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Scrutiny
 
IRAN: NUCLEAR PROGRAMME UNDER SIEGE
Iranís WMD hype; Iraq redux?
Be it through murders, Kidnapping, Virus attacks or sanctions, a careful and well coordinated stealth Programme is on to Jeopardise years of nuclear capability building by Iran. Is the US, along with its allies, drawing itself into another long drawn misdirected war? Is the hype being built about Iranís supposed nuke ambitions even real?
Issue Date - 18/08/2011
 
The importance of nuclear scientists can hardly be undermined by a country harbouring nuclear ambitions. Iran is one of those nations that acquire centre stage. The country has not only built several nuclear reactors but has also, since the last few decades, set up a number of nuclear research centres and universities. The government also encouraged its youth to take up courses in science & technology and consequently created a huge array of nuclear physicists and scientists. Of course, sanctions from the US also came in tow. But if recent revelations are looked at, a slew of covert attempts are being made to jeopardise Iranís nuclear programme.

The recent murder of Darioush Rezaeinejad, on July 23, 2011 in Tehran has raised concerns about the security of nuclear scientists and physicists in Iran and how it also affects the countryís nuclear ambitions. If one goes by reports, many such incidents have taken place in the past as well. In January 2007, Iranian nuclear scientist Ardeshir Hosseinpour was found dead under mysterious circumstances. A private American intelligence firm Stratfor claimed that Mossad was behind the Ďradioactive poisoningí execution. In another incident, Massoud Ali-Mohammadi, quantum physicist working as a professor at Tehran University, was killed in Tehran in January 2010. Similarly, Majid Shahriyari, working at Iranís Atomic Energy Commission, a prominent figure in Iranís nuclear program and a specialist in neutron transport, was murdered (in a car bomb attack) on November 2010. On the same day, another scientist Fereydoon Abbasi (currently head of Iranís Atomic Energy Organisation), escaped death by a whisker. Besides the above, a number of important physicists have also been kidnapped in the last three years. In one example, in June 2009, Shahram Amiri Ė an Iranian nuclear expert of radioactive isotopes at Malek-Ashtar University of Technology (MUT) and also working with Iranís Atomic Energy Organisation Ė was kidnapped from Saudi Arabia and was reportedly extradited to US; the scientist strangely resurfaced in July 2010.

Concurrently, there have been a series of attacks on the computers in Iranís nuclear facilities, including one major hit by a malware named Stuxnet (supposedly developed by Israel with the help of Americaís intelligence). Stuxnet destroyed almost 20% of Iranís centrifuge systems in their nuclear facility. Early 2011 saw another such attack, which has apparently pushed back Iranís nuclear progress by two years. A WikiLeaks cable commenting on Stuxnet revealed that US was ďadvised to perform Ďcovert sabotageí of Iranís nuclear facilities, including computer hackingĒ by an influential German think tank. In fact, it is alleged that George Bush approved $300 million for this joint covert project before leaving office in 2009. Condoleezza Rice, Volker Perthes (Director of the Institute for Security & International Affairs & an expert on Iran) and Philip Murphy (US ambassador to Germany) were all involved in this project, as revealed by WikiLeaks.

 
UN (on December 23, 2006) banned the supply of nuclear-related materials and technology and froze the assets of key individuals and companies related to Iranís nuclear program. On March 24, 2007, UN imposed an arms embargo and expanded the freeze on Iranian assets, which on March 3, 2008, was further extended to the activities of Iranian banks, aircraft and movement of individuals through their territory. The recent sanctions passed by EU (June 17, 2011) on Iran involve the prohibition of investments by EU countries in oil and gas projects, as well as the transfer of technology and equipment. The Obama administration has further imposed new sanctions (June 24, 2011) against Iranís largest air carrier accusing it of supporting terrorism and nuclear activities.

Yet, there is no hard evidence that IAEA or the US has been able to present to the global community. There has been a lot of hype, statements and political posturing. But evidence (of Iran attempting to divert nuclear resources for weapons), as in the Iraqi misadventure, none! Pulitzer Prize winner Seymour Hersh wrote in The New Yorker in June 2011 that ďthe two most recent US National Intelligence Estimates on Iranian nuclear progress have stated that there is no conclusive evidence that Iran has made any effort to build the bomb since 2003.Ē Similar is the tune of former director general of IAEA and Noble Prize winner Mohamed ElBaradei, who said recently, ďI donít believe Iran is a clear and present danger. All I see is the hype about the threat posed by Iran.Ē Then why are the US and other agencies still bent on misrepresenting and perhaps even sabotaging Iranian nuclear ambitions?

The US fears that once a country like Iran has acquired nuclear know-how, to consider it to follow the Japanese path in rejecting nuclear weapon ambitions, would be both churlish and childish. The US believes that if not now, Iran will go ahead and arm itself with nuclear weapons in the future. The only way America thinks it would be able to move against future Iranian ambitions is to sabotage Iranís currently peaceful nuclear energy generation attempts. This, combined with the false media hype about Iran attempting nuclear weaponization, would be enough for the US to force the UN to put a complete stop to Iranís nuclear energy generation programme. In other words, expect very soon that the UN would move a resolution to this effect. Like we mentioned, Iraq redux!

Sray Agarwal           

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