Iran Problem Diplomatic and Economic Response to a Potential Nuclear Threat Essay

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Iran Problem: Diplomatic and Economic Response to a Potential Nuclear Threat

Iran and diplomacy

The Iran Problem: Diplomatic and Economic Responses to a Potential Nuclear Threat

The dilemma with regard to Iran's nuclear ambitions is summed up succinctly in the following quotation.

The prospect of a nuclear Iran causes acute concern not only in the United States and Israel, but also in Europe, the Middle East

and most of the rest of the world… the consequences of any possible future military action could be wholly counterproductive as well as highly dangerous. Diplomatic solutions to the Iranian nuclear issue must be pursued resolutely.

The sensitivity to this issue has created an increasingly problematic and diverse arena of debate. While there are many conflicting points-of-view on this issue, there is a general consensus that any military action or intervention to make Iran comply with the United States and other powers might have extremely negative consequences not only for the region but for the world.

It is suggested that an attack on Iran to disable or destroy its nuclear capability would lead to a number of negative consequences. Among these consequences might be a strengthening of resolve and an increase in motivation for Iran to continue to expand its nuclear capabilities. Other consequences include more instability in the region and an increase in incidents of terrorism, as well as worldwide energy insecurity, which would be translated in economic problems.

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Among the other probable consequences of a non-diplomatic solution to Iranian nuclear ambitions is that there would be environmental degradation as well as civilian casualties.

2. Brief background

Essay on Iran Problem Diplomatic and Economic Response to a Potential Nuclear Threat Assignment

The background to this increasingly complex issue lies in the Iranian development of a nuclear program ostensibly aimed at the generation of fuel for peaceful purposes. This ambition is in fact legal and acceptable under the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). The NPT allows for and safeguards the right of countries to develop nuclear energy for peaceful purposes, as long as that country abides by International Atomic Energy Agency or IAEA rulings and protocols.

The problem lies with the suspicion from many quarters of the international community, including the United States that the Iranian nuclear program is not in fact directed towards peaceful ends but is aimed at creating nuclear weapons. As one report states, many members of the international community are "…deeply concerned that Iran is using this civil nuclear power programme to conceal the development of nuclear weapons"

This suspicion has been caused by the Iran's previous failures to comply with IAEA requirements and the alleged development of secret nuclear facilities by Iran. For example, in 2002

…. The National Council of Resistance (NCR) provided evidence of clandestine nuclear activities at Natanz. Following this discovery, IAEA inspectors reported additional secret nuclear activities, a number of which were in contravention of Iran's NPT safeguards agreement.

These findings and increasing suspicions have hampered movements towards diplomatic solutions to the issue. This has been compounded by the perception that "…Iran has also misled IAEA inspectors about other activities adding to doubts as to whether Iran's nuclear programme is being developed for nuclear energy alone."

On the other side of the debate is the view that that certain Western powers, in conjunction with Israel, are conspiring to prevent Iran from advancing in power and status in the region.

3. Diplomatic initiatives

There have been a number of diplomatic initiatives to date. These include the singing of a protocol between the IAEA and Iran in 2003, which was aimed at providing more powers for investigation of the nuclear facilities in Iran. A problem arose when the Iranian Parliament refused to ratify the treaty.

There have been many other attempts to reach a diplomatic and political solution to this problem. Each of these attempts have been foiled by two central sticking points; namely, Iran's continuing insistence that they have the right like any other country to develop energy for peaceful purposes, and the suspicion from Western powers that Iran is not being truthful and is covering up the development of a more aggressive use of nuclear energy. This argument is of course compounded and complicated to a great extent by the presence of Israel as a dominating force in the Middle East and also by the alleged fact that Israel has nuclear weapons that are illegal under international law.

This impasse continued when in 2005 a diplomatic solution was put forward as a response to Iran's resumed conversion of uranium at its facilities. The European Union and other parties proposed a set of incentives to encourage Iran to stop its nuclear fuel cycle. However, this only resulted in an aggressive response from the Iranian government and led to a breakdown in negotiations.

A concerted effort towards a diplomatic settlement with Iran was made during 2006 by the P5+1 group, which consisted of the permanent members of the U.N. Security Council - the United States, Britain, France, China and Russia as well as Germany. This settlement included the following aspects.

The willingness of the United States to sit down directly with Iran;

Recognition of the Isfahan uranium conversion plant;

An international fuel-cycle centre in Russia involving the Iranians;

Establishment of a five-year fuel-bank/bufferstock exclusively for use by Iran;

Affirmation of Iran's inalienable right to nuclear energy for peaceful purposes;

An energy partnership between Iran, the EU and other willing partners;

A new political forum to discuss security issues, involving Iran and other regional states, the U.S., Russia and China; and Trade and investment incentives.

While many see this as a sincere effort on the part of United States and others to meet Iranian needs, it was viewed with suspicion by the authorities in Iran. Iran felt that the proposal did not go far enough in addressing certain basic requirements on their part; for example, it did not go far enough in promising an end to certain security issues that Iran deemed to be important ( such as the potential threat of Israel) and only hinted vaguely at dialogue and cooperation on these issues.

As a result Iran put forward a counter proposal in August of that year which did not accept any preconditions related to their nuclear enrichment processes. The United States continued to exert pressure on Iran after this agreement failed but Iran failed to suspend enrichment by the deadline set by the IAEA in 2006.

While Iran rejected the proposal put forward in August 2006, it still left doors open for diplomatic negotiations. It noted that the proposal contained "….useful foundations and capacities for comprehensive and long-term cooperation between the two sides."

Consequently, the p5+1 group created a new draft of the proposal with improved provisions and benefits in 2008. However, Iran preempted the formal submission of this proposal to the group and put forward a counter-proposal included the following aspects;

"Establishing enrichment and nuclear fuel production consortiums in different parts of the world-including Iran"

Improved IAEA supervision "in different states"

Cooperation on nuclear safety and physical protection

Cooperation on export controls

Cooperation on regional security and global economic issues

It was felt that this proposal, which essentially called for political, economic, and security cooperation, did not meet the demands from the Western powers with regard to its nuclear program. As a result the diplomatic negotiations were inconclusive.

More recently, the Obama administration has attempted to break the cycle of diplomatic deadlocks and to renew negotiations with Iran. A formal invitation was issued to Iran to renew negotiations in 2009. Once again the response from Iran was a revised proposal, which tended to ignore the central nuclear issue.

The most recent attempts at diplomacy has resulted in an impasse and a 2010 report by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA On February 18, 2010) is condemnatory of what is perceived as Iranian intransigence. A part of the summary of this report reads as follows:

Iran is not implementing the requirements contained in the relevant resolutions of the Board of Governors and the Security Council, including implementation of the Additional Protocol, which are essential to building confidence in the exclusively peaceful purpose of its nuclear programme and to resolve outstanding questions.

4. Conclusion

One of the obvious conclusions is that diplomatic attempts, coupled with threats and sanctions, have not as yet been able to achieve a suitable solution to the problem of Iran's nuclear development. Equally clear is the realization on all sides that the use of military force to resolve the issue would be potentially catastrophic.

This problem has many dimensions but the reason for this impasse can be simplistically stated as a distrust of intention on both sides. While The United States and other Western powers do not believe that Iran has peaceful intentions for their nuclear power so the Iranian government is equally mistrustful of the promises made by the United Nations. The problem is increasingly one of political divergences and affiliations. This is clear from critics who see the insistence of the United States and others that Iran cease its nuclear strategy as being a hidden form… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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