Thursday, April 13, 2006

Iran's Nuclear Euphoria...

Iran’s Nuclear Euphoria
Heading for a Clash with the West!

Ali-Asghar Kazemi
12 April 2006


Iranians have many landmarks in their long history. In fact, Iran’s history is full of milestones, heroes and idols that helped to save this nation through the vicissitude of times. Persians owe their survival in history to this marvelous gift. Many occurrences such as “oil nationalization,” Islamic revolution, termination of Iran-Iraq war, are among the more recent events which are considered as turning points in contemporary Iran.

The most recent disputable landmark is the so-called full access to nuclear fuel enrichment which was declared on April 11, 2006. This happened at a critical time amid the nuclear crisis, while the world is counting down the time limit set by the U.N. Security Council to the Islamic government to halt all its nuclear activities. On that day, the controversial hard-line president solemnly announced Iran’s enrichment capability on industrial scale and declared the date as a “national day of pride and prestige.”

Average public however, anxious about the plausible impacts of the event on their daily life, showed little enthusiasm about the news. More educated and experienced citizens shook their heads and quietly expressed concerns about the grave consequences of the venture. Opposition groups, surprised by the heavy load of media coverage and propaganda, voiced their discontent and warned about the detrimental effect of the gamble on Iran’s national interests.

Whether the event could be considered as a landmark and be filed as a breakthrough in scientific capability of the country, is subject to doubt. It is believed that the declaration was a deliberate maneuver for the purpose of achieving a number of objectives at this point of time: a) domestic consumption for those who are becoming increasingly frustrated about the president’s fulfillment of his promises to cope with poverty, corruption, inflations and other social evils; b) to encourage the IAEA Director General (expected to visit Iran on April 12) to write down his report on Iran’s case to the Security Council in a manner to avoid eventual sanctions under Chapter VII (Article 41) of the U.N. Charter; c) to send a somber message to the U.N. Security Council and its permanent members that henceforth they are facing a fait accompli and should be careful in dealing with nuclear Iran.

Not surprisingly, upon the announcement of this declaration, all permanent members of the Security Council condemned the action and warned Iran about the negative consequences of the deed. Hours after the declaration, oil price in international market and the price of gold and dollar in domestic transactions jumped to a new record high.

Political observers believe that in reality the end of reformist control in the Iranian government should be considered as an important landmark as far as Iran’s political fate and position in the international scene are concerned. Indeed, during the progressive rule in the executive and legislative branches of the government, Iran was able to prevail over many threats and calamities that could endanger the very existence of the Islamic regime. The West and the world in general hoped that the trend would ultimately lead to flourishing civil society and democratic institutions that would leave behind obsessive and fundamentalist ideas. But, the emergence of the new hard-line president was a serious blow to the progressive ideals that turned naives’ sweet dreams to nightmare.

In the US camp too, the neo-conservative hawks seem to be determined to contain Iran’s nuclear ambitions, which they believed to be a serious threat to world order. In fact, the recent provocative declaration on the full enrichment cycle is susceptible to unleash a clash between the two conservative camps. Furthermore, Iran’s defiance of the Security Council Statement and the claimed breach of Paris Accord with EU3 as well as the Additional Protocol to the NPT, could pave the way for Americans to convince Russia and China that a political settlement is not possible and they should reach a consensus on a severe resolution under Chapter VII of the Charter. Perhaps now the United States has more persuasive evidence and justification to push members of the Security Council to undertake serious actions against Iran. Americans have warned that if they fail to get a strong resolution they might endeavor to form a separate coalition to face Iran’s threats. Thus, it seems that if the two conservative opponents are not contained through some kind of mediation or direct negotiation, the situation could escalate and lead to disaster.

On practical grounds however, Iranian leaders do not seem to worry much about an eventual embargo or economic sanctions, though this surely will cause lots of trouble and inconvenience to the overall nation. But, those who eventually wish that the people would revolt against the Islamic regime in case of an economic blockade should remember that ever since the revolution, this country has been subject to all kinds of sanctions both during Iraq-Iran war and after, and no such thing has ever happened. On the contrary, Iranians have shown that they have a tendency to consolidate during the hard times.
With respect to an eventual preemptive strikes either on Iran’s nuclear facilities or oil installations on land or offshore, directly by the United States or through Israel, there is little chances that these operations could produce the expected outcome. This may only generate contradictory results: either awakens Iranian nationalism by consolidating people against foreign invasion, or gives an upper hand to the Islamic regime to further expand its domestic grip.
The Islamic government has claimed in several occasions that if it perceives a real threat in the Persian Gulf or elsewhere on its land territory, it has the capacity to make the whole region insecure for all. Recent naval exercise in the Persian Gulf, the Strait of Hormoz and Sea of Oman, where a number of new weapons were tested, was undoubtedly organize to send the signal that Iran can engage in a series of unconventional operations that could deter and intimidate any potential opponents. In fact, Iran has already shown on other occasions, (in Afghanistan, Iraq, Lebanon and Palestine) that it is capable to frustrate U.S. strategy or actions throughout the region.
Whether Iran’s nuclear euphoria has any rational justification other than stirring up irritation around the world and whether recent bold and provocative actions could deter the West or it may end up to disaster, we have no other choice than to wait and see how competent politicians will wisely manage the impending crisis./

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