By OBI EBUKA-ONOCHIE
“My supreme responsibility as Prime Minister of Israel is to ensure that Israel remains the master of its fate”. – Netanyahu, Prime Minister of Israel.
“I have a policy to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon,” “And as I’ve made clear time and again during the course of my presidency, I will not hesitate to use force when it is necessary to defend the United States and its interests.”
“I firmly believe that an opportunity remains for diplomacy – backed by pressure – to succeed,” “The United States and Israel both assess that Iran does not yet have a nuclear weapon, and we are exceedingly vigilant in monitoring their program.”- Barack Obama, President of United States of America.
These are actually the words representing the stance of the two frontline security conscious states over Iranian nuclear dispute. President Obama met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Washington recently to discuss the high stakes issue of Iran’s nuclear program and Israel’s declaration that it will do everything in its power, including military action, to prevent the Islamic country from getting a nuclear weapon. Obama’s meeting with Netanyahu comes just one day after he gave a speech on the same subject to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), the largest pro-Israel lobbying group in the United States. The President said he is committed to standing by Israel but feels all options, including diplomacy and sanctions, must be exhausted first before any call to war.
Iran has consistently maintained that its nuclear programme is purely for civilian purpose to increase its energy supply. Iran has regularly declared that its economy has been recording tremendous growth even under stiff decades of sanctions and that has propelled the isolated Islamic state to seek new energy source to argument its energy demand. This claim has never been able to dowse security conscious states’ suspicion especially Israel. Israeli intelligence sleuths have been working round the clock to make sure they frustrate Iranian uranium enrichment and possibly hinder them from becoming a nuclear state as this will lead to mass race for nuclear war heads in the Middle East with countries like Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Egypt, Qatar, etc obtaining their own. Each time any nuclear scientist working in hidden Iranian nuclear site is murdered, Iran doesn’t waste time in pointing at two countries they see as everlasting enemies, Israel and United States.
“Operation Opera”, the code name for the Israel’s June 1981 air demolition of nuclear reactor in Osirak in Iraq would have since repeated itself in Iran if not for America’s forcible influence on the Jewish state. United States doesn’t want Israel’s military option in Iran at this moment because of some obvious reasons. The upcoming presidential election is very vital in all policies and actions of the administration of President Obama especially as he will soon be courting American voters. How he handles this nuclear issue is in many ways his biggest political vulnerability. Any misstep on this issue will not only give Republicans a favourable advantage but can guarantee him no vote from Jewish voters who are very important in a number of key states. Economic consideration appears to be among the things that have compelled Obama administration’s indecision on the issue. The rising prices of crude in international market as a result of nuclear tension, can relapse America’s economic recovery. America does not want to over-stretch its military commitment which has in the past taken its death toll on the military personnel as well as their all mighty economy.
Israel fears it may soon lose its window to take out Iran’s nuclear facilities. Washington, on the other hand, is pressuring Tel Aviv to hold off on what it considers would be a premature and dangerous attack on Iran, arguing that economic sanctions require time to take hold. Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli Prime minister is a man known to be resolute, obdurate and focused on serious and even dangerous matters like nuclear row. His first shot at the Israeli lofty seat showed that he is not a man to be trifled with. Israel is considering the effects of attacking the Iranian nuclear reactor without American backing. The war it might fight on all fronts like the Hamas in Gaza Strip, the Hezbollah in Lebanon and ultimately the Iranians. The likely isolation from the west for daring to act alone and possibly increased attacks on Jewish interests all over the world. These consequences were thoroughly considered before “operation opera” which ultimately never mattered to the Jewish state when they got the wind of 90 kilograms of enriched uranium rods shipped to Iraq from France. There would be a radiation fall out if the attack on the nuclear plant came after the rods have been placed in the reactor. This was the moment Menachem Begin the then Israeli Prime Minister knew that all protocols and diplomacy should be boycotted for a pre-emptive attack to take place.
The Iranians also have their own share of concerns in this nuclear dispute. Iran as peaceful as it looks has a dangerous internal sleeping political opposition and external opposition waiting to vent their spleen on Ahmadinejad’s administration and their supreme leader Ali Khamenei. Ahmadinejad became the first Iranian President to be summoned by the parliament since after the Ayatolla’s 1979 Islamic revolution in Iran. Many lawmakers have been upset by Ahmadinejad’s handling of economic policies, key government ministries and his bust to open political power tussle with Ali Khamenei. But tensions have flared between the two leaders over the past year, particularly since the supreme leader overruled the president’s decision to fire the intelligence minister. In as much as Iran is bragging about its ability to defend itself, their government however is doing everything possible to avoid any military confrontation with Israel or the west as they have watched in awe the mammoth destruction of their fellow Arab countries.
President Obama is however keen on delaying any military action against Iran till after the November presidential election but to Israel that will be dependent at the pace of Iranian uranium enrichment. However, the Jewish state has made its position known that it won’t hesitate to strike the moment they feel it will be dangerous not to. Israel struck Osirak under Ronald Regan a Republican president, the party known to be ruthless which many Arab leaders refer to as “the Republican gang”. If Israel will ever strike and under which President will be known in the nearest future as the tension is getting to feverish level. With Assad’s administration the only remaining Iranian ally in the Middle East about to go, Iran is in dire need of support, no matter how little. I sometimes think, imagine or ponder on what or how the world will look like without religious bigotry and war, but one will not be wrong to say that World War three that will be fought with nuclear weapon is around the corner.
Obi Ebuka Onochie