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Fletcher Graduate Sounds Warning On Iran

Inan op-ed column, a Fletcher graduate and Middle East expert saysthat unless we appeal to the younger, more politically frustratedpopulation of Iran, the Islamic state could pose a major nuclearthreat to the United States.Medford/Somerville,Mass.

Medford/Somerville, Mass. [12.03.04] In the wake of an agreement between Iran and Europeannations to halt the enrichment of uranium in the Islamic state,a Fletcher graduate andexpert on Middle East issues says that the threat from Iran isstill significant, but the United States has options besidesmilitary invention.

“Justimagine a country with one of the world's largest oil and gasreserves possessing a nuclear bomb and that is ideologically obsessedwith the United States,” CyrusPartovi wrote of Iran in an op-ed column for the The Oregonianof Portland, Ore.

Partovi, asenior lecturer in the Department of International Affairs atLewis and Clark University in Portland, Ore., graduated from theFletcher School in 1969 and is considered a specialist in MiddleEast politics and U.S. foreign policy and diplomacy.

Citing anIslamic principle known as Taqiah – meaning dissimulation– Partovi says that an international agreement agreed toby Iran can be broken because the rule says that the clerics leadingthe country are justified in deceiving their enemies.

“Inother words, Taqiah trumps Iran's commitment to the Non-ProliferationTreaty.” He cautions, “One would hope that the InternationalAtomic Energy Agency and the foreign ministers of France, Germanyand Great Britain who seemed enamored by the Iranian charm offensiveare fully aware of Taqiah.”

Iran has cometo view the possession of a nuclear weapon as central to theircontinued sovereignty, Partovi says.

“Theyknow that possession of a nuclear bomb has ensured the survivalof the North Korean regime, and they intend to buy the same insurance.”

While Iranhas met with international opposition to its plan to develop itsnuclear program – especially from the United States, whichhoped to bring the matter before the U.N. Security Council priorto Iran’s accord with the European powers – Partovisays that Iran is “in a win-win situation.”

Besides theTaqiah trumping any agreements with the IAEA and European nations,Iran’s nationalistic populace holds a strong belief thata sovereign Iran is entitled to nuclear defenses, he writes.

Also, Iranis aware that the United States, an avowed ideological foe, ismired in Middle East issues ranging from efforts to rebuild Iraqand fight insurgents there to the ongoing Israeli-Palestinianconflict.

“Therefore,whatever happens, the mullahs are in the driver's seat,”Partovi concludes. “All they care about is to remain inpower. Nothing else matters.”

While Iranhas been rumored to be a future military target of the UnitedStates, which is known to be wary of the nation’s nucleardevelopment, Partovi says that the U.S. should focus its energieson tapping the support of reform-minded Iranians who elected PresidentMohammed Khatami.

Partovi saysseveral Iranians are “voters who have come to regret theirnaiveté in believing that a smiling mullah [Khatami] couldsave them from 23 years of theocratic nightmare.”

The key tostemming the threat of violence from Iran, Partovi believes, isreaching out to the younger population of Iran, which is politicallymotivated and dissatisfied with the nation’s current rule.He writes that 65 percent of Iranians are less than 25 years ofage and that “they aspire to the same freedoms as we treasure.”

“Unlikein the rest of the Arab world, whenever possible young Iranianshave shown their affection for America,” Partovi says. “TheBush administration must identify itself with this young, frustratedgeneration.”

Partovi suggeststhat the first salvos should be fired on the airwaves, not thebattlefields. Giving satellite and shortwave radio abilities toIranian opposition forces will provide a crucial conduit for informationand communication.

“Itwill send a powerful signal to the Iranian student movement thatWashington is serious about removing the clerics,” he wrote,warning “short of that we are in for a long nightmare.”





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