Tuesday, April 11, 2006


The man from Iran, he say screw you buddy.

Calm down dears, he's deliberately trying to wind you up. This is low grade uranium. It might be slightly alarming but it takes an awful lot more than that to build a bomb.

On the other hand, it's best not to forget that the president of Iran is actually not someone you'd want round for dinner. We shouldn't pretend that Ahmadinejad isn't being intentionally provocative. Bush is not the only one playing a dangerous game here.

We know that Iran has a right to this technology for peaceful purposes and that there is no solid evidence to show that they're developing nuclear weapons. We also know that the IAEA board of governors (pdf):
Expresses serious concern that the Agency is not yet in a position to clarify some important issues relating to Iran's nuclear programme, including the fact that Iran has in its possession a document on the production of uranium metal hemispheres, since... this process is related to the fabrication of nuclear weapon components; and, noting that the decision to put this document under Agency seal is a positive step, requests Iran to maintain this document under Agency seal and to provide a full copy to the Agency.
I don't know about anyone else but I find that a bit of a worry in the longer term. It's only a document but why do they have it? I'm fairly sure that uranium metal hemispheres are not "dual use" items. Agreed (at least agreed by some) that it's hypocritical for the western nuclear powers to tell Iran that they can't develop them too. That still doesn't mean a nuclear capable Iran is a great idea though.

And let's not pretend that ElBaradei, the IAEA Director General, is a US patsy*. That would be doing the man an injustice.

Anyway, I've been having a look at some "American right" opinions on the way to deal with this issue this evening. Here's a sample from Mark Steyn (actually a Canadian but very much of the American right).
Once again, we face a choice between bad and worse options. There can be no “surgical” strike in any meaningful sense: Iran’s clients on the ground will retaliate in Iraq, Lebanon, Israel, and Europe. Nor should we put much stock in the country’s allegedly “pro-American” youth. This shouldn’t be a touchy-feely nation-building exercise: rehabilitation may be a bonus, but the primary objective should be punishment—and incarceration. It’s up to the Iranian people how nutty a government they want to live with, but extraterritorial nuttiness has to be shown not to pay. That means swift, massive, devastating force that decapitates the regime—but no occupation.
That's a pretty long article and I've just quoted part of the conclusion. You could have endless hours of fun challenging his notion that Iran is well placed to "unite the Muslim world under one inspiring, courageous leadership". Or the fact that he's overlooked the Saudi role in propogating Wahabi Sunni extremism. Or the fact that he's created a mythical world in which the Iranian regime ship a nuke off to Argentina in order to make a "significant chunk of downtown Buenos Aires... uninhabitable". Top class speculative/ridiculous scaremongering there, I'm sure you'll agree. (The "this story was cited in" links make for interesting reading too if you're a glutton for punishment.)

But back to his conclusion. When Steyn calls for "swift, massive, devastating force that decapitates the regime," it presumably doesn't occur to him that this is likely to be rather unpleasant for the average Iranian who actually lives in the place. Of course, Steyn isn't advocating the deliberate killing of civilians. Massive, devastating force to decapitate the regime would inevitably cause that but only collaterally. I'm sure it's a great comfort to know that the bomb which is about to blow you to bits wasn't actually aimed at you.

"Sure, they knew I was here and that I'd be killed but they were not aiming for me. Can't say fairer than... ouch, that stings a bit. Anyone seen my other leg? Oh, I didn't know there was so much blood inside me. No, hang on, that's not what I mean. I mean I didn't know there used to be so much bloo..."

You know, I suspect some of them wont be able to see that it's for their own good. Bloody arabs eh?** What are they like? As to Steyn's contention that "extraterritorial nuttiness has to be shown not to pay", well what can you say? One word. Starts with an I.

I'd like to offer some more useful suggestions for ways to deal with the Iranian issue (here are some I made earlier). But, as someone once said, "I wouldn't start from here".

* This is the guy, remember, who, before the invasion of Iraq and under intense pressure to provide smoking guns, said " The IAEA has made progress in its investigation into reports that Iraq sought to buy uranium from Niger in recent years. The investigation was centred on documents provided by a number of States that pointed to an agreement between Niger and Iraq for the sale of uranium between 1999 and 2001... Based on thorough analysis, the IAEA has concluded, with the concurrence of outside experts, that these documents - which formed the basis for the reports of recent uranium transactions between Iraq and Niger - are in fact not authentic. We have therefore concluded that these specific allegations are unfounded."

** Iranians are not actually arabs of course. Not everyone seems to be aware of this though. I recently read a A US conservative blogger confidently declare that the only way to deal with Iran was through force because "all arabs are liars and crooks". Nice.

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