Posts Tagged ‘Nuclear Program’
Many Iranians will now start to see their nation’s nuclear programme as a tool of the regime’s leadership, not of the people.
The interview below discuses what Iran would want from negotiations with the US, and why Khamenei was not so welcoming to Obama’s Persian new year message.
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By Meir Javedanfar
When Iran completed a successful test run of its nuclear power station in the city of Bushehr on February 25, it raised the level of concern in some Western countries, particularly in Israel. Outgoing Prime Minister Ehud Olmert even went as far as issuing a threat, which many believe was directed at Iran: “We are a strong country, a very strong country, and we have at our disposal [military] capacities, the intensity of which are difficult to imagine,” Olmert told public radio.
Technically, Bushehr is not a real danger to Israel. In fact, it is no danger at all. Bushehr is a nuclear power plant just like any other. None of the nuclear fuel it will use will come from Iran. It will all be supplied by Russia. Furthermore, all the spent fuel, some of which can be used for weapons purposes, will be taken away by Russia. The Russian government and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) will count every drop of nuclear fuel entering and leaving Iran. Therefore Iran cannot use any of the equipment at Bushehr for its military nuclear program.
By raising such a hue and cry over Bushehr, the Israeli government is distracting the world’s attention from the real danger: the Iranian uranium enrichment plant at Natanz. That is where the danger lies and that is where the U.S. and Israel need to focus their attention. By crying “foul” every time Iran embarks on any nuclear activity, no matter how harmless (such as the case in Bushehr), both Israel and the U.S. could damage their credibility. They could also wear out the patience of the international community. After America’s inability to find WMDs in Iraq, Israel will have to be very careful how it portrays the Iranian threat. Overdoing it could damage its legitimate claims, and could turn it in to the boy who cried wolf too many times.
If Israel wants to legitimately direct its anger, it should be towards Moscow. It is the Russian government that has been hampering international efforts to impose tough sanctions against the Iranian government and its illegal enrichment activities in Natanz. For years, Moscow used its contract with the Iranians for Bushehr as leverage, in order to pressure Iran to not antagonize the West. Moscow used every excuse, and in some cases outright lies, to drag its feet over the completion of Bushehr. The Russians even went as far as citing lack of funds from Iran as an excuse. In reality, everyone knows that the Iranians had paid. However, Tehran couldn’t do much. It was dependent on Russia for this power plant, and all it could do was sit and watch the scheduled date for the completion of the plant slip by 10 years.
However, now that Russia has agreed to complete the contract, Moscow and the West have lost an important leveraging mechanism over Tehran. It will now be even more difficult to pressure Iran to halt its enrichment activities at Natanz. The only danger Bushehr poses is a political one. And this will boost Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s position greatly. As presidential elections near, he could say that under his presidency, Natanz expanded and the West could not do much about it. This will come at a great time for the Iranian president. With the economy’s performance worsening every year, advances in the nuclear program will be a useful distraction.
One important question to ask is: why did Russia go ahead and complete Bushehr? Why now? These days, the Russian economy is suffering greatly, due to the falling price of oil. Furthermore, its once powerful weapons industry is facing ruin. According to a recent Reuters report, “One third of Russia’s weapons makers are on the verge of bankruptcy.” Iran is a very important market, and the Russians know that Iran could soon be negotiating with the U.S. Should Iran and the West mend fences and improve their relations, the Iranians could take revenge over Russia’s feet dragging in Bushehr by signing massive economic deals with the West. This could be a major blow to Russia’s economy and is probably why Russia decided to improve its relations with Tehran now rather than after the negotiations between Iran and the U.S., as it could be too late by then.
In the bid to garner international support for dealing with Iran’s nuclear program, the loss of Russian support could have a negative impact. However, this is the new reality that President Obama has to deal with. This is not the first warning shot by Moscow. The recent closure of the U.S. base in Kyrgyzstan was seen as a Moscow-backed effort against Washington which will impact U.S. efforts in Afghanistan. It won’t be the last either. More than ever, the EU and the U.S. will have to apply their credibility and economic power to withstand the competition from Moscow.
This article originally appeared in PJM Media.
By: Meir Javedanfar
As the world watches the flare-up in fighting between Israel and Hamas, it is important to analyze the wider goals of the IDF’s operation in Gaza.
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President Bush only has a few months before he leaves office. Some see him as the only man who would take military action against Iran.
Daniel Halper of Commentary Magazine and Meir Javedanfar debate whether a military operation should be launched before Bush leaves office, or should Washington give negotiations and sanctions more time.
To read click here
By: Meir Javedanfar
When it comes to education and familiarity with Western philosophy, there are few right-wing politicians in Iran who can match Ali Ardeshir Larijani.
Holding a Ph.D. in Western philosophy from Tehran University, amongst other things he has written four books on Immanuel Kant and is one of the leading intellectuals in the field.
These days he is serving as the speaker of the Iranian parliament (Majlis). The members of parliament whom he oversees are in charge of reviewing and passing Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s policies. With eight months to go before the presidential elections, the Iranian president desperately needs his economic plans to be passed by the Majlis. Otherwise, he may fall from favor with the supreme leader.
To Ahmadinejad’s dismay, Larijani has openly declared that no economic plans or projects will be passed by the Majlis if they contribute to the country’s inflationary problems. The problem for Ahmadinejad is that the majority of his economic plans, which consist of injecting cash into the economy, add to the inflationary problems. In fact, populist spending policies without any consideration for inflationary impact are the linchpin of “Ahmadinejad-onomics.”
In the previous Majlis, Ahmadinejad got away with this policy because Hadad Adel, the previous speaker, was relatively close to him. On one scandalous occasion, Hadad Adel even allowed Ahmadinejad to break the law by allowing him extra time past his deadline to present justification for his economic plans. The extra time was given for no reason and without any promises from the president as to when he would present the mandatory report on his economic plans. This is one of the reasons why Hadad Adel lost his position. Majlis members were tired of his unwarranted leniency towards Ahmadinejad.
But with Larijani it is different. First and foremost, he does not have Hadad Adel’s connections. The previous Majlis speaker’s daughter is married to Khamenei’s son. Larijani, although well connected, does not have such a close family connection to the most powerful man in Iran.
Also, Larijani is less confident when it comes to domestic politics. He does not have a lot of experience in this sphere, which is crucial for aspiring presidents. This is why it is very important to him that the Majlis under his term does not add to the country’s economic problems. This is one reason why he has decided to stand up to Ahmadinejad’s damaging economic policies.
The other reason why Larijani has decided to take a stance against Ahmadinejad — and probably a bigger one — is revenge. Larijani has been waiting a long time to settle scores after the president, with his belligerent behavior, forced him to resign as Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator in October 2007. This came at a cost to Larijani: before this event, he was Iran’s top diplomat. In fact, he carried more weight and credibility than Iran’s foreign minister, Manuchehr Mottaki. In important foreign circles such as the European Union, there was more appreciation for Larijani than Ahmadinejad, who was seen as a loose cannon.
Despite the fact that Larijani has decided not to participate in the elections, he will still be a formidable internal obstacle, if Ahmadinejad is reelected.
This article originally appeared in PJM Media
By: Meir Javedanfar
According to the Alexa web ranking company, Tabnak.ir is the most popular Persian language news website in the world. It is owned by Mohsen Rezai, who was the 4th commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corp (IRGC). Based in Tehran, Tabnak represents a more moderate view of the IRGC and of the conservative wing of the Iranian leadership. It also happens to be one of the main critics of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and his economic policies.
On the 7th of October 2008, it published an article entitled “Israel’s New Propaganda Method: Hello Neighbour”, in which it accused Tzipi Livini of trying to reach out to Israel’s neighbours.
Quoting from an article in Egypt’s Al Ahram newspaper, the article quotes Livini as saying “Israel wants to have good relations with its neighbors. Palestinians are our neighbors, and so are Syria, Lebanon, and other Arab countries”.
The article also quotes Livni as saying “Iran is not solely our problem. The international community should decide for its own future, and only negotiations at a global level can solve the Iranian issue”.
What is interesting is that Tabnak sees Tzipi Livni’s approach in a negative light. According to its analysis, the new head of the Kadima party is doing this because of falling popularity of her party.
What Tabnak doesn’t say is that as far as Iran’s leadership is concerned, Iran has every intention to make Israel look like a war monger. The recent threats made by Israeli ministers such as Shaul Mofaz and Rafi Eitan were a gift to them, which they fully used to their advantage.
A soft spoken Israeli leader, who openly talks about improving relations with Israel’s neighbors, and is not threatening war is against Iran’s interests. Therefore she must be discredited as soon as possible. Otherwise it could cause a serious setback to Tehran’s efforts.
Iran’s concerns are compounded by the fact that Barack Obama is ahead in the polls. Having Livni as Prime Minister of Israel, Obama as president of the US, and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as president of Iran is a cocktail for diplomatic disaster for Tehran in places such as the EU and the UN.
What the Iranian government desperately needs is hostile remarks from the US and Israel. Their absence would make Ahmadinejad look even more aggressive and belligerent without justification, thus leading to even more isolation of Iran. And contrary to some beliefs, Iran does take its position in the international community seriously. With oil reaching new lows and Iraq stabilizing, it has to.
The time has arrived for Israel’s leadership to follow Livni’s example. Threatening Iran is counter productive. Such threats would justify a massive Iranian military retaliation in case of an Israeli strike. Tehran could say that Israel too has been threatening its security and sovereignty. And if Israel eventually decides against launching a military strike, then all these threats would make Jerusalem look like a toothless tiger, thus damaging Israel’s deterrence image.
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and right wing extremists in the Iranian government are Israel’s enemies. Their reckless talk is a gift which Jerusalem should not return to the sender.