UN’s Hans Blix: Iran Has Legitimate Security Concerns

Arash Norouzi
The Mossadegh Project | September 10, 2010                   
[Updated May 21, 2024]

Hans Blix

Hans Blix, the Former Chief UN Weapons Inspector and IAEA chief who now heads the WMD Commission, spoke at the United Nations on June 2, 2006 about nuclear proliferation, Iran, the United States, and Israel.

Recalling the false alarm raised over Iraq, he recommended that the findings of international inspectors be listened to in the future. Blix said that nuclear weapons are dangerous no matter who possesses them, especially because governments can change. He also estimated that Israel, which is not a member of the NPT, has about 200 nuclear weapons in its arsenal.

Play Hans Blix audio clip:

“We think — Iran is described as a threat, and their enrichment of uranium is described as a threat to the whole world, and the commission is also of the view that it would be desirable that Iran refrain from going on with enrichment of uranium. But one must also try, if you want a solution for this, to look at the issue from the side of the Iranians. They see 130,000 American soldiers in Iraq, and they see American bases in Pakistan and in Afghanistan and more American military activities to the north of them. They remember that Mossadegh, who was elected Premier, was ousted with subversive methods from the outside. So it is not inconceivable that some groups in Iran may feel that their security is being threatened from the outside.”

Council on Foreign Relations
October 22, 2014 Interview

These are actions that I as a lawyer find — no, you cannot justify them in terms of U.N. charter. And I don’t think they worry so much about that in Washington, frankly. They are worried about the consequences that they’ve seen of it, that they do not succeed, and they — once they’ve removed the Iranian government, they remove Mossadegh, what do they get instead? They removed Saddam Hussein. What did they get instead? They removed in Chile a democratic government. [Salvador Allende] What did they get instead?

Arms Control Association
June 6, 2006 Interview

Hans Blix also brought up Mossadegh in a 2006 interview for the Arms Control Association’s newsletter Arms Control Today. He discussed Iran’s rational security concerns and said that all nuclear weapons are dangerous in anyone’s hands. Blix argues that it would be virtually impossible to prove a negative — that Iran is not pursuing nuclear arms, and such alleged ambitions should not be assumed, as was the case in Iraq. However, Blix believes that there is no economic interest in Iran acquiring nuclear technology.

I think it would be very difficult for Iran under current circumstances, even for a long period of time, to prove that they have no intentions [to pursue nuclear weapons]. How do you prove that you have no intentions? I don’t think any amount of IAEA inspection will tell the world, “Ah, there’s nothing, so they can go ahead with enrichment.” As in the case of Iraq, we saw that the Iraqis tried to assert [that they did not have weapons of mass destruction] and we said, “Well, there’s things unaccounted for. We can’t exclude it.” So, that will be hard.

I’m somewhat critical about the tendency in many places to talk about the Iranian nuclear weapons program as if it were proven. Don’t we have sufficient experience in the Iraq affair to be a little cautious about that? But I don’t at all exclude it. Iran is much further ahead in its nuclear program than Iraq was. They have infrastructure, they have people, they have money, etc. Iraq was a scrapheap in 2003. Nevertheless, some of the circumstantial evidence [in Iran] is perhaps more suggestive. You talk about the many years in which they breached their obligations on the safeguards agreement. Well, that could be because they had an intention to go for nuclear weapons, but it could also be because they were worried about counter-proliferation, that they would reveal where sites were and they could be subject to sabotage. I don’t interpret, but I’m saying don’t jump to conclusions. In fact, when we put someone before a court, we like to have evidence before we give them a severe sentence. Shall we be more easygoing when it comes to sentencing states to bombardment or war? A little caution in this respect is desirable.
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I think, and I think the commission also feels, that the negotiation about North Korea is going in a fairly good direction. Whether it is successful is another matter. In particular, I think the latest things we have read about [that are welcome are] the U.S. suggestion that there could be some kind of assurance against aggression and there could be also diplomatic relations with the United States and Japan and the public discussion about the possibility of a peace treaty. All of these things are geared to assure North Korea that they will not be subject to a military attack, any regime change efforts, and intervention to that effect. Since the commission takes the view that security concerns are basic, this is what one can do. The opposite, of course, is waving the stick all the time, that if you don’t behave, we will attack you, or if you don’t behave, we will try to instigate a regime change as they did in Iran in 1953 when Mossadegh, an elected leader, was thrown out with the help of the CIA.

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Related links:

Experts Agree: IRAN is Not IRAQ (by Arash Norouzi)

Madeleine Albright’s Mea Culpa (No Apology) For 1953 Coup in Iran

CIA Chief Michael Hayden Dodges 1953 Coup Question [Audio]

MOSSADEGH t-shirts — “If I sit silently, I have sinned”

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