Iran fights back against UN sanctions

Foreign minister questions legality of Britain's Trident nuclear submarines

Iran is launching a concerted fightback against Barack Obama's efforts to impose UN sanctions against Tehran, by targeting Israel's nuclear weapons arsenal and the legality of Britain's Trident submarine system. Writing in The Independent today, the Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki makes a strategic bid to counter pressure from the West by shifting the debate about Iran's disputed nuclear ambitions back to the failure of states such as the US and Britain, which already possess nuclear weapons, to disarm.

Washington, which claims that Iran wants to acquire the means to build a nuclear bomb, is seeking to rally support for punitive sanctions which would starve the country's energy sector of investment, deny it access to international credit and thwart the vast international business dealings of the élite Revolutionary Guard Corps. The US, which is strongly lobbying China and Russia to come on board, believes that targeting sanctions in this way will convince Tehran to resolve the stand-off.

But, in an attempt to turn the tables, Iran seems poised to focus its fire on the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) which is coming up for a five-year review in New York next month. As a signatory of the treaty, Iran will have the right to attend the meeting and will use it to seek support from developing countries for the claim that the US, Britain and other Western governments are hypocritically flouting their own obligations under the treaty while illegally trying to block Iran's right to enrich uranium.

It insists that acquiring the right to the full fuel-cycle nuclear programme for civilian purposes is a legal entitlement under the terms of the NPT. The New York gathering will be attended by 200 governments, some of whom are sympathetic to Iran's argument.

In his article, Mr Mottaki accuses "certain" nuclear-armed states which are party to the treaty (the US, the UK, France Russia and China are officially the five signatory nuclear-weapon states) of flagrantly violating their obligation to move to disarmament.

Mr Obama has made cutting arsenals and reducing stockpiles a key component of his foreign policy, including the signing of a new START treaty with Russia. He hopes to blunt the criticism that nuclear-armed states are failing to deliver their part of the NPT bargain. But Mr Mottaki makes it clear that his government will continue to target the British government's commitment to renew the Trident system as an example of the double standards he argues are more of a threat to Middle East peace than Iran's wish for a nuclear-energy programme.

The renewal of Trident, he argues, is a "total contravention" of Article VI of the NPT, which commits nuclear-weapon states to "pursue negotiations" towards disarmament. The narrowest interpretation of Article VI is that they must negotiate in good faith, but Mr Mottaki's interpretation, shared by many of the non-nuclear parties to the treaty, is that it requires them fully to disarm.

Mr Mottaki directly attacks the West's failure to tackle Israel over its undeclared nuclear programme, and its continued refusal to sign up to the NPT. Israel is thought to have up to 200 nuclear warheads. Challenged on Tuesday about the anomaly, Mr Obama would say only that the US had "urged all countries to join the NPT".

The Foreign Minister asserts that the "peaceful nature" of Iran's nuclear activity "has been confirmed by various International Atomic Energy Agency reports". This is open to challenge given the ominous tone of the last report on Iran. It spoke in terms of evidence of "past or current undisclosed activities" aimed at developing nuclear payloads.

A top US defence official told members of Congress yesterday that, as Iran continues to enrich uranium, it might be able to produce an atomic bomb in just one year. "The general consensus – not knowing again the exact number of centrifuges that we actually have visibility into – is we're talking one year," Lieutenant-General Ronald Burgess told a Senate panel.

President Obama would like sanctions to be adopted by the UN Security Council by the end of April. But while discussions have now started between "permanent five" ambassadors and Germany at the UN in New York, it is likely to take longer to arrive at a resolution on which everyone agrees. Diplomats warn that China, now that it has agreed to take part, may use its presence at the table to try to water sanctions down. Most observers in New York think it unlikely that a resolution will emerge before May or even later.

PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
News
people

Actress isn't a fan of Ed Miliband

Arts and Entertainment
Rooney Mara plays a white Tiger Lily in forthcoming film Pan
filmFirst look at Rooney Mara in Pan
Life and Style
health

Do you qualify – and how do you get it?

News
Food blogger and Guardian writer Jack Monroe with her young son
people
News
i100
News
Privately schooled, Oxford educated and a former editor of arguably the world's poshest magazine 'The Lady', it's perhaps unsurprising that Rachel Johnson rarely mixes with ordinary Proles.
people

The Mayor of London's sister, Rachel Johnson, apologises for shocking tweet about the PM

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Langley James : IT Support, Bradford £16k - £22k

£16000 - £22000 per annum + Benefits: Langley James : IT Support, Bradford £16...

h2 Recruit Ltd: Business Development Manager / Invoice Finance £75k OTE

£40000 - £50000 per annum + £75,000 OTE Car+Mobile : h2 Recruit Ltd: Business ...

h2 Recruit Ltd: Business Development Manager-Managed Services-£80,000 OTE

£45000 - £80000 per annum + £80,000 OTE + Car,benefits: h2 Recruit Ltd: Busine...

Langley James : IT Sales Executive;Borehamwood;£40k(neg) uncapped comm£100k+OTE

£40000 per annum + £100k+ OTE: Langley James : IT Sales Executive; connectivit...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Drifting and forgotten - turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Our partner charities help veterans on the brink – and get them back on their feet
Putin’s far-right ambition: Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU

Putin’s far-right ambition

Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU
Tove Jansson's Moominland: What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?

Escape to Moominland

What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?
Nightclubbing with Richard Young: The story behind his latest book of celebrity photographs

24-Hour party person

Photographer Richard Young has been snapping celebrities at play for 40 years. As his latest book is released, he reveals that it wasn’t all fun and games
Michelle Obama's school dinners: America’s children have a message for the First Lady

A taste for rebellion

US children have started an online protest against Michelle Obama’s drive for healthy school meals by posting photos of their lunches
Colouring books for adults: How the French are going crazy for Crayolas

Colouring books for adults

How the French are going crazy for Crayolas
Jack Thorne's play 'Hope': What would you do as a local politician faced with an impossible choice of cuts?

What would you do as a local politician faced with an impossible choice of cuts?

Playwright Jack Thorne's latest work 'Hope' poses the question to audiences
Ed Harcourt on Romeo Beckham and life as a court composer at Burberry

Call me Ed Mozart

Paloma Faith, Lana del Ray... Romeo Beckham. Ed Harcourt has proved that he can write for them all. But it took a personal crisis to turn him from indie star to writer-for-hire
10 best stocking fillers for foodies

Festive treats: 10 best stocking fillers for foodies

From boozy milk to wasabi, give the food-lover in your life some extra-special, unusual treats to wake up to on Christmas morning
Phil Hughes head injury: He had one weakness – it has come back to haunt him

Phil Hughes had one weakness – it has come back to haunt him

Prolific opener had world at his feet until Harmison and Flintoff bounced him
'I have an age of attraction that starts as low as four': How do you deal with a paedophile who has never committed a crime?

'I am a paedophile'

Is our approach to sex offenders helping to create more victims?
How bad do you have to be to lose a Home Office contract?

How bad do you have to be to lose a Home Office contract?

Serco given Yarl’s Wood immigration contract despite ‘vast failings’
Green Party on the march in Bristol: From a lost deposit to victory

From a lost deposit to victory

Green Party on the march in Bristol
Putting the grot right into Santa's grotto

Winter blunderlands

Putting the grot into grotto
'It just came to us, why not do it naked?' London's first nude free runner captured in breathtaking images across capital

'It just came to us, why not do it naked?'

London's first nude free runner captured in breathtaking images across capital