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Opinion: Iranian Intellectuals Censure Regime's Nuclear Policy

by FRIEDA AFARY (translator)

29 Mar 2011 07:47Comments
BushehrNight.jpgTranslator's note: The following call was issued by a group of Iranian intellectuals and activists on March 18, 2011, and published on the Akhbar Rooz website. -- Frieda Afary
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Call for Active Opposition to the Nuclear Policy of the Islamic Republic of Iran

Fukushima completed the warning that was issued by Chernobyl. After Chernobyl, any trust in the ability of technology and the technicians to control the radioactive giant was lost. Fukushima further destroyed any trust in the ability to forecast earthquakes and other factors that turn nuclear power stations into ticking time bombs.

Everywhere, conscientious and responsible minds are demanding a serious review of nuclear projects. The Islamic Republic on the other hand, acts as if the news of the Fukushima catastrophe does not pertain to us. They act as if Bushehr and other nuclear power centers in Iran are completely safe. They claim that Bushehr does not face the threat of an earthquake.

At the same time, the recent earthquake and tsunami in Japan proved that the optimistic calculations that laid the basis for selecting the locations of nuclear power stations were not trustworthy. In fact, the Bushehr Nuclear Power Station is located near several known faults which pose a very serious earthquake threat. If realistic calculations are made of the basis of safety arrangements at a power station like Bushehr, the cost of rebuilding it would be so great as to make it unjustifiable whatever the demagoguery.

The recent unfortunate events in Japan and the debates that are taking place on a global scale concerning the dangers of nuclear technology provide new motivation for criticizing the nuclear policy of the Islamic Republic in Iran and exposing its undemocratic and dangerous foundations.

From its early years, the Islamic Republic turned to nuclear projects. These projects lacked transparency, were economically unjustifiable, and created tensions in the region and in the world. Not only is this nuclear policy not a choice made by the people, it also conflicts with fundamental needs by incurring huge costs. Furthermore, by creating crises on the international scene, it conflicts with our national interest.

The nuclear policy of the Islamic Republic is economically unjustifiable since Iran has rich oil and gas reserves. Furthermore, we live in an epoch when clean forms of energy such as solar and wind [are accessible through] safe, cutting-edge technologies. Turning to clean technologies is the best and the safest way for economic development. It serves the environment and the needs of future generations.

Just in the past few days, the International Atomic Energy Agency once again announced that it cannot guarantee the civilian nature of the nuclear projects of the Islamic Republic. The lack of transparency of the projects, their economic indefensibility, and the documents made available to the agency have cast serious doubt on the regime's claim that it is pursuing only the peaceful use of nuclear energy.

Instead of turning to a policy of transparency, the regime engages in further cover-ups and adventurism. In so doing, it imposes great economic and political losses on the nation. This policy strengthens the role of the military in Iran's economy and politics. It grants massive profits to those sectors of the market that have monopolized specific import channels. The nuclear policy of the Islamic Republic leads to intensified repression and further injustice. It has intensified the nuclear race in the region, a race that is against the interests of the people of the region and against peaceful coexistence.

The Islamic Republic's destructive nuclear policy has perverted the talents of specialists and researchers and has prevented the use of these forces for positive scientific and technological endeavors. The regime's justification of its nuclear policy has led to demagoguery, of which a main aspect is opposition to a growing environmental consciousness critical of nuclear technology in our epoch.

In his recent interview with a Spanish television station, Ahmadinejad, the president of the regime, claimed that the safety standards at Bushehr conform with international standards. Hence there is no reason for concern. He also claimed that there is no repression in Iran. These claims are two of a kind: They are both lies.

We, the undersigned, call on all the aware citizens of Iran to oppose the nuclear policy of the Islamic Republic in a more serious way and to criticize the shortcomings of the opposition forces in this realm. The Islamic Republic's cult of uranium is a pillar of the cult of the Guardianship of the Jurisprudent. A regime that [figuratively] bans the word "right" from its dictionary and metes out imprisonment and torture to those demanding their rights, uses the slogan "undeniable right" [to nuclear power] for the purpose of deception.

No right is greater than freedom. If the idea of using nuclear technology is deemed correct, the decision concerning its use should be made in a free environment. The media should be free to write about the defects and concerns. Independent specialists should have the ability to exert supervision over nuclear centers and report to the people concerning the dangers that they pose.

The specialists of the regime are not trustworthy. The level of awareness of the president of the Islamic Republic can be gauged by his famous comment about the production of nuclear energy in kitchens. The rest [of the regime's officials] are of the same kind. Their real area of specialization is conspiracy, interrogation, torture, and the plunder of the nation's wealth.

The regime loudly announces: "Nuclear energy is our undeniable right!" The real content of this slogan is not a defense of independence. Rather it implies the regime's sole right to take risks with the nation's future, economy, environment, and human resources.

We counter this slogan with the right to freedom. When this right exists, real independence can be experienced, peaceful coexistence with all nations can be pursued, and the interests and safety of the people as well as the exigencies of environmental protection can be considered when using any technology in a transparent and controllable manner.

We ask all to support this call for active opposition to the nuclear policy of the Islamic Republic.

Yusef Ardalan, Dariyush Ashouri, Jalal Ijadi, Farimah Ijadi, Marzieh Bakhsizadeh, Mehran Barati, Sohrab Behdad, Kamran Behnia, Turaj Parsi, Shahrnoush Parsipour, Nasser Pakdaman, Babak Takhti, Nayereh Tohidi, Mehdi Jami, Jahanshah Javid, Ghodsi Hejazi, Nassim Khaksar, Mehdi Khalaji, Hamid Dabashi, Mehrdad Darvishpour, Saeed Rahnema, Siamand Zandi, Arash Sobhani, Chahla Chafiq, Mahboubeh Abbasgholizadeh, Shahram Ghanbari, Abdi Kalantari, Akbar Ganji, Sohrab Mobasheri, Majid Mohammadi, Mehran Mostafavi, Hassan Makaremi, Shokuh Mirzadegi, Anvar Mirsatari, Reza Nassehi, Farhad Nomani, Esmail Nooriala, Mohammad Reza Nikfar.

Frieda Afary runs the blog Iranian Progressives in Translation.

related reading | Muhammad Sahimi: Japan's Nuclear Disaster: Sobering Lessons for Iran

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