The debates on Iranian nuclear issue have been heating up in the past few months. There have pros and cons on this contentious issue of basic right of any sovereign nation to develop nuclear technology for peaceful purposes. The US and its European allies have been pressurizing the international community to disallow Iran to pursue and develop its own peaceful nuclear technology. Assuming that Iran would divert the technology for developing nuclear warfare at any stage in the future, they have been lobbying member countries in the IAEA to issue an ultimatum to Iran to halt its Uranium enrichment programs or face international sanctions.
On the other hand, while it continuously opposes Iran’s right to develop nuclear technology for peaceful purposes as an alternative source for its future energy needs, the US has openly signed a nuclear deal with India last March. The US even develops new nuclear bombs to improve its so-called “strategic deterrent.” These decisions, many critics believe, could trigger a new arms race with Russia and China and at the same time could undermine arguments that countries such as Iran or North Korea must stop their nuclear programs.
Being a signatory of the NPT, Iran was categorically denied the right to develop a nuclear technology within the agreed guidelines and under the inspection of the IAEA while India, a non-signatory of the NPT, was warmly welcomed into the nuclear circle.
In support of this Indo-US nuclear deal, the IAEA chief, El-Baradei, recently said in an Op-Ed piece in the Washington Post that it will be illogical to deny civil nuclear technology to India – a country that has “not violated any legal commitment and never encouraged nuclear weapons proliferation”. He further said that the deal is “a creative break with the past” with several potential spin-offs. Because, he concluded, while India will get the requisite technology to meet its whopping energy demand, the country will be a part of the international effort to combat nuclear terrorism and rid the world of nuclear weapons.
It is true that India has never violated any legal commitment regarding nuclear technology since it is a non-signatory to the NPT. But putting India as a country that never encouraged nuclear weapons proliferation is, in my opinion, a cover up to the double standard being practiced by the US and its allies on nuclear issue. Remember Pokhran I in 1974 and Pokhran II in 1998? And what about the reaction from its neighbor, Pakistan? If India is said to be a country that never encouraged nuclear weapons proliferation how would we put all those “incidents” to be relevant in this context?
As a signatory to the NPT, Iran has so far shown good behavior in relation with nuclear technology development. It has been following the guidelines and instructions from the IAEA. It, in any case, has not violated any legal commitment it made with the nuclear body. Iran pursues its nuclear technology openly and in accordance with the guidelines given by the IAEA. Iranian government has repeatedly said that the nuclear technology it tries to develop is meant only for peaceful purposes and Iran has no intention to divert its nuclear technology into nuclear weapon. This statement has been issued over and again by the Iranian government in which countries like Indonesia and NAM members supported Iran’s effort and the right of any sovereign state to develop nuclear technology for peaceful purposes.
In conclusions, to say that it is illogical to deny India a right to develop nuclear technology is the same as illogically denying Iran, or any other country, to develop the technology for peaceful purposes. As a country with one-sixth of the world’s population, India should have this access to meet its enormous energy demand under what is the fastest-growing civilian nuclear program in the world. At the same time, Iran, the world fourth largest oil exporter with enormous natural gas reserve, also deserves the same treatment and respect. Fossil based energy cannot last forever and a new, cheap alternative source of energy should be invented and developed. Nuclear technology is one of the alternatives currently available to replace long-term dependency to fossil based energy.
If a sovereign country like Iran, a signatory to the NPT, is denied its legal right to develop nuclear technology for peaceful purposes under the guidelines of the IAEA while at the same time granting India, a non-signatory to the NPT, a wide access to the technology and turning blind eyes to Pakistan’s efforts to develop its nuclear technology, what would be the future fate of a country like Indonesia that has planned to develop its own nuclear technology to meet its increasing energy needs?
Developing nuclear technology is, in my opinion, the right of any sovereign country. There should not be any denial to access this technology but necessary steps and proper guidelines should be strictly followed so as to create bigger responsibility towards the importance of keeping the technology only for peaceful purposes. Any deviation from this purpose should be discouraged with extreme sanctions. Through this step, there would be some logic in encouraging or denying any country the right to develop nuclear technology.