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Iran's nuclear ambitions and democracy


Pirouz Azadi
May 20, 2005

The lingering issue of possible nuclear proliferation in Iran continues to consume an immense amount of foreign policy initiatives of the west and as reflected by the media. The United States, which has seemingly made strides to exert its leverage against Iran through its European allies, namely, Britain, France and Germany, remains in the dire hope of forcing the Iranian regime to give up all its nuclear ambitions for almost no substantive return.

In anticipation for yet another round of talks next Tuesday between the Iranian and European negotiators, too little incentives and too late has been tossed around including "spare parts for civilian aircrafts" for Iran to abandon its nuclear ambition.

While the U.S. has single-handedly identified Iran as a potential threat to the region's stability due to its possible nuclear development notwithstanding Iran's long standing signature to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) for transparent and IAEA and UN verifiable peaceful use of nuclear energy technology , it is increasingly paradoxical to many worldwide not to speculate on the specific reasons as to why the U.S. would selectively pick on Iran, while it has kept a close eye when Israel, Pakistan and India, the non-signatories to NPT, have in recent juncture developed their nuclear arsenals.

Moreover, in lieu of multifaceted internal inadequacies and improprieties in Iran including lack of democracy, sound socioeconomic policy and violation of human rights, when Iran is compared to the neighboring countries from central Asia to the near East and Asia Minor, it has indeed sustainably remained an island of stability.

As to the Iranian people who have repeatedly registered their aspirations for an independent, orderly transition to democracy, freedom and human rights, they feel once again trapped in a dichotomy of preserving their national interest, nationalism and pride on the one hand, while striving to achieve these overdue goals with yet another external shadow hovering over their heads, on the other.

The upcoming Iranian Presidential election is once again overshadowed for lack of a comprehensive discourse for its merit due in part to national apathy, and by the nuclear issue as perpetrated by the U.S., which in essence guarantees another eight years of presidency for the most astute candidate, Akbar Heshemi Brahmani Rafsanjani, a former two-term president veteran, who could not even rank among the top 30 members in the Tehran municipal 2001 election.

Iran, at its 60% production capacity and possessing one of the top three gas/oil reservoirs worldwide, can currently sell less than 50% of its crude oil in the international market, as this nation of 70 million is increasingly guzzling most its oil and gas productions domestically.

As envisioned by the former Shah's regime in the early 70's and supported then by the U.S., Iran has longed for the development of nuclear energy as an alternative to complement its ultimately exhausting non-renewable fossil fuels for the past thirty years, but not even a single nuclear reactor has joined the electric grid yet.

The possible resolution of this impasse, therefore, requires a multi-jurisdictional apporach in a multifaceted mode that includes meeting future energy needs of the country including nuclear, solar, wind, and hybrid technology from the West, removal of economic sanctions.

Above all, the aspiration of Iranian people for democracy, freedom, human rights, must be safeguarded and their feeling of nationalism and pride respected, if the West, albeit the U.S. and its European allies are seriously determined to resolve this crisis peacefully, transparently and equitably.

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