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With the price of oil hovering around $60 a barrel, most nations will do whatever it takes to find alternate sources of power. The list is wide and ranging, including wind, solar, gas and even nuclear. One can understand any nation pursing alternate methods of energy exploration unless, of course, the nation has great reserves of oil. In a world-wide rank of oil reserves, Iran (the biblical Persia) is ranked as the nation with the third largest number of reserves, behind only Saudi Arabia and Canada. Despite their obvious oil wealth, Iran has been monitored by world governing bodies as they develop enriched uranium, a precursor to nuclear power.

While the rest of the world worries about another potential player in the nuclear weapons club, the government of Iran insists their nuclear program is being developed for energy purposes, rather than weapons. As Bible students, we can appreciate that these developments may play a significant role during the latter days.

Power or weapons

An article in the New York Times, January 12, 2006, reported: “Iran says that its nuclear activities are aimed only at generating electricity, but this claim is disputed by the Americans and many Europeans, who cite some 18 years of clandestine nuclear activity by Iran and, since that activity was discovered, an unwillingness to provide the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspectors with much of the information they have asked for.”
For some time, the European Union and Iran have engaged in several rounds of discussions, some of them hopeful, some not. Iran recently signed an additional protocol to the nonproliferation treaty, which greatly increased the inspectors’ right to probe undisclosed sites where nuclear activity is suspected. But in recent months, the negotiations have foundered on Iran’s insistence it has the right to develop nuclear fuel on its own soil.
In August 2005, in violation of an agreement with the Europeans to suspend all nuclear activity as long as negotiations were continuing, Iran resumed converting uranium. This led the Europeans to suspend the negotiations. Since August, matters have been quiet until early January, 2006, when Iran broke the I.A.E.A. seals on a research plant in Natanz, where it is believed they have conducted experiments in the past on uranium enrichment. Under such a process, uranium that has been converted into a gas is purified into a material that can generate electricity or, at a higher level of purification, build a bomb.

Enter the Russians

Russia, who is described in the world press as a longstanding ally of Iran, find themselves in a pivotal and awkward position. Russia is both a member of the Security Council with veto power and a country that has lucrative energy deals with Iran. Should this matter come before the United Nations Security council, Russia would have to make a difficult decision to either support their ally, and thus not jeopardize any energy deals, or join the Western world and vote to impose penalties against Iran. In order to avoid making this difficult decision, the Russians made an interesting proposal to Iran whereby Iranian uranium would be enriched in Russia and then re-exported to Iran.

Unfortunately for Russia, the Iranians rejected the proposal and instead ratcheted up the stakes. As the moment, it looks like Russia is leaning toward siding with the west. As reported by the New York Times on Jan 12, 2006: “What is most important for us in this situation is not our bilateral relations, our investments in the Iranian economy or our economic profit from cooperation with Iran,” Russian foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov said, in Moscow.

“The highest priority for us in this situation is the prevention of the violation of the nuclear nonproliferation regime.” As we all realize, however, alliances can change at a moments notice.

As it stands right now, it looks like this matter will come before the UN Security Council. With Russia and China sitting on the fence, this matter can go either way. For their part, Iranian officials expressed anger at the fact this matter may proceed to the security council. “Colonial taboos will not keep Iran from developing its nuclear abilities,” Iran’s former president, Hashemi Rafsanjani, told the state-run radio. Rafsanjani, who now heads the powerful Expediency Council, also said that the standoff with the West “has reached its climax,” according to The Associated Press.

The latter days

If Iran continues with the development of their nuclear program, Israel may find themselves facing a declared enemy which has nuclear arms. With Russia already a member of the nuclear club, and now a potential Iran joining the club, Israel could find themselves in a very compromised position. A position that could only be relieved with the divine help of our Heavenly Father.

Although we all look forward to the day of peace and righteousness, we tremble at the prospect of the calamity that precedes these days. Let us pray that it may be swiftly behind us.

George Rayner

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