WILL THE U.S. STRIKE IRAN?

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Radio France International stated that US Defense Secretary Donald Ramsfeld recently stated that he does not rule out the possibility of using force against Iran in order to stop its nuclear program. The Pentagon chief said that the administration considers all possible alternatives, including a military operation.

It seems that the parliament will support the Pentagon’s plans. Republican Bill Frist said that the US Congress would support a military campaign against Iran if necessary. The US would use Israel as the beachhead. The US states that this country needs protection from Iran. Tel Aviv will receive $2.3 billion for military programs from the US this fiscal year. It’s possible that this money will be spent on military operations against Teheran.

In the meantime, Russian experts think that this scenario is the least possible. Leonid Ivashov, vice president of the Academy of geopolitical problems said, “I don’t believe that the US is prepared to strike Iran. A military operation is unlikely under current circumstances.” He thinks that a military campaign against Iran would stir up the Middle East.

Ivashov said, “We’ve seen the Islamic world’s reaction to the cartoons of Prophet Mohammed in a range of European newspapers. A strike on Iran would stir up Iraq and other nations.” Vyacheslav Nikonov, president of the Politics Foundation, and some military experts agree with him.

Iran does not believe in such prospects either. The Iranian secretary of the security council stated on February 6, that “people who think that the Iranian problem can be solved using force are mistaken. No one will venture to invade Iran.” He noted that the possibility of economic sanctions against Iran is very weak.

Why is Iran sure that a military operation is unlikely?

Firstly, Iran is one of the richest oil producers in the world. A military campaign would boost prices. In this regard, the Iranian economic minister warned the West, “Any sanctions will lead to serious consequences. Intervention in our policy would raise oil prices.” Oil prices went up by 2% after the US announced the possibility of using force against Iran on February 6. Specialists forecast a rise to $90-$110 a barrel if the situation aggravates. Will the US venture to do this? Probably not. Iran could destroy all oil wells and oil pipelines in the Middle East in case of military aggression.

Secondly, Iran can defend itself and strike back on US groups in the Persian Gulf and Israel. The Iranian Army is the strongest in the Middle East. It has rich combat experience (the Iran-Iraq war in 1980-1988). Iran tested the Shakhab-3 ballistic missile in September 2004. The range of the missile, which can carry a one-ton warhead, is 1,300 kilometers. A bit later Iran stated that the range of the missile is 2,000 kilometers.

Thirdly, an operation against Iran would unite all Muslims. Iran exerts influence on Shiites throughout the world. They would resist the US. It’s possible that Russia and China will support Iran. Teheran is one of the most reliable allies for Russia in the Southern Caucasus and Middle East. Moscow will make every effort to rearm the Iranian Army. It’s not ruled out that Moscow will make a range of diplomatic moves. Iran is an observer in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, and it’s not ruled out that Moscow will advise it to join the Organization.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov recently stated that nothing must threaten Iran in connection with its nuclear program.

He said, “It’s very important not to threaten Iran.” Lavrov noted that Russia’s position boils down to a dialogue and diplomatic moves. China agrees that negotiations are the most reasonable way to solve the nuclear problem in Iran.

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