Friday, 5 September 2014

Chatham House on Iran’ s Nuclear Future

Yesterday I went to an on the record Chatham House meeting on the subject of Iran’s nuclear future. The meeting was based on a Chatham House paper that was written by two former British diplomats, Sir Richard Dalton (former ambassador to Iran) and Peter Jenkins (Former ambassador to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)).

Dalton’s and Jenkins’ analysis is based on their assessment and trust that Iran is not intent on acquiring nuclear weapons combined with seemingly much trust in the IAEA’s ability to effectively monitor against violations. This attitude is either naïve or dishonest. Have IAEA never been misled and importantly, can one really assess another country’s intentions? Can one afford to take a view when it comes to intentions to develop nuclear weapons?

Concerning assessment: There is currently a serious argument between Israel’s Internal Secret Service and Israel’s Military Intelligence as to whether Hamas had intended the July war in Gaza to happen or whether things just got out of hand. Evidently, these two organisations with many years of expertise and experience, not to speak of how entrenched they are with sources within the Arab world, are unable to reach a conclusion.

It may be that Chatham House or the British FCO have no issue with Iran holding nuclear weapons. If that is the case, they should openly say so. Otherwise – one can only hope that Dalton and Jenkins do not negotiate on Britain’s behalf.

A totally different question is whether the resultant opening up of Iran to the West, were an agreement reached, would not worry the Iranian regime? Such opening up to the West may be the very thing that Khamenei would want to prevent. In that case, reaching only a partial agreement with sanctions lifted may be Iran’s preferred option. 

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