Friday, December 2, 2011

The 'West' versus Tehran, the tension rises

On 28 November a huge explosion caused heavy damage at the above uranium enrichment facility near Isfahan. The Times of London quoted sources who suggested that Israel - maybe in cooperation with the Iranian opposition group Mujahddin e-Khalq - had been responsible. Two weeks earlier a massive explosion  at a missile base in Bidganeh not far from Tehran, killed general Hassan Moghaddam, the “father” of the nation’s missile program, together with 36 others (the death toll was revised twice). This blast reportedly caused heavy damage to Iran's rocket development program. Israel may have had a hand in this explosion as well. And in October 2010 18 people were killed in a blast at a Revolutionary Guards base in Khorramabad in the north-western Lorestan province. 

The possibility that Israel will attack Iran seems to become more probable. The former head of the Israeli secret service Mossad, Meir Dagan, has again warned against this possibility. Dagan said that he was very worried as this might lead to a regional war with many casualties, also in Israel itself.
Dagan reacted to statements by the Israeli Defense minister Ehud Barak from which he concluded that Barak is convinced that Israel has less than a year to carry out a military strike on Iran. Barak made his  statements in response to comments by U.S. Joints Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey., who on Wednesday said that he did not know whether Israel would alert the United States ahead of time if it decided to take military action against Iran. Dempsey also said that he was not sure that Israel shared the American view that sanctions and diplomatic pressure were the best means to deal with the nuclear threat by Iran.
Meanwhile the tension between the West and Iran is building up again as the European Union on Thursday tightened sanctions against Iran on Thursday in response to a report from the U.N. nuclear watchdog IAEA which suggested Iran has worked on designing an atom bomb. The EU ministers added 180 Iranian people and entities to a blacklist that imposes asset freezes and travel bans on those involved in the nuclear work. A decisions on a ban on oil imports will be taken later, probably at the next EU-meeting in January.. French President Nicolas Sarkozy proposed the embargo and won backing from Britain, but there was some fear that an import ban might raise global oil prices during hard economic times. EU member states import  450,000 barrels per day of Iranian oil, about 18 percent of the Iran's exports, much of which go to China and India.
The EU-sanctions come on the heels of a British decision to close the Iranian embassy in London and expel all of its staff, after its own embassy in Tehran was ransacked by Bassidj who posed as 'students'. Germany, the Netherlands and Italy have temporarily withdrawn their ambassadors from Tehran.
China and Russia have issued appeal to remain calm. Russia said "cranking up a spiral of tension," would undermine the chances Iran would cooperate with efforts to ensure it does not build nuclear arms.

The present tension would almost one make forget that the latest IAEA-report also has been met with strong criticism. China was one of the states that raised doubts about the credibility of the claim that Iran is working on a atom bomb. The IAEA still "lacks a smoking gun," Xinhua said in a commentary. "There are no witnesses or physical evidence to prove that Iran is making nuclear weapons."  
Russia called it a “compilation of well-known facts ... intentionally presented in a politicized manner.” Moscow’s foreign ministry even went as far as to liken it to the false intelligence on Saddam Hussein’s nuclear activities used by the United States and its allies to justify the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Also the 118 states strong Non-Aligned Movement sharply criticised the report.

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