13 May 2006

Life, death and the lure of war - World - smh.com.au

Life, death and the lure of war - World - smh.com.au: "Any US attack on Iran's nuclear facilities will, officials hint, spark massive retaliation by Iran's allies across the Middle East, notably against globally vital oil facilities and the already beleaguered coalition forces in Iraq.
The threat of economic sanctions is openly scorned. War - like the production of weapons-grade plutonium in one of Iran's secret facilities - may seem a long way off, but not nearly as long as when Mr Ahmadinejad took office.
Most struggling Iranians are not nearly as sanguine about the threat of war - still less the more likely imposition of sanctions - as their hardline leaders. Yet it seems that Mr Ahmadinejad is onto a winner with his confrontational nuclear strategy.
It matters little that few in the world worry less about energy than Iranians: the country is OPEC's second-largest oil producer and has the world's second largest gas reserves; state-subsidised petrol costs eight US cents a gallon.
Where the regime has succeeded brilliantly is in selling the acquisition of nuclear power - it vehemently denies seeking arms - as a point of national pride, a patriotic endeavour.
The fact that a fraction of the money spent on the nuclear program would produce a much greater financial return if invested in production and refining - Iran imports refined petrol, due to lack of capacity - is not something you will read in the increasingly state-controlled press.
'I think we should have nuclear power,' says Amir Kasslimi. 'If we have nuclear power we can sell more of our petrol and use the money to help our country. Lots of countries have nuclear power now, so why can't we?'
Even the President's critics are not immune. In central Iran, the city of Esfehan's 17th"

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