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 (DV) Edalat: Negotiations or Sanctions -- Peace or War With Iran?







Negotiations or Sanctions: Peace or War with Iran?
by Abbas Edalat
September 5, 2006

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With the end of August, the deadline of the UN Security Council resolution on Iran has now passed with Iran ignoring the demand to suspend uranium enrichment for a civilian nuclear technology that it regards as its inalienable right under the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has not found a shred of evidence of a nuclear weapons program after over 2,000 man/days of unprecedented inspections of Iranís nuclear plants in the past three years and Iran has not been found to be in breach of its NPT obligations. [1] 


According to the IAEA, there are 45 other countries including 14 countries in Europe and several members of UN Security Council, who are in a similar position as Iran in that the time consuming process of verification is still continuing. For all these countries, like Iran, the Director General of the IAEA is not yet in a position to say that all their nuclear activities are peaceful. [2] 


Thus, the referral of Iran, under US pressure, to the UN Security Council by the IAEA Governing Board and the Security Council resolution against Iran has no legal foundation in international law. 


Intent on constructing a legal pretext for a military attack on Iran, US diplomacy has created the absurd situation that the deadline for Iran to comply to the UN Security Council resolution has expired while the 5+1 are still studying Iranís substantive 23-page response to the incentive package. EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana has said: "We have the need to discuss together, to analyze the document that they have given us as a reply to the package." [3] 


The truth is that Iran is simply exercising its legitimate rights for enrichment of uranium within the framework of a civilian nuclear program. However, in its 22nd August response to the incentive package of the permanent members of the UN Security Council and Germany, the so-called 5+1, Iran called for immediate negotiations with the 5+1 and is widely known to have offered to consider suspending its uranium enrichment during the negotiations, but not as a precondition for these negotiations to begin. [4] 


The world is now at the brink of an abyss. The specter of another catastrophic military adventure by the US and its allies in the Middle East is haunting the international community. 


Any kind of sanctions, as planned now by the US and to be carried out by a new "coalition of the willing," would be utterly ineffective in forcing Iran to suspend its enrichment activities. Similar to the run-up to the invasion of Iraq, such a move could also lead to an illegal, preemptive military attack by the US or Israel against Iran, causing a major conflagration in the Middle East. 


The only alternative, which will ensure peace in the region, is for the US and its European allies to enter into immediate negotiations with Iran, without any pre-conditions. A grand bargain which would establish legitimate security guarantees for Iran could also provide the assurances for Iranís nuclear program to remain peaceful. 


In fact, this is the position of the overwhelming majority of the international community. Iran has the support of the 114-member Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) that has defended Iranís peaceful nuclear program in their ministerial meeting in the end of May this year in Malaysia. [5] 


Iran has also obtained the support of the 57 nations of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) who in their Foreign Ministers Council meeting in Baku in June this year have demanded negotiations with Iran without any precondition. [6] 


The international peace movement and anti-war organizations around the world should unite in opposing any kind of sanctions and calling on the US and western European countries to enter into immediate talks with Iran without any preconditions. 


Abbas Edalat is Professor of Computer Science and Mathematics at Imperial College London and the founding member of the Campaign Against Sanctions and Military Intervention in Iran (CASMII). He can be reached at: campaign@campaigniran.org/.
[1] CASMII Statement: IAEA finds no evidence of Iranian nuclear-weapons plan, March 2, 2006.
[2] Statement by H.E. Dr. M. Javad Zarif, Permanent Representative of the Islamic Republic of Iran before the Security Council, July 31, 2006.
[3]  Jonathan Stearns, "Iran's EU Offer Still Valid as Diplomats Plan Talks," Bloomberg.com, September 1, 2006.
[4] Abbas Maleki and Kaveh L. Afrasiabi, "Nuclear talks: Saving face with Iran," International Herald Tribune, August 25, 2006.
[5] "
Nonaligned Movement Expresses Support For Iran," Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, May 30, 2006.
[6] "'No preconditions' for Iran nuclear talks: Islamic countries," Agence France Press, June 28, 2006.