Feb 05 2012
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Daily warnings on Iran by western and Israeli officials indicate that the world may be coming closer to yet another unwanted war in the Middle East.
This time the U.S. Defence Secretary Leon Panetta has been quoted as saying that Israel could attack Iran in April, May or June, just before Iran - allegedly - will enter a "zone of immunity" in its quest to build a nuclear bomb.
The Panetta musing coincides with a report from the Canadian Security Intelligence Service that labels the Iranian nuclear weapons programs one of "the most significant, urgent threats of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) proliferation today."
"The fact that Iran has engaged in activities related to nuclear weaponization suggests that it is, at a minimum, seeking to acquire the capacity to produce such a weapon," the report noted.
Haven't we heard this before? In any case, the vultures are circling.
The Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS) says that the international community should not be comforted by stifling sanctions since Iran has already overcome many obstacles on the path to finally acquiring nuclear weapons.
"Whether or not Iran will ultimately build nuclear weapons depends greatly on what is done now. Given Iran's steady, albeit slow progress, downplaying the threat can end up serving to undermine the development of non-military methods to keep Iran from building nuclear weapons," the report notes.
There is still time for the international community to find a peaceful resolution to the Iranian nuclear issue, say ISIS authors David Albright, Paul Brannan, Andrea Stricker and Andrew Ortendahl in a report.
As Iran's timeline to nuclear weapons decreases, however, there is an inversely increased urgency to find this resolution. It is unwise to measure this level of urgency by relying on the fact that there remains no evidence that Iran has taken the last step to actually construct a nuclear explosive device. Eschewing strengthened non-military options in the form of pressure and sanctions ignores this shortening timeline and makes it more likely that Iran will progress in its hedging strategy, augmenting the chance for armed conflict, the authors write.
The sudden urgency to act against Iran is odd, given that for the first time in decades, the new layers of sanctions imposed on the Iranian regime appear to be working. The Iranian riyal has plummeted and Tehran is finding it harder and harder to export its prized oil exports to customers such as South Korea and India.
In addition, the EU sanctions which will come into force by June 1, which will be another major loss for Tehran. Plenty of damage is already been done to the Iranian regime
But at the moment, sabre-rattling is at its height with neither party willing to cool tensions.
"The Zionist regime is a real cancerous tumor that should be cut and will be cut, God Willing," responded Ayatollah Syed Ali Khamenei, Supreme Leader of Islamic Revolution.
"U.S. threats are sign of its failure in the face of Islamic Republic's discourse and indicates that they cannot create a logical response to Iran's reasoning," the Leader stated defiantly. "That's why it (the U.S.) resorts to force; they do not have any logic except using force and have no way but bloodshed to go forward."
IRAN: DIDN'T INTERFERE IN BAHRAIN
While the Ayataollah claimed responsibility for 'interfering' in the Palestinian and Lebanese struggle, he underlined that the regime did not contribute to Bahrain's unrest.
"The claim by the ruler of the Bahrain island about our interference in that country is incorrect because if we had interfered in Bahrain's issue, another story would have happened (in there)," he said in what could be seen an olive branch to the Gulf states laced with a stinging rebuke.
While the Chinese and Russians are looking to defuse the tension, at the moment U.S. President Barack Obama is unable to strike a conciliatory tone especially as pro-Israeli Republican candidates are breathing down his neck in an election year.
Dr. Kent Moore, a seasoned energy experts paints the picture:
A weapon is of little value unless it can be controlled and delivered. The logistical and infrastructure considerations need to be in place first. Yet with such an inevitable conclusion staring them in the face, the West has decided to embark on a risky path... The target here is not the nuclear project at all (over which there is less and less outside control). Instead, it has become about creating massive domestic instability to bring down a regime.
OIL TO RISE $30-40 "WITHIN HOURS"
However, as the brinksmanship intensifies, so will the price of crude oil. Tehran, in this dangerous game of international chicken, really only has one card to play - the Strait of Hormuz. Dr. Moore expects the price to jump within hours.
"If Iran closes the Strait of Hormuz, crude oil prices will pop by between $30 and $40 a barrel... within hours," says Dr. Moore. "Despite the excess storage capacity in both the U.S. and European markets and the contracts already at sea, oil traders set prices on a futures curve."
Expect Saudi Arabia to jump in, even though Iran has warned the Gulf states from making up for lack of Iranian oil in the market.
Saudi Arabia has flooded the oil market for geopolitical reason in the past, and could arguably do so again. The Kingdom has made it clear that it aims to draw the line against Iranian expansion - thus the Saudi Arabia's ability to wage a price war is a major tool to diminish Iranian power and position as a political rival to the Kingdom.
While an Israeli-Iran war is not inevitable - we have come close to it many times before - the two rivals seem to be hurtling towards a collision course.
As Robert Fisk, the legendary journalist and Middle East analyst wrote in a recent column: "An attack on Tehran would be madness. So don't rule it out."
© Copyright Zawya. All Rights Reserved.
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