Another round of nuclear disarmament talks have failed and Iran is accused of using the talks to delay more severe action to halt Iranian nuclear weapons development efforts. Iran was offered free nuclear fuel and the lifting of sanctions in return for shutting down the nuclear weapons program. Iran refused and insisted it wants to keep its nuclear fuel processing facilities and admitted that it was expanding these operations. With this facility Iran can make both nuclear power plant fuel and the more highly enriched uranium needed for nuclear weapons (which, officially, Iran denies working on). In response, the commander of American military forces (CENTCOM) in the region went on record that this latest negotiation failure makes American military action more likely and that the U.S. has detailed plans for that.
Recent opinion polls in the Middle East show that Moslems no longer admire Iran. The poll showed that in most Moslem nations over 70 percent of the population now has a hostile attitude towards Iran. Until a few years ago it was quite the opposite. But Iran’s cynical support for the Syrian dictatorship (while supporting all the other Arab Spring rebels) and continuing efforts to develop nuclear weapons (which most Moslems agree would be used to threaten other Moslems) has cost Iran dearly in the opinion polls. Since the 1979 revolution in Iran and the takeover of the government by Islamic conservatives in the 1980s, most Moslems accepted Iranian claims that it was fighting the foreign (non-Moslem) influences responsible for all the bad things (poor education, low economic growth, despotic government, and falling behind the rest of the world in technical and cultural development) happening in the Moslem world. By now most Moslems realize (and some even admit to outsiders) that the causes of all these problems is internal. Iran is now seen for what is has been for thousands of years, the local bully.
The bully is also fond of telling tall tales. Iran says it is mass producing copies of the American ScanEagle UAV. This is a low-tech, commercially available UAV that contains no classified components. Iran released photos of their production facility but did not present any of the completed UAVs. Iran could have built a ScanEagle clone without copying from one they had obtained (either from a crash or the black market). The ScanEagle assembly line picture could have simply been Photoshopped, a technique Iran has been caught using numerous times. Another recent Photoshop based scam was a government claim that it had developed a stealth fighter. Photos of the prototype (on the ground and in the air) were quickly ripped apart by aeronautical engineers. Most of this pathetic (to Western eyes) nonsense is for internal consumption, especially by the many Iranians who do not have Internet access.
The government continues to arrest journalists considered too outspoken on reform of the current government. The religious dictatorship has become less tolerant of criticism in the last year, as the new sanctions cause more unhappy Iranians. The government doesn’t want anyone reporting on this baleful development. The economic woes are less of a problem for the ruling clerics and their families. Loyal businessmen are also being isolated from the economic difficulties. But everyone else (about 80 percent of the population) is feeling the pain.
The government won’t admit that the country has gone into recession since the new sanctions (because of the nuclear weapons program) that have cut oil income in half and made imports much more expensive. The cost of living has gone up, often way up, for most Iranians and the government is trying to play down this unpopular trend. Officially inflation was 27 percent and unemployment 16 percent last year. Both numbers are considered lowball fictions the government is using to delay popular unrest.
March 3, 2013: The government admitted that it was installing 3,000 more productive centrifuges for enriching uranium. This change has been rumored for months.
February 28, 2013: The government expelled 32 Pakistanis living and working illegally in the southeast (where many Sunni Baluchi tribesmen live and have many kin across the border in Pakistan). Illegal residents of Iran are being identified, rounded up, and deported in response to the recession brought on by the new sanctions that began last year.
February 24, 2013: The government announced the discovery of new uranium ore deposits, which will be exploited with a newly built mine.
February 23, 2013: President Ahmadinejad said that starting in the new year (which in Iran begins on March 21st) the government will sharply cut expenses and increase taxes to deal with the sharp (over 50 percent) drop in oil revenue.
February 21, 2013: Spanish police arrested three Iranians and accused them of spying for the Iranian government. One of those arrested worked for the Iranian embassy and all three were accused of joining a local group that aided Iranian emigrants who had settled in Spain. The three reported which of these Iranian exiles was active in opposing the current government of Iran. With this knowledge the Iranians could pressure any kin the exiles had in Iran to get the Iranian in Spain to halt the anti-Iranian government activity. A few days earlier Nigeria arrested three Nigerian Islamic terrorists and accused them of planning attacks on the American and Israeli embassies at the behest of Iran.
February 18, 2013: Iran apparently made a third attempt to launch a working satellite into orbit and failed again. This time the rocket malfunctioned and did not get very far. The government has not made an official announcement on this.