A Collaboration with the University of Pittsburgh

Bush administration on the right track on Iran

Ali Khan [Washburn University School of Law]: "By substituting the language of respectful negotiation for that of threats, the Bush administration is on the right track in dealing with Iran over nuclear power issues. The policy reverses the neo-conservative fantasies of defeating Iran in the battlefield. Sobered by ceaseless killings in Iraq, the Bush administration has learned a bitter lesson that the policy of shock and awe is not only morally bankrupt, but it does not work. At some point, the authors of Iraqi war will be held accountable under the laws of the United States and the laws of Nations. Meanwhile, the change of policy from invasion to diplomacy is a welcome development. It is also consistent with the UN Charter.

Article 33 of the United Nations Charter imposes an affirmative obligation on member states, which Iran and the United States are, to resolve any dispute, the continuance of which threatens intentional peace or security, by means of "negotiation, enquiry, mediation, conciliation, arbitration, judicial settlement, resort to regional agencies or arrangements, or other peaceful means." Whether Iran is making nuclear energy for civilian needs or weapons is a "dispute" in every aspect of the word. A dispute is by definition the existence of two or more irreconcilable viewpoints on the same issue. The United States contends that Iran is engaged in building nuclear weapons. And Iran insists that it has a right to manufacture nuclear energy and that it is not building nuclear weapons. These divergent viewpoints constitute a dispute under the language of the Article 33. Furthermore, the dispute carries the potential to trigger an armed conflict. In view of these facts, the United States and Iran are under a Charter obligation to seek peaceful solutions to their irreconcilable contentions. If negotiations fail, the parties may resort to binding arbitration. But this process will fail if any party sees nothing but war at the end of the tunnel."

Opinions expressed in JURIST Commentary are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of JURIST's editors, staff, donors or the University of Pittsburgh.

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Professional Commentary is JURIST's platform for newsmakers, activists and legal experts to comment on national and international legal developments.

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