An editorial in the Mexican newspaper La Jornada
Iranian military officials announced yesterday [Jan. 1] that Iran had launched a ground-to-air missile designed and manufactured in that country, capable of evading “the smart systems that try to interrupt the trajectory of the missiles.” Hours later, the Teheran government announced that its scientists had produced, for the first time, a nuclear fuel rod that will be used to produce enriched uranium for medical purposes.
Both announcements come in the context of an escalation in tensions between Iran and the United States, a country that has raised the tone of his speech and tightened economic sanctions against Teheran. In the final hours of 2011, U.S. President Barack Obama signed a defense bill that, among other measures, includes sanctions against any person or company doing business with the Iranian Central Bank.
Earlier, the likely enforcement of these sanctions led Teheran to threaten to “close” the strategic Strait of Hormuz, gateway to about 40 percent of the oil traded globally and the place where Iranian naval forces have held maneuvers since Dec. 24, including the abovementioned missile launching.
Notwithstanding the fact that the Iranian threats and military tests constitute an undesirable factor of instability in the economic field and in international politics, the hostility shown by Washington to that Middle Eastern nation remains no less reprehensible.
Until now, and despite the progress shown by Iran in recent months, that country has given no indication of having sufficient capacity to develop weapons of mass destruction, an activity that requires 90-percent-enriched uranium. Moreover, Teheran last Saturday [Dec. 31] expressed its desire to “return to the talks” about its nuclear program with the five permanent members of United Nations Security Council plus Germany, a dialogue that has remained stalled since their last meeting in Istanbul last year.
Thus, even if it were true that the Islamic Republic’s nuclear policy poses a threat to global security, the U.S. and its allies would have at their disposal sufficient time to avert it, and, to do so, could turn to negotiation channels that are more effective and less counterproductive than economic sanctions.
It should be stressed that unilateralism, arbitrariness, and the predatory nature of Washington's foreign policy, a government that has granted itself the authorization to invade sovereign nations without being attacked by them, represent the greatest incentives for Iran to join – if it hasn’t already done so – the arms race in which various midsize and regional powers have engaged.
Washington, for its part, has no moral authority to condemn the Iranian nuclear program, since it chose to look the other way when India and Pakistan built their respective nuclear arsenals and has allowed Israel – its key ally in the Middle East – to remain outside the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty and the inspections of the International Atomic Energy Agency, even though the available data reveal that Israel has for decades possessed the only atomic arsenal in the region.
Such considerations force us to doubt that Washington's interest in Iran is to avoid the prospect of a new arsenal of atomic bombs. Everything seems to indicate that the recent sanctions and renewed hostility of the White House against Teheran are aimed at altering the old balance of power in that part of the world, to the detriment of Iran and in favor of Tel Aviv.
Such an attitude has generated in recent hours a worrisome climate of tension in the region. Given Washington’s undeniable responsibility in setting up this scenario, the least we can hope for is for Washington to act with prudence and diplomatic wisdom, lest it plunges the world into a new nightmare scenario.