Iran's nuclear ambition: Is there any room for hope?

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Iran's nuclear ambition: Is there any room for hope?

Postby payamk » Fri Mar 31, 2006 2:52 am

As Iran's negociations on its nuclear programme drag on with the international community Teheran insists that it has no ambitions to produce nuclear weapons despite indications to the contrary.

In August 2005, Dr Mohammad Javad Larijani, head of the institute of abstract physics research and brother of the Secretary of the Supreme National Security Council and chief nuclear negociator Ali Larijani, said "[the EU-3] have no right to talk to us about nuclear energy. The reason is that when we enter negociations with three international savages, no regulation can be enforced." To ensure that he was not misunderstood about Teheran's goals, Dr Larijani stated unequivocally that "it has become a necessity for us to have nuclear equipment, it is vital for us to know how to defend our country with nuclear technology. Even our religion has stated this right."

Adding metaphorical fuel to the fire, Dr Larijani praised the new hard-line leader, president Ahmadinejad, who recently called for Israel to be wiped off the map. "Ahmadinejad's election has given Iran a new chance," he said, "and the fact that some say our foreign policy will not change with the new administration is very wrong."

An optimist might interpret Dr Larijani's bluntness as a paranoid delusion about a western conspiracy to deny Iran the benefits of peaceful nuclear energy. A realist might wonder how a simple nuclear-powered steam generator is going to defend Iran.

Since the new president's election, an interesting re-shuffle of technocrats has taken place. Perhaps the most fascinating has been the appointment of Javad Va'idi as Deputy-Head of the Iranian Supreme National Security Council (SNSC) for International Affairs. Amongst his many roles is head of the Iranian delegation to the international atomic energy agency, which gives him responsibility for the "nuclear issue".

But Mr Va'idi began his rise to power as an officer in the Iranian Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS). It is beleived that in 1997 he was behind an attack on a bus transporting American academics and peace activists in Iran. By good fortune, and no thanks to Mr Va'idi, there were no fatalities. A zealous defender of the Islamic revolution, Va'idi also organised the assassination of an Iranian dissident in Tajikistan the same year. The victim was a follower of the Bahai sect, an offshoot of orthodox schism more hated by the religious establishment than Judaism. The assassination was one of eleven carried out on foreign soil in 1997 by MOIS or the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corp.

But no good deed goes unpunished. Mr Va'idi's enthusiasm may have been applauded by the then-Intelligence Minister Ali Fallahian, but the combination of the bombing on the bus load of well-meaning Americans and the "hit" in Tajikistan sat less easily with the newly-elected, more moderate President Khatemi, who ordered Va'idi sacked.

However, Va'idi's career prospects do not appear to have been overly damaged by the events of 1997. Instead, he became head of the foreign policy group of the Political Security Committee and one of the heads of the foreign policy department of the Expediency Council's strategic research centre before assuming his current appointment.

One might ask if he has mellowed under the weight of his considerable responsibilities. In a television interview aired on 12 November 2005 on Channel 2 of the Vision of the Islamic Republic of Iran network, he stated, "[Iran] has not abandoned ... the right to obtain nuclear technology, including the full nuclear fuel cycle ...; secondly, the continuation of the [enrichment] activity at the Esfahan UCF is irreversible, it is continuing ..."

Comparing Dr Larijani's bellicose statement that "it is vital to know how to defend our country with nuclear technology" with Mr Va'idi's determination to move forward with uranium enrichment, the aforementioned optimist might feel a little queasy, but hope there is no linkage. Given that enrichment serves but one logical goal, the realist with be reminded of a certain Mr Chamberlain and his trust in the promises of another tyrant.
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