Resolved: Iran is not developing nuclear weapons
Debate Rounds (4)
1) The power structure in Iran is very complicated and unique from those of other nations. Essentially, the most influential and powerful figures are the leaders of the Revolutionary Guard, the members of the Guardian Council, and the Ayatollah. The Ayatollah is arguably the most prominent figure in Iranian politics and is somewhat monitored by the Guardian Council. Essentially, whatever these two figures say, is the law. In the past, Ayatollah Khomeini, the first ruling Grand Ayatollah following the Iranian Revolution, has made it very clear that the use of nuclear weapons is immoral. The current Ayatollah, Khamenei, has gone on record as stating that the building up and usage of nuclear weapons explicitly violates the moral code of Islam and, as such, in 2004 he issued a fatwa -an Islamic "executive order"- regarding nuclear weapons. In an official report from Iran to the International Atomic Agency, the government states that, "The Leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has issued the Fatwa that the production, stockpiling and use of nuclear weapons are forbidden under Islam and that the Islamic Republic of Iran shall never acquire these weapons". As Iran is a well-known Islamic nation, its government and religion are almost completely intertwined. Because their religious leaders and political "puppeteers" have explicitly condemned the development and use of nukes, the argument that Iran is doing the exact opposite is ridiculous.
2) Of course, the argument can be made that Iran and its leaders are lying. However, the question must be raised as to the benefits of a nuclear weapon in the eyes of Iran. A nuclear weapon has the potential to establish Iran as a prominent figure in the Middle East (along with Israel, Pakistan, and India), a significantly reduced susceptibility to invasion, the ability to defend itself if attacked, and the ability to attack whomsoever it pleases (i.e. Israel). However, according to CNN reporter Fareed Zakaria, all of these benefits are perfectly achievable by means of a peaceful nuclear program, which Iran claims to be pursuing. This peaceful program is perfectly permissible under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty to which Iran is a signatory which states, "Peaceful applications of nuclear technology...should be available for peaceful purposes to all Parties of the Treaty". In being a nuclear state with a peaceful program, Iran would still gain an enormous level of influence both regionally and globally. Zakaria argues that with the development of an internationally-legal, peaceful nuclear program for purposes of energy and medicine, as Iran has long upheld, there is a lingering potential to further develop a weapon if deemed necessary and unavoidable. In having the legitimate potential to develop a fully-functioning weapons program within months, no nation would dare provoke Iran with the threat of a nuclear attack or invasion. The benefits of a nuclear program for peaceful purposes equate, if not outnumber, those of a nuke.
3) Finally, the perceivable benefits of developing a nuclear weapon are insignificant and are diminished in the long-run for Iran. As I have already touched on the transferability of several benefits of a nuke to a peaceful program, reiterating them would be redundant. So to further list the perceived benefits of a nuke, I add one final "benefit". It has been argued that Iran wants to build a weapons program so as to attack the "Zionist" regime of Israel or any other nation. However, attacking an unprovoking nation, including and especially Israel, has far greater negative consequences for Iran. In attacking a nuclear weapons-possessing nation such as Israel, Iran would be committing an ultimately suicidal action as Israel would undeniably and justifiably retaliate with its own nuclear arsenal. Also, attacking a nation such as Israel would invoke the strong alliance between Israel and the US, France, and the UK. There are absolutely no benefits of building up a nuke when looking at the long-term impacts.
For all of these reasons, I affirm the resolution and await a response from my opponent.
It is probable that Iran is building its capacity for a nuclear military program. First, the Iranian government has failed to be fully transparent with IAEA inspections to its military sites where it has been suspected that uranium is being enriched for military use. Second, Iran has enriched enough uranium to develop two atomic weapons and it has begun enriching uranium at higher levels of efficiency, which may speed the conversion of uranium to weapon-grades purity. Third, there are more cost-effective methods that Iran could adopt to improve its energy infrastructure, and Iran has already relied on other nations to supply its nuclear energy.
In November 2011, the IAEA reported that Iran had failed to address its concerns about the prospect of using uranium enrichment for military purposes. Iran has failed to demonstrate why it is conducting activities that are consistent with the development of a nuclear weapon. In particular, Iran has failed to account for why it has acquired information on nuclear weapons development and documentation from a clandestine nuclear supply network. In addition, Iran has, in some fashion, worked on an indigenous design of a nuclear weapon including testing of some of these components as noted in the IAEA report. The Islamic Republic continues to deny entry into key military sites where military nuclear activity is suspected to take place.
Centrifuges spin gases and raise uranium to a level of purity to about 5%, which is the minimum required level of purification to generate nuclear energy. In order to develop a nuclear weapon, a facility must enrich uranium to 90%. Once a facility has enriched uranium to 20%, the ease with which it can increase the purity of uranium has greatly increased. Iran has purified uranium to 20%. Iran continues to increase the efficiency of its uranium enrichment, which in conjunction with other evidence, suggests its ambition to develop a nuclear program for military purposes.
Iran has contracted with Russia to build nuclear power plants throughout the country, and to supply the country with enriched uranium. Iran has compacted agreements with countries such as Brazil and Turkey to exchange low-enriched uranium with more efficient forms of uranium. Iran doggedly asserts its nuclear independence, when it is not necessary to Iran’s energy program. Furthermore, the amount of wastage that Iran incurs is nearly six to seven billion dollars a year. Iran recycles oil and gas at 28%, whereas most other countries recycle petroleum based products at about 60%. Iran’s energy consumption is extremely inefficient. If Iran were to be truly concerned about its energy programs, it would make low-cost investments into refining its current energy infrastructure--a venture cheaper than nuclear energy.
Iran continues to overlook opportunities into refining the current energy infrastructre, investing into easily attainable renewable energy such as hydroelectricity, and relying on other countries to maintain uranium enrichment. Iran’s investment into nuclear energy only addresses one aspect of its energy program; it does not address the need of hydrocarbons for transportation. Iran has expressed its realization of political and military power is to become an energy powerhouse, which with the demands of its population it is quickly becoming. However, Iran has neglected several key components of its energy policy, which could aids in its overall sustainability, providing evidence that Iran sees the development of nuclear energy as a pathway to the development of nuclear weapons.
Regarding my opponent's contention based on the increased enrichment of uranium, there is another potential explanation: highly-enriched uranium for medical purposes. In the entirety of my opponent's case, there is a honing in on Iran's desired energy program which, although playing a large role in Iran's mission for a nuclear program, is not the only desired program. Iran has confidently argued that its nuclear program will serve both its energy and its medical sectors. Nuclear energy can be utilized in order to harness the power of radioisotopes which can better diagnose and treat its citizens. This medical program requires uranium of the highly-enriched sort and, thus, the high 20% enriched uranium cannot be solely linked to a weapons program.
My opponent's next contention is somewhat difficult to follow as it moves from the building of nuclear sites to the inefficiency of its current energy programs. However, let me address the first sub-point by saying that this activity of importing highly-enriched uranium in exchange for low-enriched uranium and importing fuel for nuclear reactors is completely normal for a developing nation wishing to quickly achieve ANY form of a nuclear program, be it peaceful or military. Secondly, the inefficiency of its current programs should not be seen as evidence that the pursuit of a nuclear energy program is impossible. Yes; Iran is somewhat wasteful and inefficient in its current means of producing electricity. However, from an economic standpoint, it makes perfect sense that Iran would also want to seek an alternative means of providing energy to both its own citizens and its neighbors in addition to its current methods, such as natural gas and petroleum. Also, this alternative means gives Iran the potential to export more and more oil and gas, thus further adding to its economy. From a political standpoint, as is stated in my case, the possession of a fully-operational peaceful nuclear program elevates Iran's influential standing both regionally and globally. The truth is, Iran is not solely concerned with becoming an "energy powerhouse"; in a sense, Iran wants to be an overall technology powerhouse in the Middle East.
Moving on to affirm my case, my argument that a weapons program is highly improbable due to its religious and political leaders' clear rejection and condemnation of such activities still holds true. More specifically, Ayatollahs Khomeini and Khamenei have issued official Islamic and Iranian orders not to pursue a nuclear weapons program which they see as anti-Islamic.
Secondly, as was previously stated, Iran will have the exact same influence if in possession of a peaceful program as it would with a weapons program. After the development of a peaceful program, the potential to develop a weapon in a matter of months would cause any belligerent force to hesitate in attacking Iran. This possession of a peaceful program (i.e. energy and medicine) is completely permissible under the NPT and is a legitimate source of influence.
Lastly, beyond the influence achievable by a nuclear weapons program, one other possible "benefit" for having a nuclear weapon is to completely annihilate one of its strongest enemies: Israel. However, this benefit quickly switches to a negative cost as attacking Israel with a nuclear weapon would consequently result in Israel's own nuclear strike against Iran along with an immediate response from Israel's allies. Thus, there are no added benefits of having a weapon as its use is futile.
My opponent argues that Iran did not actively seek out the nuclear weapons information it has received; however, this does not deny that Iran has not used the information given to them. He claims bias in the IAEA report, yet remains tentative to prove that the IAEA has “predetermined conclusions” and to identify what those “predetermined conclusions” are. The IAEA has every right to demonstrate concern that it has not received absolute certainty from Iran that it is not testing nor developing military-related nuclear programs such as the country’s refusal to open its military sites.
Furthermore, The IAEA’s inspection of the Iranian military bases for possible nuclear weaponry development does not threathen Iran’s national sovereignty. Even if it were a threat to national sovereignty, Iran agreed into a contract. When it agreed to the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treat, it agreed to accept the consequences for its breach of the terms of the treaty.
I agree with my opponent that uranium enrichment is not used just for energy purposes, but for medical purposes as well. The degree to which uranium is being used for energy consumption is substantially larger than the need of uranium-enrichment for medicine. However, both of these purposes require low-enriched uranium at 3.5%. If Iran were truly cognizant of international diplomatic consequences as my opponent asserts, it seems the country would restrain its ambition to acquire and develop more highly-enriched forms of uranium. I maintain my arguments regarding Iran’s energy motivations, given this is where their program will have the most substantial impact on its nuclear program.
My opponent’s argument makes a key assumption about the geopolitical and diplomatic strategies determined by Iran’s foreign policy and it’s decision makers. Pro assumes that Iran will not develop nuclear weapons, because it appreciates the gravity of the consequences associated with making such as a decision and the fact that it would not be in the country’s best interest. However, this assumes that Iran makes policy decisions that is rational and self-interested. For example, it has made repeated threat’s to attack Israel, which would also not be in its best interest, as it would summon the acute ire of the world’s most powerful countries including its allies. Thus, my opponent tries to dismiss the need of Iran to have a weapon, because Iran can rationally appraise that having one would not be in its best interest, yet there is nothing to prove that. Even if Iran did rationally appraise the cost versus the benefit of having a nuclear weapon, the country could argue the benefit would be a defensive strategy against a hostile country like Israel or the United States. It would be in it’s best interest to unequivocally defend the survival of the country.
In light of all of this, Iran has failed to erase all doubt on part of an agency that it agreed to let in and inspect all aspects of its nuclear program. It is not far from reason for the IAEA to suspect Iran of building a nuclear program, as Iran has not even allegedly discontinued its nuclear weapons program for a decade. Until the IAEA has the necessary access and permission, it cannot conclude decisively that Iran is only building a peaceful nuclear program.
Furthermore, the IAEA wrote in its report that some, not all, components of the evidence summoned to conclude it may be building a nuclear weapons program came from technologies developed by Iran that can be used exclusively for nuclear weapon building. While I concede there are more ambivalent uses to some of the components listed in its report, Iran has a decisive choice in proving to the international community that it is without plans to militarize its nuclear resources. The United Nations should still reserve reasonable doubt that this Islamic Republic is completely rid of its previous and nascent nuclear-military ambitions.
Nicflavio forfeited this round.
jam20636 forfeited this round.
No votes have been placed for this debate.
You are not eligible to vote on this debate
This debate has been configured to only allow voters who meet the requirements set by the debaters. This debate either has an Elo score requirement or is to be voted on by a select panel of judges.