Am I the only one who sees the P5+1 demand for Iran to close its Fordow enrichment facility as having no other reasonable derivation than Israel’s desire (expressed through its mouthpiece, the U.S.) to get rid of the only HDBT nuclear site in Iran that they can’t bomb? I think it’s almost comical that the West would ask Iran to do this – and it has been one of the recurring Western demands over the past six months at least.
To me it brings the threat of the use of force implicitly, but very plainly, into the core diplomatic dialogue between Iran and the West, which I find really strange. I have to say I also find it kind of dumb. I mean, do they really think Iran doesn’t see what they’re trying to do?
To paraphrase the request, wouldn’t it go something like this (with apologies in advance for channeling Bill Lumbergh from “Office Space.” Couldn’t be helped):
U.S.official: “So, Mr. Ahmedinejad, I’m gonna need you to go ahead and get rid of that one nuclear facility you have that we can’t bomb. Yeeaahh, we used to be able to threaten airstrikes against all of your nuclear facilities but, since you built that darn underground enrichment site at Qum, we really can’t say that anymore and be believable. And it’s really kind of a problem for us. So, if you could just go ahead and close ‘er on up, that would be grreeaatt. Then we’ll be able to get back to making threats to bomb all of your nuclear facilities, and we would really like to be able to do that. So how ‘bout it?”
I mean, am I missing something here? I’ve tried to look for any other even colorable reason as to why the West would be specifically demanding the closure and dismantling of the Fordow site, and not, for example, the Natanz site, which is also devoted to enrichment. I can’t find any. Fordow is under IAEA safeguards just like Natanz is, so there’s no obvious difference in formal classification or level of transparency. I know that Fordow is reportedly where Iran has been doing its 20% enrichment work, but that doesn’t technically define the site. They could just do 5% enrichment there if they stopped the 20% enrichment. So that current activity doesn’t seem to offer a persuasive reason why Fordow should be specifically targeted for decommissioning. The only real difference between the two facilities appears to be the fact that Natanz is out in the open, and Fordow is underneath a mountain.
It just seems so painfully obvious and transparent that this is why the West is asking for this. And I think it has provoked the most easily predictable answer in history from Iran. Roughly translated from the Farsi, it comes out to: “Are you kidding? No, we’re not gonna do that. Who would do that? How do you have the nerve to even ask that? Are you nuts? Do you think we’re nuts? Why would we do that?”
Or, as Iran’s IAEA Ambassador is reported to have reacted to this proposal, with the same message and an evident touch of incredulity, yet still diplomatically:
“Iran’s ambassador to the International Atomic Energy Agency, Ali Asghar Soltanieh, told Reuters he saw “no justification” for closing Fordow, which he said was under IAEA surveillance. “When you have a safe place, secure place under IAEA control, then why do you tell me that I should close it?” he said, making clear Iran built the site to better protect its nuclear program against any Israeli or U.S. attacks. “Fordow is a safe place. We have spent a lot of money and time to have a safe place,” Soltanieh added.”
Like I said. “Are you kidding?”
One of the topics I’ll probably be writing a lot about on this blog is Iran’s nuclear program and the sundry issues of international law relevant to it. This is a topic that I’ve already written about at some length and in various locations on the interweb. If readers will indulge me, I wanted to first quickly note and provide links to some of the places on the web where I have written and spoken before on this topic. I’ve also written about it in books and law review articles, but I won’t list those here. Gluttons for punishment can find those on their own. I can then start blogging anew about the ongoing diplomatic and legal crisis.