Israel's Threats Against Iran Backfiring
April 27, 2012
Continuing the gunboat diplomacy against Iran, Israel’s military chief, Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz hinted that other countries are prepared to strike Iran’s nuclear sites to prevent Tehran from getting nuclear weapons. President Barack Obama has already committed to stopping Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. While Iran insists that its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes, namely, generating electricity and making medical isotopes, U.S. and Israeli intelligence see weaponizing. Iran’s Supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khaemenei and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad have refused to permit U.N. weapons inspectors inside Iran’s nuclear facilities. Recently discovered underground nuclear site in the ancient city of Qom leaves Western powers convinced that Iran seeks to build atomic weapons. Since meeting in Istanbul April 17, there’s no indication Iran will compromise its nuclear program.
Istanbul’s meeting was supposed to be Iran’s last chance to halt its nuclear enrichment program or face either new economic sanctions or possibly military action. Hinting that they’re willing to compromise won’t satisfy the U.S., Russia, China, Great Britain, France and Germany. Returning U.N. inspectors to Iran’s nuclear sites would be the necessary first step in proving they’re serious about halting their nuclear program. “The military forces is ready,” said Gantz. “Not only our forces, but other forces as well,” signaling possible collective military action against the Persian state. Iran’s nuclear program was developed with U.S. help during the Shah’s regime starting in the Eisenhower administration through the Carter years. Things came to a screeching halt after Ayatollah Khomenei’s the Islamic Revolution sacked the U.S. embassy, holding 66 U.S. citizens hostage for 465 days.
Gantz’s recent threats only stiffen Iranian resistance to halting its nuclear program. Khamenei and Ahmadinejad have staked their prestige on Iran’s nuclear program as a source of national pride. They’ve declared Iran a “nuclear state” on several occasions, referring not to producing power but to generating A-bombs. “We hope that there will be no necessity to use this force, but we are absolutely sure of its existence,” said Gantz, though denying he was speaking for any other country. Public statements like these send Tehran into emergency alert, making diplomacy next to impossible. Saber-rattling with Iran backfires, prompting Iran’s military chief Gen. Reza Pourdastan to warn any hostile power that Iran will deal with any military threat in the Persian Gulf. Already at loggerheads with the United Arab Emirates over Abu Musa Island, tensions are already feverish.
Known for brinkmanship, Tehran has yet to blink when it comes to its nuclear program. Faced with crippling economic sanctions, Iran still has the backing in the U.N. Security Council of Russia and China. Both strong trading partners with Iran, they oppose any military intervention to stop Iran’s nuclear program. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton has repeatedly warned Tehran that the “window for diplomacy” is closing. Israeli officials, led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, have been threatening Iran with military strikes against nuclear sites for two years. Iran’s response has been to threaten back with counterattacks. No one really knows Iran’s air force or missile capability in the Gulf. They’ve warned the U.S. about bringing aircraft carriers through the Persian Gulf, threatening to close the narrow Strait of Hormuz. So far, Obama has not backed down.
Gantz’s calculated statements about foreign militaries ready to strike Iran don’t name specific countries but obviously include the U.S. Israel knows that nothing is likely to happen, short of an attack on the U.S., before November’s presidential elections. Barack has discouraged Israel from acting unilaterally, preferring to let the current U.N. sanctions to push Tehran to the bargaining table. Despite Gantz’s statements, it’s doubtful that any U.N. Security Council member, including the U.S., is ready to strike Iran. “We are not alone on this issue,” said 88-year-old Israeli President Shimon Peres, stopping short of naming names. Peres has no clout inside the Israeli government and doesn’t speak for the Netanyahu administration. Netanyahu sees Iran’s nuclear program as an “existential threat,” despite having no proof that Iran has the resources or know-how to build nuclear weapons.
If there’s any chance of resolving Iran nuclear issue peacefully, Israeli officials need to scale back the incendiary rhetoric. Tehran predictably responds defensively, threatening retaliation and causing world oil prices to jump upward. With Obama ending the Iraq War Dec. 14, 2011 and striking a deal with Afghanistan April 22 to begin to phase-out by 2014, there’s no public support for war with Iran. Commenting on the current sanctions regime, they “haven’t rolled back the Iranian program or even stopped it by one iota,” said Netanyahu, hinting at military action. Saber-rattling by Netanyahu or his generals pushes Iran away from the table and closer to military confrontation. U.S. and Israeli officials know that military action against Iran won’t necessarily stop Iran from pursuing A-bombs without regime change—something with draconic consequences for the region and world.
About the AuthorJohn M. Curtis writes politically neutral commentary analyzing spin in national and global news. He’s editor of OnlineColumnist.com and author of Dodging The Bullet and Operation Charisma
Home || Articles || Books || The Teflon Report || Reactions || About Discobolos
Discobolos Consulting Services, Inc.