India, Pakistan, Iran: The Nobitorium

At a recent ACA event, Matthew Bunn “discussed”: the possible lessons that India’s experience with its nuclear arsenal has taught Iran:

bq. …some of my Iranian colleagues—I’ve been making an effort to try to understand what is going on in Tehran, although with limited success—have told me that in Tehran the *nuclear hardliners are pointing to India and saying basically, look what happened to them, they tested, everybody in the whole world sanctioned them, and then six months later Clinton was crawling back and saying, please be our friend, et cetera. Now, they’re getting this nuclear deal.* The hardliners are using that as an argument that while there may be sanctions now, if we just move forward, eventually the world will roll over and acquiesce to what we’re doing. That’s a plausible argument. That’s not obvious to me that they’re wrong given the huge pool of oil and gas that Iran is sitting on.

Plausible, indeed.

Interestingly, Hassan Rowhani (Iran’s head nuclear negotiator at the time) argued in a 2004 speech that Pakistan and Brazil’s nuclear programs show that the international community will accept nuclear programs once they are established:

bq. As for the question of what we can do now that they all disagree with our having the fuel cycle, I submit to you that we require an opportunity, time to be able to act on our capability in this area. That is, if one day we are able to complete the fuel cycle and the world sees that it has no choice, that we do possess the technology, then the situation will be different. *The world did not want Pakistan to have an atomic bomb or Brazil to have the fuel cycle, but Pakistan built its bomb and Brazil has its fuel cycle, and the world started to work with them.* Our problem is that we have not achieved either one, but we are standing at the threshold.

To be fair, the next sentence says that Iran is not pursuing a nuke:

bq. As for building the atomic bomb, we never wanted to move in that direction and we have not yet completely developed our fuel cycle capability. This also happens to be our main problem.

I actually think that there are reasons to believe that Iran might currently be in a bit more of a mood to bargain. But that’s for another post. In any case, one can understand why other countries may have gotten the idea that waiting out UNSC nuclear-related sanctions might be a viable strategy.

See, for example, “Resolution 1172,”: which the UNSC adopted following India and Pakistan’s 1998 nuclear weapons tests.

Zia Mian talked about it at an “ACA event”: back in November. Members of the international community should keep his words in mind as they consider the atrocity known as the US-India nuclear deal:

[The resolution] outlined a series of demands on both countries, and I’ll just say what they were.

One was that India and Pakistan should stop the further development of nuclear weapons, that they should not deploy their nuclear weapons, that they should stop developing ballistic missiles, and that they should stop producing fissile materials for nuclear weapons. There also were some others.

Now, since 1998 and this unanimous resolution from the Security Council, we have seen benign neglect—actually, I think “benign” is not the appropriate word—appalling irresponsibility by the Security Council and its members that they have basically forgotten that they ever passed this resolution because India and Pakistan have continued to do all the things they were told they should not do. With this deal, the United States is now saying that that resolution may as well never have been passed because no longer is it interested in saying that India and Pakistan must not produce fissile material for nuclear weapons; it’s saying if you do, that’s your business; it has nothing to do with us.

What does that mean now for future Security Council resolutions, unanimous or otherwise, that says you must do this? What it says is that as time passes, as interests change, who knows what the status of that resolution may be, that perhaps you shouldn’t take them very seriously at all in the future. I find that deeply troubling considering we’re dealing with nuclear weapons.

Here are two of the key paragraphs from the resolution:

7. Calls upon India and Pakistan immediately to stop their nuclear weapon development programmes, to refrain from weaponization or from the deployment of nuclear weapons, to cease development of ballistic missiles capable of delivering nuclear weapons and any further production of missile material for nuclear weapons, to confirm their policies not to export equipment, materials or technology that could contribute to weapons of mass destruction or missiles capable of delivering them and to undertake appropriate commitments in that regard;

8. Encourages all States to prevent the export of equipment, materials or technology that could in any way assist programmes in India or Pakistan for nuclear weapons or for ballistic missiles capable of delivering such weapons, and welcomes national policies adopted and declared in this respect;

I have “argued before”: that the US-India deal makes a mockery of that second paragraph.

[Credit to “S Heidt”: for the title.]

*Update*: For anyone who cares, this post has been rewritten, but not in a way that changes its substance.

1 thought on “India, Pakistan, Iran: The Nobitorium

  1. Siddharth

    Please note:

    1. 1172 is not Chapter VII.

    2. The only “demand” is for no further tests. And this has not been “violated”.

    3. All other clauses “urge” or “encourage” India and Pakistan to do various things, which of course they haven’t done.

    4. These demands themselves are ultra vires the UN Charter since there is no such thing as compelling a sovereign country to sign a treaty it does not wish to sign, such as the NPT.


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