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Cover Stories Series 2013> New Man for Iran> Archive
UPDATED: April 23, 2012 NO. 17 APRIL 26, 2012
Back at the Table
Iran and the P5+1 are talking again. Will it make any difference?
By Wang Jinglie

Therefore, the key point of the Iranian nuclear issue is not whether Tehran has violated the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, but the ideological conflicts and hostile relations between Iran and Western countries led by the United States. A U.S. military action on Iran is unlikely in the near future.

Israel's insecurity

In contrast to the positive attitude of the P5+1, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu lashed out at the new round of talks, criticizing the United States and the international community for tolerating Iran's nuclear program. Israel regards Iran's possible nuclear weapons as a deadly threat. If diplomatic solutions fail, Israel is almost certain to resort to military actions.

There are several reasons for Israel to take risky actions. Past sufferings and miserable experiences taught Israeli people that national security is of paramount importance. Israel will fight for existence at any price. It will not pin its hope on the protection of its allies or international conventions. Also, right-wing groups and radical nationalists calling for hard-line policies on Iran remain influential in Israeli society.

Moreover, Israel has a formidable military, which is good at long-range attacks and targeted elimination. In recent history, Israel launched several successful attacks on other Middle East countries. For instance, Israeli forces bombed Iraq's nuclear facilities in 1981 and raided the Palestine Liberation Organization's headquarters in Tunisia in 1985. It is believed that Israel has made a plan for possible air strikes on Iran's nuclear facilities.

Without a doubt, the Middle East will fall into chaos if Israel attacks Iran. Oil prices will possibly soar to $200 per barrel, damaging the recovery of the world economy. In view of the important geopolitical position and economic role of the Middle East, the United States won't allow Israel to play with fire, despite a powerful Jewish lobby. But overwhelmed by a sense of insecurity, Israel may still launch military strikes to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons. During a recent visit to Washington in March, Netanyahu acknowledged that differences still existed in the Israeli and U.S. timetables for contending with the Iranian nuclear program.

The double standard

Weapons of mass destruction have cast a shadow over world peace since nuclear weapons were first used in 1945. In the nuclear arms race, powers have vied to acquire their own trump card. The group of nuclear-weapon nations keeps expanding. According to the statistics from the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists in December 2009, there are 23,360 nuclear warheads (including the retired and dismantled weapons) around the globe. The United States deploys 5,200 nuclear weapons, ranking first in the world. Russia follows in second place with 4,850 pieces.

The United States and other Western countries hold a double standard on nuclear disarmament and the Iranian nuclear issue. On the one hand, the West constantly urges the UN and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to inspect Iran's nuclear facilities and impose sanctions on Iran. On the other hand, they keep silent on Israel's nuclear weapon program.

Mohamed ElBaradei, former Director General of the IAEA, more than once proposed an inspection of Israel's nuclear facility in Dimona. But his proposal was rejected. The unfair standard also explains why the international community has failed to make the Middle East a nuclear-free zone. As long as some countries possess nuclear weapons, other countries will certainly follow.

The author is a research fellow with the Institute of West Asian and African Studies of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences

Email us at: yanwei@bjreview.com

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