TEHRAN, Dec. 25 – Peter Jenkins, former UK Ambassador to the IAEA and UN says that “UNSC 2231 “calls upon” Iran to refrain from developing a certain category of missiles. “Call upon” is not a legally-binding formulation.”
A former associate fellow of the Geneva Centre for Security Policy also adds that “so the United States has no right to claim that Iran is “violating” 2231 (as it is itself) or “in non-compliance” with 2231, or “failing to comply” with 2231.”
He adds that “there is no agreed international norm that outlaws the acquisition or possession of missiles, whether short-range, medium-range, intermediate-range or intercontinental.”
Following is the full text of the interview:
Western countries claim that Iran’s missile-related activities is threat for international system. Is there any kind of agreed international norm that can be used to assess whether or not a weapon system is justified as a defensive tool?
There is no agreed international norm that outlaws the acquisition or possession of missiles, whether short-range, medium-range, intermediate-range or intercontinental. A list of missile-possessing states on the site of the Arms Control Association suggests that more than 30 states possess one or more of these categories of the missile. A 2004 UN Security Council resolution creates certain legally binding obligation for all states in relation to the “means of delivery” (i.e. missiles) of certain weapons, but these obligations do not include to refrain from acquiring, manufacturing or possessing.
Around Iran is full of threat from US bases in region and Saudi Arabia missile and Israel chemical and nuclear. In this area, is it logical Iran ignore its missile program?
It’s not really for me to say what is or is not logical for Iran. But if I were an Iranian citizen, I would want my government to possess means of deterring hostile states from attacking Iran. As a British citizen, I wish the British government to be capable of deterring hostile attacks on the United Kingdom. If the Iranian government believes that it needs missiles as a component of an Iranian deterrent, which seems to me more deserving of comprehension than condemnation. My view would be entirely different if the Iranian government were to set about acquiring nuclear weapons, since Iran is under a legally-binding obligation to refrain from doing so, and currently all other states under that obligation are respecting it.
US claims that Iran missile program is in the contrary of 2231 resolution of UNSC. Do you agree?
The answer to this question depends on the meaning you assign to “contrary”. UNSC 2231 “calls upon” Iran to refrain from developing a certain category of missiles. “Call upon” is not a legally-binding formulation. So the United States has no right to claim that Iran is “violating” 2231 (as it is itself) or “in non-compliance” with 2231, or “failing to comply” with 2231. But it would be reasonable to claim that Iran is “acting inconsistently with 2231” or “ignoring the wishes of the UN Security Council”.
In a period of Saddam in Iraq, Sadaam Hussein bombed Iran’ cities by his missiles. Iran did not have any missile for protecting itself from this attack. Suppose Iran ignores its missile program, then which countries will protect Iran from a threat like Saddam period in the region that there is governor look like Sadaam?
This is another question that it is difficult for an outsider to answer. It could be that the Iranian government has a secret understanding with one or more foreign governments that those governments will threaten to make any state that attacks Iran pay a very heavy price for that act of aggression – and that this threat would have sufficient credibility to deter the would-be aggressor. But at this point, there are no grounds to suppose that such an understanding exists, and this suggests that it would be prudent for Iran to look to its own resources if it judges that it needs a capability to deter.