Monday 30 November 2009

Iran's Moment of Truth

A number of events have taken place in recent months that should have the world's headlights flashing red. Although these events have been reported in the international press, it does not appear as if anybody has really connected all the events together to draw a clear picture of what is happening with Iran's nuclear activities. Perhaps the world has already grown tired of too much information regarding Iran? Perhaps the world does not feel sufficiently threatened by the nuclear ambitions of a country that is ruled by an extremist, anti-Semitic tyrant? Whatever it is, the time has come for the world to take some serious action against Iran.

Until now, Iran has hidden its nuclear activities behind the veil that they are for exclusively civilian purposes. Even though Israel has always maintained that this is a blatant lie and that Iran is building a nuclear weapon, the doubt that has existed has been sufficient to lull the world into inaction. I classify the ineffective statements, resolutions and inspections into the category of "inaction". They are empty threats that have no impact upon the rate that Iran is ploughing forward to build a nuclear bomb. The events of the past few months and, in particular the past few weeks, have clearly removed this element of doubt. This leaves no excuses for the world not to respond. And yet, we are met with a deafening silence at a moment when decisive action is required.

The first of these events was the revelation in September that a second uranium enrichment plant is under construction at Qom in central Iran. This was met with some surprise by certain elements given the fact that Iran had succeeded in hoodwinking the international community and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) into believing that it was cooperating with all its demands. This revelation was a clear indication of Iran's intention not to cooperate with these demands.

The next event in the series was Iran's rejection of an attempt at a compromise offer. The international community offered Iran the possibility to ship its low-enriched uranium to Russia or France for further enrichment and processing into fuel for power plants. This would allow Iran to pursue its nuclear electricity program, but prevent it from being able to generate nuclear weapons. Iran's rejection of this compromise is surely the clearest indication to date of the fact that its true intention is to build nuclear weapons.

This was closely followed by the announcement made last week by the IAEA retiring chief, Mohammed El-Baradei. He announced to the IAEA board of governors that, "there has been no movement on remaining issues of concern which need to be clarified for the agency to verify the exclusively peaceful nature of Iran's nuclear program." He continued, "we have effectively reached a dead end, unless Iran engages fully with us.". These are indeed stark words coming from an organisation whose chief is much more accustomed to "diplomatic speak" rather than saying things as they are. El-Baradei's protestations could not be clearer.

The final action so far in this series of events is Iran's announcement this week of an approval that has been given to build 10 new nuclear enrichment plants. The Iranian government is quoted as saying that this approval comes as a reaction to the condemnation issued by the IAEA last week regarding its nuclear program. It should be clear to all concerned that it would be impossible to turn around an approval of this magnitude in less than a week, and that it must have been under preparation for some considerable time. It may be true that the timing of the announcement was specifically to counter last week's condemnation. It should be clear, however, that the announcement would have come, with or without the IAEA condemnation.

Each Iranian action seems to be bolder than the previous one. Whereas Iran was previously making an attempt to hide its nuclear ambitions behind a cloak of secrecy and create confusion about its intentions, now it seems quite happy to be open about what it is up to. Even though it has not come out and said that it is building a nuclear bomb, it is clear from current events that this is indeed the case.

So now that the truth about Iran is out there for all to see, the moment of truth has also come for the international community. The IAEA conclusions and condemnations have opened the door for much wider diplomatic and military action to be pursued. There can be no doubt that the only acceptable outcome to this sorry state of affairs is the complete destruction of Iran's nuclear capabilities. Currently, it seems like it is only Israel that is prepared to shoulder the burden of taking action against Iran. This is, however, not only Israel's problem. This is a world problem. But where are the offers to help going go come from? This is not at all clear right now, but time is running out. The clock is ticking.

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