Op-Ed

War with Iran not in U.S. best interest

As improbable as it might seem after nine years of war in Iraq and 10 in Afghanistan and Pakistan, it appears some Americans are ready to go to war against Iran.

At least that has been some of the reaction to the latest International Atomic Energy Agency's report in mid-November.

Myriad U.S. and Israeli pundits, bloggers and think-tankers have interpreted the report either as a call to war or to prudence. Fortunately, so far the latter are winning.

Notably, the countries of the European Union — heavily involved in Libya, Syria, Tunisia and Yemen, as well as their own domestic economic problems — seem less eager for war.

Most analysts of the IAEA report indicate that it differs little from the U.S. 2007 National Intelligence Estimate stating Iran had stopped activities leading to the weaponization of potential nuclear weapons that it had been engaged in prior to 2003-4.

It must be emphasized that stopping work on weaponization does not mean that Iran has stopped producing both lower enriched uranium and highly enriched uranium up to 20 percent of which is needed for the making of nuclear weapons.

The current report stresses that Iran is producing or trying to produce "the building blocks" of a nuclear weapon.

Most analysts think that Iran would like to have the ability to reach "break out" capability such as Brazil, Argentina, Canada and Japan, among others, possess. This means to have the capabilities to assemble and to deploy a nuclear device, if determined to do so. The report suggests that Iran does not currently have such capabilities.

Obstacles for Iran to obtain break out status include the alleged U.S. and Israel cyber (Stuxnet) attacks on the centrifuges that produce higher enriched plutonium necessary for the production of nuclear weapons, assassinations of Iranian nuclear scientists and engineers and other sabotage carried out against Iran.

The Stuxnet virus and other sabotage carried out against Iran suggest that in the event of a U.S.-Israel attack both countries would use massive electronic and cyber warfare against not just Iran's nuclear installations but also against Iran's electrical, telephone and fiber optic grids as well.

Given the extensive disruption and long-lasting consequences of a war against Iran, especially in the surrounding countries on the Persian Gulf in which the U.S. has extensive military bases, it would seem the U.S. would not want to attack Iran at this point.

It is not in the U.S. interests, no matter what the hype for war may be, even when it is proffered from presidential candidates or members of Congress. This said, the current hype for war is also useful for the U.S. and the Obama administration to implement other geopolitical and geostrategic objectives:

■ Increase pressure on Russia and China, both members of the UN Security Council, to agree to further sanctions on Iran in addition to those already imposed by the U.S. and the EU countries.

■ Impose increased sanctions, with or without Chinese or Russian approval, to be implemented in further attempts to topple the regime.

■ With added sanctions, increase the struggle for power currently taking place in Iran between the supporters of Supreme Guide Ali Khamenei and President Mamud Ahmad-i Nejad, contributing to regime change.

■ Allow the U.S. to continue to politically dominant the strategic regions of the Middle East in order to protect the hundreds of oil and gas pipelines that emanate from the region and to protect the vital sea lanes that transport oil and gas to world markets.

■ Ensure Arab Sunni regimes — whether monarchal or not — now aligned with the U.S. and EU will continue to dominate the region. This means that even Shi'a dominated Iraq will have to accommodate to the U.S.-Arab Sunni dominated political structure.

The removal of the Shi'a dominated Syrian regime of Bashar al-Asad and the coming to power of Sunnis, aligned with Sunni Turks, will strengthen further this structure and weaken Shi'a Hizbollah, an Iranian ally, in Lebanon. It is important to note that attempts to topple the regime in Iran have coincided with the policies of the US and EU countries to get rid of the Shi'a (Alawite) regime in Syria.

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