Does anyone here remember United Nations Security Resolution 984 (PDF)?
The Security Council
Convinced that every effort must be made to avoid and avert the danger of nuclear war, to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons, to facilitate international cooperation in the peaceful uses of nuclear energy with particular emphasis on the needs of developing countries, and reaffirming the crucial importance of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons to these efforts,
Recognizing the legitimate interest of non-nuclear-weapon States Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons to receive security assurances,
Welcoming the fact that more than 170 States have become Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons and stressing the desirability of universal adherence to it,
Reaffirming the need for all States Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons to comply fully with all their obligations,
Taking into consideration the legitimate concern of non-nuclear-weapon States that, in conjunction with their adherence to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, further appropriate measures be undertaken to safeguard their security,
Considering that the present resolution constitutes a step in this direction,
Considering further that, in accordance with the relevant provisions of the Charter of the United Nations, any aggression with the use of nuclear weapons would endanger international peace and security,
1. Takes note with appreciation of the statements made by each of the nuclear-weapon States (S/1995/261, S/1995/262, S/1995/263, S/1995/264, S/1995/265), in which they give security assurances against the use of nuclear weapons to non-nuclear-weapon States that are Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons;
2. Recognizes the legitimate interest of non-nuclear-weapon States Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons to receive assurances that the Security Council, and above all its nuclear-weapon State permanent members, will act immediately in accordance with the relevant provisions of the Charter of the United Nations, in the event that such States are the victim of an act of, or object of a threat of, aggression in which nuclear weapons are used;
3. Recognizes further that, in case of aggression with nuclear weapons or the threat of such aggression against a non-nuclear-weapon State Party to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, any State may bring the matter immediately to the attention of the Security Council to enable the Council to take urgent action to provide assistance, in accordance with the Charter, to the State victim of an act of, or object of a threat of, such aggression; and recognizes also that the nuclear-weapon State permanent members of the Security Council will bring the matter immediately to the attention of the Council and seek Council action to provide, in accordance with the Charter, the necessary assistance to the State victim;
4. Notes the means available to it for assisting such a non-nuclearweapon State Party to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, including an investigation into the situation and appropriate measures to settle the dispute and restore international peace and security;
5. Invites Member States, individually or collectively, if any non-nuclear-weapon State Party to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons is a victim of an act of aggression with nuclear weapons, to take appropriate measures in response to a request from the victim for technical, medical, scientific or humanitarian assistance, and affirms its readiness to consider what measures are needed in this regard in the event of such an act of aggression;
6. Expresses its intention to recommend appropriate procedures, in response to any request from a non-nuclear-weapon State Party to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons that is the victim of such an act of aggression, regarding compensation under international law from the aggressor for loss, damage or injury sustained as a result of the aggression;
7. Welcomes the intention expressed by certain States that they will provide or support immediate assistance, in accordance with the Charter, to any non-nuclear-weapon State Party to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons that is a victim of an act of, or an object of a threat of, aggression in which nuclear weapons are used;
8. Urges all States, as provided for in Article VI of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, to pursue negotiations in good faith on effective measures relating to nuclear disarmament and on a treaty on general and complete disarmament under strict and effective international control which remains a universal goal;
9. Reaffirms the inherent right, recognized under Article 51 of the Charter, of individual and collective self-defence if an armed attack occurs against a member of the United Nations, until the Security Council has taken measures necessary to maintain international peace and security;
10. Underlines that the issues raised in this resolution remain of continuing concern to the Council.
Signed and approved April 11, 1995. To sum it up, it says that countries with nuclear weapons promise not to attack countries which don't have them and have signed the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons treaty (NPT).
When this resolution was being debated, a number of countries added their input. Here is what Iran had to say at the time:
The Security Council is meeting today to discuss a subject of paramount importance to the security of the entire international community. The continued production, stockpiling and testing of nuclear weapons by nuclear Powers endanger the security of non-nuclear-weapon States, which believe that the only effective security assurance against the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons lies in the total elimination of such weapons. It is regrettable to note that not only have the nuclear-weapon States refused to undertake a programme of action for nuclear disarmament within a time-bound framework, with a target date, but they have also chosen not to finalize a comprehensive test-ban treaty. It is the considered view of the non-nuclear-weapon States parties to the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) that, pending the achievement of universal nuclear disarmament, effective measures should be taken to ensure the security of these States against the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons.
The non-nuclear-weapon States parties to the NPT believe that nuclear-weapon States should extend the negative security assurances granted to the States Members of the Tlatelolco Treaty to all non-nuclear-weapon States parties to the NPT. These assurances must be in the form of a negotiated, legally binding international instrument, with, inter alia, the addition of a protocol embodying legally binding nuclear security assurances to be annexed to the NPT. The Group of non-nuclear-weapon States parties to the NPT in the Conference on Disarmament, including my delegation, have presented a draft protocol on the issue, which is an important step towards strengthening the Treaty. Anything short of that would not allay the concerns of non-nuclear-weapon States regarding the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons.
Bearing in mind that any act of aggression involving the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons constitutes a threat to international peace and security, it is incumbent upon the Security Council to take immediate measures under the provisions of Chapter VII of the Charter in the event of aggression with nuclear weapons or the threat of such aggression against a non-nuclear-weapon State Party to the NPT. These measures should include action on the part of the Members of the United Nations, particularly the nuclear-weapon States, individually or collectively, to suppress aggression. In other words, besides providing technical, medical, scientific or humanitarian assistance to the victims of an act of aggression with nuclear weapons, the Security Council should be prepared to use all necessary means in defence of the victims in accordance with the United Nations Charter.
Regrettably, following the demise of the cold war, some permanent members of the Security Council continue to refrain from committing themselves not to use or threaten to use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear-weapon States parties to the NPT.
The non-nuclear-weapon States have renounced the nuclear option in return for the fulfilment of the commitment on the part of the nuclear-weapon States, including the provision of negative security assurances to non-nuclear-weapon States through an international legally binding instrument. The nuclear-weapon States should uphold their commitments so that the NPT and the non-proliferation regime can be strengthened.
Undoubtedly, the present endeavour will help create an atmosphere conducive to the total elimination of nuclear weapons. As an original signatory of the NPT and as a Party that has fully complied with all its obligations under NPT and IAEA safeguards, the Islamic Republic of Iran is committed to acting in tandem with other peaceloving countries in this regard.
Here is a portion of what the Chinese representative said:
The Chinese Government has long unilaterally undertaken not to use or threaten to use nuclear weapons against nonnuclear-weapon States or nuclear-weapon-free zones at any time or under any circumstances.
Here's what the Russians had to say:
The Russian Federation will not use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear-weapon States parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, except in the case of an invasion or any other attack on the Russian Federation, its territory, its armed forces or other troops, its allies or on a State towards which it has a security commitment, carried out or sustained by such a non-nuclear-weapon State in association or alliance with a nuclear-weapon State."
The United States by the way signed an identical statement except for the fact that "Russian Federation" was replaced by "United States". Remember that the Security Resolution 948 was passed unanimously with no abstentions.
But wait, there's more:
In December 1994, the UN General Assembly asked the International Court of Justice (ICJ) for an advisory opinion on the question: "Is the threat or use of nuclear weapons in any circumstance permitted under international law?" The Court decided that it was competent to render an opinion on the question, and on 8 July 1996 delivered a somewhat complicated opinion. There are six elements to the opinion, decided by different majorities. The crux of the opinion split the court, with the President of the Court deciding a 7-7 tie in favour of the following opinion:
"It follows from the above-mentioned requirements that the threat or use of nuclear weapons would generally be contrary to the rules of international law applicable in armed conflict, and in particular the principles and rules of humanitarian law;"
"However, in view of the current state of international law, and of the elements of fact at its disposal, the Court cannot conclude definitively whether the threat or use of nuclear weapons would be lawful or unlawful in an extreme circumstance of self-defence, in which the very survival of a State would be at stake."
The whole point of Resolution 984 was to give an incentive to non-nuclear states to remain non-nuclear. What's the point of agreeing to not have a nuclear weapon if the United States can one day down the road decide to use one against you?
Now let's switch over to North Korea and look at a little timeline I put together:
1994 - North Korea signs a deal in which it promises to forsake nuclear development in exchange for two things - oil shipments from the U.S. and the construction of two nuclear power reactors.
October 2002 - United States says North Korea admits (in secret talks) it is working on a secret nuclear weapons program. The next day, NK leader Kim "Jiggy" Jong-il says IAEA inspectors can check out sites in the country to prove they're not being used.
Two days later SecState Colin "WMD" Powell says future aid to North Korea is in doubt. Jiggy says the U.S. promised to build two nuclear power reactors by 2003 but they are years behind schedule.
The two sides continue to bicker until finally North Korea says no IAEA inspectors are welcome.
December 2002 - NK tells the IAEA to remove its surveillance equipment from the Yongbyon power plant. NK expels two IAEA inspectors after they report up to 1,000 fuel rods are in operation at Yongbyon.
NK says it is planning on re-starting its facility to produce weapons grade plutonium.
January 2003 - The IAEA passes a resolution demanding NK to allow inspectors or face action by the UN Security Council. To this day, nothing has happened.
On January 10, NK announced it is now withdrawing from the NPT treaty.
January 31, 2003 - White House flak Ari Fleishcer says NK "must not" take any provocative action.
February 24, 2003 - NK fires a missile between South Korea and Japan.
March 10, 2003 - NK fires a second missile.
April 9, 2003 - UN Security Council is "concerned" about NK but imposes neither sanctions nor condemns NK for exiting the NPT treaty
April 23, 2003 - Talks begin with NK, the U.S. and China.
April 25, 2003 - Talks end with finger pointing on all sides.
April 28, 2003 - SecState Colin "WMD" Powell says North Korea made a promise to completely halt its nuclear program and have normalized relations with the U.S. in exchange for "concessions" he does not specify. Powell says the U.S. is "studying" the issue.
May 5, 2003 - NK says it wants an answer to its proposal. It doesn't get one.
May 12, 2003 - NK tells South Korea it is abandoning its 1992 agreement to keep the peninsula nuclear-free.
June 9, 2003 - NK says it will continue building weapons unless the U.S. changes its "hostile policy".
August 1, 2003 - Six-way talks begin with NK, Japan, China, Russia, United States and SK.
December 9, 2003 - NK offers to halt it nuclear program in exchange for concessions from the U.S. These are not specified.
Bush rejects NK's offer.
February 25, 2004 - Second round of 6-party talks ends with no progress
June 23, 2004 - Third round of 6-party talks begins. U.S. offers "fuel aid" if NK freezes and dismantles its nuclear program.
July 24, 2004 - NK tells the U.S. to stop "day dreaming" and refuses to give up its nuclear program.
August 22, 2004 - Bush describes Jiggy as a tyrant.
August 23, 2004 - Jiggy describes Bush as an imbecile and a tyrant that puts Hitler in the shade.
September 28, 2004 - NK says it enriched plutonium enough to make nuclear weapons, saying they are necessary for self-defense against the U.S.
January 14, 2005 - NK says it is willing to re-start talks if the U.S. does not slander it.
January 19, 2005 - SecState (nominee) Condoleezza Rice describes NK as an "outpost of tyranny".
February 10, 2005 - NK says it is indefinitely postponing 6-party talks.
May 1, 2005 - NK fires a missile into the Sea of Japan.
July 9, 2005 - NK says it will resume 6-party talks.
July 12, 2005 - SK offers NK electricity as part of an incentive to end nuclear program.
July 25, 2005 - Fourth round of 6-party talks begins.
August 7, 2005 - 6-party talks are deadlocked.
September 13, 2005 - Talks resume but when NK again demands a light water energy reactor it is warned this demand will result in a "stand-off".
September 19, 2005 - NK says it will give up all nuclear activities and join the NPT if the U.S. promises not to attack it. Bush rejects this offer.
January 23, 2006 - U.S. says NK is counterfeiting large numbers of U.S. dollars.
February 2, 2006 - SK says that NK was counterfeiting dollars but no longer is.
February 16, 2006 - Banks in Macau stop handling NK accounts after the U.S. says they are laundering money for NK. Macau was handling nearly all of NK's foreign currency accounts, used to pay to import everything from food to electronics.
March 9, 2006 - NK fires two more missiles. U.S. warns NK not to do that anymore.
April 10, 2006 - Negotiators trying to negotiate a return to the 6-party negotiation talks fail.
April 13, 2006 - NK offers to return to talks if U.S. unfreezes bank accounts in Macau.
And that's where we are today.
I realize this is one heck of a long article so far but I wanted to assemble all of this in one place so we can look at Iran.
Look to the east of the country. It is currently occupied by American troops. Look to the west and southwest (Iraq and Kuwait). Similarly occupied by American troops. On the upper northwest border are Turkey, which is a member of NATO and hosts American troops. Similarly right above Iran is Azerbaijan, which hosts a secret U.S. garrison and a less-secret giant radar facility.
I admit the president of Iran is a firebrand and regularly uses hate speech. I also know that the president of Iran has far less powers than the president of the United States (or at least powers he assets he has). Iran is actually run by a council of religious scholars and no major move can be made without their approval.
If you look at Resolution 984 and then you look at how the Bush administration has handled North Korea, what would you do if you were calling the shots in Iran? What would you do if you saw 130,000 troops on your left flank and 20,000 on your right flank from a country who calls you an "Axis of Evil" and who not only has used nuclear weapons in the past but is threatening to do so right now? What would you do?
If you look at the case of North Korea, does that look like negotiating in good faith? Does it look like the U.S. wants the country to return to the NPT and abandon all future weapons development? Or does it look more like the U.S. is intent on bankrupting the country into collapse?
North Korea would give up its nuclear weapons in five seconds if it could receive economic and humanitarian aid and be able to save face at the same time. It is a desperately poor country run by a despotic leadership that is driving even the members of the "elite" into grinding poverty and suffering. A colonel in the North Korean army is lucky if he has an apartment with running water. Even Hitler was smart enough to know you have to reward the upper echelons who keep you in power.
There is this American fallacy that Iran is some kind of isolated pariah like North Korea is. Nothing could be further from the truth. Iran sells both oil AND gas to much of the free world, including Europe. In fact its largest trading partner is Japan, accounting for over 18% of its exports. Italy is in third place and South Africa fourth. It also does a lot of business with Germany, Turkey, France, South Korea and Russia.
Cutting off Iran's oil sales is impossible. If the millions of barrels of Iranian oil stopped flowing to the rest of the planet the world's economy would collapse in a heartbeat. Unlike North Korea, Iran has both money and friends and except for Israel, no other country is even remotely threatened by Iran.
People in Saudi Arabia and Venezuela and Japan and even Armenia feel absolutely no fear that Iran is going to attack them militarily. And they are quite right as Iran has not launched an attack against a neighboring country since about 1220. The only military engagement in that time has been the Iraq-Iran war from 1980-1988, which it could be easily argued was started by Iraq with heavy goading and financing by the United States.
Iran on the other hand has been invaded many times including by Imperial Russia, the British Empire and the Soviet Union (1941). In 1953, the United States and Britain overthrew Iran's democratically elected Prime Minister and replaced him with the Shah, whose human rights abuses were legendary. That's not a myth or conspiracy theory, that's a proven fact.
Even Israel's "fear" that Iran will attack it seems unjustified. Israel has fought four wars, starting with its establishment in 1948, the "six day" war of 1967, the 1973 "October" War and the 1982 invasion of Lebanon. At no time during any of these wars did Iran's military participate. The militaries of Egypt, Lebanon, Iraq, Jordan, Syria, Yemen and yes even Saudi Arabia have fought against Israel but not Iran.
One might argue that Hizb Allah (Hezbollah) has attacked Israel and it is sponsored by Iran. Hizb Allah did not even exist before the 1982 invasion of Lebanon and was formed out of Shi'ite resistance fighters in southern Lebanon as a direct result of that invasion. All of Hizb Allah's activities have occurred in Lebanon and not Israel. And while the west considers this to be a terrorist organization I note that the majority of their actions, including against Americans, were against soldiers. Even the horrific truck bombing in 1983 was against American soldiers and that's just guerilla warfare not terrorism. Not that I justify it, mind you.
Israel withdrew from its illegal occupation of Lebanon in 2000 except for the region of Sheba'a Farms, which is claimed by both Israel, Syria and Israel. Hezb Allah's actions today against Israel occur in this disputed piece of territory and again the targets are Israeli soldiers. I might add that Israel also regularly attacks Hizb Allah forces inside Lebanon's border as well.
Now there is evidence that Hizb Allah has worked with Palestinian groups such as Tanzim (part of Fatah) in importing weapons. I have yet however to see any reports of Hizb Allah committing any terrorist or military act inside Israel (other than Sheba'a Farms). This might make it seem like I support Hizb Allah or something but I don't, not in the slightest. I also particularly abhor their regular use of hate speech. I just want to clarify the threat that Iran poses to Israel.
I wish that Iran was a completely democratic country with full freedoms of speech, religion and political expression. I wish their economy was in better shape and not so reliant on oil and gas exports. I wish that its laws were free and fair and that abuses of prisoners did not occur. But regardless of where Iran is, I remember my mother's admonition that "two wrongs do not make a right".
Whatever Iran's ills, it is absolute madness and lunacy for the United States (or Israel) to launch a pre-emptive strike against this country based on the premise that it could, at one day in the future, develop a single nuclear weapon. The paths to peace are many but the safety of the world is in jeopardy when a nation is pushed into the corner by another, when fiery, hardliner rhetoric is the standard of the day and every option is "still on the table" except the forgotten art of diplomacy and true negotiation.
Cross-posted from the doubleplusungood crimethink website Flogging the Simian