Seldom has there been as succinct an assessment of the Iranian regime’s statements about the peaceful purposes of its nuclear program than that made by Prime Minister Stephen Harper to the CBC last week.
“There is absolutely no doubt they are lying,” the prime minister said.
Iran’s scheme to develop nuclear weapons “is just beyond dispute at this point,” he added. “The only dispute is how far advanced it is and how far off it will be until they actually develop those weapons and develop the capability of delivering the weapons.”
As Harper also suggested in the interview, a majority of world leaders have arrived at the same conclusion. Of late some of these leaders seem to be shifting their policies on Tehran to reflect their growing concerns and worries.
For example, as reported in the London Telegraph, after a visit to the Gulf States last week, itself an unsubtle act of diplomatic message-sending undoubtedly not lost on the Iranian regime, Chinese premier Wen Jiabao said that “China adamantly opposes Iran developing and possessing nuclear weapons.”
Far more pointedly, China has also decided to speak to Iran in a language that cuts far deeper than a strong political statement about nuclear weapons. The Washington Post recently reported that China reduced its January oil imports from Iran from a daily average of around 550,000 barrels to 285,000 barrels a day.
The United States has already implemented a newer level of banking system sanctions against the Iranian regime that have reportedly started to severely affect the Iranian economy. And the European Union is also currently considering implementing wide sanctions against Iran and cuts in Iranian oil imports. Frustrated and feeling the economic strain, the Iranians have lashed out, threatened to close the Strait of Hormuz, put on more demonstrations of military swagger and once again boasted of their progress in the enrichment of their uranium.
Against this turbulent international scenario, the chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Martin Dempsey, visited Israel last weekend to meet with the Israeli political and military leadership.
At the end of his visit all Dempsey would say about his purpose in Israel was to “advance a shared understanding of the security situation in the region.”
Iran was clearly the subject of discussion. Israel and the United States are taking all necessary steps to ensure the lines of communication and co-ordination between them are constantly engaged.
In his CBC interview, Harper said he was frightened by the government in Tehran. “I’ve watched and listened to what the leadership in the Iranian regime says, and it frightens me.”
We should all be frightened. Apparently most of the world is.