I never, for a moment, believed the myth of a peaceful nuclear program perpetuated by the Iranian regime. I don't think anyone of us Iranians, especially those of the opposition, did. We were just hoping those who got away with murdering our children on the streets of Tehran a couple of years ago, would not out-smart the international community to the point of actually achieving their goal. Because we knew that while their popularity is gone an A-bomb would give them the military might to rule us for a long while. So while the bomb would not be a real threat neither to Israel who has many more nor to the U.S. who can blow all of us to bits in a jiffy, it is more of a threat to us Iranians and for the struggle for democracy in Iran.
The new IAEA report claiming that Iran indeed does show signs of military intentions in its nuclear program has awakened the opposition. The recent blast at the long-range missile base that killed at least 17 IRGC soldiers and Hassan Moghaddam, the Iranian Revolutionary Guard general, who was the mastermind of the Iranian long-range missiles development, seems to have been an Israeli hit. Even though Iran has denied it, all evidence points to Israel.
For years now the question of the extent of U.S. and the international community's hawkishness towards Iran has divided the Iranian opposition in exile. Some claim this is in part because of the personal and financial interest of many who benefit from the oil-rich regime in one way or another. Others feel uncomfortable shedding their youthful anti-imperialism and 'asking' for help from foreigners. And some are so conspiratorially minded that they claim that this regime was an invention of the Americans' and really works for them behind the curtain! Many of us have a rather schizophrenic attitude towards American and international support. We want it like all helpless victims of tyrannical regimes, but because of our past we are afraid of the price. But the Iranian youth, the precursors of the Arab Spring, who protested on the streets of Tehran in June 2009, after the allegedly rigged elections, were disappointed that the America that had always cheered them on in their quest for democracy responded so tepidly and did little to prevent their brutal demise. The world watched as Iranians were arrested, beaten, and killed, but did nothing. When Obama continued his doctrine of negotiation and insisted on a diplomatic resolution to the nuclear stalemate with the Islamic Republic, Iranian opposition activists were, for the most part, very disappointed. The reason for this was two-fold. On the one hand we did not want a rogue government that we believed had just stolen our votes to be legitimized in this way and taken seriously as a negotiating partner by the international community. On the other hand we knew that the Iranian rulers, engaged in what I call carpet-dealer diplomacy, would never give up on their nuclear ambitions and would only use this opportunity to buy time. We knew that an American did not stand a chance of a good deal in this carpet shop. There is a reason why the Mullah is depicted as a fox in Iranian popular culture.
So the new IAEA report does not surprise us Iranians. Nor does the alleged Israeli strike on the missiles base. Some of us believe that it is time that we spoke up against this regime's nuclear ambitions and declared them far from our own. We believe that Iran, with her bellicose attitude and her repeated lack of transparency is risking the national interest of Iran and the lives of Iranians. We hold the regime responsible for bringing us to the brink of war. We believe that that even if their ambitions were peaceful their stance is unnecessarily and dangerously provocative. In a post Fukushima world, in an oil-rich, sun- drenched, earthquake-prone nation, nuclear power should be the least of our concerns. Our hospitals need fixing and renovation, our solar-energy sector could be developed, our roads and infrastructure needs work. We need universities and schools for an ever growing youthful population who flee to Malaysia and Cyprus for an education because of lack of space in our own universities. To add insult to injury the regime has brought us to this dangerous crossroad without ever having consulted us, the people of Iran, if we wanted the program at all? So if the Iranian nuclear program has been shrouded in secrecy for the international community it has more importantly been kept a total secret from us, the Iranian people. Our government lacks legitimacy, has no accountability, and believes in hastening the coming of the Shiite messiah, the twelfth Imam Mahdi! Does anyone think that we Iranians could possibly trust them with nukes? No we don't, nor do we accept their lie of a 'peaceful' nuclear program.
If the International community wants an Iran that is peaceful and non-confrontational, they should realize what we have been saying from those first days after the election in June 2009, when we shed youthful blood on the streets of Tehran: only a defeat of the brutal regime and the establishment of a democracy in Iran can ensure a lasting peace in the region. The democratic Iran that the opposition, the youth, envision is the Iran that the world could embrace, the Iran that could lead the region to breathe the badly needed air of freedom from fanaticism.
Here is a statement signed by more than 157 Iranian activists and journalists, including this author, asking the Iranian regime to temporarily halt Uranium enrichment and to cooperate with the IAEA.