(by Patrick Goodenough, Sept. 16, 2005, CNSNews.com) – Given Iran’s nuclear history and support for terrorism, the United States is particularly concerned about Iran providing nuclear technology to other countries, the State Department said on Thursday.
Spokesman Adam Ereli was responding to Iranian media reports quoting President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as saying that Iran was “ready to transfer nuclear know-how” to fellow Islamic states.
The comment, made during a meeting with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan on the sidelines of the U.N. summit in New York, comes amid a serious dispute between the West and Iran over Tehran’s nuclear intentions.
The U.N. nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), will hold a board of governors meeting on Monday to discuss the issue.
Washington suspects Iran is trying to develop atom bombs under a nuclear program which it concealed from the international community for almost two decades until exposed by a regime critic in 2002.
Iran insists its activities are entirely peaceful, aimed at generating energy, and that it has every right under the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) to pursue the program.
Although Iran’s official IRNA news agency said Ahmadinejad had spoken at his meeting with Erdogan of “readiness to transfer peaceful nuclear technology to Islamic states,” some nuclear equipment and fuel cycle activities are “dual-use” and can be used for either civilian programs or to make nuclear weapons.
Iran itself acquired technology from a black-market run by rogue Pakistani scientist Abdul Qadeer Khan (as did the regimes in Libya — which has since renounced WMD projects — and North Korea.)
The possibility that the Iranians could in turn pass sensitive expertise and equipment on to others would be a further blow to an already fragile international non-proliferation effort.
Ereli said Iran “has a long history of trying to develop weapons of mass destruction, supporting terror, so obviously we view with concern any suggestion that Iran would seek to contribute to very destabilizing and unhelpful international behavior” by transferring know-how to others.
Britain, France and Germany, representing the European Union, negotiated with Iran over an extended period in a bid to end the nuclear standoff. Iran last November agreed to suspend sensitive uranium work, but resumed the activity last month.
The U.S. and its E.U. allies have warned that the Iranian dossier may be referred to the U.N. Security Council for punitive action, a position emphasized in New York this week by the French prime minister.
But with opposition from other countries represented on the 35-nation board, however, such an outcome during Monday’s IAEA board meeting is looking increasingly unlikely.
Indeed, although Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said in press interviews this week it would be good if Monday’s meeting did result in a council referral, she seemed in no hurry.
“I’m not so concerned about exactly when it happens,” she told Fox News.
Speaking to NBC’s editorial board, Rice said: “Whatever the timing is on a referral, the message to the Iranians is that one way or another … the international community is not going to acquiesce in what the Iranians want to do.”
Rice said she hoped other nations had taken note of Ahmadinejad’s comments about transferring nuclear technology to other states.
“Generally, that’s called proliferation, and so I think that would probably not be within the responsibilities of a state operating within the NPT,” she said.
“I hope people were listening. It’s one of the dangers of letting Iran get the fuel cycle.”
Ahmadinejad’s stance during his visit to New York has, so far, not been as conciliatory as had been predicted, a situation attributed by some analysts to his increasing confidence that Iran has sufficient support on the IAEA board to avoid a referral to the council.
Apart from a group of “non-aligned” nations which are sympathetic to Iran, it has secured public support from China and Russia, and appears to have won over India as well.
Although only a simple majority of the 35 members would be required, the board has developed a tradition of passing resolutions that deal with non-compliance and Security Council referral by consensus — or at least by a two-thirds majority vote.
If a decision on Iran is put off once again on Monday, by the time it does come up the IAEA board will have a different composition: Board membership changes at the IAEA’s annual general conference, and 11 countries’ memberships are due to expire at this year’s session, on Sept. 26.
Whether the change in composition strengthens or weakens Iran’s position remains to be seen, but the 2005-2006 board could have more “non-aligned” members.
Board members are designated according to a formula that, firstly, secures places for countries “most advanced in the technology of atomic energy.” On the incoming board these will be Australia, Belgium, Britain, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Japan, Russia, South Africa and the U.S.
The next 20 members are elected along geographical lines, and five must come from Latin America, four from western Europe, three from eastern Europe, four from Africa, two from the Middle East/South Asia, one from south-east Asia/Pacific, and one from the Far East. The final two are chosen from developing regions.
Reprinted here with permission from CNSNews.com. Visit the website at www.cnsnews.com.
1. How did Iran obtain nuclear technology?
2. For what reason does Iran say they going to use nuclear technology?
3. As used in paragraph 5, to whom does “Washington” refer? What does Washington think Iran is going to do with their technology? For what reasons do they think so? (para. 1 & 5)
4. What did the Iranian media report President Ahmadinejad as saying about nuclear technology? Why is this such a concern?
5. What is the purpose of the Non-Proliferation Treaty? In what 2 ways is Iran not abiding by the treaty? (para. 11 & 7) Why does U.S. State Department spokesman Ereli say that the U.S. believes Iran will pass along nuclear weapons technology, not just nuclear energy technology?
6. Define: dossier, punitive, referral, acquiesce, conciliatory, non-aligned
7. What is the purpose of the U.N. Security Council?
For what reason would the IAEA would refer Iran to the Security Council?
8. What is the purpose of the IAEA?
Why will the IAEA probably not refer Iran to the Security Council? What must the U.S., the EU and other concerned countries do about this?
9. What might be Iran’s motive for sharing/selling nuclear knowledge to Islamic states? financial? good-neighbor policy? other…