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Iran’s nuclear power plant: threat or distraction?

Posted by alanmirs on September 20, 2011

From Suzanne Maloney, Brookings Institution, for CNN

EDITOR’S NOTE: Suzanne Maloney is a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution where studies Iran, the political economy of the Persian Gulf and Middle East energy policy. She served as an external advisor to the State Department from 2010 to 2011 and was a former U.S. State Department policy advisor during the George W. Bush administration.  She has also counseled private companies on Middle East issues. Maloney recently published a book titled Iran’s Long Reach: Iran as a Pivotal State in the Muslim World.

Washington greeted this week’s inauguration of Iran’s first nuclear power plant with a chorus of concerns about the Iranian threat and the prospects of proliferation across the Middle East. This alarmism is neither unexpected nor unjustified. However in the case of the Bushehr reactor, it is somewhat misdirected.


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The writer is naive and misguided if she thinks the American administration ever honestly considered Bushehr as a threat; albeit, that’s the view they intended to project. The reality is that presenting Iran as a threat (nuclear or otherwise) has always been a game of smoke and mirrors carefully cultivated to create fear and political instability in the region. When Hillary Clinton goes to Saudi and tells their rulers “You’re either with US or with Iran”, followed three weeks later by the signing a record breaking defense deal with the US it should tell you something about the real game that’s being played. She was issuing an explicit ultimatum of dire consequences, similar to what happened the last time the Gulf states stopped viewing Iran as a danger and cancelled mega billion dollar defense deals with the West. The Industrial military complex wasn’t having any of that so we unleashed Saddam on them. They learned their lesson soon enough and reinstated the cancelled contracts…and more, they allowed the US to establish bases on their soil.

Having said all that, Bushehr is indeed a threat, but not of the nuclear holocaust type. The world economy is collapsing and the West needs to de-soverignize oil-rich states like Iran. The way to that is not through attacking them, but by allowing them to disintigrate from within to a point where they are left with no negotiating power. Look at Libya. The world leaders are lining up for lucrative oil concessions which they will of course pick up for a song! Libya has no negotiating power. Similarly Iran’s ageing oil industry is slowly grinding to a halt. All its hard-earned oil revenue is spent on BUYING refined petroleum that it can use for energy. Plants like Bushehr represents the fly in the ointment because they increase Iran’s sovereignty by making it less reliant on oil and giving it’s economy more spending power. It defers the day when Iran has to give up any notion of nationalized oil and one way or another be forced into granting similar cheap concessions to foreign oil. On the other hand, the longer the Mullah regime stays in power, the more damage they will do to Iran’s economy and the country will ultimately descend into civil chaos, much more horrific than what you see in Libya. It will be the Republican Guard against the Iranian Army. The aftermath won’t be pretty for Iranians but it will be a bonanza for the West who will take their pickings from the ruins of a desovereignized Iran who can’t call any shots and has to agree to any deal that’s on the table.

But keep on believing the simplistic articles by these think-tanks whose sole job is to perpetuate the myths and create their own “distractions” from the real goals of the US and the West in the Middle East. However, this time, it’s going to be much more complicated and something tells me it’s going to blow up in their faces in a way they never imagined.

September 19, 2011 at 10:11 pm | Reply

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