Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Wednesday, July 18th, 2018

Iran’s Nuclear Controversy

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Iran’s Nuclear Controversy

Iran has recently agreed to resume talks regarding its nuclear program but it wants to pursue them through Russia as it considers the talks with Russia glazed with good intentions. There has been a stalemate regarding any such talks between Iran and major powers of the world and Iran has been going through certain sanctions imposed by United Nations Security Council. Six nations including the US, Britain, Russia, Germany, France, and China have been urging Iran to satisfy the demands of the UN Security Council and go through proper inspection of its nuclear plants and if necessary should give up it plants that can cause threat to the world.

Iran, on the other hand has been denying the allegations of having any sort of intentions for developing nuclear weapons. Mahmood Ahmedinejad has announced that nuclear weapons are inhuman and anti-religious, while Iran has been a religious state. Therefore, Iran has never intended to use its nuclear capacity to make weapons. Rather, they have been using it for peaceful and constructive purposes. He has recently urged for, "Nuclear energy for all and Nuclear weapons for none." This is what President Mahmood Ahmedinejad has been saying about nuclear issue since the very beginning.

At the same instant the Iranian President has mentioned his concerns regarding the nuclear arsenals that he thinks other countries of the world are at the moment developing. In one of the most recent interviews he has said, "We don't like it either that some countries have nuclear weapons. If we are going to be against nuclear weapons we must rise in opposition to current nuclear arsenals.

There are now a lot of atomic arsenals in Belgium, Italy, in Germany, Japan. This places serious jeopardy against the international community." He further claims that Iran's nuclear program is transparent and does not cause any threat to international community. He has said, "All nuclear activities in Iran are monitored by the IAEA. There have been no documents against Iran from the Agency. It's just a claim by the US that we are after nuclear weapon. But they have no evidence that Iran is diverting resources for that purpose."

Keeping these claims aside let's go through some historical developments and issues regarding Iran's nuclear program. Bushehr is considered as Iran's first nuclear reactor, reportedly started in 1970's under the reign of Shah, but was put on hold afterwards. Later the Russians worked on it and completed it.

The Russians are to provide the raw fuel required and they are also responsible for taking away the spent fuel which could be utilized to construct a plutonium-based nuclear bomb. Though Bushehr has not been a part of Iran's nuclear controversy, there is emphasis from US that as the raw fuel is being provided by Russia therefore Iran does not require domestic enrichment program, while Iran is of the view that for long term planning it might need its own enrichment plant.

There is another nuclear plant in Qom, built under-ground and revealed in 2009. IAEA says that it should have been disclosed much earlier and should be made more transparent. It also says that further work on this plant should be stopped for now unless the concerns are removed completely, while Iran considers it in accordance to the rules and its concealed underground construction is to safeguard it from any sort of airstrike. According to the inspection reports of IAEA, though this plant at the moment does not pose any threat, it has the capacity to do so as it has room for 3,000 centrifuges.

Another controversial issue is regarding the reactor in Tehran. This reactor is much smaller and is basically developed for research purposes and creates medical isotopes. It was basically installed by US long ago. The issue is regarding the raw material for the reactor. The reactor is running out of fuel; the US, Russian and France had proposed that they would take the low-enriched (3.5%) Uranium out and would return Iran with high-enriched (20%) fuel rods.

The basic objective of the idea was to take the low-enriched stock abroad and avoid its utilization for nuclear device. On May 17, 2010, Tehran announced that after agreement with Turkey and Brazil Iran had agreed to ship the low-enriched Uranium to Turkey and it would continue to enrich other uranium to 20%, but the idea could not satisfy the Western governments as they could not see the basic issue of the enrichment solved through the agreement.

In 2007, the National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) reported that Iranian nuclear program depicted no serious threats of nuclear weapons as the nuclear weapons program was abandoned in 2003. The NIE reported, "We do not know whether it currently intends to develop nuclear weapons." But the report turned too much controversial.

Israel reacted urgently and rejected the NIE report. Further controversies and oppositions to the report compelled the then Director of US National Intelligence, Mike McConnell to announce on February 28, 2008, "We remain concerned about Iran's intentions... Tehran at a minimum is keeping the option open to develop nuclear weapons."

Afterwards, in 2009, IAEA, through a secret document reported that Iran possesses "sufficient information" to construct a nuclear device and had even worked on developing a warhead with the capacity of being carried on a missile. However, the agency accepted that their information is not based on concrete proof. Later on, the IAEA chief ElBaradei in September 2009 commented in an interview, "I do not think based on what we see that Iran has an ongoing nuclear weapons program," and accepted that Iran's nuclear weapons development has been "hyped".

United Nations Organization in this regard has been urging Iran for transparent nuclear program. Keeping in view the mounting pressure from international community, UN Security Council imposed sanctions on Iran under resolutions 1737, 1747, 1803, 1929. Under these sanctions, there is ban on the sale of material and technology related to nuclear enrichment and ballistic missile development to Iran; restriction on dealing with Iranian banks and individuals and restriction on major arms systems to Iran and strict inspections of air and sea cargoes.

Apart from these sanctions there are certain other sanctions imposed by the US and EU. All these sanctions are imposed because US and other major countries in the world doubt Iran's nuclear program and fear any sort development of nuclear weapons in Iran.

Iran, on the other hand has been defending its position with the view that its nuclear program is friendly and does not possess any threat to the world and it has the right to follow such a program. Definitely all the capable countries of the world have the right to follow friendly and secure nuclear programs but it should also be kept in mind that there are many secret stories regarding the different nuclear plants in the world and they really pose a threat to humanity.

All the nuclear plants in the world must be made transparent and secret stories should be disclosed along with all the ill intentions and ambiguities. Strict check on all the nuclear plants in the world is necessary.

That is only possible through IAEA but it should be given more strength and authority. Further, it should not be biased and must not be politically inclined and above all must treat all the countries of the world alike as far as nuclear threats are concerned. Otherwise, the countries like Iran and the others that are gaining nuclear capabilities can not be stopped from developing nuclear weapons and the race of nuclear weapons may continue until the human extinction.

Dilawar Sherzai is the permanent writer of the Daily outlook Afghanistan. He can be reached at outlookafghanistan@gmail.com

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