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Is Iran leading Israel into a trap?

A thought occurred to me last night as I watched BBC Diplomatic Correspondent, Mark Urban, on Newsnight.  And it was that perhaps Iran is egging Israel on to attack her nuclear facilities? Urban’s report focussed on Iran’s big nuclear build out, and the fact that much of the new processing plant is now buried underground, making it even more difficult to destroy. He also suggested that Israel, on her own, would have to use everything at her disposal in one all out air strike attack on Iran, because it seems unlikely that the country could stage another.

Of course President Ahmadinejad of Iran continues with the fiction that his country is only interested in the peaceful use of nuclear power, which is quite useful for all of those countries, including Russia, who have continued to supply Iran with the technology and material she needs. But then this is a time honoured ritual.  The West was supplying nuclear know how to the late Shah of Iran at the back end of the 1970s.

Most Western commentators reflect an accepted wisdom that there is a 50% chance that Israel will strike Iran, with devastating consequences for the region, not least Israel. They usually fail to report that Israel is herself a nuclear weapon state, which unlike Iran, has not signed the Non Proliferation Treaty. So no UN inspectors have ever set foot in an Israeli nuclear facility – nor are they likely too. What the same commentators don’t seem to grasp, is that if Israel strikes Iran, she will play directly into the hands of the unpleasant hardliners who have shown through their actions against their own people, that they have no intention of ever surrendering power voluntarily.

President Ahmadinejad has further infuriated the Israelis this week with a provocative visit to Hezbollah controlled areas in Southern Lebanon – a stone’s throw from Israel’s northern border. And here is the rub. Should Israel attack Iran’s nuclear facilities, the Iranians will not necessarily unleash some of their missiles, which could in theory pierce Israeli defences, they will declare war on Israel through their surrogates in Southern Lebanon and Gaza. It will be bloody, unrelenting and long.

There is now a desperate urgency for a final peace deal in the Middle East between Israel and the Palestinians, not least to isolate Iran.  What the Middle East so desperately needs now are cool heads and focussed minds. It needs the real spirit of compromise. And in this too, Israel may have to face up to the inevitable – that it cannot destroy Iran’s nuclear capability, and it will have to learn to live in peace with all of its neighbours – and they with it.

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  1. David Sheard says:

    How can we ever critisize any country for wanting nuclear weapons, as long as we keep ours?

  2. Tim Pendry says:

    ” President Ahmadinejad of Iran continues with the fiction that his country is only interested in the peaceful use of nuclear power ” – I wonder what your evidence is for your statement that it is a ‘fiction’.

    It may be true that he has some secret plan but it may equally be true that Iran is not only genuinely interested only in peaceful use but believes sincerely in its sovereign right not to answer to the so-called ‘international community’ on what it might deem to be a domestic matter.

    I don’t know which is true either but you may be unintentionally doing the war-mongers work for them on the Left by suggesting one side of the balance rather than the other. I do know that the propaganda efforts against Iran are well-funded, planned and sustained – and not to be trusted. And I am no friend of Islamism …

    I suspect we underestimate the irritation felt by many non-Western countries at the arrogance of the ‘West’ in dictating the terms of morals and values in international affairs and, unless you have received hard information more reliable than the crud provided by the West in advance of its attack on Iraq, I suggest you make no assumptions about Iranian intent.

  3. Mark Seddon says:

    Eh up, Tim,

    This was originally written for a New York readership, so you’ll understand where I’m coming from.
    Given the hypocrisy surrounding nuclear weapon states such as Israel, Pakistan – and the UK, I agree, there is no point grandstanding against Iran’s plans. (Incidentally, without NPT inspections, I don’t have evidence that Israel has nuclear weapons, but I’m pretty sure she does). Is Iran intent on having nuclear weapons? Probably. Is there part of her political and military establishment that wouldn’t be too unhappy if Israel launches a strike that is doomed to fail? Probably.
    If the Israelis, backed by some US hawks are stupid enough to launch an attack – I guess we will be marching together (again).

  4. Marcus Keller says:

    My understanding was that Israel became a nuclear power before the nuclear non proliferation agreement and therefore was never compelled to sign!

    Iran seems to be vying to become the leader in the middle east. To that end Iran has directly and continues to feed the conflict with a supply of sophisticated weapons to Hezbollah & Hamas.

    Problematically President Ahmadinejad speech at the the UN blaming the US for the 911 attack on the twin towers and his visit to Lebanon seems to deliberately provocative!!!

    Just exactly what are Iran’s current intentions? A premptive strike against Iran’s nuclear plants might be feasible and Israel certainly hit similar plants of Saddams in Iraq. But this would not neccessarily reduce the risks Iran presents to the region or prevent nuclear proliferation to terrorists.

    Iran is a major threat to the balance of power in the Middle East and must be the top foreign policy issue. Talking to Iran would be helpful and in the past Jack Straw was well received there!!! One thing is sure Iran is a real issue that Cameron and Obama need to manage with diplomacy.

  5. Admiral Ackbar says:


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