The recent opening of the nuclear plant in Bushehr together with the rumors that the International Atomic Energy Agency can prove that Iran has a military nuclear program, draw attention over the ‘Iranian problem’, at a global level.
However, is it really a problem?
According to the US President, Barack Obama, George W. Bush was right when he warned everyone that Iran’s nuclear program was a threat for its neighbors and the international security system. In fact, Iran is working on the modernization of its nuclear stock. For instance, Iran has recently launched the cruise missile Ghader with the range of 200 km. In addition, the distillation process of the nuclear fuel was moved into a military installation under the saint city of Qum, where not even the spy satellites or Stuxnet cyber weapon can reach.
Nevertheless, how much does this evolution of fact justify a potential military action against Iran? People are talking about the nuclear program and the political instability. It’s true that Iran has a dual leadership: a spiritual one – the ayatollah Ali Khamenei and a democratic one – President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. The overlapping powers have inevitably led to a conflict of interests. Divided into promoting the fundamentalism on one hand and the national interest on the other hand, Iran seems to be the destabilizing element in the region. Israel and the US argue that the current fundamentalist leadership in Iran wants to ‘wipe Israel off the map’, according to Ahmadinejad’s speech from 26th of October 2005. However, it seems that a wrong translation created confusion and that the real meaning of the phrase was that Ahmadinejad considers Israel as an unsustainable political entity.
A deeper insight into the latest events and their geopolitical perspective shows a more balanced situation in Iran, than any propaganda about this subject let us know. Iran has no national interest in declaring war on Israel, because it will cause its own extinction in the form it has at present. Moreover, the Iranian nuclear program, in spite of the second military objective, it can contribute to stabilizing the region, in the first place: firstly – thanks to the positive economic impact of the civil application into the energetic field and secondly because the risk of an external attack into the region is reduced because of the nuclear protection. Of course, this argument was foreseen by the European anti-missile project, but let’s not fall into self-fulfilling prophecies.
At the same time, even if Iran is politically and economically isolated by the western powers, it has a very close relationship with Russia and China. Although Russia has adopted a rather pro-western position regarding the nuclear topic, stopping the exportation of $13 billion weapons to Iran, it still has a close commercial collaboration with Iran. As for China, as a super-emergent power, it has a high interest to protect its main investing target, so China openly supports the Iranian nuclear program.
Is it then a military intervention in Iran possible, desired, or justified by the Islamic fundamentalism, the political instability and the nuclear program? I would personally say ‘No’ to all the three options.
The famous nuclear arms race can be explained by the pressure put on the Iranian state and it can be purely defensive. Despite its fundamentalism, Iran cannot afford a conflict of such magnitude. The risk persists, but the costs would be too big. There are other important factor that would lead to a failure such as: the national Iranian cohesion, the international economic situation, the US budget and the overestimated military capacity of Russia and China.
At the tactical level, even in the case of such an unhappy event, Iran has a variety of possible responses like an immediate attack on the US, Afghanistan and Iraq’s forces or a nuclear attack on Israel and the American base in the region.
Strategically speaking, any of the two choices would be a huge disaster. The US economy cannot handle another war and this one would be more serious than Afghanistan and Iraq together. Regarding the new rankings of the world economic powers, not only Middle East would be destabilized, but the whole Globe.
All in all, I personally cannot see any reason for someone to want this conflict happen. The rise of the new multi-polarity is now restructuring the world in the same way the European Concert has done before, with the main actors of the world in some sort of a dynamic equilibrium. Hopefully- there is something more: the economic interconnections.