http://www.alef.ir/vdcepw8zwjh8ewi.b9bj.html?142262) The site is administered by a prominent Iranian member of parliament who is also Director of the Iranian Parliamentary Research Centre. His name is Ahmad Tavakkoli. At various earlier times he has held senior governmental positions and is said to be close to the Iranian supreme leader, Ali Khamenei.
The article in question is entitled, ‘The Theological Necessity of the Destruction of Israel’! and apart from a series of detailed maps of Israel, naming specific sites for destruction, it has a substantial commentary on their significance in both Farsi and English. Here is sample which follows the heading, “Israeli people must be annihilated”:
“Residents of Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and Hifa can be targeted even by Shahab 3. Population density in these three adjacent areas composes about 60% of Israeli population. Sejjil missiles can target power plants, sewage treatment facilities, energy resources, transportation and communication infrastructure; and in the second stage Shahab 3 and Ghadr missiles can target urban settlements until final annihilation of Israel people..."
This cannot be otherwise interpreted than an aspiration for genocide, and the fact that it is published by a person close to the Islamic leadership of Iran (and that the contents have not been disavowed by that leadership, or removed from the site) suggests that it ought to be taken very seriously by the international community. For Israel, of course the matter is different. The world may be content to watch impending genocide and wring its collective hands, as it did in Rwanda, but Israel cannot.
This is where the significance of Iran’s nuclear weapons programme comes in. The project of ‘annihilating the Israeli people’ takes on a different character when such a capability is introduced into the mix. There may be some doubt about the extent of damage that could inflicted by using conventional warheads, having regard to the air defences that Israel could muster. This is clearly much diminished if the possibility of nuclear explosive devices is included. There are also the wider issues of a regional nuclear arms race. Saudi Arabia has indicated that it would acquire nuclear weapons by the simple expedient of buying them, and given its enormous wealth, could we really dismiss the possibility?
Of course, I am aware that Iranian spiritual leader, Ali Khamenei has said, only a few days ago, that, ‘the Iranian nation has never pursued and will never pursue nuclear weapons’, and that ‘the possession of nuclear weapons is a grave sin’. I am afraid I don’t believe him. I have set out my reasons for concluding that Iran is pursuing a nuclear weapon capability on a number of occasions; in these columns on 6&9 September, 2009; 1 September, 2010; and, again, earlier this year (9 January). The enormous expense of nuclear developments in Iran over the last decade, makes no sense at all in the context of providing fuel for a single civilian power reactor (Bushehr) and a small research reactor. The deal with Russia to complete the building of Bushehr, included the provision of fresh fuel and the reprocessing of spent fuel, and the small amount of fuel for the Tehran reactor is easily available. I repeat, the prodigious Iranian expenditure on enrichment, and on other parts of the nuclear fuel cycle (not to mention the cost of sanctions), is incomprehensible unless it is intended to provide the basis for nuclear weapon production. Sinful, or not, Iran is pursuing nuclear weapons.
Additionally, we might note that the International Atomic Energy Agency has regularly, and again recently, expressed concern about what Iran is doing, especially in the way of activities that only have relevance to nuclear weapon construction. This is the context of Iran’s continuing refusal to cooperate with IAEA inspectors, including those who were recently in Tehran for the purpose of inspecting ‘sensitive sites’. Specifically, they wanted to visit a facility at Parchin, which is particularly concerned with weaponisation. The latest news is that IAEA inspectors will be able to visit at some future date. Meanwhile, satellite images of the Parchin site, obtained by IAEA inspectors suggest considerable activity there, right now. According to a Guardian report (8 March):
‘crews at the Parchin military site may be trying to erase evidence of tests of a small experimental neutron device used to set off a nuclear explosion (which) could only be in the context of trying to develop nuclear arms.’
It is suspected that attempts at sanitisation are being made, ahead of a possible visit (‘because ‘some of the vehicles at the scene appeared to be haulage trucks and other equipment suited to carting off potentially contaminated soil from the site’).
There are ‘smoking guns’ wherever you look, and the ‘guns’ are pointed in the first instance at Israel, but also, as the text of the article cited makes clear, more generally at the United States and the West.
The question, then, is what is to be done and by whom? Sanctions are having a substantial effect on the Iranian economy but no impact on their nuclear weapons programme. The IAEA inspection programme is being frustrated and protracted. Meanwhile, activities directed towards the acquisition of nuclear capability continue. Is there any alternative to direct action, to address the threat for those who plausibly feel threatened (notably Israel)? Pre-emptive, or preventative action is clearly a high-risk strategy. It may not be entirely successful. It may delay, not end, Iranian nuclear capability. It may simply provoke them to re-double their efforts. Immediately, Iran may seek to broaden the conflict by striking out at other parties in the region (as it has threatened). Oil prices will go up.
On the other hand, the ‘maps’, and the intentions they accompany, are clear. The rest of the world, including America, may think they have a choice but Israel has not. It faces a threat to its very existence and to the lives of its citizens, which it really cannot ignore.