1. The Approach of the European Union on Iran’s Nuclear Program
The European Union has always been in a critical dialogue process with Iran on the issues of human rights violations, terrorism, Middle East Peace Process, nuclear program and regional stability. The EU has demanded from Iran to change her attitudes in those subjects. Given this factor, the relations between Iran and the EU have improved in Khatami’s terms (1997-2005). Khatami administration’s democratization policy in domestic politics, appeasement and also ‘Dialogue of Civilizations’ in foreign policy have been welcomed in the Western world. The Khatami administration facilitated the gaining ground of EU’s thesis named as ‘Causing the Iran to start behaving sensibly by dialogue’. This thesis has started to be questioned with the coming into the power of Ahmadinejad in 2005. Ahmadinejad’s coming into the power has disappointed the EU countries and their thesis has come into a suspicious point. After this process, though not giving up its thesis, the European Union has been toughened against Iran. This situation has strengthened United States’ hand against Iran. Iran’s facing of several embargo decisions due to her nuclear studies is an outcome of this toughening.
The EU-Iran relation is a kind of relation that is shaped by the alteration in the status of global system. Iran would like to benefit from the divergence of opinions between the EU and the United States that has been increasing after the end of Cold War. This situation provides a relative international support to Iran. This policy of Iran may checkmate the isolation and embargo policy of United States. By approaching to the European Union, Iran desires to leave the United States alone against her. Besides this, the EU-Iran rapprochement can be an important assistance for Tehran in terms of economic resource and industrial technology transfer. Iran is a geopolitically very important country. Therefore, Brussels does not desire of Tehran to fall under the hegemony of Washington. Toughening of the EU and from time to time approaching to the United States illustrate that although there exist policy and opinion divergences between them, they can come together.
The European Union’s policy toward the nuclear studies of Iran has been shaped within the context of her main thesis. Just like the United States, the EU thinks that Iran desires to possess nuclear weapons and the Union wants to prevent this. The EU finds Iran’s nuclear studies unreliable and demands from Iran to have a nuclear program that is reliable, transparent and controllable by international organizations. The EU is also in favor of the resolution of the question within the context of negotiation and diplomacy mechanisms. Brussels correspondingly sees the suspension of nuclear enrichment as a precondition for the negotiation. Due to this, she follows a very serious stance on the resolution of the crisis by UN decisions and also on Iran’s obedience to these decisions. Furthermore, the Union is not only concerned of Iran’s nuclearization but also it is against a military intervention against Iran. Given this factor, the greatest efforts are being shown by the EU countries on Iran nuclear question. These talks are also backed by the United States. For now, the United States wants to work in harmony with the EU on Iran and it would like to show that it is not intending to break down this existing harmony.
Moghaddam states that in the meantime, Iran has offered a new round of talks with the P5+1 (the permanent members of the UN Security Council, plus Germany) to move the negotiations further. Britain and the EU have a pivotal role to play in these negotiations if they return to a rather more proactive, positive diplomacy vis-à-visIran on the one side and the US on the other. The EU should have a conciliatory role rather than firmly prescriptive within any camp. It was former foreign secretary Jack Straw; after all, whose shuttle diplomacy did pave the way to Iran’s voluntary suspension of nuclear enrichment activities in 2003 and the Paris agreement in 2004. With the benefit of hindsight the late response of the EU to Iran’s goodwill gesture must be evaluated as a missed opportunity, not least because it did undermine the negotiating position of then President Khatami who was left with nothing to present to the Iranian right who were starting to gather around Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who later succeeded him as president.
In both strategic contexts, Iranian and EU/US interests are same. All parties back the current political processes in Iraq and Afghanistan and their respective governments and all are set against the activities of movements affiliated to al-Qaida. What is needed from the current momentum is (a) a discourse of reconciliation out of which policy initiatives emphasizing diplomacy and regional peace can be designed and (b) a truly inclusive negotiating strategy that would make it possible for all parties to compromise without losing face. The role of the EU to those ends is inalienable, not least as a means to gain diplomatic clout as an independent actor in Iran and the wider west Asian area.
2. The Approach of Israel on the Nuclear Program of Iran
The major country in the region which is disturbed by the nuclear program of Iran is Israel. This country perceives the nuclear program of Iran as a vital threat to her existence and for her future. Either in Israel or the Jewish community there is the belief that they are under the threat of being destructed. Israel states that Iran threatens them and provides every kind of assistance to the organizations like Hamas and Hezbollah that work toward the aim of destroying Israel.
According to the Israelis, an Iran possessing nuclear weapons means a change in the power equilibrium. Furthermore, they assert that Israelis the state that is becoming more powerful in the Middle East. Thanks to this power, she is able to live in the Arab geography. Israel views that Iran desires to be a hegemonic power in the Middle East. They also perceive the possession of nuclear technology by the Iranians as a strategic threat. They are of the opinion that Iran desires nuclear weapons to further and bolster its revolution, to provide an alternative to Egyptian secular moderation, and to challenge the military supremacy of Israel and United States in the Middle East. According to an Israeli officer “when the Iranians acquire enough fuel for enrichment and the technology for it, it is over”. Furthermore, they allege that if the Iranians find the opportunity, the Islamic Republic of Iran will not hesitate to use nuclear weapons against them.
Here, it is useful to give the evaluation that takes place in the website of Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Iran’s nuclear program; “In the past decade, Iran has pursued all stages of developing nuclear weapons, including mining uranium, converting uranium to uranium hexafluoride, enriching uranium hexafluoride to obtain high-grade fissile material necessary for military use, and developing an implosion system needed for the detonation of nuclear devices. All this despite Iran’s commitment to and ratification of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons. In addition, Iranhas developed weapons systems – primarily medium – and long-range ballistic missiles capable of delivering nuclear payloads to countries in the Middle East, Europe and soon North America.”.
The Israeli government alleges that due to its likelihood of being a nuclear power, it is impossible to have equal diplomatic relationship in any level with the Iranian administration. Israeli officials think that Iranian officials do not act in a rational manner. Given this fact, it is impossible to envisage the irrational behaviors of Iranian officials. At the same time, nuclear Iran would encourage the radical groups like Hezbollah and Hamas on organizing more attacks. Finally, Israelis guess that Iran will force them for compromising especially on the issues of Syria and Lebanon. In the light of these thoughts, the administration of Israel backs the taking of hard measures against Iran and they even feverishly support the idea of a limited military intervention against this country on their own or together with the United States.
3. The Approach of Turkey on the Nuclear Program of Iran
During the nuclear crisis between Iran and the Western world, Ankara has uncompromisingly advocated three fundamental principles: First of them is about the proliferation of nuclear weapons. As a growing economic power, Turkey, which seeks peace and stability in its region, has always resisted to the nuclear proliferation in the region. Turkey believes that the existence of nuclear weapons in the Iranian arsenal may harm the delicate status quo existing between the two nations, since the Treaty of Kasr-ı Shirin of 1639, in favor of Iran. Abdullah Gül – now president of Turkey and the former Minister of Foreign Affairs until 2007- has mentioned in 2006 that: “The emergence of the possibility of Iran’s possessing a nuclear weapon disturbs Turkey as all the members of international society”. Here, it would be useful to mention the Turkish Prime Minister’s view on this issue, too. In a response to a question from a journalist during the Munich Security Conference in February 2008 (“Why Turkey did not seem to be worried about Iran’s nuclear program?”) Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has replied by saying: “Our Iranian colleagues tell us that they want nuclear energy for peaceful purposes to satisfy their energy needs, not for weapons”.
The second principle that Turkeydefends on the issue of nuclear energy and nuclear weapons is about its opposition to double standard approaches. Turkey has always emphasized that the international community never mentions the nuclear arsenal of Israel. However, the Great Powers are eager to impose sanctions on Iran only because there are suspicions about Iran’s real intentions. Ankara argues that unlimited uranium enrichment by others never poses any problem while Tehran’s similar efforts are regarded as a crime as well. According to Turkey, this approach does not contribute to the regional and international peace. Moreover, Turkey vindicates that Israel has never signed the Non-Proliferation Treaty which establishes the framework for the use and development of nuclear technology. Therefore, the nuclear arsenal of Israelis beyond the inspection authority of the International Atomic Energy Agency. Thus, the international community does not have any information on the alleged nuclear weapons of Israel.
The last principle on this issue advocated by Turkey is about the peaceful use of nuclear energy. Turkey supports in principle that every state has the right of using nuclear energy for peaceful purposes and it also defends that Great Powers should not follow monopolistic approaches on the accession to this technology. Nuclear energy does not necessarily mean the nuclear weapon and countries like Argentina, Brazil and Japan are using this technology by making uranium enrichment in proportion as 20 %. As one of the signatory states of Nuclear Non – Proliferation Treaty and one of the members of International Atomic Energy Agency, Iran has the right of using the nuclear technology for peaceful purposes. Therefore, Turkey has no objection of the uranium enrichment in proportion as 20 percent by Iran. At this point, it would be useful to give the view of the Turkish Minister of Foreign Affairs, Professor Ahmet Davutoğlu, on the nuclear program of Iran. He states that “one cannot say that the nuclear technology is mine and that technology can only be used by a group of states. One cannot deprive any state of her rights by declaring any state as an absolute suspicious. At that time, there is no such thing as international law”.
Turkey is of the opinion that the resolution of this crisis should be through peaceful means. Turkey’s convinced that the use of military force against Iran might harm the regional stability. In addition to this, Turkey suggests that the threats from the US and Israel of military intervention if Iran does not stop its nuclear program are not deterrent and worse, they further motivate Iran to develop a nuclear program. Even though Turkey’s uncomfortable with the idea of a nuclearized Iran, Ankara asserts that further isolation of Iran will be harmful for all countries in the region and also will further deteriorate the current situation. Turkey also mentions that non-diplomatic methods of resolutions do not help to the resolution of the regional problems.
On May 17, 2010, with Turkey’s initiative and intensive diplomacy, Turkey, Brazil and Iran have signed a deal called the ‘Nuclear Swap Deal’ in Tehran. This tripartite deal has attracted the attention of the world public opinion and most criticism, because in the previous months, Iran had already rejected the P5+1’s offer because of their alleged untrustworthiness. By this agreement, the three countries have agreed upon the exchange of low-enriched nuclear fuel with the 20 % enriched nuclear fuel to be used in reactors. The United Nations Security Council adopted a sanction decision numbered 1929 with the ‘Yes’ votes of its 12 members against Iran on June 9, 2010. Lebanon abstained from voting. In order to keep the Iran on the negotiation table, Turkey and Brazil voted ‘No’. This decision was made to prevent nuclear capacity and to restrict uranium enrichment opportunity of Iran. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad evaluated this decision as “a worthless piece of paper” and he mentioned that the UN decision would not affect Iran’s determination of continuing nuclear activities for peaceful purposes.
The Obama administration has called attention to the fact that the sanction decision under consideration would not iron out the resolution of problem through diplomacy. Also the ministers of foreign affairs of the UK, France, China and Russia have mentioned that the doors are still open for the resolution of the question by dialogue. Furthermore, it was addressed that sanctions would be removed if Iran changes its attitude. Russia also addressed that the embargo would not be applied in case of the suspension of uranium enrichment activities by the Islamic Republic of Iran.
The European Union is following a softer policy than the United States, despite the fact that the US and the EU share basically the same position towards Iran. The EU believes that Iran’s nuclear program’s purpose is to produce nuclear weapons. The EU considers that a nuclearized Iran will be very dangerous for international peace and security. Therefore the Islamic Republic of Iran’s nuclear initiatives must be prevented. The EU thinks that a possible military intervention against the Islamic Republic of Iran might bring undesired consequences for the regional balance as well as for the whole world.
The EU would like to resolve this question through diplomatic means. However, the European Union puts forward the suspension of uranium enrichment program carried out by the Islamic Republic of Iran as a precondition for the beginning of the negotiations. That does not help resolving the question. If the European Union wants to keep the Islamic Republic of Iran on the negotiation table, it should reconsider its policy of coercive diplomacy. For the moment, the European Union seems unsuccessful about bringing a resolution to Iran’s nuclear question by diplomatic means. In this process, the EU will either admit a nuclearized Iran or will further toughen its positions against the Tehran regime. It seems that Brussels does not want to step back from its current position and the EU makes sure that despite its full support about economic and political embargo measures, it will not back a military intervention against Iran, fearing a more destabilized region.
Israel considers that Iran’s real target is to develop nuclear weapons and that the Iranian authorities have been continuing to tell lies on their nuclear program to the world. Israel also thinks that the aim of the Iranian regime is to destroy Israel. Iran’s President Ahmadinejad’s negative statements toward Israel and his declaration that Israel should be wiped out from the map influence the way Israel looks at Iran. Moreover, Tel-Aviv alleges that by acquiring nuclear weapons, the Islamic Republic of Iran desires to expand her influence zone in the region. They also believe that Iran’s acquisition of nuclear arms will embolden the regime and destabilize pro-Western Arab states. Furthermore, nuclear arms and missiles will pose a major threat to the US and finally a nuclear Iran will spread regional arms race that has the risk of damaging the Non-Proliferation Regime established by the NPT.
Israeli authorities consider that the only possible way to stop Islamic Republic of Iran’s uranium enrichment program is to attack or bomb the nuclear facilities of this country. Israel is planning to realize such an attack either alone or together with the United States. However, Israeli authorities seem to underestimate one significant thing. In case of an attack to the nuclear facilities of the Islamic Republic of Iran by Israel, Iran is capable to respond to this attack in the severest way. A possible military attack against Iran may even be the start of a regional catastrophe. Such an attack may further trigger terrorism in the region and finally might make the already fledgling peace process between the Arabs and Israel completely impossible. If directly attacked, the Islamic Republic of Iran may encourage Hamas in Palestine and Hezbollah in Lebanon to organize terrorist attacks against Israel. It may also encourage the Shia factions in her near abroad in organizing protest demonstrations against Israel’s attacks against them. It may also organize attacks against the economic interests of Israel in all parts of the world.
Israel’s persistent threat of use of force against the Islamic Republic of Iran in case of not suspending the uranium enrichment program of the latter does not help the resolution of Iran nuclear question in a peaceful way. In fact, because of these threats, the Islamic Republic of Iran is becoming much more radical. Besides, Israel’s threat of use of force further motivates the regime in Iran to pursue its nuclear program. If Israel wants a non-nuclear Iran, it should abandon her policy of promoting a military attack against Iran. Up until now, Israel’s policies against Iran have been ineffective and are unlikely to be efficient in the future.
Republic of Turkey is against the proliferation of nuclear weapons in her neighborhood. However, Ankara interrogates why the international community is persistently talking only about the nuclear program of Tehran, because the same international community is not discussing anything about the nuclear arsenals of Israel. As being party to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, Iran has the right to carry out a nuclear program for peaceful purposes and also has the right to enrich uranium to a certain proportion which is 20 %. Turkey mentions that isolating Iran from the international community, such as by applying sanctions, does not help the resolution of the question. These sanctions do not even stop the development process of nuclear program in the Islamic Republic of Iran. Furthermore, Ankara does rely on that the threatening of Tehran by Washington and Tel-Aviv with military intervention is not deterrent at all and this continuous threat further encourages the Islamic Republic of Iran to develop a nuclear program.
It is obvious that if any military operation against Tehran might bring catastrophic results for the region as well as for the Republic of Turkey. Given this fact, Ankara considers that the nuclear question of Iran should be resolved by peaceful means. Due to this reason, the agreement signed between Turkey, Brazil and Iran on the nuclear fuel exchange is a very significant step for the resolution of the crisis in a peaceful way. Turkey and Brazil’s “No” vote during the adoption of the latest resolution in United Nations Security Council on sanctioning the Islamic Republic of Iran was helpful to keep Tehran on the negotiation table. One may say that Turkey’s diplomatic efforts deserve appreciation and if the regional states and great powers do not want another war in the region, they should support Turkey’s diplomatic efforts for the resolution of the question.
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