Late last month, the International Atomic Energy Agency, a United Nations organization tasked with monitoring international compliance with the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, demanded that Iran stop construction of a uranium enrichment site, which became known to the public only recently.
The Iranian government has rebuked these demands, and instead announced intentions to begin the building of 10 more similar sites. This turn of events has pushed Iran further away from the careful eyes of the IAEA and introduced the increased risk of an Iranian nuclear development program that is hidden away from the international community.
Article IV of the NPT states, "Nothing in this Treaty shall be interpreted as affecting the inalienable right of all the Parties to the Treaty to develop research, production and use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes without discrimination and in conformity with Articles I and II of this Treaty." The first two articles essentially prohibit the spread of nuclear weapons to states that are "Party to the Treaty" that did not previously have access to them.
The Iranian government has repeatedly argued that their quest for nuclear technology has a strictly peaceful purpose. If this was true, it would be impossible to fault the Iranians for exploring the possibility of nuclear energy. Iran, however, has not acted as an innocent country is expected to act.
Iran has limited the access U.N. inspectors are allowed and has stalled on agreeing to a system where the international community would be allowed to monitor deliveries of uranium to ensure they did receive enough weapons-grade material to construct an offensive device. By taking such a reckless course of action, Iran has alienated even its closer allies of power, namely China and Russia, which voted to rebuke Iran's actions through the mechanism of the IAEA.
No country should be denied the ability to access nuclear power for peaceable purposes. The language of the NPT goes so far as to deem this access an "inalienable right." If Iran, however, is truly seeking to move towards a nuclear-based energy infrastructure, it would be wise to allow the eyes and ears of the U.N. unfettered access to its nuclear facilities.
Additionally, Iran should make known the locations of all such facilities. If they are as truly protected from bombardment as the Iranian government claims they are, this should not present a security risk, and it would go a long way to building some degree of trust.
If Iran continues on its present course, it risks economic sanctions, further deterioration of foreign relations even with its closest allies and the attention of the historically sortie-happy Israeli Air Force. If it changes course and stops trying to break with the IAEA, we could see an increased stability in the Middle East.
This process would also be helped if the Israeli government was less abrasive in their language regarding Iran. Some degree of cooling off by both parties is necessary to open the door for peaceable relations in the region.