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Rebutting Iran's UN Ambassador

By Steve Schippert | April 7, 2006

Iran's Ambassador to the United Nations, Javad Zarif, has written a defense of the Iranian nuclear program published in The New York Times titled 'We in Iran don't need this quarrel'. Ambassador Zarif writes at some length to persuade how and why Iran has proven their program purely peaceful in the spirit of cooperation. Quite frankly, it deserves rebuttal.

Ambassador Zarif opens, stating that ”Lost amid the rhetoric is this: Iran has a strong interest in enhancing the integrity and authority of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty.” Iran has had a funny way of demonstrating this interest. Namely kicking out inspectors, removing observation cameras and breaking IAEA seals on equipment under direct protest of observing IAEA officials.

Zarif asserts that Iran wants regional stability and goes so far as to state that Iran has ” never initiated the use of force or resorted to the threat of force against a fellow member of the United Nations.” Are specially milled molten copper armor piercing IED’s not considered a use of force? They have been used to kill American and Iraqi soldiers in Iraq and have been intercepted while being shipped across the border from Iran. Perhaps Zarif chooses to cling to the non-existent degree of separation between the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps and Hezbollah when denying attacking a UN member, namely the Israeli embassy bombing in Argentina for just one example.

Once getting to the nuclear specifics, Ambassador Zafir purports that Iran has gone above and beyond the call in efforts to abide by IAEA wishes, including allowing the IAEA “to repeatedly visit military sites - and to allow inspectors to take environmental samples.” Yet, in at least one instance, when inspectors went to take environmental samples from ‘green areas’ (which are within the complex buildings), inspectors were refused and relegated to soil samples outside as Iran clung to the terms ‘environmental’ and ‘green’ in defending this move. Such actions fly in the face of the ‘spirit’ of the level of cooperation claimed.

Ambassador Zarif continues on to list specific instances in a rapid-fire cooperation exclamation that falls short of full disclosure. His list with bulleted point-by-point rebuttal follows.

Over the course of negotiations, Iran volunteered to do the following within a balanced package:

Present the new atomic agency protocol on intrusive inspections to the Parliament for ratification, and to continue to put it in place pending ratification;

* Which Iran did before ripping the seals off and commencing enrichment to this day.

Permit the continuous on-site presence of IAEA inspectors at conversion and enrichment facilities;

* At some, but not all facilities, which still did not stop the removal of IAEA cameras.

Introduce legislation to permanently ban the development, stockpiling and use of nuclear weapons;

* There is a religious decree stating such, but Iran’s actions belie the decree. It should be noted that only Iranian officials claim ‘nuclear power’. Even their supporters outside Iran have taken up the argument of ‘Why shouldn’t Iran have nuclear weapons?’ Perhaps the recent fatwa from religious scholars doesn't warrant consideration, such as that from Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's mentor, Mohsen Gharavian, a disciple of the ultra-conservative Ayatollah Mohammad Taghi Mesbah-Yazdi.

Cooperate on export controls to prevent unauthorized access to nuclear material;

* Yet this is precisely how Iran obtained the material, and now they are going to play by the rules? Ahmadinejad himself proclaimed that Iran intended to ensure that all Muslim countries have access to the technology. What gives, Mr. Ambassador?

Refrain from reprocessing or producing plutonium;

* Then why the continued construction of the Arak heavy water plant? It has one solitary purpose: Plutonium production.

Limit the enrichment of nuclear materials so that they are suitable for energy production but not for weaponry;

* Perhaps the Shahab-3 triconical nosecone development really is for aerodynamics? And the recently claimed MIRV efforts for military-grade plastic explosive multiple-warhead ambitions?

Immediately convert all enriched uranium to fuel rods, thereby precluding the possibility of further enrichment;

* See: Arak Heavy Water Plant logic.

Limit the enrichment program to meet the contingency fuel requirements of Iran's power reactors and future light-water reactors;

* See: Arak Heavy Water Plant. See Also: Rejection of Russian Proposal.

Begin putting in place the least contentious aspects of the enrichment program, like research and development, in order to assure the world of our intentions;

* To assure the world of Iran’s intentions, Iran intends to enrich uranium, steadily increasing the number of cascaded centrifuges.

Accept foreign partners, both public and private, in our uranium enrichment program.

* While considering the repeated rejection of the Russian Proposal and the purported acceptance of foreign partners, we might be inclined to consider the possibility that Iran is suggesting partnerships with foreign entitites in order to buy favor from their respective governments. Consider Chinese or French businesses partnered to construct nuclear facilities in Iran, and how they might be even less inclined to support sanctions or further attempts to contain Iranian efforts.

At the heart of his insistence is religious conviction, as referenced above, which he states early in his column, saying, ”Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the leader of the Islamic Republic, has issued a decree against the development, production, stockpiling and use of nuclear weapons.” Perhaps this is the same religious conviction that openly declares the quest for a global Islamic caliphate yet, ironically, castigates American imperialism on a regular basis.

Simply stated, many do not believe the Ayatollah, religious leader and dictator of the Islamic Republic of Iran, and epicenter of global terrorism. Nor do many believe Iran's Ambassador to the United Nations.