Iran's desire to become a nuclear power is moving forward. Negotiations between Iran and the EU-3 (Britain, France and Germany) have reached an impasse, and Iran demands the EU-3 settle the issue by today, or the UN seals on the Isfahan nuclear reactor will be broken and fuel processing and research will immediately resume. Iran's actions have contributed to the rise of oil prices, as investors fear "another risk to the stability in the region."
The timing of ultimatum is remarkable as the Washington Post reports the EU-3 is prepared to offer Iran a sweetheart deal, "a package that includes major security assurances, economic cooperation and a guaranteed fuel supply. In exchange, Tehran would permanently forgo production of fissile material that could be used for nuclear weapons." Yet we should not be surprised, as Iran has intended to keep its nuclear program all along.
Allowing Iran to maintain a civilian nuclear program, and providing nuclear fuel to sustain the effort, would be folly, as the program has been specifically designed to be converted to military applications.
Since the end of the Iran-Iraq War, Tehran redoubled its efforts to develop weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and ballistic missiles. In addition to Iran's legitimate efforts to develop its nuclear power-generation industry, it is believed to be operating a parallel clandestine nuclear weapons program. Iran appears to be following a policy of complying with the NPT and building its nuclear power program in such a way that if the appropriate political decision is made, know-how gained in the peaceful sphere (specialists and equipment) could be used to create nuclear weapons (dual-use technologies have been sold to Iran by at least nine western companies during the early 1990's) It is evident that Iran's efforts are focused both on uranium enrichment and a parallel plutonium effort. Iran claims it is trying to establish a complete nuclear fuel cycle to support a civilian energy program, but this same fuel cycle would be applicable to a nuclear weapons development program. Iran appears to have spread their nuclear activities around a number of sites to reduce the risk of detection or attack.
The EU-3's willingness to trust Iran to follow any agreements made is fraught with error. Iran pursued its nuclear program without disclosing its existence from 16 years prior to its discovery, in violation of international agreements. And Iran's ties to international terrorism and its abysmal human rights record cannot be ignored.
Iran is the "the most active state sponsor of terrorism" . Iran is currently sheltering al Qaeda leader, including Saif al Adel, al Qaeda's military commander, and Said bin Laden, son of Osama, and has served as a staging point for Zarqawi's organization. Hezbollah, which prior to 9-11 was responsible for the most deaths of Americans in terrorist acts, is Iran's proxy. The US State Department has reported that Iran is providing direct training to Hezbollah terrorists in Lebanon, despite the fact Israel does not maintain a presence in country. Hezbollah explains why:
In late June, Hezbollah announced that the election of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as President of Iran would "revive and rejuvenate" the goals of the Islamic Revolution.
"With the victory of Ahmadinejad in Iran's presidential race, this country returned to the foundations and revolutionary objectives which Ayatollah [Ruhollah] Khomeini founded" , a member of Hezbollah's political bureau, the group's decision-making body, said.
Sheikh Mohammad al-Kotharani said, "Ahmadinejad's top priority will be to protect the resistance [in Lebanon], support the Palestinians in their struggle against Israeli occupying troops, and support Syria" .
Iran's repression of dissent and human rights abuses continues as well. The two most recent cases of note are the jailing of dissident journalist Akbar Ganji, and the arrest of Abdolfattah Soltani, the lawyer representing the family of Zahra Kazemi, a Canadian journalist beaten to death while in Iranian custody.
This is the regime that Europe believes it can reason with, that can be trusted to honor its agreements. Those who recognize the nature of the Islamic Republic should have no such illusions.