They just got a different tool to use than we do: They kill innocent lives to achieve objectives. That's what they do. And they're good. They get on the TV screens and they get people to ask questions about, well, you know, this, that or the other. I mean, they're able to kind of say to people: Don't come and bother us, because we will kill you. Bush - Joint News Conference with Blair - 28 July '06

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Iran: Country united by national pride

timesonline: Twenty-seven years after the Islamic Revolution, the regime has finally found an issue on which its citizens are united: Iran's right to a nuclear programme.

Reformists are in agreement with conservatives, Islamic fundamentalists with regime haters, and political dissidents with north Tehran's rich set that Iran has an "inalienable" right to nuclear energy. Most important for the Government is that Iranians are siding with it against the West.

The nuclear issue has become a matter of national pride, and the Government has cleverly tapped into the Iranian love of their vatan (motherland).

"This is just a case of Western hypocrisy. Why is it OK for Pakistan and India to have nuclear power and not Iran?" Leyla, an architecture student, said. "Iran's not doing anything wrong. We have a legal right to producing peaceful nuclear energy," she said, referring to the nuclear non-proliferation treaty, to which Iran is a signatory.

With demand for electricity growing at one of the world's fastest rates, and wanting to conserve its oil and gas for export, Iran says that it has a very real need for nuclear energy. But the West believes that the programme is a smokescreen for developing a bomb, an accusation that Tehran vehemently denies.

Many Iranians, however, say they want Iran to have nuclear weapons. Iran is home to the highest number of chemical weapons victims in the world, and the wounds of Iran's eight-year war with Iraq are raw. About 100,000 survivors are still suffering from the effects of Saddam Hussein's nerve and mustard gas attacks.

There is also the thorny subject of Israel, Iran's arch enemy, made sore by President Ahmadinejad's recent Holocaust denials and remarks that the Israeli state should be wiped off the map.

With soaring unemployment in Iran, a declining economy and growing social problems, the Palestinian cause is not at the top of the agenda for most Iranians. But some Iranians say that they would feel more secure if the country had a deterrent, in the light of what are perceived as increasingly menacing remarks from Israel. However, with international pressure on Iran mounting, including the threat of military action, some Iranians are less defiant.

Even reformist newspapers have been urging the Government to negotiate with the West. But members of Mr Ahmadinejad's Cabinet favour the British-bashing, conservative newspapers that are calling on the authorities to abandon diplomacy and pursue banned enrichment activities [db - see note below].

They say that the EU has been fooled by another USZionist conspiracy aimed at exterminating the Islamic Republic. To judge from the scores of pro-nuclear rallies in Tehran over the past two years, they have plenty of supporters.

Fatimah, a student and member of the Basij Islamic militia, said: "The West is scared of us because once we have nuclear technology there'll be a Muslim superpower in the world. And that's what we want." Link

note: Suspension of uranium enrichment and conversion activities under the Paris Agreement was agreed as a non-legally binding, voluntary, confidence-building measure to be maintained throughout the duration of negotiations. The Paris Agreement contains no enforcement mechanism, and only grants the IAEA legal authority to verify its implementation. Lawyers' Committee on Nuclear Policy, New York Link