WE are familiar with the ‘smoking gun’ shibboleth. The Hans Blix commission, searching for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, reported to the Security Council it had found no “smoking gun”. America and Britain still chose to invade Iraq. That’s why Iranian envoy Ali Asghar Soltanieh’s assertion at Friday’s Vienna meeting that the International Atomic Energy Agency had found “no smoking gun” in Iran is no guarantee of peace. Given Israel’s gung-ho record, its obsession with the Iranian nuclear programme and Tel Aviv’s frustration over the Palestinian diplomatic victory at the UN last Thursday, the Likud government could still choose to have a go at Iran — smoking gun or no smoking gun. The issue is not only Iran’s right to a nuclear programme for peaceful purposes, it is also the Iranian leadership’s failure to address predominantly Western concerns about uranium enrichment. Iran admits it has an ongoing uranium enrichment plan but insists it is meant for power production. That is where it runs into trouble with the IAEA. Friday’s Vienna meeting followed the release earlier last month of an IAEA report that claimed Tehran continued to violate UN resolutions.
On the day Mr Soltanieh spoke, the US Senate approved — 94-0 — another sanctions package against Iran, something the House of Representatives has already done. A day earlier, the American envoy to the IAEA said if Iran showed no “substantive cooperation”, Washington would take the issue to the Security Council. There Iran is unlikely to have the benefit of a Chinese or Russian veto, for the talks with P5+1 have so far produced no results. With the IAEA scheduled to meet again this month, and talks with P5+1 likely to resume shortly, Iran must make a determined bid to reassure them about its nuclear intentions. Statements like the one made by its nuclear chief, Ferydoon Abbasi Davani, that his country would expand its nuclear activity “with force” do not help, nor does Mr Soltanieh’s threat that Tehran “may” pull out of the NPT if Israel bombed the country. It wouldn’t matter whether Iran remained
in the NPT or not if there was war.