Iran Election Guide

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Iran Analysis: Tehran's Win-Win with the Nuclear Obsession

Iran is three years away from a nuclear weapon. So say the Israelis. Moshe Yaalon, the Israeli Minister of Strategic Affairs, told a radio station that Tehran's development had been stalled by technological difficulties, otherwise, Iran would already have the Bomb.

Here’s my problem with this assessment. Ever since 9/11 and Saddam’s invisible WMDs, I have lost trust in every intelligence service out there trying to protect citizens of their states. This also includes Mossad. Don’t get me wrong: I think Mossad is perhaps the best organisation for intelligence-gathering employed by a government in history. But their ability in predicting a timetable for Iran's acquisition of nuke-building capacity looks to me like just another number hatched up by faulty intelligence. Israelis thought Iran would be on track to making nukes within a year and a half...a year and a half ago.

Now we’re supposed to have about three years before stopping Iran from acquiring nukes would result in a catastrophe (not that doing so now through force of arms wouldn’t be a catastrophe in itself). The problem that I see here is not a problem of misunderstanding but a general lack of credible information.

Don’t get me wrong. I too fear a nuclear theocracy as everyone else who despises nuclear weapons does. For that matter, I would like to see every country, including Israel,to abandon their nukes and sign a treaty to ban completely the production of a weapon that kills humans wholesale.

What I fear more in this case, however, is that Iran’s regime will use statements like that ones made by Mr. Yaalon to ramp up abuses of Iranians, not to mention increase funding for Hamas and Hezbollah. Iran’s nuclear program more than anything represents a pawn in the international chess game to divert attention away from Tehran's activities. At a time when the world should be paying close attention to the human rights situation and the opposition movement in Iran, everyone’s busy building bunkers and lining up cruise missiles.

And this is exactly what Iran's leaders want. It helps them towards three critical goals that they’d otherwise never be able to achieve:

 The opposition movement in Iran becomes a secondary concern. Human rights violations are ignored. Atrocities against ethnic Kurds and Balochis become a tertiary concern. With the international community not worrying at all about these issues, Iran’s regime is free to do as it pleases.

 It garners support for the regime among the more conservative section of Iran’s population.For the opposition Green Movement to win supporters among the population, they need people to focus on domestic issues. The regime, however, can beat their drum of the-West-wants-Iran-destroyed to try and stop people sympathetic to the movement from ever joining it.

 Finally, it generates international support for the Iranian regime among governments that are unsympathetic towards the US, Israel and the EU.

At this point, Iran doesn’t even need to have a real nuclear program. All it needs is a few underground bunkers with people moving in and out of them, heating uranium ore and drinking tea. They are already accomplishing most of their goals by stoking fear in the hearts of reasonable people who should be able to see through the façade of the regime.

For Tehran, this is going to be a win-win situation. If the West decides not to attack and Iran develops the weapons, it will have security against future assaults. If the West does launch an operation, expect thousands of innocent dissident Iranians to be slaughtered for supposedly helping the US, the UK, and Israel.

For the umpteenth time, the West needs to respond to the regime by helping the opposition movement in Iran. Otherwise, the talk about how Iran’s nukes will destroy us all is assisting a destruction of a different kind: the destruction of hope for a change that will bring rights and justice.

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