I hope you are all well. This window must have surprised you. I apologize for the very long delay, and thank you all for the kind messages of inquiry that you have sent me during this time. If you wrote to me recently, you know that I am on leave of absence from the university, and that I have been trying to spend the time for research and my next writing project.
So many of you have had questions about Iran, and particularly the new set of U.N. sanctions imposed on the country that I feel I must come out of hibernation and send out this special window:
* The new set of sanctions make it harder and harder for Iran to maintain normal trade relations with the world. And even though it is usually presented as an alternative to military action against Iran, it in fact gives the U.S. Navy the right to inspect any “suspicious” cargo that would go in and out of Iran. In other words, it could very well pave the way for further confrontation.
* Unfortunately, the message sent by the U.S. media is a repetition of the old line: Iran is getting a slap on the wrist because it continues to defy the “will of the international community” which wants it to abandon its ambition for nuclear power (possible to be used for producing weapons down the road).
* In fact, the latest report by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)- which the members of the Security Council do not seem to have payed any attention to – appears to provide the opposite picture. The report indicates that the Agency considers the major questions they were investigating ” no longer outstanding at this stage.” Furthermore, the IAEA Director Mohammad ElBaradei said in Q&A with reporters: “we have managed to clarify all the remaining outstanding issues, including the most important issue, which is the scope and nature of Iran’s enrichment program.” The question for the world to ask at this point is: Why would this conclusion not lead to the easing of sanctions and a change of the interactive mode with Iran from confrontational to cooperative?
* In many places in the world, people are asking this very question. Here is an excellent article by Siddharth Varadarajan published in The Hindu, the on-line version of India’s national newspaper. In his perceptive and carefully argued essay, Varadarajan expresses amazement at the U.N. for escalating a problem which seems to have in fact been resolved: http://www.hindu.com/2008/03/05/stories/2008030554841000.htm.
* The latest IAEA report, and the fact that Iran has been cleared of all outstanding charges, can indeed be a chance for starting a new relationship with Iran and ending the nuclear crisis by implementing the additional protocol which would guarantee the country will not use its nuclear resources for a weapon’s program. Here is another interesting analysis: http://www.campaigniran.org/casmii/index.php?q=node/4185.
* Before I close this very brief window, I must honor our tradition of sharing a visual delight with you: a slide show of a recent exhibit of a very young Iranian painter Adel Younesi who paints with oil on canvas and has an eye for people on lively street corners. Please click here: Adel Younesi Oil Paintings. Enjoy!
Until the next window,
Fatemeh Keshavarz, Professor and Chair
Dept. of Asian and Near Eastern Languages and Literatures
Washington University in St. Louis
Tel: (314) 935-5156
Fax: (314) 935-4399