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Iran : Toward a nuanced change of nuclear policy-off

Tehran hoped for dragging United States into some acute crisis as it announced in a provocative way the building of 10 new additional nuclear enrichment centres in order to urge the United States to make a step backward for fear of a conflict. Under Bush, we would have assisted in some escalation but presently nothing happened. Obama didn’t make any big statement : he mentioned the possibility to reinforce sanctions right before he called for the dialogue’s continuation in parallel with the sanctions that are already implemented. Such reaction cast a chill over the provocative ardours of the mullahs who find it difficult to make the right answer. Are they so disappointed to the point of renouncing to their policy of deliberate provocations ? To know it, it’s necessary to review the background history of the chaotic relations between Tehran and Washington.

A shade diplomacy | Central to Iranian nuclear crisis, there’s a 30 years confrontation between Tehran and Washington. This confrontation dates back to the year 1980. In 1979, the United States helped Iranian Islamist to overthrow the Shah to whom they reproach OPEC founding, his laic reforms, his ambitions within the region or even his relations with nonaligned countries in order to establish in Iran -in the South of Russia- an instable federalist Muslim republic such as it’s the case in Iraq. The project overstepped Iran’s mark because a little bit earlier, American helped to overthrow the laic Bhutto in Pakistan and also started to finance Afghan Mujahidin. They disposed of a global project to trouble Muslim Central Asia that was then under Soviet rule and also Uyghur land, China’s Muslim region in order to pull apart those regions that are rich in oil and be in control of them. This would have promoted it to the rank of the world’s first oil power -currently the United Kingdom ranks first thanks to its oil companies.

The present conflict with the mullahs results in the fact that the latter weren’t Washington’s choice for the personification of this instrumented revolutionary Islamism that was intended for making their strategic objectives come true. Washington hoped for giving power to members of a politic Islamist federalist party -Nahzat-e Azadi- it has supported financially in Iran since 1962, the year after the project of OPEC fraction by the Shah.

But the Americans’ candidates to Iran’s taking back didn’t dispose of any popular support. Americans thus focused their purpose on a religious man named Khomeini and they surrounded him with their Islamist federalist pawns –Bazargan, Sazgara, Yazdi… Khomeini moved Iranian crowds with promises that would make anybody laugh nowadays but finally the provisory government was composed solely with Islamist federalist people who were close to the United States. The American victory didn’t last long because on the 4 November 1980, Islamist students who were at Khomeini’s disposal stormed the American embassy in order to bring to light files concerning secret funding against the Shah. The provisory government resigned and the power fell to the mullahs -United Kingdom’s historical allies. Further to the attack against its embassy and the hostage taking of its diplomatic staff, Washington needed to break its relations with Tehran and adopt sanctions. But then it started some shade diplomacy to achieve an agreement and thus see its operation’s true objective through : the control of Muslim mass in Central Asia.

The link with nuclear | Within the framework of this shadow diplomacy, Washington alternated endlessly economic pressures with offers of dialogue and agreement. When in 2003 Americans mentioned the existence of a threatening nuclear program in Iran, with no hesitation, the mullahs diagnosed the beginning of a new campaign of pressure that would be coupled with agreement offers depending on Washington’s desiderata -Hezbollah’s disarmament.

This accusation was very serious : it could have given rise to harsher sanctions that would have been unbearable for the Iranian frail economy which is very dependant on foreign investment. That’s why at the beginning of the nuclear crisis, the mullahs made the crazy choice of a strategy of crisis deepening so to pull Americans into some escalation and drag the world on the verge of a war. Thus for fear of any shortage of Europe and Japan’s oil procurement, those both would then prompt Washington to change its policy toward Iran.

This choice appeared audacious but it was doubly unfruitful. On the one hand, Americans appeased debates via Javier Solana, a former OTAN general administrator who was in charge of European diplomacy -the latter admitted it lately [1]. On the second hand, they used the mullahs tensing sentiments to obtain the transfer of the Iranian nuclear file to the Security Council. This validated the hypothesis of Iranian nuclear threat and backed de facto the adoption of sanctions against Tehran.

At that time, we assisted in a great Chinese and Russian objection to sanctions. But they weren’t the only ones. United Kingdom whose supremacy on oil market could suffer from American power thirst declared it was also against any sanction.

However thanks to the intelligence of their appeasement policy via Solana and the transfer of the file to the Security Council, Americans took control over this crisis management in order to adopt the sanctions their considered at the advantage of their objectives : weakening the mullahs without overthrowing them, subjecting them so to make them become strategic docile allies against China and Russia. Once the sanctions were implemented, Washington published under Bush a report relating to Iranian progress in the nuclear field and mentioned it would dispose of the bomb only in 2015 in order to freeze pressure level -and avoid any escalation that would lead to fatal sanctions- and give their sanctions some additional delay.

British were the first to understand while they were constrained to silence because of their alliance with Washington. They started to organize indirectly some resistance by spreading via El Baradai, a good accomplice, proofs of the mullahs’ military nuclear capacity in order to make any dialogue with Iran politically incorrect. But such counter-offensive appeared to be strange because in the meantime El Baradai, their henchman, denied any sanction reinforcement against Tehran because it would have been profitable to Americans. However that may be, this latest pocket of contradictory resistance disappeared with the election at IAEA’s head of pro-American Japanese Amano [2]. The latter took up his post yesterday but his influence was noticeable since his victory last July : he may be the true author of El Baradai’s latest report because this document is very different from the latter’s previous versions and it lies within the framework of American denial of the mullahs’ atomic pretences.

Conclusions | Henceforth, Washington disposes of every pressure mean on Tehran no matter if it’s to harm it or appease it. In this range, IAEA’s reports constitute the perfect weapon to intimidate the mullahs. In such conditions the policy of crisis deepening with nuclear announcements turns even more counterproductive. Tehran may be hammered or considered scornfully such as it’s the case currently. It cannot accept for all that to be subjected to Americans because the latter will demand as quickly as possible elections that would be opened to anybody who would be favourable to an Islamic republic in order to give the power back to the remnants of their 1979 federalist Islamist pawns.

The mullahs face then a non-choice : they must go on refusing every offer that comes from Washington and avoid as much as possible the much counterproductive and tedious policy of crisis deepening they sustain with tensing atomic statements. This won’t be an easy task. There’s only one remaining option for the regime : dialogue acceptance before some calling into question of everything on the pretext that Ahmadinejad is not a legitimate interlocutor. Thus it will need to get involved body and soul in the promotion of the Green Movement that was conceived for this calling into question.

Bonus | However Washington has already implemented a scenario to prevent it from happening with its campaign of disclosure of unpleasing facts about the Movement’s leader : the militiaman Mussavi. This will cost Mussavi his post of standard bearer ; the Green Movement won’t have leader anymore, a fact which opens new possibilities for the opponents that are hostile to the entire regime. It’s such a hard up.

The french version of this article :
- Iran : Vers un changement nuancé de la politique nucléaire
- (2 DÉCEMBRE 2009)

All our articles in English...

| Mots Clefs | Institutions : Diplomatie (selon les mollahs) |
| Mots Clefs | Institutions : Provocations |
| Mots Clefs | Nucléaire : Crise & Escalade |
| Mots Clefs | Nucléaire : Politique Nucléaire des mollahs |

| Mots Clefs | Décideurs : OBAMA |
| Mots Clefs | Enjeux : Apaisement |

[1Yesterday when he resigned from his functions, Solana specified mischievously that he “has always been present to talk with Tehran when Americans were not available !”

[2On this 1st November, pro-British El Baradai left and he was replaced with pro-American Amano. However balance between both parties had been preserved through the replacement of pro-American Solana by British Catherine Ashtan.