Tuesday, May 02, 2006


More Bluster From Iran

As reported by Reuters (with a tip-o'-the-hat to Roger Simon), Ahmadinejad is doing his thing again:
TEHRAN (Reuters) -
Iran threatened on Tuesday to attack Israel in response to any "evil" act by the United States and said it had enriched uranium to a level close to the maximum compatible with civilian use in power stations.

The defiant statements were issued shortly before world powers meet in Paris to discuss the next steps after Tehran rejected a U.N. call to halt uranium enrichment.
You've gotta love the sense of responsibility here. Do anything I don't like, and I'll retaliate immediately -- but not against you, certainly not... against somebody else entirely.

The psychology of this is strongly reminiscent, at least to me, of schoolyard bullying -- if you dare tell on me to the teacher, I'll go beat up your kid brother. By implication, the entire nation of Israel is being held hostage, subject to good behavior as defined by Iran.

And hey, isn't it nice that Ahmadinejad was carefully non-specific about what American behavior would trigger a response? (Would another conservative Supreme Court appointment do it? How about some more Mohammad cartoons?)

This is all classic terrorist rhetoric. If we ever had doubt about Iran as a terrorist regime, we can put those doubts to rest now.

Reuters later provides more detail concerning the levels of uranium enrichment:
Driving home that message, the head of Iran's Atomic Energy Organization, Gholamreza Aghazadeh, said his country had now succeeded in purifying uranium to 4.8 percent, at the top end of the 3 to 5 percent range for fuel used in nuclear power plants.

"Enrichment above 5 percent is not on Iran's agenda," Aghazadeh told the students' ISNA news agency.

Iran has previously said it had enriched to more than 4 percent, far below the 80 percent level needed for bomb-making.
Well, gosh, that's a relief. At least there's a gulf between the 4.8% they claim to have now, and the 80% they'd need for weaponized uranium.

Nonetheless, and I blush to mention it: uh, what if they're lying? (You think terrorists wouldn't lie? I think it's a safe assumption that, once you've condoned the brutal, deliberate murder of women and children, the utteration of a falsehood comes rather easily. A regime intent on weaponizing uranium, for the stated purpose of "wiping Israel off the map", would also find the occasional lie not too difficult a burden, I daresay.)

Oh, and check out this gem:
The U.N. nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), says it cannot confirm that Iran's goals are peaceful, but has found no proof of a military program.
Uh, right. In the same article, we are reminded that Iran is the fourth-largest oil exporter in the world. Explain to me, please, exactly why a major oil exporter needs nuclear power plants?

(If the UN wants proof, by the way, perhaps they've been asking the wrong people. Somehow I have a feeling that Israel, the abovementioned hostage to America's good behavior, is keeping a close eye on Iran these days.)

And yes, I've heard the arguments that Iran is as entitled to nuclear power as the United States. Perhaps, from the Olympian viewpoint of a hypothetical over-arching World Government, that might make sense. But we don't have a World Government, and we're not likely to have one any time soon. What we do have is the international anarchy of countries and their vested interests, as has been the case throughout much of history.

In this situation, countries are entitled to defend themselves, since no World Government police, or militia, can do it for them. (They also have a moral obligation to their citizens.) And the United States has every right to see the acquisition of nuclear weapons, by a dangerously belligerent tyranny, as a national threat.

(So does Israel, for far more immediate reasons. Ahmadinejad's position is far from new; Israel has known about the threat from Iran for a long time. Ahmadinejad is simply the first leader of Iran to state the obvious explicitly and concisely.)

The next several months will be interesting, to say the least. At this point, it doesn't matter in the least if an Iranian nuclear-weapons program exists or not; Ahmadinejad is forcing us to assume that it does, and to plan accordingly.

Personally, I suspect that the deafening silence in re Iran -- from both the United States and Israel -- is rather meaningful. Israel can do quite a bit on her own, and the United States has a strong vested interest in helping out.

Stay tuned.

UPDATE: Juan Cole claims that Ahmadinejad didn't say what he said, and didn't mean it anyway. Christopher Hitchens thinks otherwise.

UPDATE II: Victor Davis Hansen points out that President Bush is following his classic strategy: giving his opponents as much room as they want, until they get wildly hysterical and make his own case for him -- and then come out swinging when he is ready. Read the whole thing.

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