PAVING THE WAY FOR THE REVIVAL OF ‘COLD WAR’
The unscrupulous nuclear regime was bound to produce such dilemmas and today those are happening and everyone is in a state of dilemma. The independence of foreign policy is jeopardized, the existing traditional relations are threatened and, the whole world feels insecurity and suspicion and all have made the world once again on the brink of the revival of cold war. The process of polarization has started and the entire world seems to be divided into two halves on the lines of religious, strategic and geo-political exigencies. But some of the countries like India which pursued a policy of non-intervention and neutrality are in deep trouble to decide a mid way between the value and issue based diplomacy.
The European Union has formally adopted a package of new sanctions against Iran, targeting the country’s foreign trade, banking and energy sectors. Canada has followed suit with its own round of unilateral sanctions. Iran has threatened retaliation for any attack or effective ban on its oil exports, suggesting it could seal off the main Gulf export shipping channel, the Strait of Hormuz, used by a third of the world’s crude oil tankers. In the meantime, Iran has trumpeted advances in nuclear technology, citing new uranium enrichment centrifuges and domestically made reactor fuel, in a move abetting a drift towards confrontation with the West over its disputed atomic ambitions. If Iran eventually succeeded in introducing modern centrifuges for production, it could significantly shorten the time needed to stockpile enriched uranium, which can generate electricity or, if refined much more, nuclear explosions.
Amidst these conditions, Iran and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) have failed to achieve a breakthrough, after two days of talks, on a roadmap to ease nuclear tensions surrounding Iran’s atomic programme. Both sides could not sign a document which could have clarified whether, Iran’s nuclear programme had a military dimension or not. Besides that Iran has also barred the IAEA team, led by the Agency’s deputy director Herman Nackaerts to visit a military site in Parchin, where, there are suspicions that Iran has carried out high explosives testing related to the development of atomic weapons. The trip was also seen as an important precursor to a possible resumption of talks between Iran and the P5+1 powers, the United States, China, Russia, France, Britain and Germany, which broke down in Turkey 13 months ago. Iran has rejected accusations that its nuclear programme is a covert bid to develop a nuclear weapons capability, saying it is seeking to produce only electricity. The entire Middle East is witnessing two contradictory developments. On the one hand North Africa is approaching
toward more democratic political culture but on the other hand, the Levant region including Israel, Lebanon, Syria and Iraq – is “moving toward confrontation and sectarian conflict. The Levant is a geographic and cultural term which refers to ‘the region of the” Eastern Mediterranean littoral between Anatolia and Egypt. The traditional and strategic ties of all the countries, whether developing, developed or emerging is being tested in the light of Middle East turmoil.
Iran knows that it is high time to juxtapose its nuclear programme with the Middle East’s perplexing and complicating developments. Iran already aware of the fact that China and Russia is supporting it. Cuba, Venezuela already has developed good relations with Iran. It is obvious that the issue of Israel is a great cause to harbour the support of supporting radical Arab groups like Hamas and Hezbollah. Moreover, Iran is home to 40% of the world’s 18 crore Shias. For many Indian Muslims, especially the country’s 3.5 crore Shias and most of them still believes that despite years of Western sanctions Iran alone can thwart America’s hegemony in West Asia and keep Israel under control. In the meanwhile, as tensions mounted in the Persian Gulf, Pakistan has assured Iran that it will not provide any assistance or air base to American forces in the event of a US attack on Tehran. Further, in a reference to the US pressure to abandon the Iran- Pakistan gas pipeline, President Zardari has clearly sent a message to the US “not to tell Pakistan who it can and cannot trade with.” In a joint statement issued after the trilateral summit said the presidents of Afghanistan, Iran and Pakistan had called for ‘non-interference and non-intervention’ in their internal affairs. Further, the sanctions imposed by crisis-ridden European Union, Iran feels, would be ineffective and this will damage most of the European countries than Iran itself. ‘Italy has said that considering economic crisis, there exists the danger that by imposing sanctions. Italian companies having consolidated situation in Iran would lose their position and other countries like Turkey or China would take the position in a market full of trade opportunities. The 27-nation European Union accounts for about 18% of Iran’s oil exports. With a daily production of nearly four million barrels of oil, Iran earns up to 80% of its foreign revenue from crude export. The European Union will also stop importing Iranian oil from 1st July. Israel and western powers along with USA wants to strike Iran’s four major nuclear sites – the uranium ‘enrichment facilities at Natanz and Fordo, the heavy-water reactor at Iraq and the yellowcake-conversion plant at Isfahan. Israeli favours an immediate strike and does not want to wait for Iran to amass enough material to build a bomb. US are concerned that the ability to make a bomb is not enough justification for a strike. US have believed that there is 18 months or more of flexibility before Iran would pose an immediate nuclear threat. It is expected that there are three potential routes to the North over Turkey, to the South over Saudi Arabia or taking a central route across Jordan and Iraq. The possibility of Israeli attack depends on the availability of refueling facilities, use of US-made GBU-28 5000-pound ‘bunker buster’ bombs that could damage 30 ft thick concrete of Natanz plant.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has blamed Iran and its ‘protege’ Hezbollah of carrying out the twin bomb attacks on Israeli diplomats in India and Georgia. On the other hand Iran has accused Israeli’s intelligence agencies like Aman (military intelligence) and Shin Bet (internal security) of the killings of four scientists, Masoud -Ali-Mohammad, Majid Shahriari, Dariush Rezaeinejad, and Ahmadi-Roshan.
Both China and Russia believe that the extreme sanctions would put Iran into a corner and dim any chance of diplomacy resolving the dispute, which has the potential to spark a wider conflict in the Middle East. It is to be noted that Russia and China, which together with the United States, France, Germany and Britain make up the six world powers involved in nuclear diplomacy with Tehran have backed four rounds of UN sanctions on Iran since 2006. But their stand started to change since 2011, when both China and Russia had criticized the United States and the European Union for taking extra unilateral steps against Iran and Russia has made clear its opposition to any new UN Security Council measures against Tehran. Both China and Russia have commercial and other links with Iran. Iran is China’s third-largest supplier, at 500000 barrels per day China and buys 20-22 % of Iran’s crude oil. China has committed huge investments in the oil and gas industry in Iran.
For Japan, avoiding US sanctions is essential to protect its financial sector’s operations abroad, but cutting oil imports could pose a risk to its struggling economy. It has to be recalled that Japan’s reliance on oil imports has grown since a 2011 earthquake and tsunami triggered the Fukushima radiation crisis, leading to the shutdown of most nuclear power reactors.