Warning Bells for Teheran

Teheran’s been warned, yet again. Issued by the US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, the warning is a clear reminder of the US deadline looming large as the year draws to a close. While offering broad concessions to Iran for negotiations, in a clear departure from his predecessor, US president Barack Obama had also been categorical in laying down a specific time frame for Iran to reconsider its options.

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Published: Sat 18 Jul 2009, 12:04 AM

Last updated: Mon 6 Apr 2015, 12:32 AM

Iran was offered direct negotiations by the US, a first after almost thirty years of estrangement, along with the EU states and Russia, in order to persuade it to abandon its alleged pursuit of a nuclear weapons programme.

Having offered to Teheran reintegration in the international community, after decades of isolation, the concerned states had even proffered help with the acquisition of a civilian nuclear programme to meet its energy needs—the claimed purpose of the Iranian regime for acquiring a nuclear capability. Despite several reconciliatory overtures made by the US government, Teheran has obdurately refused to budge on its stand as far as its nuclear programme is concerned.

Though the recent post-election riots and wide scale protests did manage to rattle the regime, the establishment was able to contain dissent from deepening any further. Yet, the scale and sustainability of the protests are likely indicators of the growing restlessness among a large segment of the Iranian people—especially the under 30s who constitute nearly three-fourth of the total population. At the same time, the Iranian establishment has blamed the CIA and Britain for fuelling unrest to destabilize the government.

Now, Secretary Clinton has called upon Iran to immediately respond to the US overtures or face isolation over its nuclear programme. Recently, the G-8 summit in Italy had also issued an ultimatum to Iran to engage in negotiations by September or prepare to meet the consequences—possibly sanctions, yet to be decided. Even though Iran has already been dealt a strong dose of international economic sanctions, including those by the US and the United Nations Security Council, things could take a turn for the worse as other states join in.

Apart from sanctions, the possibility of a military strike, currently deemed as the least desirable option by the US, has not been ruled out. The subject of myriad hectic discussions, US Vice Presidents Joe Biden’s recent comments on US non-intervention, should Israel decide to strike Iranian nuclear sites as a preventive tactic, has also raised tensions in the region. The fact that Israel might attack Iran if it fails to comply with the demand to abandon its alleged nuclear weapons programme is not only a possibility, it may well happen, considering the bristling hostility Teheran and Tel Aviv have been engaged in.

For the sake of regional stability, it is hoped that better sense prevails in Teheran and the government demonstrates flexibility and openness to enter talks and negotiate the terms of engagement with the concerned states. For a military option is highly undesirable. Whether it comes from the US or Israel, it is likely to trigger off further destablisation, with the impact being felt far and wide in the neighbouring states.

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