Asia & implications of its realities
Though globalization, global village and similar concepts; at least to certain extent, are still dominant terminology in the political studies but in a practical term, this paradigm has failed; or at least yet to show and offer any tangible results. One may argue that recent trends in the international politics; namely the 9/11 and its consequences, have even led to a set back in this paradigm so that prominent politician like Javier SOLANA; reducing the implications of the globalization, maintains that «Today’s big problems are global in nature but the main resources and legitimacy are located at the national level«. On the other hand, the return of Protectionism and re-emergence of regional structures could mark the regional approach as an inevitable option for politicians and political observers. What are the challenges of our continent, Asia, in this rapprochement? It seems that most of these challenges as a part of the realities in Asia are of security nature. At the outset of the new millennium, Asia is characterized by:
- No single Asian system despite numerous sub-regional structures;
- Lack of a dominant multilateral framework that could effectively lead to and enhance political, economical and security cooperation even at sub-regional levels. In a realistic approach; Sub-regional organization / systems in Asia (ASEAN – ASEAN+3 – ASEAN Regional Forum – APEC – SARC – CICA – SCO – ECO – AAPP – ACD) are yet to perform such a role!
- A high rate of sociopolitical diversity & complexity mainly provoked and / or influenced by external powers.
- Bilateral and regional disputes as the legacy of the colonialism and Cold War area ranging from border disputes, e.g. between India & Pakistan, to a regional & existential one, i.e. North – South Korean confrontation;
- Multiple challenges emerging as traditional; i.e. ethno religious; and non-traditional threat; e.g. emission production by India & China;
- Many thematic & geographical hotspots arising from and reproducing security dilemmas among Asian countries.
- Meaningful differences in understanding security, economical and political issues by countries and, sub-regional political cultures in Asia.
These realities; Irrespective of any ongoing memories & implications of recent history developments between big Asian countries; mean that the prospect of an Asian security system is still in its primary stages. Thus; it seems that our debate should focus on the prospects of an Asian sub-regional security systems and the role of major Asian countries in such systems.
Iran and its political-security environment:
Irrespective of its historical perspective where the region has always been a focal point in the world politics; Iran’s political – security environment is known to be:
- A Crossroads for contradictive strategic interests of superpowers;
- Politically multi-faced ranging from and swing between semi-modern democracies to dictatorships and tribal systems where sociopolitical developments are unpredictable under serious pressure from western / indigenous reformist and extremist forces.
- Sectarianism, extremism and disintegration trends fuelled by outside players & developments.
As one of the oldest countries & civilizations in the region, some unique specifications have led to a major role for Iran in the region. One may think of certain common but outlined specifications; e.g. its culture, religion & human resources capable of making exceptional turning points in the regional but even global history; i.e. Nationalization of energy resources and great political changes (Constitutional & Islamic revolutions). But well beyond that; Bridging Europe (via Turkey) & Sub-continent (via Pakistan) to, exceptionally, neighboring 15 countries; Iran is located at the heart of major regional; but global in nature; hotspots:
◙ Central Asia & Caucasus where re-emerging Russia and the West are confronting over geopolitical & geo-economical interests;
◙ Persian Gulf & Caspian Sea where the energy question as an international & security issue is at the top (irrespective of the sociopolitical developments & outlook!);
◙ Middle East where the deadlock seems to be shaking up by the ongoing confrontation between the old & traditional players and rapidly emerging non-governmental forces
Recognizing the importance of all these characters of the environment surrounding Iran; outlook of the developments in Iraq and Afghanistan are undoubtedly remaining at the top of the agenda for Iran, the region and the entire world:
Seven years after the US invasion; the situation in Afghanistan could be summarized as:
- Al-Qaeuda is still active and its leadership; Bin laden / alZawahiri continues to send their messages
- Thanks to the US occupation; the Opium Production has increased to 9000 tons and «Afghan opium economy» has become a common term while «Economic Prosperity» is yet to appear in the political literature and daily life of the Afghans!
- Many; if not most, parts of Afghanistan are controlled by Taliban. The security situation continues to deteriorate and innocent Afghans become targets & victims either for US bombs or Taliban/ Al-Qaeda operations.
- Repeated calls for bringing more and more troops to Afghanistan along with above mentioned situation on the ground are clear sign of TOTAL FAILURE of the US strategy in Afghanistan. Yet; lack of any sign to change the course means nothing but a great question mark about the future of Afghanistan and the security in the region
Five years after the invasion; the overall picture in Iraq might be better than those of Afghanistan but irrespective of the reasons behind this difference which is an essential elements for the outlook; the current situation could be regarded as:
- The dilemma of US supports for the majority ver. Arab countries; i.e. US ally; support for a part of minority is still untackled with its considerable & strategic implications!
- The trend of fragmentation & disintegrity in the society and its political leadership continues to escalate along ethnic, and perhaps religious, lines with no predictable outcomes.
- under these conditions; it would be too early to imagine an optimistic «predictable future»
Iran‹s policy in these turbulent & unpredictable Conditions:
- Peace & stability in neighboring countries are key elements in Iran’s national security doctrine
- Keeping good relations with neighboring countries, as the first & best defensive line, to prevent & reduce the risk of any possible US aggression against Iran.
- Quite naturally; Iran has different approaches toward her different neighbors but; irrespective of their relations with the U.S; developing friendly & constructive relations is at the core of its general policy in this regard
- Iran eagerly & honestly explains the aims of her peaceful nuclear program for all, especially neighboring countries. There are certain indications to believe that they have a constructive understanding of the question (voting in the UNSC & IAEA)
Essence of Iranian Nuclear Strategy
► Religiously: the supreme leadership, H.E. Ayatollah Khamenei, has already issued a Fatwa prohibiting any sort of production, stockpiling and use of nuclear weapons.
► Strategically: Violating Iran’s international obligation and ever commitments to international peace & security; nuclear bomb would be a threat to national security rather than guarantying any security
► Economically: According to several Western studies, Iran could become a net importer of energy; namely crude oil, in two decades due to rapidly increasing consumption.
► Technologically: Nuclear know-how is an indispensable element of technological development; especially in term of the High-Tech.
► Legally: NPT permits member states to acquire peaceful nuclear technology
FACTS ON IRAN’S PEACEFUL NUCLEAR PROGRAMME
- Iran’s first intention to have nuclear power plant & technology started 50 years ago.
- US signed an agreement to constructe 20 nuclear power reactors for Iran (March 1957);
- Later on; other major industrial countries like Canada, France and West Germany followed suit signing similar agreements. Different parts of FULL CYCLE were fully considered in all those contracts & agreements!
- Iran became a member state to the NPT (signed/1968 & ratified/1970) and signatory state to its Additional Protocol (Dec. 2003)
- After the Islamic revolution (1979) and despite all contractual & international norms and obligations; the western partners stopped their nuclear cooperation with Iran.
- In 1995; Iran signed agreement with Russia to finish Bushehr nuclear power plant
- In 1996; apparently under the US pressure, China cancelled it’s contract to build a lab – scale nuclear facility
- Facing an illegal US-initiated blockage and sticking to her rights under the NPT; Iran decided to follow her peaceful program by developing an indigenous nuclear know-how
- Developing a peaceful nuclear program; Iran has never violated any international rule & obligation …
a – According to IAEA regulation; member states are not obliged to allow IAEA inspections of their nuclear facilities until six months before injecting nuclear material to those facilities.
b – Western diplomats & media are insisting that «The IAEA could not rule out the existence of undeclared nuclear activity in Iran». True; but According to the IAEA safeguard implementation report for 2005 (Issued on 15 June 2006): 45 other members including 14 European countries; e.g. Germany (!); are in the same category as Iran.
- Despite all the pressures; Iran has resisted the temptation to withdraw from the NPT.
- Iran has examined every confidence – building possibilities. It has :
– Voluntarily suspended all nuclear activities for more than 2 year
– Voluntarily applied the Additional Protocol for more than 2 years
– Invited Western companies, including Americans, for direct involvement in her peaceful nuclear program via an Iranian – western consortium.
– Signed an exceptional MODALITY with the IAEA resolving all the so called «out standing issues» (Plutonium experiment, P1 and P2, Source of Contamination, U metal document, Polonium 210 and Qachin mine) even before the agreed deadline
- After 3 years of negotiation between Iran and EU3; or E3 to respect the reservations of some EU member states (!); the package offered by the E3 was labeled as “An empty box of Chocolates” by some credible European media!
UN Security Council – wrong path:
◙ Despite all legal reservations on reporting the Iranian nuclear dossier by the IAEA to the UN Security Council; the Council has adopted four resolutions on the issue: 1696 (2006), 1737 (2006), 1747 (2007), 1803 (2008) imposing various sanctions on Iran.
◙ Majority of the observers believes that the resolutions have had no real / tangible effects on Iranian policy, concluding that the western aims of involving the UNSC have totally failed to bring about any real solution / positive effects
◙ The failure clearly proves that the solution to this critical issue is; rather than any unilateral approach; a matter of «respecting Iranian rights while considering any possible but legitimate concerns»;
Iran’s Peaceful Nuclear Program and Regional Security
- Indicating that Iran has no major dispute with her neighbors; it’s a matter of common sense to believe it makes no sense to talk about usage of nuclear weapons in any regional dispute due to the nature of this instrument
- Iran has repeatedly offered to share its nuclear achievements with neighboring Arab countries. Thus; this capacity is actually an opportunity for them rather than any threat
- In a worst case scenario, Iran’s nuclear capability might be considered as a threat to Israel. But in such a scenario Iran will become a target for American nuclear bombs. So this scenario makes no sense too
- Russia has a clear policy on Nun-Proliferation. So, any sort of diversion in Iranian peaceful nuclear program will face Russian categorical reactions.
- The main threats for Asian countries in the region are Radicalism and Terrorism for which, Iran is a voluble ally to Asian partners due to its unique experiences in combating terrorist groups like MKO, Taliban & Al-Qaeda.
- In these conditions, regional security should and could be build up based on regional understanding, arrangements & cooperations rather than any destructive U.S engagement
Conclusion is that: Iranian legitimate and peaceful nuclear program could be considered as a pillar for regional cooperation toward a lasting sub-regional security system rather than any thereat to such an arrangemen
– Speech by Javier SOLANA at ISS Institute, Paris, 30 October 2008
 – Russia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Oman, UAE, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain, Kuwait, Iraq, Turkey.