Just under two weeks ago, I suggested in a piece for LabourList that Iran had sent a wake up call to the West on its hostile foreign policy and alleged nuclear weapons programme. Today, evidence has surfaced to suggest that the world should indeed be alarmed at Iran’s nuclear plans, and places the military option firmly in the minds of Western politicians.
The Times has supposedly obtained confidential documents which outline a multi-year plan to test a specific component required to trigger an atomic explosion, the “neutron initiator”. If it weren’t for the seriousness of the escalating stand-off over Iran’s nuclear programme, perhaps we would find it amusing that gadgets which would sound outlandish even in a James Bond film are making headlines in our major newspapers. Worryingly though, if this evidence is credible, it points to solid plans by the Iranian regime to develop nuclear weapons in the immediate future.
According to David Albright, a respected American physicist interview by The Times, there isn’t a use for the neutron initiator device except to trigger the explosion of a nuclear bomb.
Western powers have been patient and lenient in their approach to Iran. The past few years have seen round upon round of fruitless negotiation, and a concerted effort by the government in Tehran to hide their efforts to build a weapon. This isn’t the first time that new evidence has surfaced to contradict Iran’s claims to be building a peaceful nuclear programme; just a few months ago intelligence showed that a secret uranium enrichment plant had been constructed near Qom, some 200km from Tehran. So far it would seem, the Iranians have been skilful in taking advantage of relative weakness in the US, the UK and other major powers, due to the collective reluctance to intervene so soon after tiring efforts in Afghanistan & Iraq, and with an ongoing war in Afghanistan drawing on the resources of Western armed forces and finance ministries.
As I said in my previous piece, it’s time for Washington DC and London (and in an ideal world, Paris, Berlin, Beijing & Moscow) to pay more attention to this developing situation, and now in light of this evidence, to step up the effort to contain Iran’s nuclear programme. It’s looking less and less likely that the programme is for peaceful energy use only, and surely it’s better to be safe than sorry. I for one don’t want to wake up in a few months to breaking news that a nuclear bomb has been tested by one of the world’s least trustworthy countries, which has openly stated its hostility to other countries in the region.
Let’s hope that despite his recent “pre-emptive” Nobel Peace Prize, President Obama realises that now is the time to get tough on Tehran.
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