U.S. seeks more U.N. sanctions on Iran
The latest IAEA report was hailed by Iran's president as a 'historic victory." But the US still sees evidence of a weapons program.
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Analysts in Iran say that Ahmadinejad's frequent vow not to retreat "one iota" from Iran's nuclear ambitions has built a sense of "atomic nationalism."Skip to next paragraph
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"Ahmadinejad already declared victory. He's reaped the benefits of that – especially after the NIE, which has at least weakened and eroded the [anti-Iran] coalition," says an Iranian political scientist who asked not to be named. The president has taken credit for "orchestrating this victory against the West," he says.
"Even middle-of-the-road reformists believe [Ahmadinejad] won," says the analyst. "The fact there was no military action and now little chance of it is a victory."
Still, the two sets of UN sanctions and one set of unilateral American ones already levied against Iran are having an impact. On Thursday, Britain and France introduced the new UN sanctions draft, which would expand travel bans and freeze the assets of more Iranian officials connected to the nuclear program.
"I personally think we should go for the bomb and have it. I don't think Saddam Hussein would have attacked us [in 1980]," says a Western-educated academic in Tehran. "Atomic bombs aren't for use. You must have them to sit at the table. I'm all for Iran having nukes; people would think twice before they attacked."
"Iran is in the eye of the storm," he says, noting that regional neighbor Pakistan and arch-foe Israel both have nuclear weapons, though neither are signatories like Iran of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. "It is the duty of every government to equip itself to defend itself. Any state in Iran's position should go after the latest military technology."
Since the NIE report, US officials have raised the bar for Iran's compliance, insisting that Tehran acknowledge that it once had a nuclear weapons program. The new US intelligence described in the IAEA report includes designs for a 400-meter shaft for remotely testing explosives from six miles away, which "would be relevant" to weapons research.
The laptop also had designs for the inner cone of a missile reentry vehicle that were, according to the IAEA report, "quite likely to be able to accommodate a nuclear device."
Iran on Sunday accused the US of deliberately delaying the hand over of the three-year-old intelligence to the IAEA to keep Iran's nuclear file open. "All of a sudden, the Americans notice this thing is going to be closed," Iran's delegate to the IAEA, Ali Ashgar Soltanieh, said in Vienna. "So ... suddenly ... they have additional and new documents. These dirty games should be stopped immediately."
"People have no idea about the nuclear issue because it can't be discussed in the newspapers – nobody knows the cost of this," says Saeed Laylaz, editor of the Sarmayeh economic newspaper in Tehran.
"The US threatens us day by day, and says 'Don't move, I will destroy you after Iraq,'" says Mr. Laylaz, a frequent regime critic.
"I believe the Iran nuclear project depends upon the US. They are pushing us to be a nuclear weapons power. Only as a deterrent [for Iran] does it make sense."