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November 08, 2013


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Dan Joyner

Zarate is a typical hawk who thinks the US can set international law wherever it wants, and then coerce weaker nations into abiding by its interpretation through economic sanctions. Iran has an inalienable right, pursuant to NPT Article IV to have a full indigenous nuclear fuel cycle, just like many NNWS friends of the US have. Respecting that right is an international legal obligation binding on the US and the Security Council. See my post yesterday on this point at

Recognizing Iran's right to the fuel cycle will be a necessary part of any negotiated resolution.

Patrick S. O'Donnell

I was just about to link to Dan's thoughts and references on this topic(!), which I think are (for what it's worth) essential and spot-on. I look forward to his book from Oxford University Press: Iran's Nuclear Program and International Law.


It's not hawkish or neocon to recognize that Iran is different. If the NPT recognizes an "inalienable right," then the NPT might not be the right law to govern nuclear programs in countries where the government exports terrorism. Remember that the goal of international law should be peace, not the rules themselves.

(I say "if" because Joyner's tone is less certain in the link posted, better reflecting the lack of consensus on what the NPT means.)

Change Iran Now

The Nuclear talks in Geneva must be built on proven steps to halt its nuclear weapons capacity and not just promises. We should not give them sanctions relief just because they say "Trust us." Also, The US must include human rights issues as a condition of relief. This is the point where the US had maximum leverage over a regime wanting a deal badly. The US must not give something away without gaining something in return.


Iran unlike other states has called for Israel to be eliminated, as well as exported terrorism to such regimes as Syria, not known to be hesitant about using weapons of mass destruction on civilians, e.g., chemical weapons. Would it be unusual? Perhaps. But so was the Nurember War Crimes Tribunal. The failure of international law would be to say that NPT compels treatment of Iran the same as other countries until after it exports a nuclear weapon.

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