Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Iran's nuclear crisis: A game with no winner

By Kash Kheirkhah

ABC News is reporting that Sources with knowledge of Iran's nuclear program say that a senior Iranian official notified the IAEA verbally over the weekend of its intention to introduce uranium hexafluoride gas, or UF6, into centrifuges at a facility in Natanz, 150 miles south of Tehran--the critical step in making material for nuclear weapons . ABC also reports that long-time Iran observers are taken aback by the boldness of Iran's move.

Given the latest western intelligence assessment of the Iran's weapons programmes and also the secret dealings of nuclear weapons know-how between Iran and Pakistan's A.Q. Khan, the father of Pakistan's nuclear weapons programme, reports that Iran has finally decided to get Uranium enrichment program in Natanz Facility underway come as no real surprise.

It is quite clear that Tehran has neither any fear of possible UN Security Council sanctions--since it sees them as no threat to its nuclear program-- nor any problem with a possible Israeli or US military strike--since mullahs believe such an attack will help rally the Iranian people behind them and give them a legitimate excuse and a golden opportunity to officially unleash a ferocious response upon Israel.

Unfortunately, Part of the Iranian ruling establishment is still under the illusion that Israel's fear of Iran's reprisal through its terror networks in the region and US current troubles in Iraq, in addition to the lack of a firm popular support for such an attack will deter the two countries from planning a military strategy against Iran . The other part, headed by Ahmadinejad and his mentors--fully realizing of the gravity of the threats posed by the US and Israel-- have stopped at nothing to lure them (Israel in particular) into making a move that will help materialize their doomsday prophecy.

The world is now faced with a historic dilemma: The US and its allies will most probably push for referring Iran to the Security Council in the next IAEA meeting in March, but will UN sanctions alone manage to stop Iran's nuclear program? Will military strike appear to be inevitable as some have suggested? Would a preemptive action delay Iran's nuclear program and eventually lead to the collapse of the present hostile regime as neocons in Washington hope?

But what if such an assault alienates the most pro-American nation in the Middle East and sets in motion a crisis of unprecedented proportions?

On the other hand, what if a trigger-happy leader whose core belief is "wiping enemies off the map" has his finger on nuclear weapons button?

Whatever the outcome of this unfortunate game, the Iranian people as always will pay the ultimate price and that's the way it has been for the past 27 years under the Islamic Republic regime.