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Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Persian Mirage – 3

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has now been – rightly or wrongly – confirmed as President of Iran. There are still some in the UK, and no doubt the USA, who want their respective Governments to protest the recent election results, and who keep urging resistance to the régime in Tehran, apparently oblivious to the inconvenient fact that what happens in Iran is, ultimately, down to the Iranian citizenry.

But, with the discovery of another nuclear facility near Qom, those picturing Iran as some kind of Middle Eastern loose cannon about to obtain a nuclear arsenal are now shouting louder than ever. As ever, the Guardian has gone into some detail about the newly discovered plant. The suggestion appears to be that it would be possible to produce enough enriched uranium there to produce nuclear warheads, but not to sustain a power plant.

So no doubt there will be talk of sanctions. There will also be sabre rattling by the Israelis, and the implicit threat that they will act unilaterally against Iran if they perceive that others are not acting, or not acting as they would wish. But no action has yet been taken by the Government in Jerusalem, as they did against Iraq. This is not a surprise.

For starters, the Iranians might shoot back: they certainly possess missiles with sufficient range to reach Israel. Moreover, the nuclear power that never has to submit to inspection, despite being in the Middle East, is that controlled by Israel: not for nothing was Mordechai Vanunu banged up in solitary for so many years.

Ultimately, the restraining hand on Israel is, as ever, the USA. Washington needs to keep restraining: if the shooting starts, it could get nasty. A peaceful outcome looks to be even more of a mirage.

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