Iranian President Ahmadinejad has been speaking out publicly in recent days. He has been critical of the American elections, and reiterating that Iran has no need or wish to build atomic bombs.
In spite of Iran having a reputation of being one of the world’s worst abusers of human rights, the Iranian president addressed a two day conference in Bali to promote democracy. As the meeting commenced, Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono called for mutual respect and diversity, noting that these are the foundations of democracy. Yudhoyono’s words included, “We need to encourage greater respect for different values, faiths and religious beliefs. We should not allow irresponsible acts such as the defamation of religion to divide us.”
Speaking to the convention, Ahmadinejad addressed a number of issues, “The period and era of using nuclear weapons is over … Nuclear bombs are not anymore helpful and those who are stockpiling nuclear weapons, politically they are backward, and they are mentally retarded.” “Representatives of any agency, any government can visit the Islamic republic and verify that we are not developing nuclear weapons”. He conveyed the message that, “Americans know that Iran people are not after an atomic bomb; they have no need for an atomic bomb. They have gone on for 7000 years without the need for a bomb. Why would they need an atomic bomb? These bombs are unnecessary!” It appears, as Reuters confirms, that contrary to what was widely reported just days ago, “The hardline conservative president said he was open to talks with Obama on forging peace around the world and called for the dismantling of all US military bases abroad.” The ever verbose Iranian president was critical of the American elections, noting the cost, estimated at $6B, and called the elections “battlegrounds for capitalists.”
Ahmadinejad had avoided these democracy forums for the past five years, but in Bali he called American politicians, “Self-declared forerunners of democracy of the Western world.” He derided American democracy as “the rule of a minority over the majority.” Human rights agencies are, as we know, critical of freedom of speech denial in Iran, but Tehran calls that accusation “unfair and biased.”
The new and more cooperative sentiments from Ahmadinejad, regarding weapons and inspections, come shortly after the Pentagon announced that on November 1, an American MC1 drone was fired upon while making surveillance flights over the Arabian Gulf. The drone was not hit. The US indicates it has every intention of continuing these surveillance flights.
It may be worthwhile to note that scientists in Vienna are developing new technology which they acknowledge may make it easier for rogue nations to develop nuclear weapons technology secretly. The technology, which applies to civil and military energy production, uses laser techniques to simplify uranium enrichment. Jim Walsh, a research associate at MIT’s Security Studies Program, has pointed out, “The smaller physical footprint and lower energy requirements would make a clandestine laser facility more difficult to detect.” Providing some contrast, Olli Heinonen currently at Harvard University’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, takes the stand that, “Technology holders have been fairly good in recent years in protecting their secrets. Proliferation mainly took in place in the 1970s and 1980s due to poor export controls and legislation”.
In October, The US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) granted a license to a partnership between General Electric Co. and Japan’s Hitachi Ltd to begin processing at a laser enrichment plant for reactor fuel. Experts agree that the Australian technology is well suited for nuclear proliferation. They will bring the development to the United States where it can be properly safeguarded.
It would seem that Iran is making gestures consistent with world and Western demands. We hope that governments will negotiate as they have promised, and bring to an end much of the global fear and concern.
Photo: Winnipeg Free Press