World Council of Churches

A worldwide fellowship of churches seeking unity, a common witness and Christian service

Iran and Nuclear Non-Proliferation

19 May 2006

Statement by the WCC Executive Committee, Geneva, 16-19 May, 2006


The World Council of Churches has on many occasions declared its enduring view
that "the only ultimate protection against nuclear weapons is their total elimination"
(EC, Feb. 2004), prohibition and a mechanism of effective international
inspections and control (2nd Assembly 1954). The Nuclear Non-Proliferation
Treaty is the only agreement in international law that formally requires these
goals, and the WCC therefore regards it a matter of fundamental importance that
all states be meticulous and unwavering in meeting their full obligations under
the Treaty.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is specially mandated to monitor
and confirm the adherence of non-nuclear weapons' states (NNWS) signatories
to the Treaty. It is the responsibility of the IAEA to confirm that any and all
nuclear programmes of NNWS are transparent and verifiably restricted to the
peaceful purposes permitted under the NPT, and thus it is also a matter of fundamental
importance that all NNWS Treaty signatories enter into and fully comply
with NPT Safeguards Agreements with the IAEA, and that they ratify and
implement the Additional Protocol to Safeguard Agreements with the IAEA.

The WCC therefore reiterates its grave concern that the authority and effectiveness
of the NPT have been eroded by the failure of its members to reach any agreement
at the 2005 NPT Review Conference on advancing nuclear non-proliferation
and disarmament efforts and by the further failure of the international
community to address the urgent nuclear disarmament imperative through the
final document of the 2005 World Summit.

The WCC is also deeply concerned that the authority and effectiveness of the
IAEA, as well as the objective of nuclear disarmament, are severely damaged by
the failure of Iran to cooperate fully and unambiguously with the IAEA in verifying
all elements of Iran's nuclear programmes as being solely for peaceful purposes.
Iran's history of clandestine nuclear research, its failure to provide the IAEA
full and ongoing access to all nuclear facilities, and its failure to satisfactorily clarify
all of the outstanding issues and questions raised by the IAEA during the
course of its inspections, is a violation of its obligations and undermines pursuit
of the agreed global goal of total nuclear disarmament.

It adds to the concern of the international community that this record of noncompliance
has sometimes been accompanied by hateful and irresponsible statements
by the Iranian leadership against the Jewish people and the state of Israel.

Just as we call on Iran to take special steps to assure the international community
that it is not pursuing clandestine nuclear programmes, we also call on the
United States to take steps to assure all non-nuclear weapon states that it will
honour its 1995 commitment. The "negative security assurance", which was given
by all five of the officially recognized nuclear weapon states, was key to facilitating
the 1995 decision for the permanent extension of the Treaty. We regret that
President Bush placed the United States in direct violation of that commitment
when he pointedly refused to take the option of a nuclear strike against Iran off
the table in the wake of reports by the New York Times on US planning for such
an attack.

It is important for Iran to understand that its obligations are not conditional on
the actions of others. There is no justification for Iran's violations of its IAEA
obligations and the WCC calls on Iran and the international community to meet
their collective obligations to pursue a peaceful and nuclear free world by redoubling
their efforts to negotiate a constructive resolution of Iran's treaty obligations.

Such a resolution should include the recognition of Iran's legitimate security needs
and should respect its formal right, under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty,
to use nuclear technology and material for peaceful purposes. A successful resolution
of the crisis must also respect the legitimate security needs of the international
community by ensuring strict adherence to nuclear non-proliferation principles
and practices as embodied in the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, in the
agreements and decisions reached at NPT review conferences, and in related IAEA
measures and obligations. There is no military solution to this controversy. It
should be handled through diplomatic means, in particular by increased support
to the IAEA.

Although Iran has the right to develop nuclear power for civilian peaceful purposes,
including the right to enrich uranium, it is not an unconditional right.

The right of access to nuclear technology rests on the obligation to disclose all of
its nuclear facilities and programmes to the IAEA, and to open all nuclear facilities
and programmes to ongoing IAEA inspection. While we understand that
Iran is currently cooperating with the IAEA, and while the IAEA confirms it has
not uncovered any current direct evidence that Iran is actively pursuing the acquisition
of nuclear weapons, Iran has for now lost the confidence of many in the
international community because of its recent history of clandestine nuclear
research. As a result, Iran must accept that it will have to fulfill certain extraordinary
requirements in order to earn back the international trust.

In the immediate term, the restoration of such trust requires a verifiable moratorium
on all Iranian uranium enrichment and reprocessing efforts until the IAEA
has established to its satisfaction that all Iranian nuclear facilities are fully declared
and that current and future nuclear facilities will operate in accordance with IAEA
inspection standards. This is a confidence-building measure that does not deny
in principle Iran's right to develop nuclear technology for peaceful purposes.
Ongoing confidence that Iran's nuclear programmes are exclusively for the peaceful
purposes allowed by the Treaty requires further that Iran ratify and fully implement
the IAEA Additional Protocol.

In recognition of Iran's right to nuclear technology and material for peaceful purposes,
the international community should agree to establish a means to assure
that Iran has reliable access to fuel for its power-generating nuclear reactors. We
further urge the international community to move towards ongoing and permanent
international control of the nuclear fuel cycle along the general lines proposed
by the IAEA Director-General - notably, an IAEA-controlled fuel bank
that would provide fuel to civilian reactors unless ordered not to do so by the
Security Council.

In addition, a resolution of the current Iranian nuclear controversy should include
commitments and mechanisms to begin to address broader security concerns,
including attention to Iran's security needs, steps aimed at normalizing its relations
with the United States and other states, in particular its neighbours, practical
steps towards pursuing the internationally agreed objective of making the
Middle East a nuclear weapons-free zone, Iran's acceptance and recognition of the
state of Israel within the borders of 1967, and Iran's support for efforts by the
international community to put an end to violence against unarmed and innocent
civilians for political or religious aims.

In calling on Iran to respect the integrity of all states and to return to full compliance
with its IAEA obligations the WCC is mindful that other states are also in
serious violation of their non-proliferation and nuclear disarmament obligations.

The five nuclear weapons state (NWS) signatories to the NPT have not implemented
the 13 practical disarmament steps agreed to at the 2000 NPT review conference,
especially their "unequivocal undertaking…to accomplish the total elim-
ination of their nuclear arsenals leading to nuclear disarmament to which all States
parties are committed under Article VI." India, Israel and Pakistan have remained
outside the Treaty and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea has withdrawn.

The Executive Committee of the World Council of Churches, meeting in Bossey,Switzerland, 16-19 May, 2006:a) Urges the Government of Iran to fully comply and cooperate with IAEA andSecurity Council directives and requests.b) Welcomes Iran's consistent disavowal of any intention to weaponize its nuclearcapacity and we call on it to take all the steps and measures necessary to assurethe international community of Iran's verifiable compliance with that pledge.c) Appeals to the United States to reconfirm its full adherence to its 1995 pledge,confirmed by Security Council Resolution 984, never to use or threaten to usenuclear weapons against any non-nuclear weapon state signatory to the NPT,according to the explicit terms of that pledge.d) Requests the international community, and in particular the members of theUN Security Council, to solve the controversy around Iran's nuclear programmethrough multilateral diplomatic means, including by strengthening the IAEAcapacity for inspections.e) Reiterates our call on the five nuclear weapons state (NWS) signatories to theNPT to accelerate their efforts towards verifiable and irreversible reductionsand ultimate elimination of their nuclear arsenals as required under Article VIof the Treaty, to refrain from all research and experimentation related to thedevelopment of new nuclear weapons.f) Calls on the three states still outside the NPT, India, Israel and Pakistan, toheed the repeated calls of the international community that each join theNuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) as a non-nuclear weapon state, as the2005 resolution of the UN General Assembly emphasized (A/C.1/60/L.4),"promptly and without condition". We further call on the Democratic People'sRepublic of Korea to rejoin the Treaty as a verifiable non-nuclear weapons state.