Sunday, November 27, 2011

Iran starts breakdown of diplomatic relations with U.K.. what's next?

By Paul Koring, Globe and Mail, November 8, 2011
Credible new evidence suggests Iran is secretly building nuclear warheads, the United Nations nuclear agency says, laying out the most damning case yet that Tehran is seeking to join the tiny clutch of nuclear-armed powers.

“Credible … information indicates that Iran has carried out activities relevant to the development of a nuclear explosive device,” the International Atomic Energy Agency reported Tuesday. It was a powerful indictment of Tehran’s nuclear program that its Islamic rulers have long claimed was solely for peaceful, power-generating purposes.
Instead, the IAEA found evidence of weapons-related research entirely incompatible with power generation. Efforts to create computer models of nuclear blasts, to build the powerful detonators needed to initiate a nuclear explosions and vital miniaturization efforts needed to fit a nuclear warhead inside a missile nosecone were all uncovered.

The report, based on intelligence fed to the agency by member states, supports long-held suspicions that Tehran has a clandestine nuclear-weapons program.
The long-awaited report triggered a firestorm of speculation about pre-emptive Israeli or American strikes to destroy Iran’s nuclear-weapons’ program before it was too late.
By George Jahn, Associated Press, in Globe and Mail, November 18, 2011
The U.S. and its Western allies bluntly accused Iran on Friday of deceiving the world by trying to hide work on nuclear arms, as the U.N. atomic agency passed a new resolution criticizing Tehran's nuclear defiance.

Iran shot back that the West's allegations were based on fabricated American, Israeli, British and French intelligence fed to the International Atomic Energy Agency to try and discredit the Islamic Republic.
Reflecting its bitterness, Iran's chief IAEA delegate withdrew an invitation to U.N. atomic agency experts to visit Tehran and discuss nuclear concerns.

He also announced Tehran was boycotting a meeting next week to explore the possibilities of a Mideast nuclear-free zone that will be attended by Israel and all Arab nations, accusing IAEA chief Yukiya Amano of bias for not focusing on Israel's undeclared nuclear arsenal.
The unusually tough exchanges were bound to further raise international tensions over Iran's nuclear activities — even though the Western statements emphasized that the preferred solution was through diplomacy.
France warned Iran to defuse world fears that it is working on nuclear weapons or face “unprecedented” sanctions, while Washington dismissed “the hollowness” of Iranian claims, asserting that Iran must acknowledge its secret weapons development work. Britain, too, urged Iran to “address the grave concerns of the international community about its nuclear program.”
By Associated Press, in Globe and Mail, november 27, 2011
Iran’s parliament has approved a bill to reduce Tehran’s diplomatic relations with London and withdraw the country’s ambassador to Britain.

In a session of parliament broadcast on state radio, lawmakers voted Sunday to require Iran’s foreign ministry to reduce diplomatic relations to the level of charge d’affaires within two weeks. The bill needs ratification by a constitutional watchdog to become a law
he decision is seen as a reaction to support offered by London last week to new American efforts to pressure Tehran to halt its alleged nuclear weapons program.

Iran says its nuclear activities have aimed at peaceful purposes like power generation. Iran’s parliament instructs government to reduce diplomatic relations with Britain
Behind the headlines of the debt/deficit crisis that looms over the economies of western countries, including Greece, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Ireland, and the United States, this not-so-little drama is playing out. IAEA  report confirming evidence of nuclear weapons pursuit, encreased sanctions, virtually open accusation by the U.S., France, Germany and Great Britain, and now reduction of diplomatic relations between Iran and the U.K. if their parliament votes to confirm the measure. And we have not even mentioned Israel's public statements that this issue could trigger an arms race in the Middle East.
The saber-rattling in Canada, whose government clearly supports the tightening of sanctions around Iran, is, conceivably, an new voice in this potentially explosive situation in Iran. Canada's former ambassador to the UN, Paul Hornbecker, has strongly urged the Canadian goverment to exercise caution before deciding to attack Iran, for a host of reasons. (See, November 22, 2011)
Could it be that the debt/deficit crisis is serving as a deterrent to a decision to attack Iran by the western powers of U.S., UK, France, Germany (and potentially Canada)? If there is some potential to that dynamic, perhaps we should be a little less concerned about the negatives of the financial crisis. On the other hand, political leaders are expected (by their voters and themselves) to be able to "walk and chew gum" at the same time. Today that cliche' is stretched to include such a complex and comprehensive list of issues, that one needs to be a virtual champion juggler with a staff of experts just to grasp the myriad nuances of each file.
If Iran proves to be the proverbial "immoveable object" in the face of an "irresistible force" (the western countries comitted to a cessation of Iran's pursuit of nuclear weapons), the world could be watching the prelude to another "military intervention" in the Middle East. Models like the "containment" model deployed against the former Soviet Union seem to have less resonance in the Iran context. Yet even the Russia of today is making noises about rearming and rattling sabres against the west. Could they be countering on behalf of and in support of Iran?
By Campbell Clark, Globe and Mail, November 23, 2011
On Monday, Stephen Harper’s  (Canadian) government was part of a small group of “like-minded” countries, with Britain and the United States, that led a new round of sanctions against Iran, and the European Union will soon follow.

But the trick is also swaying some of the unlike-minded. The goal of sanctions is to pressure Iran to make its nuclear activities more transparent, so it can’t develop weapons in secret. But Russia called the IAEA report propaganda. Though they, and China, have blocked UN sanctions, there’s value in diplomatic efforts to move them, and others – even a little – toward rhetorical statements that Iran is offside, and to prod them to show results from the softer approach they advocate.
There’s new war talk, with short deadlines. Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak said Iran’s nuclear-weapons program would be unstoppable within a year. It again raises the prospect Israel will strike militarily, possibly drawing in the United States
Mr. Harper’s government let out some signals it would be supportive if Israel and the United States eventually felt the need to strike. Given Ottawa’s vocal criticism of Tehran, staunch support of Israel, and close alliance with Washington, it’s hard to imagine any other stand. An attack is not imminent, Defence Minister Peter MacKay indicated, but not off the table.
Iran has already responded by suggesting oil could be used to retaliate. Iranian parliamentarian Mehdi Mehdizadeh suggested the country would shut the Straits of Hormuz, through which 40 per cent of the world’s oil passes.
Even if Iran can’t pull that off, military action brings high risk. Iran has a military machine, and terror clients such as Hezbollah that could strike elsewhere. An attack would cut Iran’s oil exports, forcing big customers such as China and India to buy elsewhere. The spike in prices could further shake the global economy.
But there is a “window of opportunity,” according to Andrea Berger, a nuclear-security analyst with the Royal United Services Institute in London. The IAEA report detailed Iran’s nuclear-weapons efforts before 2003, but the picture afterward is sketchier. Iran has enriched uranium to 20 per cent, a major hurdle before reaching weapons grade at 90 per cent, but there are inspectors at known nuclear sites. It didn’t show Iran is racing toward nuclear weapons, but on “a steady crawl” toward the ability to build them, she argues.
So it seems unlikely to contain the repercussions of any military strike against Iran, although pressure seems to be mounting both among the taditional western alliance of U.S., UK, France, Germany (+Canada) and in Israel itself, and the public signs of warning are extremely difficult to ignore or to dismiss.
Iran's core interest may well be to use scare tactics, get the west to overract and commit another military and diplomatic faux pas (as in Iraq) and then unleash the terror threats of Hezbollah, Hamas as well as the military of Syria, for instance in a chaos of unleasehed power from which it might caluculate it could emerge as the dominant player in the region, with nuclear war, with Israel diminished and the hands of the "west" covered in Islamic is a horrific scenario to paint and not one that anyone would welcome, including the Iranians likely.
However, once unleased, these "dogs of war" will not easily be silenced, no matter which country seems to have risen to some phoney form of ascendancy.
And, one dares not think of the impact of such a melee on the world's economy.

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