The Latest from Tehran
I don't scan the Tehran Times on a regular basis, so perhaps I missed the want ad. But apparently, the Iranian regime is desperately in need of a public relations person. With the possible exception of the old Taliban government in Afghanistan, I can't think of a single regime that consistenly makes the case for its adversaries, and pratically invites military action. You'd think there'd be someone behind Ahmadinejad or Khamenei, tugging on their coats, and imploring them to go easy on the rhetoric, lest the B-2s come calling.
Consider the latest comments from the "Supreme Leader" Khamenei, stating that Iran is willing share its nuclear technology with other countries. Offically, of course, this means that Tehran will offer "peaceful" nuclear technology to other nations, most likely in the Muslim world. In fact, Khamenei made the comments during the meeting with Sudan's President, Omar al-Bashir. Mr. Bashir, no dummy, quickly offered that his impoverished country is considering a nuclear program of its own (to generate electricity, of course). And you can probably guess who's ready and willing to help Khartoum.
If that weren't enough, Iran's chief nuclear negotiator had his own comments for the press, suggesting that even military action would not stop Tehran's research efforts. The Iranian official, Ali Larjani, said bluntly that "if you take harsh measures, we will hide this program." Diplomats and IAEA officials long been speculation that Tehran would take its nuclear program underground if threatened with sanctions or military action. A more likely scenario is that Iran already has some sort of covert program; as demonstrated by North Korea, it is entirely possible to develop nuclear weapons, while creating the illusion of "compliance" with international accords.
With an IAEA report looming, and the vague threat of potential sanctions, you'd think that Iran would be treading lightly these days. But with a virtual guarantee of a Russian or Chinese veto in the security council (and the Europeans dithering), the mullahs have no reason to temper their statements. From their perspective, they have nothing to fear (at least not over the short term). So, they'll keep pressing the envelope, assured that the "world community" remains divided on the nuclear issue, and reasonably confident that the U.S. won't go it alone, with an unpopular war in Iraq, and sagging poll numbers for the incumbent president. In that environment, it's easy to say what you think, with little fear of punitive action. Seventy years ago, a fellow in Germany did the same thing. And we remember how long it took the world to decide that he was actually a threat.
That's probably why we haven't seen that want ad in the Tehran Times.