has been concealing nuclear research for the past 18 years, despite
signing the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) in 1970 and is now
believed to be at the "point of no return" in developing nuclear
arms. These unconventional threats together with Iranís consistent
support of terrorism, including links to al-Qaeda and support of
Hizbullah, make Iran a most dangerous threat to the region and to
the world and have put it at one with North Korea and Iraq in the so
called tri-polar ďaxis of evil.Ē Analysts argue that the prospect of
a nuclear Iran would:
- Threaten Israeli, US,
and European security.
- Harden Arab positions
in any future peace negotiations.
- Increase militancy and
- Destabilize the Gulf
- Encourage other
countries, such as Saudi Arabia and Libya, to follow suit.
Since the collapse of Saddam Hussein's
regime in Iraq, Israel has come to regard the Islamic fundamentalist
administration in Tehran as its number one enemy. For Israel Iranian
nuclear capability poses a clear threat to its existence,
particularly due to Iranís call for Israelís annihilation and its
active support of acts of violence against Israel.
Although in response to intensive international pressure, Iran
finally agreed to sign the additional protocol of the
non-proliferation treaty in December 2003, this step is widely
regarded with skepticism in the West due to Iranís past disregard of
its obligations to the NPT.
Since 2001 Iran has made significant progress in its nuclear
program, apparently with the help of Pakistan and North Korea,
as well as research institutes and commercial companies in
Russia and China. Western intelligence sources report that Iran
has constructed a number of nuclear facilities and that it plans
to build more. This adds to the threat posed by Iranís Shehab-3
medium range balistic missile which can reach targets in Israel.
Although for the time being the Shehab-3 is though to carry only
conventional warheads, it will be able to carry a nuclear
warhead if Iran manages to produce one small enough. A chemical
or biological warhead is also a possibility. (Intelligence
analysts predict Iran will acquire a nuclear weapon by 2008.).
In his State of the Union Address of late January 2002, US
President George W. Bush coined the phrase "axis of evil," which
has since become a common figure of speech. Bush maintained that
"states like these, and their terrorist allies, constitute an
axis of evil, arming to threaten the peace of the world. By
seeking weapons of mass destruction, these regimes pose a grave
and growing danger." (cited in Emily Landau and Ram Erez, The
Nuclear Dimension of Axis of Evil, Strategic Assesment, Vol. 6,
No. 1, The Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies, Tel Aviv
University, May 2003).
Iran refuses to recognize Israel and top officials
frequently call for the destruction of the Jewish state.
During a major military parade on September 22, 2003 the Islamic
republic showed off six of its Shehab-3 missiles which were
decorated with anti-Israeli and anti-US slogans, including one
saying Israel should be "wiped off the map". Defense Minister
Shaul Mofaz , in a lecture delivered to top Israel Defense
Forces commanders defined Iran's nuclear efforts as "the gravest
danger to Israel's existence in the future" (Aluf Ben, Haaretz,
Oct. 12, 2003).