Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Saturday, January 25th, 2020

Beating War Drum?


Beating War Drum?

With the radical principalists claimed victory in Iran's parliamentary elections and a huge blow to the reformism there, the international community is put at a greater stake on Iran's nuclear issue. The country signaled it was ready to resume talks with six powers but the International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors have accused the country of not providing adequate cooperation with the mission.

Since Israel's warning of a military strike against Iran's nuclear arsenal has raised concern of a greater instability in the region, the US officials have been stressing the need to carry on the carrot and stick policy to make Ahmadinejad's government stop enriching Uranium and abide by United Nations Security Council's resolutions.

The diversity in approaches created a level of Israel's distrust to Obama administration policy's adequacy. Israel has times and again defended its right to prevent an existential threat arise against the country's sovereignty. Iran's controversial Ahmadinejad has repeatedly talked on 'wiping out the Zionist regime of the face of the world'.

To assure US's closest Middle Eastern ally, US president Obama has taken a tough stance against the Islamic Republic. Speaking at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), the pro-Israel lobby group, on Sunday, President Obama warned Iran against its nuclear program and vowed to use military action to prevent it from using nuclear weapons.

In his most explicit threat against Iran to date, US President Obama declared on Sunday that he would "not hesitate to use force" to prevent Iran from building nuclear weapons. The speech was pitched not just to his immediate audience—the pro-Israeli American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC)—but to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who he met on Monday.

Obama spelled out the meaning of his oft-repeated phrase that "all options are on the table" in relation to Iran. "That includes all elements of American power," he said, "a political effort aimed at isolating Iran, a diplomatic effort to sustain our coalition and ensure that the Iranian program is monitored, an economic effort that imposes crippling sanctions and, yes, a military effort to be prepared for any contingency." President Obama said Iran's nuclear programme is against US and Israel's security interests and urged that the issue be solved diplomatically.

"I have said that when it comes to preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon, I will take no options off the table, and I mean what I say," he said. "Iran's leaders should know that I do not have a policy of containment; I have a policy to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. I only use force when the time and circumstances demand it. Already, there is too much loose talk of war,"

In his AIPAC speech, President Obama also raised concerns that Iran's nuclear weapons might fall into the hands of a terrorist group, adding ""loose talk of war" only plays into Iran's hands". On Monday, he tried to persuade Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to slow quickening pressure among many in his hawkish government to attack Iran's disputed nuclear development sites.

Obama has been trying to avert an Israeli strike that could come this spring, and which the United States sees as dangerously premature. In their meeting on Monday, both U.S. and Israeli leaders put emphasis on necessary actions to prevent Iran from getting access to nuclear arms. But Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned that time for diplomacy was running short. He said, "We've waited for sanctions to work," he said. "None of us can afford to wait much longer. As prime minister of Israel, I will never let my people live in the shadow of annihilation."

U.S. officials believe that while Tehran can build a nuclear weapon, it has not yet decided to do so. They want to give sanctions time to pressure Iran to give up any military nuclear ambitions. Israel says the threat is too great to wait and many officials there are advocating a pre-emptive strike. Obama did not directly call on Israel to stand down, and made a point of saying Israel should always have the right to defend itself as it sees fit.

That was the part of Obama's speech to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee that Netanyahu said he liked best. Speaking to reporters in Canada ahead of his arrival in the U.S., Netanyahu made no reference to the sanctions and diplomacy Obama emphasized.

Iranian officials repeated their assertion during the trips that the November report, which has prompted tighter Western sanctions and raised speculation of Israeli air strikes, was based on forgeries, the agency said. What response the 35 nations currently on the board of governors make this week -- the meeting is open-ended and could last until Friday -- remains to be seen, however.

It is also unclear whether Russia and China -- traditionally more lenient on Iran than their Western UN Security Council partners -- will support any resolution passed by the board condemning Iran. In any case, beyond injecting what a second senior Western diplomat called "a deeper sense of urgency," it is unclear how useful such a resolution -- one in a long list -- would be in overcoming the deadlock.

The main hope of progress is talks "on another track" away from the IAEA, the diplomat said, namely a possible resumption of talks between Iran and the P5+1 powers -- the United States, China, Russia, Britain, France and Germany. Iran had expressed willingness to resume it.

Obama's only note of caution was against "too much loose talk of war", as he urged Israel to allow time for punitive sanctions to force Tehran into negotiations. However, he also left no doubt that the US was prepared to attack Iran if necessary.

Citing US President Theodore Roosevelt's maxim "speak softly and carry a big stick," Obama added menacingly: "Rest assured that the Iranian government will know of our resolve." Obama's comments come after months of intensifying pressure on Iran, which includes the imposition of an embargo on Iranian oil by the European Union and US sanctions aimed on the Iranian banking system aimed at blocking its oil exports. These measures, which are on top of a broad range of existing penalties, come into full force in July.

The overall statements and warnings reiterate the need for Iran's termination of the enrichment process to build trust for further steps in decreasing the three-decade long tensions between the Islamic Republic and western powers. Unlike his predecessor, President Obama's diplomacy-dominated policies towards Iran have seemingly hit major wins to the extent that Ahmadinejad's government is put in the most troublesome moments of his ruling period.

Creating a relatively high level of global consensus over Iran's nuclear program, levying the toughest economic sanctions and dropping off oil exports from Iran are of the most obvious effects caused by Obama's diplomatic struggles against Iran. Despite sayings that his harsh statements on a potential military strike on Iran was specifically for the AIPAC occasion, certain causative factors remain in Obama's policies to embark on a military response to put an end to Iran's controversial enrichment program.

Nasruddin Memati is the permanent writer of the Daily Outlook Afghanistan. He can be reached at outlookafghanistan@gmail.com

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