Captain atom and the indulgence of war games

Published: February 14, 2012
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Tensions continue to rise, raising the question of whether or not the US wants a positive relationship with Iran. PHOTO: REUTERS

The latest news to come out of the Iran-United States stand-off is a deafening statement from the Defense Secretary, Leon Panetta, that there is an increasing possibility that Israel will pre-empt an attack from Iran in the spring of 2012. Come April, Panetta can see a ready of arms from the United State’s most important ally in the Middle East.

Reiterating Panetta’s stance was Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak that the time to stop Iran’s attempts at producing nuclear weapons was running out. Israel’s military chief said that Iran could produce its first nuclear bomb within one year of planning, since they had enriched enough uranium for four atomic bombs so far. However Iran insists the enrichment is to create a treatment for cancer patients. Military Chief Kochavi, however, is hopeful that the US and European Union sanctions can quash Tehran’s goal of producing a nuclear weapon.

While The Washington Post revealed that the Israeli government had little chance of giving fair warning to the United States if they did decide to attack Iran, the United States is still on the back foot about the attack as it could cause widespread economic and geopolitical concerns, not necessarily ending Iran’s nuclear dreams, but perhaps delaying them.

The fact that Panetta chose to comment on the possibility of the attack could either be to reveal Israel’s plans, or to create some war hysteria. Either way, the possibility of an attack is looming, and whether or not it will be ‘good’ or ‘bad’ is not the question, everybody knows the outcome of another war, especially between Israel and Iran. The question is how to try and counter that ever-growing hysteria.

It is speculated, not confirmed, that Israel is the only Middle Eastern country to have nuclear weapons. Iran says it does not, at the moment, insisting that its nuclear enrichment program is for efficient energy. However the United States and its allies are not buying it.

Now it appears that Iran has started to concede slightly, as International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspectors toured the country for three days on January 29. Director General of the IAEA asked that Iran actively and thoroughly answer questions that the IAEA asked so that tension over Iran’s nuclear program dies down.

The first sign of the Iranian nuclear program taking a turn was when IAEA inspectors reported in November of last year that they were concerned with how Iran’s nuclear energy was going to be used. Iran offered to extend the IAEA inspectors visit, showing optimism at the outcome of their tour. However, Iran has been wary that leaks of the IAEA reports put their scientists and their facilities at risk. According to the Guardian, four Iranian nuclear scientists have been killed in the past two years.

James Clapper, US Intelligence Chief, warned that there was an increased probability that Iran would attack the United States or its allies. Despite the fact that it was the third day of the IAEA visit, Clapper insisted that the probability of an Iranian attack had increased. Clapper told Congress that not only was Iran planning an attack on the United States or its allies, it was also responsible, taking Ali Khomeini’s name, of an alleged attack against the Saudi ambassador to the United States. That said, the very action of attempting to attack the Saudi ambassador was grounds to speculate that Iran could plan to attack the United States.

It was also mentioned that Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) had increased their activity around the world which was worrisome to the United States and its allies, but in no way was a green light to counter any ‘concerns’.

Later, Herman Nackaerts, Deputy Director General of the IAEA told reporters in Vienna that the discussions between Iran and the IAEA had been positive, however, more discussion was necessary. After returning from Iran, he expressed that another trip to Tehran would be made in the near future. Although Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi said the IAEA inspectors were offered a tour of the nuclear facilities, they declined.

Although Iran has been sanctioned by European powers, the bulk of their exports, which go to Asia, are still being exported as scheduled. China, India, Japan, South Korea, etc are some of Iran’s largest clients.

With tensions looming, Iran has not backed down, threatening to close the Strait of Hormuz, where around 20 per cent of the oil flows through. US naval forces are countering this by creating a floating seal base.

As progress is being made, tensions continue to rise, raising the question of whether or not the United States and its allies want a positive relationship with Iran. While the idea of a nuclear Iran can be scary to some, the idea of a nuclear United States, nuclear China, nuclear Russia, nuclear Pakistan and nuclear India can be scary as well. Some of these countries have not signed the non-proliferation treaty and each of them can be a threat to the other’s sovereignty or right of existence.

The aspect of power and war must change before positive results can proceed further, because without it, there is no chance of peace.

 

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manal.shakir

Manal Shakir

A freelance journalist in Chicago, IL who tweets @ManalShakir1

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.