Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Iran and the...

... jusqu'au boutistes I haven't blogged much about Iran, lately (see this , this  and this ).
 The latest developments have brought forth a deal of invective from Michael Ledeen, predictably, but also from the British journalist Melanie Phillips.  For example, following the Iraq war 'the hoped for domino-effect has not yet occurred to sweep away the mullocracy in Iran' (30 Nov), but there's much more (page down a bit).

Richard Perle, interviewed on BBC WS a couple of days ago, had a more approach : 'Are we fooling them, or are they fooling us ? I don't know.'

Leave aside the uncritical support for Israel (check out the articles too for this)  : some of my best friends are..., I mean, some of the writers and bloggers (like Norm) that I most like are fairly supportive of Israel (fairly : Seven Uses of Ambiguity). Melanie is at least honest enough to admit that the hard-liners on Iran have little to offer beyond rhetoric.
But what way might Bush actually find [to prevent Iran from acquiring atomic bombs]? Ledeen reiterates the need to help defeat the mullocracy in Tehran. But that might well take too long -- if it ever happens anyway. So if Bush isn't going to wait for Iran to present him with the bomb tied up in blue ribbon, what's he going to do? Does he actually have a strategy? Or is he, like Europe, just waiting for something to turn up? 
But, in this context, rhetoric is substance. Suppose that in 2 or 3 years time, as she would hope and agree is possible, Iraq is stable and US forces are no longer needed there, then the Iranians may fear the US would have the means to enforce its regime-change rhetoric.They would therefore now see a window of opportunity in which to obtain a nuclear weapon.

Quoting Henry Sokolski on 15 Nov :
If Iran were to seize the [light-water-reactor] fuel and divert it--as it probably could without IAEA inspectors' immediate knowledge--Iran could reduce five-fold the level of effort it would need to make bomb-grade material: With the centrifuges Iran admits having, it could make a bomb's worth of fuel in roughly nine weeks as opposed to a year. This suggests that the IAEA's current cycle of inspections at Bushehr--once every three months--is woefully inadequate.
In allowing Iran access to the nuclear fuel cycle for peaceful purposes clearly there are a number of technical issues that have to be resolved to the satisfaction of the US. But the main issues are political. On 30 Nov :
Hassan Rohani... not only boasted that Iran had won 'a great victory' over the US but also made clear that the agreement was worthless: 'According to Mr Rohani, Iran's offer to suspend uranium enrichment would only apply for the duration of talks with the EU."We are talking months, not years," the cleric and head of Iran's top security body said.'
Of course the agreement is provisional : Iran is talking only to the EU-3, at the moment. Ultimately, a settlement will require the involvement of the US, as well as Russia, in some form. Somehow the legacy of bitterness, from 1953 and 1979, has to be overcome.

Another issue is undoubtedly Israel and Palestine. Somebody on the radio said that this is one of the areas where Iran has a different 'vision', of a one-state solution, whereas the US backs the two-state solution, but President Khatami,  a voice of the increasingly weak liberals, has said that Iran does not wish to be 'more Palestinian than the Palestinians' and one of the things I gleaned from 'the fawning support of Arafat' and the 'eulogies to this monster from western journalists' was that Arafat, having started by advocating the unrealistic solution of one state, eventually accepted the need for a two-state solution.

Latest : Hamas has urged a boycott of the PA elections and Marwan Barghouti is standing after all.

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