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Report on the Tehran conference
on nuclear weapons, April 2010

Gunnar Westberg, TFF Board member


May 5, 2010

Tehran Conference April 17-18, 2010 - "Nuclear power for all, nuclear weapons for no one"

Content in this report:

General summary

Overview of the conference

Personal observations

Official program and invitation

Concluding paper by FM Motaki  as reported in Tehran Times


General summary

Iran will try to establish itself as a strong force behind total nuclear disarmament.  This conference was attended mostly by NAM people, and Russia.  The official presentations by the rep’s of the gov’ts  were generally unsurprising.  If the EU  and EU countries had been officially represented,  the conference would have given many chances for a dialogue and rep’s of EU would have had  chances to appear in Iran media, which we from NGO and academia did many times. We were repeatedly asked “What should Iran do”.

Supreme Leader Khamenei  repeated his statement that nuclear weapons are Harram.  This position will make it very difficult for Iran to produce a nuclear weapon as long as the present leadership remains in power.

A  proposal by Pres. Ahmadinejad for a new, UN-associated body charged with supervising the compliance with the NPT rules was not commented on or explicitly supported by anyone.

The final 12 points from FM Motaki in the final document seems to announce a willingness to negotiate at the NPT Rev. Iran supports the Nuclear Weapons Convention.

The conference will be repeated in April 2011. EU representation would be of great value (It was not clarified if EU countries were invited)


Overview of the Conference

Iran is  trying to establish itself as the champion of nuclear disarmament,  while USA is the champion of non-proliferation (or counterproliferation).

People from 60 countries, about 30 represented by  Ministers or Deputy ministers for Foreign Affairs.  Mostly Non-aligned. USA could not be invited as there are no relations.  EU countries were not represented. If they were  invited is not clear, I will write to the EU and ask. Russian  Deputy Minister of FA, Rybkov, was there and was very visible at the meetings and on TV.  Australia and New Zealand were not rep. In general there was a dominance of diplomats, fewer “experts”.

Four academics from USA. That included Jonathan Granoff, who also managed to be active in the wording of the final document, and appeared on TV. The three other US citizens, all with great expertise on Iran,  kept a low profile, as they wanted to avoid problems back home.
An invitation was sent to Pugwash, Denmark, but their expert John Avery could not go for health reasons and I was asked to take his place. The invitation came in Jan., asking for confirmation and manuscript. I responded, then  wrote again and again but  heard nothing until 10 days before the conference. Airline ticket and hotel etc provided.  A tourist trip to the wonderful city of Esphahan was included.

Only a very general program was available beforehand,  and not much more during the meeting. In the beginning and end there was a recital from the Quran, very beautiful. During the first day addresses from Foreign ministers were read, very boring, little new content. Second day had three panels, with a content which did not exactly corresponded to their titles in the program.

The supreme leader Ayatolla Khamenei was present. His message was read by a minister. He repeated that any nuclear weapon was Haram, e.g. against the Quran. He and others critiqued USA for targeting Iran with nuclear weapons, specifically in the NPR.

President Ahmadinejad spoke with attacks on the nuclear weapon states who by refusing to abide by their obligations to disarm their nuclear weapons are in noncompliance with the NPT, while Iran complies. But “The Zionist State” gets away with its illegal nuclear weapons.  “USA the greatest nuclear criminal”.

The president was as usual very critical to the USA, the country which had used nuclear  weapons,  denied others (Iran) access to peaceful nuclear energy, and was threatening  to use nuclear weapons against Iran.  He proposed a new international body, outside the NPT, which should address these inequalities.

The final document presented at the end by FM Motaki has twelve proposals. The text was never discussed or approved by the delegates. The points are what one would expect, most of them quite reasonable. It causes some concern that Iran here strongly supports the Nuclear Weapons Convention. If Iran becomes the champion of the IPPNW Model Nuclear Convention it will make it very difficult to promote our proposal.

Some observations and ideas
The statement by Ayatolla Khamenei that nuclear weapons are Haram was underscored by six clerics in a working group. Many observers seemed to agree that this Fatwa should be taken very seriously. It makes it very difficult to defend the production of a nuclear weapon as long as the preset leaders are in power, and maybe as long as the influence of the clerics is important.  
The nuclear energy program is now a matter of national independence. The enrichment program likewise, as a proof of the competence. It is not much use to fight against that.


Personal observations

As so often the personal contacts were of greater value than the official presentations. It seems that many of us agreed that:

  • Iran’s nuclear  program, including the enrichment of uranium, is so strongly connected with the national pride that it will be very difficult to stop.
  • The country is likely to go for a status as “virtual nuclear weapon state”, e.g. with an ability to make nuclear weapons in a short time if needed.  But there may be disagreement as to where the red line goes, beyond which an attack from Israel ( of maybe even US) becomes a risk.
  • There are several competing centers of power, with changing relations. This in itself is dangerous and may increase the risk of mistakes.
  • Leaders of The Revolutionary Guards have taken over much of the trade,  and may now be interested to negotiate trade agreements. But many of them make lots of money  in the black market which exists because of the sanctions…

I and other foreigners were interviewed scores of times by newspapers, radio and TV. I participated in one TV program which lasted for 30 minutes, and in a shorter program which was live on the air, as well as in many shorter interviews. The most common question was:

“What can Iran do to make the world understand that we will not make nuclear weapons”.  My response seemed to have surprised some: “Ratify the CTBT, ask the president to speak clearly that Iran is never going to attack Israel, cooperate better with IAEA.” 

I regret that I did not more strongly emphasize human rights.  The TV channel  “Press TV” in English is of surprisingly high quality. It is of course state-owned and controlled, but I saw several good programs with international participation. Watch

The official  web page of the conference can be reached through the following link:

However, the home page for the conference, where the outcome would be discussed by participants, does not seem to be available as of writing.

The speech by President Ahmadinejad is available at:

The speech of the Supreme Leader Khamenei is available at
and finishes with these words:

"We consider the use of such weapons as haraam and believe that it is everyone's duty to make efforts to secure humanity against this great disaster."

(This statement was analyzed and explained by seven clerics in a panel. It should be remembered that during the Iran-Iraq war Iraq used chemical weapons against Iran in large amounts but Iran did not use the chemical weapons as these were harraam according to Ayatolla Khomeney.


Tehran International Conference on Disarmament and Non- Proliferation
17- 18 April 2010, Tehran, Iran

The Islamic Republic of Iran is organizing a conference in Tehran entitled "International Disarmament and Non-proliferation: World Security without Weapons of Mass Destruction " on 17th and 18th of April 2010.
Gravely concerned by the continued existence and development of Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMDs), the purpose of Tehran Conference, which will be represented by the relevant international and regional officials and eminent experts, is to exchange views with respect to the experiences, status, and future prospects of issues in the realm of international disarmament and non-proliferation.
This conference is to be composed of three panels mainly focusing on the following topics: 1) Disarmament challenges; 2) International obligations of States for disarmament and non-proliferation and consequences of the continued existence of WMDs; 3) Practical steps for the materialization of disarmament. The Main Motto of the Tehran Conference is "Nuclear Energy for Every-one, Nuclear Weapon for No-one".
Indeed, the discussions of Tehran conference would be a useful venue through which all of the participants could call for the total elimination of WMDs, and thereby, to suggest the ways and means to achieve the lofty goal of a world free from WMDs.
The general lines of the program of work of this conference are as follows:

Saturday,17 April
Opening Session
- Welcoming Remarks by H.E. Mr. Mottaki, Esteemed Foreign Minister of the Islamic Republic of Iran
- Inaugural statement by H.E. Dr. Ahmadinejad, Esteemed President of the Islamic Republic of Iran
- Special Session: Keynote Speeches by Special Guests including H.E. Dr. Jalili, Secretary of Supreme National Security Council of the Islamic Republic of Iran and some of the Foreign Ministers of different countries and a number of heads of relevant International organizations participating in the Conference
Afternoon Session
- Beginning of the Work of Panel I and II respectively on Disarmament Challenges & on International Obligations of States for Disarmament and Non- Proliferation and Consequences of the Continued Existence of the WMDs
- Reception hosted by the Esteemed Foreign Minister of the Islamic Republic of Iran

Sunday,18 April,
Morning Session:
- Panel III on Practical Steps towards Materialization of Disarmament will start its work.
Afternoon Session
- Reports by the Coordinators of the Panels
- Conclusion of Discussion
- Closing Remarks by H.E. Mr. Mottaki, Minister of Foreign Affairs


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