US Vice-President Dick Cheney’s 10-day tour of the Persian Gulf, Turkey and Afghanistan is renewing concerns of a US and/or Israeli military attack on Iran.
During his tour, Cheney has been presenting a case against Iran that could be used by the US administration either to launch an attack on Iran, or to encourage Israel to initiate the military action. Cheney’s message:
· Iran must not be allowed to develop nuclear weapons.
· A nuclear Iran would destabilize the region.
· The 2007 NIE does say that Iran had an active nuclear weapon program that was stopped in 2003.
· Iran could have since re-started its nuclear weaponization program.
· Iran has certainly continued its enrichment program, which is the key to any weaponization project.
President Bush also said on Wednesday that Iran could be hiding a secret nuclear weapon program. The president suggested that Iran’s goal in building the nuclear weapon is to destroy Israel.
Vice-President Cheney’s 10-day tour of the region and his Iran warnings, combined with the comments made by President Bush at the White House and simultaneous comments by French President Nicolas Sarkozy that Europe’s security was at stake due to Iranian threat, have raised concerns among Iran analysts that a military attack on Iran during the last months of Bush administration is still possible, and increasingly probable.
Israel, and not the US, could initiate the attack. Israel would have better justifications for demolishing the Iranian nuclear facilities. US could provide intelligence and logistic support and could encourage Israel to undertake the military action.
The US presidential elections could also be a factor in the administration’s decision to support an attack on Iran. The conservatives could view a military attack later this year on Iranian nuclear facilities as a guarantee to stop Obama’s presidency.