Iran and the bomb

It was not so much the confusion about the deal – that it’s not clear if Iran has given up on the bomb or, as David Horowitz says, that the U.S. has let Iran off the hook.

It’s that cheerful scene a week ago when they announced the nuclear deal in Geneva , the big smiles, the hugs all round, although Iran’s Foreign Minister did not hug the English woman, Catherine Ashton. She looked like a girl guide at a boy scout party.

If the deal had turned out the way we wanted it, presumably the atmosphere would have been cold and the Iranians would have set out for home with set faces. The Supreme Leader, Ali Khameni would not have publicly blessed the deal, but he has now. But he hasn’t told the Iranian people that Iran is not going to get the bomb. From what they know, it’s likely they’ll assume it’s still on the way.

Most of us have puzzled over all this for the last few days with the mounting pile of commentary from the experts, with many different views and forecasts.

A revealing comment comes from the Washington writer, David Ignatius, who is in support of the deal. “The definition of a good agreement,” he writes,” is one that each side can sell to its public, and that’s the case here.” Is this what President Obama means when he talks about a diplomatic solution preferred to sterner action? Do they “sell” their actions to the public in Iran? Backing Assad in Syria, sending him money, arms and soldiers to help kill Syrians, for example. Or more rockets for Hezbollah and support for terrorism around the world and threats for the destruction of Israel?

I suppose we expected that the five primary nuclear powers of the world, the United States, Russia, China, Britain, France, would go to Geneva in a tough mood. A nuclear power at the head of the Persian Gulf is not just a threat to Israel. It’s a threat to the Gulf states, to the world’s oil supply, to the Eastern end of the Mediterranean, to the peace of the world.

But instead, it was “happy days are here again” in Geneva. The French appeared to have dug their heels in at one stage but later they softened.
And there was that energetic figure, John Kerry, the U.S. Secretary of State. Back and forth he goes in the Middle East, desperately looking for some success. Things look bad with those impossible people, Israelis and Palestinians, so perhaps this was his chance for the history books.

Few of us are experts on nuclear power, bombs or peaceful. But we know that it’s dangerous stuff and we know that the Iranians have lied about it, on and off for a couple of decades. One thinks of that old story from Israel about the official who’s asked about the bomb and replies that although he can’t say anything about it, perhaps “we have it or not but it only takes two turns of the screwdriver.”

The most worrying thing is that the Iranians have gained power by appearing to be on their way to the bomb. These events have shown that the Iranians are now people who must be handled carefully. They are a nuclear power in embryo.

I can’t help thinking about Saddam Hussein. The West has felt guilty about wrong information that he had weapons of mass destruction. But he didn’t do anything much about refuting the reports. It’s an easy guess the he enjoyed being thought of in those terms. Bashir Assad has played the same game.

About the Author
David Shaw was a correspondent in South East Asia and China and wrote for British and Australian papers from Jerusalem.
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