By failing to disarm and breaking the rules when it suits, nuclear states are driving proliferation as much as Ahmadinejad
- The Guardian, Tuesday July 29 2008
What is the Iranian government up to? For once the imperial coalition, overstretched in Iraq and unpopular at home, is proposing jaw, not war. The UN security council's offer was a good one: if Iran suspended its uranium enrichment programme, it would be entitled to legally guaranteed supplies of fuel for nuclear power, assistance in building a light water reactor, foreign aid, technology transfer and the beginning of the end of economic sanctions. The US seems prepared, for the first time since the revolution, to open a diplomatic office in Tehran. But in Geneva, 10 days ago, the Iranians filibustered until the negotiations ended. On Saturday President Ahmadinejad announced that Iran has now doubled the number of centrifuges it uses to enrich uranium. A fourth round of sanctions looks inevitable.
The unequivocal statements Barack Obama and Gordon Brown made in Israel last week about Iran's nuclear weapons programme cannot yet be justified. Nor can the unequivocal statements by some anti-war campaigners that Iran does not intend to build the bomb. Why would a country with such reserves of natural gas and so great a potential for solar power suffer sanctions and the threat of bombing to make fuel it could buy from other states, if it accepted the UN's terms?
Those who maintain that Iran's purposes are peaceful clutch at the National Intelligence Estimate published by the US government in November. While it judged that Iran had halted its nuclear weapons programme in 2003, it saw the country's civilian uranium programme as a means of developing "technical capabilities that could be applied to producing nuclear weapons, if a decision is made to do so". The latest report from the International Atomic Energy Agency notes that no fissile material has been diverted from Iran's stocks, but raises grave questions about some of the documents it has found, which suggest research into bomb-making (Iran says the papers are forgeries). Those of us who oppose an attack on Iran are under no obligation to accept Ahmadinejad's claims of peaceful intent.