Going Global: Iran and the bomb, a history

Danielle George / The Runner

Danielle George / The Runner

After 12 years of negotiations, the United States mediated a deal with Iran. In exchange for reducing their nuclear capability, numerous sanctions hindering the economy of Iran will be lifted.

Shortly after the deal was announced, President Obama said that the guidelines, if fully implemented, would prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon.

“Iran will face strict limitations on it’s program,” Obama claimed at a White House press conference. “Iran has also agreed to the most robust and intrusive inspections . . . ever negotiated for any nuclear program in history. This deal is not based on trust, it’s based on unprecedented verification.”

Iran has always been the subject of American political rhetoric. For the last several years, Iran has been attempting to build nuclear facilities to power their country, though it’s heavily speculated, especially amongst politicians in the United States and Israel, that their true intention is to construct a nuclear weapon. There has yet to be any concrete proof that such a weapon is being developed.

“[It’s] a mathematics game. The more countries that have nuclear weapons, the more chances that they’ll be used,” says Allen Sens, a political science professor at UBC. “Another angle is that the last thing the Middle East needs is another country with a nuclear weapon.”

Israel and other western powers are concerned that if Iran were to develop nuclear weapons, they would sell them to Hezbollah or Hamas, whom Israel and much of the world view as terrorist organizations. Another concern is that Iran’s government could be replaced with a coup, which isn’t unrealistic given the intensity of the 2009 and 2011 protests.

It would be in America’s best interest to appear to oppose a dictatorial state. That is to say, a dictatorial state that doesn’t listen to them. The United States had better relations with Iran before the 1979 revolution, during the time of the Shah, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi.

Pahlavi came to power after the CIA orchestrated a coup d’etat in 1953 for British MI6, removing Mohammad Mosaddegh from power, a secular leader who was democratically elected in 1951 by the people of Iran. It turned out that the British didn’t like his idea of nationalizing the Anglo-Persian Oil Company, which is known today as British Petroleum (BP).

Mossadegh’s idea was extremely popular in Iran, and he was adored as a result. For years, much of Iran’s vast oil money was leaving the country. The British took Iran to the world court over the matter of nationalizing their own oil, but they lost. President Harry S Truman of the United States was asked by the British for help in changing the regime, but he wasn’t interested. Eisenhower soon came into office, and he proved to be a little more malleable. He only needed to be reminded that the Russians were trying to court the Iranians.

After the coup took place, the Shah gave Western governments everything they asked for, namely oil. He also had help in setting up a secret police force to stifle descent. In 1979, the Shah was overthrown in a coup by the people of Iran, and after a lengthy hostage crisis, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini returned to the country, after leading a movement from exile.

The Ayatollah was completely unlike the Shah, in the sense that he was fiercely anti-American. Women’s rights in the country were reversed, and there were many, many more political prisoners under Khomeini than there were under the Shah.

Despite the landmass of Iran sitting on top of many millions of cubic metres of oil, they don’t have the refineries to process it into fuel. They’re also being hampered heavily by economic sanctions, but that might be changing after the implementation of their deal with America. Iran needs to get power from somewhere, and understandably they’d rather not be reliant on other countries to do so. It wouldn’t be surprising, then, if the leadership in Iran really was after nuclear power–not, as critics claim, a nuclear weapon.


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