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The Iron Fist – the best path to peace

“Zionist officials cannot be called humans, they are like animals, some of them”….“The Israeli regime is doomed to failure and annihilation.” Ayatollah Khamenei 20/11/2013

 The Geneva negotiations between the so-called P5+1 powers and Iran are a mere “facade,” because the terms of a deal on Iran’s nuclear program have been negotiated in talks between a top adviser to President Barack Obama and a leading Iranian nuclear official that have continued in secret for more than a year, Israeli television reported Sunday.

 America and Israel are in uncharted waters. Just eight months since President Barack Obama visited Israel on the first foreign trip of his second term in an attempt to patch things up with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the two close allies are at odds once again—this time over a proposed “first step” nuclear agreement with Iran. Washington and Jerusalem eventually will find a way to move beyond this titanic clash, but no kiss-and-make-up. effort can erase the scars that will be left behind.

Press reports make it clear that the interim deal will include Iran complying with none of its key international legal obligations as spelled out in applicable Security Council resolutions. These resolutions explicitly require Iran to verifiably: “suspend” all enrichment-related activities; “suspend” work on “all heavy water-related projects” including the construction of the Arak heavy water reactor; “provide such access and cooperation as the IAEA requests” to resolve IAEA concerns about Iran’s research into nuclear weapons design; and “not undertake any activity related to ballistic missiles capable of delivering nuclear weapons.”

 So is the USA throwing Israel under the bus while pretending to be her friend and ally? Read the articles above, but here are my thoughts.

 From Israel’s perspective:

Iran is a relatively near neighbour of 80 million people with vast potential reserves of wealth in the form of enormous oil deposits and a moderately sophisticated scientific infrastructure. Its predatory agendas are supplemented by help from other rogue states like North Korea and allies like Russia. It is ruled by a reactionary, anti-semitic and poisonously anti-Zionist theocracy which denies the Holocaust, calls Jews and Zionists vermin, cancers and rabid dogs destined for oblivion and oppresses its own people.

As its contribution to the demise of Israel it has been engaged in preparations for the creation of nuclear weapons and the systems required to deliver them. This has included the stockpiling of quantities of enriched uranium, quantitatively and qualitatively well beyond the requirements of civilian use, the installation of huge numbers of centrifuges necessary for the rapid further enrichment of uranium to levels required for a nuclear bomb, the construction of heavily fortified and secret enrichment and weaponisation facilities only now being discovered, and the development or purchase of missile systems capable of delivering warheads to Israel and well beyond. Iran has sponsored proxy armies and terrorist groups globally and especially regionally to advance its agendas. And this is only what we know.

So what’s not to be scared of?

Certainly Israel with about 8 million, tightly-packed people well within missile and terrorist range has every right to be deeply concerned. So have other Sunni (Arab) states, none of them especially appetising customers themselves, fearful of Iranian hegemony and their own vulnerabilities. And, to a lesser extent, so does the rest of the world which, despite the appetising market and vast energy resources of Iran, do not need a renewal of conflict which threatens further instability and violence in the energy-centre of the world (for now at any rate), with the potential to engulf themselves in renewed terror or even outright war.

None of this is a secret any longer. While a few leftist diehards and Iranian mercenaries in the media and academia try to pretend all this evidence is smoke and mirrors, everyone understands quite clearly what Iran is up to. The reasons are confusing: paranoia, age-old anti-semitism coupled with new anti-Zionism, braggadocio and national ambition, religious fervour, diversion from internal strife and discontent. Probably all of these have a role to play.

Faced with this and the prospect of a nuclear Iran either willing to go for the doomsday scenario of actually launching an overt nuclear strike or, much more likely, using its nuclear capabilities to blackmail its opponents, to embolden its allies and proxies against Israel and intimate its others others in the region, Israel was faced with a genuine existential threat – applicable to a lesser extent to the Saudis and other Middle East states. Of course, nuclear warfare need not be overt: proxy terror and criminal groups could be used to initiate a nuclear event anywhere with an element of plausible deniability. Even simple incompetence or personal greed or insanity, none of which is in short supply in the Middle East, could have the same outcome.

Given these frightening and daunting prospects, genuinely harsh sanctions offered the best option to outright military action since on-going sabotage was only temporarily effective. Hence the vital importance of the P5+1 deal being struck. Understandably and legitimately Israel would welcome anything that would weaken Iran and diminish its potential for mischief in the region. But at a minimum for Israel (and some of her new-found and probably temporary allies), eliminating the potential for Iran to threaten the region with nuclear weapons is an imperative.

It is not important to go into the technical details here since the principle is quite clear. Only extremely painful sanctions which threatened the very stability of Iran, brought her to the table. These should be essentially maintained until the demands for

  •  Major reductions in the stockpile of 3.5% + uranium are complied with
  • All 20% + uranium is transferred out of the country or converted to forms incapable of rapid purification
  • The stock of centrifuges are substantially reduced
  • All facilities concerned with uranium enrichment or weaponisation disclosed and full international inspection freely permitted
  • Virulent and threatening rhetoric from Iranian leaders cease forthwith

Until this is agreed to and implemented, no relaxation of sanctions should be contemplated since this would simply be the thin edge of the wedge en route to their complete negation. Unless within 6 months at the most all the above provisions has been fully complied with, further even more stringent sanctions would automatically be instituted or military action taken. In fact any suggestion that Iran is continuing to move towards weaponisation should be considered a threshold for military intervention.

Such an unambiguous stance would greatly allay Israel’s fears and those of her allies, reverse the perception of a USA in full retreat from its position as defender-in-chief of Western values and interests, and of course as the major ally of Israel. It would also usher in a more realistic assessment of limits by rogue states and non-state entities in the Middle East and elsewhere.

None of this precludes a rapprochement with a reformed Iran in the future; indeed it would hasten it. An unambiguous iron fist together with genuine diplomatic openness to reform and cooperation is the best route to peaceful co-existence while vacillation and weakness is an open door to instability and conflict.

So why is the USA reneging on its responsibilities as a mature superpower? That can be for a future post. In the meantime comment and thoughts on this formulation would be welcome.

Mike Berger


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