Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Opinion: Is Iran on a Path to Destruction?

February 15, 2012   By: D. DiFrancesco

As Iran continues to taunt the west, the question that has to be asked is are they traveling down a path of destruction?  

Based upon their ongoing defiance of United Nations mandates, the accusation of Iranian involvement in the attempted assassinations of Israeli diplomats in India and Georgia, and their boast today of using more highly enriched, home grown nuclear fuel in a research reactor seems to be putting them on an inevitable course toward a military conflict with the West.  Of course, the hopes that a diplomatic solution can be reached before it comes to that is preferable, but based on Iran's past actions a peaceful solution at this time seems unlikely.
Reuters: An F/A-18 fighter plane (bottom) prepares to launch on the flight
deck of the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72)
 during flight operations in the Gulf, ahead of a transit
 through the Strait of Hormuz, February 13, 2012

Although Russia and China have proven to be roadblocks to stricter sanctions, the United States and Israel refused to take military action off of the table.  As a sign of U.S. resolve, the Navy's Fifth fleet which always contains at least one super carrier along with scores of jets, and a fleet of destroyers and frigates has returned to the gulf in a show of overwhelming force.  As an additional show of strength, President Obama sent one of the Navy's aircraft carriers through the Strait of Hormuz on Tuesday as a sign that if Iran attempts to close the Strait the U.S. will be ready to reopen it.

Reuters: A helicopter from the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier
USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72) hovers over
 an Iranian patrol ship during a transit
through the Strait of Hormuz, February 14, 2012.
Although most of the firepower in the gulf is American, other western countries and Gulf Arab states also have assets in the gulf under the command of the United States.

Although Iran has continued their defiant rhetoric, they have recently shown a desire to return to the bargaining table with the U.S., U.K., Russia, China, and Germany.  Time will tell if their stance toward curbing their nuclear ambitions has softened.  In addition, the sanctions put in place by the west are beginning to take their toll on the Iranian economy.  Whether this will be enough to persuade the leadership in Iran to deal in good faith with the West has yet to be seen, but there is cautious optimism that progress can be made before military action becomes the only option left in this crisis.