Falling short [By Jiao Haiyang/China.org.cn]
In 2006, Egypt's Mohamed ElBaradei-led IAEA issued a report asking Iran for more cooperation and transparency on its uranium enrichment program. However, current IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano's latest report on Iran's nuclear program has changed its tone.
Iran's nuclear program began in the 1950s but was slow to progress. At the time, the U.S. and Russia provided Tehran with technical support. The development of nuclear technology does not necessarily point to the nuclear research and development barred by the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. It is within Iran's right to develop nuclear energy for peaceful purposes. And the uranium enrichment activities itself doesn't provide sufficient evidence that Tehran is pursuing a weaponized nuclear program.
IAEA's latest report quotes earlier reports that Iran secretly received technical assistance from other countries. Instead of peaceful technical assistance from the U.S. and Russia, Iran this time received core technical support of "evil" weapons from countries like Pakistan and North Korean. The attached 12-page-long report covers details including documents and satellite photos that support the claim that, in violation of its international obligations, Iran is covertly developing nuclear weapons. If there is no measure to stop Iran in a certain time window, Iran will own destructive nuclear weapon in the future, according to the report.
In theory, desperate measures should be employed to stop immediate dangers. Resolution 1929, considered the most severe punishment the U.N. Security Council has imposed on Iran's nuclear program thus far, was only in the scope of sanctions, which cannot effectively hinder Iran's nuclear research. There's little room for the Security Council to come out with a new resolution even stricter than the Resolution 1929.
For Israel, it has the all the reasons it needs to start "preemptive self-defense" when Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said that Israel should be "wiped off the face of the earth." But the self-defense should be restricted within the range of counterforce, rather than aggression.
As for the U.S., a small scale raid is not enough to meet its goals. Therefore, as long as Israel initiates the raid, Americans and the British are highly likely to follow up and start the second wave of large scale military strike to overthrow the Iranian regime. In fact, with troops stationed in Iraq, Kuwait, Persian Gulf, Turkey and Afghanistan, the U.S. has long since deployed in key positions surrounding Iran. All that is needed is an excuse to launch the strike. The reason the U.S. used to initiate attacks on Iraq was the "tangible CIA intelligence" that proved to be bogus after the war. It took advantage of loopholes in the international laws. If IAEA can again provide supposedly credible reports, there's little question that the U.S. will be up to its old tricks.
Of course, there is still room for diplomacy to keep peace. The U.S. needs to come to terms with anti-war activists and get the authorization from the Congress before attacking Iran. And Iran has had precedent to change its position under pressure and decide to allow inspection. Regardless, the threat of war looming above the Persian Gulf is quite real.
When more than 40 percent of the world's oil should pass through the Strait of Hormuz, the volatile situation in Iran is jangling the nerves of the global energy market. Once the war breaks out, the oil supply will be directly affected. The international community must realize the seriousness of the situation and be prepared for the worst.
(This article was first published in Chinese and translated by Li Huiru.)
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