25 Feb 2007
Defiant Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Sunday that his country’s nuclear program is irreversible. He likened his government’s position on the nuclear technology acquisition to that of a train without brakes and reverse gear. “We dismantled the rear gear and brakes of the train and threw them away sometimes ago.” Ahmadinejad was quoted by ISNA (Iranian students news outlet) as telling a gathering of Islamic clerics. His deputy foreign minister Manouchehr Mohammadi added bluntly that; “We have prepared ourselves for any situation, even war.”
Earlier on Thursday Ahmadinejad said Iran will resist “all bullies” when the United Nations Atomic Energy Agency issued a report that said Tehran did not only ignore a deadline to freeze Uranium enrichment but had instead expanded the program.
Iran has always insisted that her nuclear technology program is for peaceful purposes but many countries led by the U.S and Israel suspect that Iran is in the process of producing nuclear weapons.
The latest round of verbal jabs coming out of Iran are obviously directed at officials of the UN Security Council plus Germany that are due to meet in London in the coming days to study the options of drafting a new resolution on Tehran.
It is obvious that these latest pronouncements will only raise the stakes and move Iran closer to a military confrontation with the U.S or Israel. On Saturday, the U.S Vice President Dick Cheney (on a visit to Australia) reiterated the American stance that “all options” were on the table after Iran ignored the UN deadline to halt Uranium enrichment. “We believe it would be a serious mistake if a nation such as Iran became a nuclear power”. Cheney said.
Meanwhile the New Yorker reported that a panel has been created in the Pentagon to prepare a plan for possible U.S. bombing campaign against nuclear and military targets in Iran if the situation demands. The U.S government has denied that it has any plans to attack Iran. Israel is also denying reports that she is negotiating with the U.S for an ‘air corridor’ over Iraq in case she has to attack Iran. Israeli Deputy Defense Minister Ephraim Sneh described reports that Israel intends to attack Iran as “speculative”.
Observers believe that it will be naïve to ignore these reports because the evolution of things on the ground is pointing clearly in the direction of inevitable military confrontation at one point.
If Ahmadinejad is calculating that the U.S cannot act because of her problems linked to the misadventure in Iraq, he must not forget that Israel certainly will not accept that Iran develops the capability of producing nuclear weapons. There is a precedent in history when Israel launched a surprise attack on an Iraqi nuclear reactor near Bagdad in 1981 and effectively grounded Bagdad’s nuclear program. The Israeli case against Iran is even more defensible because Ahmadinejad has, on several occasions, publicly called for the destruction of Israel.
Iran may have a good case but it is presented by a leader whose bellicose rhetoric is neither serving the interest of his country nor that of the volatile Middle East. The world is already seeing so much bloodshed and carnage in Iraq, Palestine and Lebanon. It will be a very frightening spectacle if Ahmadinejad (due to his intransigence) were to drag his country into an avoidable war. The survival of Iran does not depend on this nuclear enrichment. The real issue is that of a test of wills between the Iranian leader and the UN Security Council. The tug of war would have been interesting to watch if its consequences were not to affect the lives of innocent people. Sometimes a leader needs to forgo what he believes is right and do what is pragmatic in the interest of the people he leads.
Njei Moses Timah