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Dr Musa A Keilani: Solve crisis once and for all
November 15, 2011
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Exclusive to The Gulf Today

If we were to accept the hype over the latest report by the UN nuclear watchdog about Iran’s nuclear activities, then we would have to accept that Israel and the US and their allies would launch military action against Iran any moment now.

The latest International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) report states that the watchdog “is unable to provide credible assurance about the absence of undeclared nuclear material and activities in Iran, and therefore to conclude that all nuclear material in Iran is in peaceful activities.”

“The Agency continues to verify the non-diversion of (Iran’s) declared nuclear material,” but that “Iran is not providing the necessary co-operation” for the IAEA to completely rule out a military dimension to Iran’s nuclear programme, says the report.

It adds that there are “indications that some activities relevant to the development of a nuclear explosive device continued after 2003, and that some may still be ongoing.”

The report is based on intelligence information supplied by IAEA member states. We can imagine who those sources are. Has the IAEA tried to cross verify the intelligence information?

There is little doubt that Iran would go the nuclear weapons way at any moment it feels it is opportune to do so.

Not that the Middle East region wants a nuclear-armed Iran. Even without nuclear weapons, Tehran is seeking regional domination through interfering in the internal affairs of Arab countries. We shudder to think how far Iran would go if it develops nuclear weapons and acquires the capability to deliver them.

Not that the Iranians would dare to use nuclear weapons even if it develops them because they are well aware of the consequences of such action. But they would use it as a deterrent to declare themselves as a regional superpower and seek to dictate terms to the rest of the region and beyond.

With the US military having begun withdrawing its forces from Iraq ahead of the Dec.31 deadline, Iran believes that its belligerence would go unchallenged and it would be able to deepen its influence in Iraqi affairs. The Iraqi people may not want Iranian dominance of their country, but they might not have a choice, given that their government is dependent on pro-Iranian groups for its survival.

Israel has already started beating the drums of war, with “leaked” reports suggesting that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defence Minister Ehud Barak have already decided to wreck Iran’s nuclear facilities through the use of military force and are seeking full cabinet support for it.

Not that Israel, the US and their allies are incapable of waging a war against Iran. They have enough firepower and more to obliterate Iran. However, they have to seriously consider the repercussions of striking at Iran’s nuclear facilities.

But Israel cannot be dissuaded. Its leaders and agents are busy convincing members of the US Congress to press President Barack Obama into not only endorsing Israeli plans to strike at Iran but also to offer material and logistic support for the action. Ideally, Israel would like the US to carry out the action by itself. Short of that they would like a joint US-Israeli operation.

Israel, which sets its own rules and lives by them, has proved that it would not tolerate the possession of nuclear weapons by any other country in the Middle East region.

It would definitely like to fly its long-range bombers and use its submarines deployed in the Indian Ocean to stage military action against Iran and then withdraw into safety, leaving the region to deal with the repercussions. Israel will definitely have to make provisions for rocket and missile attacks from Lebanon’s Iran-backed Hizbollah, which seems to be waiting for an opportunity to unleash whatever it has against Israel.

There are reasons why Obama would and would not go for military action against Iran.

He has to consider that his country and Iran have been, for the last three decades, seeking to expand their influence in the region. If Iran acquires nuclear-weapon capability, then the US would have lost in that conflict. Obama would not want to be the US president who lost out to Iran.

If Iran acquires nuclear-weapon capability, then it would go against Obama’s declared objective of a world without atomic weapons, not the least because Iran’s neighbour Turkey would immediately go for nuclear arms.

If Iran acquires nuclear-weapon capability, then the perception is that Israel’s security will be at stake. Obama would not want to be the US president who allowed that to happen. Furthermore, he knows he would have not only bipartisan support in the US Congress but also political pressure for military action against Iran.

On the other hand, Obama would not want to expose the American soldiers present in Iraq (until Dec.31) and in Afghanistan (at least until 2014) as sitting ducks for Iranian retaliation.  Other US targets in the region are also vulnerable and would be exposed.

Some international experts suggest that one way to solve the crisis is for Obama, in his capacity as the leader of the world’s sole superpower, to declare the Middle East as a region free of nuclear weapons and persuade Israel, the only country in the area to possess such arms, to give up its atomic arsenal. It is hardly practical because Israel would never agree to the proposal, and, even it did, it cannot be trusted to remain true to the commitment. And as long as Israel refuses to abandon its nuclear weapons, Iran will press ahead with its nuclear programme.

Something has to be done to solve the crisis once and for all. But no one seems to have any idea either.

THE AUTHOR A FORMER JORDANIAN AMBASSADOR, IS THE CHIEF EDITOR OF  AL URDUN WEEKLY IN AMMAN.
 

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