Nations around the globe are at odds over the issue of nuclear proliferation. As some countries aim to build their nuclear defenses, others aim to decrease or put an end to proliferation completely. Iran and the United States are a pertinent example of the former and the latter. In order to ensure the international community’s safety, the U.S. Government and its allies must enforce economic sanctions on Iran to thwart the flow of materials and funds needed for the country to grow its nuclear missile programs.
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On June 1st the U.S. Government and its allies, the U.N. (United Nations) Security Council, and the E.U. (European Union), along with other nations, imposed a fourth round of strict sanctions on Iran. This was done in reaction to Iran, which is a member of the U.N., choosing not to comply with the rules and regulations of the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency), a sub agency of the U.N. Since the IAEA is a sub agency of the U.N. which Iran is a member nation of, it must comply. The IAEA was established in 1957 to act as an international “watchdog,” monitoring and reporting on the nuclear activities of all member nations of the U.N. This agency promotes safety and piece in the arena of nuclear technologies. Iran says that its nuclear endeavors are peaceful, intended only to generate electricity and produce medical isotopes, not to construct a nuclear weapon; its actions imply just the opposite. Despite the behest of the U.S. and its allies, the AEOI (Atomic Energy Organization of Iran) continually hampers the agency’s inspection processes. It recently stripped two agency inspectors of the right to monitor its nuclear activities and refused others access to several facilities. The IAEA says that at the rate Iran is enriching nuclear fuel, it would soon have enough to produce two nuclear weapons. This Inspired alarm and concern throughout the international community about what Iran is doing behind closed doors. Without the IAEA keeping watch our safety is compromised, a belligerent Iran poses a great danger. Some may say that Iran’s nuclear program poses virtually no threat because it is so much smaller in comparison to that of the U.S.’s and U.N.’s. This idea is completely nonsensical. Just one nuclear missile in the hands of a country with a destructive agenda poses a much greater threat than five thousand nuclear missiles in the possession of a country with a peaceful agenda. Iran has yet to convince the nuclear watchdog of the peaceful nature of its nuclear program.
This hazardous situation requires strict sanctions against Iran’s trade, military, and financial transactions carried out by the IRGC (Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps), which controls the nuclear program and has taken a central role in running the country and the economy. The New York Times Reports:
“The sanctions require countries to inspect ships or planes headed to or from Iran if they suspect banned cargo is aboard. The sanctions bar Iran from pursuing any activity related to ballistic missiles capable of delivering nuclear weapons. Bar Iranian investment in activities such as uranium mining, and prohibit Iran from buying several categories of heavy weapons, including attack helicopters, missiles and other nuclear-related technology.”
It is the position of some that sanctions are ineffective, not a means to an end but instead a sort of prerequisite to doing something that might actually make a difference (such as a declaration of war). People who take that position are misinformed about the situation and sanctions in general. Economic Sanctions or restrictions on foreign commerce have been implemented by countries throughout history as an effective means of influencing one another’s behavior. In 432 B.C., Athens imposed sanctions on the state of Megara, denying it access to its harbor and market place, in order to prevent it from fighting against it. In more recent history, sanctions were successful in blocking the transfer of cryogenic rocket engines from Russia to India in 1993, stopping the shipment of arms from South Africa to Syria in 1997, and halting china from exporting sensitive military equipment in 1998.
This is not to say that sanctions are always effective, or that they have any effect at all. In this case the U.S. is going the extra mile to ensure that they are effective. It has imposed its own sanctions on foreign banks that violate Iran’s sanctions. Foreign banks that continue to do business with Iranian banks and firms that may be associated with nuclear missile programs are banned from accessing the U.S. financial system. The prospect of being cut off from the U.S. economy adds an impetus for foreign banks to not violate the sanctions.
Not all countries in the U.N. and U.N. Security Council are on board with the sanctions against Iran. The U.N. Security Council is composed of five permanent members, they are: The United States, China, Russian Federation, France, and United Kingdom and ten non permanent members with a term of one year. Every member nation voted for the Sanctions except Brazil and Turkey (nonpermanent members) who voted against them. Brazil’s Ambassador to the U.S., Maria Luiza Ribeiro sighted a lack of diplomacy, “In our view the adoption of new sanctions by the Security Council will delay rather than accelerate or ensure progress.” She goes on to say that the nations should increase talks. The U.S. and its allies have been talking to Iran about their nuclear program for years; the problem is that Iran is unwilling to listen; now it is time to take action. Foreign Minister Celso Amorim told reporters in the capital Brasilia “We don’t want Iran to have nuclear arms, let there be no doubt about that. They, like other countries, have the right to a peaceful (nuclear power) program.” It is true that Iran has the right to have a peaceful nuclear power program; unfortunately a “peaceful” nuclear program is not what they aim to have. Brazil and Turkey negotiated a trade in an attempt to quell international suspicion of nuclear weapons and prevent sanctions. Iran was to ship its low enriched uranium to turkey, were it would be stored, in return for a research reactor from Brazil. Yet, Iran continued to enrich its fuel, getting it closer and closer to levels needed to construct a nuclear weapon.
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South Korea and Japan are putting the international community’s safety ahead of their own economical gain. Trade between Iran and South Korea grew to $9.6 billion last year, up from $2.9 billion in 2000, Iran is its largest export market in the Middle East. Iran is the fourth-largest source of crude oil for South Korea, accounting for 10 percent of its oil imports. Despite all this the county imposed sanctions on Iran that are similar to those previously announced by Japan and the European Union. Foreign Ministry spokesman, Young-sun says, “Our government expects Iran to join the international efforts for nuclear nonproliferation and take steps to faithfully implement its obligations under the relative Japan and U.N.S.C. resolutions.”
Of course Iran is against the sanctions, saying that they are a form of “economic warfare.” “No amount of pressure and mischief will be able to break our nation’s determination to pursue and defend its legal and inalienable rights. Iran is one of the most powerful and stable countries in the region and never bowed – and will never bow – to the hostile actions and pressures by these few powers, and will continue to defend its rights,” said Mohammad Khazaee, representative of the Islamic Republic of Iran to the United Nations. The problem with that argument is that Iran is not under the pressure of few powers, but of the international community. Are they bullying Iran? No they are protecting themselves from a situation that poses danger to them and the citizens of their nations whom they have a duty to protect. President of the U.S., Barack Obama, put it best when he said “We recognize Irans’s rights but with those rights come responsibilities. And time and time again, the Iranian government has failed to meet those responsibilities.”
We can only hope that this new round of sanctions is successful in changing Iran’s calculations of costs and benefits of pursuing nuclear proliferation. Hopefully Iran’s leaders will come to the conclusion that their interests of Iran and its people are better served by complying with its international obligations. “Iran continues to have the opportunity to take a different and better path,” says Obama, let’s hope it does.
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