Sunday, 15 June 2008

US & Israel Beating The Drums Of War

PressTV's Middle East Today investigates the cause and possible effect of the heated rhetoric that has been directed against Iran in recent months over its refusal to give up its uranium enrichment program.

Ever since George Bush’s 2002 “Axis of Evil” speech, the people of Iran have lived with the sometimes distant, but almost ever present, beat of war drums thumping in their ears.

In recent weeks and months, however, the rhetoric of war has become more direct and strident.

Sometimes directed at Iran’s alleged malign interference in the internal affairs of Iraq, more frequently because of Tehran’s refusal to back down over its uranium enrichment program, the warning that a military option remains on the table is giving way to more explicit and unambiguous threats.

Earlier this month, Israeli Transportation Minister, Shaul Mofaz, triggered an international uproar by saying in a published interview that Israel would have “no choice” but to attack Iran if it did not halt its nuclear program.

During a speech to the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert forcefully repeated warnings from Washington, that Iran would never be allowed to develop the technology to produce nuclear weapons.

In related circumstances, Israel has a history of taking unilateral military action against other countries. In 1981 Israel made a surprise airstrike on the Osirak nuclear facility in Iraq, and just last September, warplanes destroyed what Israel described as a suspected nuclear site in Syria.

Notwithstanding the lack of any credible evidence that Iran is in fact interfering in the internal affairs of Iraq or that the International Atomic Energy Agency has discovered no verifiable proof that Tehran has an ongoing nuclear weapons program, the tempo of threats has picked up noticeably.

So much so, in fact, Iran’s ambassador to the United Nations has lodged a formal protest, saying Israel’s threatening posture breaks every tenet of the UN charter.

With George Bush set to hand over the reins of power in just over six months, and with Olmert embroiled in legal troubles at home, both men are looking for a legacy – and both of them appear convinced that resolving the Iranian nuclear issue before they leave office will provide them such a legacy.

The response from Iran has been to call on the Western powers to provide proof of Iran’s alleged misbehavior. Newly elected House Speaker Ali Larijani essentially told critics to either put up or shut up. The former nuclear negotiator said allegations without proof are worthless, and claims that Iran is seeking nuclear weapons are totally baseless.

In this edition of Middle East Today we’ll be taking a closer look at the threats against Iran, Tehran’s response, and the responsibility of the global community to help prevent a wider conflict in the Middle East.

Joining the panel were:

From London, Toufic Machnouk, Associate Director for Policy Research and Development

In Washington we were joined by Richard A. Hellman, Middle East Expert and President of the Christian’s Israel Public Action Campaign

And in New York, Sara Flounders, National co-director of the International Action Center

Watch the full debate on Middle East Today's "Beating the drums of war."

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