No uranium enrichment in Iran, no issue for Security Council

5 September 2005

No uranium enrichment in Iran, no issue for Security Council

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), independent supervisor of the of the Non-Proliferation Treaty, states in a report that Iran is not engaged in uranium enrichment. This is reported in various international media, which base their stories on the leaked secret document. SP Member of Parliament Harry van Bommel believes this to be an important conclusion. “Because of this there is absolutely no direct necessity to prioritise the matter in the SecurityCouncil," he says.

According to the IAEA, Iran has neglected to give an adequate answer to numerous questions. The agency's report states that Iran has made use of four tons of so-called 'yellowcake' in Isfahan. Iran is not, however, involved in uranium enrichment, the IAEA says, a process which is a technical pre-condition for the production of nuclear weapons.

After two-and-a-half years the IAEA is nevertheless not, by its own estimation, in a position to say categorically that Iran is producing no nuclear weapons. Mr Van Bommel agrees that “Naturally it's a good thing to impose controls and it would be good if Iran were open about its affairs.”

The EU, which is in close negotiation with the regime in Tehran regarding its nuclear policy, appears divided over what should be its next step and has come under US pressure to put the issue before the UN Security Council. Any such move would be the prelude to an international crisis in the context of which the possibility of violence could not be ruled out. “That would be disastrous, escalating the crises already existing in the Middle East,” Mr Van Bommel said.

Harry van BommelDuring the informal EU meeting on September 1st, what emerged was that Europe is for the moment ill-inclined to take the matter to the Security Council. To put it mildly, such a move would force up the price of oil. Van Bommel: “This seems favourable, because it takes the political heat out of the situation. Should I, however, conclude from this that as far as the EU is concerned there is a link between oil prices and a political crisis with Iran and that if the price fell then the Union would indeed bring the matter before the Security Council?”

Mr Van Bommel agrees that the IAEA should maintain pressure on Iran, but first and foremost wants to see the EU offering its support to the country's human rights activists. The flood of reports of human rights abuses continues, in particular concerning the execution of minors and the treatment of political prisoners. This week the dissident journalist Akbar Ganji, advocate of non-violent actions of civil disobedience, gave up his hunger strike. He was immediately imprisoned, punished for 'propagating a negative image of the Islamic Republic’.

In Iranian Kurdistan during the months of July and August there were widespread peaceful demonstrations and strikes, which were brutally suppressed by the Iranian authorities, resulting in dozens of deaths. These demonstrations were a response to the death by torture of the young Kurdish activist Shwane Ghaderi in the Kurdish capital of Mahabad on July 9th. Hundreds of participants in the resulting protest actions in a number of towns were arrested, provoking a general strike throughout Iranian Kurdistan. Those responsible for torture and murder must be brought to justice, all those arrested must be released and an end put to the effective state of emergency. Support for such democratic demands remains a high priority.

As far as its nuclear energy policy goes, Iran is bluffing. The regime of the mullahs feels threatened by the proximity of American troops and by neighbouring countries which have themselves acquired nuclear weapons, illegally and yet with no resistance internationally. Van Bommel: “Let the IAEA get on with its supervisory work and remain in negotiation with the mullahs' regime. Support the democratic movement in Iran in a manner designed to get maximum results, and work towards disarmament in the whole of the Middle East. That is surely the successful recipe for a gradual de-escalation of the problem in Iran.”

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