Aug 6, 2006

Hey Stan, Iran's Still The Plan?

[P]rivately some Iranian politicians consider a near-future attack on Iran all but a foregone conclusion, and are trying to determine what the appropriate (preemptive) response should be.

Their growing security anxiety is partly fed by the realization that the Western governments and media have succeeded to some extent in pinning the conflict in Lebanon on Iran, by accusing it of masterminding Hezbollah's "reckless adventure" of July 11, when its fighters crossed the blue line and attacked an Israeli patrol.

The United Nations Security Council's new resolution on Iran gives Tehran until the end of August to suspend all uranium-enrichment-related activities or face the prospect of international sanctions, an ultimatum instantly denounced by Iran as illegal and unjustified. This means that Iran now faces a double crisis, given Israel's military onslaught against its strategic ally in Lebanon, Hezbollah.

Thus, contrary to what has become an article of faith in the Western media, about Iran somehow gaining influence due to the war in Lebanon, the exact opposite may be in the works, particularly if Israel's latest claim of destroying most of Hezbollah's rockets turns out to be true.

On Sunday, Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki made a last-ditch attempt to forestall the Security Council resolution on Iran's nuclear program by threatening that the international package of incentives currently under consideration would no longer be considered if the said resolution were adopted.

Faced with the grim prospect of UN sanctions in the months ahead, Iran is now grappling with one of the most important decisions of its post-revolutionary government.

But where will the road lead if Iran rejects the proposal and the UN's ultimatum? Most likely to a new round of Iran's global isolation, something dreaded by nearly all of its top politicians. Can it be avoided? Can Iran somehow come up with a middle answer that would reflect a new flexible response? In terms of this it would agree to a "voluntary and non-legally binding" suspension of its sensitive nuclear activities short of appeasing the other side entirely.

As the debate rages on inside Iran, which had until now leaned more and more in favor of rejecting the US-led demand to give up its budding nuclear fuel cycle, the discussions have now focused on national-security interests and concerns, in light of the conflict in Lebanon.

-A Jumbled And Tumbled Excerpt Of An Article By Kaveh L Afrasiabi in Asia Times

Kaveh L Afrasiabi, PhD, is the author of After Khomeini: New Directions in Iran's Foreign Policy (Westview Press) and co-author of "Negotiating Iran's Nuclear Populism", Brown Journal of World Affairs, Volume XII, Issue 2, Summer 2005, with Mustafa Kibaroglu. He also wrote "Keeping Iran's nuclear potential latent", Harvard International Review. He is author of Iran's Nuclear Program: Debating Facts Versus Fiction.

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