A Blog by the Editor of The Middle East Journal

Putting Middle Eastern Events in Cultural and Historical Context

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Is the Latest Nuclear Rhetoric about February 11?

Iranian President Ahmadinejad's recent announcement that Iran will begin enriching uranium to 20% has gotten a lot of attention, but is it really aimed at domestic consumption on the eve of the big February 11 Victory Day celebrations/confrontations? The Green opposition forces are ramping up for another round of demonstrations and the Guards Corps and Basij are bracing for a crackdown. Reza Aslan says it's for domestic consumption and calls Iran's announcements "a joke" given its problems enriching to five percent. And Juan Cole has a quote from ‘Ali Akbar Salehi, the head of Iran's Atomic Energy Organization, that suggests this is a negotiating position to persuade the West to accept Iran's terms, rather than a new level of confrontation.

This is a tense week in Iran due to the internal pressures as the holiday approaches; certainly I'd rather they didn't mix in nuclear brinksmanship, but I thought it worth calling these alternative interpretations to your attention.

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