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posted on 12/13/2003 12:08:04 AM PST
(Until they are free, we shall all be Iranians!)
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We cannot acquiesce to a nuclear Iran
by Ephraim Sneh
13 December 2003
Media Monitors Network, The USA
"Within a few short years, this balance is liable to change dramatically. As early as 2004, Iran will apparently reach a "point of no return": that phase in its nuclear weapons development wherein it is no longer dependent on the external supply of technology and can construct a bomb using its own resources."
For decades the Middle East has been characterized by a reality of strategic parity. At one pole was the conventional military power of the Arab countries, and at the other was Israeli nuclear ambiguity or opacity. Israel has never revealed officially what it does at the Dimona nuclear research center. It allowed the Arabs to guess. Speculation deters.
But nuclear ambiguity was not created to counter Arab conventional power. In aggregate the Arab states can field a military coalition that comprises tanks, aircraft and artillery in quantities several-fold in excess of those of Israel. The supply of western arms to Arab countries has also reduced Israel's qualitative edge. To this we must add Israel's geographic dimensions, which render it an even more vulnerable state. All these have, as noted, been balanced by Israel's nuclear ambiguity.
Within a few short years, this balance is liable to change dramatically. As early as 2004, Iran will apparently reach a "point of no return": that phase in its nuclear weapons development wherein it is no longer dependent on the external supply of technology and can construct a bomb using its own resources. Iran already has operational missiles capable of delivering a nuclear bomb to a range of 1,300 kilometers; missiles with ranges of 2,000 and 5,000 kilometers are being developed.
The International Atomic Energy Agency recently confirmed that for 18 years Iran has been secretly developing nuclear weaponry. This program coincides with the strategy of the ayatollahs' regime as defined by Iranian Minister of Defense Ali Shamkhani in a speech on "Revolution Day" in August 1998: the Iranian strategic objective is to defend Muslim minorities and organizations anywhere on earth. In practical terms, Iranian nuclear missiles will enable the theocratic regime in Tehran to threaten any country that refuses to bow to its own domestic Islamic extremists. The immediate victims of Iranian nuclear blackmail will be the Gulf states, followed of course by Israel, and then by the rest of the world.
From Israel's standpoint, this means a daily existential threat. Most of Israel's economic and intellectual assets are located in a narrow coastal strip between Haifa Bay and Ashkelon. Two nuclear bombs could render Israel a burned-out third world state. Such a threat would seriously affect national morale, people's readiness to build their futures in the country, and the key decisions taken by Israeli governments. Even today the government of Israel is making decisions that it would previously never have considered, because tens of thousands of Iranian missiles and rockets are deployed in southern Lebanon, where they threaten a million and a quarter Israelis in the north of the country. Acquiescence in Lebanese pumping of the Hatzbani waters and de facto annexation of the Israeli village of Ghajar are examples of such decisions. Against this backdrop it is easy to imagine how an Iranian nuclear threat would affect decisionmaking in Jerusalem.
Clearly, too, an Iranian nuclear weapon will push Saudi Arabia to obtain similar weaponry to balance Iran's threat. The Saudi investment in the Pakistani nuclear project encompasses a Pakistani commitment to deliver to Saudi Arabia, upon the latter's request, a Pakistani nuclear warhead for mounting on the Chinese-made surface-to-surface missiles that the Saudis possess.
Only a campaign of massive and immediate political pressure, accompanied by tough economic sanctions and led by the United States, could delay the progress of the Iranian nuclear project. Iran's current strategy is thus to play for time, through deception and deceit.
If the US insists on not being deceived, and maintains pressure on the president of Russia to block the Russian assistance that is so necessary to the Iranians, then there is a chance that the pace of development will be slowed. Any delay is for the good. Israel must act at the diplomatic level to ensure that the US deploys all of its political and economic power in this regard.
If this does not happen, and Iran approaches the point of no return, Israel will confront several tough alternatives. Acquiescing in the possession of nuclear weapons by those who vow to erase Israel from the map is not one of those options.
Ephraim Sneh, a member of Knesset (Labor Party) and a former member of the Israeli Cabinet, is currently chairman of the Knesset Subcommittee on Defense Planning and Policy. http://usa.mediamonitors.net/content/view/full/2938/
posted on 12/13/2003 2:03:42 AM PST
by F14 Pilot
Iran reformists may boycott poll
By Jim Muir
BBC Tehran correspondent
The main reformist party in Iran has said it may boycott the country's general election if too many of its members are barred from standing.
The registration of candidates began on Saturday, but leaders of the Participation Front fear their candidates could be vetoed.
The unelected Guardian Council has previously disqualified candidates without explanation.
Widespread public disillusionment could result in a low turnout on 20 February.
Mohammad Reza Khatami leads the reformist Participation Front
The current parliament, or maglis, is dominated by reformists who have won all major national elections since 1997, but they have been able to achieve little in office because of obstruction by entrenched hardliners.
A poor turnout could result in a victory by default for the conservatives.
One of the pieces of legislation that the reformists tried to push through would have changed the way the election procedures work.
They wanted to curb the role of the Guardian Council, a highly conservative unelected body. But the bill was vetoed by that very same council, so the first hurdle for all of the would-be candidates is still a rigorous vetting by the council.
The first question hanging over this election is therefore how many of the reformist candidates will survive.
Hopefuls have a week to register and their eligibility should be decided within the following 10 days.
The Participation Front, the biggest of the reformist factions which currently dominate parliament, has said it will take part in the race, but it reserves the right to pull out if too many of its entrants are disqualified.
At present much of the betting is that the reformists will do poorly at the polls even if their candidates get that far.
They have got little to show in practical terms for their years in office, largely because their efforts to bring about change have been blocked by an entrenched hardline minority.
Many of the millions of Iranians who voted overwhelmingly for the reformists are now bitterly disillusioned. Some have said they will not bother to vote.
That is what happened in city council elections last February where the turnout in Tehran was less than 12% and the conservatives won by default.
But other considerations come into play in a national election. There are no foregone conclusions in Iranian politics.
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