MAJOR POWERS MET WITH IRAN FEB 26 -- AND STILL NO WAR!
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There are those who would have bombed or invaded Iran years ago to make sure there would be no Iranian Bomb, and their voices are getting louder again as another day of high level talks approaches. Even though Iran's Supreme Leader has spent years forswearing nuclear weapons, which he calls a "crime against humanity," skeptics demand proof that there's nothing to worry about.
The Iranian nuclear program, whatever it may be, was the only item on the agenda for the seven-nation discussion in Almaty, Kazakhstan, on February 26, and cautious optimism has been expressed by participants including the United States, Russia, and Iran. Known as the P5+1 because the group includes the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council (China, France, Russia, United Kingdom, United States) plus Germany, the group is called the E3+3 in Europe.
Perhaps the clearest framework for understanding what the Iranian nuclear development program might or might not be is to keep in mind that the most intense claims that Iran is building nuclear weapons comes from the region's undisputed nuclear-armed state, Israel. Much like Iraq's Saddam Hussein playing cat-and-mouse with WMDs he didn't have, Iran has cooperated with weapons inspectors only to a point of uncertainty as to whether the program is or is not military.
Iran is one of the 190 countries that have signed the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, which allows for non-military development of nuclear power, nuclear medicine, and other nuclear applications. Iran claims it has the legal right to enrich uranium as part of its civilian nuclear energy program.
Iran also claims that it has met its obligations to the United Nations' International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), although in 2005 the IAEA, in a vote with 12 abstentions, found Iran in non-compliance over its enrichment program (but even the Congressional Research Service was uncertain whether "non-compliance" constituted a "violation" of the treaty). The dispute had continued ever since, with IAEA inspectors getting inconsistent access to Iran's nuclear infrastructure. During 2012, four IAEA reports continued to provide inconclusive indications of a possible Iranian nuclear weapons program.
Israel Rejects Nuclear Transparency
Israel has not signed the Non-Proliferation Treaty and is a presumed nuclear power along with other non-signatories who have nuclear weapons: India, Pakistan, and
North Korea. In 2010, the IAEA sought to bring Israeli nuclear facilities within the safeguards of IAEA, with only limited success, as Israel did not reveal all its facilities and has not yet does so. Estimates of the Israeli nuclear stockpile vary from75 to 400 warheads, with 200 thought most likely, which Israel could deliver by missile, aircraft, or submarine.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has suggested more than once that Israeli might act alone against the perceived Iranian nuclear threat, telling the New York Times in November:
"If someone sits here as the prime minister of Israel and he can't take action on matters that are cardinal to the existence of this country, its future and its security, and he is totally dependent on receiving approval from others, then he is not worthy of leading"
"I am not eager to go to war". I have been creating very heavy pressure, and part of this pressure comes from the knowledge some of the most powerful nations in the world have that we are serious. This isn't a show, this is not false."