Iranian nuclear program and its threat to pan-Arab security

by Ibrahim Khalil al-Allaf
Baghdad Al-Thawrah
May 28, 2001

[FBIS Translated Text] While Iran continues to retain the three UAE islands--Greater Tumb, Smaller Tub and Abu Musa--and while Iranian officials continue to cast covetous eyes on Arab lands and water, the growing Iranian nuclear program poses a threat not only to pan-Arab security but also to the entire Arab existence. This threat has increased after Iran announced in September 2000 that it had succeeded in launching a new type of Shehab-3 missile, which has a range of 1,500 kilometers. Although Iranian Defense Minister Ali Shamkhani said that the missile would be used for launching satellites, military experts affirmed that the missile, which has the capability to carry nuclear heads, would be used for military purposes. Thus, Iran's nuclear capabilities have begun to attract the attention of regional and international powers, in view of the role Iran can play and the influence it can exert in the Arab homeland and the neighboring countries.

The history of the Iranian nuclear program dates back to 1974 when Iran signed a nuclear cooperation agreement with France. In 1976 Iran signed an agreement with Germany on building two nuclear reactors in Bushehr. After the fall of the Shah in 1979 the nuclear program was temporarily suspended but it picked up again and Iran was able to build a nuclear research reactor in 1992. In 1993 China agreed to build two 300-megawatt nuclear reactors. In 1995 Iran signed an agreement with Russia under which Russia undertook to deliver two 1,000-megwatt reactors.

An article prepared by Professor Tamim Hani Khallaf was published in the Egyptian magazine Al-Siyasah al-Dawliyah [International Politics], (issue 142, October 2000). The article indicates that the most important nuclear research centers in Iran are the Nuclear Studies Center in Tehran, which was set up in 1968, the Nuclear Technology Center in Isfahan, the Nuclear Studies Center for Agriculture and Medicine in Karaj, the Nuclear Research Administration in Yezd, and the nuclear power station in Bushehr.

Iran has benefited from the collapse of the former Soviet Union. It has brought nuclear experts, obtained nuclear equipment, machinery, and technology through various means, and established relations with some [former Soviet Union] states, which helped it develop its armament programs, including nuclear armament. Iranian officials have been keen on emphasizing that Iran cannot ignore the importance of the nuclear aspect of factors connected with its national security and its strategic role in the region, particularly as some neighboring countries are trying to acquire nuclear weapons. Iranian officials are trying to follow the Zionist policy of surrounding their nuclear program with ambiguity and of continuously hinting that it is for peaceful purposes. In 1992 Iran submitted to some international pressure and permitted IAEA officials to visit its nuclear installations. It also affirmed its adherence to the 1968 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty [NPT], which it ratified in 1970.

Observers say that Iran is striving to develop its nuclear program for reasons connected with strengthening its regional position and defending its national security. They add that Iran is thus responding to what they call Iraq's nuclear program. The Iranians realize that the US military presence in the Arab Gulf is not confined to monitoring "Iraq's military activity but also Iran's military activity" and that the US administration opposes Iran's attempt to possess nuclear weapons. Although IAEA reports affirm that Iran continues to adhere to the NPT, CIA reports indicate the opposite. The launching of the Shehab-3 missile has caused apprehension among the Americans, some of whom believe that Iran is capable of acquiring a nuclear weapon and cast doubt on the IAEA reports.

In his aforementioned article entitled "Iran's Nuclear Capabilities From an International and Regional Perspective," Tamim Hani Khallaf says:

In an article published in the newspaper Al-Thawrah on 2 May 2001, writer Ma'tuq al-Ma'tuq indicates that the Iranian nuclear effort is focusing on playing for time and benefiting from the daily US-British-Zionist blockade and aggression against our dear Iraq. Therefore, the Iranians are developing their nuclear capabilities and other weapons of mass destruction for regional ambitions, foremost of which are controlling the Arab Gulf region, achieving their expansionist aims, and threatening Arab security and existence. Some Iranian political analysts say that "strengthening the Iranian nuclear program will lift the status of their country in the region and put it on the map of the major powers in the Middle East." What does this mean? It means that Iran, Turkey, and the Zionist entity agree on one goal and one hostile policy toward the Arab nation. This requires the Arabs--leaders and peoples--to rise to a high level of responsibility and to realize the challenges facing their security and existence.

[Description of Source: Baghdad Al-Thawrah (Internet Version-WWW) in Arabic -- Description of source: Iraqi ruling Ba'th Party newspaper]