Ahmadinejad Announcement Laying Groundwork for Official Policy of Nuclear Ambiguity?

June 23, 2011

On June 23, according to The Associated Press, Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said on Iranian state television, “If we do want to make a bomb, we are not afraid of anybody.” Agence France Presse quoted him as saying, “If we want to make a bomb we are not afraid of anyone and we are not afraid to announce it, no one can do a damn thing.” He added, “We do not want to.” Such statements may be more of Iran’s defiance to the international community’s calls on it to bring transparency to its nuclear program. However, could his statement be a new effort by Iran to lay the groundwork for an official policy of nuclear ambiguity?


p> Ahmadinejad’s statement reflects Iran’s apparent on-going effort to develop all the components of a nuclear weapons program that would give it the option to quickly break out if the decision were made to do so. Iran has continued to shun United Nations resolutions calling on it to suspend enrichment, and has instead defiantly expanded and entrenched its enrichment program. Iran recently announced plans to move 20 percent enrichment to its fortified enrichment plant under a mountain near Qom, where the enrichment hall is below 90 meters of rock. Iran has also consistently brushed aside concerns and requests by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) that it answer questions about its past work on weaponization and missile delivery systems. During his comments on Thursday, Ahmadinejad called the IAEA’s safeguards reports on Iran “scrap paper,” and the agency “a bunch of puppets.”


p> With this new announcement, Iran’s leaders may be laying the initial groundwork for a future policy of nuclear ambiguity, which they may hope will offer a certain amount of power, prestige, and deterrence against enemies. Additional announcements by Iranian leaders about its nuclear weapon capabilities bear close scrutiny.

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