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Standoff with Iran over nuclear program could lead to conflict

By in Opinions

U.S. presidential candidate Mitt Romney has described Iran as “the greatest threat that the world faces over the next decade.” Surprisingly this is the first time that I have agreed with something a Republican candidate has said in as presidential campaign.

For numerous years, Iran’s continuing development of a nuclear program has been cause for concern to the international community, with condemnations coming from the EU, U.S. and Canada, among others.

On Jan. 2, an Iranian state-run news agency reported that the country had produced its first nuclear fuel rod. Prior to this, Iran’s ties to the West were strained when, on Nov. 29, protesters in the capital of Tehran stormed the British embassy. As a result of that incident, Britain withdrew all diplomatic staff from their Tehran embassy and expelled all Iranian diplomats in Britain.

In response to both the U.K. embassy incident and the development of the first Iranian fuel rod, numerous Western countries including the U.S. and U.K. have all imposed tough sanctions against Iran, mostly targeting the country’s economy. Some of the newest U.S. sanctions includes a measure that will force companies and financial institutions throughout the world to choose between the United States and Iran as their business partner.

Concurrent to both of the events above, Iran also conducted war games in the Strait of Hormuz. The war games were dubbed Great Prophet and saw the launch of fourteen surface-to-surface missiles over the course of ten days. This is a show of strength that the Revolutionary Guards General Amir Ali Hajizadeh has said would show that Iran is prepared to strike at Israel and U.S. targets in the event of any attack. This seems to hint at Iran’s possible retaliation to more sanctions. With the military that they currently posses, Iran would be able to close off the Strait of Hormuz, effectively severing twenty per cent of the world’s oil flow.

Before this happens, we must first look at the real world consequences to the ongoing sanctions. The Iranian currency, the rial, has fallen to a record low. Where about a month earlier the exchange rate had been 10,500 rials to one American dollar, it is now 17,200 to a dollar. The Iranian economy is in a problematic state and it may only get worse.

But now back to Mitt Romney’s comment of Iran being a great threat. Right now the Iranian government is acting irrationally. Although those in control of Iran may view their actions as the correct ones, they seem to forget that they are in a pissing contest with a multitude of nations, the most powerful being the United States. Although Iran is no small threat, it is no comparison to the juggernaut that is the American military.

American leadership has shown time and time again that their goals are based around oil appropriation. Due to Iran’s grip on a fifth of the world’s oil supply, any threat by Iran to cease flow of their liquid gold will be viewed with utmost attention by the United States. Make no mistake: the Americans will act according to their needs, and unfortunately they need oil.

With Iran’s economy tanking in the worst way possible and more sanctions seemingly on their way, they have been backed into a corner. Either Iran must make the decision to concede to international pressure or the international community must back off from their demands. There are numerous cliche ways to describe the events unfolding in Iran, but this one will suffice: the situation developing in Iran is a tinderbox and all it needs to go up in flames is a simple spark.

Graphic: osipovva/Flickr

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