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April 14, 2021

Thwarting Israeli provocations

Opinion

April 14, 2021

The cyber-attack on an Iranian nuclear facility may have created a ripple of excitement among the war-mongers sitting in the power corridors of Tel Aviv but has appalled many who believe in international laws and global principles of peace and stability. The attack on the heavily guarded Natanz plant is likely to set back the nuclear program of the state by nine months.

According to a section of Western media, US intelligence sources believe Israel was behind the attack that happened on Saturday. Intelligence sources told the New York Times that the attack led to an explosion that destroyed the independently protected power supply to advance centrifuges that create enriched uranium and that it could take at least nine months to restore production. Reports in Israeli media seem to have corroborated the claims of the US intelligence sources, claiming that Mossad carried out a successful cyber sabotage operation.

Iran dispelled the impression that the attack has brought massive damage to the plant, claiming not all centrifuges had been damaged and some production could start this week. Tehran asserts that the damaged centrifuge facility could be replaced by more advanced models. However, such claims are being taken with a pinch of salt in Western capitals that believe that the attack has exposed the vulnerability of Iranian plants to an external cyber-attack.

The attack has disappointed and shocked many pacifists around the world, who had already been campaigning against the mad race of nuclear weapons. The attack took place at a time when the world is already trying to grapple with the effects of the Fukushima nuclear power plant’s leakage which had raised concerns about the safety of nuclear plants. This attack is likely to add to such concerns.

The United States has categorically denied its hand in any manner in the attack, but given that the US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin was in Jerusalem at the time of the attack, standing next to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, it will fuel speculations about Americans complicity in the attack or at least conservative elements in Iran could create this impression. Netanyahu unabashedly declared that he would never allow Iran to obtain the nuclear capability to carry out what he called its genocidal goal of eliminating Israel. This clearly reflects his contempt for international law.

Many analysts believe that the attack is aimed at sabotaging the efforts that are being made by France, Britain and Germany to convince the US to return to the Iran nuclear deal. Washington had pulled out of the deal during the time of Donald Trump citing alleged violations by the Islamic Republic. The three European powers are also making Iran return to full compliance with the deal that constrained Iranian nuclear program. The Jewish state strongly opposed the deal and it is also bent on opposing the efforts by European powers to return to the deal.

This is not the first time that Iranian interests have come under attack. In the past, Iranian scientists have allegedly been targeted by Israeli intelligence operatives. There have also been other sabotage activities inside the Islamic Republic blamed on the Jewish state. Tel Aviv is also accused of supporting Iranian dissidents living in various parts of the world who want to topple the current theocratic regime.

Iran on the other hand throws blanket support behind Hezbollah and Hamas besides enjoying immense influence in Iraq and Syria. Israel is wary of Iranian presence in Syria, targeting Iranian interests there several times in the past few years.

Many political commentators believe that states have a right to lobby to protect their interests but they should not cross red lines and jeopardize the peace of the region and the world. Many critics in the Western world firmly believe that Israel has genuine security concerns but others point out that the situation is not as bleak for Tel Aviv as it used to be. They argue that in recent years Israel has normalised relations with a few important Muslim states. Such normalization, they assert, should go some way in allaying the fears of the Zionist state, prompting its leadership to avoid actions that could plunge the region into new turmoil.

Peace activists believe that if Israel has concrete evidence against Iranian ambitions to develop nuclear bombs then it should contact the relevant forums. Mere rhetoric and fear mongering cannot convince the International Atomic Energy Commission which has been keeping an eye on Iranian nuclear facilities, and European powers that managed to convince Iran to put a halt to its nuclear ambitions. They were convinced that Tehran was not violating the agreement.

If Israel has evidence contrary to this, then it should come up with irrefutable proof and approach the Western media which has been pro-Israel for decades, or mobilize American public opinion that has been with the Zionists since the establishment of Israel. Tel Aviv can also avail international forums and also engage China and Russia with whom it enjoys very cordial relations.

But it seems that Tel Aviv does not have any concrete evidence and it just wants to raise the spectre of fear-mongering and employ sledgehammer tactics. But such rash actions on the part of the Zionist state could spell disaster for the entire region, plunging it into a conflagration that could incinerate everything.

Tehran has demonstrated patience and restraint so far. But if such provocative actions remain unabated, it will strengthen the position of conservative elements inside the Islamic Republic. Therefore, it is important that the European Union and the United States rein in Israel. China has recently announced a massive investment plan for Iran; China could approach international forums besides opening back channels to stabilize the region which might be disturbed after the most recent attack.

Moscow, which enjoys cordial ties with Iran and Israel, should also play its role. Western powers should also make it very clear that such provocative actions will not be tolerated in the rules-based system that was created by the US and its allies. If the European powers and the US firmly believe in international laws and norms of diplomacy then they must encourage peaceful means of settling disputes. The administration of Joe Biden that wants to settle the Iran nuclear issue in a peaceful manner should make it clear to Israel that such practice of sabotage will not be acceptable in a world that needs peace and stability. It is also the responsibility of the people of Israel to raise a voice against the irresponsible actions of their prime minister and his tedious acolytes. They must deter the war-mongers that want to plunge the region into a death and destruction trap.

The writer is a freelance journalist.

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