The Nuclear Sphinx of Tehran is a must read for those of you who want to get more insider’s information about the Islamic regime in Iran. I thank Dima Grozeva for giving it to me to read it for the summer. It was written not a long time ago (2007) which goes to show once again that in order to analyze current political, social, even economic, situations – it is very much recommended to know the past.
The authors are an Israeli (Yossi Melman) and an Iranian (Meir Javedanfar). Considering the bad relations between Israel and Iran, the combination of two persons of such nationalities being co-authors of a book that touches the topic to a great extent is a reason to believe that the book is comparatively unbiased.
These expectations are justified. It is true that the authors have shown tons of both direct and indirect evidence about Iran’s secret strategy for the development of nuclear weapons. Most of the evidence constitutes the Iranian leadership’s late and lame responses to the IAEA’s questions regarding the truth of another new intelligence that got them busted.
However, very possible reasons for the development of such weapons are not missed either such as the Iranian people’s national pride to have the capacity to develop nuclear energy, and their dignity which has been tainted in their war against Iraq, in the oil and plane embargos that were imposed to them in the West’s attempts to change the status quo and the country’s nuclear ambitions for the first of which President Barack Obama publicly apologized days before the latest presidential elections there.
The book also discusses the different intelligence agencies’ strategies, goals, structures, and even essence. The Iranian ones (SAVAK whose existence comes to an end after the Islamic Revolution and VAVAK which is technically the new SAVAK but in times of new political structure and leadership) are the most discussed ones, of course, since the book is on Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and the State of Iran as it is written in the title. These strategies, goals and structures unsurprisingly turn out to have a lot in common on both sides except that their interests conflict. They collect intelligence – even if violence has to be applied for that – and think of scams (strategies) in order to smuggle a laptop or any document or other strong evidence for what they are looking for (goals), and there is strict hierarchy as to who does what (structures).
Other interesting part of the book is the political, economic and social climate in Iran. Unemployment is high as a result of which corruption becomes an issue not just among the Iranian politicians but also among the ordinary people as well. Politicians’ lies and populist approaches (mostly those of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad) to solve poverty issues are not spared in the book either.
The two Middle East insiders have done an excellent job in objectively estimating everything related to Iran, its President and its nuclear ambitions. Read the book and you’ll see why.