Wednesday, May 31, 2006
La phase Nouveau-Conservatrice 
Ali-Asghar Kazemi 
La politique étrangère et la diplomatie sont les instruments principaux des états pour atteindre leurs objectifs, pour réaliser leurs valeurs et pour défendre leurs intérêts nationaux. Les gouvernements ont la fonction à communiquer par leurs agents diplomatiques avec ceux dont des actions et le comportement ils souhaitent influencer, découragent, changent ou la renforcent.  Ce processus exige une définition précise des objectifs d'un état, les rationalisations pour eux, les menaces, les promesses, et les plans et les stratégies d'établissement à l'attirail avec des problèmes et des questions controversables.
Quels sont les modèles et les tendances de la politique étrangère de l'Iran pendant les dernières trois décennies, particulièrement après l'ascendance au pouvoir du nouveau gouvernement conservateur dans la République islamique de l'Iran ? Quels sont les défis les plus importants et les empêchements principaux faisant face à la politique étrangère de l'Iran à cette jointure critique ? Comment les voisins de l'Iran, particulièrement la Turquie, réagissent-ils aux efforts nucléaires de l'Iran ?
Les fonctions de la politique étrangère et de la diplomatie dans leur signification plus large sont quadruples :· Elle doit déterminer les objectifs de l'état dans la puissance réelle et potentielle disponible pour la poursuite de ces objectifs ; 
· Elle doit évaluer les objectifs d'autres nations et de la puissance réellement et potentiellement disponibles à elles pour la poursuite de leurs objectifs ;
· Elle doit déterminer dans quelle mesure ces différents objectifs sont compatibles les uns avec les autres ;
· Elle doit utiliser les moyens convenus à la poursuite de ses objectifs.
À quelle distance la politique étrangère de l'Iran pendant le règne nouveau conservatrice est compatible avec des critères au-dessus?
La politique étrangère d'Iranien après la révolution islamique en 1979 jusqu'ici a suivi une tendance plutôt oblique en ce qui concerne sa forme et substance. Naturellement on peut observer un certain nombre de facteurs persistants (constantes) tout au long de la période qui forme les principes de base des perspectives du régime islamique aux affaires du monde. Ceux-ci sont : les facteurs religieux-idéologiques, inspirés de l'Islam comme interprété par la doctrine shiite ; les facteurs geo-stratégiques qui ont influencé le statut politique de l'Iran dans toute l'histoire contemporaine ; et les conditions requises légal-constitutionnelles qui ont dicté certaines politiques controversables aux relations de l'Iran avec le reste du monde.
D'autres variables plus dynamiques dans l'équation de la politique étrangère de l'Iran sont plus ou moins ceux qui sont différemment classifiées mais se relient habituellement à ce qui s'appelle généralement les variables idiosyncratiques au sujet des caractéristiques personnelles des chefs et des décideurs ; variables systémiques qui se relient à l'environnement international et régional ; variables opérationnelles et nationales qui concernent économique, commercial, diplomatique, sécurité etc. impliquant la vie quotidienne d'un état.Il va de soi que toutes constantes et variables ci-dessus sont entrelacées et agissent l'un sur l'autre étroitement ensemble d'une manière d'influencer les résultats du processus décisionnel dans la politique étrangère.
Pendant sa durée dans le dernier trimestre du siècle, le gouvernement islamique en Iran a traversé plusieurs étapes dans ses politiques domestiques et étrangères. D'une position révolutionnaire purement religieuse au début à un maintien nationaliste-patriotique pendant la guerre avec l'Irak ; et puis d'une approche pragmatique-réaliste après l'arrêt des hostilités contre une attitude religieux-idéaliste pendant l'ère réformiste et progressive ; après quoi on peut observer une tenue offensive-fondamentaliste remplacée pendant l’émergence des conservatrice dans la phase actuelle qui nous intéresse dans cet article.
Comme nous pouvons observer, les vicissitudes de la politique étrangère de l'Iran pendant les 27 dernières années sont si complexes que le rendre difficile à théoriser avec cohérence au sujet de sa tendance. Cependant on peut sans risque suggérer que la nouvelle phase de la politique étrangère de l'Iran ait été tout à fait salie de boue par les inspirations nucléaires et ses tentatives sérieuses du gouvernement islamique d'acquérir la position d'un membre d'état « du club nucléaire. »
Néanmoins, quand les états choisissent de s'engager dans les interactions avec leurs pairs, ils doivent avoir une définition lucide de leurs buts et moyens, une évaluation réaliste de leurs associés et surtout un engagement véridique à certaines normes primordiales (règles du jeu) dans des relations internationales. En effet les révolutions ont leurs propres particularités et façons et ne suivent pas nécessairement des normes conventionnelles et le comportement prévu. Elles ont habituellement une tendance de défier le statu quo et de changer même ces règles. Ainsi, beaucoup d'états préfèrent ne pas être dans l'amour avec les régimes révolutionnaires qui par la nature ont une propension d'être rejective plutôt que réceptifs.
Un des empêchements principaux de la politique étrangère de l'Iran, presque trois décennies après l'établissement de la République islamique, semble être la persistance continue sur sa nature révolutionnaire. En fait, ce dispositif a créé une barrière forte devant les objectifs nationaux et les aspirations de l'Iran en plaçant des critères clairs pour déterminer des amis et des ennemis. Ceci ne suggère pas cependant que le même problème soit arrangé dans la sphère domestique. Peut-être beaucoup d'événements et ambiguïtés malheureux pendant la durée de vie du régime islamique jusqu'ici sont adaptés à cette dimension très importante de l'Iran révolutionnaire.Le contraire à l'administration réformiste précédente qui a concentré la poussée principale de sa politique étrangère sur la « création de confiance, » le nouveaux gouvernement et personnes définissant la politique conservateurs persistent sur un retour aux slogans révolutionnaires et font chaque chose pour montrer ce dispositif du régime islamique. Ceci a créé quelques incertitudes dans la communauté internationale, quant à la vraie direction et objective de la politique étrangère de l'Iran.
Ainsi, la plupart des états sont peu disposés à s'engager dans l'interaction profonde avec une nation défiant les normes régnantes. Ce n'est pas de suggérer que ces normes et règles du jeu soient nécessairement morales ou justes.
Nous ne devrions pas oublier qu'il y a une relation intime entre états de réaliser ses buts et objectifs et à utilisation proportionnée de l'instrument de la diplomatie. Une politique étrangère réussie dépend normalement de la position relative d'un état dans la structure internationale de puissance. Cependant, un état comparativement self isole’ ne peut pas réaliser des buts et des aspirations grands sans alliance, taciturnes et arts de sens politique.
Malheureusement, le nouveau gouvernement en Iran manque de tous les deux attributs et ceci pourrait coûter beaucoup pour le destin de la nation à cette jointure critique de l'histoire. Les déclarations ambiguës et controversées du président iranien pendant sa tenure courte dans le bureau, tout d'abord compliqué la situation déjà volatile de l'Iran. Il a pris des positions inutiles à propos d'un certain nombre de questions critiques sans savoir qu'il a volontairement préparé le terrain pour établir un consensus international fort contre la question nucléaire de l'Iran. Cette confusion entière s'est produite à un point prématuré et critique à temps. En effet, si la tendance actuelle continue la manière elle est allée pendant les derniers mois, la nation devrait être préparée pour faire face aux situations imprévisibles qui pourraient mettre en danger les intérêts nationaux de l'Iran.
Relations avec des voisins
Il est peut-être un fait singulier que presque tous les voisins de l'Iran sont alliés de façon ou d'autre aux Etats-Unis d'Amérique, l'adversaire le plus provocant du régime islamique. L'Irak et l'Afghanistan sont réellement sous le contrôle de facto des États-Unis et d'autres voisins dans le golfe Persique et dans le nord sont stratégiquement attachés en cette superpuissance. Marques de ce facteur en effet il très difficile pour que l'Iran poursuive une politique étrangère indépendante active dans une région stratégiquement volatile et économiquement fragile telle que le Moyen-Orient. En outre, la nature révolutionnaire-idéologique du système politique en Iran a créé une atmosphère de scepticisme, et le manque de confiance parmi les états voisins pavant le chemin à l'isolement et à la position d'ermite.
Presque tous ces états ont montré le souci concernant l'entreprise nucléaire de l'Iran pendant les dernières années, pas nécessairement hors de la convenance politique concernant leurs relations avec les États-Unis, mais en raison de leur crainte d'une certaine sorte de course aux armements et de prolifération de WMD dans la région. Par exemple, la Turquie en tant qu'un voisin musulman le plus important de l'Iran, un allié potentiel et associé stratégique, a exprimé des inquiétudes concernant l'Iran nucléaire .
En tant qu'un membre de l'OTAN et allié américain, comme un membre éventuel de l'union européenne, la réaction de la Turquie à l'effort nucléaire de l'Iran a été plutôt prudent. D'une part, la situation geo-stratégiques de la Turquie s’opposerait à un Iran nucléaire ; naturellement si jamais dirigé vers des objectifs militaires. D'autre part, la Turquie ne parait pas être disposée à déranger ses liens économiques et commerciaux à long terme avec l'Iran seulement à cause de sa stratégie nucléaire hostile. Cependant, nous ne donnerons pas sur le fait que la Turquie a également des relations de sécurité et d'intelligence avec l'Israël, qui a été le centre des déclarations antagoniques par le nouveau président en Iran. En effet, la Turquie pourrait se sentir de façon ou d'autre incommode avec ces développements récents qui touchent directement ses relations étrangères.
Cependant, la Turquie et l'Iran ont un certain nombre d'intérêts communs dans la région qui empêche par la suite leurs relations à affecter négativement par des développements récents. La crise continue en Irak et le problème des Kurdes ont dispersé dans toutes les frontières communes, le problème de la canalisation de gaz, les occasions potentielles en Asie centrale, et les liens religieuses et culturelles inhérentes entre les deux nations musulmanes sont parmi les facteurs les plus importants qui pourraient aider à favoriser des relations amicales de deux pays voisins.
En ce qui concerne la question nucléaire, il y’a lieu à souhaiter que l'Iran viendra propre des allégations récentes au sujet de ses ambitions nucléaires. Ceci exigera en effet de bonnes relations diplomatiques amicales et proactives entre l'Iran, la Turquie et d'autres états dans la région. En tant qu'un allié proche aux États-Unis et l'associé actif avec l'Europe, la Turquie peut jouer un rôle important et positif en dispersant les nuages de l'animosité entre l'Iran et ces états. L'intransigeance du gouvernement islamique sur l'utilisation pacifique présumée de la technologie nucléaire ne devrait pas être interprétée comme défit contre des dispositions de NPT à moins que des évidences claires soient détectées par l'AIEA sur sa déviation aux efforts militaires.
La Turquie peut également s'engager en relations mutuellement coopératives et salutaires plutôt que concurrence exclusive avec l'Iran dans beaucoup de domaines, en particulier en Asie centrale. Naturellement, l'Iran devrait distancer des positions provocatrices et inutiles qui pourraient tourner ses amis potentiels aux ennemis. Il devrait placer des critères réalistes afin d'identifier ses amis et associés potentiels dans la région.
Les ressources énergétiques de l'Iran peuvent jouer un rôle complémentaire dans l'économie en pleins essors de la Turquie. Les relations sociales, culturelles, scientifiques et universitaire entre les deux nations peuvent paver le chemin pour davantage d'amélioration dans les domaines de la sécurité et des questions stratégiques.
La perspective plus large
Comme dit avant, les relations de l'Iran avec le reste du monde sont entamées de façon ou d'autre par la question nucléaire. Tandis que l'union européenne (UE), en tant qu'acteur important dans des relations internationales, est alignée avec les États-Unis, d'autres grandes puissances telles que la Russie et la Chine avaient soutenu la position de l'Iran et sot en faveur des efforts diplomatiques plutôt qu'une résolution sous le chapitre VII de la charte de l’ONU comme solution au problème, néanmoins, elles aussi ont montré le souci concernant l'intransigeance de l'Iran à l’égard du demande du Conseil de Sécurité en ce qui concerne le stoppage complet des activités d'enrichissement. Elles ont des relations commerciales économiques et fortes avec l'Iran mais il n'est pas tout à fait évident qu'elles colleront à leur position en ce qui concerne l'effort nucléaire du gouvernement islamique jusqu'à la fin.
En effet, les décisions dures pour résoudre des problèmes du monde, sous l'autorisation légitime du Conseil de sécurité ou par quelques autres genres de coalitions, peuvent seulement aggraver la matière ou escalader les situations de crises. Afin d'aborder efficacement avec les questions critiques de la région telles que la prolifération de WMD, le terrorisme, les droits de l'homme et le conflit palestinien,… les Etats-Unis, l'UE et d'autres grandes puissances devraient sérieusement considérer la promotion des relations amicales parmi les états régionaux plutôt que d’ajouter à l'animosité et l'hostilité.
Plus les liens dans cette région stratégiquement vulnérable sont amicaux, plus les intérêts de la communauté du monde en ce qui concerne la paix et l'ordre sont servis. Il n'y a aucun besoin de souligner ici que les Iraniens sont un peuple de pacifiste et ont une propension très basse d'être en conflit. Elles sont contre tous les arrangements aventureux qui compromettraient les intérêts nationaux de l'Iran ou mettraient en danger la paix et la sécurité de la région.
Les grandes puissances, y compris les États-Unis, devraient poursuivre leurs efforts diplomatiques afin de menager la crise paisiblement et avec la justice. Espérons un monde paisible exempt d'armes nucléaires et de destruction massive. Prions le Dieu tout-puissant pour accorder sa grâce et sa lumière de la sagesse à tous les chefs et politiciens pour décider un meilleur futur pour l'humanité.
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 Papier présente’ au 1er congrès asiatique turc international (ITAC) le 25 au 27 mai 2006 à Istanbul, Turquie.
 Ali-Asghar Kazemi est professeur de droit et des relations internationales à IAU, Science et de recherches, Téhéran, Iran.
Pour le détail voir : http://www.akazemi.homestead.com
 Cf. K.J. Holsti, la politique internationale, un cadre pour l'analyse, apprenti - Hall de l'Inde Limité privé, New Delhi, 1981, p.183
 Voir : Hans J. Morgenthau, politique parmi des nations, la lutte pour la puissance et paix, Alfred A. Knopf. New York, cinquième édition, p.517-518
 Voir par exemple Jonathan Feiser : Iran nucléaire, Répercussions pour la Turquie et de l'Arabie Saoudite, 28 janvier 2005. Voir également Ertan Efegil, Leonard A. Stone : « L’Iran et la Turquie en Asie centrale : Occasions pour le rapprochement après la guerre froide, » Journal des études du tiers monde. Vol. Americus : Le printemps 2003. 20, Iss. 1 ; page 55
Sunday, May 28, 2006
The New-Conservative Phase
Foreign policy and diplomacy are major instruments of states to achieve their objectives, realize their values and defend their national interests. Governments have the function to communicate through their diplomatic agents with those whose actions and behavior they wish to influence, deter, alter or reinforce. This process requires a clear definition of a state’s objectives, rationalizations for them, threats, promises, and the setting up plans and strategies to tackle with problems and contentious issues.
What are the patterns and trends of Iran’s foreign policy during the past three decades, especially after the ascendance into power of the new conservative government in the Islamic Republic of Iran? What are the most important challenges and major impediments facing Iran’s foreign policy at this critical juncture? How Iran’s neighbors especially Turkey, react to Iran’s nuclear endeavors?
The functions of foreign policy and diplomacy in their widest meaning are fourfold:
· It must determine state’s objectives in the light actual and potential power available for the pursuit of these objectives;
· It must assess the objectives of other nations and the power actually and potentially available to them for the pursuit of their objectives;
· It must determine to what extent these different objectives are compatible with each other;
· It must employ the means suited to the pursuit of its objectives.
How far Iran’s foreign policy during the new conservative rule is compatible with the above criteria?
Iranian foreign policy after the Islamic revolution in 1979 until now has followed a rather skewed trend with respect to its form and substance. Of course a number of persistent factors (constants) can be observed throughout the period which forms the basic tenets of the Islamic regime’s outlook to the world affairs. These are: the religious-ideological factors, inspired from Islam as interpreted by the Shiite doctrine; the geo-strategic factors which have influenced Iran’s political status throughout the contemporary history; and the legal-constitutional requisites which have dictated certain contentious policies to Iran’s relations with the rest of the world.
Other more dynamic variables in the equation of Iran’s foreign policy are more or less the ones that are differently classified but usually relate to what is generally called idiosyncratic variables concerning the personal characteristics of leaders and decision makers; systemic variables which relate to the international and regional environment; operational and national variables that concern economic, commercial, diplomatic, security etc. involving the daily life of a state.
It goes without saying that all the above constants and variables are interwoven and interact closely together in a way to influence the outcome of the decision making process in foreign policy.
During its life span within the last quarter of century, the Islamic government in Iran has passed through several stages in its domestic and foreign policies. From a purely religious- revolutionary stance at the beginning to a nationalistic-patriotic posture during the war with Iraq; and then from a more pragmatic-realistic approach after the termination of hostilities to a religious-idealistic attitude during the reformist and progressive era; after which a renewed offensive-fundamentalist deportment can be observed during the current conservative hard-line phase which interests us in this paper.
As we can observe, the vicissitudes of Iran’s foreign policy during the past 27 years are so complex that make it difficult to theorize coherently about its trend. However one can safely suggest that the new phase of Iran’s foreign policy has been utterly mired by the Islamic government’s nuclear inspirations and its earnest attempts to acquire the position of a state member of the “nuclear club.”
Nevertheless, when states choose to engage in interactions with their peers, they must have a lucid definition of their ends and means, a realistic assessment of their partners and above all a truthful commitment to certain primordial standards (rules of the game) in international relations. Indeed revolutions have their own peculiarities and manners and do not necessarily follow conventional norms and expected behavior. They usually have a tendency to challenge the status quo and even alter those rules. Thus, many states prefer not to be in love with revolutionary regimes which by nature have a propensity to be rejective rather than receptive.
One of the major impediments of Iran’s foreign policy, almost three decades after the establishment of the Islamic Republic, seems to be the continuing persistence on its revolutionary nature. In fact, this feature has created a strong barrier before Iran’s national objectives and aspirations in setting clear criteria for determining friends and foes. This does not suggest however that the same quandary is settled in domestic sphere. Perhaps many unfortunate events and ambiguities during the lifespan of the Islamic regime so far are geared to this very important dimension of the revolutionary Iran.
Contrary to the previous reformist administration which focused the main thrust of its foreign policy on “confidence building,” the new conservative government and policy makers persist on a return to revolutionary slogans and do every thing to show this feature of the Islamic regime. This has created some uncertainties in the international community as to the real direction and objectives Iran’s foreign policy. Thus, most states are reluctant to engage in deep interaction with a nation defying the prevailing norms. This is not to suggest that those norms and rules of the game are necessarily ethical, just or fair.
We should not forget that there is an intimate relation between states’ capacity to achieve its goals and objectives and the adequate use of the instrument of diplomacy. A successful foreign policy normally depends on the relative position of a state in the international power structure. However, a comparatively self-isolated state can not achieve grand goals and aspirations through without strong alliance, tactfulness and arts of statesmanship. Unfortunately, the new conservative hard-line government in Iran lacks both of these attributes and this might cost a lot for the fate of the overall nation at this critical juncture of history.
Iranian president’s ambiguous and controversial declarations during his short tenure in office, very much complicated the already volatile situation of Iran. He has taken unnecessary positions with respect of a number of critical issues without knowing that he willingly paved the way for building a strong international consensus against Iran’s nuclear issue. This whole muddle happened at an untimely and critical point in time. Indeed, if the present trend continues the way it has gone during the last months, the nation should be prepared to face unpredictable situations that could put in danger Iran’s national interests.
Relations with Neighbors
It is perhaps a staggering fact that almost all states neighboring Iran are somehow allied to the United States of America, the most challenging opponent to the Islamic regime. Iraq and Afghanistan are actually under U.S. de facto control and other neighbors in the Persian Gulf and in the north are strategically tied to this superpower. This factor indeed makes it very difficult for Iran to pursue an active independent foreign policy in a strategically volatile and economically fragile region such as the Middle East. Furthermore, the revolutionary-ideological nature of the political system in Iran has created an atmosphere of skepticism, and lack of confidence among neighboring states paving the path to isolation and hermit position.
Almost all of these states have shown concern about Iran’s nuclear undertaking during the past years, not necessarily out of political expediency regarding their relations with the U.S., but because of their fear of some sort of arms race and WMD proliferation in the region. For example, Turkey as one of Iran’s most important Moslem neighbor, potential ally and strategic partner has expressed concern about an eventual nuclear Iran.
As a member of NATO and American ally, as well as a prospective member of the European Union, Turkey’s reaction to Iran’s nuclear endeavor has been rather cautious. On the one hand, Turkey’s geo-strategic conditions would eventually oppose to a nuclear Iran; of course if ever directed to military objectives. On the other hand, Turkey may not be willing to upset its long-term economic and commercial ties with Iran on the mere assumption of its hostile nuclear strategy. Yet, we shall not overlook the fact that Turkey has also security and intelligence relations with Israel, which has been the focus of antagonistic declarations by the new hard-line president in Iran. Indeed, Turkey might feel somehow uneasy with these recent developments which directly touch its foreign relations.
However, Turkey and Iran have a number of common interests in the region that eventually prevents their relations to be negatively affected by recent developments. The ongoing crisis in Iraq and the problem of Kurds scattered throughout the common borders, the problem of gas pipeline, the potential opportunities in Central Asia, and the inherent religious and cultural ties between the two Moslem nations are among the most important factors that could help to promote friendly relations of the tow neighbors.
With respect to the nuclear issue, it is hopped that Iran will come clean from the recent allegations about its ambitions. This will indeed require good neighborly and proactive diplomatic relations between Iran, Turkey and other states in the region. As a close ally to the U.S. and active partner with the EU sates, Turkey can play a pivotal and positive role in dispersing the clouds of animosity between Iran and those states. The Islamic government’s intransigence on the presumed peaceful use of nuclear technology should not be interpreted as defiance against NPT provisions unless clear evidences are detected by the IAEA on its deviation to military efforts.
Turkey can also engage in a mutually cooperative and beneficial relations rather than exclusive competition with Iran in many domains, particularly in Central Asia. Of course, Iran should distance from provocative and unnecessary positions that could turn its potential friends to foes. It should set realistic criteria in order to identify its potential friends and partners in the region. Iran’s energy resources can play a complementary role in Turkey’s flourishing economy. Social, cultural, scientific and academic relations between the two nations can pave the path for further improvement in the fields of security and strategic issues.
The Wider Perspective
As said before, Iran’s relations with the rest of the world are somehow mired by the nuclear issue. While the European Union (EU), as an important actor in international relations, is aligned with the U.S., other great powers such as Russia and China have been supporting Iran’s position and favor diplomatic efforts rather than a resolution under Chapter VII of the U.N. Charter as a solution to the problem, nonetheless, they too have shown concern about Iran’s intransigence with respect to the IAEA and U.N. Security Council demand to halt enrichment activities. They have strong economic and trade relations with Iran but it is not quite obvious that they will stick to their position with respect to the Islamic government’s nuclear endeavor to the end.
Indeed, harsh decisions to solve world problems, either under legitimate authorization of the Security Council or through some other kinds of coalitions, may only aggravate the matter or escalate the crises situations. In order to tackle effectively with critical issues of the region such as WMD proliferation as well as terrorism, human rights and the Palestinian conflict, the United States, the EU and other great powers should seriously consider the promotion of friendly relations among regional states rather than to fuel animosity and hostility. The more friendly ties in this strategically vulnerable region, the more the interests of the world community with regard to peace and order are served.
There is no need to emphasize here that Iranians are pacifist people and have a very low propensity to conflict. They are against any adventurous schemes that would jeopardize Iran’s national interests or endanger peace and security of the region. Great powers, including the U.S., should pursue their diplomatic efforts in order to settle the crisis peacefully and with justice.
Let’s hope for a peaceful world free of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction. Let’s pray the Almighty God to grant His grace and His light of wisdom to all leaders and politicians to decide for a better future for mankind.
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 Paper to be presented to the 1st International Turkish Asian Congress(ITAC) on 25-27 May 2006 in Istanbul, Turkey.
 Ali-Asghar Kazemi is professor of Law and International Relations at IAU, Science and Research Campus, Tehran, Iran. For detail see:www.akazemi.homestead.com
 Cf. K.J. Holsti, International Politics, A Framework for Analysis, Prentice –Hall of India Private Limited, New Delhi, 1981, p.183
 See: Hans J. Morgenthau, Politics Among Nations, The Struggle for Power and Peace, Alfred A. Knopf. New York, Fifth edition, p.517-518
 See e.g. Jonathan Feiser ''Nuclear Iran: Repercussions for Turkey and Saudi Arabia''
28 January 2005. See also by Ertan Efegil, Leonard A Stone: “Iran and Turkey in Central Asia: Opportunities for rapprochement in the post-cold war era,” Journal of Third World Studies. Vol. Americus: Spring 2003. 20, Iss. 1; pg. 55
Friday, May 19, 2006
Les signaux mixtes de l'Iran à l'ouest
Ali-Asghar Kazemi *
7 avril 2006
Tandis que le compte à rebours des 30 jours restants pour que l'Iran se conforme à la demande du Conseil de sécurité des Nations Unies pour stopper ses activités nucléaires a commencé, le régime islamique avait donné les signaux mélangés à la communauté internationale. D'une part Iraniens ont pris une position conciliante et coopérative poussant les puissances occidentales de continuer leurs efforts de négociation dans l'Aiea au profit de la paix et de l'ordre du monde, et d'autre part ils se sont embarqués sur une entreprise "bold"et de confrontation dans le golfe Persique.
Un exercice naval important a été porté dedans cette région stratégique, y compris les détroits de Hormuz et de la mer de l'Oman, où un assortiment de nouvelle arme ont été mis en jeu. Parmi ces derniers, une nouvelle version des missiles balistiques (Shehab III) avec l'ogive multiple ou les possibilités de MIRV (véhicule indépendamment visé de réentrée multiple) et une torpille à grande vitesse, de ce qui a prétendu avoir le radar et les capacités cachées par sonar. Un certain nombre d’autres nouvelles armes et plateformes de caractère plutôt offensif ont été également démontrées dans une semaine longue de manoeuvre.
La couverture médiatique de l'exercice était plutôt sans précédent, laissant l'impression que les faucons islamiques prévus pour envoyer un message fort à l'ouest, particulièrement aux Etats-Unis, qu'ils doivent penser deux fois avant de décider de passer une résolution dure contre l'Iran au Conseil de sécurité ou de menacer la survie du régime révolutionnaire. En fait, la doctrine de la défense de la République islamique est basée sur un verset du Qur’an qui commande les musulmans d'acquérir toutes les sortes d'armes et d'équipements qu'elles peuvent avoir les moyens afin de décourager et effrayer leurs adversaires et les ennemis du Dieu. Pas étonnamment, ce Canon est conçu comme symbole des gardes révolutionnaires et apparaît comme emblème sur leur drapeau et comme insigne sur leur uniforme militaire.
Un aspect important de cet exercice qui a échappé aux yeux des observateurs était absence presque totale la de la marine iranienne régulière dont les fonctions sont normalement limitées aux tâches classiques de dénier l’accès d’ennemi aux routes maritimes et la projection de puissance à terre dans le golfe Persique et les détroits de Hormuz. Nous savons par l'expérience que dans un enclenchement naval purement classique la marine iranienne ne pourrait pas soutenir des possibilités de combat et sera bientôt hors d'opération efficace. C'était le cas vers la fin des années 80 où la marine iranienne a perdu certains de ses vaisseaux de guerre dans une interface inégale avec les unités américaines.Cette expérience a mené les stratégistes de la défense à concevoir la nouvelle tactique avec les moyens limités mais efficaces et les unités rapides pour frapper et courir, qui s'est nommée en tant que "guérilla en mer."
En fait, comme des opérations sur la terre, quand deux adversaires inégaux se font face, la meilleure manière pour le côté faible est au recours à la guerre d’attrition afin de fatiguer l’ennemi par prolonger les opérations de guérillero. Dans une région étroite et plutôt peu profonde et semi-fermée telle que le golfe Persique, cette tactique peut être très décisive contre de grandes unités et peut nier l'ennemi le déploiement efficace en mer, dans les lignes de communication ainsi que la projection de puissance à terre.Ainsi, le raison principale derrière l’exercice du mois d’avril 2006 des forces iraniennes dans le golfe Persique devrait être trouvé dans la "stratégie de la guerre asymétrique" portée par les gardes révolutionnaires avec l'objectif pour décourager les Américains de risquer n'importe quel plan aventureux pour renverser le régime islamique, comme ils ont fait en Afghanistan et en Irak voisins.
En même temps l'Iran prend l'autre stratégie à long terme dans la région qui se relie attirer la confiance et au rapprochement progressif avec les états littoraux du golfe Persique les objectifs suivants:
- empêcher de plus en plus la présence des Etats Unis dans la région du golfe Persique;- rendant les futurs interventions américains dans la région beaucoup plus difficiles et coûteux;
- construisant un bouclier anti-Américain contre la politique des Etats-Unis "de la démocratisation forcée " dans la région;
- se rétrécissant en bas de l'espace entre le régime iranien et les états arabes conservateurs;
- encourageant les états du Golfe persique vers les marchés asiatiques et d'autres grandes puissances du monde, telles que la Russie, la Chine, l'Inde et le Japon, tout en limitant l'interaction économique avec les Etats Unis;
- rendant l'environnement stratégique beaucoup plus difficile pour le déploiement des forces des Etats-Unis dans des situations de crise.
Tout ceux-ci suggéreraient qu'il soit en effet difficile que les Etats-Unis soutiennent les conséquences d'un enchevêtrement sérieux avec l'Iran dans un proche avenir, à moins que la politique américaine en ce qui concerne l'Iran et le golfe Persique change son contenu et contexte. C'est-à-dire, les objectifs américains et donc des moyens pour les atteindre devraient être adaptés au nouvel environnement naissant. Le nouvel environnement n'est pas nécessairement en faveur de la présence militaire américaine dans la région.
Il n'est pas cependant tout à fait certain que les signaux hostiles de l'Iran pendant l'exercice d'avril 2006 décourageraient de quelque façon les « Hawks » néo--conservateurs à Washington qui se penchent vers l'utilisation de la puissance dure d'atteindre leurs objectifs.Cependant, nous devrions identifier qu'il y a une différence importante entre la "force" et la "puissance." Une nation peut avoir un mais pas l'autre. Par exemple, la force navale est seulement un des nombreux éléments composants de la puissance maritime. La position géographique, la base technologique indigène, la capacité productive industrielle, les potentialités scientifiques, la communication et l'économie forte, la sagesse des leaders et surtout les appuis domestiques et internationaux sont entre d'autres choses nécessaires pour construire une puissance. Le manque de comprendre ces principes ensemble peut mener une nation à l'"illusion de la puissance" et par conséquent aux situations risquées qui pourraient compromettre les intérêts essentiels d'une nation.
Si le régime islamique se rendra à la demande du Conseil de Sécurité de l’ONU afin d'éviter davantage d'escalade de le problème nucléaire, est une question de la perception de menace des décideurs iraniens et de leur capacité de contrôler la crise. En effet, s'ils se rendent compte que les risques de défier les demandes de l’ONU sont beaucoup trop hauts et au delà de leur endurance, ils sûrement viendront à leur sens et feront quelque soit nécessaire d'éviter le pire de se produire. / __________________________
_[ * ] professeur des relations internationales. Pour le détail consultez:
Monday, May 15, 2006
Iran’s Quest for Regional Hegemony
Old Strategy and New Challenges
Keywords: Middle East, Persian Gulf, new strategic environment, Iran’s geo-strategic position, nuclear proliferation, Additional Protocol to the NPT, Iran’s military build-up, US strategy
Because of its special geo-strategic position in the Middle East, Iran has always been keen to assume a pivotal role in the region. However, as opposed to the old regime, the present one, while pursuing the same vision, is facing unbearable challenges in its strategy. The main argument of this paper is that the Islamic Republic of Iran’s endeavor to buildup a credible force structure is neither directed toward any power projection against any particular state in the Middle East, nor designed to threaten the presence of any extra-regional powers deployed in the region. Rather, it is mainly devised to ensure its very existence and to deter any potential contender to encroach against its territorial integrity and the survival of the revolutionary regime, and to prove the capacity of Islamic governance to run effectively and in an efficient way the business of a nation-state, with the requisites of the 21st century. Iran’s nuclear undertaking, if ever directed toward unconventional aims and objectives, should be viewed from this perspective.
Iran’s geo-strategic position in the Middle East and the Persian Gulf region has always dictated its political and security posture vis-à-vis its neighbors and outside powers. Throughout the long history of this ancient country, from the Old Persian empires to the present time, Iran has always identified itself differently from other nations of the region, in spite of religious binds, which presumably should narrow the gap between the Persian and Arab civilizations. The geopolitical necessities have remained almost untouched and even more sagacious after the revolution and the Iraq-Iran war, which lasted near a decade. The end of the cold war has strengthen Iran’s strategic position, and as a consequence, pushed the Islamic government in power to continue the same path and political vision and aspiration in the region as the old regime.
Thus, in setting up its defense and security goals and interests, we witness that many of the old projects in various domains are being pursued even with more fervor than before.
Once the Shah had the ambition to assume the role of gendarme in the Persian Gulf region; but he did not survive to achieve his dreams. Now, the Islamic Republic is putting its feet in the same shoes, of course with a big difference. That is, while the old regime had access almost to all and every kind of Western weapons and technology, the new revolutionary regime is banned from such sources and is compelled to rely on international black markets to procure what it believes necessary for building a credible power to be reckoned with. Iran’s nuclear ambition, that has created lots of attention in the past months in the world, seems to fit this grandiose objective.
The main argument of this paper is that the Islamic regime in power in Tehran will pursue the strategy of a hegemonistic power in the region for a dual purposes: a) to counter any eventual threat and challenge to the very existence and survival of the revolutionary regime and, b) to show the efficiency and viability of the Islamic governance to respond to the needs of 21st century, as a successful model to be followed in the region.
Old Ambitions in a New Strategic Environment
Almost a quarter of a century has elapsed since the Shah’s regime has been toppled through a series of unprecedented events, stemming from internal social unrests and, as some prefer to believe, external political games and conspiracy that led to the 1979 revolution. During the final years of the old regime, Iran was on the verge of becoming a virtual superpower of the region, thanks to the god-given oil revenues, Shah’s ambition for power, and, of course, western technological and political support, without which it was impossible to think of such ostentatious venture. In those days, the Shah was given almost a carte blanche for all kinds of state of art weapon systems and major defense hardware to build-up a very sophisticated and efficient military power. Ships, aircrafts, tanks and other components of the latest production of the West, swiftly appeared in the inventory of the Imperial Navy, Army and the Air Force, backed by all-out logistical and training support, from all over the world.
With the downfall of the Shah regime and the subsequent events that occurred in Iran, many of the weapon contracts were cancelled and most of the well-trained and educated cadres were purged from the armed forces or preferred voluntary premature retirement. With the outbreak of war with Iraq, some of them came back to do their duty for their homeland. Many young American-trained pilots were among those who fought the enemy courageously and some never came back from their sacred mission. The Navy easily established its sea supremacy in the Persian Gulf in initial phase of the war. The Army, which suffered most from the revolutionary wash out, had a different story. Nonetheless, poor-equipped and disorganized army soldiers and officers fought bravely and courageously until the end of the 8-year war.
Iran-Iraq armed hostilities left many thousands of casualties and extensive material and moral damages from both sides. But the war was a blessing for the fragile revolutionary regime to solidify itself by containing people’s demand for social and political development. Instead, the war induced earnest attempt to rely more than ever on indigenous initiatives and schemes to tackle with Iraq military threats. That was the beginning of the arduous challenge the Islamic regime faced during the war in procuring and producing the much needed weapon systems and equipments to sustain combat capability.
The termination of war between Iran and Iraq brought a new sense of identity and drive for the Islamic regime to embark upon a series of projects initiated during the hostilities.
Missile assembly line, construction of small fast boats, armored vehicles, tanks and other light weapons for use at sea, on land and in the air, were among the many projects which gradually pave the way for relatively self-sufficient and autonomous logistical support in the defense and military industrial complex. In the field of the missile industry a very decisive jump has taken place in recent years, which has become a source of annoy to many in and outside the region.
Against this brief background, and with the more recent suspicions of Iran’s nuclear project, many specialists in the field of defense question the logic and true intention behind Iran’s military build-up in the region.
Iran’s Military Build-up: Facts and Allegations
In the late 1990’s, military observers in the West believed that Iran has embarked on a major modernization and buildup of its forces; that includes selective acquisition of conventional new advanced weapons as well as an ambitious nuclear weapons program.
In the views of American military experts who follow Iran’s development in the field of defense, the current military buildup began in 1989, not long after the conclusion of the 1980-88 war with Iraq. Iran, with a Gross Domestic Product of only about $80 billion in 1990, spent $3.1 billion on its military that same year. The next year, the defense budget rose to $3.8 billion. It is believed that this sum has gradually augmented with the relative increase in oil revenue in the following years.
Washington officials and nongovernmental analysts report that Iran has been active on the arms procurement front. Statistics show that during the period 1989-95, Iran acquired 184 new battle tanks, eighty infantry fighting vehicles, 106 artillery pieces, fifty-seven combat aircraft, and twelve warships. According to this report, the purchases have expanded Iran’s current arsenal to about 1,200 tanks, 1,000 armored personnel carriers, 2,000 artillery pieces, 265 aircraft, and twenty-eight warships.
With a population of about 70 million, Iran maintains an armed forces totaling about 513,000 active troops--including its most elite force, the 120,000-strong Revolutionary Guard Corps. Another 350,000 are reservists. Most of the Guards are ground forces, but they have also developed a parallel armed forces system alongside with the regular army, navy, and air force; a heavy burden that the revolutionary regime has been affording all along, due to some unknown sense of mistrust .
According to Pentagon officials, the revolutionary regime in Iran will “be in a position to construct a crude but workable nuclear device at the turn of the century.” In their view, “the development of a ‘Persian bomb’ is Iran's top priority, and Tehran receives technology and aid from both Russia and China.” 
The US Defense Department expert further speculated "we're talking about something the size of a boxcar," he explained, "but with the Iranians, a truck or a merchant ship can be a weapon-delivery system."
In view of the US officials, in the field of conventional power, “Iranian military planners are taking steps to bolster their naval forces, in particular with purchases of Chinese advanced cruise missiles.” Moreover, Tehran has purchased new and upgraded surface warships, including five new "Houdong" Chinese fast-attack craft delivered to the port at Bandar Abbas.
The assumption is that ships, submarines and cruise missiles, along with other recent deployments of missiles on tiny islands in the Strait of Hormuz, form the outline of a developing challenge to US interests in the region.
Iran appears to be using its naval forces mainly as an instrument of defense and foreign policy. But this does not mean that an eventual power projection against an actual or potential hostile who might challenge Iran’s presence in the Persian Gulf, the strait of Hormoz and the Sea of Oman, might not trigger the operation of these forces. Prior to delivery in 1995 of 10 Hudong patrol boats equipped with C-802 missiles, Iran was without a ship-mounted ASCM capability. With the refitting of Iran's Kaman class fast-attack boats, they will have 20 craft carrying this missile and forty C-802 missiles are reported to have been sold. 
It is believed that the C-802 missiles are less accurate than the Chinese Silkworm, but the number of missile sites along the Persian Gulf coast, especially near the Strait of Hormuz, could pose a potential threat to whoever that might encroach the waters under Iranian sovereignty.
Iran also processes surface-to-surface and surface-to-air missile batteries on Qeshm and Sirri islands, and on Abu Musa; the island whose sovereignty has long been disputed between Iran and the United Arab Emirates.
Observers believe that the delivery and commissioning of three Russian Kilo-class submarines will confirm the Iranian intention to dominate the Persian Gulf. Each submarine has the capability of carrying 18 torpedoes and at the same time, they can be used as mines-layers. Thus far, Iran is the only coastal state of the Persian Gulf to possess under water capability. Regular naval exercises that take place several times a year by the Iranian Navy, alongside the other forces, are seen by observers as a clear sign that Iran intends to show its undisputable supremacy in the Persian Gulf.
The objective of the Iranian naval buildup, in the view of the American military experts who track the development of Iran’s military build-up, is "to develop the capability to choke us off, at least temporarily, at the Strait of Hormoz, or if they can't choke us off, at least make it very difficult for us to get in. This perception of course has led to a number of preoccupations for the American defense planners, since many of the oil-producing sheikdoms in the Persian Gulf region rely on American military protection to resist the presumed Iranian pressure and influence in the Persian Gulf.
With respect to the Iranian Air Force, it is believed that while Iran processes a relatively small number of combat aircrafts, but it has improved its air capability with Soviet-made MiG-29 "Fulcrums" and Su-24 "Fencers" as its primary air defense forces. With a newly installed in-flight refueling capability, Iran's MiG-29s have been given greater range. Furthermore, it is being speculated that Iran has the capability of air-based delivery of a nuclear weapons (if ever acquired) with the Fencers, supposed to be Iran's main strike aircraft.
As for missile capability, experts believe that Iran has been developing its own Soviet-designed Scud B and Scud C missiles, having ranges of about 300 kilometers and 500 kilometers, respectively. In addition to possessing some 200 to 300 Scuds, Iran also has expressed interest in purchasing No Dong medium-range ballistic missiles from North Korea.
Beside that, in the past few years, Iran has been working on new brand of missile called “ Shihab.” According to defense sources, Iran has already successfully test-fired the Shihab-3 missile, which has a range of 800 miles, and is now on the verge of testing a more sophisticated Shihab-4, which will have a range of some 1,250 miles and be capable of carrying a non-conventional payload. It is being speculated that Shahab-5 is the newest missile, which will enter Iranian defense inventory in near future, with a range of about 2500 miles. It is believed that while the Shihab-3 is based on North Korean know-how, the new missile will be based exclusively on Russian technology.
This latter undertaking is indeed a major source of anxiety and threat not only for the region but also for countries located far beyond the Middle East. While Iran’s defense minister, vice Admiral Ali Shamkhani has pledged that Iran's military power will not be directed at any Arab state, Israeli experts interpreted this statement as suggesting that Iran’s military build-up is intended to confront Israel.
As concerned the source of Iranian military acquisition, in his interview with al-Wasat, admiral Shamkhani denied any secret military cooperation or arms-purchase agreements between Iran and Russia: "We cooperate with Russia in the open and there are no secret agreements between us," he further stressed:” We have had to turn East because of the Western arms embargo and our need to develop our defensive systems...But we do not seek to acquire any of the non-conventional weapons." 
Nevertheless, Iran's ballistic missile manufacturing program is supposed to lack the capability to produce some parts that are essential for the total production of some types of systems. Presumably, Iran hopes to eventually have complete manufacturing capabilities for its Scuds. Iran also produces short-range missiles similar to the Soviet FROG-7.
With respect to the limitations constraints faced by Iran in its military build-up, Western observers have rightly pointed that the process has been tempered somewhat by its economic woes, which include a US embargo, a cash shortage because of fluctuating oil prices worldwide, rapid population growth, and an external debt. The latter problem has made it difficult for Tehran to gain the international credit needed to finance weapons procurement. In 1996 and 1997, Iran was expected to spend roughly $3.4 billion on weapons. However, it is worthwhile to remember that Iran’s total defense expenditure lagged much behind the total arms acquisitions of the Persian Gulf states, during the past years.
Iran's plan for development of its conventional forces obviously calls for creating units and force capability that are more maneuverable at sea, on land and in the air and have more advanced weapons for specific purposes and outside threats emanating essentially from forward-deployed US forces in the Persian Gulf, Afghanistan and Iraq. Defense analysts in the West, however, seem not to be much troubled with Iran’s conventional arms build-up, rather they have been focusing at Iran as a source of nuclear and biological threat.
The main assertion of American defense experts is that "Iran's priorities [are related to] weapons of mass destruction--their nuclear program, their chemical program, which is pretty well advanced, their biological program, and their missile program, which also is pretty well advanced."
On the other hand, the IAEA’s key findings about Iran are in reports released in March 2004 and November 2003, with the next important one due this June 2004. In November, the IAEA concluded that Iran's nuclear program consists of practically everything needed to fuel a reactor or in effect to produce materials for bombs, "including uranium mining and milling, conversion, enrichment, fuel fabrication, and heavy water production."
These allegations are indeed so serious that needs a much closer look. Thus, I have included below a tiny portion of two previous papers, which I prepared for the UCLA Persian Gulf Security Conferences, held successively in Athens- Greece (December 2003), and in Amman-Jordan (May 2004) and seem relevant to this analysis.
Iran’s Nuclear Option:
How much realistic, How far Credible?
Is Iran’s desire to acquire nuclear technology potentially harmful to world order and peace? It depends on whose lens we use to view the issue. The IAEA Board of Governor’s decision to pass a resolution on 12 September 2003 for the implementation of the NPT Safeguards has been interpreted differently inside Iran from at the international level. Preoccupation with the danger of Iran’s nuclear capability is now an alarming issue throughout the world. Iran’s decision to start negotiations for the conclusion of the Additional Protocol, and the IAEA request that Iran should promptly and unconditionally sign and implement it while stopping all nuclear enrichment programs, may bring a modicum of relief to all those who feel threatened by Iran’s undertaking. Since we are now in the midst of this process, it is very hard to pass judgment on the outcome of the ongoing negotiations.
Controversies between Iranian authorities and the IAEA on the one hand and the rest of the world, especially the United States and the EU, on the true intention of Iran’s nuclear activities, have been at its height during the past months. The latest IAEA resolution adopted after lengthily negotiation in mid June 2004, gives Iran one last chance to cooperate fully and in a transparent manner with this world body in charge of nuclear activities of member states.
Iran claims that it is merely using the basic and inalienable right of all NPT member states to develop atomic energy for peaceful purposes and is ready to assure the international community that it has no intention to produce nuclear weapons. Some critics would also argue that the Treaty on Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons of 1 July 1968 is not an endeavor designed to protect mankind from the danger of devastation and annihilation, but rather to preserve the monopoly status of a handful of powers in possession of such technology.
Iran claims that it’s undertaking is legitimate and just. We know well that justice, equity, and fairness have never been highest aim of dealings between states, yet they have served as useful caveats in political discourse for the promotion of national interests. In fact, one of the causes of war and hostility is the frustration of the less fortunate over unsatisfactory conditions allegedly created by the powerful nations. To them, slogans such as rendering justice to the powerless, saving humanity from the plague of hunger and disease, securing the world from the threat of terrorism, nuclear proliferation, atomic bombs and so on are wonderful words that only tickle ears and minds. Indeed, international norms and principles are always coated with some kind of noble and human overtone that merely serves as ground to promote one’s own policy or interests.
Some contend that the main objectives of owning nuclear weapons have always been their deterrent capabilities and use as leverage in political dealings. The argument against this is that nuclear capability in the hands of undemocratic and irresponsible regimes is too dangerous and should be contained at any cost. There seems to be a consensus on this latter point between the United States and many European powers. Realistically looking at the matter, even if we assume that Iran is trying to acquire a handful of nuclear weapons, it would have little operational or deterrent value. On the contrary, such an endeavor would increase Iran’s vulnerability vis-à-vis its potential adversaries.
Digging into the intention of political leaders is a difficult task. Iranian leaders are no excption to this.Therefore on has to make a number of assumptions at different levels of strategic planning and decision-making process.
On doctrinal level, it is safe to suggest that Iran’s national interests, objectives and strategies are shaped by its regional political aspirations, threat perceptions, and the need to preserve its Islamic government. But, the problem is that most of the time the term “national interests” is not quite lucid and those who decide about them are not quite apt for such vital task. Thus, in seeking to explain the behavior of a State, such as Iran, in the international or regional scene, we have to read into the minds of men and individuals at the higher echellon of decision making apparatus. This indeed is not an easy job and requires some imagination and speculation.
Assuming that men are rather deliberate and self-conscious about what they do, thus, they should know their own motives and give reasons for their behavior. But this does’t seem to be often true. Because, sometimes people do not want to confess their real motives, or at least not all of them, and so they may knowingly lie or distort or conceal the facts. Sometimes even, they may base their motives and behavior on false assumptions about themselves, their true aims and objectives, their threats, their capabilites and opportunities, or their political and strategic enviroment. This may prove to be very dangerous, not only for them but also for others who interact with them.
One may argue safely that in present day Iran, we are facing with this latter kind of decision-making, that is, we are concened with factors affecting choice other than the entirely conscious and rational criteria that usually come into play in the determination of “national interests.” Political expediencies sometimes overshadow factors related with optimum and rational choices. Perhaps,the reason behind the very risky and high political costs of Iran’s nuclear venture, may find its rationale in such argument which goes beyond the regular calculation of risk or cost-benefit analysis.
With respect to the true intention and objective of Iran’s nuclear activities, the official answer is that this country it merely using its basic and inalienable right of all member States of the NPT to develop atomic energy for peaceful purpose. To this end, Iran claims that it is ready to ensure the international community that it have no intention to produce nuclear weapons. Furthermore, the upper echelon decision-making ladder in Iran has rightfully and in several occasions recognized that Iran does not consider nuclear weapon as a viable and rational useful strategy for defense purposes. The official reading of such statement is that nuclear option may render the country more vulnerable to risks outside threats But, most critiques and specialists in the field believe that these claims are mere rhetoric that is neither supported by factual evidence, nor accepted by the IAEA and the international community as a whole. They refer to recent (February 2004) revelations about international nuclear black market and specific findings of the IAEA during its last inspection in Iran.
How then shall we explain the present situation and the earnest attempt by Iran to pursue its long-standing nuclear policy? In fact, as we know, the project goes back to the 1980s, that is the period in which Iran was engaged in an all out war with its neighboring hostile State, Iraq. The optimistic view would go along with the argument advanced by Iran about its peaceful intention of developing nuclear technology. The pessimists however, have more ground to argue against the peaceful aims of such undertaking. They would eventually base their argument on the following facts and factors:
1) Iran as an important and rich country in oil and gas, having extensive reserves of fossil fuel inland and offshore, does not need to embark on a more costly and risky nuclear project in order to produce energy,
2) Enrichment facilities and related components that are being used or developed by Iranians, do not seem to be for support of civilian nuclear energy plants in Bushehr (considering the fact that the Russians are supposed to supply the necessary fuel for Bushehr plants and the Iranian party is obligated to return the depleted uranium that could be used in nuclear bomb),
3) Iran may be enthusiastic in obtaining nuclear capability with the objective of deterring any potential aggressor that might threaten the very existence of the Islamic regime,
4) Iran may contend that the West is using a double-standard policy with respect to the nuclear proliferation (Pakistan, India and Israel are the ones who have been left out of the black list),
5) Iran might be tempted to acquire nuclear technology for the mere sake of national pride and prestige with a view to boost its regional position vis a vis its potential opponents and contenders,
6) Being a nuclear power for a revolutionary Islamic State may be an indication of the regime efficiency and viability despite the mounting pressure from the world political environment,
Pessimists have a tendency to believe that Iran is pursuing the North Korean tactics by lingering the legal process of ratifying the safeguard measures related to the NPT additional Protocol. In other words, Iran is trying to buy time for enrichment of enough uranium to build a number of nukes before it officially declares to withdraw from the NPT obligations. This will put the IAEA and the world as a whole before a fait accompli,
For them, Iranian leaders would prefer running the risk of being target of an eventual preemptive strike than to give up the power altogether. Since, they believe they can capitalize on such event to consolidate the people while tightening the rope around the opposition neck,
Optimists and pessimists would both admit that strategic thinking; rationality, national interests and optimum choice do not have the same meanings among the Iranian leaders and the Western political thought. This indeed makes a lot of difference when the two sides face each other in a peaceful dialogue or in a hostile confrontation.
Iran hopes to expedite the winding up of the case before the IAEA, using the leverage and influence of the EU members. But the United States authorities appear not satisfied with the idea and wish to pave the way to send the case to the UN Security Council. We have to wait some more time before passing the final judgment on the matter.
New Challenges in the Persian Gulf:
Iran and the US Strategy
The Persian Gulf, which has always been an area of strategic interests for the American foreign policy since World War II, has become the cornerstone of the U.S. strategy after the end of cold war and the collapse of the Soviet Unions. The September 11 events, which led to the military interventions of the United States and Coalition forces in Afghanistan and later in Iraq, created a very vulnerable situation in the Persian Gulf. Iran, as the main power of the region, who has always claimed that the security of this strategic semi-enclosed body of water should be left to local powers, now feels encircled by the United States and is quite apprehensive of this presence. During the past months, the United States did not hesitate to show anger and discontent on various occasions against Iranian authorities. This has made the situation, already very tense between the two countries, even more unbearable.
Iranian decision makers are quite aware of the gravity of the situation and are contemplating ways and means to attenuate the sensitive atmosphere overshadowing the security of the Persian Gulf region. To understand Iranian view on the matter of the Persian Gulf security, one should comprehend the very basic tenure of the revolution, which has brought the present regime into power in 1979, and circumstances that led to the rise of fundamental differences between the two countries.
Of course, the historical background of Iran-US relations go beyond the purpose and objective of this short comment, since many books and articles exist on the matter. My aim here is only to examine a tiny portion of the spectrum of problems dealing with the future security prospects in the Persian Gulf and the appropriate policy recommendations with a view to project a fair and balanced solution for all the regional and international actors.
Let’s first see what is the force arrangement in the Persian Gulf. The United States, which historically had a low profile military and naval presence in the region for many years, at the beginning of the 1990’s, right after the so-called second Persian Gulf crisis (i.e. after the occupation of Kuwait by Iraq), started to build-up its forces in the region. Though it was for temporary missions, yet, from that time up to now, the U.S. presence became more visible and therefore more annoying for Iranian authorities and other Persian Gulf States.
Whereas Iran had tried the policy of confidence building towards littoral States of the Persian Gulf during the past 5-6 year period (i.e. during the Khatami’s administration), and to some extent it was successful, the United States did nothing to promote the situation, and even in some cases aggravated the security environment susceptible to leading to hostilities. One example is the seizure of an Iranian merchant ship not long ago, under the pretext of ‘ search for hostile destination. Other petty incidents in the Persian Gulf between Iran and U.S. created a situation of threat and denial, which could not but aggravate the tense relations between the two State, and consequently to undermine Iran’s policy of confidence-building towards other States of the Persian Gulf, presumably in line with American presence.
The recent experience of force projection in Iraq, clarified a number of security bottlenecks, thus far hidden behind some sort of diplomatic shyness between the United States and the Arab nations of the Middle East. Saudi-Arabia, as the most important traditional ally of the U.S., expressing loudly discontent against American intervention in Iraq, became a vocal critique of this country, while approaching toward Iran. As we witnessed in recent months, the United States changed its stance towards the Saudis, (especially after the disclosure of some kind of doubtful ties between the AlQaeda group and the Saudi officials) and plan to evacuate their forces from there.
With respect to other U.S. allies in the region, we are not quite sure of the trends. But one thing is certain, that is the fact that the traditional regimes of the Persian Gulf, which once the fear of the Islamic revolution in Iran pushed them towards the Americans for protection, now feel much more insecure by the policy of “forceful democratization”, which could end-up to disaster for the internal security and their very existence.
Although the Iranian policy of rapprochement with the Persian Gulf littoral States, has so far not reached to the point of building a true “security community,” but based on the present trends, it does not seem to be a far-fetched strategy that could lead to the following plausible consequences:
a) Inhibiting more and more the U.S. presence in the region;
b) Making the future American interventions in the region much more difficult and costly;
c) Building an anti-American shield against the United States policy of “forceful democratization” in the region;
d) Narrowing down the gap between the Iranian regime and the conservative Arab States;
e) Pushing the Persian Gulf States, especially Iran, toward European Community, and other world great powers, such as Russia and China, while limiting economic interaction with the U.S.
f) Making the strategic environment much more difficult for the United States force deployment in crisis situations.
Based on the above plausible outcome, it would indeed be hard for the United States to bear the consequences, unless the American policy in the Persian Gulf changes its contents and context. That is to say, the American objectives and therefore ways and means to reach them should be adapted to the new emerging environment. The new environment is not necessarily in favor of the American military presence in the region. Especially, the fact that the United States are leaning toward the use of force to achieve their objectives, in spite of world objection, heighten the tense situation among regional States. This in turn may lead to the rise of anti-American sentiments and further push the once hostile attitude of littoral States towards Iran, to a more tolerant policy of accommodation ant entente.
There are multiple ways that Iran could interact positively with the Persian Gulf States. The followings are among the most probable course of action that can lead to amicable relations in the Persian Gulf, which could promote the security of the region for the littoral States as well as third extra-regional parties, provided that these latter abstain to intervene in the internal affairs of the region. The most suitable areas of cooperation seem to be the followings:
a) Regional coordination and cooperation on the matters of maritime environment, sea pollution, through strengthening the ROPME Convention and its relevant protocols;
b) Mutual entente on matter of maritime boundary delimitations (Given the fact that a number of unresolved issues still remain to be negotiated)
c) Cooperation on matter related to sea lines of communication and traffic separation schemes, within the purview of IMO functions;
d) Confidence building through gradual strengthening social, cultural, economic and strategic ties among the regional States
e) Cooperation on matter pertaining illegitimate traffic of narcotic substance, and other illegal trade and contraband.
Through achieving the above objectives, the ground would be ready to embark on more serious business of security cooperation among regional States, with the support and endorsement of other non-regional interested powers.
The United States, as an equal partner and the de facto transitional Power in charge of Iraq, until this latter regains its full sovereign rights to enter into international relations, can help the steady progress of the above course of action. This may expedite the long awaited security arrangement in the Persian Gulf, provided of course, that mutual confidence and good intention from all parts prevail. It is the humble contention of this author that this process is capable to best serves the interests of the United States, as well as the littoral States of the Persian Gulf, the Middle East and the wider world.
Whatever conclusion that may be derived from this short analysis, it can be safely stated that Iran’s endeavor to acquire technological know-how and hardware in the field of defense and nuclear activities, does not seem to be a threat to peace and stability in the region. However, Iran’s recent behavior in the Persian Gulf may be interpreted differently by outside observers. In the wake of a number of incidents that took place during the current month in this region, one may argue against the above proposition.
In fact, the month of June 2004 appears to be a decisive moment in time with regard to Iran’s assertion of sovereign right in the Persian Gulf and the Shat-al-Arab waterway, which forms Boundary River between Iran and Iraq. Few days after the IAEA resolution was adopted in June 2004 with respect to Iran’s nuclear activities, Iranian authorities, while voicing their discontent with the three EU members who had sponsored the resolution, they arrested three British gunboats and their crews in the Shatt-al-Arab River. Though Iran categorically denied any link between the two events, the incident was regarded in the international media as a harsh response to UK’s role in the IAEA Governing Council in preparing the draft resolution along with France and Germany.
Although the incident was rather quickly settled through diplomatic channels, nevertheless it can be considered as a real indication that Iran would not hesitate to use similar incidents as a pretext to challenge and humiliate even an important EU power, such as the United Kingdom in the area of its dominion in the region. Interestingly, the incident occurred about a week after another confrontation that took place in the Persian Gulf between Iranian Navy and the Qatari and UAE fishing boats.
How shall we construe such behavior at a critical time when Iran is almost totally encircled by foreign forces, not quite friendly to it? Does this mean that Iran is in fact using its mussels to show its real intention of pursuing an independent hegemonistic policy in the region? The followings are mere speculations about the actual trend of Iran’s posture in the region:
· Recent reemergence of hardliners in Iranian political scene (for the time being in the Parliament), which is the result of a serious rebuff of progressive elements, is gradually showing its products in political arena. This means that the conservative front is preparing to take over almost all the elements of national power in Iran,
· The conservative faction who always had the military instrument under its control, is using Iranian armed forces to consolidate its political power, while shaping Iran’s hegemonistic strategy in the region,
· The true aim of the new emerging conservative government, which would very likely succeed the reformist one in power, is to show that it is more efficient, independent, and enough strong to contain any internal unrest or opposition challenge, and to deter any external pressure or threat that are susceptible to change the prevailing situation in Iran,
· After the new conservative government is established in Tehran, we may gradually witness signs of rapprochement with the United States, if assured that the continuity of the Islamic regime is not challenged or threatened.
* Professor Ali-Asghar Kazemi holds a Ph.D. in International Law and Relations from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University, Medford, Mass. He is the author of many books and articles, and a legal advisor on matters concerning the international law of the sea. Currently, he is dean of the Graduate School of Law and Political Science, Islamic Azad University (Science and Research Campus) Tehran-Iran.
 See for example, Amy Truesdell, “Iran plans Gulf trip, projecting a Powerful Military Force.” In this paper it is suggested that “ The Iranian government's key objective in building up its armed forces is the same now as it was before the revolution in 1979: to secure regional military superiority.” A:\Global Defence Review Iran plans Gulf trip.htm
 See: Bill Gerts, “Iran’s Regional Powerhouse,” in: Air Force, Journal of Air Force Association, Magazine Online, June 1996 Vol. 79, No.06.
 See e.g. Bill Gerts, “Iran’s Regional Powerhouse,” ibid.
 Recent incidents ( June 2004) in the Persian Gulf, which began with the attack of a Qatari gunship on an Iranian fishing boat, that triggered a series of retaliatory operations by Iranian naval forces as well as harsh diplomatic protest to Qatari government, is a vivid example of such kind.
 To this we should add offensive mines that are believed to be deployed in the Persian Gulf. The EM-52 rising mines are part of a 3,000-weapon stockpile of anti-ship mines. This purchase is significant because, unlike most other mines, the EM-52 is operational in deep water such as the Persian Gulf. When the hull of a ship passes over the device the mine is triggered and a rocket is fired at the hull. Placed in choke points such as the Strait of Hormuz, this device could be devastating. See Amy Truesdell, “Iran plans Gulf trip, projecting a Powerful Military Force.” Ibid.
 It is interesting to note that every time when the [Persian] Gulf Cooperation Council has some kind of meeting, the UAE ‘s claim on the three Islands ( Lesser and Greater Tombs and Abu Mussa) is raised and endorsed by the Arabs and obviously rejected by Iran.
 This view is apparently supported by the types of exercises carried by the Iranian Navy in the Strait of Hormoz, such as: sabotaging ports and attacking oil platforms and coastal targets. Cf. A:\Global Defence Review Iran plans Gulf trip.htm
 It is interesting to note that about ninety percent of Japan's oil and sixty percent of Europe's oil pass through the strategic region. Cf. ibid.
 See e.g. Douglas Davis, “ Iran's missile buildup seems aimed at Israel,” The Jewish Weekly of Northern California, Friday August 7, 1998
 According to experts,” with the Scud Bs and Cs, Iran can bring every capital in the [Persian Gulf Cooperation Council] within range," Furthermore, one Pentagon official suggested that Iran “ can bring debarkation ports within range, and, if they do not already have a chemical warhead, they will probably have one very soon." See Bill Gerts, Ibid.
 In an interview with the Saudi-owned weekly al-Wasat, Shamkhani said that Iran's military power is "part of the capabilities of the Arab and Islamic worlds." He further said:
"It is certainly not directed against the interests of the Arab states," he added. "On the contrary, it adds to the strength of the Islamic world in facing the enemies of the Arab and Islamic nations."
Asked why Iran was building up its military muscle, increasing its arms procurements, deploying three Russian-built submarines and developing its missile program, Shamkhani replied: "You would notice that no other country has been as bullied or threatened as Iran. Israel, for instance, menaces Iran more than it menaces any other country." See Douglas Davis, ibid.
 At the time the report was written, i.e. 1998, total debt of Iran amounted to an estimated $ 35 billion. See Gerts, ibid.
 “ In terms of the regional military balance, Iran is, in fact, lagging behind considerably, a fact well documented by the various authoritative studies on arms transfers, including the annual reports by the Congressional Research Service and various editions of World Military Expenditures and Arms Transfers. These studies show that, for example, the total arms acquisitions by the six countries of Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) during the period 1987-1998 was in excess of 52 billion dollars, compared to 2.5 billion dollars for Iran. To give another example, during 1995-1998 period, whereas the Saudis purchased close to 8 billion dollars of arms, Iran’s figure stood at 1.4 billions.” See Kaveh L. Afrasiabi, Iran’s Military Modernization and the Regional Arms Race. A:\Iran’s Military Modernization and the Regional Arms Race.htm
 This came in the speech he made at the second session for "The Region and Future Conference" entitled "Iran and the Future of Gulf Security." By Anthony Cordesman from the Center for Strategic and International Studies. Cordesman said that Iran's new arms agreements signed since the conclusion of the Iran-Iraq war are not enough to modernize or sustain its current forces, but that this leaves the standing issue of weapons of mass destruction. He added that in light of Iran's declaration of programs of these weapons, and its import of biological equipment and chemical weapons, one has to wonder at the reasons behind acquiring them. See; A:\IranExpert Iran's WMD critical issue to region -- Cordesman.htm Date: 06/05/2004
 Cf. Bill Gerts, ibid
 Cf. Iran's Nuclear Program Reaches Critical Juncture,” IEEE Spectrum online June, 2004
 See my papers: “Shifting U.S. Threat Perception After September 11and the Fear of Iran’s Nuclear Threat” December 2003; and, “ Iran’s Nuclear Venture: Legal Obligation and Political Temptation,” May 2004, both presented to the UCLA Burkle Center for International Relations.
 The IAEA stated that Iran had not lived up to its reporting obligations under the terms of its Safeguard Agreement. Iran’s IAEA Safeguard Agreement requires the country to provide the agency with information “concerning nuclear material subject to safeguards under the Agreement and the features of facilities relevant to safeguarding such material.” Technically, Iran is still in compliance with its Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) obligations, but as the IAEA stated, “it is the number of failures of Iran to report the material facilities and activities in question” that is “a matter of concern.” Going back over a ten-year period, Iran has followed a pattern of obfuscation that raises well-founded international suspicions about Iran’s nuclear program.
 It is worthwhile to note that the new resolution has been prepared and sponsored by three leading EU powers; France, Germany and the United Kingdom, who initiated an accord with Iran last year on the issue of nuclear project. For detail see my paper: “Iran Nuclear Venture, Legal Obligation and Political Temptation.” May 2004, Presented to the Regional Security Conference, UCLA Burkle Center for International Relations, www. MENL.org.
 This fact has been even recognized by two important personalities directly responsible for Iran’s national defense and security. The leader of Iran, Ayatollah Khamenei, once said to his followers that the Islamic Republic’s strength does not lie in obtaining or the domestic manufacture of an atomic bomb, but it is “the power of the faith that can deter our enemy” (Washington Post, 17 November 1992). More recently, Iran’s Defense minister, Vice Admiral Ali Shamkhani, recognized in a February 2002 statement: “ The existence of nuclear weapons will turn us into a threat to others that could be exploited in a dangerous way to harm our relations with the countries of the region.” See the Guardian, 6 Feb. 2002. See also George Perkovich, “Dealing With Iran’s Nuclear Challenge,” Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, 28 April 2003.
 According to the analysis presented in the Global Security, “Tehran strives to be a leader in the Islamic world and seeks to be the dominant power in the Persian Gulf. The latter goal brings it into conflict with the United States. Tehran would like to diminish Washington’s political and military influence in the region. Within the framework of its national goals, Iran continues to give high priority to expanding its NBC weapons and missile programs.” See: http://www.globalsecurity.org/wmd/world/iran/doctrine.htm - Last updated, December 13,2002
 Cf. my paper presented December 2003 to the Regional Security Conference in Athens- Greece, on
“The Shifting U.S. Threat Perception after September 11 and Fear of Iran’s Nuclear Threat.”
 See my paper of last May 2004, presented to the Regional Security Conference in Amman-Jordan.
 Mr. Hassan Rohani, secretary of Iran’s National Security Council, who was in charge of nuclear issue negotiation with the three EU foreign ministers last year, in an interview with the media, after the adoption of the new resolution in June 2004 by the IAEA, said that Iran will revise its position with respect to the uranium enrichment, which it had voluntarily suspended upon the signing of the accord with the EU states (France, Germany and UK). He argued that since these latter countries have not lived up to their commitment, Iran sees itself relief of the obligation created by the agreement.
 British navy personnel (two officers and six sailors) were blindfolded and directed to the shore for further investigation. Iranian authorities claimed that they would be prosecuted if proven that they had willfully entered Iranian internal waters. The problem was finally settled through diplomatic channels.
 By releasing the arrested crewmembers of the British gunboats, after three days on June 26, Iranian authorities announced that it was found out through investigation that they had mistakenly entered in the internal waters of Iran. But, it seems hard to believe that a gunboat even without navigational aid could loose its way in the rather narrow and shallow waters of the Shat-al-Arab River. Interestingly, few days after their release, the British Navy personnel claimed that Iranian revolutionary guard forced them to Iranian waters while they were passing their normal route. The matter was later endorsed by the UK Defense Secretary and protested against Iranian government.
 See supra on the question of UAE claim on the three Iranian islands at the mouth of the Persian Gulf and Iran’s reaction on the matter.