Friday, February 23, 2007

Iran continues to ignore the international community

According to Associated Press The International Atomic Energy Agency has found that Iran has ignored a UN Security Council ultimatum to freeze uranium enrichment, but in fact has expanded its programme. In addition, Iran has done nothing to answer questions from the IAEA about the programme and has severely restricted the access of inspectors to site they previously could visit
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"Iran had installed two cascades, or networks, of 164 centrifuges in its underground Natanz enrichment plant with another two cascades close to completion. This represented efforts to expand research-level enrichment of nuclear fuel into "industrial scale" production. It said Iranian workers lowered into the plant an 8.7-ton container of uranium hexafluoride gas (UF-6) to prepare to start feeding centrifuges, which can enrich the material into fuel for power plants or, if refined to high levels, for bombs."
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Swissinfo reports that Ahmadinejad has vowed to keep continuing its nuclear programme saying "If we show weakness in front of the enemy the expectations will increase but if we stand against them, because of this resistance, they will retreat". The enemy? I thought it was a peaceful programme - why are there enemies if it isn't about war?
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Of course Iran has been bolstered by:
1. The chaos in Iraq, backed up by the substantial reduction in the US/allied willingness to persist in Iraq;
2. North Korea gaining a deal to get free oil in exchange for freezing its nuclear programme, now that it HAS nuclear weapons;
3. Little Western appetite for military action (the high number of potential targets).
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Some will say, fine, let it be - and wont be worried until Iran uses a weapon, in which case it will be the fault of the USA. Some may want war, but that is impracticable and I think unnecessary. What is needed is sanctions - freezing of Iranian state bank accounts, banning of Iranian aircraft from EU airspace - it has to hurt to Iranian economy. Iran is a nation predominantly of young people, predominantly of people who don't subscribe to Islamism, and they simply need a reason to stand up to Ahmadinejad and his bullies.
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The risk of Iran using nuclear material itself or through its terrorist proxies is not worth doing nothing. The European approach has failed, what would've been the US approach is too late and likely to be counterproductive. Now is the time to isolate Iran. Blair is opposed to military action, Bush is balancing up the need to do something vs domestic political backlash.
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and yes Prime Minister that means the lucrative NZ-Iran trade must halt as well as that of our allies and friends, or is it only French and US nuclear activities that get the Labour party excited? What I would love to know is why multilateralists, that are always keen to hold the US to account, are so silent on Iran? Where are the Iranian flags being burnt in the street?

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