The muted reaction from Tehran to the mysterious explosion at an Iranian missile base over the weekend that killed 17, including a key figure in Iran’s missile program, strongly suggests that Iran’s continuing bellicosity regarding possible Israeli or international military action or sanctions is just so much empty bravado.
If the Iranians were in a position to wreak the sort of havoc they constantly promise in retaliation for an attack on its nuclear facilities, surely they would have made a bigger deal over this explosion. In any event, it would seem we are approaching a flash point with respect to Iran and its nuclear ambitions.
It is hard to know for sure whether the current international drumbeat concerning possible military action against Iran means military action is imminent or that what is in play is an elaborate plan to secure stronger UN sanctions by offering Russia and China a non-military alternative to thwart Iranian nuclear plans. In any event, it seems clear that ensuring a non-nuclear Iran is high on the international agenda.
The newly released report of the UN’s watchdog nuclear agency, the IAEA, demonstrates that Iran is on the cusp of becoming a nuclear power. Israeli president Shimon Peres has darkly warned that Israel is close to seeking a military solution to the prospect of a nuclear Iran. Prime Minister Netanyahu has told the press that Iran is the greatest security threat to the Jewish state and he has been reportedly seeking authorization from his cabinet for a preemptive strike against Iran. Israeli military spokesmen are quoted as detailing new long-range bombers and enhanced missile capabilities. And there is much more.
Senior U.S. officials are quoted as saying Iran is the greatest threat to American security interests around the world. There are reports that the United Kingdom is gearing up for possible military action against Iran. Reports abound as to how several Arabs states are quietly signaling their support for an Israeli attack against Iran.
And the piece de resistance is the announcement by the Pentagon last week that the U.S. and Israel will soon be conducting the largest-ever joint military maneuvers.
What is clear is that the message to Iran is that at long last most of the world is no longer kidding around and that Israel is not standing alone against the mullahs’ nuclear aspirations.