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A balancing act with Iran

Need to Know takes a rare look inside Ahmadinejad’s Iran, his nuclear ambitions and the citizens who support or criticize him.

When Iran celebrated its national day of nuclear technology in April, the contradictions of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s nuclear policy were on full display. He celebrated advancements in the nation’s technology for what he says are peaceful purposes — energy — while at the same time offering thinly veiled threats to his enemies, the United States and Israel.

“You are threatening us and other countries as well, you are threatening the world. And you think we won’t react? You have weapons, and your threats just encourage us to equip ourselves with the same tools,” Ahmadinejad said.

That night, when state-controlled television reported on the event, there was no mention of the potential for nuclear weaponry. One reason the subject may be off limits is that the nation’s spiritual leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has said that nuclear weapons are haram — forbidden by Islam.

Today, much Western media has been forbidden. Iran has blocked access to the BBC, Voice of America and YouTube. And since the 2009 elections, there has been no political debate in official state media.

Meanwhile, at least once a week, state TV cameras follow Ahmadinejad around the country, showing different versions of the same scene: a very popular president, close to the people.



  • A balancing act with Iran |

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