MOSCOW. (RIA Novosti political commentator Pyotr Goncharov)
Iran is unwilling to obey the demands of the world community to slow down uranium enrichment. The UN Security Council is expected to gather in the beginning of March in order to decide what to do about Tehran. Under Article 41 of the UN Charter's Chapter VII, it can resort to additional measures to influence Iran without the use of force. While the Iranian Six have been deliberating a new draft resolution since last Monday, emotions are running high around Iran itself.
By tradition, on the eve of the UN Security Council's regular March session on Iran's nuclear program, Iran and the United States exchanged "pre-emptive" strikes to show mutual resolve to achieve their goals militarily, if need be.
Iran staged large-scale exercises of its elite Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, successfully tested its new missiles, and declared that it would continue its nuclear program despite the world community's demand of a moratorium on uranium enrichment and to defend it at all costs, including war with the United States.
In turn, Washington launched a massive onslaught on Iran. The New Yorker published the Pentagon's plan for air strikes at Iran-based facilities, the British Daily Telegraph reported on Israel's talks with the U.S. on Israeli aircraft flights over Iraqi territory, and U.S. Vice President Richard Cheney said that no options have been taken off the table. This gives one a feeling of deja-vu - February 2006 was much the same.
Until now, U.S.-Iranian military confrontation was largely perceived as a bluff. Now that the U.S. is deploying powerful attack groups of "political pressure" (to use its own explanation), both sides seem to be threatening each other for real. Any military mechanism, created for "political pressure," is effective as long as it yields results. Otherwise, it is reduced to an instrument of trivial blackmail, and is militarily devalued. What will the U.S. do if Iran does not yield to its "political pressure"? Fighting will be the only option since the U.S. prestige is at stake.
Under the circumstances, the U.S. is not likely to avoid war with Iran. Their regional policies as regards each other and Tehran's attitude to Israel are making this war practically inevitable. In order to avoid it without dramatic changes, one of the sides will have to make huge concessions. The U.S. will have to give up its interests in the region, whereas Iran will have to curtail its nuclear program and forget about its regional ambitions. Both sacrifices are unlikely, but a compromise is possible. Iran will have to place its nuclear program under tough International Atomic Energy Agency control; make major adjustments to its policy in Iraq, Lebanon, and Palestine; and give up its anti-Israeli rhetoric. The U.S. will have to accept Iran's key role in the region with all the ensuing privileges. Neither side seems to be ready for this.
Meanwhile, in Tehran different political forces have lashed out against the country's nuclear program and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's policy. Addressing the president, the leader of the reformist Islamic Iran Solidarity Party wrote in the prestigious daily Etemad-i Melli that "the brakes are designed to make sure the train arrives at its destination safely, and in time."
These words seem all but a goodwill gesture. In his virtual polemics with U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Ahmadinejad said that like a train, the Iranian nuclear program did not have a reverse gear. She replied that it needed "a stop button" rather than a reverse gear.
Maybe, slowing down will help the sides find a compromise?
Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RIA Novosti.