The Iranian nuclear program


The Iranian nuclear program and the ongoing diplomatic moves around it pose some serious questions. It’s also provided the opportunity for some deeply unserious commentary. Take, for example, this post on National Review‘s blog from Mario Loyola arguing that if Iran prevents IAEA inspectors from entering a certain facility “we should bomb the facilities right now” and that as legal justification for doing so we ought to invoke Article 51 of the UN Charter because we “consider . . . Iranian violation of the nonproliferation treaty an act of armed aggression within Article 51 of the U.N. Charter.”

Since in times of peace conservatives usually make no bones about the fact that they don’t care about international law it’s hard for me to understand why they go in for such tortured legal rationalizations about starting them. Article 51 preserves the “inherent right of individual or collective self-defence if an armed attack occurs against a Member of the United Nations.” It’s right there in the text — armed attack occurs against a Member of the United Nations. Violating the Non-Proliferation Treaty is not an armed attack against the United States or any other country. This is pretty clear-cut. If anyone would have an Article 51 case in the event of the Loyola Plan being implemented it would obviously be Iran, the country subjected to an armed attack (veto power comes in handy here).

Now what’s more, the general idea that a state which is not in compliance with the NPT should be subject to attack by whoever feels like attacking is very much not a principle I think people are going to want to endorse. Does that rule apply to India and Pakistan? To Israel? Presumably not.

Which is all beside the point because, as I say, it’s obvious that neither Loyola nor really any of his conservative colleagues actually cares about international law the UN Charter or what have you. If they did, their commentary on the subject might evince some familiarity with what these things say or what the implications of the principles they suggest are. But since they don’t care, why bother? What’s the point?

Meanwhile, I can’t help but note that last time I was guest-blogging here at the TPM Mothership, the nation was also in the grips of Iran-related war fever. This seemed to fade away soon after Josh returned, but now it’s back. Just a coincidence, I hope.