American analyst: War between US and Iran is not likely in nearest future

Commentary Materials 6 February 2010 15:53 (UTC +04:00)
War between US and Iran is not likely in the nearest future, and even the use of military force is not likely soon.
American analyst: War between US and Iran is not likely in nearest future

U.S., Washington, February 6 / Trend , N.Bogdanova/

"War between US and Iran is not likely in the nearest future, and even the use of military force is not likely soon. But if Iran refuses to compromise, there will be an active debate about force," Patrick Clawson, external researcher at the Strategic Studies Institute of the U.S. Army War College and deputy director of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, told Trend Washington correspondent.

Recently Mr. Clawson published essay called "The Last Resort", dedicated to military situation around Iran and explain why it is believed that even if the United States or Israel used military force against Iran's nuclear program, a full-scale war was unlikely.

Western countries suspect Iran of developing nuclear weapons, but Tehran categorically rejects these suspicions, mentioning the peaceful character of its nuclear program. The UN Security Council has adopted five resolutions with regards to Iran, three of which are sanctions adopted particularly because of Tehran's refusal to suspend uranium enrichment and allow IAEA inspectors to see all facilities, RIA Novosti reported.

Now the Western countries, particularly the U.S., France and Great Britain insist on the prompt adoption of new sanction resolutions because of Iran's refusal to the option proposed late last year by the IAEA and the countries of the "six" (Russia, United States, China, France, Great Britain, Germany) to resolve the Iranian nuclear issue, envisaging supply of nuclear fuel to Tehran from abroad.

"Some analysts worry that U.S. strikes against Iran's nuclear infrastructure could escalate into a full-scale war. Limited strikes could lead to a series of tit-for-tat responses against an ever-broadening array of targets, eventually leading to a major ground war with Iran that neither side wanted or expected. Even in the midst of a progressively escalating conflict with the Islamic Republic, however, it is very difficult to believe that the United States would launch a ground invasion of Iran," he said.

American Wall Street Journal writes that the United States intensified air defense system in the Persian Gulf to strengthen the missile defense and protection against a sudden attack by Iran.

The Journal wrote that U.S. Navy increases the number of carriers Aegis and warships in the Gulf countries.

The Head of U.S. Army Central Command, who is responsible for operations in the Middle East, General David Petraeus said that eight anti-aircraft missile complexes Patriot were deployed in the region in January 2010. They are located in Kuwait, Qatar, UAE and Bahrain, where the U.S. military base is located, RBK reported.

According to military analyst, "although as part of a preventive strike, the United States might attack the Iranian military to limit Iran's ability to retaliate, standoff attacks could, in a matter of weeks, destroy all major elements of Iran's conventional military forces".

"Although in the course of preventive action, U.S. ground forces might unwisely seize oil platforms or islands in the Persian Gulf to prevent their use by the Iranian military or to facilitate their use by the U.S. military, actions that would almost certainly engender a nationalist backlash in Iran-anything beyond that is most unlikely," he added.

Bringing Iraq experience as an example, Mr. Clawson pointed out that, U.S. political and military leaders are painfully aware that the United States lacks the forces necessary to invade, occupy, and administer a country with triple Iraq's population and four times its landmass, especially given the likelihood that a small but significant minority would be quite prepared to resist a U.S. occupation.

"At the moment, the main issue for Iran's leaders is the Green Movement, which they see -- correctly or not -- as a major challenge to their hold on power.  For the next few months, that will be at the top of their agenda, not the nuclear program," he stressed. 

Meanwhile, according to him, the United States and Europe who are pressing for sanctions on Iran, would not consider military force until such time as they see whether the international community can successfully press Iran to compromise.

Speaking about the growth of the domestic protests in Iran he said "Iran's leaders may well decide that they cannot fight both at home and abroad, so they will compromise with the international community about the nuclear program, so that they can turn their attention to their problems at home". 

Mr. Clawson mentioned that, if the Iranian government uses harsh violence to crush the protests, the international outrage will leave Iran more isolated. 

"In such a situation, if Iran continues to refuse to compromise on the nuclear issue, then many governments and people around the world may conclude that Iran's leaders deserve whatever they get -- in other words, an Israeli or American use of force would be seen by many around the world as unfortunate but understandable," he added.