Which country is in breach of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty?
Daniel M Pourkesali
September 1, 2006
I posed that question to an American friend I met over lunch in a recent trip to Florida and while his affirmation of Iran was not a shocker, he was quiet confused and surprised to learn otherwise. And there lies the problem with our so called "civilized western society" where misinformation and disinformation is systematically and intentionally implanted in the consciousness of the unsuspecting public by the so called mainstream media.
If you don't believe this, then just pick any story on any given day about Iran's nuclear activity and somewhere in the narrative you will undoubtedly come across this or very similar statement:
"Iran refuses to suspend its uranium enrichment activity, which can produce among other things, the material for atomic bombs. Tehran insists that its nuclear program is for generating electricity but the West believes Iran wants to make nuclear weapons."
The above assertion is then dutifully repeated by every media outlet -- Newspapers, Radio and TV Stations on daily basis in order to create the impression of a dangerous and outlaw nation led by a mad man bent on acquiring the nukes to blow up the world. No doubt the propaganda is working as evident by the results of a Los Angeles Time /Bloomberg pole conducted in April that found about half of those surveyed support military action if Iran continues its nuclear activity.
Before determining whether Iran is in violation of the NPT  , we must first review a little history -- On the morning of August 6, 1945 the United States dropped the first nuclear weapon code named "Little Boy" on the city of Hiroshima, followed three days later by the detonation of a second nuclear bomb "Fat Man" on Nagasaki, Japan incinerating 214,000 people .
Having built and used the ultimate weapon, the US adopted a failed policy of monopoly and exclusion by even refusing to cooperate with its closest wartime ally Britain which independently along with France developed their own nuclear weapons. By 1964, there were five declared nuclear weapon states with Soviet Union and China posing the first proliferation fear for the west. In 1965, the Geneva disarmament conference began considering a draft non-proliferation treaty which led to the introduction of the formal treaty which was then opened for signature on July 1, 1968 and entered into force on March 5, 1970. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) was charged with the primary task of verifying that parties to the NPT are complying with its terms.
Key Articles of the NPT
Article I requires the nuclear weapon states undertake not to transfer to any recipient whatsoever nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices and not to assist, encourage or induce any non-nuclear-weapon state to manufacture or otherwise acquire nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices.
Under Article II, each non-nuclear-weapon state pledges not to receive, manufacture, or otherwise acquire nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices; and not to seek or receive assistance in their manufacture.
Article III obliges each non-nuclear-weapon state to accept comprehensive international safeguards through agreements negotiated with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). The intent of these safeguards is to deter and detect the diversion of nuclear material for nuclear explosive purposes.
Under Article IV, parties may engage in peaceful nuclear programs in a manner consistent with Articles I and II and are expected to assist the nuclear programs of other parties. It emphasizes that nothing in the Treaty shall be interpreted as affecting the inalienable right of all the parties to develop research, production and use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes without discrimination and in conformity with articles I and II of this Treaty.
Article VI obligates the nuclear weapon states to pursue plans to reduce and liquidate their stockpiles and all parties to pursue good-faith negotiations on effective measures relating to ending the nuclear arms race at an early date, to nuclear disarmament, and to achieving a treaty on general and complete disarmament under strict and effective international control.
Article VII recognizes the right of any group of states to conclude regional treaties ensuring the total absence of nuclear weapons in their respective territories.
So if you haven't figured it out by now uranium enrichment is a central tenet guaranteed by article IV of the treaty as an "inalienable right" granted to all non-nuclear states. It is the process that produces the fuel to run a nuclear reactor in order to produce electricity which is conveniently dismissed as "among other things" in the news example sited above. It is also the carrot without which there is no incentive for countries to join the NPT as they would be accepting an apartheid system that rewards nuclear states without any practical benefits for the non-nuclear members. The right to utilize nuclear technology without developing nuclear weapons is vital for the treaty to remain credible and enforceable.
The United States, on the other hand, is in material breach of article VI which requires the nuclear weapon states to "pursue plans to reduce and liquidate their stockpiles of nuclear weapons". To the contrary, U.S. has secured funding, and is actively pursuing development of a new generation of nuclear weapons   and has never allowed inspection of its nuclear facilities by IAEA.
Iran is only refusing the Security Council's demand to give up its right under the Article IV to enrich uranium which it did voluntarily for a period from November 2004 until August 2005 for what it called "confidence building" measures. Having failed to win any meaningful economic or diplomatic incentives from the west for giving up what is practically guaranteed and practiced by every other member state, it resumed that lawful activity earlier this year. In its August 22nd reply to the incentive package offered by the permanent members of Security Council plus Germany, it called for negotiations to consider such action again, but not as a precondition but rather part of a serious and reverential dialogue. Comment
Daniel M Pourkesali is an Aeronautical Engineer and a member of the Campaign Against Sanctions and Military Intervention in Iran.