Tuesday, January 24, 2006


Even as the US and the Europeans scramble to put in place a united front vis-a-vis Iran, it’s clear that Iran intends to go all out with its nuclear program. It has not only assumed a belligerent posture over its nuclear program but has also upped the ante on the issue of Israel. The mullahs in Iran seem to be moving to a point of no return with some observers even speculating whether we are witnessing the origins of the next World War. While such sentiments might yet be in a minority, what is undoubtedly clear is that the Iranian regime has decided to test how far they can push the West.
In a way, the West should have been prepared for this showdown. All signs indicated that it was coming one way or another. And yet the US and the Europeans seem to be struggling to come up with a coherent response.
Strategically, it makes sense for Iran to acquire nuclear weapons. In a world where states have to fend for their own security, there is no better deterrent than a nuclear weapon. Nuclear weapons may not be popular with the public opinion in the West but all major states that have nuclear weapons know their importance and therefore, have no intention of giving them up. Which states can be more secure than Britain and France today and yet there are no indications that these states want to renounce their nuclear arsenal.Compared to these states, Iran is highly insecure, located as it is in a highly volatile region. Its neighbours, India, Pakistan, and most importantly, Israel have long had nuclear weapons and do not seem to have done too badly for themselves. Moreover, after September 11, 2001 Iran has to contend with the presence of its biggest adversary in its very neighbourhood, with the US straddling Iran from both sides in Iraq and Afghanistan. It is also possible that the one lesson Iran may have learnt from the US invasion of Iraq is that the only way to prevent the US from invading is to acquire nuclear weapons as soon as possible. (Poor Saddam, if he really had nuclear weapons, the US wouldn’t have dared!).
This strategic drive got further strengthened in Iran with the complete collapse of the reformist political parties in the last elections and the election of a hard-liner, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, as the President with little or no experience in global politics. He has decided that the only way he can continue to sideline his opponents such as Hashemi Rafsanjani is by adopting an extreme posture vis-à-vis Israel and the Great Satan. And much as the liberals in the West would like to believe otherwise, both these causes are very popular among the Iranian masses. Also, this helps Ahmadinejad to divert attention from a failing economy and soaring rates of unemployment.
So, after calling the Nazis' World War II slaughter of European Jews a "myth" and proclaiming that Israel should be “wiped off the map” or moved to Germany or the US, a conference of holocaust deniers is reportedly being convened by Iran. At the same time, the nuclear program is being used to challenge the US. This seems like a perfect time to take on the US as the Americans seem bogged down in Iraq with the US public having no more stomach for other military adventures. Iran also realizes that it enjoys great leverage in the political and security environment in Iraq and can further intensify its sabotage activities in Iraq if need be.
The global situation is also working in Iran’s favour. The credibility of the US is at an all time low in the comity of nations after the Iraq fiasco. Few states will be willing to place their bets on American pronouncements (or for that matter British) even if they are accompanied by evidence. Russia and China, two states with real leverage vis-à-vis Iran are unlikely to support meaningful sanctions for the fear of hurting their own interests. And so they are continuing to resist American and European efforts to the put the Iranian affair before the United Nations Security Council.
What is surprising is that it took so long for the Europeans to recognize this ploy. For long, all roads have been leading to the Bomb in Tehran and it won’t be long before the mullahs in Iran start brandishing it in the face of the West. And India seems to have got caught in the middle. India has come under pressure as the nature of its decision at the meeting of the IAEA Board of Governors could impact its own nuclear negotiations with the US. It remains to be seen if the Indian government decides to repeat its past voting pattern in the IAEA or succumbs to domestic pressure emanating from its coalition partners. If India votes not to report Iran to the Security Council next month, India's own credibility as a stalwart of non-proliferation would be imperilled and the future of the Indo-US nuclear deal would be in serious jeopardy.


Blogger Satish Gogisetty said...


JUNK the Nuclear deal with US as US is trying to gain hold of our nuclear program.

Also we donot gain much technically from this program, only thing we get is cheap fuel (uranium). Is it worth it? What is USA's intention behind this deal...Click here to read..

February 03, 2006 9:33 PM  
Anonymous Nishant Srivastava said...

Mr Pant, it is bad propsition to justify Iran going nuke just becasue it feels insecure around nuclear India-pakistan-Israel, which in any case are not going to attack her.

i agree that most of the nuclear nations don't want to shun it but thats sad argument that we allow countries like Iran that threaten and blackmail other countries, specially after failing to prevent Pakistan from becoming a nuclear armed country.

February 23, 2006 6:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Of course Israel could attack Iran.

April 11, 2006 12:25 AM  

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