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Iran’s Bushehr Reactor - Benign or Merely Malignant with Bad PR?

Iran’s Bushehr Reactor - Benign or Merely Malignant with Bad PR?

The Iranian media is mounting a full court press against Western charges that its Bushehr nuclear power plant (NPP), which came online last week, in fact conceals a nefarious covert nuclear weapons program, a charge asserted by both Israel and the United States.

Iran has vociferously denied the allegations for years.

As the issue descends into increasingly murky international waters the Iranian media remains robustly nationalist.

A recent editorial in Iran’s Jam-e Jam newspaper lays out Tehran’s case under the headings of “We have a nuclear power plant.” The most salient points are below:

“We have a nuclear power plant so we need nuclear fuel and, because there is no international guarantee for supplying nuclear fuel, we must produce our own fuel.”

“We have a nuclear power plant so we are a member of an advanced club of countries that possess nuclear energy…”.

“We have a nuclear power plant; therefore military threats against our country have assumed conditions and today the balance of Iran’s national security has significantly improved.”

The article goes on to list an additional four advantages to Bushehr, but all international attention will focus on the phraseology above:
“We have a nuclear power plant; therefore military threats against our country have assumed conditions and today the balance of Iran’s national security has significantly improved.”

What does this mean?

Exactly how does the fact that Iran is operating a “civilian nuclear” power plant (NPP) ensure that “the balance of Iran's national security has significantly improved?”

Doesn’t it simply instead of enhancing “national security” in fact provide its skeptics with an above-ground installation for aerial attack, which Israel proved it can do with its June 1981 assault on Iraq’s Osirak nuclear complex?

How then does a civilian NPP “ensure” national security?

Given the tensions in the Middle East, doesn’t a “nuclear power plant” in fact, far from ensuring “Iran's national security has significantly improved” in fact degrade it instead?

While Tel Aviv and Washington are willing to ascribe the darkest motives to Iran’s Islamic government about its purportedly peaceful civilian nuclear energy program, Tehran’s obstinacy as regards its indigenous nuclear programs has recently caused Brazil, one of Iran’s staunchest allies, to begin distancing itself from Iran’s aspirations.

On 16 September Brazilian Foreign Minister Antonio Patriota said during an interview with Brazil’s Folha de Sao Paulo newspaper, "There are fears with some foundation that Iran's nuclear energy development program might not be exclusively for peaceful ends. I believe it is necessary for Iran to show that it is in fact only for peaceful ends."

Shorn of diplomatic niceties, the core of Patriota’s comments that “fears with some foundation” and “might not be exclusively for peaceful ends” should ring loud alarm bells in Tehran.

Despite the conditional adjectives and adverbs, if your diplomatic allies are parsing such statements, the handwriting is on the walls that stalwart diplomatic associates are beginning to waver, hardly a good sign for Iran’s mullahs to continue their present policies.

Time for Tehran to walk the walk and talk the talk, or risk increasing diplomatic isolation like its Middle Eastern cohort Israel. After all, unlike Israel, as Iran never tires in pointing out, it is a signatory of the Non-Proliferation Treaty. Quite aside from issues of national pride in a tough neighborhood if NPT signatory Iran indeed has nothing to hide, then aside from xenophobic patriotism, Tehran’s obstinacy is alienating allies whilst seemingly confirming its critics’ darkest fears.

The final word should belong to Brazil’s Foreign Minister Antonio Patriota who noted that trust was incremental "and the creation of trust comes from trying dialogue. We are favorable to a relation with Iran to contribute to reducing the tensions."

Tehran – your friends have spoken – time to abandon the nationalist xenophobia and listen to your diplomatic allies and consider ways to keep them allies by both the “the creation of trust” and “reducing the tensions.” As your arch enemy Israel is finding out, going it alone is a lonely path.

By. John C.K. Daly of OilPrice.com

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Leave a comment
  • Anonymous on September 21 2011 said:
    Just as Russia became an asset to the world rather than a threat (or should I say, less a threat and more an asset) when Marxism-Leninism (Communism) collapsed, I believe Iran and also Saudi Arabia will each become more an asset and less a threat to the community of humanity when they abandon angry, aggressive, paranoid Islam in favor of a less aggressive philosophy. Regarding nuclear power, if nations like China, Russia, Iran, and a few others make a successful go of it, the United States and other nations will hopefully, become more accepting of nuclear power plants.
  • Anonymous on September 21 2011 said:
    RE: a lonely pathThe other option is to have lots of so called friends sucking your blood! I rather be LONELY!

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