Libmonster ID: UK-1295
Author(s) of the publication: A. G. ARBATOV

A. G. ARBATOV

Academician of the Russian Academy of Sciences

1.1. The creeping crisis over Iran's nuclear program, which has been escalating and softening, has been going on for about a decade. The United States has made major and unforgivable mistakes along the way and bears full responsibility for them. In 2002-2003, amid the explosion of American chauvinism after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, the chance to peacefully limit Iran's nuclear program was lost. Then there was the aggression against Iraq, the hopeless occupation of Afghanistan, and the arbitrary use of force in Libya - all of which exacerbated the impasse over Iran's nuclear program and undermined the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT).

1.2. The current stage of the crisis can be dated back to 2009, when Iran refused to transfer a significant part of its accumulated low-enriched uranium to Russia and France so that it could be further enriched to the required level (approximately 20% for the 235 isotope), converted into fuel and returned to Iran for use in a research reactor in Tehran. It became clear that Iran did not need to provide fuel for a research reactor to produce medical isotopes, but to test the possibility of increasing enrichment from 3 to 4% to 20%, which according to the IAEA standard is the upper enrichment threshold for "peaceful uranium".

1.3. In connection with the Iranian nuclear issue, Russia and other countries often defend two incompatible theses: first, that there is no reason to consider its nuclear program not peaceful, but military. Secondly, that it has the right to nuclear weapons (NWS), since Israel, Pakistan, and India already have them, and Iran needs these weapons for deterrence and security, and not for attacking other countries.

2.1. According to the first thesis, the development of a "peaceful atom" does not justify Iran's nuclear fuel cycle program. In Natanz, at a depth of 18 meters underground, almost 10 thousand centrifuges have been installed, the number of which is planned to increase to 54 thousand. In 2009, the secret construction of another underground center near Qom for 3 thousand centrifuges was discovered. No secure underground enrichment facilities are built for the peaceful nuclear industry. Iran's peaceful nuclear power plant and its infrastructure are not protected from airstrikes, just as they were not protected from the attack of Iraq in 1982 and Syria in 2007.Underground enrichment complexes are meaningless as a fuel source for nuclear power plants, they can only be justified for creating nuclear weapons in the conditions of bombing.

2.2. Comparisons between Iran and Japan are incorrect. The latter has nuclear fuel cycle facilities, but it has a huge nuclear industry - 54 nuclear reactors (third in the world after the United States and France). Iran has only one nuclear power plant in Bushehr and two research reactors. Moreover, only Rosatom can supply certified fuel for Bushehr. In order to economically justify the cost of a uranium enrichment facility, Iran needs to build at least 10 more nuclear power plants, which would take decades. A heavy-water reactor is also being built in Arak, which uses natural uranium rather than enriched uranium (the reactor produces an increased amount of plutonium , an even more effective weapon material).

2.3. The NPT does not prohibit the creation of a nuclear fuel cycle. But six unanimously adopted UN Security Council resolutions temporarily prohibit Iran from enriching uranium until all IAEA issues are resolved. In addition, Iran failed to report the construction of a complex near Qom, in direct violation of the modified Code 3.1 of the Additional Provisions to the IAEA Safeguards signed in 2003, which Iran had no right to cancel unilaterally.

2.4. Iran is developing increasingly long-range military ballistic missiles (already more than 2,000 km), meaningless without nuclear equipment due to low accuracy. There is much other evidence of Iran's military nuclear program.

3.1. There is an opinion that Iran only wants to reach the "nuclear threshold" and will stop there. However, they do not take into account that the" nuclear threshold " is not a feature, but a phase of the nuclear program. Iran has already accumulated almost 5 tons of low-enriched uranium and 70 kg of uranium enriched to the level of 20%. Using 1.5 tons of low-enriched uranium, it is possible to enrich it in two steps and buy 20 kg of weapons-grade uranium in two months.

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uranium, which is enough to create one nuclear weapon. 3.2. If we take into account all the other technical difficulties of the process of creating nuclear weapons, then six months or a little more separates Iran from creating nuclear weapons after a political decision is made. But Iran is unlikely to announce it, and there can be no certainty that it has not yet been adopted. Technically, Iran is already on the "nuclear threshold".

4.1. Second thesis: Iran will build nuclear weapons to deter it from being attacked. Recall that all the proliferation of nuclear weapons after the United States, which was the first to create such weapons, went and continues under the slogan of deterring nuclear aggression or attacks using conventional weapons.

4.2. Nuclear deterrence does not remove, but rather presupposes, the threat of escalation of the conflict to nuclear war. Thus, the USSR and the United States, having nuclear weapons for deterrence, in 1962 were on the verge of nuclear war. In 1973, everyone knew that Israel already had nuclear weapons, but Egypt and Syria attacked it and brought it to the brink of national destruction, and the Israeli government was ready to use nuclear weapons if absolutely necessary.

4.3. The argument that Iran has the right to nuclear weapons, since Israel has them, puts an end to attempts to stop the proliferation of these weapons in the world. If we proceed from this logic, then Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine also have such a right? Iran does not have this right, nor do all other non-nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty member States. They have the right to withdraw from the NPT under article X, but they cannot use the acquired materials and technologies for military purposes.

4.4. The creation of nuclear weapons by Iran will completely destroy the Non-Proliferation Treaty and cause a chain reaction of proliferation, mainly around the perimeter of Russia. Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Turkey and other countries can follow the example of Iran. The nature of the new nuclear regimes virtually guarantees that nuclear weapons or weapons-grade materials will fall into the hands of terrorists.

5.1. If a decision is made in Tehran to acquire nuclear weapons, it will not be difficult to find a pretext, especially since everything is already technically available for this. If this happens and no preventive measures are taken against Iran, the war will be postponed, perhaps for a year or two. However, later it will still break out, but then it will already be a regional war with the use of nuclear weapons. Its physical and political consequences are unpredictable, but they will undoubtedly be disastrous.

5.2. The entire experience of the dialogue with Iran has shown that the negotiations themselves are only a screen for it to continue its nuclear program. Over 7 years of negotiations, the diplomatic solution has not been able to move a single step, but Iran now has not 164, but almost 10 thousand centrifuges, over 5 tons of uranium of various degrees of enrichment, and a whole range of other related military systems and projects.

5.3. One should not engage in self-deception and hope that further negotiations will somehow "persuade" Tehran to abandon the nuclear weapons program, in which it has already invested huge material and political capital. Various" step-by-step "options are simply twisting the diplomatic "Rubik's cube", creating the appearance of a process and allowing Iran to gain additional time.

5.4. It is possible to force Tehran to comply with the UN Security Council's will only if the Iranian leadership realizes that the costs of continuing the previous line will far outweigh the benefits of it. Stopping Iran - and at the same time preventing a new war in the region - can only be achieved through a single consolidated position of the UN Security Council, tough sanctions (under Article 41 of the UN Charter) and a credible threat of use of force (under Article 42) if the sanctions do not work.

5.5. For the first time such sanctions were adopted in 2011 by the European Union. And they have already worked, despite all the bravado of Tehran, and forced it to resume negotiations. Iran, of course, hopes to outwit everyone again, will maneuver and bet on the split of the UN Security Council, on the differences between Russia and the United States over the missile defense issue (as well as on the reluctance of China and India to join the oil embargo).

5.6. Russia's position, if it is reduced to a simple formula, is as follows:"the sanctions have exhausted themselves, and they are no longer needed - negotiations are required, although they also do not yield anything." For seven years, Russia has sought to play the role of a mediator or balancer between Iran and the West, and this was quite a pragmatic and largely justified line. But now relations with Iran have been turned upside down: it is not Russia that is using Iran for its own purposes, but Iran that is using Russia for its own purposes to block new Security Council sanctions. Russia cannot influence Iran over its nuclear program, as the West has seen. Russia's role there is seen only in its position in the UN Security Council and its influence on China and India.

5.7. The unity of the UN Security Council and its willingness to sharply tighten sanctions is not the way to war, but the only way to avoid it. Tehran's submission to the will of the UN is a failure of the plans of those who, under the pretext of nuclear non-proliferation, seek to change the regime by military means. Finally, it is a necessary condition for maintaining the role and prestige of the UN Security Council, where Russia's position is one of the main attributes of its status as a great power in the modern world. Therefore, despite the complication of relations with the United States over missile defense and precisely because of these differences, Russia should be all the more interested in developing a unified and decisive position of the UN Security Council on the Iranian nuclear issue.


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