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Saturday, November 22, 2014

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Partial disclosure, full alarm

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This week may prove to be pivotal in the world’s efforts to bring Iran’s furtive nuclear weapons industry to a halt. The director general of the United Nation’s International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Yukiya Amano, will present the latest of the agency’s reports on the Iranian nuclear program to the representatives of 35 countries that compose the IAEA’s board of governors.

Even ahead of its official release, some observers have noted – undoubtedly through selective leaks of some of the document’s findings – that Amano’s report will be the harshest yet concerning Iran’s dissembling and duplicity about its nuclear ambitions. 

For lack of the full and final piece of unequivocal evidence, the report will not definitively conclude that Iran has already acquired the capability to manufacture nuclear weapons. But it is expected to cite the many activities undertaken by the Iranian engineers and scientists, the sole purpose of which can only have been to acquire nuclear weapons. As Ha’aretz commented however, “the report’s main importance is that it will emphasize that Iran has continued its various activities to produce nuclear weapons since 2004, and therefore the report will also invalidate the U.S. intelligence report from 2007 that stated Iran had stopped its work on nuclear weapons development in 2003.”

It was likely the anticipation of the report’s imminent release that inspired much public speculations last week out of Israel, the United States and Europe about the inevitability of a military strike by Israel, joined possibly by other western forces, against Iran’s military nuclear infrastructure. Israel’s successful test trial of a long-range missile undoubtedly contributed to the suddenly heightened tense atmosphere.

Even Israeli President Shimon Peres commented ruefully that the time to achieve a diplomatic solution to the Iranian crisis seemed to be winding down. He urged world leaders to honour their respective vows “not to allow Iran to obtain nuclear weapons.” 

The IAEA report will form the basis of the further measures that the United Nations will take against Tehran. The lines are drawn and have been for the entirety of the debate over Iran. The United States and other western nations will demand stricter sanctions against the Iranian government. Russia and China, on the other hand, will likely oppose them. The situation, alas, is far too grave for geopolitical gamesmanship and jockeying. 

The IAEA report will give us only part of the damning story. But it will leave the countries of the Middle East, especially Israel and the Gulf states feeling fully alarmed. Peace-loving nations must act to prevent the rise of a nuclear-armed Iran.

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