Addressing the problems presented by Iran’s nuclear program

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By Thomas Scott

Last Thursday, the International Atomic Energy Agency, the body trusted with inspecting the nuclear facilities of the Non-Proliferation treaty signatories, released documentation stating that Iran has potentially multiplied its Uranium refinement capacity, while at the same time denying access to its facility at Fordo to IAEA inspectors.

The report suggests that the facility in the northwestern town of Fordo may have at least 2,000 centrifuges which are instrumental in refining nuclear material that can be used for the creation of non-conventional weapons. Meanwhile, Western officials such as the German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle and the vice chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, James Winnefeld meet with Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak last week.

Winnefeld met with Minister Barak on Thursday in order to reaffirm American support for Israel in light of recent comments by chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Martin Dempsey, in which he asserted that the U.S would not take part in a strike on Iran along with Israel.

The U.S. and Israel “have a very big difference of opinion about how to address Iran,” said Lecturer Tom Lobe. “I don’t doubt the Israelis’ skillfulness,” but “there are several military problems with this” in that the facilities in question are “near civilian populations” and the Israeli Defense Forces would be required “to travel a lot further than they did for Syria and Iraq.”

Israel carried out air strikes on Syrian and Iraqi nuclear reactors in 2007 and 1981 respectively. Further complexities arise from the need to “pass over airspace that is not acceptable to” Israel and the U.S., if a multilateral strike were to occur “especially Iraq,” according to Lobe.

During his meeting with Obama on Sunday, Westerwelle expressed the reticence of his government to support a strike on Iran, unilateral or otherwise, stating that Germany “will keep up sanctions and diplomatic pressure on Iran,” but that he “still sees room for diplomacy.” Barak and Westerwelle also spoke about Germany’s upcoming sale of two submarines to Egypt and the purchase of a sixth Dolphin submarine by Israel in March. Such submarines are believed to be capable of deploying the nation’s nuclear deterrent, thought to be less than 200 warheads.

“There seems to be a lot of escalation on both sides,” remarked Isaac Furman ‘15. By building a nuclear weapon the Iranians would be “making a major play in the region” in order to “gain military strength.” The perceived escalation has misdirected the global public’s “attention away from human rights issues in Iran.” Moreover, the Islamic Republic has a “somewhat eccentric leader who is inflammatory” which only exacerbates regional tensions. Furman added that “the American public is not as supportive of military interventions from a financial” standpoint. The U.S. national debt reached 16 trillion last Tuesday, over a trillion of which was incurred from recently concluded operations in Iraq and the ongoing conflict in Afghanistan.

Last Wednesday, the Democratic Party’s platform was amended at its quadrennial convention in Charlotte, North Carolina, to state that Jerusalem, annexed during the Six-Day War in 1967 was the capital of Israel. Similar terms were present in the Party’s platform four years earlier. This change comes during a period of tenuous relations between the U.S. and Israeli leadership, particularly on the subject of how to approach problems Iran presented by Iran’s nuclear program. Meanwhile, on Friday, Canada withdrew its diplomats from the Islamic Republic’s capital and evicted the Gulf nation’s diplomats from their embassy in Ottawa.

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