Thursday 20 Sep 2018 | 04:49 | SYDNEY
Thursday 20 Sep 2018 | 04:49 | SYDNEY

Iran: Quid pro quo


Sam Roggeveen


30 September 2009 09:59

In today's Age, Professor Amin Saikal lays out the security fears that he thinks might be motivating Iran's nuclear program:

The US military build-up in the Gulf, invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan, establishment of bases in Central Asia and unqualified support for Israel - as well as the latter's treatment of Iran as the most dangerous state in the region - have provided Tehran with good reasons to develop a security paranoia.

What's missing is any reference to Iran's own provocations, notably its sponsorship of regional terrorism.

Saikal's article then argues for a comprehensive regional nuclear arms control agreement that would include Israel. He also wants a 'structural change' in the US-Israel relationship that would lead to a resolution to the Palestinian problem, a regional settlement of the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts and a marked reduction in the US military presence in the Middle East.

These would all involve major concessions by the US, and there's still no suggestion at this point in the article that Iran might have to give up its support for Hizballah and Hamas in return.

Then, in the closing paragraph, this warning:

The alternative to such a development is a military confrontation. Iran has the capacity to curtail its oil production, to use various militant groups in the region, to block the Strait of Hormuz, through which 87 per cent of the Gulf oil is exported to the outside world, to blow up oil platforms in Gulf Arab states and to rocket Israel and US bases in the region. Such actions as these could set the entire region on fire, from which no one would emerge a winner.

Finally, a mention of Iran's support for 'militant groups', but only to suggest that Iran could unleash them if the US doesn't sit down and negotiate. This is not a line of argument likely to win over Americans who are wavering about the merits of talking with Iran.