Iran’s Nuclear Development: Should the UK really get involved?

Tension between the international community and Iran is mounting.  With the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) ready to issue a report on Tehran’s attempts of developing nuclear weapons, with recent claims that scientists from Russia, Pakistan, and North Korea have all played an important role in helping Iran come close to full nuclear capacity, and perhaps most crucially, with Israel warning of the possibility of launching a pre-emptive attack, every move now made in the international arena is crucial.  While the US and UK weigh up their military options, we must ask: should the UK really get involved?

Satellite photo of supposed uranium-enrichment facility in the Qom region - Photograph: Telegraph

Satellite photo of supposed uranium-enrichment facility in the Qom region – Photograph: Telegraph

The IAEA report on Iran’s nuclear developments is scheduled to be released to the 15 members of the UN Security Council on Wednesday.  However, as details of the report begin to emerge from leaked information in today’s Washington Post, the gravity of the situation is becoming clearer.  Namely, the details demonstrate Iran is at a particularly advanced stages of designing a nuclear explosive.

The Telegraph’s Alex Spillius describes this well in his recent article on the IAEA report.  He emphasizes that Iran is currently designing a nuclear explosive device small enough to fit in a warhead that involves an R265 generator.  The R265 generator has been described in the Washington Post as ‘a hemispherical aluminum shell with an intricate array of high explosives that detonate with split-second precision. These charges compress a small sphere of enriched uranium or plutonium to trigger a nuclear chain reaction.’  Additionally, although tests have not yet been carried out, the IAEA states’ satellite images have confirmed a site in the Qom region that is supposedly being used to house a completed a steel container.

Iran’s build up of nuclear technology has been aided by foreign assistance.   Vyacheslav Danilenko, a former Soviet atomic scientist, has recently been named as having played a key role in Iran’s nuclear development.  Not only is he said to have given lectures, but he has also contributed substantial technical information to Iran’s nuclear developers.  However, nuclear scientists from Pakistan and North Korea are also said to have supplied formulas and assistance as well.

Most importantly, the way that the international community now plays its cards is absolutely fundamental.  Although particular countries such as France and China have condemned Iran’s so called ‘obsession’ with nuclear development, anger at perceived USA hypocrisy only seems to be spurring Iran on even more.  In fact, Saeed Jalili, Iran’s nuclear negotiator, has claimed that the USA is waging terrorism against the country.

However, tensions with Israel are also starting to mount.  Shimon Peres, the Israeli President, has warned of the possibility of a pre-emptive attack.  If this materialises, it seems highly unlikely that the US and its allies would not interfere.  Therefore, the role of the UK in this matter is substantially more important than the media is portraying it to be.  Namely, if the US seeks UK support in targeting Iran’s nuclear sites, enormous decisions will have to be made.

The UK is not really sitting in the sidelines.  It has already stated it is upping its contingency plan to join any potential offensives.  Although the UK might be giving the USA a reassuring pat on the shoulder, if crunch time really comes and the UK becomes heavily involved, then we will all have to step back and reassess.

It has to be said that despite concern of these recent developments, it is pertinent that other issues are addressed; focus cannot be lost.  The UK needs to handle its current involvement in Libya and continue playing an active role in bringing solutions to the table regarding the EU crisis.  Furthermore, it needs to ensure domestic happiness before it pursues what could potentially become an extremely regrettable war.  To reiterate, The UK should not start any more unnecessary and preventable wars but should focus on its agenda that is already full of issues far from easy to tackle.


About Zoe Lazaridis

I am currently a full time International Relations and Political Science student. Coming from a diverse background as a Greek-American who has lived in Greece, Germany, Belgium and, for the past 12 years, London, my exposure to various cultures and belief systems has broadened my perspective and pushed me towards a passion for global politics. I am particularly interested in topics such as gender development, conflict and peace studies and the identity and interests of the West. My other hobbies include music, mainly jazz and big band, travelling and writing.

Posted on November 8, 2011, in Foreign Affairs and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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