U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton is pressuring the Islamic Republic of Iran to put its money where its mouth is and agree to an international plan that would require it to prove it is not pursuing a nuclear weapons program.
In light of the upcoming international talks scheduled in Istanbul for April 13, Clinton spoke with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who visited Tehran last week with other government officials.
They were told that the supreme leader (Ayatollah Ali Khamenei) viewed weapons of mass destruction as religiously prohibited, as against Islam. We are meeting with the Iranians to discuss how to translate what is a stated belief into a plan of action. It is not an abstract belief, but a government policy. That government policy can be demonstrated in a number of ways. The international community now wants to see actions associated with that statement of belief.
Clinton also proposed making Iran’s nuclear institutions accessible to U.N. international inspectors and offered to exchange fuel for Iran’s research reactor for some of their stockpiled enriched uranium. If the Islamic Republic agreed to those terms, the move could be a sign of good faith that Iran’s intentions for developing nuclear energy facilities are for peaceful purposes as opposed to hawkish ones.
The Obama administration have viewed Iran’s nuclear program as having a warlike aim despite Tehran repeatedly insisting that it is only developing the energy for it’s own internal use.
The April 13 talks, which Clinton has said would not turn into “an open-ended session,” are becoming increasingly important in light of international concerns that Israel or the United States may take an Article 51 action under the U.N. Charter. An Article 51 action would mean that western allies would preempt an attack on the basis that they are striking Iran’s nuclear program to ensure their own collective security.
Article 51 was the same legal justification the Bush administration used to attack Iraq in 2003 after the president received authorization from Congress to enforce all outstanding U.N. resolutions. The Bush administration made a case to the American people that it’s allies’ collective security was threatened by the possibility that Iraq was building weapons of mass destruction and that Iraq’s refusal to allow U.N. weapons inspectors unlimited access to search for arms violated the previous cease fire resolutions passed by the United Nations.
Hillary Clinton has made previous statements that America’s patience for diplomatic resolutions is running thin.
Iran’s Supreme Leader, the Ayatollah Khamenei, whose authority overrides the Parliament and President Ahmadinejad issued a religious decree in 2005 declaring nuclear weapons as “haram” or forbidden, but NATO allies do not take the decree seriously.
According to a recent Associated Press report, Clinton has indicated that Turkish leaders have had “lengthy discussions” with Iranian officials, but the United States and Turkey, which is a NATO ally, have not actually viewed the Iranian threat similarly.
Erdogan has built close economic ties with Iran and has tried to act as a go-between on the nuclear program, breaking ranks with world powers in 2010 by attempting to find a separate settlement with Tehran. The international talks have included the U.S., Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China.
Erdogan’s comments upon returning from Tehran suggested further distancing from U.S. and European positions, repeating Khamenei’s verdict on weapons of mass destruction.
“After such a statement from such a person, I cannot claim that Iran is building a nuclear weapon,” the Turkish leader said. “Does it not have the right to implement a nuclear program for peaceful means?”
The United States has not shared that view and has instead publicly supported Israel in their assertion that Iran’s nuclear program violates international law and must be halted before they have the chance to attack.