The appropriate time for addressing the issue of nuclear energy through a national dialogue is right now.
Despite the fact that the use of nuclear energy is an issue of national concern, for decades now and even prior to the Islamic Revolution of 1979, till this day, it has been a subject solely in the domain of governments. As a result the dominant perception is that the issue of nuclear energy is solely a political one. This perception persists, despite the fact that decisions regarding nuclear energy have direct influence on the daily lives of all Iranian citizens. In recent years, international sanctions against Iran and the constant threat of war have made this reality more tangible than in the past. At the same time, the impact of use of nuclear energy is not limited to the political realm, rather there are economic, environmental and public health implications, which impact all.
The reality is that public knowledge about the negative impact of use of nuclear energy is limited at best, and the most basic of questions in this regard remain unanswered. These include questions such as:
• Why is nuclear energy important? Why should the use of nuclear energy turn into a public issue and have prominence in the media?
• To what degree does use of nuclear energy have an environmental justification in Iran?
• Does the right to have nuclear energy interfere with other rights, such as the right to a healthy environment, the right to live in an environment without military threat, the right to economic livelihood, the right to health, etc?
• Does nuclear energy also provide some benefits and is the capacity for use of nuclear energy an indicator for sustainable development?
• Is the capability of nuclear safety enough to address the safety hazards posed by nuclear energy plants?
• Do disasters such what happened in Chernobyl and Fukushima also threaten nuclear plants in a country like Iran which is prone to earthquakes? If so, why has the government of Iran not joined nuclear safety protocols?
Civil society and peace movements in various countries have tried through different means to counter nuclear industries, which are connected to political and economic centers. Those opposed to nuclear energy, have demonstrated that the health, social and environmental costs associated with the maintenance of nuclear plants are high.
In countries where there is freedom of speech civil society has been able to have impact in forming public opinion and influencing government policy For example, countries such as Germany and Japan have committed to the use of clean energy and to ending use of nuclear energy. Even in a country like the US, new nuclear plants are no longer established.
But in countries where the government has the only say, this energy is used and its use is justified as politically and economically beneficial and as a national priority. In countries such as Iran, North Korea and Israel, nuclear energy is a political and security issue and not an issue to be addressed by civil society or the media.
If nuclear energy is a national priority, then it concerns all of society. As such, discussing its benefits and drawbacks should become a matter of public dialogue within the press and media, so that experts, researchers, health professionals, and others can examine the various aspects of use of nuclear energy and share information on it broadly.
If we are discussing peaceful use of nuclear energy, then why is the nuclear issue in Iran a matter of national security? And do environmental scientists also believe that nuclear energy is peaceful?
Why is it that despite the fact that nuclear energy is tied to national interests and the political future of the country, citizens have not been given the chance to weigh in on whether nuclear energy is a priority or not? The answer to this question is clear. How can the public’s opinion be assessed on such a technical issue, when information on the topic is not available and accessible by the public. More than any other claim, having knowledge about “nuclear energy is our inalienable right”
There are many questions with respect to use of nuclear energy and its ramifications. The answers to these questions require scientific knowledge and information.
To this end, the Center for Supporters of Human Rights (CSHR) has initiated A Campaign for Dialogue about Nuclear Energy. This effort seeks to promote awareness and knowledge of all citizens about nuclear energy, including its benefits and its hazards. As part of this effort, the site of the CSHR will publish regular articles about this issue from different perspectives and recommends that all Iranians take the time to read these materials. Further the CSHR is calling on all experts, scientists and those who can inform the public and raise public awareness about the implications for use of nuclear energy in Iran, to join this Campaign.
The Campaign asks the media to cover issues related to use of nuclear energy, by conducting interviews and publishing reports on the subject in a manner that is accessible and easily understandable by all. In this way, the media will take a major step in breaking the monologue of government officials on this issue, allowing a technical discussion to form around use of nuclear energy as well. The right time to discuss the nuclear issue in Iran and start a national dialogue is right now. If you agree with the goals of this Campaign, please sign on.
You can be in touch with the Center for Supporters of Human Rights by going to our website www.cshr.org.uk and if you want to be more actively involved in this effort please let us know.
International organizations interested in supporting the call for a Dialogue on Nuclear Energy in Iran can write us to indicate their support and send us a copy of their logo.
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