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Sao Paulo - For the last several decades, fundamental international issues of war and peace have been largely determined by a small group of countries, especially the permanent members of the United Nations Security Council, the US, Britain, France, Russia and China, with some input from the other so-called G7 industrial democracies: Germany, Italy, Canada, and Japan. The five permanent members of the UN Security Council each have a veto over UN Security Council resolutions; they are also the only countries recognized as nuclear-weapon states under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

We are now at a new moment in international relations, in which countries outside of the permanent members of the Security Council and their handpicked allies are insisting on having some meaningful input into these issues, and are starting to have some success in pressing their case for inclusion. Brazil has been a leader in these efforts.

The most striking example of this shift is the recent willingness of Brazil and Turkey to challenge the leadership of the United States on the question of responding to Iran's nuclear program.

The governments of the United States, Britain and France are currently working to get new economic sanctions imposed against Iran in the United Nations Security Council, as punishment for Iran's refusal to suspend the enrichment of uranium. Iran says it needs enriched uranium to supply its civilian nuclear power program and its medical research reactor, but the US has accused Iran of having ambitions to acquire a nuclear weapon. Until now, as far as anyone knows, Iran has only produced low-enriched uranium, which cannot be used to produce a nuclear weapon. However, a stockpile of low-enriched uranium could be further enriched to weapons-grade - although this is not a trivial task, technically or politically - and therefore an increase in the size of Iran's stockpile of low-enriched uranium does in a sense move Iran closer to having the capacity to produce a nuclear weapon.

The enrichment of uranium by Iran or other non-nuclear weapons states is not a violation of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, and it is generally acknowledged that the NPT gives Iran the right to enrich uranium. Indeed, given that Germany, Japan, Argentina, Brazil and the Netherlands enrich uranium and are non-nuclear weapons state signatories of the NPT, the non-discrimination provision of Article 4 clearly suggests that the right to enrich uranium should extend to Iran as well.

But the position of the U.S. and its closest allies for the last several years has been that Iran must be compelled to forfeit its right to enrich uranium, even for a purely peaceful nuclear program, since the technological knowledge that Iran is acquiring by enriching uranium could be diverted towards a military program in the future, and since Iran has not been completely transparent about its nuclear program, and has not assured other countries that its intentions for its nuclear program in the future are purely non-military.

While it is true that Iran has not been completely transparent about its activities, motivations, and intentions, there is a significant difference of opinion between countries and even within the United States about what this implies and what should be done about it.

In fact, there is a growing body of opinion among Western analysts that Iran's goal is not the acquisition of a nuclear weapon, but the acquisition of the technological knowledge to assemble the components of a nuclear weapon without actually building one and without violating the nuclear non-proliferation treaty. Since Iran could place itself in a position where it could quickly move towards acquiring a nuclear weapon if attacked, this approach could give Iran much of the benefit of acquiring a nuclear weapon as a deterrent against Western attack without subjecting Iran to the negative political and economic consequences of openly violating the treaty.

The U.S. goal has not been merely to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon - the U.S. goal has been to prevent Iran from acquiring the deterrent benefits of getting close to acquiring a nuclear weapon. The United States has been engaged in a struggle for influence with Iran in the region, most notably in Iraq, but also in Lebanon, among the Palestinians, in Afghanistan and among the predominantly Sunni Arab countries of the Persian Gulf. It is widely believed in Washington that if Iran believes itself and is believed by others to be effectively immune from the threat of a U.S. military attack, this will dramatically increase Iran's influence in the region at the expense of the United States.

This belief that allowing Iran to use its nuclear program as a deterrent against attack would increase Iran's influence in the region at the expense of the United States has created a near-consensus in Washington that the U.S. cannot be content with merely preventing Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon, the U.S. must prevent Iran from deriving security benefits from having a peaceful nuclear program.

But it is far from obvious how the United States can effectively go about doing this. U.S. officials have stated that a U.S. military attack on Iran would at most delay Iran's capacity to acquire a nuclear weapon by a few years, while providing political justification for an Iranian decision to do so. A pre-emptive U.S. military attack against Iran would be a grave violation of international law, which would cause severe political damage to the United States, like the political damage done to the U.S. by the 2003 invasion of Iraq in defiance of the UN. And a U.S. military attack could have extremely negative consequences for the U.S. in terms of Iranian retaliation in the region, at time when the U.S. has 150,000 troops in Afghanistan and Iraq.

So the United States has sought to contain Iran's nuclear program with new UN sanctions.

But in order to get new Security Council sanctions against Iran, of course the United States needs the cooperation of others. It needs the cooperation of Russia and China, partly because Russia and China are permanent members of the Security Council and therefore could in theory veto any new sanctions resolution, and partly because new economic sanctions would in any event require Russian and Chinese cooperation, because Russia and China have strong economic ties with Iran, and its energy sector in particular.

But the U.S. also needs the support of countries outside of the permanent five. According to UN procedure, to achieve a new sanctions resolution at the UN, the US needs not only to avoid a veto by one of the permanent five, it needs the affirmative support of nine members of the 15-member Security Council. As it stands now at least Brazil, Turkey and Lebanon, currently rotating members of the council, are likely to vote no or abstain. There may be other dissenters, and since a key US goal is to be perceived as successfully isolating Iran politically, it would undermine U.S. goals to win approval of a sanctions resolution on a vote of 9-6.

Until recently, most of the attention has been on whether the US can induce Russia and China to go along with new sanctions. But now Brazil, together with Turkey, is pushing strongly for a diplomatic resolution to the crisis, rather than new sanctions, and recent press reports have suggested that Brazil's recent diplomatic initiative has had at least the effect of delaying a UN vote, while Brazil and Turkey, acting as mediators, work to revive a proposal from last year in which Iran would ship some of its stock of low-enriched uranium out of the country in return for receiving higher-enriched uranium for its medical research reactor, which produces medical isotopes for the treatment of cancer. Brazil's Foreign Minister Amorim has stated that Brazil's recent interactions with the U.S. on the issue suggest that the U.S. may be willing to compromise.

The proposal for the fuel swap, which was initially strongly backed by the U.S., would have some of the benefits to the U.S. of compelling Iran to suspend enrichment; namely, by using up some of Iran's stock of low-enriched uranium, it would push back the date by which Iran would have enough low-enriched uranium, if it were enriched further, to produce a nuclear weapon.

On the other hand, the proposal for the fuel swap is much more palatable in Iran than suspending enrichment, a non-starter. In Iran, the demand to suspend enrichment is widely seen as tantamount to a demand that Iran give up its nuclear program completely, which is in turn widely seen as a broad attack on Iranian technological progress.

Brazil has likened the current push for expanded sanctions against Iran to the run-up to the US invasion of Iraq in 2003. In particular, Brazil has expressed the fear that expanding sanctions now will undermine the prospects of a diplomatic solution and therefore set the stage for war later.

If Brazil, working together with Turkey and other countries, succeeds in brokering a deal between the U.S. and Iran on Iran's nuclear file, by avoiding a new war that could save the lives of many thousands of people. And in addition, the cost of war is not simply measurable in the lives lost and the money expended directly in the armed conflict. It also costs the world something to be distracted from other issues. When the world is talking about Iran's nuclear program, it's not talking about responding to the threat of climate chaos, or meeting the UN goals for reducing poverty, or guaranteeing the right of the Palestinians to national self-determination.

Brazil's effort to prevent war between the West and Iran and secure a diplomatic agreement should be commended: indeed, it's the sort of effort for which the Nobel Peace Prize has been awarded in the past. In 1906, U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt was awarded the Peace Nobel for brokering the Treaty of Portsmouth that ended the Russo-Japanese war, saving, some have estimated, a quarter of a million lives, according to Fredrik Stanton's new book, Great Negotiations: Agreements that Changed the Modern World.

Now Brazil is experiencing a Presidential election campaign, and some in the opposition are opportunistically attacking the foreign policy of Brazil as being "ideological." But this is a thinly veiled appeal to a "pragmatism" in which Brazil would accept that Washington calls all the shots. The world can't afford any more of this kind of "pragmatism," which would likely lead to more Washington-initiated bloodbaths like Iraq. In the months ahead, I hope that most Brazilians come to see these initiatives not as Lula's foreign policy, but as Brazil's foreign policy, so that no matter who wins the election, Brazil will still be a global leader for peace.

[This is adapted from a presentation given May 3rd to the Global Affairs workshop of the International Relations course at the Escola Superior de Propaganda e Marketing, Sao Paulo, Brazil.]

Originally posted to Robert Naiman on Mon May 03, 2010 at 12:49 PM PDT.

Poll

I support President Lula's efforts to mediate an agreement between the U.S. and Iran on Iran's nuclear program

80%64 votes
20%16 votes

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Comment Preferences

  •  Pre-emptive Brazilian strike on the US and Israel (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mattman, environmentalist, DaNang65

    Or what you said.  Either way.  Anyway Lula's not going to be president forever, so he'd better get on with whatever he's working on.

    When your dream comes true, you're out one dream --The Nields

    by Rich in PA on Mon May 03, 2010 at 12:55:07 PM PDT

  •  Would you please (6+ / 0-)

    do me the favor of quoting and linking some credible sources within this administration or even the DoD that thinks a preemptive strike on Iran is good idea.

    In the choice between changing ones mind and proving there's no need to do so, most people get busy on the proof.

    by jsfox on Mon May 03, 2010 at 01:08:50 PM PDT

  •  You do realize (5+ / 0-)

    that Brazil simply wants to make money be exporting nuke technology to Iran?  They ain't doing this out of the goodness of their hearts.  I think you are being wee bit naive about US evilness, and other country's nobility.

    "Empty vessels make the loudest sound, they have the least wit and are the greatest blabbers" Plato

    by Empty Vessel on Mon May 03, 2010 at 01:21:55 PM PDT

  •  Hmmmm..... (5+ / 0-)

    The enrichment of uranium by Iran or other non-nuclear weapons states is not a violation of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, and it is generally acknowledged that the NPT gives Iran the right to enrich uranium. Indeed, given that Germany, Japan, Argentina, Brazil and the Netherlands enrich uranium and are non-nuclear weapons state signatories of the NPT, the non-discrimination provision of Article 4 clearly suggests that the right to enrich uranium should extend to Iran as well.

    The difference is that Germany, Japan, Argentina, Brazil and the Netherlands haven't dicked the IAEA around about the specifics of their nuclear programs (compliance with IAEA safeguards is a requirement of Article III of the Non-Proliferation Treaty), and unlike Iran those countries don't have Security Council Resolutions hanging over their heads because of obfuscation.

    From the NY Times:

    Yukiya Amano, the director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, singled out Iran, North Korea and Syria for their lack of cooperation with the agency... Mr. Amano said Iran needed to comply with the safeguards agreement it had signed with his agency. The agency "remains unable to confirm that all nuclear material is in peaceful activities because Iran has not provided the necessary cooperation," he said, adding that Iran should "clarify activities with a possible military dimension."

    From the Washington Post:

    The United Nations' top leadership used a high-level nuclear conference Monday to publicly scold Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for his country's defiance of U.N. resolutions, while the United States and its European allies staged a walkout to protest Tehran's nuclear stance.

    U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and the chief U.N. nuclear arms watchdog, Yukiya Amano, blamed Ahmadinejad, who listened from the audience, for provoking the diplomatic standoff over Tehran's nuclear program. The remarks by Ban constituted an extraordinary rebuke of a world leader in the U.N. General Assembly chamber and reflected mounting concern that Tehran's nuclear policy threatens to undermine the review conference of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

    "I call on Iran to comply fully with Security Council resolutions and cooperate fully with the International Atomic Energy Agency," Ban said at the opening of the nearly month-long conference. "Let us be clear: The onus is on Iran to clarify the doubts and concerns about its program."

    •  and yet (5+ / 0-)

      none of that changes the fact that enrichment of uranium does not violate the NPT.

      •  Obviously, Iran should comply with transparency (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Mr Horrible

        But something tells me that's not as simple as it may seem.

        Personally, I think Israel should also be compelled to stand down it's nukes, which, as I understand it, were obtained illegally?

        But, anyway, clearly, whatever is causing Iran to balk at the transparency thing, if that's really what's happening, needs to be resolved, it would seem.

        What is really up with that?

        "...a printing press is worth 10,000 rifles..." Ho Chi Minh

        by Radical def on Mon May 03, 2010 at 01:52:31 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  One matter was its... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          General Choomin

          ...18-year-long secret nuclear program. Iran only came partially clean when that program was exposed in 2002. The IAEA has been trying ever since to resolve the situation, with incomplete results. The second enrichment site that was revealed in 2009 is a continuation of a policy by the government that ought to make everyone mistrustful of Tehran in these matters.)

          (None of that makes me support a military strike on Iran.)

          As for Israel, its diversion of materials for its putative nuclear arsenal is still unclear. But the nuclear reactor (built with French help) from which plutonium was used to create that arsenal was constructed prior to the NNPT, which, in any case, Israel is not a signatory. U.S. inspections of that reactor - instead of by the IAEA - were apparently gamed, with the Israeli authorities being tipped off in advance to the days of the inspectors' visits. Not quite illegal, but certainly give some slack to avoid an effective international inspection regime.

          I refuse to accept "no can do" as a proper slogan for progressives.

          by Meteor Blades on Mon May 03, 2010 at 02:06:18 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Iran should "come clean," but... (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Mr Horrible, Radical def

            I totally support the goal of Iran "coming clean," but:

            1. I don't think it's realistic to expect Iran to "come clean" unilaterally, I expect they will "come clean" as part of a deal, and
            1. it's not even clear to me that expecting them to unilaterally come clean is even a just demand.

            For example: under the NPT, you're not supposed to have secret enrichment facilities.

            On the other hand: under the UN Charter, you're not supposed to bomb other people's countries.

            The US and Israel claim the right to unilaterally bomb nuclear facilities in other countries, even though this is a gross violation of the UN Charter.

            In this context, some caginess on the part of Iran is understandable. Obviously, one reason that the US and Israel want to know where all the facilities are is so they can bomb them. In that context, it's hard for me to get very outraged about a lack of complete transparency on the part of the Iranians.

          •  in context, as explained by Muhammen Sahemi (0+ / 0-)

            in a conference in Seattle, WA last December, Muhammed Sahemi, professor of chemical engineering at University of Southern California, explained that in 1983 Iran sought the appropriate approvals to pursue nuclear enrichment; went through all the paces, got all the signatures, i s dotted, t s crossed.  But US refused to allow Iran's legitimate request to be granted.  So Iran figured out how it could keep the letter of the law if not the spirit.  Listen for yourself:  Dr. Muhammed Sahimi, 1983 & Iran's Quest for Nuclear Technology

            The notion that Iran "carried on an 18 year long secret nuclear program" is a mischaracterization of the facts of the situation.  To punish Iran on the basis of that mischaracterization would be a miscarriage of justice.

          •  That is kind of false (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            With Anchovies Please

             title=

            This, as you can see, has been an ongoing process.

      •  Enrichment per se (0+ / 0-)

        yet that enrichment has some limitations in the treaty, no? Some prereqs, such as accounting for facilities, not hiding them in mountainsides until someone points them out?

    •  brazil had a row with the iaea (0+ / 0-)

      simply because it would not allow them to inspect their uranium enrichment technology...

  •  No more war! Anything that garners peace (5+ / 0-)

    is the only answer! Good on Brazil to reinforce a peaceful resolution.  

    ...We have many more issues that bind us together than separate us!

    by ThisIsMyTime on Mon May 03, 2010 at 01:35:36 PM PDT

  •  Iran policy for oil and to support Israel (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Robert Naiman, Radical def, ozsea1

    Bush and Cheney took the US to war to keep control of oil. They also used the war to make Bush a "war time president" to give him extended powers.

    That game has not worked out. It has already cost about 1 trillion dollars that could have been spent at home. And Iraq has been destroyed with 4 million refugees in a country of 25 million. (half inside the country and half outside the country.)

    The occupation in Afghanistan is also not going as planned for many reasons. A recent study on Juan Cole's web site claims that when there is not a stable and credible government, there is only a 10% chance of defeating the insurgency.

    Those who want the war on terror to go on for a generation look to Iran as the next step. From Sy Hersh's articles in the New Yorker, Cheney almost pulled off an attack on Iran. It is sad to see Obama repeating the unfounded claims that Iran is a danger. It is like the fake WMD that were the basis for the invasion of Iraq.

    The first thing I read each morning is www.juancole.com. He has been providing good information about the middle east for years. He is history professor at University of Michigan.

    I find the most insights on politics and the media from Glenn Greenwald at salon.com. His second book, "A Tragic Legacy" has a hundred pages about the war mongering about Iran. This was published during Bush's reign and it was possible that the US and Israel would start something big with Iran.

    Responding to the first few comments almost requires a review of US foreign policy and our military presence that backs up our empire.

    The facts are that Iran does not have a weapon and they are not building one.

    •  They had a 'weapons' program in the past (0+ / 0-)

      And they are paranoid (not without reason) they also have 'imperial' ambitions, and the Shia 'inferiority/superiority complex' that makes their actions suspect. Yes for negotiations through an 'honest broker', but there is stll the need for substantive transparency. They are working on long range missiles, which gives them a delivery system, so some suspicion is warranted.

      "God is an iron" -Spider Robinson

      by oldcrow on Mon May 03, 2010 at 02:25:44 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Further that's not Brazil's intent (4+ / 0-)

    Brazil's, along with Russia's and China's intent is to maintain that oil supply between the countries.  It's all about economics.

    •  Well, yes...but also ideological n/t (0+ / 0-)

      "...a printing press is worth 10,000 rifles..." Ho Chi Minh

      by Radical def on Mon May 03, 2010 at 02:03:46 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

        •  A deep subject, heh (0+ / 0-)

          China, and Brazil, and perhaps only somewhat less urgently, Russia, all have strong ideological, as well as economic reasons for desiring access to that oil, and other trade/influence in the region, and in the world....

          They do not wish to be dependent on, nor subject to, US (or European) imperialism, plain and simple, due to an ideological aversion to that very concept.  

          They naturally wish to challenge US assertions of hegemony in the Middle East, in their own countries, and in the world...in response to a long legacy of unprincipled US practice.

          This requires them to develop their own economies and industries, in every way that they can, to become as completely self-sufficient and independent as they can, such that any alliances they may decide to form with us, or anyone else, will be on a more equitable footing.  

          Yes, oil, in specific, and money in general, are very major components of that formula, but I think it's kinda...superficial?...to say that it's "just" about oil, or money, per se.

          "...a printing press is worth 10,000 rifles..." Ho Chi Minh

          by Radical def on Mon May 03, 2010 at 04:17:09 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  So you are refering to BRIC? (0+ / 0-)

            I get ya now.

            •  Had to Google that term, heh...but yeah (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              General Choomin

              Kinda weird, that the wiki for that acronym does not mention that Brazil, Russia, India and China are all more or less "Socialist" countries.

              25% of the world's land mass, and 40% of it's population...

              But then there's also the rest of the Bolivarian nations, and other (more or less) Socialist countries, all over the world...

              The damn commies are taking over, sure enough, lol.  

              This is all about right versus left, in the development of humanity going forward.

              Since economic success has so long been the US main claim to fame and vindification, on so many levels...it really kinda says alot, that Goldman Sachs believes "BRIC" (the Socialist nations) will totally rule economically by 2050.

              As profits abroad are curtailed by resistance to imperialism, the ruling class is compelled to take it our of our hides here at home, more, to maintain their ponzi schemes and customary style of living.

              But the present deliberately contrived US economic "collapse" raises the stakes, in terms of deliberately imposing severe economic hardship, not only to punish our own popular democratic shift to the left, but also to intimidate, manipulate and harm the rest of the world, as well...classic moves, to retard the social development of humanity.

              Oh well, I am still holding out hope for change here.

              Bring the Better Democrats!

              All Out for 2010 and 2012!

              "...a printing press is worth 10,000 rifles..." Ho Chi Minh

              by Radical def on Mon May 03, 2010 at 11:25:01 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

  •  Brazil tried selling Iran nuclear tech... (0+ / 0-)

    ...back in the 90's, until it was blocked by the US.

    These days, they have a "robust" relationship with Iran in part because Iran has lucrative oil deals with Petrobras.

  •  What would we or Iran or Brazil give up? (0+ / 0-)

    How could this be negotiated?  It seems clear Israel and the US want at least a regime change in Iran.  Do you think if Iran totally renounced the developement of nuclear materials for any purposes whatsoever, there still wouldn't be a call for a regime change?  Somehow, at least according to the US and Israel, that government has to be tamed.

    "Peace cannot be achieved by force. It can only be achieved by understanding" Albert Einstein

    by BigAlinWashSt on Mon May 03, 2010 at 02:19:44 PM PDT

  •  Hey, if Brazil can do it, great. (0+ / 0-)

    But I wouldn't hold my breath. Iran has all but said that it is on an irreversible path to acquiring an offensive nuclear capacity. All of their activities and statements are in accord on that front. So there really is no need for the diarist to meander back and forth on the subject. Iran is clearly quite committed to gaining a weapons capacity and they are now relatively unconcerned about whether anyone knows it. See Ahmadenijad's recent speeches.

    The non-military aspect of their program is probably significant but could easily be dealt with under NPT. The only real use of the NPT is to try to restrain countries from acquiring nuclear weapons. Clearly, it has been pretty much a failure. Any country that is determined to acquire nuclear weapons will probably get them. I cite India, Pakistan, Israel and North Korea as examples of the failure of NPT.

    So despite the US efforts to block Iran's weapons program, I do not see a military action as likely. Our military doesn't support it although they are required to make contingency plans. The likely outcome is that Iran will either sit on this side of the nuke line or cross it in the next few years and we will proceed to build a long-term deterrent capacity by targeting Iran with our missiles. In addition, we will extend our nuclear umbrella over much of the mid-east, and you will see stronger military alliances with the Sunni Arab nations in the region, and a sustained effort to contain Iran in many other ways.

    •  Iran is most likely looking for the Japanese way. (0+ / 0-)

      Where they have no nuclear weapons but could assemble them if threatened by other regional powers.  

      •  I guess we will not know (0+ / 0-)

        whether that is the case for a while. But, if Iran doesn't cross the nuclear Rubicon, it would be a bit of a climb-down for Fearless Leader. I am betting that they go all the way, figuring that the world will just have to suck it.

    •  you suggested (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      General Choomin

      that readers "see Ahmadinejad's recent speeches" to sustain your claim that

      "Iran has all but said that it is on an irreversible path to acquiring an offensive nuclear capacity. All of their activities and statements are in accord on that front. So there really is no need for the diarist to meander back and forth on the subject. Iran is clearly quite committed to gaining a weapons capacity and they are now relatively unconcerned about whether anyone knows it"

      so I did just as you suggested.
      Here's Ahmadinejad's most recent speech -- this afternoon:

      The production and possession of a nuclear bomb, under whatever pretext be
      done, is a very dangerous act which first and foremost makes the country of production and stockpiling exposed. ... Secondly, the sole function of the nuclear weapons is to annihilate
      all living beings and destroy the environment, and its radiations would affect the coming generations and its negative impacts would continue for centuries.

      The nuclear bomb is a fire against humanity rather than a weapon for defense.

      The possession of nuclear bombs is not a source of pride; it is rather disgusting and shameful. And even more shameful is the threat to use or to use such weapons, which is not even comparable to any crime committed throughout history.

      on the other hand, Ahmadinejad said:

      Nuclear energy is among the cleanest and cheapest sources of energy. Severe climate change and environmental pollution caused by fossil fuel has intensified the need to expand the use of nuclear energy. Almost 7 million barrels of oil are needed for the continual generation of 1000 megawatt of electricity in a year which by
      today’s crude oil price costs over 500 million dollars, while the cost of generating the
      same capacity with nuclear energy is around 60 million dollars. Generally, the investment needed to construct and utilize a nuclear power plant is far less than half of the cost of a power plant operating with fossil fuels during its lifespan. The nuclear technology can be effectively and widely applied in the production of medical
      isotopes for diagnosis and treatment of life- threatening diseases as well as in industry,
      agriculture and in other fields.

      Referring to another recent Iranian initiative regarding nonproliferation efforts, Ahmadinejad mentioned the Tehran Nuclear Conference of mid-April.  The motto of that conference was,

      ""Nuclear Energy for all, Nuclear Weapons for no one".

      so I'm at a loss where you got the information that

      Iran has all but said that it is on an irreversible path to acquiring an offensive nuclear capacity. All of their activities and statements are in accord on that front. ...Iran is clearly quite committed to gaining a weapons capacity and they are now relatively unconcerned about whether anyone knows it.

      it's just not true.

      In addition to Ahmadinejad's (as well as Salehi, in comments around the time of the US nuclear summit) rhetoric regarding Iran's nuclear intentions, which, I must repeat, are NOT as you claim they are, so the facts on the ground in Iran are demonstrably for purposes of generating power, as was explained recently on Flynt and Hillary Leverett's blog:

      an entire region around Qom, which is on the edge of a desert, is now green and productive, and provides wealth to a number of landowners, and employment and food to many. ... That’s observation #1.

      Observation #2 is that the region around the nuclear facility at Natanz is also in the 20+ year long process of being greened for development. Power lines radiate from the nuclear plant to high-tension towers many miles distant. Acres and acres have been planted with pine trees to cool the area in preparation for future residential and commercial development. Along the roadways, as far as the eye can see bushes have been planted to keep the desert sands from blowing over the roads and blocking them. There’s a massive windmill farm not too distant from the Natanz facility. In other words, when Iran says its nuclear project is for energy, what I have seen causes me to give them at least the benefit of the doubt.

      The development of green infrastructure at Natanz suggests that the purpose of the facility at Qom might also be related to planning for future energy needs for new residential and commercial development.

      Keep in mind that Iran is rapidly urbanizing; it’s topography is extremely challenging; there are few cities in Iran and they are extremely crowded — Tehran is tremendously congested, very expensive, and, it’s on an earthquake fault. Real estate development in Iran is not as simple a project as it was in Florida.

      Progressive Democrats should be both aware and pleased that Iran is environmentally responsible and is demonstrating in actions what it claims rhetorically: that its nuclear technology is for purposes of generating electrical power.

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