UN Referral – Not

For at least the past six months, neo-crazy media sycophants have been “reporting” that if the French-Brit-German negotiations with Iran fail to produce the result demanded by the neo-crazies – namely, the permanent cessation of all Iranian nuclear fuel-cycle activities – the US will “refer” the matter to the UN Security Council for action.

Who says that? Usually “a senior U.S. diplomat” or a “European diplomat familiar with the negotiations,” all speaking “on condition of anonymity.”

Elaine Sciolino “cited” a letter, today, in the Washington Post, she says was written by the Europeans to the Iranians in response to a “threat” by the Iranians to resume the uranium-conversion work they had voluntarily suspended about a year ago.

The Europeans replied to the threat by warning Iran in a letter that restarting work at Isfahan would violate the Paris agreement and force them to support an American-led effort to refer Iran’s case to the United Nations Security Council for possible punishment.

Now, the EU-Iran “talks” might well have collapsed if the Iranians had resumed the uranium-conversion work they had temporarily suspended “as a confidence building measure.” But how could that collapse conceivably “force” the Europeans to support some American-led effort to refer Iran’s “case” to the Security Council for “punishment”?

In February, President Bush had emerged from a meeting with “European leaders” and made this declaration.

“The reason we’re having these [EU-US] discussions is because [the Iranians] were caught enriching uranium after they had signed a treaty saying they wouldn’t enrich uranium. These discussions are occurring because they have breached a contract with the international community. They’re the party that needs to be held to account, not any of us.”

Of course, [a] the Iranians have not as yet enriched any uranium, [b] the Paris Agreement was not a “treaty” and [c] the Iranians hadn’t breached any international contract.

A few days later, Secretary of State Rice said efforts by Britain, Germany and France to wean Tehran off its “suspected nuclear arms programs” were “the right course” but added, “obviously at some point in time the UN Security Council is an option.”

Prime Minister Tony Blair did say the Brits “certainly will support referral to the United Nations Security Council if Iran breaches its obligations and undertakings,” but French and German officials promptly denied that they would.

In any case the US-EU could only “refer Iran’s case to the Security Council for possible punishment” by invoking Article 39 of Chapter VII of the UN Charter, charging that Iran’s resumption of certain Safeguarded activities somehow constituted a “threat to the peace, breach of the peace, or act of aggression.”

If – and only if – there was any “indication” that any of these IAEA Safeguarded activities were being pursued with a “military purpose” in mind, the IAEA would be statutorily required to report those indications to the Security Council. But the IAEA continues to report that there are no indications whatsoever that Iran is pursuing – or ever had pursued – a nuclear weapons program.

Furthermore, Russia and China – both with “veto” authority on the Security Council – warned against the advisability and legality of an “end-run” of the IAEA.

Last week, Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi put it this way;

“It is not legally possible to refer our case to the UN Security Council. Many counties believe there is no legal basis for it. So if one country pressures others to do it, they will be the losers, and the Islamic republic of Iran would not lose.”

What Asefi and the Russians and Chinese are saying is that the effectiveness of NPT and the authority of its associated IAEA Safeguards proliferation prevention regime would be seriously undermined – perhaps destroyed – by such an “illegal” referral.

Of course, that’s what Bush wants. The IAEA-NPT regime was an obstacle to the completely unjustified invasion of Iraq and currently effectively prevents a Bush preemptive attack on Iran.

Bush has been trying to get rid of the current Director General, Mohamed ElBaradei, for years and is currently attempting to sabotage the ongoing NPT Review Conference.

By the way, under the Paris Agreement, the EU was supposed to actively support accession negotiations for Iran at the World Trade Organization. Those negotiations began yesterday, the day after Iran voluntarily extended once again its ‘suspension’ of certain IAEA Safeguarded activities.

Iran first applied to join the WTO in 1996, but the United States, accusing Tehran of supporting international terrorism, has blocked its application on 22 previous occasions.

Author: Gordon Prather

Physicist James Gordon Prather has served as a policy implementing official for national security-related technical matters in the Federal Energy Agency, the Energy Research and Development Administration, the Department of Energy, the Office of the Secretary of Defense and the Department of the Army. Dr. Prather also served as legislative assistant for national security affairs to U.S. Sen. Henry Bellmon, R-Okla. -- ranking member of the Senate Budget Committee and member of the Senate Energy Committee and Appropriations Committee. Dr. Prather had earlier worked as a nuclear weapons physicist at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California and Sandia National Laboratory in New Mexico.