Jerusalem Post correspondent Yonah Jeremy Bob said Iran is an “irrational actor,” which Israelis think shouldn’t be allowed to enrich uranium to the level needed for a nuclear bomb, at a public lecture at St. Thomas University last Wednesday.
The talk came a day after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his centre-right Likud Party won it’s fourth straight term in office, and just two weeks before the deadline on a deal which would put Iran much closer to having a nuclear bomb.
“The current regime has been much more friendly, but Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who was president not that long ago, said he wanted to wipe Israel off the map. In Jewish history, when somebody says that it’s taken seriously.”
He said most Israelis think it is a myth that Iran could be turned away from supporting terrorists as it has in the past, and alleged rule-breaking when it comes to atomic energy.
Iran’s nuclear program was made public in 2002 by an opposition group that revealed the secret construction of a uranium enrichment plant and nuclear reactor. The country agreed to inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency, claiming the infrastructure was for energy only, but was unable to prove it had not sought to develop nuclear weapons.
In 2005, the case was handed over to the UN Security Council for failing to comply with the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, and has since been subjected to international resolutions and crippling economic sanctions.
Now, the P5+1 group of nations, which is made of the US, United Kingdom, Russia, China, France, and Germany, is seeking to limit the use of Iranian centrifuges. The most recent draft of the deal would limit Tehran to 6,000 centrifuges out of the 10,000 it now runs, for the next ten years.
“The idea in this deal is that there are going to be very intrusive inspections by UN weapons inspectors,” Bob said, before dismissing the idea, claiming the inspectors have already been beaten twice by covert Iranian nuclear projects.
The lecture became heated when STU political science professor Shaun Narine spoke out against the legal affairs correspondent’s reasoning, saying Iran was indeed rational.
“They have many many times hesitated and been conservative and if they really were dead-set on having a bomb they would have one now,” he said at the lecture. “Probably really what they want is to be a regional power… so they can have more influence on what’s going on in Lebanon, in Iraq, in Bahrin, and other Shiite populations.”
Narine compared the situation to Japan, which receives little attention from western nations though it is often said to be a “screw-turn” away from being a nuclear armed state.
He also said Israel, which has about 200 nuclear warheads, some of which are at sea, would be in position to retaliate, likely along with other nations, immediately.
He said it would be “national suicide” for Iran to use a nuclear warhead.
“Even though they’ve used suicide bombers, they’ve used terrorists, all of those have been used as strategic tools. There is nothing saying Iranians would support a national suicide.”
But the Baltimore-born, Israeli-based journalist disagrees, and views plans for controlling or changing Iran as futile.
“They think at the end of the day, Iran is a rational actor, and if you use the proper combination of carrots and sticks… Iran can be brought around to rejoining the world community, and acting more in accordance with what the world community expects,” Bob said after discussing the nation’s ties to Hamas militants. “Israelis don’t believe this at all.”