In a long-telegraphed speech billed as giving the west a bloody nose, Iranian dictator Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Thursday claimed to have enriched some of Iran’s stockpile of uranium to 20 percent potency. (That level is nowhere close to the potency required to make a nuclear weapon — it’s more like 90 percent — and experts in the west increasingly doubt Iran’s technical expertise in the nuclear arena as The Washington Post explains in this good story.) Then, in a Dr. Evil-esque moment, Ahmadinejad bragged about having lasers.
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad gives a speech during the 31st anniversary of the Islamic Revolution. (Xinhua/ZUMA Press)
“They should know that our nation is so courageous that if we will make a nuclear bomb,” he said, as people in Tehran’s Azadi Square chanted “Death To The Dictator,” “we will openly announce it.”
Today is the anniversary of the Islamic Revolution, which is why Ahmadinejad, beleaguered by the Green Movement challenging the regime’s legitimacy, needed to make a big international splash. But his speech might as well have been drafted by western intelligence agencies. Not only does it fail to strike a sufficiently threatening tone, it brings the major western powers that much closer to their goal of placing new multilateral economic sanctions on the Iranian government and security apparatus. That effort has already begun to get under way — Defense Secretary Robert Gates traveled abroad this week urging allied governments to support a new sanctions regime. Eyes now turn to the United Nations Security Council, where Amb. Susan Rice will see what she can get in terms of a sanctions package.
Naturally, the Green Movement is out in the streets opposing the regime on this anniversary, so just as naturally, the regime is brutalizing them. Follow Andrew Sullivan’s blog all day for what’s sure to be the most thorough English-language coverage.