`Iran-Israel military confrontation not picnic`

Updated: Mar 03, 2012, 21:56 PM IST

Is Iran planning to get a nuclear bomb? Is Israel readying for an attack on Iran’s nuclear sites? The international community is abuzz with rumours and confusion about Iran’s nuclear programme.

The world is trying hard to negotiate with Iran, but the latter has continued to enrich uranium. The rumours of a war being designed against Iran are doing the rounds. In fact, US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta recently said that Israel may attack Iran as early as April. However, the prospects seem to be weak. Israel would not like to spoil US President Barack Obama’s chances of re-election. Besides, will the war be a success, is definitely a question to ponder over.

In an exclusive interview with Kamna Arora of Zeenews.com, Professor PR Kumaraswamy discusses Iran’s intentions behind offering nuclear talks and the chances of a war with Tehran.

Professor PR Kumaraswamy teaches contemporary Middle East at the Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi.

Kamna: Iran has expressed willingness to resume talks over its nuclear program, but refused to let United Nations experts investigate allegations of illicit nuclear activities at a military base. What does Iran want to indicate?

Prof Kumaraswamy: This primarily indicates a sign of defiance. There are also domestic concerns, especially with Parliament Elections due to be held on March 02. The government does not want to appear to be soft, especially in the light of new sanctions and pressures.

Kamna: What are the prospects of a military confrontation between Israel, US and Iran? If there are any, is Iran prepared to tackle Israel and the US?

Prof Kumaraswamy: There is diversity of opinions inside Israel over this issue. Military confrontation is not a picnic and hence will not be taken lightly. In public, a number of American officials have hinted that Israel has NOT made any decision on this issue.

Kamna: Can the Iranian nuclear row affect the relationship between US President Obama and Israeli PM Netanyahu?

Prof Kumaraswamy: Confrontation is not a choice for either of them as they need one another. Hence, both will coordinate and synchronise their positions that would serve their interests best.

Kamna: Will West sanctions be able to stop Iran from fulfilling its nuclear dream?

Prof Kumaraswamy: Concerted sanctions might generate domestic public opposition within Iran that might force the leadership to re-examine its postures. March 02 Parliamentary Elections are a good parameter to test public view of the controversy.

Kamna: What are the likely consequences of nuclear weapons-equipped Iran?

Prof Kumaraswamy: If that happens, then regional power will decisively shift in favour of Iran. Two, it will result in a nuclear race in the Persian Gulf and beyond. Three, smaller neighbours of Iran will feel intimidated and this will lead to greater external interference in the region.

Kamna: The Iran nuclear issue poses a serious policy dilemma for India. How should New Delhi deal with it?

Prof Kumaraswamy: Its best hope lies in Iran not making that choice. Officially, India has stated its opposition to a nuclear Iran but if that happens, India will have to deal with a resurgent Iran. But it will have to be more sensitive and accommodative of the fears and concerns of Iran`s Arab neighbours, especially Saudi Arabia.