International Atomic Energy Agency official Mohammad Elbaradei arrived in Tehran on Saturday to begin making preparations for the inspection of Iran’s new nuclear research facility near Qom.
The NYT reports that an internal IAEA report concludes that Iran now has the data to construct a nuclear weapon. Which means that there is no point in bombing them, since knowledge is unlikely to be destroyed that way. Me, I think they just want a ‘Japan option’– the ability to construct a bomb if they come under threatening attack.
The Telegraph newspaper reveals that president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad appears to have Jewish antecedents, back in the 1940s when the family was still called Sabourjian (makers of Jewish shawls). This discovery was made via a photograph of his identity card, There have been many conversions from Judaism to Islam, many of them voluntary. In the real world people get all mixed up. Iran has the largest Jewish community in the Middle East aside from Israel itself. In the 19th century there were forced conversions of Jews to Shiism in the eastern city of Mashhad. Since converts intermarry with the majority community, this means that many Mashhadis have a Jewish great grandfather and may not know it. It isn’t just Iran. One genetic study found that some 20% of the Spanish had Jewish haplotypes and 10% had an Arab ancestry. The revelation in Iran doesn’t change anything; Ahmadinejad does not make his critiques of Israel with reference to his own heritage but on the basis of a radical interpretation of Khomeinist ideology. The latter in its full form is only a little over 40 years old, so for everyone in Ahmadinejad’s age cohort, it is an adopted ideology for those who adhere to it, not an inherited one.
Rep. Ron Paul (R.-TX) discusses the current hype about Iran and makes the excellent point that the likely beneficiary of increased US-Iranian tension or even war would be China, which has excellent relations with Tehran:
Ron Paul points to the attempts of Neoconservatives such as Elliot Abrams and Paul Wolfowitz to foment war on Iran or at least keep the US from negotiating with it. Stephen Walt discusses the Neocon attack op-eds in the light of Flynt and Hillary Mann Leverett’s sober advice on how to engage Iran.
Russia Today says that the US is pressuring Russia to supply weapons systems to Saudi Arabia instead of Iran, and Saudi Arabia is sweetening the deal by being willing to pay top dollar.
Pepe Escobar at Tomdispatch discusses the oil and gas dimensions of US policy toward Russia and Iran.
The US regularly accuses Iran of backing terrorism, but the Iranians feel as though they are on the receiving end of it. Aljazeera English reports on PJAK, a revolutionary Iranian-Kurdish group that holes up with impunity inside American-occupied Iraq and which Tehran says hits targets inside Iran.
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