There doesn’t seem to be much doubt that their intention is to produce nuclear weapons; a handful every year, perhaps. The Natanz facility is partially underground, a fact that provoked the IAEA inspectors to note, rather drily, that this was “inconsistent” with the Iranian claims that the plant was solely for the purpose of manufacturing mildly enriched uranium for benignly commercial purposes.
Was that dry humour? I thought it was merely stating the obvious for lack of anything more useful to do. Who knew Mohammed el Baradei was such a comedian!
You can believe them if you wish. It would be a kinder, happier world if we were all able to trust one another. But my suspicion is that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Iran’s president, who has expressed a desire to see Israel wiped from the face of the world, may soon have the wherewithal. A suspicion supported with physical evidence and a statement of malevolent intent. What more evidence do you need? An awful lot more, as far as the international community is concerned. Paralysis has descended since the invasion of Iraq and it afflicts not just the United Nations and the European Union but western public opinion, too. So ill-judged and catastrophic was the Anglo-US adventure against Saddam Hussein that it has warped our ability to think rationally about what to do with Iran. Opposition to pre-emptive military action against Iran will be deafening.
There, you see, we’re in complete agreement. The Anglo-US alliance obviously would be a waste of everyone’s time, so how about an Anglo-Franco-Germanic alliance instead! Better for everyone, no? I’m sure with that kind of line-up, the even Spanish would jump on board just to prove that they got out of Iraq not because they’re amoral cowards, but only because the Anglo-US alliance was so “ill-judged” and “catastrophic”.
…But even allowing for hindsight, the term “weapons of mass destruction” in Saddam’s case referred only to chemical and biological weapons — which, although thoroughly nasty, are a politically inspired misnomer. It is nukes that inflict genuine mass destruction and there was never a suggestion that Saddam had any of those.
The difference with any action against Iran is stark: hard evidence of genuine WMD in preparation; hard, stated evidence of intent. And a clearly defined, containable and comparatively attainable military objective — knocking out that enrichment site at Natanz.