Last month on this website I recommended Iran augment its current hurry-up-and-catch-up research on the obsolete nuclear technologies of the mid twentieth century, and focus on newer reactor designs. These newer reactor designs are being considered by nations who are serious about the use of nuclear energy as an alternative to fossil fuels. The reactors of the future will be far more efficient and safer in the sense that their waste falls to tolerable levels of radioactivity in a few centuries rather than the tens of thousands of years for current reactors.
For a few days last week it seemed the Europeans were offering Iran “the most advanced nuclear technologies available” in return for Iran’s abandoning its uranium enrichment program. Though equivocations began to later appear in the news, if there is the smallest chance that this hint of an offer can be made real, the enterprise would be worth the efforts of any foresighted Iranian administration. Iran has vast hydrocarbon resources, but it is to her economic advantage to export this resource than to burn it for domestic use.
However, abandoning her uranium enrichment program is not an option for Iran. Technological self sufficiency is written into the Iranian constitution. The constitution has as one of its pillars, “The attainment of self-sufficiency in scientific, technological, industrial, agricultural, and military domains, and other similar spheres.” For the Iranians who are still paying the humiliating price of technological backwardness, this article of the constitution is more important than any of the declarations of loyalty to the Islamic way of life. This is why more people in Iran are united behind her nuclear program than support the Islamic regime. Any European offer of technology must respect Iran’s constitution on this point or the deal is off. Any regime interested in staying in power in Iran must respect Iran’s constitution on this point, or its time is up.
The Europeans know this and the Islamic regime knows this. The solution will be to satisfy the self sufficiency clause of Iran’s constitution by simply limiting her uranium enrichment efforts to pure research. This way Iran will not have nuclear strike capability but if by some chance Western security guarantees fail, Iran has the option of producing a weapon as a deterrence.
There is no other logical way this deadlock can be resolved, and if there were no hidden agendas, events would be proceeding in this direction. The fact that the world is still arguing about what to do with Iran has to do with the agenda of the United States to maintain superpower control over the economies of developing countries. However, the military failure of the United States in Iraq, the waning of manufacturing in this country, and the slow erosion of faith in the legitimacy of America as a global financial authority are likely to make the US agenda less and less important to the rest of the world. Once the global perception of US power is on a par with reality, the Iran nuclear issue will be resolved peacefully and logically.