Ex-Weapons Hunter Warns US against War with Iran

A04090032.jpgTEHRAN (FNA)- The former head of the US weapons-hunting team in Iraq Wednesday cautioned that any attack on Iran will not be successful in halting its nuclear program.

David Kay, who led the Iraq Survey Group from 2003 until early 2004, called on the US to line up international support to pressure Iran to give up its nuclear rights, but meantime reminded that there is a strong possibility that such an effort would fail.

Kay noted Iran’s success in developing nuclear technology and said that Tehran has already paved 80% of the road to become an established nuclear state.

“The real question to ask is, ‘What are the political strategies we can follow now that can lessen the impact?'” of a nuclear Iran, Kay said in a talk at the Nixon Center.

He further stressed that the US should not consider any attack on Iran “unless the country develops nuclear weapons and tries to transfer it to a terrorist group”.

The United States and its Western allies accuse Iran of trying to develop nuclear weapons under the cover of a civilian nuclear program, while they have never presented any corroborative document to substantiate their allegations. Iran denies the charges and insists that its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes only.

Tehran stresses that the country has always pursued a civilian path to provide power to the growing number of Iranian population, whose fossil fuel would eventually run dry.

Iran is under three rounds of UN Security Council sanctions for turning down West’s calls to give up its right of uranium enrichment, saying the demand is politically tainted and illogical.

Iran has so far ruled out halting or limiting its nuclear work in exchange for trade and other incentives, saying that renouncing its rights under the NPT would encourage world powers to put further pressure on the country and would not lead to a change in the West’s hardline stance on Tehran.

Iran has also insisted that it would continue enriching uranium because it needs to provide fuel to a 300-megawatt light-water reactor it is building in the southwestern town of Darkhoveyn as well as its first nuclear power plant in the southern port city of Bushehr.

Kay said there is “virtually no possibility” Iran will give up its uranium enrichment program.

He dismissed the notion that a US or Israeli military strike on Iran’s nuclear infrastructure would be effective or useful. He said it would only delay the development of the program by one to two years at the most, and would unite Iran’s people more firmly behind its leaders.

Kay would only advocate a military attack “if I found the Iranians had transferred a nuclear weapon to a third party, a terrorist organization or another state,” or if it used a nuclear weapon in an attack.

A recent study by the Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS), a prestigious American think tank, has also found that a military strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities “is unlikely” to delay the country’s program.

The ISIS study also cautioned that an attack against Iran would backfire by compelling the country to acquire nuclear weaponry.

Political observers believe that the United States has remained at loggerheads with Iran mainly over the independent and home-grown nature of Tehran’s nuclear technology, which gives the Islamic Republic the potential to turn into a world power and a role model for other third-world countries. Washington has laid much pressure on Iran to make it give up the most sensitive and advanced part of the technology, which is uranium enrichment, a process used for producing nuclear fuel for power plants.

Washington’s push for additional UN penalties contradicts a recent report by 16 US intelligence bodies that endorsed the civilian nature of Iran’s programs. Following the US National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) and similar reports by the IAEA head – one in November and the other one in February – which praised Iran’s truthfulness about key aspects of its past nuclear activities and announced settlement of outstanding issues with Tehran, any effort to impose further sanctions on Iran seems to be completely irrational.

The February report by the UN nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency, praised Iran’s cooperation in clearing up all of the past questions over its nuclear program, vindicating Iran’s nuclear program and leaving no justification for any new UN sanctions.

Meantime, The UN nuclear watchdog has also carried out at least 14 surprise inspections of Iran’s nuclear sites so far, but found nothing to support West’s allegations.

Also in his latest report to the 35-nation Board of Governors, IAEA Director General Mohamed ElBaradei confirmed “the non-diversion” of nuclear material in Iran and added that the agency had found no “components of a nuclear weapon” or “related nuclear physics studies” in the country.

The IAEA report confirmed that Iran has managed to enrich uranium-235 to a level ‘less than 5 percent.’ Such a rate is consistent with the construction of a nuclear power plant. Nuclear arms production, meanwhile, requires an enrichment level of above 90 percent.

The Vienna-based UN nuclear watchdog continues snap inspections of Iranian nuclear sites and has reported that all “declared nuclear material in Iran has been accounted for, and therefore such material is not diverted to prohibited activities.”

Many world nations have called the UN Security Council pressure against Iran unjustified, especially in the wake of recent IAEA reports, stressing that Tehran’s case should be normalized and returned to the UN nuclear watchdog due to the Islamic Republic’s increased cooperation with the agency.

Observers believe that the shift of policy by the White House to send William Burns – the third highest-ranking diplomat in the US – to the latest round of Iran-West talks happened after Bush’s attempt to rally international pressure against Iran lost steam due to the growing international vigilance.

US President George W. Bush finished a tour of the Middle East in winter to gain the consensus of his Arab allies to unite against Iran.

But hosting officials of the regional nations dismissed Bush’s allegations, describing Tehran as a good friend of their countries.

The value of diplomatic outreach to Iran has been an issue in the current presidential campaign.

Democrat Barack Obama favors direct diplomacy. He says he would meet Iran’s leaders without precondition but after the proper groundwork is laid. Republican John McCain favors tougher penalties and opposes direct high-level talks with Iran.

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