US-led West violating treaties on WMD: Iran’s deputy human rights chief
Press TV has interviewed Iran’s deputy human rights chief, Kazem Gharibabadi, to discuss a number of international issues.
What follows is a rough transcription of the interview.
Press TV: Do you think the international community has been successful in preventing the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, particularly, chemical weapons?
Gharibabadi: I think this is a very good question to bring into discussion. First of all, I have to categorize the weapons of mass: The first category is biological weapons. The second is chemical weapons, and the third is nuclear weapons. These three categories are forming the weapons of destruction. And each category of weapons of mass destruction has its own international instruments and also the countries have their own obligations.
For example, when it comes to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) the countries, five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council, they have the right to preserve their own nuclear weapons. The others do not have the right to seek to acquire nuclear weapons, so the obligation of non-nuclear states, is not to seek nuclear weapons and not to proliferate the nuclear weapons. The obligation is non-proliferation under the NPT.
But for example when it comes to the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) and treaties that ban the production and stockpiling of chemical weapons, and ask for destruction of all chemical weapons, it means that it is a total and sole disarmament treaty.
So no state within the convention has the right to preserve its own chemical weapons. So the obligation is disarmament under this treaty. Because the existence of chemical weapons is not accepted in accordance with the convention, all the chemical weapons have to be destroyed.
When it comes to, for an example, the biological weapons, the obligations are also different. The uses of biological weapons have unfortunately not been banned under the Biological Weapons Convention (BWC). So… you see the nuclear weapons have been proliferated from five members of the Security Council to others. In our region, the Israeli regime has nuclear weapons.
We have India, Pakistan, and North Korea. You have seen NPT has not been successful to prevent proliferation of nuclear weapons. When we analyze the Chemical Weapons Convention and the obligations of the member states in accordance with the convention, all the countries that posses weapons have to destroy all the chemical weapons until 2012. The deadline has already passed. Unfortunately, the United States of America has not destroyed all chemical weapons that it possesses.
Press TV: And there are those who have not signed the treaty like Israel.
Gharibabadi: Israel in our region is not party to none of the weapons of mass destruction treaties. So you see that the United States has not been in compliance with its obligations, and on the Chemical Weapons Convention and biological weapons. The production of biological weapons has been very easy. So the countries are making biological weapons and they have been able to use against other countries.
So nobody can make a distinction between these weapons and pesticides. This is a very technical issue.
Do you know that the United States has more than 5,000 nuclear warheads? Those are the active nuclear warheads. Indeed the United States has more than 10,000 warheads. Four-thousand of them are in operational status.
The United Kingdom has more than 215, and France has more than 350 nuclear warheads.
So what has been done to our world by the use of nuclear weapons by the United States against Japan? Those weapons have not been qualified actually comparing with current nuclear warheads. I think it is enough to destroy the whole world to use two to four of these nuclear warheads by the states that possess them.
Press TV: Let us talk about the Middle East region. There is one entity, namely Israel, which is technically at war with several countries. It has attacked neighboring countries. And Israel has not signed up to any of those weapons of mass destruction treaties. Do you see Israel a potential threat to the Middle East peace and security?
Gharibabadi: I believe that the Israeli regime is a very potential threat not only to regional peace and security, but also to international peace and security. Israel is not a party to none of the disarmament treaties. There are estimates that Israel possesses more than 200 nuclear warheads. Israel possesses chemical weapons. Israel possesses also biological weapons. So it possesses all categories of these weapons in the region.
Press TV: You have worked with those experts in The Hague. You have worked with people of power within the OPCW. Why do you think those organizations that are in charge of non-proliferation, that are in charge of inspecting countries, inspecting possession of weapons of mass destruction, why those organizations are not trying to find what is going on in Israel?
Gharibabadi: There have been many causes specifically by the IAEA, and also the OPCW in The Hague to have inspections of the Israeli regime to see whether it possesses chemical weapons or nuclear weapons. All these [efforts] have been rejected by the Israeli regime.
An also the Israeli regime has been supported by its allies, specifically by some Western European countries and also the United States. You know, when it comes to international law, unfortunately, if you are not a member of these kinds of treaties, you are exempted.
Israel is not a party to these kinds of treaties. So it does not have obligations. Simply they say we do not have any obligations because we are not a member.
When the nuclear issue of Iran was actually under discussion in the IAEA, we had told them, ‘Is it a good idea actually for Iran to withdraw from NPT?’… They (Israelis) say simply they are not a member. Those powers are not exerting pressure on Israel to concede to these kinds of treaties.
By the way, when it comes to for an example these important organizations in The Hague and in Vienna, dealing with chemical weapons, and also nuclear weapons, the Non-Aligned Movement that is composed of more than 120 countries in the international community, has all requested to have a look at the issues in Israel, and also to put pressure on Israel to concede these treaties. This is very simple and very bitter reality. This is a reality but should be called bitter reality. When you are supported by big powers and you are not member to this kind of treaties. So you are exempted.
Press TV: You are also Iran’s human right deputy chief. I have to ask a question. Are you personally satisfied with Iran’s human rights record?
Gharibabadi: When I was as an ambassador to The Hague, during my negotiations with the politicians and members of foreign services in The Hague, when we were discussing the issue of human rights, I had always told them that we do not claim that we have the best mechanism for the human rights, and no other country can claim that it has the best system for the human rights. The issue of human rights is progressing. For an example, when we had a revolution in 1979, when you compare the Islamic Republic of Iran before the revolution, or compare the current situation to preserve the rights of the citizens and also human rights, for an example, we have made huge progress compared to 1979. So it is a continued process.
I believe when it comes to the issue of human rights, I am really satisfied. Why? Because, when I compare Iran with countries in our region, which are not under criticism by those countries that they claim they have the best system to protect human rights, Iran is a big democracy. It is an important democracy in the region. So we have elections after the revolution. What was the cause for our revolution? First was to establish the Islamic principles.
Our revolution is human rights revolution also. We could get rid of the dictatorship-form Iran. So when people were released from the dictatorship, they had the right to make a decision for the political structure. So that is very important from the viewpoint of human rights. Human rights are not only the political and civil rights, but are election and democratic rights. Human rights also include cultural, economic rights. The economic and cultural rights are important also.
What has been done in the Islamic Republic of Iran in this field is very important issue because we have made huge progress. The rights of people, for an example, right to food, right to adequate housing, right to health, are categories of human rights. We have made progress and so the situation is not comparable to before the revolution. This is one issue.
The other issue is that Iran does not have that kind of policy to intervene in the domestic issues of other countries. So the United States and the western European countries claim that they want to preserve the rights of the other people in other countries, because they have intervened and they have occupied some countries not only in our region, such as Iraq and Afghanistan, but also Libya, under the pretext of establishing peace and democracy and to preserve the rights of people. Iran actually does not have this kind of policy. We have seen that the rights of people have not been guaranteed. The people have unfortunately been killed due to military interventions of those countries.
When it comes to other elements of human rights, rights of children, rights of women or the free elections, the freedom of expressions, that is also very important. In Iran there are more than 6,000 of journals and also more than 150 newspaper and news agencies websites. These numbers are also huge and none of these countries that claim they have best record of rights have such numbers of journals or news agencies and newspapers.
So these are some indications. When it comes to rights of minorities, we host more than 200,000 of minorities. Hundreds of thousands of minorities who are also our national, Iranian national. The rights they have also are important. Their rights have been guaranteed under the constitution. Christians, for an example, under the categories of minorities: their population is less than 100,000 but they have more than 400 churches in the Islamic Republic of Iran. Comparing the situation of minorities with the European counties, I have been an ambassador to one of these European countries. It is very difficult for the Muslims to construct a mosque with elements of the mosque. It is not allowed in many of the European countries. The number of the mosques compared to the number of Muslims is very limited. The kind of restrictions that are employed over the minorities not only to Muslims, but also other minorities in the European countries, is a clear indication of the violation of human rights.
Because of these, I believe that Iran is in right direction because we have firm determination to pay respect to the rights of people. You know we are in an Islamic country. From the viewpoint of Islam, human dignity is very important. Human dignity means if some specific sort of right has not been passed as legislation by the parliament, you cannot deprive people of those rights that are not any kind of legislation, because these kinds of rights have been granted by Allah to the people. So you cannot deprive them in the excuse that merely no legislation in this regard exists.
This is our Islamic principle and the second is our constitution. We have an independent chapter namely the chapter for the rights of the nation. In more than 24 articles the rights of the nation are specified.
Our constitution is unique. We have many structures in the Islamic Republic of Iran to preserve the rights of the people and we are member to more than 21 international human rights treaties. When it comes to this, Iran is at the forefront of the membership to the human rights treaties.
And we have also not violated our obligations under the human rights instruments. We see actually like the nuclear issue that there are some countries that intervene in these kinds of issues, and accuse the independent and developing countries of violating human rights.
For an example in the Western countries and the United States, they say Iran is violating human rights. What kind of human rights? Are they in a right place to claim that Iran is violating human rights? We have seen recently extensive violation of human rights in the United States. We have seen the report of the Senate regarding the functions and performance of the CIA organization while combating terrorism and using torture, which is a clear violation of international obligations.
And we have also seen the violation of the rights of black people in the United States. So this means that a systematic violation of rights was taking place across the US.
The same case is with the other western European countries. We do not want to accuse the countries with regard to human rights. When it comes to human rights, I do believe that the best strategy is a dialogue. The countries that they have to talk regarding the cultural diversity… are more than 193 free nations of the international community. We cannot impose one specific or set up the unified standards about all the countries. We have to accept the cultural diversity. Because of this cultural diversity, the systems are different, rights are different. The punishment mechanism is different. The punishment systems that are accepted by the judicial systems across the countries are different. So you cannot expect the courtiers to accept and obey and to do what they prefer.
Unfortunately, they want to impose their own lifestyle over the independent and developing countries. This is rejected.
Press TV: When a journalist has go to jail in Iran and you hear about it, do you feel like, ‘Oh, my God! How am I going to explain this?’
Gharibabadi: We do not have reports or accusations that the journalists are being put in jail in Iran or we have political prisoners. We do not have any political prisoners. We do not have any journalists in jail. We have those who are accused in jail. When it comes to implementing laws and regulations, all the people are equal. So a journalist may also commit a crime. Politicians may also commit a crime. Members of parliament or diplomats may commit a crime. When they commit a crime, they are not entitled to use their own title that a journalist is in jail. No a criminal is in jail. So I call it a technical, legal term. So this is not actually right to claim that a journalist is in jail. This is not specific to Iran. This also applies to other countries. The issue applies to all the countries. The people are equal before the law and before the judicial system. This also applies in Iran. All the people are equal, and also when they commit a crime, the case is brought up to the attention of the judiciary system. Investigations are conducted and if the accusations are proved, there would be punishment, and if the accusation are rejected, then he or she will be released or freed. This is not the issue of having a journalist in jail.
Press TV: There are those who are talking about a case after the nuclear file is closed. They say after the nuclear file is closed that the United States and its allies would go after Iran’s human rights record. Do you feel the same? Do you feel like this? Do you and your colleagues plan for this if it feels it is coming?
Gharibabadi: No, I believe that because Iran is a developing country and also independent country, independent does not mean isolation, and that Iran is going to be isolated from the international community. Independent means that we have our own policies and we are independent and we are not dependent on big powers and we have our own policies in this regard.
We believe that this policy of independence, if the nuclear issue is resolved, they will refund other excuses. Human rights could be one of these excuses. They also have other excuses, because they are against the independent nation of the Islamic Republic of Iran. They do not accept the policies of the Islamic Republic of Iran. They do not want these countries to be a model for other developing countries.
Because Iran is a country that has developed through the sanctions, through the eight years of imposed war, huge sanctions that Iran is facing now, despite all this, Iran is actually making progress on daily basis.
It is a country that has religious democracy. This is one important factor.
With all these sanctions and limitations Iran has made progress. So there are fears [on the part of West] of this model being actually presented to other developing counties. But by the way this is reality that they cannot prevent the progress of Iran and development of Iran, and they try to fund the other excuses.
I agree with you that human rights can be other excuse, whether we are ready or not.
Whether we are ready or not, when it comes to the human rights, we do not see ourselves in the status of an accused country. Because Iran has made progress on the human rights issue while they [US-led Western countries] are violating their international obligations. They are also violating the voice of their own people and people in other countries.
So we are following up situation of human rights in those countries in the context of international mechanism and through the UN human rights council. This is one aspect of our strategy.
The second is that actually because they try to divert the international public opinion. So we also attempt to enlighten the international public opinion that they are not right in their own accusation.
We are feeding the international public opinion with reality.
The other issue is that when it comes to human rights, we are very determined to follow up and preserve the rights of the Muslims in the world.
Unfortunately Islamophobia, and also the violation of the rights of the Muslims is a catastrophic issue now. There are specific developments in certain counties. This is also very important that Iran feels the responsibilities to support the rights of the Muslims and to stand against Islamophobia. So these are elements of our strategy. Our strategy is not a passive strategy when it comes to the human rights. Because we have done a lot to represent our people and we are also claiming human rights violations and treachery of other countries.