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The Arab-language Iranian television network, Al-Alam, broadcast a scoop on Feb. 15: Tehran is threatening to suspend oil exports to six European countries. Its decision comes in response to the EU’s embargo on Iranian oil, which was enacted Jan. 23 but won’t go into effect until the summer. The director of the Iranian Foreign Ministry’s Western Europe department, Hassan Tajik, was quick to placate the Europeans: “Iran will not follow through on this threat, for now, out of humanitarian concern, in light of the cold wave gripping Europe.”
Iran’s chutzpah knows no bounds.
This news item offers a classic example of Iranian conduct: threats accompanied by caresses, promises hand in hand with violations, and, overall, a whole lot of chutzpah and lies. It started, of course, with this week’s wave of terror plots against Israeli diplomats abroad (New Delhi, Tbilisi, Bangkok). Iran denies any connection to those incidents. There’s just one problem: Short of leaving pistachio nuts at the crime scene, Iran left behind every possible fingerprint, in a long trail leading from India to Georgia.
The Iranian fiesta continued Feb. 15 with the announcement that Iran had made significant progress on two aspects of its nuclear program. As Ahmadinejad promised (and he didn’t lie for a change), the first was to install Iranian-made nuclear fuel rods at the small research facility near Tehran, and the second was to independently develop and manufacture fourth-generation centrifuges for enriching uranium.
If Iran is not lying--and it usually doesn’t with negative things--it will be able to go on and enrich uranium to 90 percent of the level required to build an nuclear bomb. Tehran, of course, continues to report that the enrichment is for civilian purposes.
As if Iran weren’t generating enough news reports, there is now the threat to Europe’s oil supply. Iran held a harsh meeting with ambassadors from the threatened countries, during which they were told that Iran is now willing to resume dialogue with world powers after a year-long pause. Saeed Jalili, the head of Iran’s Supreme Council for National Security, even took the trouble to respond to a letter sent by the EU foreign minister in October. Again, Iran’s chutzpah knows no bounds. After all, the dialogue is supposed to be about halting the regime’s uranium enrichment. And what were the Iranians congratulating themselves for?
In brief, Iran has been speaking out of both sides of its mouth, with Ahmadinejad playing the role of a Persian Pinocchio. But let’s not be deluded. Behind the recent Iranian fiesta lies a bomb. And that is the only certainty in this column.
Editor’s note: This column is distributed with the permission of Israel Hayom, where it first appeared.