Is An Attack on Iran Imminent?

While many countries of the world are investing more in research and development of cheaper and cleaner nuclear energy, the nuclear research programme of Iran has drawn ire of the West since a decade. Although Iran has repeatedly claimed that its ongoing nuclear research program is for peaceful uses and its purpose is merely to become self reliant in nuclear energy, the western countries, particularly the United States and Israel are not ready to accept this argument.

The United Nations agency IAEA has several times expressed its concern over the Iranian nuclear programme. In its latest report, the IAEA has said that it has “credible” information that “Iran has carried out activities relevant to the development of a nuclear explosive device.” Recently, a fresh resolution was passed by the IAEA calling on Iran to clear the doubts and concerns of the international community regarding its nuclear program.

US Iran
US Iran

On the other hand, Iran has called this report completely “non-professional, unbalanced and politically motivated” and prepared under “pressure” from the United States. Iran says the IAEA serves as America’s puppet. In the wake of this report, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has once again insisted that Iran’s programme is for peaceful purposes and it will never stop it.

But according to the IAEA report, the research carried out in 2008-09 is a matter of serious worry. It has said that research pertains to such devices which have no other use than to detonate a nuclear bomb. In response to this report, the US has said that Tehran has repeatedly failed to convince the international community that its nuclear programme is for non-military purpose. Amidst these, speculation of possible military action against Iran has caught up. While the US and Israel seem to favour such an option; Russia and China, on the contrary, have vowed to oppose tooth and nail any sanction against Iran in the UNSC, let alone military strike. Even the US administration is apparently divided over the use of force on Iran. The US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta has warned that attacking Iran may have “a serious impact in the region and on U.S. forces in the region.” Panetta opined that bombing Iran would merely “delay that (nuclear) program or derail it up to two or three years at most.”

In response to such discussions in the Western media, Iran has issued a stern warning. Parvez Sarwari, the chief of Security Commission of Iranian Parliament, said that Iran has the courage to turn Israel into a heap of dirt, in case any such mistake is committed by Israel. He said that he is eager for the moment when Israel provokes Iran to demonstrate its power and technology. This echoes Ahmadinejad’s view aired some years ago where he said that Israel must be “wiped off the map.” Such kind of threatening certainly gives strength to American and Israeli fears that Iran is actively involved in creating nuclear weapons.

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To understand this speculation of war, we need to consider two other factors than the nuclear programme of Iran i.e. the disputed Presidential elections in Iran in 2009 and the ongoing anti-regime uprisings in the Arab world, better known as Arab Spring. These two things, in addition to Iranian nukes, have helped create such a negative atmosphere against Iran. Just after the Presidential elections in 2009, the protesters, led by the loser candidate Mir Hussein Mousavi, occupied Azadi Square in Tehran, accused the government of large scale poll rigging in the elections and demanded re-election. The government suppressed that movement by the use of force. Encouraged by the Arab Spring, once again the protesters took to streets in large numbers. This time again the movement was brutally crushed.

Iranian government claims that these protests are getting tacit support from the US and Israel, hence need to be suppressed. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also complements this assertion by saying that Arab Spring could “turn into an Iranian winter.” At the same time, pro-Nejad Iranian lawmakers have called for hanging of those opposition leaders who are involved in “conspiracy” against the government. This kind of internal conflict presents similar kind of excuses to the enemy countries, which were evident in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya in recent years. In other words, wherever the US intervened militarily, it had the support of a large section of local people.

Though Iran can have a sigh of relief since the US will hesitate from acting against it, keeping in mind the ‘intolerable’ losses it had to suffer from military intervention in Afghanistan and Iraq. In case Washington decides to land on Iranian soil, the resistance to its forces will be much stronger and violent than it had experienced in Iraq and Afghanistan. Apart from this, the current financial position of the US won’t allow it to take on any new military adventure. Hence, the shadow of war on Iran is not so real. It may be a mere pressure tactic being used by the US and Israel to make Iran fall in line.

Tanveer Jafri
Tanveer Jafri is an award-winning journalist and peace activist, based in India, covering communal harmony and social activities.