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Last Updated: Wednesday, 21 September 2005, 10:52 GMT 11:52 UK
Should Iran be allowed nuclear power?
Uranium enrichment facility
Iran will be referred to the UN Security Council for sanctions if it does not "live up to its agreements" on nuclear power, says US President George Bush.

The country's President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, told the UN on Saturday that his country had an "inalienable right" to produce nuclear energy - but said Islam precluded Iran having atomic weapons.

UK Foreign Secretary, Jack Straw, said the speech was "disappointing" given recent talks with Iran over its nuclear stance.

What's your reaction to the Iranian President's speech? Should Iran be allowed to produce nuclear energy? Or should the UN impose sanctions?

This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.

The following comments reflect the balance of opinion received so far:

It is necessary that the use of nuclear energy in all contexts is monitored and licensed internationally by the UN
Iain, Glasgow
I think it is necessary that the use of nuclear energy in all contexts is monitored and licensed internationally by the UN, accounting for and recording every milligram of nuclear fuel. This should mean that all countries (including the United States) have to demonstrate to the UN they can use it responsibly in order to get some form of 'nuclear licence'. It should not be for US government to arm itself to the teeth with nuclear warheads and then attempt to decree which other countries may or may not also do so.
Iain, Glasgow

I don't think Iran should have nuclear power. But then at least I'm consistent about it - because I don't think we should either. We still don't know how to deal with the risks, and the massive taxpayer subsidies the nuclear industry has eaten up have prevented investment in renewables. What puzzles me is how our Prime Minister can both think we should have nuclear power, but that Iran shouldn't. I think it's entirely understandable that Iran's government will think "if its good enough for them, its good enough for me."
Martyn, London, UK

On this issue Iran's position is more reasonable than that of the Western Powers. We cannot prevent them from developing their technology, but should do our best to keep the process open, accountable and secure. Mr Ahmadinejad's speech is both justified and predictable.
Graham Harrington, Bangkok Thailand

Iran has openly called for the destruction of another country. To even think about Iran having nuclear capability is crazy!
Nathan, Australia

There is a very simple way to resolve the issue. Iran insists its' nuclear activity is purely peaceful, then the USA and Europe should offer Iran alternative means of harnessing power, solar cells for instance. Denmark are the world's leaders in wind power technology, BP have carried out years of research into solar cells. We know politicians are not the brightest bulbs around so could someone just give them a hint.
Doug Kay, Brit in Florida

Iran has every right to develop its nuclear power and even its nuclear weapons if they wish, considering the pre-emptive aggressive nature of other nations in the world.
Phil, Dublin Ireland

You are asking the wrong question - we should be asking "can Iran be prevented from being self-sufficient in Nuclear Energy?" My answer would be impossible - unless you wish to destabilise another Muslim region three times larger than Iraq. The only way forward is to cooperate with Iran and ensure that it complies with the NPT which allows for supervision of its facilities. Iran has never been occupied and has a long history of academic scholarship.
Munir, Guildford

Iran's comparative advantage falls with the processing and supplying of its oil and gas reserves. These are finite resources, which contribute to a major percentage of Iran's GDP with a considerable proportion of it consumed internally. Nuclear technology will, therefore, increase the availability of 'dispensable' oil and gas for export. A complete 'in-house' fuel cycle will also mean that Iran can sell nuclear products and services on the global energy market making Iran a big player on the energy scene. All of this is conceivable under current NPT legislation and supported by the majority of the Iranian population whether they are sympathisers of the current hard-line regime or not. If there is a question of mistrust, then America/Europe should think long and hard about the last time a nation used depleted uranium shells, developed bunker-busting mini-nukes and/or actually used an atomic bomb!
Alidad, Warwickshire

It is better that Iran develop it within the guidelines of the IAEA; rather than outside them
Demian, San Francisco, CA

Iran has the right to develop nuclear power. But more importantly, it is better that Iran develop it within the guidelines of the IAEA; rather than outside them. If we and our allies continue to demand otherwise, Iran would have a good excuse to go the "extra mile" and develop nuclear weapons for defensive purposes.
Demian, San Francisco, CA

As long as the current brutal and dictatorial regime is in charge of Iran, they should be watched very closely by the whole world. Internally they have ignored the most basic human rights and given the chance they will do the same in the region and possibly the world. They should be kept under very close watch.
Arash, London, UK

This issue should be decided in a Court of Law, and whether Iran has breached the NPT. If not then either the US/EU stop harassing Iran, or review the NPT to exclude fuel and ask Iran to agree to that. There is no other (non-military) option.
Munir, Guildford

Is this debate about whether Iran should be allowed nuclear power or nuclear weapons? Everyone seems to be assuming that nuclear power means nuclear weapons. I defend Iran's right to develop nuclear power for domestic use, but I oppose any country having nuclear weapons. Iran has proclaimed on countless occasions that they do not intend to build a nuclear bomb. We should trust their word. If they are proven to have lied, then, and only then should they be punished. To refer them to the Security Council at this early stage would have catastrophic effects on the country and the people of Iran.
Mike Neill, Hull, UK

Why is it always the countries with vast amount of oil reserves are becoming western targets? I believe that Iran should be allowed nuclear power. But at the same time should be closely monitored by the UN. The aggressive stance and rhetoric of the USA does not help matters at all, hopefully all will be well but I have the awful feeling the USA will never be satisfied unless it has an Iranian ruler sympathetic to US interests.
Miles, London UK

We are talking about nuclear energy not nuclear weapons. Iran has the right to develop an indigenous nuclear energy technology. Tehran is a signatory to the NPT and as such, has agreed to monitoring of its facilities by the IAEA. In the absence of undisputed evidence, no world body should allow itself the right to curtail Iran's rights. If there is evidence of a violation, then the world bodies involved should present their case and pursue international legal measures to curtail any illegal act.

Iran's tremendous windfall from the skyrocketing price of oil renders sanctions quite impotent. One or two of the permanent members of the UN Security Council will veto all sanctions. Without an agreement between the United States and Iran all other agreements become moot. US talks to the other member of the Axis of Evil, North Korea, so why not Iran. Let's get past the name calling and discuss the issues and come up with a grand bargain.
Ramin Zarnegar, Los Angeles, California, USA

I must show some sympathy to Iran's case. Nuclear Energy for peaceful use (electricity generation) is a useful goal notwithstanding their oil reserves. The UN should, I suggest, take the stance that whatever they impose in Iraq should also apply to all other nations with reprocessing facilities. To do anything else would simply be unfair in a world that is supposedly striving to reduce its military nuclear arsenal!
Tim Rollinson, Tonbridge, UK

The Iranian nuclear question highlights the hypocrisy of our 21st century society
Jason Robinson., Dublin, Ireland
Although I'm totally against Iran having nuclear power, the fact remains that countries like Pakistan and India have nuclear weapons and nothing is being done to halt their nuclear programmes. Added to that, the US is the only country that ever used a nuclear bomb against another country, so the Iranian nuclear question highlights the hypocrisy of our 21st century society.
Jason Robinson., Dublin, Ireland

Iran is a dangerous state that has been left unchecked since the "revolution." Iran in no way needs nuclear power, why would they when they sit on the world's third largest oil reserves, and fifth largest natural gas deposits.
Nate, Nebraska - USA

Of course, Iran should be allowed nuclear power. There is a risk that Iran will use its nuclear facilities to produce enriched uranium and nuclear weapons for rogue purposes. However, there is also a risk that existing nuclear weapons states, including the United States, the UK, Israel, India, Pakistan, France, Russia and China will use nuclear capacity for purposes antithetical to the maintenance of world peace. Given these risks, the only sane approach to the situation should be global nuclear disarmament.
F Tomasson Jannuzi , Blacksburg, VA USA

Iran is a sovereign nation and has every right to develop nuclear energy and weapons. But it should be prepared to fully assume the tremendous responsibility that comes with it. A nuclear Iran is a deterrent to other nuclear states some of which announced their intention to use it pre-emptively in a war. Iran needs to open a dialogue with its neighbours including Israel before embarking on ambitious nuclear projects. I hope Iranian diplomats and officials wont' fall victim to the bullying by European and American officials. It is good that sometime ago China expressed their support to Iran against a possible UN sanction on the nuclear issue.
Balagopal, North Carolina, USA

Muhammed Reza should revisit history books again. Hiroshima and Nagasaki were not a misuse of nuclear weapons, but were a result of a world war. Iran is not a moderate country and to pretend otherwise is insulting.
Nigel Hughes, Gloucester

We in the US would do well to remember our "Dirty Bombs" that we recently used Iraq, and clean up the 2000 tons of depleted uranium before we talk to anybody about any topic of radioactivity! If the world doesn't want some nations to have nuclear power, then the UN should own all nuclear facilities.
David Stephen Ball-Romney, Seattle, USA

What moral right do countries such as US, UK and others have to try to enforce a warmongering denial of this possibility to other states when they have them and are engaged in new nuclear weapons development. Israel has many and it is not held within the same standards as Iran. Equality cannot be nice only if it fits US, UK interests.
Carlos Ramos, San Juan p.r.

I believe that the UK, US and EU can tell how the power is planned to be used, if they believe that Iran are using it to make bombs then surely they should intervene. From the speech that Iranian PM made I think it's perfectly clear what they want to use it for, and they should be stopped now before its too late!
k. mulryan-jackson, Bedford, England

It is quite interesting to see impartial judgements made from people who are not directly influenced from the outcome of this ordeal; but imagine the 75 million people who are looking up to their only available politician-whether truly elected or not-to determine the direction of their future energy needs. Being the world's second largest oil producer today, means nothing in the next 25 years when this precious commodity runs out. I think it's time to grasp the opportunity to engage Iran in a constructive and realistic dialogue and allow them to proceed with the fuel development cycle with stringent control mechanisms while it still exists.
Ali Nouroozi, Toronto, Canada

Iran is a sovereign, democratic, stable, rich and developed state; therefore, it has every right to nuclear energy. The Iranian President rightly said, as Islam is the religion of peace, it does not allow Muslims to build anything that is harmful to the human race. Finally, as an Afghan national, I strongly oppose any sanctions against Iran because it will have dire consequences for Afghanistan.
Abdul Malik Niazi, London, UK

Regardless of the posturing and speech making by Iranian authorities, Iran's primary reason for developing nuclear technology is to obtain weapons that can be used as a deterrent against possible aggression by the US primarily and to give them leverage to cement their Fundamentalist agenda at home and expand their influence elsewhere - such as in Iraq. The second reason that Iran is pushing to obtain nuclear power and weapons is that Iranians are a very proud people. They produce some of the top world scientists and doctors. It is an affront to their dignity that Nations like Pakistan and India are permitted to have nuclear power and they are not.
John, Bloomfield, NJ, USA

The fact that we are even debating this question demonstrates the gulf between America and Europe. Iran openly and knowingly supports terrorist organizations that have perpetrated awful atrocities. Iran should never have a nuclear capability. If Europe wants to sit this one out, then move aside, and the U.S. will do the job. Then we'll see how tough this fanatical Ahmadinejad is.
John c, New York, USA

I believe the problem that Iran and the rest of the world is facing is that nuclear weapons are allowed in some countries, but banned in others. If a country feels unsafe, their government will take the necessary actions to protect itself. If sanctions are put on Iran, matters will not get any better. However the production could very well be for weapons. I really do not want to go for UN sanctions but I feel that this is the only option the council can take.
Krishan Parmar, London, England

America and Britain have provoked more wars than Iran and are trusted with nuclear power. The Iranian people gained the right to determine their own future in 1979 and America has no right to take it from them again.
Chris Potter, Melbourne, Australia

It is very dangerous for the Western world to allow any hardline Islamic state to have nuclear weapons, for the obvious reason that one day they could easily be aimed at Britain, America or any other country in the West. The argument that Israel has them so why can't Iran, is laughable, Israel is very pro Western and is a key ally not only to America but also to Britain and the rest of Europe, as a result it is actually in the West's best interests that Israel has nuclear capability which is why no western country has ever complained to the UN about it. The statement that Islam precluded Iran from having such weapons is very interesting as Iran has on several occasions over the last few years committed itself to destroying Israel by whatever means necessary. I would trust the current Iranian leadership, about as much as i would trust Myra Hindley with looking after my children !
Julian , London ,England

Nuclear power has two products: waste and bombs. It also a by-product of "electricity too cheap to meter", but nobody ever gets that. Every new nuclear reactor creates a legacy for future generations for thousands of years. That is why the technology should not proliferate. If all the energy spent arguing about it were used constructively, new safe technologies could be developed for the whole world.
Graham, Bath, UK

Development in scientific fields is a right of all countries. If any country should be denied nuclear power, it should be those that have been known to misuse their weapons to kill innocent people on a mass scale; Hiroshima and Nagasaki should ring a bell here. It should be known that those people in the world who still have even an iota of sense of what justice and humanity are support the Iranian stance and are against those who wish to bully other countries around the world through the threat of military force.
Muhammed Reza Tajri, London, UK

In the context of dwindling fossil fuel reserves Iran should be allowed nuclear power. What we don't want are more countries with nuclear weapons and those who now possess them should show a good example and get rid of them. There seems to be a lot of hypocrisy about this issue.
Roger Watson, Biarritz

Iran should not be allowed to take a seat within the body of civilised nations, never mind have nuclear power. Iran's brutal oppression of the Zoroastrian religion (over 30 percent of Iranians are not Muslim, despite the official statement that Iran is 100 percent Muslim) is on a par with Saddam's treatment of the Kurds - nothing short of genocide. When the Iranian regime speaks, it lies - why should we trust a word that comes from the Iranian president's mouth?
Ian, Airdrie, UK

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