Nuclear Iran

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.

Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD's Long War Journal.

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  • Bill Roggio says:

    There was a publishing problem with this post, if it seemed disjointed when you first read it, try again… my apologies for any confusion.

  • Mixed Humor says:

    Iran is the ultimate test of European diplomacy. From a group that largely criticized the use of military force to achieve disarmament of Iraq, there is somewhat of an obligation upon them to deliver a diplomatic alternative. Unfortunately I can’t see Iran bowing to Europe, who will reluctantly be forced to consider sending Iran before the security council. Based on the 12 years of defiance and non-cooperation that Hussein put forth in ignoring 17 UN resolutions, I wouldn’t be expecting any cooperation from Iran on that front. Short of some type of military strike, I’m not convinced that Iran can be detered from developing a weaponized nuclear program.

  • TM Lutas says:

    I think that we’re much more likely to see Iran subverted by Iraqi Shiites (who view the Iranian system as heretical) than a military strike.

  • steve says:

    Excellent post, Bill.
    It is why The Fourth Rail is on my bookmarks bar.
    I hate to say it – we’re staring down a thugocracy and an international scofflaw in Iran right now. The first would be “tolerable.” But the two in the same regime is not. It would be folly to trust its leadership with atomic technology.
    I see two avenues: 1. Ahmadinejad could pull off a “Gorbachev.” He may have the political skills to turn Iran around. He may be able to manipulate Iran’s ruling factions into accepting a new glasnost with the West. His “revolutionary” credentials may offer him the credibility to camouflage a steady de-radicalization of Iran’s foreign policy.
    2. Barring the first, all sides will ramp-up their rhetoric, leading to U.N.-sanctioned “containment” based on Tehran’s flouting of the NPT. The military option remains in its holster, but ready.
    The ball’s in Tehran’s court today.

  • Ainsley says:

    It’s really too bad that international politics muddied this up. Otherwise, the EU and the US could have coordinated a better good cop/bad cop routine. In the end, negotiations w/o military backup is ineffective (and vice versa is bad too, but on a different level).

  • Kira Zalan says:

    Iran has declared that it will resume nuclear conversion at Esfahan within one or two days. Europe has requested an emergency meeting of the IAEA to pressure Iran not to resume nuclear fuel cycle work. Israel is pressuring Ukraine to demand from Iran the 12 nuclear-capable X-55 cruise missiles that were smuggled there four years ago.
    All of this is happening as the talks with North Korea are drawing to a crucial, and so far unpredictable, end.
    So is World War III imminent? Hardly.
    Over reaction is exactly what these unlikely allies are fishing for. The coincidence of declared threats by both countries is a bit too convenient. By cranking the nuclear threat pressure simultaneously, both North Korea and Iran are hoping to walk away with the most handouts.


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