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Iran’s Nuclear Crisis Is A UN Crisis – OpEd


By all indications, we are on the cusp of witnessing the return of Iran’s nuclear crisis with a vengeance and, unless remedial steps are taken by all the signatories to the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, the re-imposition of UN sanctions on Iran and Iran’s stern reaction likely resulting in the country’s exit from the nuclear non-proliferation treaty (the NPT) is a foregone conclusion. 


This means that within the next two to four months, a new, full-fledged Iran nuclear crisis will hit the international community that comparted to the previous one, which dominated the scene during 2003-2015, will have a greater likelihood of culminating in a US-Iran war in light of the escalating tensions between the two countries following the US’ assassination of Iran’s top military commander, General Qassem Soleimani, in direct violation of international law and Iraq’s sovereignty.   

Sadly, the UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, failed to issue a forceful condemnation of US’ extraterritorial execution making a mockery of UN Charter, confining himself to a vacuous expression of concern. Nor has Guterres bothered to openly reflect on Iraq’s official complaint to UN — that the killing of Soleimani and nine others including 5 members of Iraqi government violated the terms of US military presence in Iraq and should be condemned by the international community. 

A similar complaint by Iran has also fallen on deaf ears, thus setting yet another bad precedent in terms of double standards at UN, held hostage by the Western imperial powers that preach the rule of law while their own actions have set ablaze the international norms and caused a new era of global anarchy, led by the rogue US President Donald Trump, who is impeached by the US lawmakers accusing him of representing a “threat to the national security of United States.”

Backed by the majority Republican senators, Trump will likely survive the impeachment trial, yet the sting will remain forever and, perhaps, he will engage in more acts of foreign adventurism in order to retrieve the lost credibility.   

That aside, the coming Iran nuclear crisis, foreshadowed by the recent European statement invoking the nuclear agreement’s “trigger mechanism” in response to Iran’s latest nuclear step away from the agreement known as the JCPOA (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action), will also trigger a crisis for the United Nations for the following reasons. 


First, a new round of UN sanctions on Iran will suffer grievously in the legitimacy department since it is abundantly clear that the other non-compliant parties to the JCPOA, above all the US and Europeans, have gotten away with their dereliction of duties, incumbent upon them by the UN Security Council Resolution 2231 mandating the implementation of the JCPOA, while targeting Iran.(1)

Second,  after all, despite Iran’s request, there has been no Security Council meeting on US’ illegal exit from the JCPOA, let alone any formal condemnation that the US well deserves in an ideal UN setting, and nor has the UN given any attention to the fact that the European governments despite their lip service to the JCPOA have failed to meet their obligations, as a result of which the new financial mechanism they have formally set up to bypass US sanctions on Iran has yet to conduct a single transaction.

Lest we forget, under the JCPOA, Europe has pledged to  guarantee Iran’s access to European banks and financial system, and to sustain Iran’s oil exports to Europe, none of which has happened.

Third, the European three — Germany, France, and England — have had the (neo-colonial) audacity to systematically distort facts and openly claim that they have acted in good faith to preserve the JCPOA! Such blatant lies and the official willingness to dispense with any moral qualm speaks volumes about the decline of the West and the collapse of any ethical standards on the part of European officials, who a mere two years ago heroically voiced criticisms of US bullying and have now all but buried their anti-American defiance, replacing it with a new mood of American sheepish obedience reflected in Boris Johnson’s call for replacing the JCPOA with a new “Trump deal.”

Perhaps that would work in a Trump casino but not in a global arena marked with US’ new method of conducting foreign policy by assassination. 

Trump and his warmongering foreign policy team have in effect strangulated diplomacy in favor of confrontation, thus bringing the Middle East ever closer to a highly combustible regional conflagration, and there is absolutely no way that any Iranian diplomat would ever sit around the same table with any Trump administration official. 

The US-impelled “death of diplomacy” has been deliberate and calculated by Washington to take the “maximum pressure” strategy to the military phase, which will likely follow any new UN action against Iran in the proximate future.   

But, as stated above, UN will most likely trigger a new crisis of its own legitimacy if it ignores US and Europe’s blatant disregard for their JCPOA obligations and penalizes Iran with a new round of sanctions, as a result of Europe’s triggering the dispute resolution mechanism in their own favor. 

Many developing nations, forming a majority in the General Assembly, which are part of the Non-Aligned Movement, will see a betrayal of UN’s norms and principles in such an action, unwarranted by even a minimum deference to the idea of equal justice. The egregious injustice to Iran, already reeling by the illegal US sanctions, will trigger a huge outcry against the UN Security Council and UN leadership, for becoming instruments of Western oppression and Western duplicity. 

UN can avoid the unwanted consequences of such a crisis of legitimacy only by acting fairly and in accordance with its founding principles, which call for condemnation of any nation defying the will of UN Security Council, as the US has done with respect to UNSC 2231 as state above. 

The European diplomats, who confined themselves to a largely meaningless statement of regret after Trump pulled out of the JCPOA, are now gearing up to take the podium at the Security Council calling for new UN sanctions against Iran, without presenting a clue that they are embarrassed by the fact that history will judge them harshly for their brazen duplicity and double standards. 

The whole mainstream US and Western media will naturally do their own part in painting this latest travesty as legitimate, yet a whole new crisis engulfing the UN due to its crude instrumentalization by Western neo-colonial powers will be inescapable, for the simple fact that it is tantamount to nuclear Orientalism pure and simple.

(1) For more on this see Afrasiabi, Iran Nuclear Crisis II,” Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, September, 2018

Kaveh L. Afrasiabi

Editor's Note: Federal authorities in 2021 charged this contributor with operating as an unregistered agent of the Iranian government. Eurasia Review is leaving the article on the site as a matter of public record while updating his author page and the article to include this new information for context. Kaveh L. Afrasiabi, Ph.D. is an Iranian-American political scientist and author specializing in Iran’s foreign and nuclear affairs, and author of several books.

One thought on “Iran’s Nuclear Crisis Is A UN Crisis – OpEd

  • January 22, 2020 at 11:48 am

    Result of the art of no deal


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