Tehran should be allowed to enrich uranium – but with the toughest safeguards.
By Peter Jenkins, Daily Telegraph
The Iranian nuclear controversy is reaching a critical juncture. Yesterday, the EU agreed on an oil embargo as part of sanctions against the country. On Sunday, Britain, America and France sent warships through the Strait of Hormuz. Recent months have seen a big rise in the twin risks of military action and grave damage to the world economy. This is the consequence of what I believe to be a great diplomatic over-bid: the West’s demand that Iran surrender its capacity to enrich uranium.
Nine years have passed since I first talked to Iranian diplomats about their nuclear programme. Then, I was Britain’s representative at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) – and I disbelieved the reassuring words of my Iranian interlocutors about their commitment to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). At the time, I was all for denying Iran any capacity relevant to making nuclear weapons. Now, however, I see things differently.
The NPT prohibits the manufacture or acquisition of nuclear weapons. But it permits the uranium enrichment that has been at the heart of the West’s quarrel with Iran. I say “the West’s quarrel” because more has changed since 2003 than my beliefs. Then, almost all the states that make up the membership of the IAEA were angry that Iran had concealed its research into enriching uranium. They backed the West’s demand that Iran account for its secret work. And they supported the West’s view that Iran must suspend enrichment until that accounting was complete.
Now, the West is all but isolated in insisting that Iran must not enrich. Most non-Westerners would prefer to see Iran treated like other NPT parties: allowed to enrich uranium in return for intrusive monitoring by IAEA inspectors. My sympathies lie with the non-Westerners. My hunch is that this gathering crisis could be avoided by a deal along the following lines: Iran would accept top-notch IAEA safeguards in return for being allowed to continue enriching uranium. In addition, Iran would volunteer some confidence-building measures to show that it has no intention of making nuclear weapons.
This, essentially, is the deal that Iran offered the UK, France and Germany in 2005. With hindsight, that offer should have been snapped up. It wasn’t, because our objective was to put a stop to all enrichment in Iran. That has remained the West’s aim ever since, despite countless Iranian reminders that they are unwilling to be treated as a second-class party to the NPT – with fewer rights than other signatories – and despite all the evidence that the Iranian character is more inclined to defiance than buckling under pressure.
Israel’s Threat to Attack Iran: Is it real?
Center for Political & Development Studies
In the last two weeks, reports from Israel revealed threats to carry out a strike against Iran’s nuclear sites. Iran, in return, vowed to retaliate immediately in the event of any of its sites being attacked. The issue of how to handle the Israeli threat to attack Iran has become vitally more important. Some analysts believe that Israel’s history shows, in no case if it seeks to attack a country will it inform the mass media first, as happened weeks ago. The Iraqi and Syrian nuclear sites are clear examples of how Israel’s military creed works. Others see these threats as coming under the context of a war of attrition, with the entire region in flux and Arabs taking to the streets calling for toppling down a bunch of dictators who have controlled them for decades and were loyal to Israel more than their own people.
“The financial crisis in the US and EU would make it impossible to attack Iran currently”, says one researcher. “Conditions are similar to those before World War II. It would be a reason to attack Iran to get out of this crisis” opposes another.
Palestinians worldwide are waiting to see what’s ahead in the coming months. The Centre for Political and Development Studies (CPDS) on Tuesday, Nov. 22 invited Palestinian thinkers of different factions to discuss the issue. It’s weirdly surprising that all of our guest speakers agreed that what is being discussed globally in mass media is a part of Israel’s manoeuvre to bring Iran down diplomatically.
Our guest speakers were Yousef Rizga political advisor to Gaza PM Ismail Hanniya, Dr. Ibrahim Abrash former Minister of Culture and political analyst, and Adnan Abu Amer Israeli affairs expert.
Dr. Ibrahim Abrash opened the discussion stressing the political-strategic use of Iran’s nuclear file emphasizing how regimes, factions, groups and organizations around the globe make use of ideologies to reach their own political ends. “In the Arab world, religion and nationalism have been used to serve political ends of political and religious factions. The problem is not that Iran owns nuclear weapons because other countries do, it’s Iran’s declared hostile polices against Israel and the West. What’s being addressed are future concerns, because Iran hasn’t aquired nuclear power yet. This policy is called ‘the edge of collapse’ ”.
“Israel will not attack Iran before gaining the green light from America including a resolution from the international community that accuses Iran of owning nuclear power, thus assuring any Israeli intervention would be justified,” added Abrash.
“Iran has made use of ideology to serve its nuclear end. Even if it owns a nuclear weapon, it won’t use it against Israel. It threatens Israel because Iran’s eyes are open on the Arab Gulf and has political interests which will not be endangered under any circumstances” he asserts.
Meanwhile, Washington made uses of the Iranian nuclear question to serve its ends in the Gulf. After the US occupied Iraq, questions were raised on justifications of its military presence there including armed sales which are directed to its client states like Saudi Arabia.
“It has used the nuclear weapons issue to occupy Iraq and serve its own goals. So-called ‘moderate’ Arab states have used this issue to terrify their opposition parties. Iran’s case will not serve our issues in the short and long terms as well.” Abrash concludes.
Political advisor Yousef Rizqa addressed how Israel’s stance on Iran affected Palestine. The Palestinian question has been used by many powers in the world for political ends. We were used as a card to pressure regimes and topple down others. Anyway you look at it Israel’s stance on Iran affects our cause in one way or another.
“What amazed me is that the expected strike on Iran has been intentionally raised by the occupation’s leaders after it had not been covered by media for months. Considering its attack against Iraq’s and Syria’s nuclear sites, Israel will not attack Iran. Israel is attempting to blackmail the US as it heads to its presidential election season. It seeks to blackmail the EU on this same issue. It’s also worth mentioning that raising this issue now decrease the level of power Iran has in Syria and pushes it away”, claims Yousef Rizqa.
“Accusations of Iran plotting to assassinate Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to the US are being used to increase pressure on Iran”, he states. “Iran is interested in presenting itself as a brave heroic country. It sends positive messages to the West through Russian and Chinese secret channels, threatens to stop oil supplies in the Gulf and makes use of time. With the Arab Spring, new powers will emerge and others will be set back. “The most powerful three countries will be Turkey, Egypt and Saudi Arabia”, he concludes.
Israel and Iran: Strike or Deal?
Adnan Abu Amer, Israeli affairs expert reminds us history and politics have proved there’s no room for impossibilities therefore a strike against Iran’s nuclear sites is a possible option also. With all its expected consequences no one can claim with absolute certainty Israel will not target Iran.
“Is it not strange that Ehud Barak (a leftist) and Bibi (a right-wing extremist) are in complete harmony?” Adnan Abu Amer asks. “Is it not a strange that Avigdor Lieberman told the New York Times that 99% of what is being talked about is false, keeping in mind the well known dispute between the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Mossad?”.
Israel believes that it should remain the only state in the Middle East that owns nuclear weapons and any states attempt at breaking this rule should be stopped by any means. “As Israel’s alliance with the West fades away, owning nuclear weapons and preventing other countries from doing so would be Israel’s last escape. If Iran owned nuclear weapons, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and other countries will be motivated to do so as well”, adds Abu Amer.
The Arab Spring has brought unexpected changes to the region. Israel is looking for a new ally since the US is getting weaker. Many Israelis say that the only way to get out of this circle is launching a new war but Abu Amer said historically Iranian Shia elders come and solve everything (unlike Sunnah). “An Iranian elder will come at the end and solve all the problems”, asserts Abu Amer.
There are many reasons that have stopped Israel from attacking Iran for the time being. Israelis are thinking seriously of what’s next and are not fully united behind attacking Iran. America has not blessed the move yet.
“America has given Israel the yellow light on attacking Iran. Iran’s nuclear sites are scattered upon a big distance of lands. Israel will use soft war against Iran using electronic attacks and assassinations”, says Abu Amer.
Speculation that Israel is preparing to attack Iranian nuclear sites surged in the media shortly before the IAEA report was released, as the allegations it contained had been leaked in advance. Officially, Israel has neither confirmed nor denied such plans, but claimed military action against Iran is on the table and is more likely in the wake of the report.