New Evidence Shows That Iran Was Closer to Building a Nuclear Bomb Than Previously Thought

In April, Benjamin Netanyahu announced that Israeli operatives had spirited a vast, secret archive relating to Iran’s nuclear-weapons program out of the country and brought it to Jerusalem. Having studied the documents that have been made public, David Albright, Sarah Burkhard, Olli Heinonen, and Frank Pabian conclude that Tehran has been carrying out research necessary for the development of a nuclear bomb at a military facility in Parchin, and that this research was more advanced than experts had believed. If so, the terms of the 2015 nuclear deal and the current regimen of inspections are not preventing the Islamic Republic from continuing on its path to the bomb:

Iran’s stark aim, in violation of its commitments under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and contrary to its signing of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, contradicts the finding by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in December 2015 that Iran’s nuclear-weapons activities had not gone beyond feasibility and simple scientific studies. . . .

The archive provides the public its first look inside the Parchin nuclear weapons-development facility and at the type of nuclear weapons-related activities that took place at the site, [and it includes] confirmation that Iran was testing . . . a specialized, difficult-to-develop, neutron initiator to start the chain reaction in a nuclear explosion. The new information about Parchin . . . shows that Iran conducted far more high-explosive tests at the site than previously understood. It may have maintained some of the equipment for later use, and did in fact resume (elsewhere) some of those activities related to nuclear-weapons development under a new organizational structure. . . .

More broadly, at issue remains [the question of] whether Iran is simply preserving, curating, and improving its nuclear-weapons capabilities, awaiting a decision to reconstitute a full-blown nuclear-weapons program at a later date, if such a political decision is made. Its failure to destroy all of these documents, and purportedly, the equipment used in these activities, does not align with its commitment under the nuclear deal “that under no circumstances will Iran ever seek, develop, or acquire nuclear weapons.”

Read more at Institute for Science and International Security

More about: Iranian nuclear program, Mossad, Nuclear proliferation, Politics & Current Affairs


The ICJ’s Vice-President Explains What’s Wrong with Its Recent Ruling against Israel

It should be obvious to anyone with even rudimentary knowledge of the Gaza war that Israel is not committing genocide there, or anything even remotely akin to it. In response to such spurious accusations, it’s often best to focus on the mockery they make of international law itself, or on how Israel can most effectively combat them. Still, it is also worth stopping to consider the legal case on its own terms. No one has done this quite so effectively, to my knowledge, as the Ugandan jurist Julia Sebutinde, who is the vice-president of the ICJ and the only one of its judges to rule unequivocally in Israel’s favor both in this case and in the previous one where it found accusations of genocide “plausible.”

Sebutinde begins by questioning the appropriateness of the court ruling on this issue at all:

Once again, South Africa has invited the Court to micromanage the conduct of hostilities between Israel and Hamas. Such hostilities are exclusively governed by the laws of war (international humanitarian law) and international human-rights law, areas where the Court lacks jurisdiction in this case.

The Court should also avoid trying to enforce its own orders. . . . Is the Court going to reaffirm its earlier provisional measures every time a party runs to it with allegations of a breach of its provisional measures? I should think not.

Sebutinde also emphasizes the absurdity of hearing this case after Israel has taken “multiple concrete actions” to alleviate the suffering of Gazan civilians since the ICJ’s last ruling. In fact, she points out, “the evidence actually shows a gradual improvement in the humanitarian situation in Gaza since the Court’s order.” She brings much evidence in support of these points.

She concludes her dissent by highlighting the procedural irregularities of the case, including a complete failure to respect the basic rights of the accused:

I find it necessary to note my serious concerns regarding the manner in which South Africa’s request and incidental oral hearings were managed by the Court, resulting in Israel not having sufficient time to file its written observations on the request. In my view, the Court should have consented to Israel’s request to postpone the oral hearings to the following week to allow for Israel to have sufficient time to fully respond to South Africa’s request and engage counsel. Regrettably, as a result of the exceptionally abbreviated timeframe for the hearings, Israel could not be represented by its chosen counsel, who were unavailable on the dates scheduled by the Court.

It is also regrettable that Israel was required to respond to a question posed by a member of the Court over the Jewish Sabbath. The Court’s decisions in this respect bear upon the procedural equality between the parties and the good administration of justice by the Court.

Read more at International Court of Justice

More about: Gaza War 2023, ICC, International Law