2 Irans: An Update on the Iranian Nuclear Controversy
In the past few weeks we’ve seen two distinct visions of the Iranian regime: one nation shrouded in secrecy, on the brink of nuclear power, blaming other countries for assassinating its nuclear scientists, and another in direct contrast that appears to value diplomacy as it engages in nuclear talks with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
Herman Nackaerts, IAEA’s deputy director general, told reporters at the culmination of talks on Monday: “We are committed to resolve all the outstanding issues and the Iranians said they are committed to…But of course there is still a lot of work to be done and so we have planned another trip in the very near future.” Experts have agreed that the fact that another trip is planned is encouraging and it suggests that President Ahmandinejad and Saeed Jalili (Iran’s nuclear negotiator) are willing to discuss substantive issues regarding nuclear weapons manufacturing and the security of nuclear materials.
However, at the same time that the IAEA has been remarking encouragingly about Iran’s actions regarding its nuclear ambitions, Israeli leaders have kept their messaging about the Islamic Republic consistent. On Tuesday, President Shimon Peres called Iranian leaders “evil,” insisting that they not be allowed to obtain nuclear weapons. He referred to Iran’s nuclear ambitions
as the world’s single most important issue.
Additionally, in this Sunday’s New York Times Magazine article titled “Will Israel Attack Iran?” Israeli officials outlined the three components that would need to be present to validate a pre-emptive attack on the Iranian nuclear program: if Israel had the ability to cause severe damage to Iran’s nuclear process, thereby bringing about a major delay to the realization of a nuclear weapon; if Israel had either overt or tacit support from America and other allies; and if all other possibilities have been exhausted, leaving this as the last opportunity to attack. Ehud Barak, Israeli Defense Minister and the senior Israeli representative in the dialogue with the US on Iranian nuclear programs, has marked his place as a moderate voice in this debate: “I accept that Iran has other reasons for developing nuclear bombs, apart from its desire to destroy Israel, but we cannot ignore the risk…An Iranian bomb would ensure the survival of the current regime, which otherwise would not make it to its 40th anniversary in light of the admiration that the young generation in Iran has displayed for the West. With a bomb, it would be very hard to budge the [Iranian] administration.”
While we at the RAC are encouraged by the IAEA nuclear talks, President Ahmadinejad has often used diplomatic overtures as a “stalling tactic” while continuing to work on his nuclear program. Check back as the IAEA talks progress and Israel continues to consider a military option in the face of a nuclear Ian.
Photo courtesy of AFP