By Jamal Ekhtiar:
Iran’s nuclear ambitions have been a headache for the world for the last two decades, and so far there is no reassurance and distrust endures. The current deal and lifting of sanctions will not halt the ruling clergy’s appetite for nuclear weapons.
There is no change in Iran’s domestic situation, the world is rightly doubtful about reassurances coming from the Iranian government, and Israel, which has the right to recognition and sustainable security, is still subject to rhetorical attacks by the Iranian regime which speaks of removing it from the earth.
Requirements of diplomacy and political realism are different from true insights, but the lack of a true solution for the Iranian nuclear dispute is costly for all sides. The Iranian government is not a reliable partner and utilizes any opportunity to further its nuclear ambitions, especially under the current Shi’ite regime which is keen to export itself across the Middle East and, if possible, to rest of the world. Although, under the pressure of sanctions, they have tactically conceded to the demands of the 5+1, there is no guarantee they will remain committed to the agreements. They also evidently continue to threaten Israel and sponsor terror domestically, regionally and internationally. The Iranian political system has no capacity to join a true partnership for peace, democracy and stability in the region.
Going back to the time of Jack Straw’s diplomatic visits to Tehran, the international community marched in the wrong direction from the beginning, rooted in mistaken perceptions of Iran in general and the Iranian nuclear issue in particular. The West suffered from misinterpretations and miscalculations about the atomic dispute by failing to place it within the context of what is happening inside Iran. The Iranian nuclear dispute is fundamentally linked to human rights issues and a rights-centered approach could eventually lead to a permanent solution.
Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons
The Iranian clerical system claims it uses nuclear energy for peaceful purposes, but this is a disguise and military use is the primary objective for the Mullahs. Regardless of the religious or national chauvinist rhetoric of the regime in Iran, represented in recent decades by the clerics, it has always tried to maintain and develop its influence and hegemony in the Middle East.
Iran’s deliberate interfering in the Middle East aims to sustain this hegemony and also reduce internal opposition. The post-colonial notion of one single nation in Iran is problematic, encouraging the center not only to forcibly maintain the false unity, but also to export its rhetoric to alleviate domestic problems. For this purpose and to sustain its hegemony, Iran wants to build its military strength and nuclear capability. The project is fundamentally military, posing threats to long-term security in the region, while it is also part of the regime’s stance against the domestic demands of various nationalities inside the country.
Cost of Iran-Mullahs’ ambitions
Different sources estimate that the cost of Iran’s nuclear program has exceeded £100 billion: the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace estimates the cost at well over $100 billion while other sources estimate it at closer to $200 billion.
The first target of Iran’s prospective nuclear warhead?
Rulers in the Middle East have a habit of creating foreign enemies, to justify their domestic oppression. Anti-Semitism is one low-cost justification which the region’s political and religious leaders never hesitate to use to deceive people.The Iranian government pledges to remove Israel from the earth. Israel has the right to security, recognition and long term coexistence with other nations in the region. The Kurds as a nation who have suffered in the last century understand the pains of the Jewish nation, but realistically the clerics’ anti-Israeli and anti-Jewish utterances are for domestic use and, if they acquired nuclear weapons, they would be more likely to use it first against the Kurds, known as the ‘second Israel’ by Iran. This is evident in Iran’s systematic propaganda against Kurds and statements by high-ranking officials such as Ali Akbar Velayati, senior advisor for foreign affairs to Iran’s Supreme leader Khamenei, who occasionally accuses the Kurds of collaborating with Israel.
Victims of Iran’s state terrorism
The clerical system has been spreading terror in the Middle East since they came to power in 1979, but one area of Iran’s state terrorism has not had enough international attention. While it is true that Iran threatens Israel and negatively intervenes in the affairs of other countries, the oppressive Iranian regime imposes doubled state terrorism and suppression domestically on denied nationalities.
Iran is not a single nation country. It is a multi-national country and none of the constituent nations were asked to join this false unity, formed in the early 20th century. The Azeris, Ahwazsi, Baluch, and Kurds are denied basic national, cultural, economic, social and human rights. The oppressive state brutally silences their demands and labels their movements as terrorist. But in fact, it is state terrorism that prevails in Iran.
Human rights and democratic concerns in Iran
People lack drinking water in Ahwaz; children lack schooling, even in a language that is not their mother tongue; Kurds maintain their historical demands for their rights while they are subject to routine executions; and the center puts a further yoke on regional Iran. In the center, there are people enjoying European and first world living standards but, despite the country’s vast resources, impoverished regional Iran is paying for the ambitions of the dominant ethno-clerical system, which is no way upholds the interests and rights of Iran’s oppressed nations. Some people enjoy many rights and resources at the expense of others who lack even basic rights.
The system uses the resources of Iran’s multi-national society to build its military and suppression machine. The rights of nationalities in Iran should be the main concern and challenge for the international community. The Iranian system has not been able to accommodate its peoples and create an atmosphere in which democratic solutions can be achieved and, therefore, the overarching Iranian problem is one of human rights and the solution to Iran’s nuclear dispute with the world powers lies through human rights.
An ambitious system like the current clerical regime has no capacity to join a true partnership for peace and democracy. It will continue to pose a threat to stability in the region and the world. However, the biggest mistake of the world community was to see the nuclear dispute as purely a security issue. The international community should learn and clearly send a message to the Mullahs in Iran that it is concerned about widespread domestic violations of human rights and stand with the peoples in Iran. In this scenario even sanctions, said by many to damage the welfare of Iranian people, could gain moral support from a majority of the people. In the event that Iran remains uncooperative with the international community, cases of rights violations in Iran can be forwarded to the UN Security Council.
Jamal Ekhtiar is a writer and contributor to various English and Kurdish media including Kurdistan Tribune, Kurdish Globe, IRIN, Kurdish Media, and several other English and Kurdish print and electronic outputs. He has also worked with civil society organisations and advocacy groups and currently manages Iran Rights Transparency – IRT.