Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Indonesia and Resolution 1747: The Policy of Inconsistency?

Ever since Indonesia decided to vote in support of the UN Security Council Resolution 1747 on the issue of Iran’s nuclear program late last month, the reactions at home have been snowballing. Immediately after the vote, majority of Indonesian MPs decided to use their right to question the government on its foreign policy decision. Demonstrations have been held on the streets to protest the decision.

These protests and demonstrations throughout the country are reflections of solidarity towards Iran. They believe that the decision was a failure by the Indonesian government to protect its national interests and to follow the Indonesia’s principles of free and active foreign policy. Strong pressures from Washington have forced Indonesia to agree with the majority members of the UNSC on the Iranian issue. It was unable to say ‘no’ when it needed to say so.

Indonesian government has failed to play a leading role in this matter. Being the biggest country in the Muslim world and a member of the OIC (Organization of Islamic Conference), Indonesia should have played a leading role to defend the right of Iran, also a member of the OIC, to pursue its dream to develop nuclear technology. It should have gone further as to persuade Malaysia and Qatar, two other OIC member countries who are also the members of the UNSC, to reject the Resolution.

Thus, according to these protesters, Indonesian government has adopted the policy of inconsistency: it welcomed Iran as a partner in the development of nuclear technology but leaving Iran alone when it needed a friend to defend its right of developing such technology for “peaceful purposes”.

Contrary to these claims, however, the decision by the Indonesian government to support the Resolution must be seen as a diplomatic victory for Indonesia. Those who oppose this decision failed to read what have been written between the lines. If we really read the Resolution 1747 carefully, we will find that the Indonesian government fully supports the right of the Iranians to develop nuclear power for peaceful purposes. But at the same time, Indonesia will vehemently oppose any country which develops nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction.

An important clause proposed by Indonesia that was inserted in the resolution clearly reads “… a solution to the Iranian nuclear issue would contribute to global non-proliferation efforts and to realizing the objective of a Middle East free of weapons of mass destruction, including their means of delivery.”

Thus, the concern is not about Iran, Israel, Egypt or any other Middle Eastern countries but the Middle East that must become a nuclear free region. Nuclear weapons such as currently possessed by Israel and other countries in this region should be dismantled.

With this fact in mind, the UN Security Council Resolution 1747 on Iranian nuclear program should, first, be seen as a victory of Indonesian diplomacy. Indonesia succeeded in putting its influence on this important matter. It did not ape Washington and its allies. Indonesia was not under strong pressure from Washington either. On the contrary, it showed the independency of Indonesia, a reflection of Indonesia’s free and active foreign policy.

Secondly, the Indonesian government’s policy on Iranian issue has been consistent. It fully supports the right of Iran to develop nuclear technology for peaceful purposes. It embraces Iran as a potential partner in the development of the technology in Indonesia. But at the same time Indonesia will vehemently oppose any efforts to divert the technology for military purposes. The clause inserted in the Resolution that has been proposed by Indonesia means that the success of resolving the Iranian nuclear issue would trigger a positive wave in creating a nuclear free region in particular and a nuclear free world in general. The decision to support the Resolution was based on the fact that, according to the IAEA, Iran has not been fully cooperative with the IAEA as a necessary measure to ensure that nuclear program developed by Iran is truly for peaceful purposes.

Thus claiming that the Indonesian government has failed the interests of Indonesian people by supporting the Resolution is a misunderstanding. On the contrary, the support given by the Indonesian government to the Resolution showed the maturity and consistency of Indonesian government in pursuing a free and active foreign policy. It also sets a positive signal to the world that Indonesia is now ready to take a leading role as a member of the UNSC.

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