Iranium, directed by Alex Traiman. Narrated by Shohreh Aghdashloo. Released by Clarion Fund (2011). Unrated.
Many Americans are concerned about the Iranian regime’s progress in its efforts to obtain a nuclear weapon, yet few are demanding that the U.S. government do anything about it. Iranium, a new documentary by Alex Traiman, seeks to change that.
Narrated by Shohreh Aghdashloo, and with commentary by (among others) John Bolton, Bernard Lewis, Michael Ledeen, and Reza Kahlili, the documentary begins by looking at both the founding ideology and the constitution of the Iranian regime. It shows the Ayatollah Khomeini following the overthrow of the shah, saying, “When we revolted, we revolted for the sake of Islam.” It shows footage of him calling for a global caliphate: “This movement cannot be limited to one country only. It cannot be limited to Islamic countries either.” And it shows how Iran’s constitution codifies those views, establishing a nation “in accordance with Islamic law,” providing “the necessary basis for ensuring the continuation of the revolution” toward “a universal and holy government” and “the downfall of others.”
“From the very beginning, explains Kenneth Timmerman, executive director of the Foundation for Democracy in Iran, Iran’s leaders “considered terrorism as a tool of policy. . . . Iran set up Hezbollah . . . to have a ‘cut-out’ [that] could ‘independently’ carry out terrorist attacks with ‘no fingerprints’ back to Tehran.”
Iranium lines up the facts like a long series of dominoes, enabling viewers to see how the murderous ideology at the foundation of modern Iran led to a constitution demanding its implementation, which, in turn, led to the creation of terrorist proxies and the terrorizing and murdering of Americans and other “infidels” worldwide.
The documentary also shows how the Iranian regime implements the Islamic ideal within its own borders, creating hellish conditions for those who live there. Consequently, some sections of Iranium are very difficult to watch. For example, after an Iranian refugee remarks that Iran executes women for the “crime” of being raped, we see real footage of a woman hanging from a rope, her feet kicking through the air as she struggles in vain. Likewise, we see a mob stoning two women for supposed adultery, small boys being forced to run through minefields, and the last moments of twenty-six-year-old Neda Agha-Soltham, who, during the 2009 protests against the fraudulent elections, was shot to death by a regime sniper.
Iranium’s powerful and effective integration of such facts and footage distills the nature of the Iranian regime, shows its roots in Islamic doctrine, and segues into the film’s clarification of the threat posed by a nuclear-armed Iran.
Iranium quotes Iran’s current president as saying nuclear weapons would enable Iran to “wipe [Israel] off the Earth’s face.” And with the “Little Satan” gone, Iran could turn its attention to the “Great Satan,” America.
The film heightens the sense of urgency surrounding this issue via a series of clips showing how Iran could use nuclear and other weapons to instigate an arms race in the Middle East, to threaten all of Europe, or to launch an attack on the U.S.’s major East Coast cities from cargo ships located one hundred miles out in the Atlantic Ocean. It also surveys failed attempts to deal with Iran’s past aggression. Those failures take many forms, and they run through every administration at least as far back as President Jimmy Carter’s. As the commentators repeatedly point out, every display of weakness and each act of appeasement further emboldened Iran’s leaders.
In a skillfully blended cluster of comments near the documentary’s end, Iranium sums up the need for something other than appeasement and token action, which have been the hallmarks of U.S. policy toward the Iranian regime from the start. Bolton leads off, pointing out that from “Clinton through Bush and now Obama have all believed that there was some level of benefits that Iran could be offered that would get it to give up its nuclear program.” Immediately thereafter Bernard Lewis says, “I don’t think that one can proceed with this regime by negotiation. They regard the attempt or desire to negotiate as a sign of fear and weakness.” Timmerman adds, “There is only one thing Iran is seeking from negotiations over its nuclear weapons program with the West and that is time to complete its weapons and arsenal.” Bolton returns, “The regime in Iran is determined to acquire nuclear weapons and there are no carrots that the United States or anyone else can offer that [are] going to get them to give that program up before they achieve the objective.”
Given the facts that Iranium has presented up to this point, these truths are undeniable. In fact, in support of Bolton’s final point, Iranium shows the Iranian ambassador to the IAEA saying, “No matter how many resolutions are passed, the Islamic Republic of Iran will not stop its enrichment activities.”
Ultimately, and owing to all of the above, the commentators say that although military force is an unattractive option, it is nevertheless more attractive than the possibility of a nuclear-armed Iran. As Frank Gaffney puts it, “If all other options have in fact been exhausted, I think the question is not simply, ‘What are the risks associated with acting militarily?’ but ‘What are the risks associated with not acting?’”
In the end, although some viewers may still disagree with the need for military action, while others may argue that toppling the Iranian regime militarily is not an “unattractive” option at all, everyone who watches Iranium will gain a clearer view of the nature of the Iranian regime, the acts of war it has committed, the terrorist groups it sponsors, and the mortal danger it poses to the West—especially if the regime acquires a nuclear weapon.
Thus, when Iranium shows that many in Iran have begun chanting “Death to the dictator” rather than “Death to America,” the documentary indicates a strategy that Americans (and Westerners in general), our politicians, and our fellow citizens all should get behind—and at once: We should morally condemn the regime and morally support those in Iran who are working toward its demise. Short of the United States taking out the Iranian regime militarily, which is preferable but unlikely to happen anytime soon, our moral support for those in Iran who seek to oust the regime is the most important and effective means of self-defense we can deploy.
Iranium’s argument for the overthrow of the Iranian regime could have been stronger (e.g., by providing viewers with specific, concrete actions they could take to foster that goal). But the documentary packs a lot of illuminating content into its sixty-minute run time, and it provides ample reason for the civilized world to eradicate the Iranian threat by whatever means is necessary. That alone makes it one of the most important documentaries of our time, and well worth watching and recommending.