Nuclear non-proliferation

Iran claims that the resumption of its nuclear research programme in January does not contravene the nuclear non-proliferation treaty but the UN and the IAEA are less certain 

Nuclear non-proliferation treaty

The treaty on the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons (NPT) has 187 state signatories and is the most widely-adhered-to arms control treaty ever. Under the International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA) responsibility, it aims to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons, promote peaceful uses of nuclear energy, and further the goal of nuclear disarmament. 

Iran’s disagreement with the IAEA 

Iran was forced to suspend uranium enrichment and reprocessing last year after it was discovered it had concealed nuclear activities in breach of the NPT for almost 20 years. The IAEA installed seals over centrifuge components and two cylinders containing UF6in Natanz. Iran asked the IAEA to remove its seals in January 2006. The IAEA refused and the seals were removed on the instruction of president Mahoud Ahmadinejad. 

Nuclear capability

Iran insists its nuclear research programme is to satisfy its power needs. The programme was not suspected as a cover for weapons development until 2002 and 2003, when the IAEA discovered that Iran was concealing nuclear facilities and materials. The threat posed by Iran remains unknown.