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Iran fights US for equal nuclear rights
Iran refuses to back off from producing enriched uranium, and the US seems hell bent on proving that Iran is launching a nuclear strike. Whatever be the result, the onus is on Tehran to cooperate with IAEA and avoid confrontation with the US.
IT IS quite clear now that Iran president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad regime is not showing any sign of squaring off. The refusal by Iran to the Russian offer to enrich uranium in Russia, the recent missile test and above all the Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad statement that Iran won’t back away from uranium enrichment and that Iran has for the first time produced enriched uranium has further complicated the diplomatic crises over Iran.
 
In a country where anti-US passion always runs high, Ahmadinejad knows the more anti-American posture he adopts the more support he will get from the people. To many foreign policy experts who are keeping a close watch on Tehran one thing is quite clear that as 9/11, united Americans behind President Bush, the emerging situation might unite the Iranian people behind their president.
 
“The present standoff with the US has enhanced Ahmadinejad’s prestige in Iran as he is seen fighting America to protect Iran’s equal right to pursue nuclear power and nuclear technology, an issue upon which almost all Iranians agree,” says Hamid Ansari, a former Indian ambassador to Iran.
 
Many strategic analysts have pointed out in detail that Iran has no major power needs to use enriched uranium, and if had, then Russia had provided Tehran a good option to enrich uranium in Russia under International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) supervision to fulfill its civilian energy needs. But Tehran has rejected the Russian plan, insisting that it has the right to enrich uranium in Iran under the terms of the Non Proliferation Treaty (NPT).
 
The hard posturing of the Ahmadinejad regime would be good news for the Bush administration, which is searching for reasons to corner and punish Iran, which it has long ago labeled as part of the ‘axis of evil’.
 
Pentagon has already leaked a nuclear strike story to put psychological pressure on Iran. Beyond that pressure tactics, there is a kind of thinking in the Bush administration that the only way to deal with the Iran problem is to change the power structure in Iran, and that means military intervention.
 
No one needs to be surprised that when the Pentagon looked at military ways of dealing with Iran one idea it considered was a tactical nuclear attack. Few military experts regard a nuclear strike on Iran as a serious proposition because of its unpredictable consequences for the US. But, there are enough people in and around the Bush administration with a taste for military adventure.
 
India is also concerned about the US military intervention in Iran. “Confrontation or the threat or use of force can only exacerbate tensions in a region which is of vital importance to India, and must therefore be avoided at all costs,” Navtej Sarna, foreign office spokesman told reporters when asked what would be India’s position if the Bush administration uses force against Iran.
 
The central question – whether Iran will be able to proceed with its plans to enrich uranium – is now before the United Nations, with the Russians and Chinese reluctant to impose sanctions on Tehran.
 
At the heart of whole US-Iran tussle is their hostile history. For the past quarter of a century, US-Iran relations have been predominantly tense. The ongoing tussle is just further worsening the already hostile relationship between Washington and Tehran. One of Iran’s enduring complaint is that all Iran got for its cooperation on the anti-Taliban campaign in Afghanistan in 2001 was to be labeled a part of the ‘axis of evil’ by the Bush administration.
 
The underlying problem with the present crises, as with nuclear proliferation, is that Washington’s attitude appears less than even-handed. To say that Israelis can be trusted with nuclear weapons but Arabs or Iranians can’t, may sound plausible to Americans but elsewhere it sounds just hollow. Interestingly Iran is signatory to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and is saying that it is enriching uranium only for energy needs which under NPT is permissible. So far IAEA has found no evidence to suggest that Iran is preparing nuclear weapons.
 
The fact is also there that Iran’s apparent desire for nuclear weapons is partly a matter of national pride but in a tough neighbourhood where China, India, Israel, Russia and Pakistan are already nuclear powers, it cannot be out-rightly dismissed as irrational.
As a senior officer at Iran embassy in New Delhi pointed out that President Bush has had a nuclear deal with India, though India has tested bombs and is not signatory to NPT. “The Bush administration on the one hand is changing all its laws to have nuclear deal with India. And it is also giving foreign aid to Pakistan which has also violated the international laws by acquiring atomic bomb,” says the officer. “It is sheer double standard of America,” he adds.
 
There is no doubt that there are many flaws in the US case against Iran. And the way things are worsening in Iraq after US intervention; United States is also learning the limits of its power. But the onus is on Tehran to cooperate with the IAEA and the world community to avoid what seems right now inevitable, Iran-US collision.
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