Where Is Iran's Nuclear Brinkmanship Leading?

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Where Is Iran's Nuclear Brinkmanship Leading?

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"His speech began like a muezzin's sermon [a muezzin is the Muslim crier who summons people to prayer at the mosque] on justice between nations. It contained the unbeatable argument that it is impermissible for one group of countries to deny another group access to nuclear energy thereby holding back its development. He reminded the UN that the IAEA [International Atomic Energy Agency] rules specified it was the duty of nuclear nations to assist others in the peaceful utilization of the atom. He was warmly applauded" ("Iranian President's UN Debut," Sept. 19, 2005, Novosti).

The U.S. and EU opinion is that the Islamic Republic of Iran is not a trustworthy guardian for enriched (weapons grade) uranium. President Bush named Iran as part of an "Axis of Evil," and the U.S. State Department considers Iran to be a sponsor of terrorism. In fact, the State Department lists President Ahmadinejad as a terrorist and had to make a special exception to allow him to enter the country to attend the UN General Assembly!

Confronted by a CNN reporter on the charge of state-sponsored terrorism, Ahmadinejad insisted that Iran was the victim of terrorism, citing past assassinations of government officials!

Ahmadinejad startled the world earlier this month when meeting with President Tayyip Ergodan of Turkey, another Islamic nation, by declaring that Iran would share its nuclear know-how with other Islamic nations. That is disturbing in light of the fact that the technological pathway to peaceful nuclear power is the same as the pathway to nuclear weaponry.

The U.S., the EU and the IAEA want to restrict Iran to purchasing its enriched uranium from other nations, rather than produce it. Ahmadinejad argues that is unreasonable, for Iran could produce it at a fraction of what it would have to pay to purchase it elsewhere.

For the time being, it appears that all parties want to continue diplomatic negotiations. Iran has nothing to lose in doing so, as the EU3 continue to sweeten pot with proposed economic benefits designed to tease it away from uranium enrichment.

Ahmadinejad's clever speech at the UN struck a popular cord. He framed the argument in terms of the rich and powerful Western nations imposing unequal and unfair rules upon a weaker nation. And, he portrayed Iran as environmentally concerned (wanting to develop nuclear fuel instead of using fossil fuel), as well as humanitarian (willing to share with other Islamic nations).

If the West gets its way, Iran wins anyway, for it walks away with the economic incentives. And, Ahmadinejad comes away with the reputation of a hero to much of the world. The U.S. would come across as an imperialist bully to many nations.

In order to understand Iran's policies and the attitude of its people, one has to view world events through the prism of Shia tradition and prophecy. Central to their prophetic belief is the appearance of a "mahdi" in the end time. "Mahdi" means, "guided one," that is, divinely guided. They believe he will unite Islam and "... battle the forces of evil in one final, apocalyptic battle. When evil has been defeated once and for all, the Iman Mahdi will rule the world for several years under a perfect government and bring about a perfect spirituality among the peoples of the world. After the Iman Mahdi has reigned for several years, Jesus Christ will return…" (Richard Hooker, "The Hidden Iman," 1996, http://www.wsu.edu/~dee/SHIA/HIDDEN.HTM).

Would modern Iranians look to a political leader as the prophesied "hidden mahdi?" Hooker reports that "... during the Iranian Revolution, several Iranians believe that the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khumayni [Khomeini], the spiritual and theoretical head of the Revolution, was the Hidden Iman returned to the world of humanity. While Khumayni never admitted this, he never denied it either."

Bible prophecy tells of an end time world figure it calls the King of the South who will lead a confederation against a more powerful leader of another confederation of nations identified as the King of the North (Daniel 11:40). The present world scene indicates a good possibility that the Kingdom of the South may be a confederation of Islamic nations. Its "king" could meet many of the Shiite expectations of a mahdi.