The Supervisory Council of the International Luxembourg Forum on Preventing Nuclear Catastrophe met on December 9 in Moscow. Participants summed up the results of the organisation’s activities in 2008 and formulated plans and priorities for 2009. The session addressed the most urgent nuclear non-proliferation and global security issues, both worldwide and in challenging regions. Forum representatives communicated with Russian and international media after the session at a press conference held at the National hotel. The Iranian nuclear program was brought into focus.
Luxembourg Forum President Viatcheslav Kantor emphasised that the world must consider all possible scenarios for the Iranian issue, including military action, as well as the consequences of those scenarios.
In Kantor’s words, “When we talk about the potential use of force – in one of our publications, for example – we are not calling for that kind of action. We are just trying to analyse what would happen and the results such action might produce. I would like to remind everyone that the Forum is trying to prevent a nuclear catastrophe, not instigate one. This goal clearly requires a versatile approach, using all possible methods to resolve the issue, including innovation. We should also appreciate the importance of international cooperation. We can succeed only through a multi-faceted approach. When a UN member is calling for the annihilation of another UN member, we have to remind everyone of the need for respect and reconciliation between nations, and reconciliation is a two-way street.”
Hans Blix, who is a Supervisory Council member, regular attendee of its working sessions and former head of the United Nations nuclear watchdog, validated the global community’s doubts about the exclusively peaceful nature of Iran’s nuclear program, pointing to Iran’s interest in improving its uranium enrichment technology and capacity.
“Sweden has over a dozen nuclear reactors, but it imports fissile fuel. Other countries that are developing their nuclear power industries do the same thing. Uranium enrichment is not economically feasible for them. Hence the question: what other interest is pursued by Iran if not economical?” Blix commented on the prospects for a diplomatic resolution of the Iranian crisis, saying that “Iran is worth negotiation as a major state.” He also expressed his hope that the new Democratic administration in the United States will be “more imaginative” on the Iranian issue than its predecessors.
Former Russian Foreign Minister and ex-Secretary of the Russian Security Council Igor Ivanov spoke about Russian’s position on the Iranian problem. He stated, “There are no grounds to say that Russia is engaged in double-dealing with Iran.” According to Ivanov, Russia has always been “an active supporter of the existing mechanism [for resolution of the Iranian issue]” and is in line with other participants in the negotiation process.
Another member of the Supervisory Council and Former U.S. Defense Secretary William Perry also emphasised the importance of Russia’s actions and approaches to resolving the Iranian nuclear issue. Perry has no doubt that the new U.S. administration led by President-elect Barack Obama will do its utmost to establish constructive cooperation with Russia on the Iranian issue, among others.
“There are a number of global threats which can not be resolved solely by the U.S., including nuclear terrorism, financial crisis and many others, including the Iranian nuclear program. And I think that with a new administration in the United States coming into office, there is an opportunity to break that downward spiral set recently around Russia,” Perry said.
Board Chairman of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute Rolf Ekeus noted that his experience of negotiating with Iran shows the necessity of allowing them some freedom of action and stimulating them to explain their position.
“Provided that the Five Permanent Members of the UN Security Council and Germany tighten their approach to influencing Iran, it is time the Iranians should explain their position on their nuclear program. Their approaches may also be justified by security reasons. The Iranian nuclear program cannot be considered out of the context of regional and international security. I believe that the Iranian leadership is not so much seeking to develop nuclear weapons as it is trying to reserve the opportunity to develop nuclear weapons in the future.” According to Ekeus, it is critical that U.S. President-elect Obama, who assumes office in January 2009, truly negotiates with Iranian leadership as he promised during the election campaign.
Director of the “East-West” Center at the University of Maryland Roald Sagdeev issued general comments on the situation and noted that the current pace of Iran’s efforts to enrich uranium is already alarming, let alone any future prospects. According to Sagdeev, “It makes little difference whether Iran has 6,000 or 9,000 centrifuges. They already have enough centrifuges to create a nuclear bomb within 9 months at the current pace of work.”
To summarise the results of the session, participants agreed to produce a protocol to be published after drafting and approval.
SUPERVISORY COUNCIL MEETING
Moscow, December 9, 2008