Posted by Ashley Belyea – November 15, 2013 @ 21:26.
On November 10, 2013, talks on the future of Iran’s nuclear program stalled between Iran and the P5+1—the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Russia, China, and Germany. Negotiators were unable to conclude an interim agreement governing Iran’s nuclear program. The process is not dead, however; low-level negotiators are set to resume talks on November 20. At issue is Iran’s insistence on its right to enrich uranium for nuclear fuel production. The United States, on the other hand, “does not believe there is an inherent right to enrichment.” Diplomatic and political concerns loom large, but the disagreement has its roots in treaty interpretation.
Iran’s assertion of a right to enrich for energy production invokes and tracks the language of the 1968 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (“NPT”), to which it is a party. Article IV of the NPT reads: “Nothing in this Treaty shall be interpreted as affecting the inalienable right of all the Parties to the Treaty to develop research, production and use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes without discrimination and in conformity with Articles I and II of this Treaty.” The right to “develop research, production and use of nuclear energy,” Iran argues, includes the right to enrich uranium for fuel production.
For its part, the United States may be relying on three parts of Article IV to deny Iran’s right to enrich.