Iran, a major reservoir of oil and natural gas, has been in the news for all the wrong reasons ever since its much-delayed first nuclear reactor Bushehr 1 was completed and officially opened on 12 September 2011. Following the development, the nuclear energy monitoring body IAEA rebuked Iran and presented a detailed report claiming that Iran had undertaken research and experiments geared to developing a nuclear weapon capability. The report outlines that the country’s detonator development, the multi-point initiation of high explosives, and experiments involving nuclear payload integration into a missile delivery vehicle. IAEA has been very vocal claiming that Iran is secretly carrying a nuclear program for generating Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) which has not only jolted the major powers but has also given birth to the common fear of the much debated nuclear war. The US and its close ally, Israel, are the major opponents of Iran’s nuclear program, with the European Union nations singing along.
According to the norms of IAEA, 5% and less enrichment of uranium, LEU (Low Enriched Uranium) is meant to produce fuel used for power needs like generation of electricity, etc, and enrichment of uranium above 5%, HEU (Highly Enriched Uranium), produces fuel for making nuclear weapons. The facts that, traces of HEU have been found to be present near a Nuclear Facility in Iran and its hesitance to comply with the rules and regulations of IAEA have strengthened the fears of Iran’s alleged involvement in generating WMD.
Iran, however, continues to shun the claims of IAEA and has gone to the extent of accusing the agency of pro-western bias and has threatened to reduce its co-operation with it. It states that the purpose of its nuclear program is the generation of power and that any other use would be a violation of the NPT (Nuclear Proliferation Treaty), of which it is a signatory. It claims that nuclear power is necessary for its booming population and rapid industrialization that it is undergoing. It questions, why it shouldn’t be allowed to diversify its sources of energy amid the fear of its oil fields eventually being depleted.
Back in 2006, the UN Security Council had imposed sanctions against Iran, which were later tightened, because Iran refused to accept its demand to suspend its enrichment program. Iran’s representative to the UN argued that the sanctions compelled it to abandon its right under Nuclear Non- Proliferation treaty to peaceful nuclear technology.
The NAM (Non- Aligned Movement), of which India is also one of the members along with Iran, has since been a mediator between UN and Iran and had called on both sides to work through the IAEA for a solution. NAM has, however, said that the present situation whereby Nuclear Weapon States monopolize the right to possess nuclear weapons is ‘highly discriminatory’ and has further pushed for steps to accelerate the process of nuclear disarmament.
Amid all these developments, the recent bombings in New Delhi and Bangkok have once again cornered Iran. As the blame game continues, it is to be seen if Iran would be able to proceed with its nuclear enrichment program as it is currently at the receiving end and the clouds of controversies do not seem to fade away and hover over it for quite some time.