Call on Iran to sue Israel and US in World Court over threats of military force

(source: CASMII)
Saturday, August 9, 2008

CASMII Press Release

9 August 2008

Call on Iran to sue Israel and US in World Court over threats of military force

The US and Israeli leaders have systematically violated Article 2 of the UN Charter in the past few years threatening Iran with military attacks over its disputed nuclear programme. CASMII calls on the Government of Iran to respond positively to the compelling case made by Professor Francis Boyle to sue these countries in the International Court of Justice in The Hague so as to avert an Israel/US war and further sanctions on Iran.

Iran 's nuclear plants including its enrichment facilities are all under the safeguards of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). Every single report of the Agency on Iran since 2003 when the inspections started – including over a period of two years when Iran voluntarily enforced the Additional Protocol's regime of intrusive inspections – has stressed that there has been no diversion of declared nuclear material into weaponization. Speaking at the World Economic Forum on the Middle East in May this year, Dr Mohammad ElBaradei, the head of the IAEA, asserted : “We haven't seen indications or any concrete evidence that Iran is building a nuclear weapon and I've been saying that consistently for the last five years”, and added that the problem is one of trust. 

Conditions for reporting the nuclear file of a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) is spelled out in Article 12(c) of the IAEA Statute. As Michael Spies of the International Association of Lawyers Against Nuclear Arms has explained : “Verification and enforcement of the non-proliferation objectives contained in the NPT are limited, in part to maintain the balance of rights and obligations of states parties. NPT Safeguards, administered by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), are limited to verifying that no nuclear material in each non-weapon state has been diverted to weapons or unknown use. These safeguards allow for the IAEA to report a case of non-compliance to the Security Council only if nuclear material is found to have been diverted.” 

Despite the absence of any evidence of a nuclear weaponization programme and contrary to Article 12(c) of the IAEA Statute, the US pressured the member states of the Governor's Board of the IAEA to report Iran 's file to the UN Security Council in February 2006. 

Even a powerful country like India was threatened by the US Ambassador, David Mulford, who publicly declared in January 2006 that there would be no US–India nuclear deal if India did not vote against Iran in the Board. Stephen Rademaker, the then Assistant Secretary for Non-Proliferation and Global Security, boasted a year later in a public meeting that India 's vote was coerced by the US.

The decision of IAEA's Governors Board in February 2006 to report Iran 's file to the UN Security Council, which has resulted in four UN Security Council resolutions and three rounds of sanctions against Iran , has therefore no real legal basis. In the words of Michael Spies: “Under a traditional view, the authority of the Security Council is limited to cases which have been found to constitute a threat to international peace and security. But as we have seen in the case of Iran , which takes place what was formerly a legal vacuum, the Council's “innovative” approach has resulted in a(nother) de facto expansion of its role beyond the relatively narrow precepts of the UN Charter and has poised it to become the ultimate enforcer of global treaty regimes.” 

Moreover, the four Security Council resolutions adopted against Iran, themselves violate the UN Charter as they are all based on Articles of Chapter 7 (Resolution 1696, 31-07-2006, under Article 40, Resolution 1373 on 23-12-2006, under Article 41, Resolution 1747 on 24-03-2007, under Article 41 and Resolution 1803 on 03-03- 2008, under Article 41) without invoking Article 39 that was required to establish that Iran's nuclear programme is a “threat to peace, breach of peace, or act of aggression”.

Michael Spies concludes from this that “it calls into question the legitimacy of [the Security] Council in intruding on matters of enforcing treaty law on matters that do not rise to the level of threat to the peace.” 

The Government of Iran, representing the country in international relations, has the duty to confront coercion, unjustified pressures and sanctions against Iran 's national interests on all fronts including in the legal domain. Iran should have sued the US through the International Court of Justice at an early date and in any case certainly after the US Ambassador's well-documented public threat to coerce India against Iran in January 2006. 

In the absence of any legal challenge taken up by Iran in the international sphere, Israel , the US and their European allies – the UK and France – became emboldened to threaten Iran with military intervention since 2004. 

The Israeli and US leaders have made a mockery of international law and routinely declare that “all options are on the table”, which has become a euphemism for threatening “pre-emptive military strike”. Terrifyingly, in his response to a reporter, President Bush has not even ruled out a nuclear attack on Iran , a non-nuclear armed state. 

More recently, Shaul Mofaz, Israel's Deputy Prime Minister, stated publicly in early June, when Israel reportedly conducted a dress rehearsal of a military strike on Iran's nuclear plants, that “Israel will attack Iran if it doesn't abandon its nuclear program”, a statement that was strongly condemned by the IAEA. Mofaz repeated the threat later in July and said “if there won't be a choice other than a nuclear Iran or a military option, it's clear what our decision has to be”, a threat he reiterated again on 1 August. 

The consistent Israeli and American bellicose statements and activities in recent weeks have prompted a large group of prominent Israeli academics to set up an “Ad Hoc Group Against Israeli Attack on Iran ” which has issued a press release declaring that “There is no military, political or moral justification to initiate war with Iran ”. 

The military threats contravene Article 2(4) of the UN Charter that clearly states: “All Members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state, or in any other manner inconsistent with the Purposes of the United Nations.” 

Israeli and American threats of using military aggression against Iran should remind us of the fundamental charge against the Nazi leaders in their trials after the Second World War. The Nuremberg Tribunal, which brought Hitler's henchmen to justice for their wars of aggression, asserted : “War is essentially an evil thing. Its consequences are not confined to the belligerent states alone, but affect the whole world. To initiate a war of aggression, therefore, is not only an international crime; it is the supreme international crime differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole." 

The case against the US and Israel has been well formulated by Professor Francis Boyle who has recommended that Iran should sue these countries in the International Court of Justice in The Hague.

By insisting on the pre-condition that Iran must suspend uranium enrichment which is Iran 's right under the NPT, the US is in effect refusing to negotiate with Iran in good faith while threatening it with further sanctions, a de facto naval blockade and military intervention. But Iran voluntarily suspended its enrichment programme and enforced the Additional Protocol under President Khatami for some two years without gaining any thing in return.

In contrast, Iran has proposed that its enrichment programme be carried out under the auspices of an international consortium with Western participation and has also offered to enforce the IAEA's Additional Protocol if its nuclear file is returned to the Agency. These two proposals, which would provide full transparency of Iran 's nuclear programme and guarantee that it would remain for peaceful purposes only, form a very reasonable ground for negotiations with the US and its European allies to remove any suspicions about Iran 's nuclear activities. It is reasonable to expect that an international court of law would issue a restraining order against the US and Israeli threats and force the US to drop its precondition and ultimatums and enter into comprehensive and unconditional negotiations for a peaceful resolution of its standoff with Iran .

CASMII calls on Iran to challenge the reckless and illegal threats against the country and wage a legal battle to sue the US and Israel in the World Court, which in the very least would bring to world public attention the facts of the nuclear issue and debunk the lies and distortions propagated against it. A lawsuit against Israel and the US is now an essential component of averting a catastrophic war in the Middle East which would have devastating repercussions for the whole world.

For more information or to contact CASMII visit http://www.campaigniran.org

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