In talks over its suspected nuclear weapons program, Iran has repeated urged the international community to respect its “inalienable right” to peaceful nuclear technology. In an email interview, Leonard Spector, the deputy director of the Monterey Institute of International Studies' James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies, discussed Iran’s rights under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
WPR: What is the legal basis for Iran's claim to a "right" to nuclear energy technologies and capabilities?
Leonard Spector: Iran is relying on Article IV of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), which states that nothing in the treaty should be interpreted to affect the inalienable right of every party to the treaty to develop and use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes in conformity with the party’s pledge not to develop nuclear weapons. The problem for Iran is that because of its efforts to hide key facilities, its construction of sensitive plants that do not fit logically into a nuclear energy program and evidence that it has conducted extensive research on building nuclear weapons, the international community no longer believes that its nuclear program is, in fact, peaceful and is not being used to develop nuclear arms.