Wednesday, September 29, 2004

The Iran problem

Caroline Glick lives in the future shadow of the Iranian nuclear umbrella -- she's in Israel. And she therefore doubts, with good reason, the strategic arms negotiation approach of the esteemed Henry Sokolski, who penned a Pentagon-funded report (PDF alert!) on restraining Iran. Here is an excerpt from Glick's critique:

Disturbingly, while Sokolski accuses officials presently working on the Iran issue of being "in denial" about the inevitability of Iran acquiring nuclear capabilities, he himself is in denial about the threat that a nuclear-armed Iran would pose. Sokolski enumerates three dangers that he views as likely to emanate from a nuclear Iran.

First, he says that Iranian nuclearization will act as a catalyst for neighboring countries to attempt to gain nuclear capabilities, citing Saudi Arabia, Syria, Egypt, Algeria and Turkey as likely candidates for adopting such a policy.

Second, the report argues that nuclear capabilities will embolden Iran to take action to reduce world oil shipments by attacking tankers in the Straits of Hormuz or Saudi and Iraqi oil installations and pipelines, leading to a dramatic increase in oil prices.

Finally, a nuclear armed Iran would feel free to increase its support for terror strikes against the US and its allies. Such strikes would lead to a diminishment of US influence in the Middle East and throughout the world.

In truth, all of the threats that Sokolski's report argues will arise if Iran becomes nuclear capable already exist. Egypt, Syria, Saudi Arabia and Algeria are all already seeking to gain nuclear capabilities, as the report itself acknowledges. As well, Iran has been linked to much of the terrorism against oil-related targets in Saudi Arabia over the past year-and-a-half, and to most of the sabotage attacks against Iraqi oil installations since the US-led invasion . . . Furthermore, Iran today is the world's primary sponsor of terrorism. Its links to al-Qaida have been copiously documented. Its primary sponsorship of Hizbullah, Islamic Jihad, Hamas and Fatah is also unquestionable.

Yet, while labeling already existing threats emanating from Iran as future ones, Sokolski ignores the main new threat that would exist were Iran to become equipped with nuclear bombs – the use of those bombs to destroy Israel or its neighbors and rivals in the Persian Gulf, or the transfer of nuclear weapons to a terrorist group deployed as Iran's proxy.

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