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Iran - Paper Tiger That Bites

Menashe Amir: 'Iran Will Continue To Reject Any New Uranium Offers Unless Accompanied By Far More Severe Sanctions'

'Tehran Sees Nuclear Weapons As Means To Impose Political & Religious Hegemony In Middle East Region & International Arena'

IsraCast Assessment: In a wide-ranging interview, Iranian expert Menashe Amir explains why new nuclear talks with Tehran are destined to end in failure. However, Amir contends there is still time for the international community to stop the Iranians from acquiring 'the bomb' but only if it is willing to impose much stiffer sanctions and suffer the consequences of a real confrontation.

Menashe Amir at IsraCast Studios

 After Iran's chief nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili has announced that Tehran is now ready to resume nuclear talks with the P5+1, what are the prospects? None according to Menashe Amir, an Israeli expert on Iran. Amir told IsraCast there was no possibility that Iran would halt its nuclear weapons program unless the international community was prepared to adopt more drastic steps to deter the Iranians. Interviewed by David Essing, Amir explained how 'the bomb' plays a crucial role in Iran's grand design for regional and international domination something that is misunderstood by some foreign commentators who either view Iran as a 'paper tiger' or preach 'the need to live with an Iranian bomb'. 

 'Don't expect any results from new nuclear talks between the P5+1 and Iran ' - that's the assessment on Menashe Amir, an Israeli expert on Iran. In the past, Iran has repeatedly rejected all international offers to resolve the uranium enrichment issue. According to the New York Times, the U.S. is working on an even stiffer proposal that would obligate Iran to send an even greater amount of low-grade enriched uranium out of the country. As for UN sanctions imposed last June, they have made life more difficult for the Iranian regime but are not sufficient to force Tehran to accept any new nuclear proposal. Only much stiffer sanctions will dissuade Iran from continuing its nuclear weapons program. Amir notes that it took ten years of sanctions before Libya agreed to halt its non-conventional weapons program and Iran is a much bigger and stronger country.

Iranian missiles (photo: MEHR)

But what of the view, as expressed by columnist Roger Cohen recently, that Iran is really a 'paper tiger' and nothing to worry about. Amir agrees that Iran may be a 'paper tiger' when it comes to its conventional air force and navy but it does have a huge army and long range missiles. Moreover, Iran has projected its influence into Lebanon with Hezbollah and through Hamas in the Palestinian areas. Moreover, Iran meddles in Iraq, Afghanistan and the Gulf making life miserable for other countries.

However, Iran is a 'paper tiger that can bite' as long as the world community fails to react. What is often misunderstood is that the Iranian regime harbors international and universal ambitions that are driven by a fanatical Muslim Shi'ite ideology that pits Iran not only as the dominant power in the Middle East, but also in the international arena. The supporters of the regime actually believe that Shi'ite Islam is destined to rule the world and nuclear weapons are a means to reaching that goal. Therefore, if Iran does get the bomb: 'It will turn overnight from a paper tiger into a most dangerous country!' Amir also rejects the school of thought that the Iranians are not 'crazy' and would not risk their own existence by threatening to nuke Israel or anyone else. The proponents point to the 'MAD' theory of mutually assured destruction that deterred the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. during the Cold War. Amir contends that although the Iranian leaders appear to act rationally they are 'crazy' in that they really believe in their divine destiny of Shi'ite Islam and the coming of their 'Mahdi' (Messiah) who will rule the world. It goes without saying that this makes Iran of today very different than the former Soviet Union. 

The Iranian Missile Range

Meanwhile, the Iranian strategy is to stir up trouble wherever it can in the Middle East and Africa in order to keep Israel, the U.S. and other potential adversaries preoccupied. And during the years of stonewalling in nuclear contacts of one form or another, Iran continues its drive for nuclear weapons. 

Israel did not react to the huge $60 billion U.S. arms sale to Saudi Arabia nor did Riyadh when Israel Navy vessels sailed through the Suez Canal, apparently bound for the Saudi's backyard in the Gulf. Was this an indication of a silent defense cooperation developing between Jerusalem and Riyadh to face their common Iranian enemy? Amir agrees the latest U.S. arms sale to Saudi Arabia is designed to deter Iran from attacking Saudi Arabia. On the other hand, Saudi leaders are trying to steer clear of a confrontation with Iran. For its part, Tehran has signaled that it is not threatening Riyadh and the two countries have cooperated on trying to ease tensions in Lebanon over Hezbollah's ascendancy. But overall, not only Israel but also Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan and the Gulf states are watching Iran's every move. 

So how close is Iran from getting the bomb. Iran has run into a number of technical hitches some scientific and others attributed to Israel's Mossad and other foreign services. Not all has gone well with Iran's centrifuges that are spinning out enriched uranium of some 20% and they are thought to have a stockpile that could be further upgraded to the 90% enrichment required for two bombs, according to the most public Israeli assessment. In addition, there is the problem of producing a nuclear warhead for one of Iran's missiles that are capable of reaching Israel as well as the trigger for the nuclear explosion. Amir's conclusion is that there is still time for the international community to force Iran to halt its nuclear weapons program, but it will never happen through the vehicle of nuclear talks that will soon be revved up once more.

David Essing

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