The UN Security Council
In a Moscow meeting today, the US delegation failed to convince the UN Security Council to introduce sanctions against Iran in the ongoing dispute over Iran’s insistence on uranium enrichment on its own soil. According to Spiegel online;
Talks in Moscow between the United Nations Security Council’s veto-holding members ended on Tuesday with a failure of the United States to push through its hard line against Iran over its disputed nuclear program. China and Russia repeated their rejection of any proposals to impose sanctions against Tehran.
At the meeting, deputy foreign ministers from the five veto powers as well as Germany failed to come to any agreement over sanctions or any other measures against the mullah state.
The Iranian President
Still, the Security council is expected to uphold the talks and are to meet with Iranian delegates in the coming days, this time also with the participation of Italy and Canada two of the non-veto powers currently sitting in the UN Security Council.
Meanwhile the Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad warned the West, Tuesday of grave consequences if they were to decide to choose a military option, describing the Iranian army as one of the strongest in the world, he said;
“it would cut off the hands of any aggressors and will make any aggressor regret it.”
US Undersecretary of State Nicholas Burns said in a statement that the diplomats had recognized the “need for a stiff response to Iran’s flagrant violations of its international responsibilities.”
The ongoing dispute escalated further when Ahmadinejad claimed last week that Iran was well on its way testing the new and more advanced Uranium enrichment centrifuges called P-2 , raising the concerns of the international community that Iran’s path to acquiring nuclear weapons was about to be shortened.
The last warnings from the Iranian President has to be seen in the context of an ongoing psychological warfare conducted by both sides in the hopes to sway the other side to back down from their uncompromising positions in the ongoing negotiations.
Earlier this month the Iranians conducted a military exercise displaying what it portrays as sophisticated, home-grown weapons – flying boats and missiles invisible to radar, torpedoes too fast to elude. The weaponry was tested in an during an ongoing war game that involved some 17000 Revolutionary Guards in the Persian Gulf, and the purpose was crystal clear; to send a message to the West that Iran now was capable of hitting oil tankers and thus obstruct the flow of oil from the Persian Gulf if tension with America turns to outright confrontation, something the head of the Revolutionary Guards, Gen. Yahya Rahim Safavi, underlined during the exercise when he proclaimed that Iran was now able to defend itself against “any extra-regional invasion.”
The Iranian “Hoot” torpedo
In spite of the Iranian claims that most of the new weaponry displayed are home-grown, experts believe that much of this technology have originated in Russia and somehow found its way to Iran through third parties like Korea or China.
The new Hoot torpedo for instance, closely resembles the Russian-made VA-111 Shkval, the world’s fastest known underwater missile, developed in 1995, and are widely believed to be an Iranian copy of the Russian version.
The reporting today, in the Guardian Unlimited, of Iranian groups trying to recruit suicide bombers in Britain for missions against Israel and British and US forces in Iraq has only added tension to the already inflamed situation between some of the UN Security members and Iran. When asked why Britain? The Committee for the Commemoration of Martyrs of the Global Islamic Campaign, the organization responsible for the recruitment, which claims to be independent but has the backing of the regime, said it is targeting potential recruits in Britain because of the relative ease with which UK passport-holders can enter Israel.
What is worth noting though is that this is not the first time this organization enlists volunteers to suicide missions. Approximately one year ago, The Committee for the Commemoration of Martyrs of the Global Islamic Campaign organized a meeting in Tehran were around 400 volunteers signed up to sacrifice their lives in “occupied Islamic countries”. At the time it was the reformist Khatami that chaired the Presidency and in spite of repeated reassurances from the Khatami government that it would not allow suicide bombers to execute their deeds in Israel or elsewhere, the President’s adviser on women’s affairs and a representative of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei attended the meeting.
During the meeting the Iranian hardliner cleric Grand Ayatollah Hossein Nouri-Hamedani’s religious decree was read to volunteers over a loudspeaker. It said “martyrdom operations” were permissible in the “occupied Islamic countries” as a weapon of war against modern armies.
In a phone interview Guardian Unlimited had today with the spokesman for The Committee for the Commemoration of Martyrs of the Global Islamic Campaign, Mohammad Samadi, he said;
“The first target is Israel. For us, that is the battlefield. All the Jews are targets, whether military or civilian. It’s our land and they are in the wrong place. It’s their duty to pay attention to safety of their own families and move them away from the battlefield.”
While the committee claims to be independent it has previously been linked with the Revolutionary Guards and when confronted with the quoting of an unnamed Iranian officials in The Sunday Times of London that Iran had 40,000 trained suicide bombers prepared to strike western targets if Iran is attacked, the bulk of them under the command of the Revolutionary Guards, seen parading last month in Teheran, Samadi denied the report.
Dr. Hasan Abbasi
The policy of “fear and deterrence” is not new to the clerical regime in Iran though and in mid-year 2004, when the conservatives secured the control of the 290 seats in the Majlis, Iranian parliament, a visible comeback of pressure groups, and a harder line in foreign policy began to emerge. At the time Dr Hasan Abbasi, an ideologue for the Revolutionary Guards and driving force behind the so-called “Centre For Recruiting Suicide Volunteers”, said in an address to basiji units, the volunteer militias, that;
“We must follow a strategy of terrorism in order to frighten the Americans. Such terrorism is sacred. The modernity, a Zionist and Western phenomenon, was implemented with violence, we must retaliate on them using the same methods.”
The seventh Majlis started its work with shouts of “Death to America” during its inaugural session, followed by statements from some hardliner deputies urging the government to emulate North Korea by getting out of the nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty (NPT), amid threats of not approving the Additional Protocol to the NPT, thus raising tensions in the dispute between Iran and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
Yet with another failed negotiation, time seems to begin running out for diplomacy, and even if new negotiations are to start later this month there are time limits, even for these negotiations. What is quite clear is that the Iranian negotiators are trying to buy time, but in the hope of gaining what? There are reports of some of the Iranian nuclear facilities being strengthened and even improved in case of a possible military attack.
The perception that a military attack on the Iranian nuclear installations are imminent are very real, very much because the US government regularly underlines the grave consequences of not reaching an agreement over the nuclear dispute. If such an agreement is not reached within mid-year this year I fear that a military strike is imminent. How it is going to be conducted and with what kind of weaponry, only time will tell, but the most likely scenario is an air campaign without the army component.