Wednesday, April 08, 2009

If this is true, US/Iran relations are in the process of being restored

This would be a major shift if expressed by the President or the Executive Branch explicitly.
Regarding Iran, the Obama administration is preparing the ground for a policy distinguishing between Iran's right to have nuclear technology, including uranium enrichment done under international supervision, and the actual building of a nuclear weapon.
I've never seen a coherent argument that Iran doesn't have a right to enrich uranium, or even that as a punishment for previously failures to meet safeguard agreement obligations that Iran has a legal responsibility to either limit its access to technology going forward or even take what were originally explicitly described as voluntary and non-legally binding steps to build confidence in its program.
I've seen it argued that once a security council resolution was passed, Iran then had a legal responsibility to follow it. This argument always struck me as problematic. For one thing the Security Council resolution actually requires Iran to ratify the Additional Protocols of the NPT just as clearly as it demands a suspension for the duration of talks. The Additional Protocols impose a separate set of obligations that, by its own terms and by the terms of the original NPT, can only be valid of separately ratified. It is an entire separate and further treaty.
If the Security Council has the authority to demand a member nation ratify a treaty, why not force Israel, India and Pakistan to ratify the NPT?
And further, why not force any non-Security Council nation to ratify any arbitrary treaty. Do non-Security Council nations have any sovereignty that can withstand a Security Council obligation? An answer of no is difficult to accept. If the answer is yes or no it is at least understandable that Iran rejects Security Council resolutions that would substantially compromise Iran's sovereignty in a way that is very discriminatorily applied.
Anyway, Obama is a lawyer and maybe, maybe - this has been leaked but not released officially - his administration has come to the view that while talks are to be encouraged, Iran does have the legal right to enrich uranium.
This would mark a huge break from previous policy and a major step away from Israel-first policy in the region.

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