By M. A. Saki

First look at real threats and then talk about missile program

March 4, 2018

TEHRAN - Talks on Iran’s missile program is expected to feature high in talks between French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian with top Iranian officials in Tehran on Monday.

Iran, located in the highly volatile Middle East region, has been insisting that its missiles are purely deterrent.

France and other Western powers must know that still unpredictable persons rule in some the Middle Eastern countries.

Consider the surprising Saudi-led siege of the tiny state of Qatar on June 5. Suddenly and surprisingly, Saudi Arabia along with the UAE embarked on strangling Qatar by closing land, sea and air routes to the country.  If it was not for Iran’s help, the Qataris might have even been starved as the country imports a considerable portion of its foodstuff.

Saudi Arabia might have even invaded Qatar if Turkish troops had not been deployed in Qatar or Doha had not signed a military pact with Ankara.

Also remember that after Saddam Hussein militarily failed to annex the oil-rich parts of Iran in the 1980s, he attacked Kuwait in 1990 and declared it as its 19th province.

Now after more than two decades a new ruling family has emerged in Saudi Arabia who behaves Like Saddam Hussein. The Saudi invasion of Yemen in March 2015 is a concrete example of this.

Mohammad bin Salman, the Saudi crown prince, has shamelessly and unexpectedly threatened to take “the battle” inside Iran. Moreover, Saudi officials for years have been urging the U.S. to attack Iran. The documents released by the WikiLeaks are evidence to this.

Some analysts believe that the $110 billion arms deal along with about $300 billion trade pacts that Saudi Arabia signed with the United States during Donald Trump’s visit to Riyadh in May 2017 were primarily intended to provoke the Trump administration to attack Iran and rescind the nuclear agreement.

Also, consider repeated military threats against Iran by Israel, which is armed with nuclear weapons. While the countries use the annual Munich Security Conference to prevent possible conflicts or calm down tensions, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in his speech at the conference this year, threatened to launch military attacks on Iran.

Furthermore, while the range of Iran’s ballistic missiles is limited to 2,000 kilometers, Saudi Arabia’s Chinese-supplied missiles have a range of upwards of 4,000 kilometers.

In view of these facts and a Western arms embargo against Iran how can the West expect Iran to compromise on its missile capability and put its security in harm’s way?

“Certainly true that Iran has ballistic missiles with regional reach. But so have others in that region. Saudi Arabia has Chinese-supplied ones. Israel have advanced ones with nuclear capability,” former Swedish Prime Minister Carl Bildt has said. 

While the balance of power in terms of weaponry has been undermined by the shipment of sophisticated arms to Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Israel, it is absolutely unacceptable to expect Iran to compromise on its military power.

Iran still has the scars of Saddam’s missile attacks on its cities; still, the body of Iranian soldiers and civilians killed in the war are being unearthed; and still many families are awaiting to receive the body of their loved ones.

The Iranians, whose mind are fresh with Saddam’s war against their country, see the missile capability as an asset which can hopefully deter another Saddam Hussein from starting a military attack against them.

If the West really seeks a tension-free Middle East it must consider Iran’s legitimate security concerns and introduce a region-wide arms control initiative. In addition, the U.S. military threats against Iran must come to an end. It is enough to know that repeated threats by Trump to tear up the nuclear deal are viewed by many as a prelude to set the stage for war against Iran.

Mr. Le Drian must convey these worries to the West.


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