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The West's rapprochement with Iran may be a mistake

Dan Cooper discusses the future of Iran's nuclear programme and the changing relationship between Iran and the West.

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Photo Credit: European External Access Service
Photo Credit: European External Access Service


During the past few weeks there has been a remarkable turning point in the stance of Western powers towards Iran. The deal on the 24th November awarded the Islamist theocracy £4.3 billion in sanctions relief, in return for the Iranian leadership promising to limit some aspects of its nuclear programme.

The deal, which resulted in huge cheering crowds on the streets of Tehran, has been followed by a promise by a senior Obama administration official that the US may provide assistance to Iran in its development of a "civilian nuclear programme, including domestic enrichment". Iran has been given a green light to continue enriching uranium up to 5%, despite the fact that this violates six United Nations Security Council resolutions which have commanded Iran to cease all uranium enrichment.

Although it is highly questionable why Iran, a nation with some of the largest oil and gas reserves in the world, is so desperate to get its energy from nuclear power, William Hague assures us that we have nothing to worry about because the recently elected government led by President Rouhani had "presented themselves in a much more positive light than recent governments".

However, the background of the new supposedly moderate Iranian president raises questions about whether Rouhani really is the reasonable man who many in the West claim he is. Rouhani has been at the heart of the Iranian government ever since the Khomeini era - a period in which 20,000 people were murdered by the state according to a UN inquiry. He is a Shiite cleric and very much embedded within the anti-Western theocratic elite of the Iranian state.

Rouhani was chairman of Iran's Supreme National Security Council from 1989 until 2005, during which time the Council allegedly helped mastermind the 1994 bombing of the Jewish cultural center in Buenos Aires. Under Rouhani's leadership the Council was also behind the assassinations of numerous political opponents of the Iranian regime living abroad.

However, even if Rouhani was a champion of peace and progress rather than a man closely linked to activities of state terrorism, then it wouldn't matter, because the real power in Iran lies with its Supreme Leader - Ali Khamenei. Khamenei has previously spoken of his "hatred of the West" and has stated that "this cancerous tumour of a state [Israel] should be removed from the region".

Furthermore, the Shiite leadership of Iran are staunch believers in the endtimes doctrine that the return of the Mahdi, whom Shiite Muslims believe to be their messiah, will correspond with a cataclysmic war. This has led many commentators to question whether the Iranian leadership might actually view a nuclear war as a positive scenario. The last thing the turbulent region of the Middle East needs is people with such beliefs having their fingers on the nuclear button.

The Geneva deal does nothing to dismantle Iran's centrifuges or plutonium reactors - the critical components necessary for the construction of a nuclear bomb. Following the Geneva deal President Rouhani promised to "forge ahead" with Iran's nuclear programme and declared that its enrichment programme would "never stop". The increased economic prosperity which the Islamic Republic will enjoy as a result of sanctions relief will give the regime greater legitimacy and more revenue to invest in its nuclear programme.

The fact is that this deal has done absolutely nothing to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon with which it could threaten the existence of Israel - the region's only liberal democracy and the world's only Jewish state. In fact, it has considerably strengthened the position of the Iranian regime. If the Western powers really think they have secured "peace in our time", they are just as deluded as Neville Chamberlain was when he got off his plane from Munich and waved his piece of paper. Appeasing a tyrannical anti-Semitic power was the wrong decision in 1938 and it is wrong in 2013 too.

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1 Comment

Change Iran Now Posted on Friday 22 Nov 2019

The speed and almost reckless haste of negotiations is more an indication of the precarious nature of the President of the United States and his party in terms of their negative slide in opinion polls with the failure and criticism over its policies such as the Affordable Care Act. Presidents in trouble have often sought a quick home run politically with a perceived foreign policy victory. We don't have to look much further than the previous President's use of the "surge" in Afghanistan in an attempt to divert the public's attention from the collapse of the financial markets at home.

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