Thursday, July 13, 2006

Iran Testing West's Resolve...

Iran Testing West’s Resolve on Nuclear Issue

Ali Asghar Kazemi
July 13, 2006

Neither the North Korean recent provocations by testing ICBM and other short range missiles nor the kidnapping of Israeli soldiers by Hamas and Hezbollah, which brought the Middle East on the verge of an all-out war, diverted the attention of the international community from Iran’s nuclear aspirations. In fact, the conclusion of the Paris meeting of 5+1 powers’ foreign ministers on July 12, 2006 that Iran’s case should be submitted to the U.N. Security Council for a decision under Chapter VII of the U.N. Charter, is a vivid indication that the West along with other permanent members of the Security Council no longer tolerate Iranian playing the villain on the nuclear issue.

The conclusion came after Iran’s chief negotiator evaded from taking clear and explicit position on the incentive package proposed to Iran for the purpose of halting all nuclear activities and starting a dialogue with parties involved including the United States. Perhaps Iranians did not anticipate such an abrupt reaction from the West, because of the assurance they were expecting from Russia and China. Apparently, the Western powers have been able to convince Russia and China, as two main Iranian supporters and partners, that Iran’s inexplicable delay in responding to the incentive package is just a disdain to the international community and a negative precedent.

Conscious of the fact that a blunt rejection of the offer would have disastrous consequences; the Islamic government has chosen not to respond directly to the question, while keeping the doors open for further negotiations and bargaining. Eventually, those in charge of decision-making have come to the conclusions that the final aim of American strategy is a fundamental change in Iran’s political structure and thus looks beyond the mere allegations regarding the nuclear issue or even human rights and terrorism. In other words, Iranian government is now anxious for its survival and is looking for some safeguard for its security and protection. To that end, it is trying to drag on time for the purpose of finding some avenues for guarantying that a “regime change” alternative would be erased from the American strategy.

On the other hand, Iran may think that the West has not a real resolve to go for the Security Council sanctions and sacrifice its interests, since it will be the first to be hurt by such an action on various counts including the oil price. Thus, most probably Iranian decision makers will continue to walk on the border-line until the time they realize indeed that the West will stick firm to its position and if necessary will bring the case the U.N. Security Council for a quick decision and action under Chapter VII of the Charter.

On practical grounds, Iranian leaders do not seem to worry much about an eventual embargo or economic sanctions, though this surely will cause lots of trouble and inconvenience to the overall nation. But, those who eventually wish that the people would revolt against the Islamic regime in case of an economic blockade should remember that ever since the revolution, this country has been subject to all kinds of sanctions both during the war and after, and no such thing has ever happened. On the contrary, Iranians have shown that they have a tendency to consolidate during the hard times.

On the other hand, Iranian decision makers did not hide their intention that an eventual resolution against Iran may lead to a unilateral decision of this country to withdraw from the NPT altogether, which is the right of every member state in conformity with the provisions of the treaty. In such circumstances the IAEA will be devoid of legal standing to continue its supervision on Iran’s nuclear activities.

Bearing in mind that the most vital objective for the Islamic regime in Iran is its very survival, and to that end it seems ready to sacrifice many things, it would not be an unrealistic postulation that in case of its withdrawal from the NPT, the regime might have a free hand to contemplate developing its own deterrent nuclear force, somewhere along the line with North Korea. In such circumstances the West, including the United States and all those who fear Iran’s nuclear activities, would be in a much worsen situation.

With respect to an eventual preemptive strikes either on Iran’s nuclear facilities or oil installations on land or offshore, directly by the United States or through other regional proxies, there is little chances that these operations be supported by the international community as a whole. It should also be recognized that if Iran perceives a real threat in the Persian Gulf or elsewhere in its land territory, it has the capacity to make the whole region insecure.

Therefore, it is safe to suggest that the interested parties to the nuclear dispute, including the Americans, shall think twice before engaging in any actions that would threaten Iran’s survival or undermine its regional interests. The Islamic hardliners have already shown in other occasions that they have the capacity to frustrate any strategy or actions intended to menace the survival of the Islamic regime.


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