Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Iranian Nuclear Weapons 'Inevitable'

Anton La Guardia, The Telegraph:
It is all but impossible to stop Iran developing nuclear weapons, a leading British think-tank said yesterday, as the world's powers struggled to find a common strategy to face the threat.

Senior officials from the US, Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China closeted themselves at a secret location in London to negotiate a package of "incentives" for Iran to halt its nuclear programme.

But the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) suggested that neither diplomacy nor military action to destroy the nuclear facilities was likely to succeed. READ MORE

"There is a consensus emerging that an Iranian nuclear capability is both inevitable, and certainly bad," said the IISS director, John Chipman, presenting an assessment of the international military balance.

He said America's Arab allies in the Gulf feel "the only thing worse than a nuclear-armed Iran is a US military strike against the country, especially if it were still left with a nuclear option".

Bombing Iran might provoke retaliation against coalition forces in Iraq, attacks by Hizbollah on Israel and attempts to choke the flow of oil through the Gulf.

Margaret Beckett, the Foreign Secretary, said officials were discussing incentives designed to persuade Iran to halt enrichment. This is believed to include the offer of a European-built light water nuclear power reactor.

The US has pushed for economic and political sanctions to be included among the punishments. The IISS said the package is unlikely to sway Iran as it rejected a similar deal last autumn. Teheran has repeatedly ruled out any deal that stops it from enriching uranium.