The ongoing battle over Iran’s presidential election is important, but isn’t likely to lead to a free society. Mir-Hossain Mousavi is more moderate than Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, but still a member of the elite. Nor is the Iranian president in charge of the most important state institutions, particularly the security agencies.
Indeed, Mousavi is a long-time fan of nuclear power. Even if he had the authority to shut down the nuclear program, he likely wouldn’t. In short, whatever happens as a result of the current protests, the West is still going to be stuck confronting the Iranian nuclear program. Reports the Los Angeles Times:
The widespread protests in Iran, even in the improbable event they deliver presidential challenger Mir-Hossein Mousavi to power, are unlikely to dramatically change the country’s nuclear ambitions or the strategic complications the West faces in countering Tehran’s political gambits across the Middle East.
Iran’s nuclear program, which Washington alleges is intended to produce atomic weapons, is ingrained in the national psyche. It was begun decades ago and is embraced across the Iranian political spectrum. Its future rests more on the wishes of supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and the ruling clerics than it does with hard-line President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad or the more moderate Mousavi.
The nuclear endeavor, along with geography, vast oil supplies and resistance to Western pressure, are crucial to Iran’s stature in the region. The political tumult and bloodshed over the June 12 elections may force a shift in domestic policies, but not a scientific mission that predates the 1979 Islamic Revolution.
“The elections are a crisis from within the system itself,” said Hassan Nafaa, a political scientist at Cairo University. “It might change internal issues, but the nuclear agenda will not be modified. Iranians are united around this.
Let’s hope democracy triumphs in Iran. But even then, our geopolitical problems with Iran won’t be over.