Arms Control Law Matters!

I was just reading Mark Hibbs’ most recent piece over at Arms Control Wonk, on the shift in strategy over the PMD issue in negotiations between the P5+1/IAEA and Iran. His post is here: http://hibbs.armscontrolwonk.com/archive/2775/the-t-word-and-the-iran-negotiations

At one point, Hibbs makes this observation:

“Over the last half-year, I have asked officials from countries negotiating with Iran about the apparent shift on this issue. There are long answers (some of which are couched in legalese about what people think the IAEA’s legal mandate is and isn’t) but the exceedingly short answer is something like “That was then, and this is now,” because in 2014 Iran is at the table and in 2011 it wasn’t.”

I find it very gratifying to hear that government officials are seriously considering the arms control law issues that we discuss here at ACL. This specific issue of the legal authority of the IAEA is one that I’ve written alot about here, and it’s good to see that it is getting traction among those participating in the negotiations.

Sometimes you wonder if the things you write are making any difference in the world. But I’d like to think that this answer Hibbs has gotten to his question indicates that some of the things I’ve written here are being read by influential people, and that they are being influenced by those ideas. At least that’s what I’m going to take away from it!

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14 Comments on “Arms Control Law Matters!”

  1. Cyrus says:

    … but not before they call you a “bomb-thrower” or “Iran apologist” or worse…

    • Dan Joyner says:

      Indeed. I’ve been called those and more by the US establishment types. Some of them are crowing on Twitter right now about being at their annual self-referential, self-congratulatory meeting at Wilton Park right now. One of their many self-referential, self-congratulatory meetings of the year.

  2. yousaf says:

    Gosh, “legalese” is so horrible and complicated unless you can use it to justify your own position. Then it’s the only way to go. Better to avoid all this complicated legalese and just go with your gut, I suppose.

    • Dan Joyner says:

      Oh yes. You can hear Mark’s contempt oozing out of every word of that sentence: “what people THINK the IAEA’s legal mandate is and isn’t.” Not “what the IAEA’s mandate is or isnt.” Its just us lawyers causing trouble and getting in the way of the IAEA doing what Hibbs and the other great and good know to be right.

  3. Johnboy says:

    MH: “(some of which are couched in legalese about what people think the IAEA’s legal mandate is and isn’t)”

    You know, I find it depressing that an expert such as Mark Hibbs should be so dismissive of something as fundamental as a legal mandate.

    Q: Why doesn’t ________ (fill in the blanks) just cut the crap and _________ ?
    A: Well, actually, the law doesn’t give them the authority to do that.

    If the blanks were filled in with “police” and “dole out summary justice” then the truth of that sentence is obvious, and nobody would regard it otherwise.

    But if the blanks were “IAEA” and “demand that Iran comes clean on PMD” then that answer is merely legalese, deserving of the utmost contempt.

    But it isn’t.

    This is a truth, however inconvenient this might be: the IAEA doesn’t actually have the legal authority to ask those questions, which means that demanding that Iran provide an answer amounts to an impertinence.

    Nothing more.
    No less.

    If Mark Hibbs doesn’t give a rat’s arse about what is – or is not – the legal mandate of the IAEA then why bother to pretend that this agency is a TREATY-BASED organization?

    Why not simply remove the mask altogether and accept that nuclear non-proliferation is whatever the USA says it is, and the IAEA exists to help the USA impose its will upon the unwilling?

    Nothing more.
    No less.

  4. yousaf says:

    If Arms Control Law matters, will Japan be held accountable for this?

    http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2014/06/07/national/japan-failed-to-report-640-kg-of-nuclear-fuel-to-iaea/#.U5aug_mSxeA

    (Honest question: is this a real violation or did they wiggle out?)

    • Dan Joyner says:

      Yes this is indeed a really important development. I’ve been following it too, though only sporadically since I’m still on vacation (took the kids to see the Statue of Liberty today). But I want to write something about this when I’m back in the office early next week. Watch this space.


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