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The Green Movement and Iran's Nuclear Program

By Hamid Assef, Visiting Lecturer, Department of History, London University



While domestic Iranian political scene has been dominated by the post election protests and the emergence of the Green Movement, the Western Nations remained focused on stopping Iran's nuclear program.. Obama administration has warned that it will wait till September for Iran to return to the negotiation table. It stands ready to impose additional sanctions if Iran is not cooperative and Israel is still dedicated to a pre-emptive military strike.


The Green movement and its supporters, in the meanwhile have remained silent on this issue. Neither the domestic leaders of the movement nor the thousands of Iranian diasporas who have come to the streets in support of the movement, have commented about the ongoing nuclear dispute. This silence is perhaps motivated by a desire to gain maximum international support for the Green movement and maintain the international pressure on Iran's leadership. The nuclear program however is a national concern for all Iranians and this silence will only encourage the nations that are committed to stopping Iran's nuclear program to push forward with their agenda.


Despite the ongoing international struggle for political freedom, the Green movement must speak out in defense of the nuclear program and in opposition to the proposed plans for more sanctions and military strike. Unfortunately no one is challenging the biased argument that Iran's nuclear program is an existential threat to Israel and the United States. The few people who dare to question this unproven assumption are harshly criticized. 


The Inconvenient truth about Iran's Nuclear Program


The truth is that Iran's nuclear program can at most pose a strategic threat to US and Israeli interests in the region but never an existential one.. All experts agree that even if Iran has a hidden agenda to develop nuclear weapons it can only assemble a small arsenal of less than ten nuclear bombs in the foreseeable future. The fear mongers claim that as soon as Iran develops a nuclear weapon it will immediately attack Israel or US military installation or the small oil sheikhdoms. Why would Iran do such a thing when it is fully aware of the massive nuclear power of the United States and Israel. The only way that such a scenario can materialize is that the Iranian government is irrational and suicidal. But the behavior of Iranian government in recent years shows that it takes rational and calculated risks. If the Iranian government was suicidal it would have provoked a direct military confrontation with the United States in Iran of Afghanistan but has not done so. The fact is that if Iran develops a nuclear capability it will only be used for deterrence purposes.


Both Israeli and American leaders are fully aware of this fact although they will never admit it publicly. What really worries them is that if Iran develops its nuclear program it will encourage Arab countries to seek nuclear weapons and as a result the current military superiority of Israel will be challenged. Both Israel and the United States enjoy absolute military superiority over the entire Middle East region. This superiority allows Israel to continue its occupation of the Palestinian territories. The nuclear empowerment of Iran or an Arab country would lead to stronger support for forces of Palestinian resistance.


At present Israel can threaten any country that supports Hamas or Hezbollah with military attack. It can attack Lebanon of Gaza without any significance consequences. If one  or some Middle East countries develop nuclear capability then they can support the Palestinian resistance without fear of retaliation. As a result the cost of occupation to Israel will increase and it might be forced to abandon the Palestinian territories. This scenario is the main and real motive for Israel's opposition to Iran's nuclear program. Israel is opposed to nuclear empowerment of all and any Middle Eastern state. This is the inconvenient truth about Iran's nuclear program that no one talks about. Iran's nuclear program is not an existential threat to Israel. At most it can be a strategic threat to Israel's occupation of the Palestinian territories. Iran's nuclear program will not pose a threat to any of its neighbors because they are all protected by the United States military might.


What Can the Green Movement Do?


The Green Movement should use the global attention that it is currently enjoying to expose this inconvenient truth and by doing so help defuse the current propaganda for sanctions and military strike. The Iranian communities in Europe and North America have gained political capital in recent weeks because of the popularity of the Iran's protest movement in the West. It is time to spend this political capital to challenge the prevalent propaganda against Iran's nuclear program. Prominent Iranian personalities and commentators who have appeared in Western Media such as Afshin Molavi, Hamoon Majd, Akbar Ganji, Mohsen Makhmalbaf, Alireza Nourizadeh and Trita Parsi must use these media opportunities to question the false perceptions about Iran's nuclear threat.


Other less prominent members of the Iranian Diaspora can do their share by contributing comments and feedback to internet articles that discuss Iran's nuclear program. Many internet news websites allow for posting of reader comments in response to an article. When you read an article that is biased and misleading about Iran's nuclear program don't just shake your head and move on. Post an informed comment.


The domestic leadership of Green Movement can do its share as well. One of the excuses that have regularly been used by opponents of Iran's nuclear program is that Iran pursues a militant anti-Israel, anti-American foreign policy. Some say that if Iran was a more moderate country perhaps its nuclear ambitions were more tolerable. The domestic leaders of the Green movement (Mousavi, Karrubi, Khatami,....) can help defuse the anti-Iran propaganda by offering a moderate alternative to Mr. Ahmadinejad's style of foreign policy. The course of political developments inside Iran in recent weeks has shown that the Green movement is evolving into a durable political force which can influence both domestic and foreign policy.  World governments are hence closely watching the policies that are being advocated by the leaders of this movement. If Western governments observe a potential for moderation in Iran's foreign policy they might show more flexibility in nuclear negotiations.

... Payvand News - 08/02/09 ... --

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