Nuclear games US, Iran play

If the United States and the rest of the West remain obsessed with Iran, the Islamic republic offers them enough excuses to do so. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad must really love being in the news for all the wrong reasons.

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Published: Mon 19 Apr 2010, 11:10 PM

Last updated: Mon 6 Apr 2015, 1:34 PM

Last week when US President Barack Obama was hosting 47 world leaders in Washington as part of his unprecedented summit on nuclear disarmament, Iran’s leader was preparing for his own brainstorming in Teheran. While Obama’s nuclear summit ended up being largely preoccupied with Iran, the nuclear disarmament conference in Teheran has been all about Iran’s right — and that of other countries — to develop peaceful nuclear technology.

Interestingly, three Arab countries attending the conference have come out in support of Iran’s nuclear programme. While Syria’s support for Iran was a given, the support from Lebanon — seen as staunchly pro-West—and surprise, surprise, Iraq must have come as a huge surprise to Washington and other Western capitals. Iraq’s foreign minister Hoshyar Zebari even was among those attending the conference in Teheran and smiled for the cameras with President Ahmadinejad. We hardly need point out that Iraq is still under US control and home to nearly hundred thousand US-Western troops. Maybe we are reading too much in innocuous statements that diplomats routinely make at such photo ops. On the other hand, it could be a sign of shifting geopolitical scenario of the region. Iraq’s Shia dominant governing alliance is so close to Teheran that it cares little for what Americans might think of its posturing on the Islamic republic’s nuclear ambitions.

But regardless of what the Iran-Iraq equation means for the US interests in the region, Teheran appears to be increasingly rallying support for its case that as a signatory to Nuclear Proliferation Treaty, it has the right to peaceful nuclear energy.

If the nuclear conference in Teheran has boosted Iran’s stance, three rising powers, India, Brazil and South Africa counselled caution and restraint on the issue following the US summit, defending Iran’s pursuit of peace nuclear energy.

This even as the US and its Western allies have stepped up pressure to rein in the ayatollahs, brandishing more sanctions and curbs. However, there are few takers for more punitive measures against Iran. Meanwhile a memo written by US defence secretary Robert Gates, reported by the New York Times yesterday, suggests the US has no clear strategy to check the Islamic republic’s nuclear obsessions.

Clearly, there’s a need for Iran and United States to resolve this issue across the negotiating table. Better still, the UN should step in and help the two sides come to some face-saving compromise. The world body should be allowed to do its job, without pressure and interference from big powers. As Iraq proved with tragic consequences, the involvement of big powers only complicates and aggravates the problem. Iran for its part must learn from history and mustn’t push its luck too far.

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