A former Mossad leader explains why the dialogue with Tehran needs to continue – on one condition…
The West may raise its voice however much it wants, but it will not be able to change Iran’s nuclear programme. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s reaction to the united voice of America and Europe on sanctions against the Islamic Republic was typical: he showed his fist and demonstrated that his pride was offended. The last package of sanctions adopted by the UN Security Council worries the financial community of Tehran, first and foremost the Central Bank of Iran, which has not managed to convince the President of the necessity of taking steps to control inflation, which is already over 20%. Javier Solana, the EU’s High Representative for Common Foreign and Security Policy, is currently visiting Tehran with a package of incentives to reopen negotiations with the Ayatollah.
“Stricter sanctions and the risk of attack may induce Iran to meet the UN Security Council’s demands that it close its illegal nuclear plans,” Uzi Arad, former Director of Intelligence for the Mossad and current head of the Institute for Policy and Strategy at the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya (Israel) and Adviser to the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defence Committee, explains to Il Foglio. U.S. President George W. Bush confirmed during his visit to Europe that all options are on the table, but peaceful regulation is preferable. In Slovenia at the summit of twenty-seven European countries, Bush for the first time was able to enlist support for a package of unilateral sanctions that the United States has been insisting on for a long time (the same sanctions demanded by Paris, London and Berlin).
The Iranian threat is always dangerous. Yesterday this issue was discussed by approximately twenty international experts invited to Rome by Moshe Kantor, President of the European Jewish Congress, to participate in the Luxembourg Forum on Preventing Nuclear Catastrophe. Ahmadinejad has repeated since his election in 2005 that the first victim of the Islamic Republic will be the State of Israel.
“At every meeting Tehran reaffirms its wish to destroy another member state of the UN,” recalls Arad, who was invited to the Forum in Rome. He is referring to all UN meetings and conferences, including the UN World Food Security Summit held by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in Rome. Iran is becoming more aggressive, and the International Atomic Energy Agency headed by Mohammed ElBaradei stated today that in a few months the ayatollah will be able to create an atomic bomb. ElBaradei also stated that “only diplomatic methods should be used, otherwise Iran will react immediately.” But is an attack really imminent?
“The world has taken a path that will lead to a collision with the Islamic Republic,” Arad explains. “Iran has been offered the opportunity on many occasions to make its nuclear activity transparent and prove that it is developing its programme for peaceful purposes. Tehran always ignores the IAEA and the UN Security Council, which leads to deterioration in relations. However, I hope that Iran will manage to return to the right path in order to avoid a military attack.”
Changing Guard in Washington
A lot will depend on the political situation in the West. The name on the White House will change this November. Early elections are likely to take place in Israel early this fall. Thus, there will be two changes in the leadership of countries that have a decisive effect on the Iranian issue. Barack Obama, the Democratic candidate in the U.S. presidential elections, has expressed his wish to establish a dialogue with enemy countries, primarily Iran, to “build new relations.” That will be a considerable change from Bush’s policy that “all options are on the table.” “If Americans were programmatically convinced that a change in strategy could bring positive results, even leading to the suspension of Iran’s uranium enrichment,” Arad concluded, “…I would not oppose a dialogue. However, the final objective should be clear; appeasement is not enough.”