(photo credit: AP [file])
Iran's announcement that it has succeeded in enriching uranium, putting it only a few steps away from a nuclear bomb if it so chooses, may have been a ploy to avoid pressure by the UN Security Council.
In March, the Security Council gave Iran 30 days to halt its nuclear research or run the risk of action. But on Tuesday the country's president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, said Iran would "soon join the club of countries that have nuclear technology," and the former president, Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, was quoted by Kuwait's Kuna news agency saying that enrichment has already produced results.
"It's conceivable that Iran prepared ideal circumstances - which it cannot easily repeat - in order to produce a limited demonstration, and a grand propaganda victory," Patrick Clawson, deputy director for research of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, told The Jerusalem Post.
By showing it has already achieved capability to enrich nuclear uranium before the issue is discussed in the upcoming Security Council meeting, Iran could argue that the events have overtaken the discussion and the Security Council must allow Iran to continue with the process.
"Traditionally it's much harder to get countries to roll back from activities that they have already begun than to persuade countries not to start something," noted Clawson.
On the other hand, Iran might have truly succeeded in enriching large amounts of uranium and not just enough for a demonstration. If so, it would have been sooner than what many analysts predicted.
If they truly did succeed to enrich uranium on a large scale, "we need to think faster how we will respond," Clawson said.
Western powers fear Iran is developing a nuclear bomb. Iran says its nuclear program is for civilian use.
But the announcement could also backfire on Iran, bringing more pressure upon the country to open up to full inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency in order to discover to what extent it has succeeded.
Iran suspended full IAEA inspections two months ago, allowing only limited inspections. When Iraq was accused of having nuclear weapons it too limited UN inspections, to former president Saddam Hussein's palaces. The Iraqis feared the visits were being used to collect information to later target the palaces. Indeed, it was learned, a CIA agent was among the UN officials and the information was later used for the US invasion of Iraq. No nuclear weapons were ever found.