Iran's tough nuclear policies remain flexible

10:51, February 26, 2010      

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Iran recently announced its plans to build 2 uranium enrichment plants within 1 year starting from late March, and forwarded a letter to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) saying that it is willing to swap domestic low-enriched uranium for nuclear materials with relevant sides. Earlier, Iran claimed that it has independently enriched uranium to the 20 percent level, and has become a "nuclear weapon state." After which, the IAEA accused Iran for the first time of its intentions to stealthily produce nuclear weapons. Iran's tough remarks and actions have led to intense reactions from the west. U.S. President Barack Obama vowed to impose the harshest sanctions against Iran through the UN, and EU member countries generally expressed support for the proposal.

Why is Iran taking the risk of facing a new round of international sanctions by insistently pushing forward its nuclear program?

Subjectively, Iran insists that its nuclear program is justified as it has the inalienable rights for the peaceful use of nuclear energy and has followed relevant nuclear nonproliferation regulations. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad once said his country's nuclear program was like "a train without brakes." In regards to condemnation from the U.S. that Iran’s nuclear program threatens nuclear nonproliferation – Iran considers it as a typical double-standard.

The U.S. once actively supported and participated in the Iranian nuclear program during the period when Iran was under the reign of Reza Pahlavi. However, Iran's nuclear program after the Iranian Revolution has become a big concern for the U.S. In terms of the nuclear proliferation, the U.S. has turned a blind eye to the fact that Israel has long had nuclear weapons, but has tried all means to halt Iran's nuclear program. Iran believes that the real purpose of the U.S. is not to prevent nuclear proliferation, but rather undermine and attack Iran and further its dominance in the Middle East. The U.S. is using anti-nuclear proliferation as a slogan to "hi-jack" world opinions and to make each country proactively or passively participate in containing Iran.

Iran concludes that some favorable changes have taken place in the current Iran-U.S. confrontation in the Middle East. The U.S. launched wars in the "Greater Middle East" during the 8-year presidential term of Bush, bringing about many negative outcomes such as the deadlocked Iraqi issue and the slim chance for peace between Palestine and Israel, as well as the comeback of the Taliban in Afghanistan. Iran holds that the western world needs Iran more than Iran needs the western world in the process of settling tense issues in the Middle East. On the other side, the U.S. is now in an embarrassing situation as it lacks strength to take a tough stance towards Iran but is not willing to start peace talks. That is to say, the U.S. now lacks the strength to fight a war against Iran but is not willing to make substantive concessions to Iran. The Obama Administration once emphasized that it would solve the Iran nuclear issue through dialogue and diplomatic means, resulting in temporary alleviation of the tension. However, there is not any essential difference among relevant policies adopted by Obama and his predecessors. The U.S. maintains its interest in Iran's nuclear program and intends to force Iran to give in through a conciliatory way. Therefore, Iran refuses to stop its nuclear program and makes frequent progress.

However, Iran has never chosen a blindly tough nuclear policy. Instead, it adopts a flexible nuclear policy. At present, Iran still hopes that Obama can choose a strategy relatively more favorable to Iran for settling the nuclear issue. At the same time, Iran now faces severe domestic and international problems: Last year's presidential election caused a serious political crisis and the economic situation is also unsatisfying. Under this condition, Iran continuously shows its flexibility as it wants to avoid a new round of international sanctions.

Ahmadinejad recently stressed that Iran will temporarily stop production of highly-enriched uranium if it can obtain nuclear fuel from the outside world. Iran's spiritual leader Khamenei claimed that Iran does not believe that nuclear weapons can be beneficial and Iran will not seek the development of nuclear weapons because the religious beliefs of the Iranian people suggest that nuclear weapons are illicit. Iranian leaders take these stances to express Iran's willingness to ease the current tension. However, it is too early to conclude whether these stances can move the western world.

By People's Daily Online
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