The nuclear card

Relations between Washington and Tehran are on a dangerous path. The abductions of Iranian diplomats in Iraq and the repeated threats from the Americans prompted warnings from Tehran that it will strike US interests around the world. Iran also test-fired a long-range missile. The crisis is largely the result of US policies. Despite its inflammatory rhetoric, Tehran has avoided any direct provocation. Nor has it played a part in al-Qaida-type terror – in fact it cooperated with the West against the Taliban. Yet this did not prevent Washington from including Iran in the «axis of evil.» These threats contributed to the moderates’ defeat in Iran and gave voice to those who argued that the only way to avert a US attack is by flashing the nuclear card. For that reason, any talks on Iran’s nuclear program cannot be productive. After all, Iranians recall that Western monitoring of Saddam’s Iraq translated mainly into acts of espionage that led to the eventual invasion. International concern over the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons and Tehran’s verbal provocations favor Washington. But that is not enough. The deadlock will not be removed by escalating threats, particularly as Russia and China are blocking any major sanctions. Washington’s imperial bent makes a strike all the more likely. But Iran is no Afghanistan or Iraq. It’s a country with national cohesion and wealthy energy resources – which is extremely crucial during these times. Despite mutual mistrust, the only realistic solution is a direct, multilateral negotiation. The case of North Korea could be used as an example. Tehran talks of nuclear power for peaceful ends but it’s clearly seeking to ensure international pledges of non-attack. A deal will only emerge if the US sheds its bankrupt ambition to remake the Middle East and downgrades the influence of the Israeli factor on foreign policy.