The mention of the Iranian nuclear issue brings a mixed bag of responses. Most people believe that Iran is at fault for engaging in the development and manufacture of nuclear weapons and deserves the treatment currently being meted out to it. The second school of thought is that it is mere propaganda of the United States against the Islamic nations. These two ideas have been so well perpetrated that, even before we know the real facts, we realize that have already developed our stand.
At first I primarily believed in the first view, slowly graduating to the second belief, until one day I actually investigated the issue for a project. It is astonishingly interesting to see how well crafted this denial of rights has been. Iran, at one time in the past, enjoyed a U.S supported regime – the Shah regime. As seen by recent history of such a regime in Afghanistan and other places, the benefits received are immense. In the case of Iran, the booty was the vast reserves of oil and natural gas and an incentive to access to nuclear technology. Thanks to favorable bilateral agreements with the U.S and other European countries, a lot of money changed hands. Iran forged deals with the likes of France, Germany, U.K, and U.S, etc and paid up huge sums. As such policies were pursued, civil unrest grew and eventually toppled the Shah regime. With the fall of the Shah regime, a very vocal and aggressive Islamic Republic of Iran came up. This was exactly what these nations had not wanted. Conflicts of interests obviously developed and the Western countries pulled out of the deals and refused to keep their part of the deal. Following such a situation, Iran demanded refund of the payments made by it, which were, as expected, refused. This was indubitably to hamper the already strained relations between Iran and the world, and it did. Taking off from this background, let us move into the actual nuclear standoff, as we know it.
Most of us are unaware that as a founding member of the United Nations, Iran highly upholds the institution of U.N. As the threat of nuclear war loomed large over the world, the ‘Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty’ and the ‘Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty’ were put into place, aiming to counter the threat and use nuclear technology only for green purposes. Being a state party to both, Iran like all other state party reserves the right to engage in activities to harness green activities. But, countries like U.S and the E.U nations have lead the world to doubt what Iran calls the Civilian Nuclear Program. Seeing the rising world opinion against it, Iran gave into the demands for I.A.E.A inspections. But even before the final report, the U.N Security Council imposed further socio-economic sanctions on Iran. They undoubtedly invoked a negative response from the Iranian authorities and they asked the I.A.E.A inspectors to leave. Today, Iran declares its Civilian Nuclear Program closed as a political issue and does not entertain any discussion on the topic.
This reality is what we miss. It is definitely fittingly argued by Iran that, as a signatory to the NPT, it is its inalienable right to use nuclear energy for meeting its energy requirements. Furthermore, obviously in view of such a reaction by the U.N.S.C, it is inevitable to view the U.N.S.C as a biased and majoritarian entity. A nation, from day one, is being doubted of its position due to a few nations who themselves engage in irresponsible behavior and do not keep their promises. Why should a nation be constantly humiliated like this? As we say everyone deserves a fair chance, why not even nations like Iran? As individuals, many-a-times we simply turn hostile when doubts are raised about our commitment in the first place. This very same attitude is what best describes Iran’s ‘rebellious’ attitude, and instead of questioning their stand, we need to question ourselves as to why are we being lead by such a myopic and selfish interests of a few. Furthermore, it is highly disappointing that India as a member of N.A.M, which once stood against this kind of groupism, is itself being lead. It is definitely not that our policy makers lack the information or awareness. It is pure and simple politics. The general perception of Islamic nations fuelled by 9/11 is a very saddening phenomenon, which needs to be altered as soon as possible. Otherwise, the chances of this deadlock or, for that matter, the Palestine issue too might carry on to have drastic consequences. Marginalizing based on perceptions is extremely discriminatory and appalling.
Iran has expressed itself open to talks on neutral grounds; this is a positive step and must not be lost to politics.