TOPICS: Middle ground on Iranian nuclear issue

Emadeddin Baghi

I understand the worries in the West about Iran. Western leaders think that a regime that has no mercy for its dissident citizens would surely show no sympathy for its many opponents around the world if it had nuclear bombs. For this very reason we have always called on the Iranian government to observe human rights and countenance the rights of its opposition, to win domestic and foreign trust and respect. At the same time, however, I believe there is a will among global powers to use human rights and nuclear issues as an excuse to push forward predetermined objectives, and that the Iranian government is unintentionally bringing these ambitions to fruition by violating human rights and following inappropriate foreign policies.

One sees here an odd mincing of words, on both sides, to confuse public opinion. The US and Europe accuse Iran of trying to develop nuclear weapons, and because of their distrust they want to nip this risk in the bud. Two reasons reinforce their scepticism: Iran’s secret nuclear activities for 18 years, and ideological slogans of the new government, such as “the future is in the hands of Islam and Islamic revolution”. Iran, on the other hand, insists on its right to have nuclear power.

There is yet another voice that believes the two sides are talking about two different issues: having nuclear technology for peaceful purposes, and having nuclear weapons — two subjects that can be dealt with distinctly when clearly defined and universally supervised.

The confusion is jeopardising peace, and brings the possibility of another conflict. The problem of altering the Iranian conduct toward global concerns can be solved within the country through active participation of reformists and others concerned about our national interest. Today in Iran there is a high degree of political sensitivity and social consciousness, as well as dispersed authority. There are influential figures and institutions with their own social power capable of imposing pressure on the decision-makers.

Even today in what seems to be a uniform state, after the so-called reformists have been swept aside, there are controversies between the new fundamentalist president and the parliament dominated by conservatives over designating ministers and provincial governors and officials. One should not forget that the Iranian experience of democracy, with all its ups and downs, has resulted in a relative division of power. We have to extend this by enlarging civil society. So we are ready at all costs to endure all hardships and deprivation to develop our own democracy. Any military attacks or any economic sanctions would ruin the basis of democracy in Iran and make fundamentalist terrorism more predominant.

After eight years of bloody war with Iraq with more than 200,000 dead and many more injured and disabled, Iranians are against war. In order to preserve their culture and civilisation, they do not intend to get involved in yet another conflict.