New Book Contract

Sorry for the light posting lately. I’ve been doing some traveling. But I’m back now, and I have some pretty big news. I’ve just recently signed a contract with Oxford University Press to write a new book entitled Iran’s Nuclear Program and International Law. This new book will apply the understandings of nuclear nonproliferation law from my first two books, to the case study of Iran’s nuclear program. Basically everything I’ve been writing about on this blog for the past year concerning the NPT and IAEA safeguards law, as they apply to the case study of Iran’s nuclear program.

It will also consider the application of international law to other aspects of the dispute over Iran’s nuclear program – for example actions by the Security Council in this case, including the imposition of economic sanctions; the targeted killing of Iranian nuclear scientists; cyber attacks on Iran by the US and Israel; and threats of military force against Iran’s nuclear facilities.

I think that the dispute between Iran and the West over Iran’s nuclear program, in all of these dimensions, provides an excellent opportunity to consider the meaning and application of international law in a wide variety of timely questions of international relations, all of which are raised in the context of this dispute.

Obviously, negotiations are currently ongoing in Geneva regarding a possible resolution, or at least partial resolution to this dispute. Along with most of the rest of the world, I sincerely hope that a negotiated resolution can be achieved at this historic moment of new political leadership in Iran.

No matter what happens in these and future negotiations, however, an analysis of the international legal questions that have been raised in the context of this dispute will, I hope, provide a rich case study of applied international law across a number of timely issue areas, that will be of enduring importance as a reference for other future cases, in addition to the Iran case.

So, I’ll be working on this book for the next couple of years. I’ve already got a good bit of it written in blog posts and other shorter pieces. And I have a research assistant here at UA already hard at work.

I’d like to extend my thanks and appreciation to Blake Ratcliff in the New York OUP office, who was the primary shepherd for this proposal through the review process. I’d also like to thank the four anonymous peer reviewers, all of whom recommended publication. Thanks also to my old friend John Louth, the EIC of OUP’s academic publications. I have had nothing but positive experiences working with John and the OUP team over the years. In my opinion, OUP is the best publishing house for public international law books in the world. Their catalog is always excellent and both broad and deep, and their marketing and support are unrivaled. I’m thrilled to be working with them again on this project.

For interest, here is the planned chapter outline of the book, with short chapter summaries:



Chapter One:  Iran’s Nuclear Program, and the History of the Crisis

This chapter will review Iran’s nuclear program, from its inception in the 1960’s, through to the present, including the causes and implications of the crisis beginning in 2002, and the diplomatic history in relations among Iran, the IAEA, and the P5+1 since 2002.


Chapter Two: International Nuclear Law Sources

This chapter will examine the essential sources of international nuclear law applicable to the dispute regarding Iran’s nuclear program.  These sources include the 1968 Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT); the IAEA Statute; the IAEA’s safeguards agreements – in particular the INFCRIC/153 Comprehensive Safeguards Agreement, and the INFCIRC/540 Additional Protocol; and the Subsidiary Arrangements concluded between Iran and the IAEA pursuant to its safeguards agreement.  The chapter will also examine the scope of the IAEA’s authority and mandate for investigation and assessment of the nuclear programs of safeguarded states derived from these sources.

Chapter Three: Arguments Regarding the Application of International Nuclear Law Sources to Iran’s Nuclear Program

This chapter will present the legal arguments which have been maintained by Iran on the one side, and by the IAEA and members of the P5+1 group on the other, concerning the correct application of the sources of international nuclear law to the case of Iran’s nuclear program.  Points to be considered include the harmony of Iran’s actions, and the actions of the IAEA, with the obligations and rights codified in the NPT;  Iran’s compliance with its IAEA safeguards agreement obligations; the lawfulness of Iran’s actions regarding disclosure of nuclear facilities and materials; the IAEA’s application of standards of cooperation, investigation and assessment to Iran’s case, including allegations concerning possible military dimensions of Iran’s nuclear program; and the IAEA’s referral of Iran to the Security Council.


Chapter Four: Action by the U.N. Security Council

This chapter will consider legal questions regarding the Security Council’s adoption of Resolution 1696 and further resolutions, in which the Council ordered Iran to cooperate with the IAEA and to cease its uranium enrichment program. These commands, and their legal basis in the U.N. Charter, as well as the implications of these commands for the role of the IAEA, will be considered in light of the codification in Article IV of the NPT of an “inalienable right” of states to possess the full nuclear fuel cycle for peaceful purposes.  This consideration will include questions concerning the scope of the authority of the U.N. Security Council under the Charter.

Chapter 5: Sanctions

This chapter will consider legal questions regarding the economic and financial sanctions imposed upon Iran by the U.N. Security Council, as well as those imposed on Iran unilaterally by the United States and the European Union.  Legal analysis of these two contexts of sanctions – multilateral and unilateral – will be separate, although there will be cross-cutting legal analysis involving the law of countermeasures in the law of state responsibility, and the law of armed conflict. Arguments for and against the legality of both the multilateral and unilateral sanctions programs will be thoroughly considered.

Chapter 6: Targeted Killings

This chapter will consider the instances of assassinations of Iranian civilian nuclear scientists inside Iran, which Iran alleges have been carried out by foreign powers. Legal issues to be considered include those arising under the law of state responsibility, international human rights law, and the law of armed conflict.

Chapter 7: Cyberattacks

Consideration of cyber warfare in international law is a new and emerging area of legal analysis.  The existing sources of international law are arguable in their relevance and applicability to the use of cyber weapons.  This chapter will consider the arguments concerning the applicability of legal sources – including the law of armed conflict, the law governing international uses of force, and the law of state responsibility – in the specific context of the use of cyber weapons (e.g. Stuxnet, Flame) against Iran’s nuclear facilities.

Chapter 8: Threats of Military Force against Iran’s Nuclear Facilities

This chapter will consider the lawfulness of potential military strikes by foreign militaries against Iran’s nuclear facilities, as has been publicly discussed/threatened by officials in both the United States and Israel.  This consideration will include the law governing international uses of force, and the law of armed conflict.


Chapter 9: Assessments and Lessons

This chapter will give an overall assessment of the dispute over Iran’s nuclear program, including an evaluation of the lawfulness of the actions of the various actors involved.  It will consider the road ahead, and the likely effectiveness and advisability of the various options open to the relevant actors.  It will conclude that a diplomatic, negotiated resolution is the most prudent and most likely effective way forward. It will review the options for a diplomatic resolution, including the likely necessary detailed, technical terms of such a resolution.

The chapter will also consider the lessons that can be learned from the book’s review of legal issues involved the Iranian nuclear case, and how these lessons can be applied to other similar cases both now and in the future.


9 Comments on “New Book Contract”

  1. Johnboy says:

    Can I suggest that you set aside a chapter entitled “John Bolton Doesn’t Know Anything”.

    Rich pickings indeed to be found here:

  2. Congratulations on the contract Dan, I look forward to the book. (I’m just finishing Patrikarakos’ Nuclear Iran: The Birth of an Atomic State (2012), which should help with the history.)

    • Cyrus says:

      Sadly, no, it probably won’t, IMHO.

      For example, on p. 231 the author notes that after the failure of the Paris Agreement negotiations, Sec of State Rice offered to talk to Iran but encountered Iran’s “refusal to negotiate” and a rebuff of the “USA’s historic offer to sit down and talk” — even though he himself notes that this offer of talks was saddled with a precondition that Iran first abandon enrichment, though he draws no conclusions from the imposition of that precondition and makes no other effort to judge the sincerity of the offer of talks under terms which basically required the other side to capitulate first. We are simply expected to accept this precondition as divinely ordained and something that Iran was somehow obligated to recognize. In short, Iranian motivations are legitimate area of speculation, but everything the EU-3 or the US does is to be taken at face value, as merely legitimately intended to limit weapons proliferation (I don’t think the phrase “regime change” can be found in this entire book, even though it is very much part of the conflict.)

      Indeed in treatment of the entire Paris Agreement affair, he author fails to make a crucial point clear: the Iranians were assured that permanently giving up enrichment would not be on the table. This is a strange point to miss, since Mousavi has written that he specifically requested and obtained assurances from the representatives of the EU3 that no such demand would be made, and furthermore the EU3 offer was specifically rejected because it did contain such a demand. So naturally he lays the blame for the failure of the Paris Agreement on “Iran’s abrogation” (p219) of the deal, with no mention that the EU offer was simply an “empty box in pretty wrapping” (to quote BASIC) — and yet the author still seems to imply that Iran’s view of the West as perfidious is somehow not valid.

      Much of the most relevant and more detailed material is hidden away in paragraph-long footnotes which probably should have been included in the main text. For example, you’d have to read footnote 7 of Chapter 13 to discover that the traces of highly-enriched uranium found in Iran were confirmed to be due to contamination, and then you’d have to read footnote 18 of the same chapter to realize that Iran took corrective measures with respect to past “failures to report” nuclear activities, and that the IAEA had declared all nuclear material in Iran to be accounted for with no evidence of diversion. Yet despite this, the author asserts that Iran’s past breaches “clearly” required Iran to be reported to the UNSC — a legal conclusion which is not so clear at all.

      To his credit, the author points out that the veracity of the “alleged studies” claims are in doubt, but instead claims that Iran’s possession of the “Uranium sphere” documents indicates “an interest in nuclear weapons” — never mind that far more detailed information about making nuclear weapons are a matter of public record and can be found in a local library or government reading room of declassified documents, and the Uranium sphere document itself was useless and nothing more than a basic diagram with no measurements etc.

      While the author does point out that Iran’s plans for enrichment predated the “discovery” of Natanz, he fails to connect the dots that run counter to the claims of a supposedly “hidden enrichment program” dramatically exposed by a dissident organization — specifically, crucial facts like the fact that Iran had by then already formally declared the Uranium Conversion Facility in 2000 (completed by Iran, after the Chinese pulled out under US pressure) or that in 1984 the US ended a planned IAEA-Iran joint project to set up the enrichment program or that in 1994 the Iranians had opened Iran’s uranium mines to visits by IAEA officials — so the “discovery” in 2002/2003 that Iran was interested in enrichment should not have come as nearly the surprise it was portrayed and in fact Iran’s enrichment program as a whole was never a secret.

      In the end, the author concludes that Iran seeks nuclear weapons “capability” and that this is driven in part by a desire to appear modern and independent as well. This is mere conventional wisdom and nothing more, and overlooks the fact that 40 nations already have a nuclear “capability”, and it furthermore overlooks Iran’s repeated offers to impose additional restrictions on its nuclear program well beyond anything other nations have agreed to.

      • I’m not an expert on the material you cite although I do know a bit about the history of Iran especially from the Constitutional Revolution through the 1979 Revolution and I think he does in fact do an excellent job in accounting for the peculiar manner in which successive regimes endeavored to “appear modern and independent,” including the nefarious roles played by Great Britain, the Soviet Union and the United States in determining the nature and parameters of such an endeavor. As for Part II of the book, I did not think of that so much as the “history” I was referring to (that’s ‘contemporary’ history, to be sure) and I certainly did not endorse (explicitly or by implication) any specific conclusions of the author.

  3. Fiorangela says:

    Congratulations Dan.

    Two years?? Are there eight other people who can help you gestate this baby by next month?

    The chapter outline suggests this is just what the world needs.

  4. yousaf says:


    I’ll fund the FedEx costs of sending one copy to Bibi.

  5. Nick says:


    I have read your books in the past and I have learned a lot, and look forward to the new one. Just couple of comments for this one:

    1) Please clearly identify and state the inalienable rights of NPT members prior to signing on that treaty, even if you have done in earlier books. US officials are telling the world, since Article 4 is not saying enrichment (literally), then there is no right.

    2) Along the lines of what has been said about what Iran can do or not do under NPT: demanding for limited enrichment levels, obsolete centrifuge technology, limited sites; can you please address what does it meant to have Iran to be a “footnote” to Article 4

    3) I hope you consider this as a constructive comment 🙂 . Parts of the last book were repetitive and I felt some paragraphs were repeating what was said earlier in the book.

  6. Dan Joyner says:

    Thanks to all. Nick, thanks particularly for your constructive critique, which is useful. I do indeed plan to address the Article IV right in its existence as a state right, and what that means in international law. I am going to try hard to not have alot of overlap between this book and the previous two. Some is inevitable, but that is definitely on my mind – to make this truly a new project.

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