Nuclear programme problem - GulfToday

Nuclear programme problem


Photo used for illustrative purpose only.

Chief of the Iranian Atomic Energy Organisation (IAEO) Mohammed Eslami told the State TV that Iran has produced more than 20 kilogrammes of 20 per cent more enriched uranium, more than what the United Nations’ International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) had reported last month. In September, IAEA reported that Iran had 84.3 kilogrammes of 20 per cent more enriched uranium, which stood at 62.8 kilogrammes in June.

Eslami explained that according to the 2015 nuclear deal that the United States, Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China had signed, and which is also known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the other countries were to provide the 20 per cent more enriched uranium that Iran needed to keep its nuclear research reactor running, and that this was not delivered. There was also the promise of economic incentives to Iran for limiting its nuclear programme, and that this too did not happen. The United States under President Donald Trump had walked out of the agreement in 2018, and the Americans had imposed crippling economic sanctions.

There is the apprehension among Iran’s Arab neighbours that Iran’s nuclear programme with its military potential for military use would derail the security stability of the region, while Israel is opposed to it on the ground that Iran’s nuclear programme with its military potential was directly targeted against it. Iran has argued that its nuclear programme was for peaceful purposes and there was no military element to it. Iran’s continued 20 per cent enrichment of uranium is seen as a tactic to pressurise the European signatories of the argument to offer Tehran economic incentives to counter the American economic sanctions. It is estimated that 170 kilogrammes of 20 per cent more enriched uranium is needed to make a bomb. The general rule is 90 per cent more enriched uranium is needed to make the atomic bomb. Though United States President Joe Biden has expressed the willingness to return to the agreement, nothing concrete has emerged after the last round of talks in Vienna.

The Iranians have been bargaining hard and they have been trying to derive the maximum benefit through negotiations. Iran has so far has failed to convince its Arab neigbours that it does not seek regional hegemony. The Americans on their part are overtly concerned with Israel’s security, though the American strategists are likely to argue that the nuclear Iran is undesirable keeping in mind the regional balance of power. Iran’s inability to win the trust of the Arab governments in the region is a big disadvantage for Iran. Tehran is unable to argue its case from a position of strength. What is expected of Iran is a declaration that it is not seeking nuclear deterrence as part of its security strategy.

Israel is of course known as an undeclared nuclear power, with its own nuclear arsenal, but it cannot be officially counted as a nuclear power. American strategists seem to believe that a nuclear Iran spells danger for the region. The pressure on Iran to negate its ability to make nuclear weapons is all the greater because it is a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty or NPT. Iran had entered the NPT when it was under the rule of Shah Reza Pahlavi in the 1960s, but after the 1979 Iranian Revolution, the earlier international obligations were not nullified.

The NPT binds Iran from pursuing a nuclear bomb programme. As a matter of fact, Iran has been threatening to withdraw from NPT if the European powers refused to honour the JCPOA. Iran is one of the 62 original signatories of the NPT in 1968, and the 2015 JCPOA was based on the regulations of the NPT.

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