Past and Future Responses to Iran’s Nuclear Programme: What has changed with the Geneva Interim Agreement?

26 December 2013
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The nuclear non-proliferation issue in the Middle East is not a new concern and the region’s record is anything but not a good one. Apart from Israel, all the countries of the Middle East are members of the NPT, although most of them have attempted at one stage or another to covertly acquire nuclear capability. Since the 1960’s as predicted by John F. Kennedy, the international community together with the US has focused on preventing any likely surge of nuclear capability via the mechanism of the NPT regime. Fortunately, Kennedy’s prediction that there would be fifteen to twenty-five new nuclear states by 1973 did not come true.

Nevertheless, these kinds of concerns were revived in 2006 when the director of the IAEA, Mohammed El-Baradei declared that, ‘‘the world is reaching a point where Kennedy’s prediction is very much alive.’’  Baradei’s concern was voiced in the mid-2000s in response to North Korea’s split from the NPT, which coincided with the 2002 IAEA report on Iran.  It is this Iranian nuclear programme, along with the previous proliferation concerns which is now seen as the primary concern for the international community. The period between 2003 and 2005 was an exception in that Tehran agreed to suspend its uranium enrichment due to a deal struck with the foreign ministers of the EU3. In 2006 however, the Iranian nuclear issue became another proliferation concern for the Anglo-Saxon world when it coincided with the rising number of new demands by states for civil nuclear reactors. Within a year-between 2006-2007, 14 states both in the Middle East and Asia had opted to acquire nuclear reactors.


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