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Iran’s Nuclear and Military Efforts in the Shadow of Coronavirus and Economic Collapse

Iran’s Nuclear and Military Efforts in the Shadow of Coronavirus and Economic Collapse, Begin Sadat Center for Strategic Studies, By Lt. Col. (res.) Dr. Raphael Ofek    BESA Center Perspectives Paper No. 1,568, May 17, 2020

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: Notwithstanding the difficult challenges of the coronavirus crisis and a deteriorating economy, Iran is pushing ahead with its uranium enrichment and missile and space programs as well as its activities in Syria. It also has yet to concede to the US in their clash over sailing in the Gulf. Tehran fears that any sign of weakness might endanger the Islamist regime, particularly as resentment continues to grow among ordinary Iranians. With that in mind, it is doing all it can to flex its muscles for both domestic and international audiences………

The latest IAEA report says the agency continues to liaise with Iranian authorities regarding IAEA inspections of natural (non-enriched) uranium particles of an anthropogenic (i.e., man-made) source from an Iranian site that has not yet been declared to IAEA: the warehouse in Turkuzabad, a suburb of Tehran, which was unveiled by Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu in a speech to the UN General Assembly on September 27, 2018. According to the BBC on March 3, the IAEA dispatched a document to several member states claiming that Iran has rejected a request to allow inspection access to three other unidentified sites as well. According to the document, the inspectors want to find out if natural uranium is being used at any of the sites from which they are being barred. At another site, the IAEA says there have been activities that are “consistent with efforts to sanitize part of the location.”

Iran’s violations of the nuclear agreement—its raising of the uranium enrichment rate to 4.5% and accumulation of uranium in excess of the 300 kg UF6 limit—does not currently have a military aspect. This is because uranium enriched at a rate of less than 5% is suitable solely as a nuclear fuel for power reactors and cannot be used for nuclear weapons (for which the enrichment degree required is at least 90%). Iranian officials claim these violations are meant to pressure the EU into neutralizing the sanctions imposed on Iran by the US……..

Iran’s overall situation is quite distressing. The Iranian people have lost faith in the regime—especially now, in view of the ravages of the coronavirus pandemic. The people (along with the rest of the world) doubt the official casualty figures. At this writing, the regime is claiming about 110,000 cases and about 6,800 deaths, but the true numbers are estimated to be much higher. This distrust became stronger against the backdrop of the authorities’ false reporting of the downing of a Ukrainian passenger jet on January 8 after takeoff from Tehran (most of its passengers were either Iranian or of Iranian origin).

The coronavirus outbreak has dealt a new blow to the Iranian economy, which had already collapsed in 2018 as a result of US sanctions. The real (the Iranian currency) plummeted to unprecedented lows, and the Iranian street expressed its anger that the regime had wasted so much money on its operations in Syria. According to the London Arab newspaper al-Sharq al-Awsat on January 1, 2020, Iranian president Rouhani said damage to the Iranian economy resulting from sanctions by the end of 2019 was $200 billion…….

It is highly doubtful that the Iranian people are ready to eat grass in order to bring the regime’s dreams of an Iranian nuclear bomb to fruition. Though the mullahs’ goal of becoming a regional power that controls Shiite Islam across the Middle East remains unfulfilled, the regime continues to do what it can to demonstrate its power. The object is to show the world that Iran is not capitulating to the US in any way—not regarding its nuclear and space programs, and not militarily. It also seeks to project an image of strength to the increasingly resentful Iranian people, as it fears that signs of weakness could bring an end to its rule. However, the regime’s investments in security at the expense of the nation’s welfare may turn out to boomerang against it. https://besacenter.org/perspectives-papers/iran-nuclear-military-efforts/

May 17, 2020 - Posted by | Iran, politics international, weapons and war

2 Comments »

  1. This will be censored.
    Terrible propaganda from a Neo-conservative, Pro-Israel, Zionist group. The Besa group, has encouraged attacking Iran many times.
    Do you want the USA and Israel to attack Iran and, possibly start a war with Russia? I thought this was an amti-nuclear website. Sure looks pro-nuclear war, to me. How stupid.

    Comment by Mort Farasat | May 18, 2020 | Reply

    • Thank you, Mort Farasat.I really did not understand that the Besa group is a Pro-Israel, Zionist group. On re-reading it, I see what you mean.

      The article does say – “its raising of the uranium enrichment rate to 4.5% and accumulation of uranium in excess of the 300 kg UF6 limit—does not currently have a military aspect. This is because uranium enriched at a rate of less than 5% is suitable solely as a nuclear fuel for power reactors and cannot be used for nuclear weapons (for which the enrichment degree required is at least 90%)”

      Also: “, Iranian president Rouhani said damage to the Iranian economy resulting from sanctions by the end of 2019 was $200 billion.”

      Also: “The object is to show the world that Iran is not capitulating to the US in any way” I saw this last statement as a plus (seeing that my own country, Australia, DOES capitulate to the U.S. in every way.)

      While I do concede that this is an anti-Iran article , (and I do try to avoid anti-Iran stuff), it is quite a factual and informative one, so I will leave it up for those reasons.

      Comment by Christina MacPherson | May 18, 2020 | Reply


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