The National, Monday 21st November 2011
By BUNN NAGARA
THREE wars and countless other foreign interventions later, a fourth war is on the cards for US strategic planners.
Iran is in Israel’s sights, and so it is in US crosshairs as well.
Israel has long been itching for the US to attack Iran, the nub of the complaint being Teheran’s alleged work on (nuclear) weapons of mass destruction.
Iran’s programme to generate electricity from nuclear power is well established, but for Israel it conceals a secret plan to build nuclear warheads for missiles.
Iran has consistently denied the charge.
Since evidence for the allegation remains light, a diversity of allegations helps demonise Iran.
Last month, Teheran was accused of plotting to kill the Saudi ambassador to the United States.
What disagreement Iran had with the diplomat, and why it chose assassination, remained unclear.
The charge itself seemed specious. Two Iranians were accused of having recruited an American woman to recruit a Mexican drug dealer to do the deed.
France, a US ally at the moment, was only partly convinced as it was uncertain how far the two Iranians’ contact reached in Teheran’s political hierarchy.
China and Russia remained sceptical.
US officials said the plot was foiled only because the drug dealer was actually a secret informant of the US drug enforcement administration, who passed on the information.
If that were the case, his cover would have been blown.
Without any physical attempt at actually bumping off the Saudi diplomat, much of the “debate” consists of wordy posturing. But then Iran’s reputation was already besmirched.
In much the same vein, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) last Tuesday presented its latest report on Iran’s nuclear programme.
Some Western news reports of the occasion proved more “damning” of Iran’s nuclear status than the document itself.
Teheran had already dismissed the IAEA report as hyped-up and providing little if any new information. Beyond the partisan allegations, Western commentators offered little to substantiate the allegations.
Still, this did not stop Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu from declaring last Wednesday that “the IAEA report confirms both the international community and Israel’s claim that Iran is developing a nuclear weapon.”
It might have been this kind of overstatement that alienated French President Nicolas Sarkozy.
Reading between the lines, the media build-up to the current campaign against Iran reveals gaps in such claims.
A report last week by Julian Borger, diplomatic editor of Britain’s Guardian newspaper, said recycled information on Iran gathered over the past seven years was “key” to the latest IAEA document.
The document itself was “not expected to draw definitive conclusions, as the US, Britain and France had hoped”.
lBunn Nagara is a columnist with The Star newspaper in Malaysia. A journalist by career, Nagara also worked as an analyst with the Malaysian Institute of Strategic Studies