Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Is Russia's Cooperation with Iran "legal?"

As discussed in former posts, Russia and Iran are set to finalize an oil trade agreement follow the start of the Iranian calendar year (March 21). [1] The negotiations are worth $1.5 billion a month that would let Iran increase oil exports substantially. Such a deal would seriously undermine sanctions that helped persuade Tehran to accept a deal to limit its nuclear program a few months ago. However, Russia claims that the sanctions are only legitimate to the West. As a result of this view, Russia discussed with Iran a possible bilateral nuclear agreement. [2]

However, on December 23, 2006, the UN Security Council passed Resolution 1737 that would impose sanctions against Iran for failing to abide by a Resolution 1696, an injunction for Iran to stop its uranium enrichment program. [3] Although Russia had many objections about 1737, it voted on the resolution. Chapter VII of the UN Charter gives the Security Council the right to draft resolutions to (1) determine the existence of a threat to the peace, a breach of the peace, or an act of aggression in accordance with Article 39, and (2) make an explicit decision to maintain or restore international peace and security. [4] Although not all resolutions are explicit, Resolution 1737 lays out straightforward terms and organizations to which it applies.

The Resolution imposed a freeze on assets supporting or associated with Iran's proliferation nuclear activities and established a committee to oversee the implementation. One of the key organizations of Iran's nuclear program and the Resolution placed sanctions on is the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran. However, Russia is lax on the sanctions. This month representatives of Russia's Rosatom held a series of talks with the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran. These talks resulted in a preliminary agreement between the countries to build at least two new nuclear power plants in Iran. Russia claims that this considered peaceful nuclear energy, and according to Russian Nuclear Safety Specialist Anton Slams, it is "not the cause or reason for the restrictions and sanctions imposed by the UN Security council." [5]

Article 49 of Chapter VII of the UN Charter calls for all members to take on measures to aid decisions by the Security Council. Russia, as a member of the Security Council, voted on Resolution 1737 to maintain international security. Not only are its dealings on oil trade with Iran undermining sanctions imposed by the West, it seems apparent that Russia's nuclear agreement is in direct violation of "international law," which Russia itself passed.


[1] - http://america.aljazeera.com/articles/2014/1/10/sources-iran-andrussiaclosinginontradearrangement.html

[2] - http://www.aljazeera.com/news/middleeast/2014/03/iran-russia-discuss-new-nuclear-deal-2014312175752273103.html

[3] - https://www.un.org/sc/committees/1737/

[4] - http://www.un.org/en/documents/charter/chapter7.shtml

[5] - http://rus.ruvr.ru/2014_03_13/269198835/

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