2003 May 13 Tuesday
Iranian Nuclear Weapons Program Seen As Broadly Popular

While some commentators in the United States point to secular pro-democratic and pro-reform segments of Iran's population as the great hope for preventing Iran from becoming a nuclear power Paul Hughes of Reuters finds Iran's nuclear weapons program popular even among many of those Iranians opposed to clerical rule.

But for many Iranians, even those staunchly opposed to the system of clerical rule in place since the 1979 Islamic revolution, nuclear arms are a legitimate national aspiration which would boost the country's security and bargaining power.

"I hope they are building nukes," said Ali, a U.S.-educated businessman who inherited a thick Californian accent from 18 years living on the U.S. west coast.

Bear in mind that when India and Pakistan first tested nuclear weapons there were celebrations in the streets of each country. The people of Pakistan were thrilled that Pakistan responded to Indian nuclear tests with their own nuclear tests. If Iran's government explodes a nuclear bomb in a test will the Iranian people respond any less enthusiastically?

Democratic reform will not stop Iran's nuclear weapons program. Therefore, only a military option will stop it. Considering the amount of time the Bush Administration spent on diplomatic efforts and in efforts to build up support domestically for the attack on Saddam Hussein's it is hard to see the Bush Administration building the needed level of support in time enough to be able attack Iran before it becomes a nuclear power.

Update: Gary Sick agrees that the reformists in Iran are not opposed to Iran's nuclear weapons program.

Gary Sick, the Iran specialist at Columbia, noted that under the Non-Proliferation Treaty of 1970 Iran is legally entitled to build facilities for a full nuclear fuel cycle, including uranium enrichment plants and plants for reprocessing spent nuclear fuel that could be used to produce weapons-grade uranium or plutonium.

"They are going about this very systematically, and very rapidly," Sick said. "What's worrisome is that there is no serious debate about this in Iran. The reformers aren't up in arms. There is, in fact, quite a bit of unanimity" that Iran, given its geography, needs to go the nuclear-weapons route.

Reuel Marc Gerecht also thinks the Iranian nuclear weapons development program is broadly popular in Iran.

Michael Ledeen, the influential conservative pundit and moderator of the panel, opened the discussion by sharing his assertion that Iran resembles a country that is experiencing the final stage of its ruling government. Gerecht disagreed on this assertion and maintained that the Iranian regime would not fall anytime soon. A revolution would require a series of events and not a mere spontaneous uprising. As an example, Gerecht mentioned that the 1999 students uprisings were “peanuts” compared to the demonstrations of 1979. Moreover, US meddling in Iran is not helpful, according to Gerecht, who pointed out that “everyone in Iran hates the regime, including the regime itself!”

On the issue of weapons of mass destruction, Gerecht pointed out that Iran’s nuclear policy has widespread support in Iranian society and described a nuclear Iran as an inevitability. Although a targeted military strike against Iran could work, it wouldn’t work well since the CIA’s intelligence (Gerecht’s former employer) is not sufficiently reliable, i.e. chances of missing the targets are considerable. Currently, Iran’s program can be best checked through Israel, in Gerecht’s view.

Note that Gerecht does not think that the Iranian regime is anywhere near to falling.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2003 May 13 07:50 PM  Axis Of Evil

AHURA Hannes Ben Raphael said at February 15, 2006 2:14 PM:

I was born in Tel Aviv. I am a pilot since 1971, after I became Anthropologist.

Really, it is very difficult to comment about strange traditions, for one, I could try to express my own feelings on this situation, but I must speak it with passion.
If I am thinking of Iranian President's words against Israel, I must think of decision and velocity as our air hawks to destroy enemies targets, in this case, Iran.
They believe in Allah as if He was the Almighty Lord over all other gods, specially speaking about Israel's God. A matter of beliving and pride. Israel is not danger but Iran is danger, because they wish power and war to destroy Israel first. This is my preocupations: I have got family in my country HA-ARETZ. A atomic bomb over our heads from crazy hands of fanatism causes fear and something must be done.

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