Do what I tell you to but don’t do what I do

Tension has grown stronger between Iran and the US and European Union in the past few years. While Britain, China, France, the US, India, Pakistan, Russia, and North Korea have nuclear weapon capabilities,1 Iran is being questioned on whether they should keep developing their nuclear power technologies due to the growing suspicion that Iran’s purpose is to develop nuclear weapons.2,3  Because of the increasing tension regarding this situation and the non-responsive evasive attitude from the Iranians, some of the countries in the European Union as well as the US have decided to cut Iran off from the International financial system.2 This decision includes restrictions by the US to Iran’s nuclear, petrochemical, and oil industries in an attempt to manipulate the Iranian government. At the same time, the European Union decided to stop importing Iranian crude oil.4 Apparently, that was the feather that broke the camel’s back. In retaliation to the measures taken by the leader countries, Iran stopped all exports of oil shipments to England and France.5 Iran’s Oil Ministry spokesman Ali Reza Nikzad-Rahbad, adding to the already heated situation, said, “We have our own customers and have no problem to sell and export crude oil to new customers”.5 The cut to the European nations caused oil price to rise to $121.12 and decrease to $120.46 a barrel all in one day.4 According to the newspaper The Telegraph (UK), the halt in Iranian oil exports has little impact on UK’s economy since they have not been buying Iran’s oil for the past six months.4 However, the case might not be the same for France as they import 75,000 barrels from Iran every day4.

See video on World News

Iran assures that their development of nuclear power has only energy and research purposes.6 Then, why do they refuse to provide the authorities with specific information? If there is nothing to hide, why the secrecy? Despite all the accusations, Iran keeps rejecting any attempts made by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to obtain specific information regarding their research as well as to check the installations where these nuclear projects are thought to be held.6 Conversely, more and more information obtained by other sources points towards Iran constructing nuclear weapons. First, in a report made by IAEA last year, it was communicated that there are indications of “clandestine activity” by the Iranians which involved technologies that could be used for civilian, military nuclear programs, or specific to nuclear weapons.6 Second, the IAEA was rejected access to a site suspected to have conducted “high-explosives testing”.6 Third, there are suspicions that the Iranians have designed the core of a nuclear warhead by computer modeling and “alleged preparatory work for nuclear weapons test”.6  Most importantly, Iran has kept increasing uranium enrichment at higher levels than what they started with, having Tehran producing around 240 pounds of higher-level uranium enriched to 20 %.6 According to the report,6 this amount of uranium produced, and at such a high enrichment level, would be close to half of what it is needed to construct a nuclear warhead. Additionally, Iran has increased the amount of centrifuges producing lower-enriched material to 9,000 which accounts for around 12,000 pounds of this material.6

Let us look at the same issue from another point of view. Who has the authority to dictate whether a country is allowed to have nuclear power for military purposes or not? During the Second World War in 1945, the US employed not only one but two nuclear bombs against the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki killing 90,000-166,000 people in Hiroshima and 60,000-80,000 people in Nagasaki within the first two to four months.7 After such a terrible and deadly event, the US, UK, France, etc. still have nuclear weapons at hand even after signing the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty8. So, how? How can anybody control that nuclear technologies are being used for the right purposes? Would any of the leader countries agree to open their home doors for some stranger to look inside and analyze their nuclear research and technologies?

Even though Iran’s stubborn position is not helping at all dissipate the tension and fear of all the other nations and international entities (on the contrary, it is only making the situation worse and worse with each passing day), how can any of the “leader” countries control the situation? Under what moral basis can the UK, US, and France try to manipulate or solve the disagreement when they themselves have nuclear weapons at hand? How can they tell Iran not to do what they do? Imagine the situation when a mom smokes and her kids watch her doing so. What can she possibly tell them when they grow up and start smoking too? Smoking is bad for you! she would probably say angrily… Yet, if smoking is so bad for your health or has POTENTIAL THREAT to your health, how does she justifies doing it herself in the first place? Lead by example, maybe?

On a side note, I recommend reading this article by The New York Times: http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2011/05/31/science/new-evidence-on-irans-nuclear-aspirations.html?ref=science, where it is described why the IAEA fears Tehran’s nuclear program aims to build a nuclear device.

REFERENCES

[1]        Infoplease: All the knowledge you need. Countries with nuclear weapon capabilities. http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0762462.html. (accessed Feb 22, 2012).

[2]        The New York Times. World. http://topics.nytimes.com/top/news/international/countriesandterritories/iran/index.html. (accessed Feb 22, 2012)

[3]        BBC News. Middle East. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-15960731. (accessed Feb 22, 2012).

[4]        The Telegraph. Iran stops oil exports to UK and France. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/newsbysector/energy/oilandgas/9092323/Iran-stops-oil-exports-to-UK-and-France.html. (accessed Feb 22, 2012).

[5]        WorldNews. Iran Oil Ministry: Exports cut to Britain and France. http://worldnews.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2012/02/19/10448533-iran-oil-ministry-exports-cut-to-britain-france. (accessed Feb 25, 2012)

[6]        North County Times. UN atom agency: Iran rapidly expands nuke work. http://www.nctimes.com/business/un-atomic-agency-iran-rapidly-expands-nuke-work/article_13073bb3-0c9f-53fe-ae32-37d8188ea7b5.html. (accessed Feb 25, 2012).

[7]        Wikipedia. Atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atomic_bombings_of_Hiroshima_and_Nagasaki. (accessed Feb 25, 2012).

[8]        Wikipedia. Nuclear non-proliferation treaty. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nuclear_Non-Proliferation_Treaty (accessed Feb 25, 2012).

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3 Comments

Filed under emerging countries, energy

3 responses to “Do what I tell you to but don’t do what I do

  1. aealexander

    This is a very interesting article, and I strongly agree. Some countries might think that they have a right to tell other nations what to do even if it is hypocritical, but I think that that is the nature of politics.

    What I think is important to know is that the reasons for this rivalry between Israel and Iran stem from decades of history and conflict within the Middle East. Israel before 1979 was actually a close ally and trading partner with Iran. They shared military secrets and conducted business as usual. During Israel’s Six Day War, most of their oil came from Iran. After the Ayatollah led Iran into a revolution that installed an Islamic Regime in Iran, rhetoric came about from Tehran that caused fear for many Israelis.

    Here is an article that helps spell out some of these concerns:

    http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Middle-East/2010/0622/Why-Iran-vs.-Israel-rhetoric-could-escalate-into-war

    Also, Israel is a fairly young country to exist as a modern nation. Even though stories in the Old Testament and so forth talk about the Nation of Israel in ancient times, the modern Israel has not existed. Many refugees from the Holocaust and other conflicts caused mass immigration of Jews to the region. Britain had a mandate shortly after WWII over the region, and in 1947 the British withdrew their mandate over the region, saying that the Jew versus Palestinian question was out of there control. Ever since then, Israel has been struggling against much bigger countries to simply survive. Israel has a population of only about 7.5 million people. Iran has a population of a little over 70 million people, nearly 10 times more than Iran.

    http://www.google.com/publicdata

    Take in the fact that Israel is very little land and one can see how one nuclear bomb in Israel can cause devastating damage. In short, I agree with the fact that it is very hypocritical of nuclear countries to tell other countries not to have nuclear programs, but there is this element of threat that comes between Iran and Israel. Several very important Iranian political leaders have pointed to the fact that they would like to see Israel wiped off the face of the earth. It is not so much the fact that they are trying to get nuclear weapons as it is the fact that they are trying to get nuclear weapons while having this off-hand anti-Jew attitude about their politics and decision making.

  2. mranderson0416

    A few weeks ago, Dr. Beach argued in class that Iran will likely obtain a nuclear weapon if she wants one, regardless of international pressure. It was unclear to me if he was considering possible intervening responses by the international community, which could include military action, but I think that would only affect the timeline on which a weapon is created.

    As someone who is pro-nuclear energy, I welcome Iran’s entry into the “atomic energy club”, and would hope that her knowledge and lessons learned could benefit the rest of the industry. As a signatory to the Non-Proliferation Treaty, Iran has a right to develop nuclear technology for peaceful purposes.

    The problem I had with Dr. Beach’s statement, pointed out by Mort Zuckerman at US News, is that Iran is the only nation openly calling for the annihilation of another nation, specifically Israel [1]. While it is still just an assumption that Iran would use a nuclear weapon against Israel, it makes more sense to believe that assumption than to believe what she hasn’t said, which would be to leave Israel alone (Note that the USA used atomic weapons against Japan not to annihilate that nation, but rather to swiftly end World War II and thereby avoid an invasion which probably would’ve completely destroyed Japan).

    This comment risks the hijacking of this thread into politics, so I’ll wrap up with the position that until Iran’s rhetoric against Israel (or any other nations) comes to an end, her advancement in nuclear technology should be opposed. I argue that development of nuclear energy should be a privilege, not a right, and until Iran finds herself in good standing with the rest of the international community, she should continue to use conventional energy and forego nuclear power.

    [1] – http://www.usnews.com/opinion/mzuckerman/articles/2012/03/02/if-the-us-and-the-world-wont-stop-iran-israel-will-act-alone

  3. rvcrawford

    You pose the question on what moral basis does the US and other countries have to impose nuclear military policy on Iran. The answer actually has nothing to do with morality. Iran, on their own accord, signed up to be a member of both the United Nations (UN)1 and the independent International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)2. It should be mentioned that the IAEA reports to the UN General Assembly and Security Council. As a member, when suspicious activity is going on in your country, of course the IAEA is going to come check it out.

    Back to what moral reasons exist to be concerned with Iran having a nuclear weapon. To begin with, Iran sponsors terrorism3. Additionally, Iran has made direct threats to the United States and Israel4. When radical people who do not value human life have a weapon to kill many people, there is cause for alarm. Can it not also be argued that for someone who can stop injustice in the world but does not that in itself is an injustice?

    You employ the “let us look at the same issue from another point of view” tactic and mention the US’ use of two atomic bombs to end the Pacific theater of World War 2. Perhaps you should look at the decision to drop the bomb from a different point of view. What if the bombs hadn’t been drop? The US would have had to invade the main island of Japan. While no true number can be calculated, it is estimated that on the order of a million people would have died. Additionally, the bomb would have probably been used for the first time at some later point, possibly during the Cold War. With bombs even stronger during the Cold War, there is no telling how many more people would have died.

    1 http://www.un.org/en/members/
    2 http://www.iaea.org/About/Policy/MemberStates/
    3 http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/bgn/5314.htm
    4 http://www.reuters.com/article/2008/06/03/us-iran-israel-usa-idUSL0261250620080603

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