About a week ago, the long-awaited discussion with the leaders of Iran began in Istanbul
, featuring five major world powers (plus one) – the United States, The United Kingdom, France, China, Russia – and of course Iran. The last of these talks came apart in 2011, after the parties failed to agree on any issues.
Iran has very sincerely – sweetly, even – denied their attempts to attain nuclear weapons. In December 2004, Iran’s former president, Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani made the following statement regarding Iran’s nuclear energy program:
“God willing, we expect to soon join the club of the countries that have a nuclear industry, with all its branches, except the military one, in which we are not interested. We want to get what we're entitled to. I say unequivocally that for no price will we be willing to relinquish our legal and international right. I also say unequivocally to those who make false claims: Iran is not pursuing nuclear weapons, but it will not give up its rights. Your provocation will not make us pursue nuclear weapons. We hope that you come to your senses soon and do not get the world involved in disputes and crises”
One could take this claim as legitimate, if only Iran hadn't rejected every single attempt by outside nations to assist in the construction of a clean and productive civil nuclear energy system. These offers were of course denied, presumably to reject the horror of American and Israeli energy imperialism (sarcasm is difficult to convey in text).
There is, of course, a very important need to differentiate between what Iran claims, and what they do. The Bush administration believed an estimate from the National Intelligence Estimate that Iran had ceased all work on developing a nuclear warhead in 2003. Obama’s administration on the other hand – in the light of leaked Iranian documents
– took this to be false. The conclusion from Washington was that Iran was continuing their production of a nuclear warhead, on a smaller scale.
Now, what is a smaller scale? A fair question: the documents showed the internal memoranda of the fascist Iranian theocracy in their attempts to hone in on answering the critical question of a ‘neutron initiator’. The critical element of this ‘trigger’ mechanism is the use of uranium deuteride, also known as UD3. Uranium deuteride has absolutely no other purpose – civil or military - than that of the production of a nuclear weapon, and is alleged to be the same neutron initiator that Pakistan and China have explored in their construction of nuclear weapons.
In February of this year, the LA Times published a story
that an intelligence estimate was released from sixteen US intelligence agencies that concluded that “Iran is pursuing research that could put it in a position to build a weapon, but that it has not sought to do so.’ One could be perplexed as how to take it. Does this mean we should ignore Iran? Well, not exactly. After all, meddling with UD3 isn’t exactly something that should be taken absent-mindedly. Nor is the possibility of Iran flouting every single dialogue they’ve had with the United Nations, United States, and the International Atomic Energy Agency.
Iran has always wanted a collection of nuclear weapons. In the early 1970s, controversial statesman Henry Kissinger told the Shah of Iran that he could purchase any weapon in the entire US arsenal. The response was for a Polaris submarine – which carried sixteen nuclear missiles – Kissinger of course added a clause in the deal: anything but nuclear weapons.
Iran has always sought to be a major player in the Middle East. After all, Israel, Pakistan and India all possess nuclear weapons, why shouldn’t Tehran? This isn’t to say that – for instance – Iran’s nuclear ambitions are purely defensive, or they should be given grounds to develop nuclear weaponry just because Zionists possess them. It’s often the cry of many a dissident of Israel that ‘if Israel can inflict human-rights abuses and possess nuclear weapons, why shouldn’t Iran?’ A great number of people in the Sunni Arab world are quite sick of these issues being brushed off to Israel, rather than any quarrel made.
Evidently, Obama has taken the Iranian threat quite seriously
. The Obama administration have been rapidly expanding US military capabilities in in Diego Garcia – an African island claimed by Britain – by shipping 387 ‘bunker busters’ used for blasting fortified underground structures and a submarine tender to service nuclear-powered guided-missile submarines with Tomahawk missiles.
"They are gearing up totally for the destruction of Iran," according to Dan Plesch, director of the Centre for International Studies and Diplomacy at the University of London. "US bombers and long range missiles are ready today to destroy 10,000 targets in Iran in a few hours," he said. "The firepower of US forces has quadrupled since 2003," accelerating under Obama.
Our confidence in military intervention has plummeted since 2001, with the numerous failures in Afghanistan and Iraq, thanks mainly to the incompetence of the Bush administration after the fall of the Taliban and Hussein’s Baath party respectively. The rest of the world can sense this, just last week: North Korea launched a missile
, despite heavy condemnation from the UN, South Korea, Britain and the US. Thankfully, the missile failed just a minute after take-off.
Thankfully, the threat of a World War III or mutually-assured destruction in the region is lessened by a series of ‘insurance’ policies. The first would relate to Israel’s own nuclear arsenal. The second (and a very important one, despite the fact it is seldom mentioned) would relate to the existence of Palestinians. There is absolutely no way to create a nuclear warhead that targets the Jewish population of Israel only, for example. The only possible solution to this problem would be the Supreme Leader of Iran – Ayatollah Khamenei – to issue a fatwah, permitting the cleansing of the Sunni Arab Muslims in the region in return for the annihilation of Israel and their immediate ascension to paradise. Unlikely, I’ll admit.
The third and most-obvious is of course the United States. Despite the huge number of war-crimes and human rights abuses that Israel have perpetrated against their Arab population, the US stands firmly behind them. If Tehran fired a nuclear warhead at Israel, Iran would be razed in a matter of hours.
However, it’s most likely that if Iran did unveil nuclear weaponry, their focus would not be on Israel (not immediately anyway). Instead, the surrounding nations such as Bahrain, Lebanon or the United Arab Emirates would be subject to the whims of theocratic messianic fundamentalists. Iran’s dictatorship – where the systematic rape of prisoners is common, the slaughter of protestors, practices the humiliation of its women, holds laughable and fraudulent pre-determined elections and oppresses its student and democratic movements – would have a free-reign over the smaller and weaker surrounding states, all while waving their newly un-veiled nuclear arsenal and daring Israel or the United States to intervene.
The Anti-War left (and indeed right), jeer the intervention in Iraq for finding no Weapons of Mass Destruction, but seem to forget that after the coalition forces had torn Hussein and his Baath party from the last desperate clutch of an imploding dictatorship – that we discovered Iraqi government officials had attempted to meet with their North Korean counterparts in Damascus, in an attempt to purchase nuclear weapons ‘off the shelf’. The idea of Hussein’s Iraq holding WMDs is frightful, and only the coalition threat scared the envoys of Kim-Jong Il back to Pyongyang.
With Iran we can either wait for an internal revolution: many journalists and reporters have stated that the citizens of Tehran are among the most pro-American people on Earth, wait for the current dictatorship to be succeeded by a younger, more hateful and apocalyptic one, or perhaps see the militant factions of Hezbollah emboldened by this apocalyptic weaponry (by the way, the Beirut chapter of Hezbollah feature a mushroom cloud as their symbol).
During the Cold War, the only thing that prevented an apocalypse was the cool heads of the Soviet and United States leaders, who kept their fingers off the trigger, so to speak, during moments of false alarm and tension. I think it’s fair to say that this same restraint would not be similar in the military offices of Tel Aviv and Tehran. There have been murmurs of Israel planning an attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities if these new negotiations fall through – similar to their attack and destruction of Iraq’s Osirak reactor in 1981
– something which Iran have most likely considered.
Waiting for an outcome to this possible disaster is like watching a train-wreck in slow motion, obviously nobody wants Iran to attain even one operational nuclear warhead, so what are we going to do about it? Or more importantly, how
are we going to go about it?