Tag Archives: nuclear development

Did Hillary Clinton Dodge A Tough Question?

Last week, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton appeared before a group of Saudi students who were asked to pose questions. Mariyam Mavi, a student at a Jeddah college, came to the session with classmates and asked the US leader a question that apparently created a problem for the Secretary of State. She asked Clinton about the American stance on nuclear weapons in the Middle East and specifically wanted to know America’s stand on Israel’s nuclear weapon program. “I did not get a straight answer” the young woman told the Arab Press. She wanted to know if America was “so vehemently opposed to Iran’s nuclear program” Clinton responded with a lengthy analysis concerning Iran’s nuclear program, but did not mention Israel’s nuclear development.

The Arab news made clear to the United States that Muslims in the Middle East were interested in answers to complex questions, among which is how the Obama administration will confront behavior of the Netanyahu government on the West Bank. Platitudes about the faults of Iran do not respond to questions in the minds of Arab peoples.

US Continues Pressure On Iran

General David Petraeus, head of Central Command, made clear the United States intends to continue pressure on Iran in order to ensure compliance with UN demands for nuclear responsibility. He emphasized Iran has been given one opportunity after another to work with nations of the world on creating an agreement that respects Iranian desires for a nuclear development industry while ensuring there is no concern over nuclear weapons. In view of American patience, “this puts us on a solid foundation now to go on what is termed the pressure track. That is the course on which we are embarked now.”

The real issue is what exactly can the United States or the UN actually do in order to accomplish a change in Iranian policy. Sanctions will only work if important nations of the world are united to enforce them, but if China and Russia refuse to cooperate, sanctions will fail.

Iran Defies The World-Does It Defy Intself?

The Iranian government defies its own people in their quest for a democratic government so it is not surprising President Ahmadinejad is defying the world. In response for demands by the United Nations to cooperate in development of nuclear energy, Foreign Minister Manouchehr Motakki uttered a belligerent challenge to the world. “The entire international community has be one more month left to decide whether or not it will accept Iran’s conditions. This is an ultimatum.” The real question is whether Iran is a far advanced in nuclear development as it claims and many experts do not believe the foreign minister can carry out his threat of creating an atomic bomb in the coming year.

The UN’s IAEA has offered Iran an opportunity to ship most of its low enriched uranium to either France or Russia who would process it into fuel for the research reactor. It increasingly appears as though Iran is headed for sanctions. At present, the Iranian economy has serious problems and with protests continuing it could create the potential for further violence as the government twists and turns in an effort to demonstrate control.

Iran Presidential Candidates Clash

The Iranian presidential campaign is producing anger and charges and counter charges as reformers claim President Ahmadinejad is out of touch with reality. In return, Ahmadinejad, insists that former reform president Khatami sold out his nation in 2003 for voluntarily agreeing to suspend nuclear development to avoid United Nations sanctions. His decision was termed by Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei as a “wise”one. But, Ahmadinejad who is under attack for a laggard economy has gone on the offense in an effort to cast his opponents as enemies of their nation and willing to sell out Iran in order to placate the West. Khatami has demanded an apology from the president, but it is doubtful if any will be forthcoming.

A key issue is the state of the Iranian economy. If Ahmadinejad can twist the campaign into a fight over nuclear power he will appeal to emotions and some will forget there is high unemployment and the economy is a mess

Secretary Gates Not Concerned About Iran

Secretary of Defense Robert Gates made clear he does not share Israel’s concern over Iran and its nuclear development program. He also made clear US relations with Iran will not result in any agreement that would endanger other Middle Eastern nations. “There’s probably some concerns in the region that may draw on an exaggerated sense of what’s possible.” Gates said President Obama is offering an open hand to the Iranians but don’t be surprised if their initial reaction is a closed fist. He urged other Arab nations to open embassies in Baghdad in order to counter Iran’s influence in that county.

Another issue that Gates must address is where prisoners who are released from Guantanamo will be sent. Nearly half the 200 detainees come from Yemen, but it would be dangerous sending them back to a country where escape from prison is not that difficult. Gates is trying to persuade Yemen to allow Saudi Arabia to handle the rehabilitation of the prisoners.

It is unfortunate that too many people in the Middle East are overly fearful of Iran. There is sufficient force available to make any Iranian air strike a disastrous turn of events for that nation.

Nuclear Compromise With Iran?

President Mamoud Amadinejad of Iran raised the possibility of a compromise with the United Nations and the United States on the topic of his nation’s nuclear development plan. In a speech in the province of Kerman, he said: “We have prepared a package that can be the basis to resolve Ian’s nuclear problem. It will be offered to the west soon. The new package will ensure peace and justice for the world. It will respect the rights of all nations. Of course, he has previously made such remarks only to result in an outburst of rhetoric that leads nowhere. However, Iran is dealing with the problem of reduced oil revenue and its economy could use the infusion of money from the West. Ahmadinejad is up for re-election and this might be a ploy to win over more moderate voters.

The easy path of right wing extremism is to dismiss this speech as nothing more than Ahmadinejad warmed over. It is worth exploring the offer. There are also signs Russia would like to assist in calming down the issue of nuclear weapons which are not exactly something it regards as beneficial to its own foreign policy.

Gates Opposes Strike On Iran!

There are shrill voices in Israel and the United States who speak of “surgical strikes” to wipe out Iran’s military nuclear development while shrugging off any implication how such an adventure would impact the Middle East. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates warned any such action would have serious consequences and would not accomplish its purpose. “If we or the Israelis or somebody else strike Natanz–the site of a uranium enrichment plant–militarily, in my view, it would delay the Iranian program for some period of time, but only delay it, probably one to three years. You would only unify the nation, you would cement their determination to have a nuclear program, and also build into the whole country an undying hatred of whoever hits them.”

Israel leaders like current prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the past have called for such attacks, but Gates is correct, there would be consequences. Iran would unleash missile attacks on Israel and hundreds of suicide bombers would be exploding themselves all over Israel. The solution is to continue working the diplomatic route regardless if it takes time or not.

UK Urges Obama To Focus On Iran Diplomacy

Britain’s Foreign Secretary, David Miliband, urged Barack Obama to support a policy which seeks to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear arms, but avoid use of military force to attain that goal. He made clear the “prospect of a nuclear-armed Iran poses the most immediate threat to stability” in the Middle East, and UN efforts to impose sanctions are not an attempt to overthrow the present Iranian government, but seeks to ensure peace in the region. “We are 100% committed to a diplomatic resolution of this dispute. We will work closely with the new US administration on this issue.” There has been concern for years the Bush administration might employ use of force to end Iran’s nuclear development program.

Miliband also made clear there is a growing fatigue about the ongoing never ceasing discussions between Israel and Palestinian leaders and they are “tiring of the conflict, they are also tiring faster of efforts to resolve it.” Perhaps, for the first time in decades most Arab nations are also tired of the ongoing conflict and ready to recognize Israel if they can obtain assurances the 1967 borders will be restored. It is time for all parties to reach a compromise. A compromise means each side must surrender some of its desires.

Israel Claims Ahmadinejad Lies About Nuclear Gains

Israeli officials were surprisingly calm in the face of claims by the Iranian government that it now possesses 6,000 centrifuges. President Ahamdinejad’s boast was reported by an Iranian news agency which, if true, would represent a significant increase in the number of uranium-enriching machines in Tehran’s nuclear program. The claim comes a week after the United States sent a representative to participate in nuclear weapon discussions with Iranian officials. But, an Israeli official who monitors nuclear development in Iran, told the Jerusalem Post, Ahmadinejad was most probably lying. ‘Our assessment based on the latest available information and recent reports from the International atomic Energy Agency, s that the fgure of 6,000 centrifuges is unlikely. We believe a figure of between 3,400 and 3,500 is more accurate.”

The Israeli official believes by exaggerating the figure, Ahmadinejad hopes to attain two goals: First, he is trying to exert pressure on his own nuclear technicians to step up the pace of their work which is aimed at producing enough fissile material to make a bomb. Second, he is attempting to enhance his success as a leader in preparation for next year’s presidential race in Iran.

There is evidence Iranian officials are engaged in a delaying process in their negotiations with the west. Some believe Iran does not wish to allow George Bush to receive credit for halting their program of nuclear development and prefer any changes occur under a new American president.

Iran Larijani Resignation Setback For Resolving Nuclear Issues

The sudden resignation of Ali Larijani as Iran’s front man in dealing with nuclear development has threatened to become a setback in efforts to achieve agreement between the UN and Iran. Larijani was a political opponent of President Ahmadinejad of Iran and more flexible in seeking resolution of the nuclear issues, but his replacement, Ali Jaill is a reputed hard liner. However, in a move to reassure Europeans there will be no changes in Iran’s policies, Ahmadinejad agreed to allow Larijani to meet with European Union representatives today. The European Union is offering Iran economic and technological incentives to suspend its uranium enrichment program. The situation was not helped by Vice President Dick Cheney’s weekend comment claiming Iran was a “growing obstacle to peace in the Middle East” and warned of consequences if it didn’t end its nuclear program.

The situation is tense between the European Union and Iran and in the middle of negotiations our vice president must intrude with further threats toward Iran. Dick Cheney never ceased making threats about Saddam and the need to do something in Iraq. His jingoism and warlike attitude are well known in the Middle East so when Cheney threatens “consequences” it can only result in Iranian hard liners digging even deeper into their resolve not to compromise. If President Bush really cared for Middle East peace, he would take the first step in that direction by muzzling his good friend.