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Vail Valley Voices: Iran’s nuclear threat

Sal Bommarito
Vail, CO Colorado

I’m not a foreign-relations expert, but I can recognize a serious diplomatic problem when I see one. And the Iran nuclear crisis is a dangerous situation.

Russia has, for all intents and purposes, vetoed any serious sanctions by the United Nations against Iran. President Obama had hoped these sanctions would temper Iran’s nuclear ambitions.

The reason for Russia’s seem-ingly inane response to Iran’s efforts to build a nuclear bomb is historically motivated.



The most significant American diplomatic achievement since World War II occurred during the Cold War when Ronald Reagan effectively forced the Soviet Union to dis-mantle itself. Russia’s ultimate ruler, Vladimir Putin, a one-time KGB chief and die-hard national-i-st, has been dreaming about the old days when his country regularly interfered with American global leadership.

Spurred economically by a spike in oil prices, Putin has decided to assert Russian influence even while pretending to be an ally of Bush and now Obama.



Higher oil prices filled Russian foreign-exchange coffers, giving Putin a false sense of economic prowess. He responded by causing problems in nearby former Soviet provinces.

But now, Russia is ready for prime time. Russia has openly defied an effort by Oba-ma to build a consensus against Iran’s nuclear ambitions.

The illogic of this decision is overwhelm-ing. Why would Russia condone the devel-opment of a nuclear weapon by one of its most unstable neighbors, which happens to be ruled by a maniac who, in turn, is respon-sible to a group of religious zealots intent on destroying Israel?



Some have said the reason is economic in that Russia has several important projects under way in Iran. That may be partially true, but Iran’s proximity to former Soviet provinces and Russia should be the most important consideration. If a war breaks out, bombs will be exploding dangerously close to Russian soil. Is Putin prepared to look the other way just because he wants to take on the U.S. diplomatically?

What are the odds that Iran ultimately produces a nuclear weapon? I put them at zero, but not because the U.S. will invade Iran (Americans wouldn’t support another war in the region). Rather, Israel won’t allow Iran to have a nuclear weapon. Israel’s lead-ers look at this situation as a matter of life and death for their county.

The reaction to an Israeli strike wouldn’t be what some might think. Not one Arab country really believes that a nuclear Iran is in its best interests. Superficial outrage to an Israeli strike would be prevalent, but I believe most Arabs would be relieved if Iran were to be neutered.

And keep in mind that Iran stands ready to use its might and influence against Sunni Arab regimes. So you can just imagine how Saudi Arabia (a Sunni regime) feels about this situation.

Israel will attack because it has no choice. Its intelligence is second to none (so it will know when a deliverable bomb has been developed), it has the conventional firepow-er to destabilize Iran’s nuclear program, and no country will act against Israel, not even Russia.

Russia is playing a dangerous diplomatic game by not supporting the U.S. effort to thwart Iran’s nuclear program. All nations should work together for a peaceful settle-ment of this crisis. But Russia, for glory’s sake, may make a peaceful reconciliation impossible.

Sal Bommarito is a novelist and frequent visi-tor to Vail during the past 20 years.


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