Comment: Iranian Nuclear Policy is First of All Supposed to Help Iran
Published in “Die Tageszeitung” on September 28, 2009
by BAHMAN NIRUMAND
The Iranian nuclear policy is first of all supposed to help Iran
Distraction politics with no end
Shortly before the start of new negotiations on the Iranian nuclear program, Iran once again is heading for a collision course: the provocative statements made by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad at the UN General Assembly, the announcement of a new nuclear plant, and testing of new missiles.
“Why all this?” one might wonder. Even those in power should, after all, be aware that escalating conflicts will only unite the international community closer against the country. Even Russia has already joined the demands for tougher sanctions of the West, and China is to follow soon.
As for the reasons for choosing this high-risk approach, we are of course limited to speculations. An almost obvious answer is that Iran’s leaders believe that, by confronting the outside world, they will be able to divert attention from the severe crisis at home that has been going on since the presidential election in June.
The external enemy and the dangers threatening the country’s existence are supposed to reconcile the deeply divided population.
Also, the hint at threats from abroad are to legitimize the increasing repression against the opposition. In this atomic atmosphere it is much easier to declare critics as collaborators, protest movements as orchestrated from abroad. This is exactly the strategy that was pursued at the beginning of the Islamic Republic.
During the eight years of the Iran-Iraq war, tens of thousands of dissidents were executed. It is highly questionable, however, if this strategy will still work today. Back in the early years of revolution, the population almost solidly stood behind the new regime. Today, a vast majority of the population is supporting the opposition.