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August 17, 2010 Special Dispatch No. 3174

Saudi Daily: Military Option May be Best Solution to Iranian Nuclear Crisis

August 17, 2010
Saudi Arabia, Iran | Special Dispatch No. 3174

An editorial in the Saudi daily Al-Madina, published in the wake of announcements in Iran and Russia regarding the imminent activation of the nuclear reactor in Bushehr, took a hard line vis-à-vis the Iranian nuclear program, claiming that the military option may be the best way to deal with it. The article reflected the Gulf states' growing tension and concern regarding Iran's nuclear program, and mentioned their proximity to the Bushehr reactor.

Following are excerpts from the editorial:[1]

"Tehran's [August 13, 2010] announcement, confirmed by Russia, that an Iranian nuclear reactor would be inaugurated this month in Bushehr, on the Arabian Gulf coast, and that it would be equipped with fuel and would operate as a nuclear facility, is an indication that the region is now entering a new phase.

"In taking this action, Tehran is ignoring all the advice, warnings, and requests to halt its nuclear program, or at the very least to try to continue it under clear and open international inspection that would guarantee that it does not have a military facet. If [Tehran] insists upon going ahead [with the program] without the agreement of the international community, it will bring embarrassment and suspicion upon every [country] that supported [Iran's] right to peaceful nuclear energy.

"More importantly, by means of this action, Tehran is moving its conflict with the international community into high gear, and [in this case] some may consider the military option to be the best solution. [Delaying recourse to this option] may lead to a point where it is impossible to implement it – if Tehran manages to produce a nuclear bomb of its own.

"What is of concern is [the fact] that the Bushehr reactor is closer to several Gulf capitals than to the Iranian capital itself, as well as the fact that it is very near the crucial oil routes which pass through the Arabian Gulf – placing the neighboring countries in great danger, both in the event of an attack and in the event of radioactive leakage. Moreover, [the Bushehr reactor] may become the site where Tehran will develop its nuclear weapons, which it may use to impose demands or exert pressure on the region. This is a suspicion that Iran has not managed to refute to date.

"If Tehran is interested in the success of its nuclear program for peaceful purposes, and if it wants to make progress in order to ensure prosperity for its people, it must maximize its cooperation with the IAEA. The IAEA, for its part, must display a little flexibility with Tehran, since... equipping the reactor with nuclear fuel is the point of no return. When this happens, the Bushehr reactor will become a facility for nuclear energy.

"All parties must be judicious in confronting the new situation, and must make sure that the inauguration of Bushehr is not a preamble to disturbances or tremors in the region."

Endnote:

[1] Al-Madina (Saudi Arabia), August 15, 2010.

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