We’re quite used to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu criticizing the Iranian nuclear program at every turn; right-wing denunciations out of Capitol Hill are hardly surprising, either. But Iranian criticism? Sure, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani may have come under fire by hardliners for his policy of greater engagement with the West. Yet unequivocal condemnations of the nuclear program from Tehran, where Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has busied himself with turning the costly endeavor (the detailed budget of which was revealed recently) into a symbol of national pride, have been few and far between.
In comments that made waves in Iran and outside of it, several eminent Iranian academics levelled “blunt criticism” at Iran’s nuclear ambitions during a panel discussion – with Professor Sadegh Zibakalam from Tehran University saying it had done more damage to Iran than its drawn-out war with Iraq, which claimed over 100,000 casualties.
Zibakalam also reportedly “criticized the lack of public debate about the nuclear issue” in Iran. Tehran, of course, was quick to respond, with one pro-nuclear media outlet asserting that voices like Zibakalam’s were “one with Israel” and with US President Barack Obama.
And yet, with Iranian stocks plummeting and with the sangak bread in Tehran’s bakeries growing ever pricier (and ever smaller), the problems plaguing the country’s economy are hard to ignore. Some, Rouhani included, might claim that they are a result of “cruel, wrong” Western sanctions.
Apparently, neither Iran’s academics nor its disgruntled public remain convinced and unappeased by this explanation; thankfully, both groups continue to voice their discontent – and loudly. The only question is, just how widely are their gripes being reported by outlets outside of Iran?