How Serious a Threat Could Iran Pose?

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How Serious a Threat Could Iran Pose?

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In the wake of the political tsunami his first Holocaust denial speech created in the West, Iranian President Ahmadinejad backed off from that ludicrous assertion, trading it for another. He told Europe and America that they should create a state within their territory for the Jews of Palestine, since Europe (read, “Nazis”) drove the Jews out of its territory.

But Ahmadinejad shortly thereafter returned to his anti-Semitic rhetoric, calling for Israel’s destruction, as he spoke to hundreds of thousands (according to state media) on the 27th anniversary of the Islamic revolution that overthrew the shah. His hate speech inspired the crowd to chant, “Death to America,” “Death to Israel ” and “Death to Denmark ” (the country in which the infamous cartoons of Muhammad were created).

In the 1980s, Iran’s military struggled for eight years against the forces of Saddam Hussein, which the American-led coalition knocked out in a matter of days. What harm could Iran possibly inflict upon the West?

Serious-minded people are alarmed. “The International Association of Genocide Scholars (IAGS) has passed a resolution noting that Iran’s actions, including Ahmadinejad’s statements, are early warning signs of genocide” (R. Blum, G. Stanton, E. Richter and I. Charney, “Ahmadinejad—Incitement Deserves Indictment,” The Jerusalem Post, Feb. 7, 2006, emphasis added throughout).

More frightening than Hitler

The principle difference between Ahmadinejad and Hitler is that the latter did not have a weapon by which he could exterminate millions of Jews instantly. Ahmadinejad either already has such a weapon (as we discuss below) or soon will have one.

“Historians have established that governmental incitement and use of hate language is a recognized predictor, initiator, promoter and catalyst of genocide” (ibid.).

Iran consistently denies that it has any intention of producing a nuclear weapon. Yet its procurement of P-2 centrifuges from Pakistan’s nefarious nuclear black marketeer Dr. A.Q. Khan is generally viewed as a clear indication that Iran plans to manufacture weapons. Con Coughlin, London’s Telegraph defense and security editor, cited a senior Western intelligence official’s assessment: ” Iran’s recent activity is a clear escalation of its attempts to enrich uranium to weapons grade. With the UN inspectors out of the way they are basically free to do as they please” (“Iran Plant ‘Has Restarted Its Nuclear Bomb-Making Equipment,’” Feb. 2, 2006).

In mid-January, Iran gave the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspectors documents that describe how to shape weaponized uranium so it could fit into the warhead of a missile. Tehran said it turned over the documents as “a show of cooperation,” but should we take comfort in that? Why would they even have this information, if not to produce weapons?

Brace for fuel price hike

In the short term, Iran can give itself a considerable raise in income, simply by Ahmadinejad’s threatening rhetoric, which shoots the price of oil upward. Looking back in history, we see that the price of crude virtually doubled from the start of the Iranian revolution to its war with Iraq . Many market analysts warn of a $100+ per barrel price in the face of a West versus Iran standoff today, and perhaps as high as $150 a barrel. That could conceivably rocket gasoline and heating oil prices to more than double today’s levels. The ripple effect that would have on the world’s economy is difficult to overstate.

Ahmadinejad traveled to Venezuela to cement a friendship with the avidly anti-American Hugo Chavez. Chavez would need little excuse to shut off the 1.5 million barrels of crude oil that Venezuela exports to the United States daily.

The airline industry alone would threaten to sink Western economies, in light of rising operational costs. The U.S. Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) reports that airlines paid an average of about $0.75 per gallon of aviation fuel in 2003. Last August, fuel was running at $1.70 per gallon for scheduled flights—up about 47 percent from August 2004. Even before the hurricane-related price spikes, Andrew Clark wrote in The Guardian, “Fuel costs ‘will push airlines to financial disaster’ ” (April 5, 2005).

The BTS reported the third quarter 2005 profit/loss margin for the 21 major U.S. carriers at a loss of $445.2 million. Worldwide, airlines had to absorb a $3 billion increase in operating costs.

Currently, transportation costs constitute about 10 percent of the U.S. gross domestic product. The doubling of fuel prices would affect the price of almost everything.

Iran may already have nuclear weapons

Rafi Eitan told The Jerusalem Post that he is convinced Iran already has enough enriched uranium to manufacture two Hiroshima-type weapons. Now an elderly businessman, Eitan worked in the inner circles of Israeli intelligence for decades. He headed the team that tracked down Adolf Eichmann, and he participated in the operation to take out Iraq’s nuclear reactor in 1981.

The IAEA is not moving rapidly toward bringing Iran to the UN Security Council for possible sanctions. To do so would require that the IAEA “refer” Iran to the Security Council. As it stands now, the agency intends to discuss the Iranian situation in its March meeting and then “report”—not refer— Iran to the Security Council.

So, all the diplomatic pushing and shoving of the past several months has accomplished only one significant consequence: It enabled Iran to keep working on its nuclear program, which the country will continue doing while the Security Council members quibble over potential sanctions. China and Russia are already sending clear signals that they would veto any sanction proposal. Don’t expect the UN to resolve this evolving nightmare.

A hammer blow to world’s economy

If Iran were willing to play the role of spoiler, even sacrificing itself in the process, the world would take a huge economic hit. The United States does not import any Iranian oil, but Europe gets a third of its oil from Iran, and Japan gets 17 percent of its oil from there. Iran currently supplies 5 percent of the world’s market—a market so tight that there is almost no possibility of making up the shortfall, if Iran should shut off its taps temporarily.

And, since Iran holds the second largest hydrocarbon (oil and gas) reserves in the world, it will play a leading role in the world’s energy market for decades to come. Saudi Arabia has the largest hydrocarbon reserves, but it is currently producing at nearly the maximum sustainable rate. Iran, on the other hand, is barely tapping into its vast reserves. And it doesn’t need to sell to the West. Asia is a hungry and eager market.

Iran could cause trouble another way. “Because Iran occupies a strategic location on the north side of the Persian Gulf, it is in a position to threaten oil fields in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Iraq, and the United Arab Emirates, which together possess more than half of the world’s known oil reserves. Iran also sits athwart the Strait of Hormuz, the narrow waterway through which, daily, 40% of the world’s oil exports pass” (Michael T. Klare, “Oil, Geopolitics, and the Coming War With Iran,” TomDispatch.com, April 11, 2005).

Iran need only sink a supertanker in the two-mile wide shipping lane of the Strait of Hormuz to close it off. And most of the blue-collar oil field workers in the Saudi Kingdom are Shiite Muslims, whose allegiance may well lay with Tehran. They could sabotage the east-west pipeline by which Saudi Arabia exports to the Mediterranean Sea and Europe.

So, if Iran does its worst, Europe would take a heavy hit. Japan’s loss would be even greater, as it receives nearly 80 percent of its oil imports from the Persian Gulf states. The U.S. economy would be hammered, in turn, in the current globalized world economy.

Asian connection

Tehran is acting as though it has calculated what it would lose should it drop Europe’s business (at least, in the short term). Germany exports more than the other EU states to Iran, and it reports that Tehran has been cutting back significantly on orders. Several weeks ago, Iran began systematically withdrawing its investments from European banks.

Where do its future ties lie? Russia is trying hard to become a power broker with Tehran, but China is building even deeper ties. Ever since the United States demonstrated that it would intervene in Middle Eastern affairs preemptively, China has been urgent about securing its energy sources independent of U.S. control.

We could well be witnessing the beginning of a major geopolitical shift in which China becomes a rival power to America and the EU in the Middle East . Revelation 9 and 16 both speak of a significant Asian-Middle Eastern alliance, as we discuss in The Middle East in Bible Prophecy .

In addition to reaching out to Hugo Chavez, Ahmadinejad visited Bashar Assad in Damascus, where he was warmly received. Allied with Iran , Syria could make life miserable for the American-led coalition in Iraq, by stepping up its support for foreign terrorists. The Euphrates River, which bisects Syria and Iraq, is a significant barrier to troop incursions from the Far East, but the prophecy of Revelation 9:13-16 Revelation 9:13-16 13 And the sixth angel sounded, and I heard a voice from the four horns of the golden altar which is before God, 14 Saying to the sixth angel which had the trumpet, Loose the four angels which are bound in the great river Euphrates. 15 And the four angels were loosed, which were prepared for an hour, and a day, and a month, and a year, for to slay the third part of men. 16 And the number of the army of the horsemen were two hundred thousand thousand: and I heard the number of them.
American King James Version×
shows it will literally become a gateway.

A collective suicide bomber?

Iran could contribute greatly to terrorism, not only in Iraq , but also in Europe and America. “A top Ahmadinejad officer, Brig. General Mohammad Kossari, who heads the political watchdog, or Security Bureau, of Iran’s armed forces, recently taunted the U.S. when he bragged ‘we have identified all the weak points of our enemies’ and have sufficient cannon fodder—i.e., suicide operation volunteers—’ready to strike at these sensitive locations.’ Iranian television recently broadcast an animated film for Iranian children glorifying suicide bombers” (Arnaud de Borchgrave, “Later Than We Think,” The Washington Times, Feb. 6, 2006).

Coupling such admissions with Ahmadinejad’s inflammatory speeches, it is hard to take seriously the current Iranian nuclear negotiating policy, which in essence is, “Trust us. We would never produce a weapon of mass destruction. You have our word on it.” Iran’s hard-line clerics, for whom Ahmadinejad speaks, might actually welcome a military attack by America or Israel , relishing the chaos that would ensue.

Ahmadinejad and his backers anticipate the appearance of the “12th Imam,” a sort of end-time “savior” whom they believe will come at a time of great upheaval in the world to rescue humanity. A nuclear war would presumably hasten that scenario, so Iran would not shy from a showdown.

Would Ahmadinejad and company be willing to turn their entire nation into a collective suicide operation? It is difficult to rule out that possibility! Certainly, no one should assume Iran would shrink from a nuclear shoot-out, based upon the Cold War MAD (Mutually Assured Destruction) principle.

All things considered, Iran poses the greatest threat to the world’s stability in decades. WNP

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