- The dispute over #Iran’s controversial #nuclear program has reached crisis point.
- The latest report by the IAEA indicated that #Iran’s #nuclear program was not intended just for civilian purposes
- A nuclear #Iran would seriously undermine #US interests in the #MiddleEast and could trigger a cascade of proliferation
How serious is the current situation concerning Iran’s nuclear program?
The dispute over Iran’s controversial nuclear program has reached crisis point. Despite increasing foreign sanctions in recent months, Tehran is continuing its nuclear work, refusing to cooperate, and has indeed tripled its monthly production of higher-grade enriched uranium.
And as Iran is nearing the capability required to build a nuclear bomb, Israel is becoming more determined to carry out a pre-emptive military strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities. While a military attack may delay Iran’s nuclear program, it could unleash a wave of Iranian retaliatory actions through its proxies that could further destabilize the Middle East.
Do you believe that the Iranian nuclear program pursues only peaceful purposes?
The latest report by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) indicated that Iran’s nuclear program was not intended just for civilian purposes, but that research activities in the Iranian nuclear installations included tools and technologies required to assemble nuclear weapons.
Indeed, Iran barred IAEA inspectors early this year from visiting Parchin, a key nuclear facility near Tehran which the IAEA suspects is used to conduct high-explosives tests for weapons development.
It is unlikely that Iran would accept crippling international sanctions and isolation and refuse to make a compromise about its nuclear program if it was only for energy reasons.
How likely is a war against Iran? How can you explain that the US is against military actions against Iran, but Israel supports bombing the Iranian nuclear station? Could there be any disagreement between the two allies – the US and Iran?
Both the United States and Israel agree that a nuclear Iran is “unacceptable” and are working together with other allies to prevent Iran from acquiring the bomb. But the threat perception and the urgency the two allies feel in dealing with the issue are different.
For Washington, a nuclear Iran would seriously undermine US interests in the Middle East. A nuclear Iran could trigger a cascade of proliferation in the region. Many Arab countries that fear a nuclear Iran, such as Saudi Arabia and Egypt, might try to begin their own nuclear weapon program. Moreover, the revolutionary regime in Tehran would become more confident after acquiring the nuclear weapons and increase support for terrorist activities against US targets in the region.
Despite all these concerns, Washington does not want Israel to rush into war. With over 90,000 US troops still in Afghanistan and public support in the US for foreign military engagements at its lowest point in decades, I don’t think the Obama administration is willing to start an armed conflict with Iran, especially as the presidential elections are approaching. Washington still hopes that economic sanctions will force Iran to make a compromise.
But Israeli leaders’ calculations are different. For Israel, a nuclear Iran poses an existential threat. If Israel realizes that Iran is very close to acquiring a nuclear bomb, it may launch an attack with or without Washington’s approval or assistance. Israel understands that attacking Iran will draw condemnation from the world community and also that Iran will retaliate. But the cost of accepting a nuclear Iran supersedes all these concerns for the Israeli leaders.
What do you think about Foreign Policy Magazine’s conclusion that Israel plans to use Azerbaijani territory for strikes on Iran?
The Obama administration is trying to dissuade Israel from any military attack against Iran. And I think the issue of agreements on bases between Israel and Azerbaijan and that the latter is planning to use the former as a staging ground to attack Iran was probably deliberately leaked to Foreign Policy by Obama administration officials who are against a military confrontation with Iran at this point.