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Daily View: Iran's new weapon

Clare Spencer | 09:59 UK time, Tuesday, 24 August 2010

Commentators react to Iran's unveiling of an armed aerial drone - a day after the start-up of its first nuclear power plant.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad delivers a speech during the unveiling ceremony of a long-range droneIn the Atlantic Jeffrey Goldberg predicts that Iran's increase in weapons will lead to an Israeli strike on Iran, supported by permission by the US to fly over Iraqi airspace taken by US aircrafts:

"For the Obama administration, the prospect of a nuclearized Iran is dismal to contemplate - it would create major new national-security challenges and crush the president's dream of ending nuclear proliferation. But the view from Jerusalem is still more dire: a nuclearized Iran represents, among other things, a threat to Israel's very existence... I am not engaging in a thought exercise, or a one-man war game, when I discuss the plausibility and potential consequences of an Israeli strike on Iran. Israel has twice before successfully attacked and destroyed an enemy's nuclear program. In 1981, Israeli warplanes bombed the Iraqi reactor at Osirak, halting - forever, as it turned out - Saddam Hussein's nuclear ambitions; and in 2007, Israeli planes destroyed a North Korean-built reactor in Syria. An attack on Iran, then, would be unprecedented only in scope and complexity."

In response Marc Lynch in the Atlantic discounts Jeffrey Goldberg's argument, saying it ignores the context:

"[T]he whole discussion of an Israeli or American strike against Iran seems to take place in an historical void, as if we have not just lived through the brutal, griding experience of a war chosen and sold on shaky grounds. I would hope that the lessons of Iraq will not be so easily forgotten.... When offered the hope that an air strike would quickly take out Iran's nuclear facilities without significant retaliation, we should remember that it is at least as likely that the attack would escalate to war, leading the U.S. to be dragged down into a new hell of occupation and regional conflagration."
Gary Hart argues in the Huffington Post that predictions that the US may bomb Iran may have been hasty:
"Bombing a sovereign nation is a de facto declaration of war. Our Constitution requires the Congress, not the President, to declare war. Simply because we have launched a number of wars without a Congressional declaration does not mean the Constitutional requirement has been suspended... This is not an argument for 'doing nothing', the standard retort of the eager bombers. We have at least a year, and probably more, to weigh Iran's nuclear capabilities and intentions, and to rally regional and global opposition to them."

The British press takes the new weapons less seriously; in the Independent Tom Sutcliffe laughs at the unveiling ceremony:

"There was, for one thing, the odd disjunction in the presidential rhetoric, with President Ahmadinejad insisting that his cruise missile had a 'main message of peace and friendship' while simultaneously claiming that it was an 'ambassador of death'. One hopes that radar will be able to discriminate between its approach in friendly messenger or murderous ambassador mode. Then there was the fabulously amateurish nature of the stage setting from which he made his announcement, with its wrinkled backdrop and its lumpy am-dram cardboard clouds, propped in the foreground to conceal the rigging that was holding the weapon up. Even the thing itself looked a little risible - a garage-built Thunderbird scattered with rose-petals. It was all very mouse-that-roared.
"How entertaining you find this joke depends, of course, on how close you live to Iran. It probably loses quite a bit of its comedy anywhere within the 620-mile range of 'The Striker'."

In the Times Hugo Rifkind makes a mockery [subscription required] of the unveiling, pointing out the contradictions:

"He was standing next to the bomber at the time, you see, and he'd had it scattered with rose petals. No, really. Rose petals. As if he wanted to sleep with it. Where have all the flowers gone? Mahmoud Ahmadinejad nicked them to decorate Iran's answer to Trident. We're talking rose petals, here. On a thing created to drop bombs. He'll be making it wear a nightie, next."

Links in full

Jeffrey Goldberg | Atlantic | The Point of No Return
Marc Lynch | Atlantic | Striking Iran Is Unwarranted, and It Would Mean Disaster
Gary Hart | Huffington Post | Matters to Consider Before Launching Another War
Hugo Rifkind | Times | The bomb? I wouldn't trust Iran with scissors
Tom Sutcliffe | Independent | Flower power and missiles don't mix

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