Forget about light bulbs – Iran wants a seat at the table

November 4, 2009

For years Mohamed ElBaradei, Nobel Peace Prize laureate and outgoing head of the U.N. International Atomic Energy Agency, has warned the United States and other Western powers against jumping to conclusions about Iran’s nuclear program. While Washington, Israel and their allies see increasing indications that Tehran’s secretive nuclear program is aimed at developing weapons, ElBaradei told an audience of academics, politicians and diplomats at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York City that his agency has “no concrete evidence” that Tehran is pursuing an atom bomb.

So is Iran’s nuclear program intended solely for lighting light bulbs in the world’s fourth biggest oil producer as Tehran insists? According to ElBaradei, its purpose is something completely different.

“Iran’s nuclear program is a means to an end, it wants to be recognized as a regional power,” the outspoken Egyptian lawyer and diplomat said. “They believe that the nuclear know-how brings prestige, brings power, and they would like to see the U.S. engaging them. Unfortunately that holds some truth. Iran has been taken seriously since they have developed their program.”

In other words: Don’t mess with us. We can enrich uranium.

U.N. officials who know ElBaradei have told Reuters for years that the IAEA director-general is convinced that Iran is pursuing what is often called the “break-out option” — the capability to produce nuclear weapons should it ever decide it needed them. He is not convinced, they say, that Iran has taken a decision to follow North Korea’s example and build an actual weapon.

But Western diplomats who follow the Iranian issue say that it is doubtful Iran would choose to hover on the threshold of the nuclear club without entering the door. A more likely scenario, they argue, is that the Islamic Republic would secure its place at the table of world powers by developing and possibly even testing a nuclear device. They also say the impact on the Middle East would be the same whether Iran has the “break-out option” in the drawer or a live bomb in its basement. In either case the result would be a nuclear weapons race across the already unstable Middle East.

ElBaradei has spent six of his 12 years at the helm of the IAEA neogotiating with Iran to get access to Iran’s nuclear facilities, many of which were hidden from U.N. inspectors for decades before their existence was revealed by Iranian exiles or Western intelligence agencies.

The IAEA chief chastised the administration of former U.S. President George W. Bush and the European Union’s three biggest powers — Britain, France and Germany — for failing to seize what he said was an opportunity they had years ago to persuade the Iranians to suspend their uranium enrichment program.

“They were ready to stop at an R&D (research and development) level … that could have not have created any concern for the international community,” he said.

Making matters worse, the European and U.S. demands that Iran cease all enrichment activity before negotiations on a package of economic and political incentives could begin was among the conditions imposed on Tehran that ElBaradei described as “impossible to accept.”

Western diplomats, however, have said that it would be naive to think that the Iranians were ever truly prepared to suspend their enrichment program after the EU trio launched negotiations with Tehran in the fall of 2003. They have defied three rounds of U.N. sanctions for refusing to stop enriching.  Bush’s successor Barack Obama has reversed the U.S. position by offering to engage Iran’s leaders, but they have reacted coolly so far.

ElBaradei, who opposed the Bush administration’s decision to invade Iraq in March 2003, said Bush’s refusal to negotiate directly with North Korea and Iran was a colossal policy failure that had created “a total mess.” (North Korea tested nuclear devices in 2006 and 2009.)

ElBaradei added that if Israel, which neither confirms nor denies having a sizable nuclear arsenal of its own, follows through on threats to attack Iran’s nuclear facilities it would backfire. He said Tehran would simply launch a “crash course” to get an atom bomb and “would turn the Middle East into a ball of fire.”


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let the world know that Iran wants to be, and can be, and will be a global power, NOT a regional power.It already is and has been a regional power. this in nothing special or extraordinary.And yet it keeps being referred to as a regional power??!Iran is in the same league as Russia, China and other world powers.

Posted by ahmad talohi | Report as abusive

Iran is in the same league as Russia, China and other world powers.- Posted by ahmad talohiNo it is not.

Posted by Billy | Report as abusive

I see this whole issue related to the Palestinian cause. Israel is terrified of a nuclear armed Iran. If Iran becomes nuclear, other countries in the region will look at the nuclear option for various reasons – electricity, prestige, military.. etc. This is a nightmare scenario for Israel as it will have return back territory it has stolen and account for its nuclear arsenal, acknowledge the military might of Iran and its neighbours and curtail its violent, illegal and destructive path of destruction against Palestine, Lebanon, Syria etc.I for one hope that Iran becomes nuclear but for the right reasons – a deterrent against Israel.

Posted by Maz | Report as abusive

Iran isn’t in the same league as Russia or China.And unless you count the fact that it supports terror groups in Lebenon, Iraq and Afganistan, Iran isn’t even a regional power.And yet the Iranians will tell you that they could have been a superpower, and should have been one, were it not for the evil plots of their many ‘enemies’.To which they must probably be referring to the Romans or Greeks.Iran’s peak of national influence was back when it had the Persion Empire centuries ago. Since then, it has all been downhill.

Posted by Haha | Report as abusive

“In other words: Don’t mess with us. We can enrich uranium.” ??This is quite a superficial translation of ElBaradei’s statement by the author, and shows a stunning lack of understanding of the issue. I think what Mr ElBaradei was saying was that nuclear technology infrastructure is seen as a possession of an advanced and respectable nation and that is the image Iran is looking for.On a different note I believe there’s an easier way for western demands to be taken more seriously.First demand that Israel disarm it’s illegal nuclear weapons to deter other states seeking their own arsenals to balance the threat.It’s hard to take these western demands seriously when there’s another fundamentalist religious state in the region, with a long history of aggression, documented and admitted terrorism, racism and attacking their neighbors, who is creating instability in the region by it’s procurement of illegal weapons of mass destruction, and they are not only allowed to operate with impunity, they are the single largest recipient of US aid.Which, mind you is illegal under the nuclear non-proliferation treaty.Though this blatant double standard is exposed time and time again and is simply common knowledge, it’s almost as if people have accepted the fact that the stated moral basis for US foreign policy needs nothing to do with its practice.. and that’s OK??

Posted by brian | Report as abusive

What a bunch of NONSENSE! This article relies far too much on anonymous “Western diplomats” and innuendo rather than facts. Iran DID in fact suspend enrichment for 2 years. And Iran has repeatedly offered to open its nuclear program to multinational participation, making it impossible to secretly make weapons. ANY country with a nuclear program could in THEORY “breakout” and make bombs — including Argentina and Brazil. There are about 40 or more countries that have this theoretical capability.

Posted by hass | Report as abusive

Re: “This is quite a superficial translation of ElBaradei’s statement by the author, and shows a stunning lack of understanding of the issue.”ElBaradei himself summed up the break-out option in relation to Iran in precisely this way in an interview with the BBC in June 2009:”My gut feeling is that Iran definitely would like to have the technology … that would enable it to have nuclear weapons if they decided to do so.””(Iran) wants to send a message to its neighbours, it wants to send a message to the rest of the world: yes, don’t mess with us, we can have nuclear weapons if we want it.”…Re: two-year suspensionIf you go back and look at the IAEA reports on Iran from the time Tehran agreed to suspend its enrichment program in late 2003 to early 2006, when Iran declared that it would press ahead with enrichment, you’ll see that the Iranians never completely stopped the program.

Posted by Louis Charbonneau | Report as abusive

A quote from “betz55 “;If the US and Israel want Iranian nuclear transparency, then Israel better be just as transparent. Demonising and warmongering Iran to protect Israel is wrong.It cannot be emphasized strongly enough that the Iranians have the right to a peaceful nuclear program in their country:1) They are signatories to the NPT, a treaty respected by the United Nations, itself an organization the US must respect. The NPT gives the Iranians an internationally regarded right to a program.2) It is completely unacceptable that the US or Israel attempt to dictate to Iran (or any nation) the basic parameters of Iran’s energy program.Iran has a basic right to decide its own domestic programs and to utilize natural resources found within its own boundaries. Or what’s next, then? The Israelis are bothered that Iran processes iron ore into steel, from which it can fashion conventional weapons, so Iran cannot process iron upon threat of “crippling sanctions”?Iran cannot utilize its own water resources, as the Israelis believe that Iranians with water might be a threat to them?The US administration must clearly and openly respect Iran’s right to a nuclear program as outlined by the NPT.The concession that the Iranians made to process uranium outside of their boundaries is just that–a concession–and must be respected as the Iranians going out of their way to appease Israel and her US foil.For the US administration to simply declare that the Iranians have no right to decide their own energy program and utilize their own natural resources would be for the US to declare that even the most serious international treaties, laws and conventions are irrelevant when we deem them politically inconvenient.It is telling that President Ford, in 1976, encouraged Iran (then under the US-backed shah) to build both uranium enrichment as well as plutonium processing plants. How is it that what was permissible then under the 1970 NPT, has now become forbidden – under the very same treaty?What the United States must do is respect Iranian rights, move forward with the external processing provision in place, and demand that Israel declare its nuclear arsenal, sign the NPT and disarm.Israel’s nuclear arsenal is one of the problems at the heart of the conflict, and the US will never be respected as an honest broker for peace if Israel is allowed to maintain a secret nuclear arsenal, while her neighbors are threatened with war if they so much as try to build a reactor.Israel will not even deny or admit to its truly “clandestine” nuclear program. If you want to talk about nuclear ambiguity, look to Israel.

Posted by Esther Haman | Report as abusive

I don’t see why Iran should have to stop their nuclear program. although a nuclear armed iran makes this world more dangerous, they don’t make it any more dangerous then we in the United states have made it, or for that matter Russia, India, Pakistan and most of all israel. If anyone is likely to use a nuclear weapon first it would be israel, or India and pakistan. all 3 of these countries are not signed to Nuclear proliferation treaty, yet all 3 were allowed to obtain nuclear weapons. if our foreign policy was’nt so blind and ignorant, they would see that iran could be and should be our strongest partner in the middle east, yes even more then israel. Iran has the ability to help us in afghanistan and iraq, they have much of an interest in getting rid of the taliban and al-qaeda as we do. how exactly does israel help in any way, besides making us a bigger and more hated target? the stability of the middle east, lies in strong ties with iran, whether we like it or not.

Posted by sidney | Report as abusive

Louis Charbonneau, RE your quotes, it’s easier to just quote in full the entire relevant part of the interview in this case.ElBaradei-“The middle east is a total mess, you know I’ve never seen it in my life, as messy as it is right now so.. there are a sense of insecurity there is no question, and to me if we really want to resolve Iran long term, we need to address also their perception of insecurity.”I- “Do you think Iran wants nuclear weapons?””My gut feeling.. that Iran would definitely like to have the technology.. you know would like to have the technology that would enable it to have nuclear weapon IF (stressing the IF) they decide to do so. It wants to send the message to their neighbors, it wants to send the message to the rest of the world, yes don’t mess up with us, we CAN (again stressed) have nuclear weapons if we want to.He didn’t sum up the break out option, he said he had a “gut feeling” that they would like to have the technology there encase they ever needed it. And they would want to send a message to the world not to mess with them (like Iraq?) if they were nuclear capable.He THEN sums up the ultimate aim of Iran, when he says:”But the ultimate aim of Iran, as I understand it, is they want to be recognized as a major power in the middle east, and they are.. and this is to them the road to get that recognition to power and prestige and possibly also.., not possibly I think pretty much an insurance policy against what they heard in the past about regime change, axis of evil, what have you.. “

Posted by brian | Report as abusive

The NPT includes both rights and obligations.Iran only has the right to have nuclear power. And this right is only conditional on their ensuring that no nuclear weapons can result. If Iran does not give sufficient safeguards that its nuclear industry is peaceful, it has no right to one.And if the UN will not uphold this rule, then the western nations will. Because otherwise, the western nations have no need to base their actions on the assumption that the NPT will be upheld.The NPT has always been about preventing the spread of nuclear war and weapons. It has never been about fairness or equality. Or about what Iran wants, or feels it is entitled to.

Posted by Anon | Report as abusive

to Billy, yes it is. this is the whole point of the article. still do not get it.

Posted by Arash | Report as abusive

anon, unfortunately there exists no democratically functioning world body to decide what the rights of a country are in this respect.The UN is NOT a democracy, it is controlled by the 5 veto powers.The NNPT is also a farce, with the exact same veto powers being the only members of 189 signatories who posses nuclear weapons and have NO legal obligations within the treaty to disarm. They are only obligated to have ‘discussions’ about disarming.The US has been in violation of the treaty in many ways for many years. It is forbidden to provide nuclear weapons and economic aid to a country who is illegally seeks or possesses nuclear weapons ie. Israel, the largest recipient of US aid, thus they are the only country in the world to have not declared their arsenal.On September 18, 2009 the General Conference of the International Atomic Energy Agency called on Israel to open its nuclear facilities to IAEA inspection and adhere to the non-proliferation treaty as part of a resolution on “Israeli nuclear capabilities,” which passed by a narrow margin of 49-45 with 16 abstentions. The chief Israeli delegate stated that “Israel will not co-operate in any matter with this resolution.”  /Nuclear_Non-Proliferation_TreatyNo doubt the world would love to see a non-nuclear world but the onus is on the powerful countries of the world to set an example and eliminate the need for other countries to produce them. Until this happens it will be hard to take their rhetoric, demands, motives and most importantly their credibility seriously.

Posted by brian | Report as abusive

“The US has been in violation of the treaty in many ways for many years. It is forbidden to provide nuclear weapons and economic aid to a country who is illegally seeks or possesses nuclear weapons”I would be very interested in which clause of the NNPT you base that opinion on.-There is little evidence Israel even has nukes.-Israel is not part of the NNPT, so any nukes it did possess by definition cannot be illegal.-There is no evidence America has provided any nuclear weapons or materials to Israel.-There is no evidence that America assisted Israel to develop nuclear weapons, or was even aware of a nuclear weapon program by Israel.And even if Israel was a part of the NNPT, and did possess illegal weapons, there would be no clause in the NNPT preventing America from providing general economic (or even military) support to Israel.As to your other point, I seriously doubt that the Western nations care if Iran takes them seriously or not. Iran will take them seriously one way or another. Either through concession, sanctions or war.There needs to be consequences for failing to reach a deal. Otherwise, negotiation has no value.I would also be interested in what you think will happen, if both Israel and Iran possess nukes.

Posted by Anon | Report as abusive

My bad, the economic aid is forbidden under US law, the weapons program aid is forbidden under article-I of the treaty.It is basically excepted by all that Israel has nukes based on a wealth of evidence and testimony. Read the whistleblowers sad story. chai_VanunuDoes no good to deny it.You’re right there needs to be consequences, but for ALL parties concerned, not just Iran.I wasn’t talking about Iran taking western politicians demands seriously, I was speaking in general about anyone being able to take them seriously in light of the gross double standards in practice.It would be a terrible scenario if they both had nuclear weapons because I know how aggressive a nation Israel is and wouldn’t allow anyone to balance the power in the region.That is why they MUST disarm and create a nuclear free middle-east.

Posted by brian | Report as abusive

You see Israel as aggressive?Mostly it has simply been reacting to the aggressive actions of its neighbours. In fact, the conventional Arab invasions of Israel only stopped when it became evident that Israel was likely to respond with a nuclear option if it happened again.So having Israel as the sole nuclear power is still preferable to having two nuclear powers. If Iran gets a nuclear weapon, there will no longer be a deterrent against another Arab-Israeli war.The invasions of Lebenon and Gaza can’t be considered aggressive. Because they were in response to missile attacks on Israeli cities. No nation, ever, would stand for that.I agree that in a sense, Iran is being treated under double standards.But in another sense, ‘double standards’ implies that fairness is the norm. International politics is rarely fair, except for concepts such as giving a nation ‘fair warning’.

Posted by Anon | Report as abusive

Absolutely, they have an amazing, proven track record of aggression and expansionism.I disagree completely that their actions have been retaliatory, in fact the first Arab/Israeli war was started by an Israeli attack on it’s neighbors. Since then they have repeated this first strike policy many times against many of their neighbors, and have clearly stated their policy of doing so.They have even honored Mossad agents convicted of false flag terrorist attacks against civilians abroad. Not to mention the obvious systemic policy and practice of aggression and expansionism against the Palestinians, and their lack of cooperation with international bodies and peace treaties.Many don’t know but they are also an extremely religiously oppressive regime.. someone caught speaking to a Jew about Christianity or even giving a Jew a bible can be given up to a 5 year jail sentence. They are a fanatically religious regime despite the vast majority of Israelis apparently being non-religious Jews.What I think is preferable is what the rest of the world wants, a nuclear free middle east. Though Israel is reported to have up to 400 nuclear weapons so if Iran gets one or a few in the future it will not affect Israels deterrence of Arab states, but will deter Israel and the US from attacking Iran or her neighbors as history predicts.I agree international politics are rarely conducted in fairness OR in democracy, as the UN proves.. that is the problem. And should be the focus of our efforts to shape a better world.The issue of Israels nuclear arsenal goes beyond unfairness and threatens to destroy what little credibility her allies have left when marketing foreign policy agenda.How can you expect to legitimately succeed in demonizing a state for seeking illegal nukes when you support another right next door who does the same?

Posted by brian | Report as abusive

to Brian,You wrote “the first Arab/Israeli war was started by an Israeli attack on it’s neighbors”.Sorry, but you seem to be grossly ignorant when it comes to the history of the Arab-Israeli wars. The first war was in 1948 when several Arab armies invaded Israel which had just declared independence in fulfillment of the UN partition plan for Palestine. They threatened to throw the Jews into the sea but failed.

Posted by Aviran | Report as abusive

A proven track record of aggression?The first Arab-Israeli war was the result of invasion by the Arab coalition, who rejected the creation of Israel. Even the Arab nations themselves admit that they were the ones who attacked first.The Seven Day war was initiated by Israel, after Egypt’s blockade of the Tiran straits and general mobilization of enemy military on each of Israel’s borders. Rather then wait for another invasion, Israel started the war a few days early and beat the Arab coalition soundly a second time.The Yom Kippur war, true to its name, was a multiple front attack on Israel by Arab forces on the Jewish holy day. The Arab forces counted on the fact that Israel’s forces would take too long to mobilize. They were wrong. Israel ended up surrounding Egypt’s entire Third Army, cutting them off from ammunition (and water). Then Israel held off from wiping them out, on the USA’s personal request.Israel then later negotiated to release the Sinai, in exchange for lasting peace with Egypt.Unfortunately, Israel tried to negotiate with its other enemies in a similar manner. Israel’s choice to release South Lebanon only led to the strengthening of Hezbollah. A mistake they repeated when they released Gaza, only to lead to the strengthening of Hamas.And let us all not forget the multiple Palestinian Infitadas. Suicide attacks on Israeli civilians which only stopped when Israel built the fences and checkpoints which well intentioned but naive people complain about today.Of course, this led to the terror groups starting to launch growing numbers of missiles and mortars at Israeli cities.They pushed their luck, and Israel responded with military force, which we saw in the Lebanon and Gaza wars. And while people are happy to mention the legal concept of ‘war crimes’, those same people are also willing to ignore inconvenient legal concepts such as ‘collateral damage’, ‘legitimate military targets’ and ‘proportionality’.So while you might believe that Israel is aggressive and always strikes first, this is not reflected by history.

Posted by Anon | Report as abusive

Aviran, the Jews ‘declared’ the state of Israel completely independent of any partition plan, which was incredibly bias in favor of the extreme minority of Jews and completely rejected by the citizens of Palestine and their neighbors, a day before the British mandate was due to expire.This declaration was not recognized by any country in the region. Thus the reason for war, oh wise one.

Posted by brian | Report as abusive

The UN Partition plan was passed by the UN Security Council with 59% of the vote on 29 November 1947. All the veto powers supported the motion, except for the UK and China who abstained.The result of the vote was that the partition plan was to take effect on the same day that the British Mandate ended.Based on this vote, Israel made a declaration of independence on the day the partition plan came into effect on 14 May 1948. Just as the UN vote decreed.Eleven minutes after the declaration, the state of Israel was recognised by the USA, Guatemala, Iceland, Nicaragua, Romania and Uruguay.On 17 May 1948, Israel was also recognised by the USSR, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia, Ireland and South Africa.At the same time, Israel was invaded by the Arab nations. This action was condemned by the UN as an illegal action of war against a sovereign nation.The rest, as they say, is history. Israel had claimed sovereignty by declaration, and then upheld its claim through military force against those who sought to take it away.

Posted by Hmmm | Report as abusive

hmmm, actually the general assembly passed the vote not the security council, initially with only 30 countries in favor (representing 1 fifth of the worlds population, 24 out of 30 or 80% of the countries who voted in favor represented only 5.4% of the worlds population), 54% of the general assembly at the time and ALL majority Christian countries( mmons/4/44/Christian_distribution.png ).3 out of 5 security council members voted and every country in the middle east voted against the resolution. 81_Map.png12 of the 30 countries who voted in favor were from south and central America, and every single one of them at the time was under the rule of a US supported dictatorship, some of them even in the midst of civil war, most of the others would overthrow their dictators in socialist revolutions soon after.Needless to say that the Arab Palestinians were completely against the UN plan as it offered the minority Jewish population 56% of Palestineand the vast majority indigenous Arabs only 43%. The Jews was also not happy with this plan and accepted 56% as an acceptable initial amount for the moment as an absolute bare minimum.The Jews in Palestine actually declared the state of Israel on may 14th a day before the British mandate ended and it was legal on may 15th. Which led to the inevitable outbreak of war. The Jews declaring Israel only mentioned the resolution as justifying the independence of Israel but held to none of it’s terms and a year after declaration when the war was over they had double the already excessive territory offered to them by the resolution.11 minutes after the Jews declaration of Israel, the claim was DE FACTO recognized by US president Harry Truman only, official recognition by the US did not come for another year in January 1949. Truman’s Recognition was followed by the Emporer of Iran, otherwise known as the Shah, Guatemala who a few years later was accused of the genocide of around 200 000 indigenous people, the dictator of Nicaragua, Romania who had a few years earlier willingly slaughtered their own Jews, Iceland a protectorate of the US and a couple other tiny post war European republics.The first leader to recognize Israel ‘de jure’, or legally, was Stalin of communist USSR, followed by 3 other European largely Jewish countries including Poland. Then Ireland, fighting for it’s own independence from British rule which it gained that same year, and racist South Africa which formalized the policy of apartheid the same year in 1948.

Posted by brian | Report as abusive

Hello Brian,You wrote “the Jews ‘declared’ the state of Israel completely independent of any partition plan”.What does that mean? they accepted the plan, and the UN resolution was their legal basis.”[the partition] was completely rejected by the citizens of Palestine and their neighbors”The citizens of Palestine included 600,000 Jews, only slightly less than the Arabs. Why shouldn’t they count? And what right did the neighboring countries have over Palestine?”This declaration [of independence] was not recognized by any country in the region”.Since when nations need permission from hostile neighbors to declare independence? Furthermore, did the US ask permission from native Americans, let alone Britain?I suggest you read some history books, even those written by Arabs.

Posted by Aviran | Report as abusive

I have answers for all these questions and would love to reply but my comments seem to be disappearing without explanation…

Posted by brian | Report as abusive

Aviran, it means that the resolution was non-binding and was not agreed on by both parties. It also means that Israel only USED the plan as a basis for legitimacy and has never adhered to it’s conditions, which the Jews themselves didn’t agree with in the first place.There was no legal basis because there was NO following of the ‘plan’. And when the state of Israel was declared independent of the plan by the Jews the country was still under British mandate.I never said the Jewish population shouldn’t “count”, but they were a minority MANY of which had only immigrated to British Palestine in the last 3 or 4 years since the war and were not at all indigenous.. Thus the ‘plan’ was completely unfair to offer such an illegitimate minority the majority of land in Palestine.What right does the regional community have??What right does the non-regional community have to implant a foreign, hostile state in the middle of the Arabic holy land??It is a very reasonable concept to value the importance and opinion of regional people when planning imperialist activities in their territory.No the US / British did not ask permission when they stole the land of Native Americans, that’s what makes it such a hostile, tragic and regrettable action.By the same logic you’re using to defend Israel it should be just as acceptable for the USA to be split up into 2 states by foreign governments. In fact the Native Americans have even more right to the US as their claim is not religious fiction and is in modern history not ancient history.

Posted by brian | Report as abusive

The legitimacy of Israel is not an issue here.Israel is an independent sovereign nation:-It declared itself independent.-This declaration was supported by the UN.-Israel upheld this independence even when the Arab nations resorted to force.The Partition Plan was non-binding, because the UN doesn’t have the power to create nations. Only the people of the ‘proto-nation’ can do so.Israel’s declaration was simply giving legal force to the partition plan which was already supported by the UN. It was made on the date the mandate expired, as the UN had intended. And it was supported by the UN, who then condemned the later Arab invasion.It is no surprise that the final result of Israel was different to the partition plan. After driving back the invasion, Israel made territorial gains.The issue you had, Brian, was that you accused Israel of being an aggressive nation.But history has shown that the Arab-Israeli conflict mainly involves Israel reacting to the aggressive actions of its neighbours. Even the recent Gaza and Lebanon conflicts.Rather then debate this issue; you instead shift the issue to Israel’s legitimacy. There is no need to debate this, because it simply isn’t an issue.

Posted by Anon | Report as abusive

It would appear even Mohamed ElBaradei was having second thoughts regards Iran’s nuclear intentions given Iran’s declaration of another nuclear site.The point is not which country has a nuclear weapon but what would happen if an ideology of a certain bent obtained one what would be the probable outcome. The propensity of use.We are all immigrants from somewhere there are no countries boundaries which have not been created in blood and terror with forced evacuations of significant numbers of human beings. This continues to be the case.Everything we see defined in a political sense from geographical boundaries to the right to continue to exist where you are born, have always been and will always be arbitrary. The underlying rational for final political outcomes comes down to coercion not law. Law itself was and continues to be created in the cauldron of relative coercion. Why?It is because we base our personal, group and national relationships on the notion of sovereignty. This gives Iran’s Supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei the right to say the “Biggest Crime” is not torturing and killing your own people for dissent (or those outside the Iran), dissent itself because it questions the legitimacy of the sovereignty of the elite in power is the “Biggest Crime”. In the same way perceived sovereignty justifies Israel and Palestinians brutilisation of each other. Each trying to out-coerce each other.I suggest we need as human beings to accept firstly we are all hypocrites, individuals and nations, and secondly work out what really matters in the end boundaries or the level of relative independence we enable for each other, finally to accept there exist cultural schisms which are irreconcilable, reflect on what they are and whether it is worth the blood and tears of our children to keep them – agree on an accepted human bill of rights applicable to both sides. Or alternatively lets carry on as normal in the time honored coercion way of sovereignty be honest as Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad regards a desired Israeli holocaust.As with arbitrary national boundaries defining nations or any text which exists or has existed they are derived directly from the mind of humans for the benefit and/or detriment of other humans – so humans can redefine relationships with another idea.Enabling the independence of others first – it has to start somewhere why not try it at home – it works – try it at work – etc.

Posted by mrk Julian Smith | Report as abusive

mrk julian smith,I think the point, and the issue that needs attention, is that we need to be able to admit when we are wrong.Not to press on through the bad decision in the hope that by repeating the mistakes of the past the future will work itself out.We don’t seem to learn anything because indeed there is no moral authorities worthy of widespread cross-cultural, free respect.Life isn’t just about tolerance, it’s about standing up for what you believe in, and despite the multitude of beliefs out there, for the 21st century there is something seriously, fundamentally wrong with what most in the world believe.. need I say religion?For all our claims of civility and hopes for the future, the most amazing hypocrisy is that we still allow such a staggering saboteur of our fundamental moral and intellectual instincts to exist and continue corrupting and dividing us.

Posted by brian | Report as abusive

Seriously, what is going on with my comments???That’s the 3rd time this has happened on this thread.How is it that my 2nd comment can appear but not my first posted and when I re-send my first it says you’ve already received it??

Posted by brian | Report as abusive

This is ridiculous… has this thread now been shut down?? Why are my posts still not being published?There is absolutely no reason that they should not be as I can quote evidence and links for everything I am saying.Is there an issue of moderator bias that needs to be addressed?

Posted by brian | Report as abusive

If I’m not allowed to speak my mind I’ll just provide more evidence instead. K7JJea3Sz8 lan_Dalet ng_David_Hotel_bombingBen Gurion, quotes – 1st zionist prime minister ex_e.asp mPEIt4fcnI

Posted by brian | Report as abusive

Re: concerns about threads not being published.I looked into this. No threads have been withheld as far as I can tell. I don’t know what to suggest other than to make copies of your posts before you click “submit comment” in case they don’t appear. If that happens, you can always resubmit them later..I hope that helps.

Posted by Louis Charbonneau | Report as abusive

There were 3 comments that did not get posted.I make copies of every single post I write and still have them all.Louis, I repeatedly tried to re-send these copies but was informed that the message had already been sent.Where are they?

Posted by brian | Report as abusive