The Tehran conference, a dream of a nuclear weapons-free world

April 15, 2010

Iran is hosting an international conference on nuclear disarmament to show the world that despite claims by a small number of countries that Iran is concealing a weapons program under the cover of its civilian nuclear program, Tehran not only has no intention to produce nuclear weapons but is also making serious efforts for the total destruction of all nuclear weapons.

As a victim of chemical weapons during Saddam Hussein’s war against the country in the 1980s, Iran is and must be a strong opponent of weapons of mass destruction, especially nuclear weapons, which threaten the entire human race.
As a person who carries a knife or gun is dangerous, a country which possesses weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear weapons, is also dangerous.
The claim by nuclear-armed countries that their nuclear arsenals are kept in safe places is not a justification for not dismantling these weapons. The argument by officials of certain nuclear weapons states that they are ruled by stable democratic systems is also not an acceptable excuse because there is no guarantee that something will not go terribly wrong.
In modern times, civilized nations detest every type of weapon of mass destruction, and particularly nuclear weapons. And the Iranians, with their ancient civilization, are no exception.
Moreover, maraja taqlid (Shia clerics who are regarded as sources of emulation) and other ulema regard the production, stockpiling, and use of WMDs as totally haram (forbidden in Islam) and believe such weapons are against the will of God.
According to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty -- a legally binding treaty which came into force on March 5, 1970 -- nuclear weapons states must eventually dismantle all of their nuclear weapons. However, 40 years since the adoption of the treaty, this idealistic call is still being ignored.
Article VI of the NPT states: “Each of the Parties to the Treaty undertakes to pursue negotiations in good faith on effective measures relating to cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date and to nuclear disarmament, and on a treaty on general and complete disarmament under strict and effective international control.”
However, the United States and the Soviet Union, as original signatories of the treaty, regrettably continued to produce and stockpile hundreds of nuclear weapons during the Cold War era.
Even now that the U.S. and Russia have pledged to limit their nuclear stockpiles, the U.S. is continuing to modernize its nuclear arsenal and is producing mini-nuclear weapons.
As a peaceful nation, Iran first proposed the idea of making the Middle East a nuclear weapons-free zone in 1974. At the UN General Assembly meetings in 2005, 2007, and 2009, Iran again put forward a resolution calling for efforts to realize the goals set for global nuclear disarmament at the 1995 and 2000 NPT review conferences in New York.
In the resolution, Iran called on nuclear weapons states to act transparently, to largely reduce their reliance on their nuclear arsenals in their security policies, and to effectively pursue total nuclear disarmament.
Nuclear weapons states still vaguely threaten non-nuclear weapons states with nuclear attack. For example, former British defense secretary Geoff Hoon explicitly invoked the possibility of nuclear attack in response to a non-conventional attack by what he called ""rogue states"".
Also, in the biggest shift in French nuclear doctrine for 40 years, in January 2006 former French president Jacques Chirac threatened a nuclear strike against any state which sponsored a “terrorist assault” on France. He also said France should regard its allies and its sources of strategic supplies -- in other words oil -- as covered by its nuclear umbrella.
In the new Nuclear Posture Review (NPR) issued by the Pentagon on April 8, the U.S. threatened to use nuclear weapons against Iran, even though it is not a nuclear weapons state, a threat in clear violation of the NPT.
Ant then there is the threat of nuclear accidents. For example, Britain’s nuclear submarine HMS Vanguard and France’s Le Triomphant collided deep below the surface of the Atlantic Ocean in February 2009. The collision of the two submarines, both with nuclear weapons onboard, could have unleashed vast amounts of radiation and scattered scores of nuclear warheads across the seabed.
As one of its three main principles, the NPT gives the signatories the right to peacefully use nuclear technology.
Article IV of the NPT clearly states: “Nothing in this Treaty shall be interpreted as affecting the inalienable right of all the Parties to the Treaty to develop research, production and use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes without discrimination…”
However, not only has the NPT’s primary goal of achieving nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation not been realized, NPT signatories are also coming under illegal pressure not to use nuclear technology for peaceful civilian purposes.
The Tehran conference, which gathers representatives from international organizations, nuclear experts, anti-nuclear arms activists, and officials from different countries, including representatives from nuclear armed countries, can help set the goal for a world without nuclear arms.
The Nuclear Energy for All, Nuclear Weapons for No One conference provides an opportunity to allay the international community’s concerns about nuclear weapons by drawing up plans to strengthen the pillars of the NPT in terms of non-proliferation, disarmament, and civilian use of nuclear technology.
The conference can work out a plan to highlight international commitments toward nuclear disarmament and practical approaches to nuclear disarmament, set a date for nuclear disarmament -- since the NPT has a major loophole in that it has set no date for the purpose -- and define a transparent and efficient mechanism to verify claims by nuclear states that they are dismantling part of their nuclear arsenals.
Moreover, the participants should insist on NPT signatories’ inalienable right to nuclear technology without discrimination and facilitate the transfer of nuclear technology and materials for the development of civilian nuclear energy programs in conformity with the NPT members’ obligations toward nuclear safeguards