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March 8, 2006
Iranians Unhappy About Nuclear Standoff

The Washington Post runs an interesting story about the unease felt by many Iranians about their government's increasingly confrontational stance with the world regarding its pursuit of nuclear technology. Iranian civilians question the wisdom of inflaming world opinion against them and potentially working their way into economic sanctions that will only make their lives even more difficult:

Iranians are expressing unease about the international showdown over their country's nuclear program, as broad public support for atomic power is tempered by growing misgivings about the cost. ...

The misgivings emerge as the International Atomic Energy Agency, meeting this week in Vienna, considers reporting Iran to the U.N. Security Council for defying demands to suspend specific nuclear activities. The council could impose sanctions or otherwise penalize the government and, in the process, further isolate Iranians already feeling the chill of international disfavor.

"One thing is obvious: If more foreigners come to this country, it means more money, more jobs," said Ahmad Ashuri, whose business making metal screens has declined in recent months along with Tehran's construction industry. "But this nuclear issue means fewer foreigners are coming to the country. Less money. If something is our right, we need to talk properly to the world."

With an official unemployment rate of 10%, which the Post says may be twice that in reality, Iranians are already struggling to make ends meet in their moribund economy -- and that's with foreign investment and business having no sanctions to keep them out. A sanctions regime could kill whatever economic activity they have now, and despite the drumbeat repetition of official mullahcracy slogans telling Iranians that nuclear power is their birthright, everyone understands that it comes with a high cost.

Most are now wondering why Iran has been so clumsy in its approach to nuclear research. While most support the sovereignty argument, a growing portion have begun asking why Iran provoked the international community by keeping a nuclear energy program secret and hidden from the IAEA. Even politicians who have to face the mullahs of the Governing Council wonder at the strategy taken by the nation's leadership. One has openly question where the mullahs expect to get the uranium for the program once they have angered the international community, since Iran only has enough of the element to power one industrial-capacity (1,000 megawatts) generator for seven years. If Iran cannot get more uranium abroad because of its intransigence, then why start the program at all?

The answers to all of the above are rather obvious -- once one stops thinking that Iran wants a peaceful nuclear-energy program. The mullahs have no concerns about the fuel supply because it wants to develop weapons, not generate power. Iran has all the power it needs in its vast oil reserves. That's why the program had to be hidden away from IAEA inspectors.

Most of the world already understands this, but realization may slowly be dawning in Iran, too. Perhaps that's why the mullahcracy ratcheted up the rhetoric this morning by threatening the US with "harm and pain" if the UN Security Council takes up the case:

Iran said on Wednesday the United States could feel "harm and pain" if the U.N. Security Council took up the issue of Tehran's nuclear research and Tehran vowed to pursue the program come what may.

"The United States may have the power to cause harm and pain but it is also susceptible to harm and pain. So if the United States wishes to choose that path, let the ball roll," it said in a statement obtained by Reuters on the sidelines of a U.N. nuclear watchdog board meeting in Vienna.

That sounds like more than a threat; considering the sponsorship given by Iran to Islamist terrorist groups around the world, it sounds more like a signal to its terror clients to attack US interests when the UNSC addresses Teheran's nuclear ambitions.

It comes after the EU acknowledged that Iran has rejected -- again -- a Russian compromise, this one only postponing Iranian enrichment for seven to nine years. Iran, like Hitler in the 1930s, understands that its unreasonableness and violent rhetoric pays rewards with European appeasers. Teheran calculates that the EU will completely capitulate after a couple of more rounds, given their tactical retreats thus far at the negotiating table. The worst part about that calculation is that it has been deadly accurate so far, and shows no sign of being wrong in the near future.

Sphere It Digg! View blog reactions
Posted by Ed Morrissey at March 8, 2006 6:12 AM

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