4: Motives – what does Iran want
How much do we really know? Are there still activities that are kept hidden? What are the motives? The Iranians themselves claim that they only have peaceful goals with the program and that everything is on the table. Others have difficulty trusting it. Israel is convinced that there are still secret facilities in the country. The United States mostly says the same thing: The Iranians only announce as much as they need to not be caught cheating again.
Another interpretation is that everything that has to do with fissile material has been reported to the IAEA, but that what may have been done with non-nuclear parts of nuclear weapons – weapon design, trigger mechanisms, adaptation of explosive charges to delivery means – is still maintained secret. The IAEA has no right to look for such projects in any case, and to speak openly if they would be shooting themselves in the foot.
Today, the IAEA is no longer able to do more with the outstanding issues. After a quarter as the pressure on Iran increases, the government reacts by reducing the agency’s working conditions. After stopping the voluntary inspections and going back to the Additional Protocol – Iran never ratified it, but still let the IAEA practice it between late autumn 2004 and spring 2006 – the country has now also withdrawn from a point in the standard agreement: Iranians will no longer provide IAEA design information about new facilities that are under planning, but limit themselves to informing the agency 180 days before such facilities are put into operation. They withdraw from the contractual obligations after a quarter as the pressure on the country increases, with the withdrawal of the non-proliferation agreement (NPT) as the final destination. After a quarter as the insight is limited, the uncertainty about what can happen increases.
There is broad consensus in Iran on the nuclear program as a high-tech prestige program. Admittedly, there are different views on the foreign policy handling of it – Ahmadinejad is criticized for choosing the path of greatest resistance with his provocative statements – but also the critics will continue the program .
Although Iran has many centers of power, the program and foreign policy are based on consensus in the upper echelons of power. Among them are senior leader Ali Kamenei and leader of the National Security Council, Ali Larijani. President Ahmadinejad has become less important after a quarter. He has little chance of being elected, but not because of his attitude to the nuclear program: it is the poor economic situation and various other domestic political issues and foreign policy proposals that weaken his position.
The consensus requirement supports the impression that Iran will not abandon the chosen course. The Western countries are also adamant: Iran must stop all enrichment. Russia and China, which have political and economic interests in Iran, are trying to quell the conflict, but have not yet vetoed UN Security sanctions.
Iran has had many foreign policy successes recently. The hereditary enemy Saddam Hussein in neighboring Iraq has been removed, and the Iranian influence both there and elsewhere in the region has been greatly strengthened. The Sunni Muslim (Iran is Shia Muslim) Taliban regime in Afghanistan has also been removed, and the war in Lebanon in the summer of 2006 can be interpreted as saying for the Iranian-backed Hezbollah militia, even though it suffered heavy losses.
The US problem in Iraq provides greater room for maneuver for Iran, which enjoys strong support for its anti-imperialist policies on the ground in the region. Iran is increasingly emerging as a leading power in the Middle East. The nuclear program, which shows the technological level of Persian civilization, gives increased status and political weight. The Sunni Muslim rulers in other countries in the region are being challenged. And both Egypt and Saudi Arabia fear for their traditional political leadership in the Middle East. All this gives the Iranian leaders self-confidence.
Is nuclear weapons the real motivation behind the nuclear program? For the time being, it is not necessary for Iran to make any such decision no. For the program is such a form that the more it is developed, the more ancient uranium gets Iran and the shorter the road to weapons in any case. However, Iran has a strong security policy motive. The country is surrounded by nuclear-weapon states on all sides: Russia in the north, Pakistan in the east, within reach of Israel in the west, and the United States everywhere.
The regime is being threatened with the lives of Americans, and in the long run many believe that only nuclear weapons can hold back enemies. This was the lesson after the first Gulf War in 1991 – no one should risk war with the United States without having their own nuclear weapons. For no one is close to matching the United States’ conventional force – and developments in Northeast Asia can be taken as a test. The North Koreans have acquired such weapons, and the United States has not attacked them; they negotiate in the city.
5: The outlook
According to ezinesports, Israel says there must be a solution while George Bush is president. Either it can be a peaceful outcome where Iran bends, or the United States changes its position and leases bilateral negotiations. But none of the parts seem to happen. Or the outcome could be the bombing of nuclear facilities, the Revolutionary Guards or else Iran could benefit from a counterattack. For Israel, Iran is the biggest threat. If the conflict drags on, the Iranians persist as they vote, and the United States does not intervene by force, Israel may do so. Then the bombing will probably only include the nuclear installations. The capacity barely reached more.
In the United States, the people are war-weary. Opinion polls clearly ask for it. However, this does not necessarily mean that Congress will oppose the use of weapons, because the resentment against the clerical regime in Tehran runs deep in both parties. The Democrats had the president when the hostage drama started in 1979. Furthermore, it has been our American policy for more than 50 years to have physical control in the Gulf, to secure the oil supply: What can threaten this control is primarily Iran equipped with nuclear weapons. Then the objections from the professional military may be heavier. They have come out openly on several occasions, and many of the leaks from the military planning may stem from professional militaries who want to prevent war.
Can the Iranians be persuaded to stop the enrichment program through financial incentives and declarations from the United States and others that guarantee their security? Solana and Larijani are still talking. Can North Korea become nuclear-free by such means? Ultimately, it is questionable. As long as the existing nuclear powers emphasize the importance of nuclear weapons, it is difficult to convince everyone else that they are useless to them. The non-proliferation agreement links requirements for the non-nuclear powers on non-proliferation with requirements for the nuclear powers on disarmament. That logic is not to be missed.