Ali Asghar Kazemi
25 February 2008
The tale of nuclear venture in Iran has become more like a funny satirical story than a serious national strategy and foreign policy issue. Upon the publication of the long awaited IAEA report* on Iran’s controversial nuclear activities, the hard-line government ushered a widespread propaganda campaign claiming over again another national victory. How far this claim is appropriate; what is behind this public jubilation, where the whole venture is heading to?
With the most optimistic and liberal interpretation of the report of the Director General of the IAEA issued on February 22, 2008, it contains nothing to justify such a public euphoria. On the contrary, the concluding parts of the report explicitly refer to a number of new activities which might cause the crisis to escalate even more in the future where it says:
“Contrary to the decisions of the Security Council, Iran has not suspended its enrichment related activities, having continued the operation of PFEP and FEP. In addition, Iran started the development of new generation centrifuges. Iran has also continued construction of the IR-40 reactor and operation of the Heavy Water Production Plant. “
This means that Iran not only continues to defy the UN Security Council Resolutions but has also embarked to further aggravate the situation by launching new enrichment facilities during the cooling period of supposed confidence building. Similarly, the report does not hesitate to speak about existence of eventual undeclared nuclear material and activities in Iran, which means serious allegations and suspicions about the true nature of the program and the possibility of concealment and deception. Since, the Agency clearly states that “in the light of the many years of undeclared activities in Iran and the confidence deficit created as a result,” it has not been able to provide ”credible assurance” that Iran’s nuclear project is peaceful.
Further more, in the view of the IAEA; “the one major remaining issue relevant to the nature of Iran’s nuclear program is the alleged studies on the green salt project, high explosives testing and the missile re-entry vehicle. This is a matter of serious concern and critical to an assessment of a possible military dimension to Iran’s nuclear program.“
Obviously, these statements can not be taken as friendly compliments by the IAEA which could give reason for claim of “historic victory of Iran in its greatest confrontation with the oppressive powers since the Islamic revolution". Indeed, IAEA last statement in the report alone can provides enough grounds for the Security Council to take a stubborn position in the upcoming third resolution on sanctions against Iran.
Curiously, while the Islamic government constantly maintains its peaceful and non-aggressive intention of nuclear project, it does not hesitate to aggravate the situation by threatening the “long tail of the United States” (Israel) and to showing signs of strength through dubious activities such as long-range missile testing amid the confidence building period.
Assuming that hard-liners in Tehran are not foolish people and are quite aware about the power of world public opinion, mass media and harsh impact of UN sanctions to Iran’s overall national interests , what are really the in the back of minds in their nuclear jubilation and continuous defiance? Here are some loud thoughts about their possible objectives:
• To overshadow the negative impact of the serious failure in the fulfillment of their economic promises to people in the coming parliamentary elections;
• To pave the way to comply with the IAEA request “ to implement the Additional Protocol… as an important confidence building measure” with the hope that the nuclear file be returned from the Security Council to the IAEA;
• By the same token, to give eventual concession to the five plus one states in the Security Council in the midst of public jubilation, in order to avoid the worst to happen;
• To continue to claim victory and show that the nuclear project is the most important achievement of the hard-liners , while following the same course of action as the previous progressive government with much more costs;
• To disarm their political opponents in the upcoming parliamentary elections campaign with a long-run objective of succeeding in the future presidential elections.
Yet, even with the fulfillment of some of the above objectives in the short-run, Iran’s continuing disregard of UN resolutions will have serious consequences on the future trends of the case. Without trying to be pessimist on the point, it is almost certain that:
• Firstly, a third resolution in the UN Security Council against Iran will be adopted by consensus (meaning that it will be backed by stronger enforcement measures);
• Secondly, Iran will be further squeezed in order to go along with the Security Council demands in its enrichment process; and finally
• Thirdly, the hard-line government in Tehran will be forced to adopt a more rational and flexible attitude fearing a complete fiasco. This could lead to widespread public discontent and loss of confidence and credibility.
Whatever might be derived from the above propositions, the truth of the matter is that the incumbent government in Iran is in no way ready to accept the responsibility of its dire mistakes and failures in domestic and foreign affairs. This has already been proven in various occasions and many areas of policy- making. It does not seem that hard-liners will be in a position to candidly confess to their blunders and misjudgments.
No matter what might be deducted from the recent IAEA report, based on the current state of the affaire, it would be hard to conceive that the West and the United States in particular will give a chance to hardliners in Iran to go nuclear. Unless the feuding parties opt for wisdom and moderation, mutual persistence on inflexible position is susceptible to lead to an inevitable clash. In such circumstances, despite all impeding international constraints, the outcome would be disastrous. Quite naturally, the weaker party is much more vulnerable and can not count on the protection of international law, since the law is always on the stronger side.
Iranians are caught in a critical period of history when hope and peril are running side by side to determine their fate. They are the ones who solely should decide for themselves the rational course of their future. They should make a decision in the next elections between wisdom and moderation on the one hand or eccentric and reckless politics on the other. /
* All references and quotations in the text are to the Report by the Director General of the IAEA on: The Implementation of the NPT Safeguards Agreement and relevant provisions of Security Council resolutions 1737 (2006) and 1747 (2007) in the Islamic Republic of Iran. GOV/2008/4. Date: 22 February 2008. http://payvand.com/news/08/feb/IAEA_Iran_Report_22Feb2008.pdf