In the build-up to its nuclear talks with major world powers, Iran prompted an international outcry not once but twice. First, there was the revelation of a second uranium enrichment plant. Then, there was the firing of long-range missiles potentially capable of reaching Israel.
Nuclear proliferation expert Joseph Cirincione said: “Sometimes countries like Iran and North Korea will make this kind of macho show of force, largely for domestic purposes before they make a concession. Iranian President Ahmadinejad is in a very tough position. International pressure, domestic pressure, in some ways he has little choice but to make concessions.” That is certainly what the West wants. The newly-disclosed plant has fuelled suspicions that the Islamic Republic does indeed aim to build a nuclear bomb. Even Russia has joined the chorus of criticism. “They are going to have to come clean and they are going to have to make a choice,” US President Barack Obama has warned. “Are they willing to go down the path, giving up the acquisition of nuclear weapons? Or will they continue down a path that is going to lead to confrontation?” As Washington focusses, for now, on diplomatic efforts, it has warned Iran that further sanctions could follow. But calls for uranium enrichment to be suspended are set to fall on deaf ears with Tehran adamant that what it calls its nuclear “rights” will be off-limits. Iran set the tone with its package of proposals presented by President Ahmadinejad at the UN last week. He told the General Assembly about his hopes for the “promotion of lasting peace and friendship, eradication of the arms race and elimination of all nuclear, chemical and biological weapons.” And for Iran that is no contradiction. It insists its nuclear technology is for generating electricity.