Iran goes into talks with the UN Security Council members, plus Germany, against a backdrop of various players lying and cheating and bullying—but at least staying within the nuclear rules...unlike Israel

What would happen if Iran decides to copy Israel and refuse to abide by the world’s nuclear safeguards?

Alarmist? Not really. Alarming, certainly. Possible? Why not?

All that would be involved would be Iran coming under such pressure from a heavy-handed reaction to its nuclear programme that it decides to pull out of its current obligations under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). That’s a Treaty Israel refuses to sign up to, despite being the only country in the Middle East to have nuclear weapons, and remember there’s no evidence Iran is developing such weapons. If it did decide to develop nuclear weapons its NPT obligations would require advising the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) 180 days before any weapons were on its, as yet non-operational, site.

That said, Iran is currently, for the first time in a year, turning up to meet with the permanent members of the UN Security Council (US, Britain, Russia, France, China) and Germany to start the dialogue which the ‘West’ hopes will prevent Iran from developing any actual nuclear weapons.

This follows hard on the heels of the revelation that Iran has been for some time clandestinely constructing another nuclear plant near its holy city of Qom. It is puzzling that the Americans said they have been aware of such secret construction for some time, but nevertheless dropped the info on the world when assured maximum impact – the week Iran’s very strange leader was in New York for the UN General Assembly and supposedly available for questioning by the free media.

Not much was gleaned from any questions to Ahmadinejad, surprise surprise. However what was clear were cries from world powers for “crippling sanctions” against Iran unless it comes clean, along with plenty of the usual pot-stirring from Israel. After all Israel’s dream scenario would be a US strategic attack to take out Iran’s nuclear facilities, but the US-Israel friendship-with-benefits doesn’t seem to be as unquestioning nor beneficial as it once was, thankfully.

Iran, as we know, did fess up to the second enrichment facility and it would be a safe bet the mea culpa was because it was staring down a centrifuge of irrefutable evidence of secret plutonium activity. As Lange would have noted, you could smell the uranium on Ahmadinejad’s breath.

But this is all so rehashed, re-thrashed and more than likely will be re-trashed. The issue is what, apart from condemn from lofty heights and threaten more and more of the same in the sanctions department, can the global powers do?

The first signs of Russia and China joining in a hardening of sanctions for Iran’s latest dirty little secret have in the last few days dissipated somewhat—probably because Russia is so entwined geopolitically with Tehran, and China is equally hungry for the Islamic Republic’s energy resources and business opportunities in developing said resources, that neither wants to be just another lackey lining up to rubber stamp an American led band, no matter how virtuous the cause may be.

It also comes at a time when Iran has chosen to flex its twitchy muscle by test firing a couple of missiles. Quite possibly the tests were to see if they exploded on their bases or were able to spit off into space. Where they ended up is possibly as much a mystery to Iran as it is to those who were trying to follow the projectiles. That however is not the point.

The Revolutionary Guard proudly proclaimed post test that its missiles could reach anyone who threatened Iran—that means Israel without actually saying so, and just to chuck in a little non-kosher salt, the test coincided with the big Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur.

Geneva is supposed to be the circuit breaker to the endless tail chasing that comes when tut-tutting from a holier than thou West collides with obfuscation from the mullahs, and the only ones to suffer are the hapless citizens of the offending nation. Statistics on Iraq’s infant mortality during the sanctions against it speak volumes of the cruelty and ineffectiveness of sanctions per se.

There’s little shock in the revelation that Iran is trying desperately to glow in the dark—technically challenged still perhaps, but missile active without doubt.

For some this in itself signals there is not further need for diplomatic chat and it is time for military strikes. Thank God or Allah or whomever that to date these trigger-happy, and likely circumcised, jocks remain in the minority. For diplomacy to keep them as such, however, requires a fair bit of effort on the part of all, and Iran in spades.

First of all, that any self-respecting nation sits around a table with Iran given its election and post election barbarism is a big ask and one Iran should be aware of.

That any nation can be bothered putting to one side the provocative war-games Iran played prior to this meeting with its missile tests is testament to the dedication many nations have to the nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation cause.

That any interpreter can possibly avoid being lost in translation in terms of the crap that will be sure to come in the form of the Iranian push to set the agenda for these talks will be nothing short of a miracle.

But neither the psychobabble from Iran nor the hard edge cloaked in diplomatic robes from the P5+1 can afford to get in the way of this week’s talks.

Iran is already on the back foot in terms of the international condemnation of its recent election and the treatment of those who dare to oppose, but it is also severely weakened domestically and here’s the double-edged sword.

While it is more than plausible that Iran is already inured to sanctions, Ahmadinejad’s clique can not afford for any more—particularly of the “crippling” variety—if he is to stave off further domestic disaffection. To prove himself a true leader with a grip on power and an international standing he would be therefore highly tempted to blow the plutonium raspberry at the rest of the world and do whatever the Ayatollah commands in terms of resuming the nuclear programme.

Nukes may be the elephant in the highly gilded meeting room in Geneva, but that elephant needs to be addressed in the broadest possible sense.

Instead of pontificating on Iran’s sins, perhaps the nations that gather for these incredibly important discussions will have to recognize that Iran is going to be a nation with a domestic nuclear capacity. Unbearable as this may seem, Iran might, in the best possible diplomatic taste of course, require a little bit of sucking up to, praise, and possibly some play dates to confirm it as a recognised force in the Middle East. Such a force will not be bombed by Israel or anyone else on its behalf, and in exchange the world requires access to ensure Iran is not in the weaponisation game.

Surely this would be an advance on the outrage and counter-outrage, domination and humiliation game that has produced no tangible results so far?







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