Something that continues to bother me is that we don’t know what Iran is trying to do. Worse, we don’t know who in Iran wants to do what. In any large group of people, opinions differ. This seems to be the case in Iran, as attested by the events surrounding the recent election there.
Iran has been less than forthcoming about several aspects of its nuclear program. The elements of the nuclear program that are being built up seem to be more suitable for a weapons program than for civilian nuclear power. Those are facts, with a bit of analysis/opinion thrown in.
There has been a certain amount of hoopla in Iran celebrating the successes of its nuclear program. There has also been a certain amount of rhetoric against Israel, but the two have, to my knowledge, not been explicitly linked. On the contrary, there have been statements that the nuclear program is strictly peaceful and that nuclear weapons are against the principles of Islam. It is a fact that such things have been said, but what is said may be subject to misdirection or misinterpretation.
It is also a fact that the United States and Israel have made threatening statements against Iran, probably more in total than Iran has made against Israel. Various “red lines” have been drawn without the military action that is threatened. Iran was put in a category with North Korea and Iraq, and we know what happened to Iraq. So it would make sense if Iran were developing a nuclear weapons capability. About the first three sentences in this paragraph, we may repeat that what is said is subject to misdirection. The fourth sentence is an inference from the first three.
The events surrounding the Iranian elections in June gave us some more information, but not much. We have known all along that the Iranian government has an extremely complex decision-making structure, not at all transparent to the outside world. The demonstrations and the response to them, along with a rather limited selection of charges and countercharges among those in government, gave us a glimpse into that government.
I thought I detected a power struggle to assume the mantle of the revolution in some of the news out of Iran in June; I tried that idea on someone who knows much more about it than I do, and he agreed. That’s an important thing to know about a government that you’re trying to negotiate with, but until you know what each side believes or wants, it’s not entirely helpful.
The faction in power did ugly things to the people who disagreed with them; but that, along with the willingness of those who disagreed to risk injury and death, do not entirely define “good guys” and “bad guys.” Those in power want to remain in power. We now know that they will do some rather desperate things in the service of that goal. But what do the demonstrators want?
It’s easy to identify with them as having the same goals as us freedom-loving westerners, but what do they want that freedom for? A greater role for Iran in the Middle East? Would nuclear weapons be acceptable to them as a way to achieve that? The nuclear program has been very popular in Iran, but it’s not clear whether that means that the population wants nuclear weapons or whether they are pleased at the exhibition of Iran’s scientific and technical capability.
In fact, why don’t we just try to do without thinking of anyone in Iran as “good guys” and “bad guys.” The better question is what they perceive their interests to be.
In fact (facts again), it is President Ahmadinejad who negotiated the proposal to send most of Iran’s low-enriched uranium out of the country, while it is his opponent, Mir Hossain Moussavi, opposes the proposal.
If the promises given [to the West] are realized, then the hard work of thousands of scientists would be ruined.So is he saying this because he believes it or because he doesn’t want to see Ahmadinejad get the credit, or because he opposes this government? Or is the point to play for time for more enrichment? We simply don’t know. Ahmadinejad may be responding to him and playing to domestic opinion by saying that Israel doesn’t like the deal. OTOH, that last is in Ha'aretz, so it may be something Israel is trying to spin.
It looks to me like Iran’s response to the nuclear proposal is at least as much driven by internal politics as anything else. But I still don’t feel I’ve got a lot of information to base this on.
More about the proposal and what the “western” powers may want out of it later.