Any Casus Belli Will Do

According to Russian intelligence, U.S.-allied armed forces in and around the Persian Gulf are being readied for an attack on Iran in the very near future.

However, the pretext for the attack may not be related to the increasingly frantic, but totally unsubstantiated, charges that the Iranians have a nuclear weapons program, deep underground and so well hidden that not even the Likudniks know where.

You see, since 1974, all Iranian nuclear programs have been subject to a Safeguards Agreement [.pdf] with the International Atomic Energy Agency – as required by the Treaty on Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons.

Under the Safeguards Agreement, the IAEA Secretariat accepts the responsibility for verifying to other NPT members that no NPT-proscribed materials are diverted to a military purpose. And, under the IAEA Statute, the responsibility for reporting to the UN Security Council should any Safeguarded materials or activities be so diverted.

As of this writing, the IAEA Director-General continues to report that Iran is in complete compliance with its Safeguards Agreement and that no NPT-proscribed materials have ever been diverted by Iran to a military purpose.

So how can the UN Security Council, being “mindful of its primary responsibility” for “the maintenance of international peace and security,” pass UNSC Resolution 1747, which

“Reiterates its [Council’s] determination to reinforce the authority of the IAEA, strongly supports the role of the IAEA Board of Governors, commends and encourages the Director General of the IAEA and its secretariat for their ongoing professional and impartial efforts to resolve all outstanding issues in Iran within the framework of the IAEA, underlines the necessity of the IAEA, which is internationally recognized as having authority for verifying compliance with safeguards agreements, including the non-diversion of nuclear material for non-peaceful purposes, in accordance with its Statute, to continue its work to clarify all outstanding issues relating to Iran’s nuclear programme;”

but then proceeds to declare the UNSC “concerned” by the “proliferation risks” presented by the Iranian Safeguarded nuclear program?

That’s what Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki demanded to know when he was allowed to address the Security Council, after – of course – UNSCR 1747 had already passed.

“This is the fourth time in the last 12 months that, in an unwarranted move orchestrated by a few of its permanent members, the Security Council is being abused to take an unlawful, unnecessary and unjustifiable action against the peaceful nuclear programme of the Islamic Republic of Iran, which presents no threat to international peace and security and therefore falls outside the Council’s Charter-based mandate.

“As we have stressed time and again, Iran’s nuclear programme is completely peaceful. We have expressed our readiness, taken unprecedented steps and offered several serious proposals to address and allay any possible concern in that regard.

“Indeed, there has been no doubt on our part from the beginning, nor should there be any on the part of the Council, that all the schemes of the sponsors of the resolution are dictated by narrow national considerations and are aimed at depriving the Iranian people of their inalienable rights, rather than emanating from any so-called proliferation concerns.

“In order to give this scheme a semblance of international legitimacy, its initiators first manipulated the Board of Governors of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and — as they acknowledged themselves — coerced some of its members to vote against Iran on the Board, and then have taken advantage of their substantial economic and political power to pressure and manipulate the Security Council to adopt three unwarranted resolutions within 8 months.

“Undoubtedly, those resolutions cannot indicate universal acceptance, particularly when the heads of State of the nearly two thirds of the States Members of the United Nations that also belong to the Non-Aligned Movement and the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) supported Iran’s position as recently as September 2006 and expressed concern about the policies pursued within the Security Council. …

“As an organ of an international Organization created by States, the Security Council is bound by law, and Member States have every right to insist that the Council keep within the powers that they accorded it under the Charter of the United Nations. The Security Council must exercise those powers consistently with the purposes and principles of the Charter. Equally, the measures it takes must be consistent with the purposes and principles of the United Nations and with other international law. Members of the Security Council do not have the right to undermine the Council’s credibility.

“There is every reason to assert that the Security Council’s consideration of the Iranian peaceful nuclear programme has no legal basis, since the referral of the case to the Council and then the adoption of resolutions fail to meet the minimum standards of legality. Iran’s peaceful nuclear activities cannot, by any stretch of law, fact or logic, be characterized as a threat to peace.

“Rather, certain members of the Security Council decided to hijack the case from the IAEA, the principal specialized technical organ in charge of the issue, and to politicize it.

“How can Iran’s peaceful nuclear programme be considered in the Security Council while Iran has carried out all its obligations and cooperated to the fullest extent possible, far more than it is obliged to do in accordance with its treaty obligations, namely those under the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) and the Safeguards Agreement?

“Is it not simply because the IAEA could not find any diversion from lawful and peaceful purposes?”

Well, it looks like all that skullduggery by the Likudniks, the trashing of the NPT, the corruption of the IAEA Statute, the “hijacking” of the IAEA Board and the Security Council, itself, all designed to result in a casus belli has taken far too long and is even less credible than the casus belli fabricated for the pre-emptive attack on Iraq.

But, not to worry.

Last week the Iranians “detained” fifteen HMS Cornwall personnel who had just boarded an Iraqi fishing boat – allegedly searching for automobiles – in what the Iranians claim is Iranian territorial waters.

There had been a similar incident back in 2004, wherein eight Brits were detained by the Iranians for three days.

But this time, Prime Minister Tony Blair is outraged. He condemned as “completely unacceptable” a broadcast on Iranian TV of video footage of the “detainees.”

A casus belli?

Well, perhaps. You see, one of the Brits was female and she has apparently been required to wear an Islamic “hijab” while in Iran.

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.