its nuclear facilities prior to 2002, but a country has the option to heal such breaches, which is exactly what Iran did by voluntarily applying the INFCIRC/540-safeguard Model and co-operating with the IAEA far beyond its legal obligations. A violation of Art. III NPT - which requires Iran to conclude a safeguard agreement with the IAEA - is highly disputed in international law and in the author's view not ascertainable in the case of Iran. Under any circumstances, the possible violation would not have forfeited its right to use nuclear technology for peaceful purposes and merely serve as an indication of military intentions, not proof.
Mr Pyka furthermore argues that the IAEA board of governors' decision to formally declare a "non-compliance" of Iran with its safeguard-agreements in 2005 was an unprecedentedly narrow decision. Compared to the board's reaction to other incidents, for example the discovery - almost concurrent to the Iran-decision - of weapons-grade highly enriched uranium in South Korea and the subsequent decision to not pursue this issue, Iran's accusation of a "politicized" process appears less far-fetched. The author feels a negotiation aimed at the suspension of nuclear enrichment is not realistic as the nuclear programme is widely supported in Iran. He suggests the lifting of sanctions and the start of negotiations aimed at multilateralization of the nuclear fuel cycle in or outside Iran, with the help of Europe, Brazil, Turkey and the IAEA. Mr Pyka also underlines the discriminatory nature of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, perpetuating existing power structures. He argues that every step towards nuclear disarmament is a step towards a nuclear free Iran, whose nuclear ambitions in the early 1980s follow on Israel's nuclear armament in the late 1970s. The author suggests the creation of a nuclear-weapons-free-zone in the Middle East and Israel to give up its nuclear arsenal.
Nabi Sonboli, Research Fellow at the Iranian Institute for Political and International Studies (IPIS)  and previously Attaché at the Embassy of the Islamic Republic of Iran in Tokyo , enters the debate on Sascha Lohmann’s piece. For him, the main problem is the behaviour of “global powers” in Iran’s vicinity. He feels that face saving and confidence building measures must be concrete and mutual, in which Germany can play an important role. He points out that Iran is rational and pragmatic in its regional policy and could assist the US in state-building in Afghanistan and Iraq. With the West having discontinued co-operation with Iran and blocked Iran’s shares in nuclear facilities in France and beyond, how can Iran be fully transparent, he wonders. This has led to the failure of the Russia-France nuclear swap. Iran also offered to deposit fuel in Turkey, to no avail. Mr Sonboli questions Washington’s political will to solve power politics, external interventions, misperceptions, the lack of a common vision toward the future of the Middle East, etc. Quoting Ron Grace , he argues that US behaviour has destroyed trust and prolonged the current stalemate on the nuclear issue. He feels that a halt to sabotage is a first priority in Iran-US relations. With the Bush administration having earmarked Iran as part of the “axis of evil”, the author feels it deprived itself from Iranian co-operation in its regional wars which “imposed three trillion dollars on the US taxpayers”.
In the debate on Alexander Pyka’s contribution, Mr Sonboli argues that the US politicized the Iranian nuclear case. He said that Iran - in the framework of mutual confidence building - has been open to implementation of the additional protocol required by the IAEA. In his view, the US and its allies have escalated the conflict. He underscores that Iran can defend itself and sees no reason to appease the US under these circumstances. He suggests a de-escalation and a reversal of steps within a face saving mechanism. To him, that is no concession to Iran but a concession to the US. Mr Sonboli realizes the key problems of the West: any undeclared nuclear facilities and the use of the dual use technology for “wrong” purposes. In his view these concerns are not real, as diversion is not possible under IAEA observation. Addressing Niklas Anzinger, Mr Sonboli argues that isolation and sanctions have led to the current deadlock. With “15+1 neighbors (the US is our biggest neighbor) and surrounded by all international problems" in the wider region where Iran plays a key role, he feels it is an illusion to think that the West can solve its problems without Iran’s co-operation. In his view, engagement is the only realistic solution. And he concludes that “instead of turning the Greater Middle East into a rivalry area between global powers, it is [in the interest of all concerned] to define it as a region of peace and development and [to] concentrate on how to achieve that.”
What can we learn from AC’s competition? Arguably, the US State Department unceremoniously uses foreign public media to further its agenda. The single Iranian voice in the debate - who could have received a warmer welcome by some of his prospective peers and AC’s editor - succeeds in exposing the deep misconceptions of the West about the greater Middle East. Ironically, four of the six students take the "wipe Israel off the map” quote for granted, where it is established that this amounts to sheer propaganda distortion . And interestingly, none of the pieces mentions the Brazil-Turkey-mediated fuel swap mischievously torpedoed  by Washington and its European allies. Neither did any of the students expose the pro-war lobby, for which this deal was a "threat" as it thwarted the option of a military “solution” and "regime change".
The one bright spot in this saga is the unconditional loyalty to international law that Alexander Pyka voices in the discussion: “a pre-emptive military strike by Israel or any other nation would be illegal under international law. Violating and therefore further eroding the prohibition of force in Art. 2 Nr. 4 UNCh would be a huge setback for promoting international law as the only legitimate framework in which decisions of military action should be made.” In doing so, he joins Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan who famously said : "This is the time to discuss whether we believe in the supremacy of law or the law of the Supremes and Superiors ..."
 see http://www.atlantic-community.org/
 Jörg Wolf (AC's editor-in-chief): “AC has 4.847 members”
 Niklas Anzinger: "Isolate the Regime in Tehran"
 Tobias Sauer: "Carrots Not Sticks: Incentives are the Way Forward with Iran"
 Felix Seidler: "Regime Change Online. Iran's Internet Generation Holds the Key"
 Sascha Lohmann: "Mutual Trust Building is Required Between the West and Iran"
 Felix Haass: "Iran: Practical Incentives Instead of Punitive Measures"
 Alexander Pyka: "Political Concessions Prevent Nuclear Weapons"
 Rob Grace: “Covert ops sabotage US-Iran ties”
 Jonathan Steele: “If Iran is ready to talk, the US must do so unconditionally”
 Pepe Escobar: “Iran, Sun Tzu and the dominatrix”