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Statement on Iran and nuclear non-proliferation

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 programs 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 fully and unambiguously cooperate with the IAEA in verifying all elements of Iran's nuclear programs 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 non-compliance 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 programs, 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 programs to the IAEA, and to open all nuclear facilities and programs 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 fulfil 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 programs 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 toward 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 neighbors, 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 elimination 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: 

  1. Urges the Government of Iran to fully comply and cooperate with IAEA and Security Council directives and requests. 

  1. Welcomes Iran's consistent disavowal of any intention to weaponize its nuclear capacity and we call on it to take all the steps and measures necessary to assure the international community of Iran's verifiable compliance with that pledge. 

  1. 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 use nuclear weapons against any non-nuclear weapon state signatory to the NPT, according to the explicit terms of that pledge. 

  1. Requests the international community, and in particular the members of the UN Security Council, to solve the controversy around Iran's nuclear program through multilateral diplomatic means, including by strengthening the IAEA capacity for inspections. 

  1. Reiterates our call on the five nuclear weapons state (NWS) signatories to the NPT to accelerate their efforts toward verifiable and irreversible reductions and ultimate elimination of their nuclear arsenals as required under Article VI of the Treaty, to refrain from all research and experimentation related to the development of new nuclear weapons. 

  1. Calls on the three states still outside the NPT, India, Israel, and Pakistan, to heed the repeated calls of the international community that each join the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) as a non-nuclear weapon state, as the 2005 resolution of the UN General Assembly emphasized (A/C.1/60/L.4), "promptly and without condition." We further call on the Democratic People's Republic of Korea to rejoin the Treaty as a verifiable non-nuclear weapons state.

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 programs 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 fully and unambiguously cooperate with the IAEA in verifying all elements of Iran's nuclear programs 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 non-compliance 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 programs, 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 programs to the IAEA, and to open all nuclear facilities and programs 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 fulfil 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 programs 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 toward 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 neighbors, 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 elimination 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: 

  1. Urges the Government of Iran to fully comply and cooperate with IAEA and Security Council directives and requests. 

  1. Welcomes Iran's consistent disavowal of any intention to weaponize its nuclear capacity and we call on it to take all the steps and measures necessary to assure the international community of Iran's verifiable compliance with that pledge. 

  1. 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 use nuclear weapons against any non-nuclear weapon state signatory to the NPT, according to the explicit terms of that pledge. 

  1. Requests the international community, and in particular the members of the UN Security Council, to solve the controversy around Iran's nuclear program through multilateral diplomatic means, including by strengthening the IAEA capacity for inspections. 

  1. Reiterates our call on the five nuclear weapons state (NWS) signatories to the NPT to accelerate their efforts toward verifiable and irreversible reductions and ultimate elimination of their nuclear arsenals as required under Article VI of the Treaty, to refrain from all research and experimentation related to the development of new nuclear weapons. 

  1. Calls on the three states still outside the NPT, India, Israel, and Pakistan, to heed the repeated calls of the international community that each join the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) as a non-nuclear weapon state, as the 2005 resolution of the UN General Assembly emphasized (A/C.1/60/L.4), "promptly and without condition." We further call on the Democratic People's Republic of Korea to rejoin the Treaty as a verifiable non-nuclear weapons state.