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The Drive behind Iran's Nuclear Program

By: Soraya Sepahpour-Ulrich


In a startling 81-page report, Judith S. Yaphe and Charles D. Lutes of the Institute for National Strategic Studies (National Defense University) presented their findings entitled "Reassessing the Implications of a Nuclear-Armed Iran".   When the summary of the report hit the newsstands on October 13, 2005, it seemed harmless enough.  That was before the details of the report were revealed...


The inaccuracies and distortions of the facts regarding Iran's nuclear program were baffling; however, in noting the authors' acknowledgments to the likes of Kenneth Pollack[i], it became evident that the misrepresentations of facts were intended to serve a purpose beyond the obvious. 


Foremost, the Iranian pride has been misrepresented as "inferiority complex".  Contrary to popular belief, Iran's culture is not a monolithic one, but rather a mixed one.   Elaborated by  Abdolkarim Soroush in his article "Three Cultures" [ii],  the  Iranian ethnicity is deemed to be a mix of three different traditions: the old Persian (Zoroastrian), Islamic, and Western.  Though all three cultures coexist harmoniously in every Iranian's psyche,  the degree and strength of each mix is a function of the age, social class, and religious inclination of any Iranian.  For example, in today's Iran, even among the most devout Shiite, Nowrooz , new year on the Equinox celebrations is enthusiastically observed.  This is a purely Zoroastrian event.


Cultural anthropologists argue that people's behavior is derived from their cultural deposits, otherwise stated, it is the result of the "collective mental programming of people" that effects their decisions and actions.  The cultural heritage of the Zoroastrians is the belief in their spiritual and cultural superiority.  Compromise with the outside world is considered a weakness.  This sense of Zoroastrian superiority which manifests itself in every Iranian is mortified to find that with its long history spanning over 2500 years is lagging behind.


Steadfastly clinging to the Zoroastrian pride and uncompromising stance -- for compromise is considered to be a sign of capitulation and weakness--the Iranians do not take favorably to the dictates of foreign nations.  In opposition to America's demand that their right to nuclear technology be stopped, they are keener than ever to pursue it; not as a violation or as a threat to world order, but as their inherent right.  It is the Zoroastrian sense of superiority coupled with the Shiite sense of martyrdom that energizes the nation.  


The distorted reports being prepared by those who fail to understand Iran, or better said, by those who wish to harm Iran, are being introduced to further isolate Iran from its allies and neighbors.  In that Iran wishes to master the fuel cycle, there is no doubt.  It is not just the national pride at stake, but Iran's recent history (the sanctions imposed by the US which are causing Iranian lives by depriving Iran of its air fleet, the Iran-Iraq war, etc.).  In 1975 Iran made a purchase in France's Eurodif uranium enrichment plant for $1 billion.  Despite its shareholder stake of 10% in the plant, Iran has received no uranium from it to date; yet repeatedly it is being told that if it halts its nuclear enrichment program, it will be 'sold' what it already owns!  It is understandable that given these experiences, Iran would want self-efficiency.


With knowledge of this, Yaphe and Lutes present non-factual statements such as"[I]n mid-May the Majlis passed a measure supporting nuclear weapons development, which was quickly approved by the conservative-dominated Council of Guardians".   What Majlis had approved was the enrichment of uranium (LEU - low enriched uranium).  Their report further claims "[A]ides to Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon reportedly presented evidence, including satellite reconnaissance imagery, about the Iranian nuclear program to senior U.S. officials, and Israel's media warned of the dire threat, when, not if, Iran has a nuclear weapon.".  This shameless lie is akin to the satellite imagery that took the United States to Iraq where there were no WMD.   


At every page of this report, the enrichment of uranium is equated to weapons capability.  The completion of nuclear fuel cycle, they claim, is by default, a desire to have nuclear weapons and a long-range missile delivery system.  Contrary to facts, these authors have the readers believe that Iran has in the past engaged in the production of highly enriched uranium (HEU).  Even the IAEA could not be pressured into finding Iran guilty of this violation.  The IAEA's findings were disturbing to Iran's adversaries when it was found that it was indeed the imported equipment from Pakistan that was contaminated as had been claimed by Iran[iii].  Yet ignoring such facts, the authors present a warped version of the truth in order to drive home a cynical message.


This doomsday message is being backed by John Chapman, director of the London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies.  Not only does he reiterate these wrongful allegations, for one purpose only. 

"It would be desirable for regional states, especially the Gulf Arab states, also to express more openly their known concerns about how Iran's possible acquisition of a nuclear capacity would change strategic perceptions and the regional balance of power," Chapman said.[iv]

 In a recent speech, President Bush likened the war in Iraq to a war on humanity, saying that the Islamic radicals wanted an Islamic empire stretching from Spain to Indonesia (recall the Cold War era?).  He blamed Iran and Syria for the insurgencies in Iraq where al Qaeda and other Islamic militants wanted to end US influence and use the vacuum to topple other governments![v] 


If one were to follow Mr. Bush's logic (!), one must deduct that Iran, according to Bush, a major culprit with ambitions to build nuclear weapons, is planning to create an empire stretching from Spain to Indonesia, for it is supporting the insurgents set on driving the US forces out of Iraq for this purpose[vi]!   To counter this empire building, one must only assume that Yaphe and Lutes and Chapman, among others, are countering this evil Islamic militancy with their fabricated reports in the hope that they can drive Iran's  neighbors to such a frenzy that they will fund the next 'war'.  After all, Washington is bankrupt recovering from the last war prompted by deception.   The lengths Washington will to sacrifice its own -  Vietnam, Iraq, Iran....


[i] Kenneth Pollack , former NSC staffer in the Clinton White House and involved in the Rosen indictment for having passed secrets to AIPAC, authored the book "The Threatening Storm: The Case for Invading Iraq", gave this Administration the perfect pretext for attacking Iraq. 


[ii] Soroush, A. (1992).  Seh Farhang (Three Cultures).  In Razdaani va Roshan-Fekri va Dindari (Mysticism, Intellectualism and Religiousness) (in Farsi) (2nd Ed.).  Teheran, Iran: Saraat Cultural Institution, 105-129.

... Payvand News - 10/31/05 ... --

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