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Is the US willing to accept a Nuclear Iran?

By: Meir Javedanfar


This morning, Haaretz newspaper reported that:

U.S. President-elect Barack Obama’s administration will offer Israel a nuclear umbrella” against the threat of a nuclear attack by Iran, a well-placed American source said earlier this week. The source, who is close to the new administration, said the U.S. will declare that an attack on Israel by Tehran would result in a devastating U.S. nuclear response against Iran”.

The article goes to address one of Jerusalem’s major concerns which is “Granting Israel a nuclear guarantee essentially suggests the U.S. is willing to come to terms with a nuclear Iran”.

This is not necessarily true. The US is still committed to using diplomacy and sanctions in its efforts to stop a nuclear Iran, not only for Israel’s sake, but also for the security of its won interests and allies in the region. What is being suggested here is that contingency plans are in place, for the worst case scenario.

And there is nothing wrong with talking about the possibility of a nuclear Iran, if all else fails. If our scenario planning is worth the paper it’s written on, in fact it must plan for this option. Refusing to talk about this prospect is not by some kind of black magic going to reduce its chances of realization.

Worryingly for Tehran what this report does suggests is that Iran’s nuclear program has managed to bring the US and Israel closer together. It shows that thanks to Ahmadinejad’s posturing, Israel will enjoy the benefits of NATO countries (ie US nuclear umbrella), without Israel having to commit any troops or resources to the alliance.

What it also shows is that the Iranian nuclear program is likely to create problems for Iran and the US to reach a broad understanding, as part of which “the West and Iran that recognizes Tehran’s role in the region and gives it (Iran) the power, the prestige, the influence”, as Mohammad El Baradei suggested in an interview with LA Times this week. Tehran will find America’s increased support for Israel unacceptable, especially since Jerusalem is likely to be protected by America’s nuclear umbrella. This was pointed out in a recent article in Tabnak, a semi official news agency based in Tehran. In an article entitled “Iran and a Grand Bargain with Obama”, one of the preconditions suggested by Dr Ostadyar, an Iranian political expert is that the US reduces its support for Israel, as part of the “Grand Bargain”. Based on what we can see, the opposite of what Tehran wants is happening, and this will be unacceptable to Iranian hard liners.

Sooner or later, with or without nuclear weapons, Ayatollah Khamenei should realize that it is sound foreign policy and internal economic stability and cohesion which will determine the success of his administration, and Iran’s ambitions to become a regional power. Iran did not increase its influence in Iraq and Lebanon with a nuclear bomb. Its soft power played a major part. This is what Iran needs more than a bomb. Because even if Tehran does become a nuclear power, as long as it continues its current domestic and foreign policies especially in its relations with the West, it will weaken itself and embolden its rivals. The former Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif would be a good person to consult. He ruled over a nuclear country, which still lost to India in the Kargil war, and he was removed from power.

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Posted on : Dec 11 2008
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Posted under Iran - Nuclear Program |

Iran and The South Ossetia Question

By: Meir Javedanfar


In yesterday’s commentary piece for the London Guardian, Alexandros Petersen, program director of the Caspian Europe Center writes:

A European democracy is under full-scale attack from Russia, and EU and Nato leaders are either wringing their hands or sitting on them. The continuing conflict in Georgia is not really about the small south-Caucasus country. By opening up a three-front offensive on Georgia, Moscow is deliberately testing Europe’s mettle”.

In Tehran the view is different. As I noted in a recent analysis for PJM Media, some Iranian strategists see the conflict as a Georgian provocation, and the fact that the US backs Tbilisi, worries them.

These concerns were reflected in an article published in Tabnak, owned by former Revolutionary Guards commander Mohsen Rezai. In an interview with Dr. Mehdi Senai, a politics lecturer at Tehran University, he says that Tehran’s nuclear program, and the international approach to resolve the dispute surrounding it, may become part of a wider agreement between the U.S. and Russia after the end of the conflict. “Russia’s capacity to confront the U.S. is limited”, warns Dr Senai.

His other concern is that if Russia comes out politically weaker from this conflict, a weakened Kremlin, seeking a deal over Georgia, could give the U.S. the green light to launch a military operation against Iran’s nuclear facilities. “In the dealings between international powers [i.e., Russia and the U.S.], Iran has to be very careful”, said Senai.

These are very logical concerns.

However for now, Russia’s military accomplishments in Georgia have most probably led to a big sigh of relief in Tehran. With its new military victory, which Russia will want to translate into more political leverage, it will be even more difficult to force the Kremlin to back tougher sanctions against Iran.

But, all could change if Russia invades Tbilisi and tries to overthrow the democratically elected administration there. Such an act could inflame international opinion, and infuriate EU and Washington. Thus Russia’s military accomplishment in doing so could bring the opposite political results, meaning isolation, and serious deterioration in relations with the US. In such a scenario, as part of its efforts to come out of isolation and to bolster its position, the Russians may place the Iranian nuclear program back on the negotiation table, again.

In terms of its goal to become self sufficient in its nuclear program, Iran is making notable strides forwards. However Iran’s noted over reliance on Russia shows that the opposite is happening in Tehran’s quest to achieve its 1979 revolutionary goal of establishing an independent political entity, free of influence from East or West.

Posted on : Aug 12 2008
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Posted under Iran - Nuclear Program |