Saturday, October 21st | 1 Heshvan 5778

Close

Be in the know!

Get our exclusive daily news briefing.

Subscribe
November 7, 2013 11:08 am

Iran’s Point of No Return

avatar by David Patrikarakos

Email a copy of "Iran’s Point of No Return" to a friend

The Arak IR-40 heavy water reactor in Iran. Photo: Nanking2012/Wikimedia Commons.

Iran’s nuclear bomb is “entering its final stages,” according to an article in the respected defence magazine Jane’s Weekly. Written in 1984. A claim that, to be fair, was only 29 years premature and counting.

Alarmist predictions of Iran’s nuclear capabilities have been in circulation for almost thirty years; I have lost count of the number of times Israel has told us that Iran’s nuclear programme is on the brink of the point of no return. Each time a deadline passes, they simply set a new one.

For instance, in 1992 Israel warned that Iran would have a nuclear bomb by 1999. In 1999, Israel claimed that Iran would be nuclear-armed by 2004. In 2009, Israel said Iran would pass the point of no return in 2011. Then, in 2012, Israel stated Iran was six months from a nuclear bomb. On and on it goes. (For an extensive list of such announcements, see here.)

Related coverage

October 20, 2017 1:51 pm
0

Hamas Supporter to Receive Award From Harvard Student Group

He has publicly endorsed Hamas, and secretly schemed with Hamas' supporters to thwart US-led peace efforts in the Middle East. Now Nihad Awad is preparing for a prestigious...

Why has this been such an obsession for the last 30 years? Well, first of all, 30 years tells its own story. This is pretty much the time the Islamic Republic has been in existence (it was founded in 1979 when Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini came to power after he helped to overthrow Iran’s Shah, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi).

During the Shah’s rule, the USA was content to be a partner in Iran’s nuclear programme – though it was always adamant that the Shah steer clear of nuclear weapons and objected to selling Iran technologies that might be used to proliferate. Despite what is often said, Washington has been consistent on this issue from the very beginning.

But the coming of the Islamic Republic – and more specifically, the 1979-1980 hostage crisis, a disgraceful act where a group of Iranian students stormed the US. .Embassy and took those inside hostage for 444 days – convinced Washington that the Mullahs could not be trusted with nuclear technology. This change in Iranian leadership fuelled fears that Iran was driving toward a bomb that have never abated.

These fears are at the centre of overarching attitudes toward Iran’s nuclear programme, and drive much of what is written about it, especially the deluge of erroneous predictions about Iranian nuclear capability. Consider first that until 2002 (when an Iranian opposition group revealed the extent of Iran’s nuclear activities to the world), it was hard to say just how much progress Iran had made on its programme. For most of the 1980s, the country was at war with Iraq and employed a covert, underground nuclear programme. In the absence of certainty, many in Jerusalem and Washington preferred to assume an Iranian bomb was nearer rather than farther away; it seemed the safe thing to do.

Then there is the political reason for such claims. Israeli intelligence has had a pretty clear of idea of where Iran is technologically for at least the last 15 years, but the goal is to keep the pressure on the USA and nothing suits this better than repeatedly claiming that Iran is only a few years away from a bomb. Even if they know it’s not true, the message is clear: time is of the essence – act now!

The problem of course is that you can only cry wolf so many times. But it is a problem that comes wrapped in an irony because guess what? Iran is now, finally, at the stage where it could conceivably build a bomb in just a few years…

Follow David on Twitter. Read more about his book, Nuclear Iran: UK readers here, US readers here. Read his latest essay, a cover story in a recent issue of New Statesman, here.

The opinions presented by Algemeiner bloggers are solely theirs and do not represent those of The Algemeiner, its publishers or editors. If you would like to share your views with a blog post on The Algemeiner, please be in touch through our Contact page.

Share this Story: Share On Facebook Share On Twitter Email This Article

Let your voice be heard!

Join the Algemeiner
  • ONE SALIENT FACT COVERS THE ENTIRE DEBACLE:: IRAN IS DRENCHED IN OIL, BUT LOADED!!! WHY IN HEAVENS NAME DO THEY “REQUIRE” NUCLEAR ENERGY??? ONLY POSSIBLE “REASON” IS EVIL TO THE WORLD… BY HISTORY AND ACTIONS THEY ARE EXTREMELY UNTRUSTWORTHY.. -AND WE AFE ALL APPPRISED OF THIS FACT!!!!! NOW THEY ARE IN THE PROCESS OF GIGANTLY TRICKING US. YES, A REPITITION OF 1938!!!

  • Cyrus

    Iran’s enrichment program was openly announced on Iranian national radio during the 1980s, and the IAEA was invited to visit Iran’s uranium mines in the 1990s and Iran formally announced the completion of its uranium conversion facility in 2000. Whatever undeclared activities Iran had were unrelated to weapons, as the IAEA itself stated early on, and to date no one has ever produced any actual evidence of a nuclear weapons program in Iran — the US has never provided its “Alleged Studies” evidence in full to the IAEA and yet Iran is expected to refute evidence it is not allowed to see. And what has leaked out thus far has been laughed at as obvious forgeries. (Google the “AP Graph”)

    Iran’s secrecy during this period was due to undue US interference in Iran’s overt, legal nuclear contracts with several other nations, that was itself illegal and a violation of Irans’ rights as recognized by the NPT.

    And since then the US has consistently used the nuclear issue as a pretext to try to impose regime change on Iran, just as “WMDs in Iraq” was a lie and a pretext, and the Obama administration too batted away several Iranian compromise offers that have been consistently made by Iran for years, including ending 20% enrichment. Now, it is too late to go back. Well done.

  • Shai

    I’ll see your Petrus-Lupus and raise you one Pullus Minimus: Israel might be less inclined to think that the sky could fall at any moment if certain other parties would stop raining down threats (and worse) upon its head.

Algemeiner.com