June 04, 2006

Tehran warns of fuel disruptions

The supreme leader of Iran, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, now warns of fuel dispruptions, according to the BBC, if the US make, quote, the "wrong move". What the wrong move is remains unclear.

If he means war, then the statement becomes more of a tautology, however, if he means actions used to increasingly isolate and put pressure on Tehran, then we can be worried.

In the speech, he repeatedly stressed that Iran has no aspirations to acquire a nuclear bomb, since it would be against Islamic Law, and also that civilian nuclear technology is their legal right.

Whatever you think of the sincerity of the first point, the second remains valid. The Nuclear Non–Proliferation Treaty allows the pursuit of civilian nuclear technology (including uranium enriching), and any action on the basis of Iran 'breaking the rules' would therefore be illegal.

The claim that the whole world is behind the US on this issue is also flawed. You've probably heard of Venezuala refusing to condemn Iran, but other countries that use uranium enrichment, or are developing it, for use in civilian nuclear reactors, such as South Korea I believe, will be increasingly nervous about their own position if official actions against Iran are mandated by the security council.

Perhaps this is an inherent weakness with the original treaty, allowing Iran to use obstensibly civilian technologies as an almost subconscious threat (ie if they can do that then it might be possible they have a bomb etc) to Irseal (the only real enemy left in the area after the US took care of Iraq and Afganistan).

Whatever the case, it is obvious this situation was not foreseen when drawing up the original treaty (or perhaps it was, but they settled on a weaker deal). Let's just hope that either the west backs down and Iran is genuinely only interested in civilian technologies, or the west doesn't back down and Iran doesn't retaliate through the oil market. Both scenarios, unfortunately, look increasingly unlikely.

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