NUCLEAR PROGRAM OF IRAN

upa-admin 30 Kasım 2013 2.109 Okunma 0
NUCLEAR PROGRAM OF IRAN

Ever since the initiation of nuclear research studies in Iran, this issue has been widely discussed. From its commencement by the assistance of US and Western states’ in late 1960s until 1979 Islamic Revolution, the Shah administration heavily backed the advancement of nuclear program. However, after the revolution, Khomeini and his proponents strongly rejected the nuclear program and they underscored that this program was needless given their country’s possessing rich oil and natural gas resources. Hence, they totally stopped the implementation of a nuclear program in their country.

It seems that the hardliners in Iran take in threat from their neighbor countries such as Israel. Besides, the United States’ policy of including every option is on the table is pushing the hard-liners towards developing a nuclear program in order to provide Iran with a deterrent power. On the other hand, due to technological insufficiencies in their oil industry, forming an important part of Islamic Republic of Iran’s budget, Iran is unable to match its own increasing domestic energy consumption demand. So they plan to benefit from the nuclear energy to produce electricity. Another economic reason behind is the mounting oil prices every passing day, as Iran wishes to benefit from this asset as a profitable export mean.

One might argue that the reasoning behind the hardliners’ approach on developing a nuclear program can be seen considered as a sensible choice. However their attitude of hiding information from the international community and their disinclination of cooperating with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) on developing a nuclear program raises vindicated concerns in the international community. The international community is certain of that Iran’s will to hamper international inspections is proof that it advances nuclear weapons behind closed doors. If Iran indeed is developing a nuclear arms program, this may trigger an over-all nuclear arms race in the region dynamiting the essence of the NPT system. The hardliners, including President Ahmadinejad himself, state that as being party to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, it is Iran’s legitimate right to develop a nuclear program, as long as it remains in the civilian domain. They also emphasize the international community’s silence about the nuclear arsenals of Israel, Pakistan and India. It seems that they are right about the existence of a policy of double-standard from the international community’s part. Nevertheless, the international community’s attitude does not legitimize the Iranian administration’s policy of hiding information about their nuclear program and it does not provide an excuse either for refusing the international inspections. As the hard-liners’ policy continue, the international pressures on Iran for suspending her uranium enrichment program will further persist in the future.

The reformers in Iran believe that Iran has to find a compromise on the nuclear issue for its own sake. Their views about the nuclear program can be evaluated as logical. The claim that possessing nuclear weapons do not serve the national interests of Iran seems logical. It’s obvious that the nuclear project didn’t make Iran a much safer country so far, in fact the contrary seems more correct. The hardliners’ insistence on building up a nuclear program increases the risk of isolation and containment of the country. In addition, this program has given the US the justification to gather an anti-Iran coalition. Now the United States endeavors using every possible mean from the economic sanctions to the threat of use of force and so on, to stop Iran’s uranium enrichment program.

The majority of the people in Iran agree with the views of hardliners’ on developing a nuclear program. They are convinced that having the nuclear technology is an indispensable right given the fact that Iran is party to the NPT. They also think that by developing a nuclear program they will retrieve their honor and they will have a more prestigious status in the international scene.

As a final comment, one can say that Iran’s nuclear program has been debated for a long time and it will continue to be discussed in the near future. Today it seems that the hard-liners have the upper hand in this discussion. As long as they keep control of the power, this situation will persist as it is.

The United States’ policy of having every option, including the military intervention, on the table against Tehran does not help to solve the crisis. This policy is not discouraging Iran from developing its nuclear program. This policy does not seem either to deter Iran. The threat of pushing for a regime change in Iran and imposing economic sanctions haven’t given any concrete outcomes until now. On the contrary, these threats have further strengthened the hardliners’ position within the political system of Iran. These threats further motivate the Iranian leaders to develop a nuclear program. This also paves the way to increase the public support behind the incumbent government’s policy on building up a nuclear program.

Furthermore, according to most American experts, a possible US military intervention in Iran will bring undesired consequences for Washington as well as for the whole region. When the United States’ position in Iraq and Afghanistan are taken into consideration, the US’ position might even deteriorate if there is a military intervention against the Islamic Republic of Iran. Because Iran has considerable leverages that it can use against the United States if attacked by this country such as using radical Shia groups in the region against the US interests, galvanizing Hamas in Palestine and Hezbollah in Lebanon and closing the Hormuz Strait which is a vital waterway for the international oil transportation.  In case of such a military intervention, the allies of the United States in the region might badly be affected. The best option for the United States to assure the resolution of this crisis is to follow an engagement policy, which means that the United States should use every possible soft power means including diplomacy. Regarding the resolution of this issue, the United States should support the Nuclear Swap Deal concluded between Turkey, Brazil and Iran.

Russia perceives Iran as one of the strategic allies in the Eurasia region. Due to Russia’s status as permanent member of the United Nations Security Council, Iran hopes that Russia will help it to ease the international pressure.  Russia tries to develop relations with Iran in every field and in this context; it also assists the Islamic Republic of Iran to push forward its nuclear program. According to Russia, the Islamic Republic of Iran’s nuclear program does not constitute a threat for the world. Both these states are worried about the US Foreign Policy in the Eurasia and the Middle East regions. Eastward enlargement of the NATO or the United States’ policy of supporting alternative energy supply routes are not welcomed by Russia. Russia also wants to establish a zone of influence in the Middle-East region which will eventually counterbalance the US’ influence. On the other hand, Russia’s policy of backing Iran can change at any time. If the mullahs’ regime’s constant refusal of cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency about the inspection of her nuclear program continues, Russia might give up supporting the Islamic Republic of Iran and might also join the group of states that are applying economic sanctions against Iran.

Given Beijing’s high demand of oil resources, China attempts to improve its economic relations with Iran, especially in the energy field. Mainly because of this reason, China is intensely counter to an eventual military intervention of Washington toward Iran should the latter do not halt its uranium enrichment program. China’s presence as a permanent member in the United Nations Security Council is also central for Iran in order to get the support of China in terms of the policies followed against them in the international scene. Nonetheless, China’s policy toward Iran can change at any moment. If the unwilling policy of the current regime in Iran of sharing information about its nuclear program and also of allowing the inspections of International Atomic Energy Agency persists, the People’s Republic of China may stop supporting the Islamic Republic of Iran and may back up the sanction decisions that are adopted in the United Nations Security Council against this country.

The European Union is following a softer policy than 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 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, Brussels puts forward the suspension of uranium enrichment program carried out by Iran as a precondition for the beginning of the negotiations. That does not help resolving the question. If Brussels wants to keep Iran on the negotiation table, it should reconsider its policy of coercive diplomacy. It gives the impression 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, Israel alleges that by acquiring nuclear weapons, 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 Tehran’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 Israelis 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, 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 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 becomes 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.

Turkey is against the proliferation of nuclear weapons in her neighborhood. However, Ankara interrogates why the international community is persistently discussing the nuclear program of Tehran, because the same international community is silent 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 Iran. Furthermore, Ankara is certain of that the threatening 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.

There exist divergent views between the countries in the region and the Arab countries’ public opinions. If such a war occurs and if the Sunni Arab states back the United States or Israel up, this may also trigger sectarian wars between the Sunnis and Shies’ of the region. The Arab states also fear that in any case of attack against Iran, the Islamic Republic of Iran has the capacity of provoking its neighbor countries’ populations against their governments. In fact, the Arab public opinion supports the development of a nuclear program by the Islamic Republic of Iran due to their anger toward their own administrations’ pro-US positions. It seems that the divergence of opinions between the Arab governments and their public opinion is hard to reconcile. Due to this factor, the Arab world fails to constitute a unified front against the Islamic Republic of Iran’s nuclear program.

On November 24, 2013, The P5+1 world powers and Iran have reached a momentous agreement on Tehran’s nuclear program at talks in Geneva. Ministers did overcome the last remaining hurdles to reach agreement, despite powerful resistance from Israel and lobby groups.[1] Under the interim agreement, Tehran will be permitted to reach $4.2 billion in funds frozen as part of the financial sanctions imposed on Iran over suspicions that its nuclear program is aimed at producing an atomic bomb. According to this deal,  Iran has promised to:

–  Pause uranium enrichment to above 5 per cent.

–  Disassemble equipment required to enrich above 5 per cent.

–  Cease further enrichment of its 3.5 per cent stockpile.

–  Thinned its store of 20 per cent-enriched uranium.

–  Limit the use and installation of its centrifuges.

–  Terminate construction on the Arak nuclear reactor.

–  Arrange for IAEA inspectors with daily access to the Natanz and Fordow sites.

Iran’s foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif,  defined the agreement as a “major success” and stated that said Tehran would develop its cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). While Iranian President Hassan Rouhani declared that the deal reached in Geneva illustrates that world powers have acknowledged the nuclear rights of Tehran. Rouhani stated at the Twitter after the Declaration that “Constructive engagement [and] tireless efforts by negotiating teams are to open new horizons”.

The nuclear deal reached among Iran and P5+1 countries on November 24, 2013, is a very significant development for the whole world. That deal will open up window of opportunity for both sides. This deal will gradually form the confidence atmosphere between Iran and P5+1 countries. The establishment of confidence among Iran and the others should be supported by mutual steps. Western powers should offer incentives to Iran. They should lift the embargo toward Iran. But before that Iran should give the confidence that it is keeping her promises.

Every part of this deal declares themselves as the winner of this process. The most important outcome of this deal is the abolishment of possibility of military intervention against Tehran.  Israel is harshly criticizing this deal and by reaching a deal with Iran regarding the suspension of its nuclear program does not make Iran reliable country. Israelis think that Iranians attitude toward them is unchanging i.e. wiping off the map.

Another possible outcome of this deal is, after the gradual lifting economic embargo on Iran, Iran’s economy especially oil and natural gas sectors might attract investment. Because the single most important thing for Iranian officials and the ordinary Iranians is their economy’s development.  Iran’s huge natural gas reserves might be included in Southern Gas Corridor and other regional gas transportation projects. Same case might be applicable to Iran’s oil reserves in the future. Finally, time will better show that whether this deal might be beneficial or not for the region as well as the whole world.

Sina KISACIK


[1] “P5+1 and Iran agree landmark nuclear deal at Geneva talks”, RT News, 24 November 2013, http://rt.com/news/iran-historic-nuclear-deal-201/, (Accessed 28 November 2013).

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