Israel and the U.S. don’t sound so crazy. First, take the Ambassador of the UAE to the U.S. talking to Jeff Goldberg at the Aspen Ideas Festival:
There are many countries in the region who, if they lack the assurance the U.S. is willing to confront Iran, they will start running for cover towards Iran. Small, rich, vulnerable countries in the region do not want to be the ones who stick their finger in the big bully’s eye, if nobody’s going to come to their support. …
Countries in the region view the Iran threat very differently, I can only speak for the U.A.E., but talk of containment and deterrence really concerns me and makes me very nervous. Why should I be led to believe that deterrence or containment will work? Iran doesn’t have a nuclear power now, but we’re unable to contain them and their behavior in the region. What makes me think that once they have a nuclear program, we’re going to be able to be more successful in containing them?
In a follow-up post, Goldberg posted his response to the question of whether Iran’s program ought to be halted by force.
Absolutely, absolutely. I think we are at risk of an Iranian nuclear program far more than you are at risk. At 7,000 miles away, and with two oceans bordering you, an Iranian nuclear threat does not threaten the continental United States. It may threaten your assets in the region, it will threaten the peace process, it will threaten balance of power, it will threaten everything else, but it will not threaten you.
The ambassador later said his comments were taken out of context, but there’s no use denying what we already know — that the Arab states fear nuclear Iran just as much as Israel does. Also, I was intrigued to see a high-ranking Iranian official admit that sanctions could have some (if not a complete) effect on their development of nuclear technology:
Sanctions against Iran could slow down its nuclear progress, a senior government official said on Wednesday, the first time Tehran has acknowledged the measures might have some bite.
"We cannot say the sanctions have no effect," the head of Iran’s atomic energy agency, Ali Akbar Salehi, was quoted as saying by ISNA news agency. "Maybe they will slow down the work but they will not stop it, that’s certain."
Funnily enough, that’s pretty much how I interpreted Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s state of mind when he said that the sanctions were “pathetic.”
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