With revelations today that Iran intends to increase its uranium enrichment programme at a far greater rate than ever before; one has to wonder how much longer we can rely on empty and ineffectual rhetoric from the UN.
Last week in the southern Iranian city of Isfahan, leader Mahmoud Ahmadinejad proclaimed with a rallying call that Iran “will produce 20% enriched uranium” and “anything it needs” for its nuclear programme. If uranium is enriched to levels of around 90% it results in material suitable for powering a nuclear reactor and creating a nuclear warhead, which it is clear that Iran is secretly trying to do. They already have the launch systems; the Ghadr-110 with a range of 3000km and the Shahab-3 with a 2000km range would place cities such as Mumbai, Dubai, Cairo and Jerusalem in range.
Ahmadinejad is clearly as frustrated as many in the west over the complicated a weak UN backed deal to outsource its Uranium production to countries with existing and more open nuclear programmes. Mr Ahmadinejad decreed that the UN nuclear watchdog resolution was “illegal” He dictates that although the Iran’s intentions are ‘peaceful’, that there is not a “damn thing” that the western democracies can do to stop him.
Yes there are sanctions; these can be seen as modern day equivalents of 1930’s style appeasement. They seem useable only when a regime is distasteful and cruel, yet far too scary to do anything real to. Iranian imports to the UK fall below £80m and exports are some of the lowest in the region, having nosedived after the 1979 revolt. There is very little affect this will have on the Iranian economy and indeed if anything, will do damage to our own.
So what now? With experience gained from military operations and deployment in neighbouring Iraq and Afghanistan, one gets the impression that any military engagement with Iran would be near suicidal even for the advanced western governments and allies. Every day British, American and other allied troops encounter Iranian developed, manufactured, and provided weaponry and explosives in the shape of the IEDs.
The lack of honour of the Iranian regimes military and heavy mobs was clearly visible in the so called election and resulting fallout earlier this year leaving scores dead and countless more ravaged by the barbaric and inhuman method employed in crowd dispersal and protester control.
This is not a regime which can be easily attacked or stopped. The extremities of the Iranian foreign ministries can be seen in their pet projects, Hezbollah and the Iraqi insurgency are terrifying to the eyes of those who live in civilised and free nations.
Furthermore, at this time there is the smallest flicker of hope. The smallest flame for democracy and reform in Iran, deep in the student uprisings; there is a small group who are not marching merely against Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, but instead marching for freedom and democracy. They wish for a destruction of the entire regime and the removal of the system which Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini put in place some 30 years ago. They are strong in numbers and seem to exemplify the kind of spirit that can change governments. It is unfortunate however that those who figurehead the movement seem to be in favour of only gradual reform and indeed seem likely to lead and Iran not that dissimilar from the one we see before us today.
With these factors in mind, it is even harder to come to a decision or “action”. The optimal choice event seems to be, to do nothing and hope that there is another revolution before they can construct a workable nuclear warhead. But such hope would mean gambling everything. This is not the cold war, there is no mutually assured destruction in place and after the Obama administration withdrew funding for the strategic defence initiative (SDI) there is not even a way to stop Iranian ballistic missiles entering western airspace. If nothing has been achieved in the next 18 months then we may be looking at the greatest threat to global peace in 70 years time when Hitler invaded Poland. “The only difference being that the Nazis embarked upon a global conflict and then started developing nuclear weapons. The current Iranian regime seems to be developing the nuclear weapons first”.
Oh and happy holidays,
BUCF Events officer