Aug 19, 2009

Iran on the Edge

Chuck Missler
By Chuck Missler

Iran will ask the International Atomic Energy Agency to ban pre-emptive strikes on nuclear facilities at its upcoming general conference in September, and has agreed to begin talks about its nuclear program. In the meanwhile, open protests against the conservative government have continued since Iran's controversial June elections, and reports that protestors have been tortured and raped have forced Iran to soften its approach in order to bring order back to its nation.

Iran told the Associated Press that it would propose a ban on pre-emptive strikes against all nuclear facilities across the globe, but made a point of saying the proposal was not motivated by fear of Israel.
"We are not worried about Israel," said Ali Asghar Soltanieh, Iran's chief envoy to the IAEA. "Nobody dares to do anything against Iran."
Iran can make that claim, but Israel isn't easy to shrug off. The Hebrew nation has made clear its willingness to bomb enemy nuclear sites without apparent concern for international disapproval. Israel destroyed Iraq's Osirak nuclear reactor in 1981 and attacked an alleged Syrian reactor under construction in 2007. Right now Israel seems content to allow the US to try to work with Iran, but Israel has not taken back its threats to bomb Iranian nuclear plants in order to protect itself.

Israel is not Iran's only threat, however. The allegations that protestors of the June election results have been tortured and even beaten to death have caused Iran's top officials to show a little humanity. While the opposition says that 69 protestors were killed, besides those who died in prison, no security agents have been prosecuted for their abusive treatment. The head of the judiciary has finally offered to put on trial those security agents who have been accused of the torture, and some conservatives in the government have condemned the abuse. So far, only the protestors themselves have been brought before the judiciary.

Iran has been willing to admit the possibility of torture, but has loudly denied allegations that some of the protestors have been raped in prison. The reformist presidential candidate Mehdi Karroubi caused consternation by bringing up these embarrassing allegations recently. The government responded by attacking Karroubi, accusing him of "total slander against the Islamic system." He has been maligned and threatened with arrest, but Karroubi has remained stalwart.
"Insults and criticism won't make me silent," Mr. Karroubi said when the rape allegations were dismissed as meaningless. "I'll defend the rights of the people as long as I live and you can't stop my hand, tongue and pen."
The criticism of the government has reached all the way to the supreme leader himself, with a group of lawyers calling for an investigation of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei's qualifications. The supreme leader, whom people normally do not dare to criticize, fell from the popular grace when he blessed the controversial election results. Some protestors have even chanted, "Death to Khamenei," which would have never been done before.

Iran is in a tight spot, and it needs to do some maneuvering to keep from imploding. President Obama has given Iran until September to respond to US willingness to dialogue, and Iran has stated it is ready to negotiate on the nuclear issue. If talks fail, though, the next step for the United States is to push for stronger UN sanctions, which would hurt Iran financially and likely cause even greater unrest among the Iranian people.

Related Links
Iran: Ban all Strikes on Nuclear Facilities - JTA
Russian, Israeli Leaders Discuss Mideast Peace, Iran - VOA News
Iran Tries to Suppress Rape Allegations - The New York Times
Iran's Top Judge Gives Nod To Torture Reports - AP
Official: Iran Ready for Nuclear Talks With West - Fox News
IAEA Accused of Withholding Iran Nuclear Evidence - Global Security Newswire
Russia might consider sales of military aircraft to Iran - WashingtonTV
Israel Cites Progress in Halting Missile Sale to Iran - New York Times
Iranian Arms Seized in Iraq, Officials Say - New York Times