11/12/2011

Nuclear report challenges Iranian regime

The Wall Street Journal



UN report to be released this week is expected to detail Iran's push into nuclear weapons, similar to this nuclear-capable missile in Pakistan. Picture: AP Source: AP
IRAN'S reaction to new accusations that it is pursuing development of a nuclear weapon has been defiant, answering potential threats with harsh warnings of retaliation.
But behind the rhetoric, Iran's regime, fractured by political infighting and with an economy weakened by international sanctions, has been presented with one of the most daunting challenges of its 32-year history.
Following the release on Tuesday of the United Nations nuclear agency's report concluding Iran is pursuing the development of nuclear weapons, the US and others have indicated they would seek to put more weight into two main pressure points on Iran - sanctions and the threat of a military strike.
Though those efforts have yet to force concessions, Tehran's recent show of defiance has been read by some Iran experts as false bravado intended to keep the international community from taking harsher action.
Iran has two options, analysts say. Push back and risk provoking a fatal blow, or concede to negotiations about its nuclear program and risk appearing weak - at a time when several other autocratic governments in the region have been toppled by popular uprisings.
For now, the closest Iran has come to concession was the Foreign Ministry representative's statement on Wednesday that Iran was ready to negotiate on the condition that it was treated on equal footing.
But the Islamic Republic's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and senior military commanders all pledged to sow mayhem if the US or Israel attacked. Ahmadinejad said Iran will not budge on its nuclear program.
Hossein Bastani, a former government official now based in France, said, "The only condition Iran will retreat is if it truly feels a major threat in the near future, otherwise it will push ahead with its nuclear program to a point of no return."


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