Somehow, the very real seriousness of what the United States may or may not do as regards Iraq's Persian neighbor pales when one considers what a nation of smurfs Iran turns out to be. Head smurf Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is visiting the Philippines with the intention of sharing the great knowledge of nuclear energy his country has gained:
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad here on Monday expressed Iran's readiness to put its expertise on peaceful nuclear technology at disposal of all nations within the framework of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) regulations.
Ahmadinejad made the remark in a meeting with Philippine Foreign Minister Alberto Romulo, adding that certain monopolist powers try to introduce nuclear energy as atomic bomb.
We're reasonably sure that "monopolist power" is Liechtenstein. And the Liechtensteinians have been saying mean and untrue things:
The seditious policy of certain nuclear powers possessing nuclear arms is a big lie, the president said, adding that the Islamic Republic of Iran has realized this and resisted pressures of bullying and monopolist powers.
"Iran is to restore the right to acquiring nuclear technology for peaceful purposes to all nations," he added.
And there you are. Surely one can see that taking an aggressive stance against Iran would be like squashing a kitten.
On the other hand, perhaps the kitten has claws:
The head of Iran's nuclear program has canceled a meeting scheduled for today with the chief of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
Gholam Reza Aghazadeh, the Iranian vice-president, gave no reason for calling off talks with Mohamed ElBaradei, who was expected to use the meeting to investigate claims that Tehran had attempted to develop nuclear weapons.
Diplomats said the meeting was likely to have dealt with last week's announcement by the Iranian president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, of a major expansion of the country's capacity for uranium enrichment, in defiance of UN security council demands.
The talks were seen as a test of Iran's willingness to cooperate with the IAEA's demands for greater openness surrounding what Tehran maintains is a civilian nuclear program. Iran is under three sets of security council sanctions for its refusal to comply.
This leaves the impression that Aghazadeh felt he could bluff his way through a meeting and decided at the last minute that he could not do so. Where the bluff may really lie is very much an open question, since it behooves Iran to keep an American incursion at bay while sending as many mixed messages about their nuclear activities as possible.
Doing so staves off further sanctions, though a bill working its way through Congress means to do just that; however, they might be tough to make stick. Russia and China have been lumbering around the minarets looking for advantage, and the U.N. has been unable, as noted in the above story, to effectively rein in Iran.
What's sad, though, is that if Iran is using the promise of nuclear energy as a cover for more nefarious activities, they have unfurled a shroud that threatens to darken the good work that has made the promise of the atom manifest. That's too parochial, of course: there are many facets to Iran and its machinations (and the U.S. and its machinations, for that matter) to narrow it down to our corner of the world.
So of what can we be sure? Of one thing only: that the Philippines won't be benefiting much from Iran's nuclear expertise.