Iran has finally announced the opening this Saturday of its first nuclear power plant, leaving many Western nations and Israel nervous about possible forays into nuclear weapons.
Iran considers the ability to build and operate a nuclear power plant its right. The project has been underway with much opposition since 1974. Russia has supported the endeavor with money and technology, while at the same time supporting UN sanctions over the years. As of right now Iran is purchasing fuel for the plant from foreign sources, but has plans to begin production of its own fuel. Herein lies the danger for Iran’s foes. The uranium enrichment sites can be used for producing weapons grade uranium as well as enriched uranium for power production.
The question is not whether Iran will gain nuclear capacity, but what role in this other nations play. No advance in civilization, particularly in war, can remain a secret indefinitely. And though Iran has been known for its aggressive behavior in the Middle East and its outspoken opposition to Israel and many Western nations and policies, it is still a sovereign nation. If there is individual freedom is there freedom for nations? Do foreign nations have any authority to oversee Iran at all, as the United Nations are doing right now? If so, from where does this authority originate?
The authority to oversee nuclear plants in certain nations is claimed by the UN and it is backed up by threat of force. The authority only exists so long as the UN can and will use the force it threatens. It is a right of might, not an inherent one. The inherent rights of man would suggest that a foreign nation has the absolute right to govern themselves as they see fit. If what nations choose is aggression, then they must expect to be met with aggression in return. But there is nothing immoral in simply having weapons and armies; it is the way in which they are used that raises moral questions.
The Nuclear Age however poses certain problems never before known. A nuclear missile might be launched from a distance and its destructive power dwarfs all previous human attempts at annihilation. Therefore prevention is much more desirable than retribution. Does the right of self-defense trump the right of self-determination in this case? Perhaps. Especially if the claim of right comes from a nation of unrepentant antagonists. For now, the UN will be inspecting and overseeing the nuclear projects of Iran.