'Strike on Iran unlikely, would not have US support'
Nadian-Jazy believes that if President Obama is re-elected, he will be more willing to take a risk on diplomacy with Tehran and work out a plan to resolve tensions in a way that will be mutually beneficial for both America and Iran.
Professor shared his views with RT's Sophie Shevardnadze on the sidelines of the 2012 Moscow Nonproliferation Conference: Nuclear Energy, Disarmament and Nonproliferation.
RT: Iran has just hosted a huge international event – the Non-Aligned Movement summit. There were 120 countries present, regardless of the US and Israel's warnings not to do so. What message exactly is Iran sending out there?
Nasser Nadian-Jazy: Basically, Iran attempted to say that we’re not isolated the way the West attempted. Thus, the principal message for Iran was convincing the international community, particularly the West, that Iran is not isolated, let’s resolve our issues on the basis of negotiation rather than sanctions, political pressure and isolation.
RT: One could call it probably diplomatic power – you had 120 countries coming to you – regardless of America saying ‘don’t go.’ Does this immunize you from a possible strike [on Iran]?
NNJ: Of course not. Although, I’m not all that convinced that the Israelis would attack Iran, because that does not serve their interests. That would not help them to achieve their objectives. It would be costly for them, too. They can begin the strike, the war, but they are not sure how and when Iran is going to respond. In fact, no one can predict it.
RT: Do you have a guess how much the war with Iran would cost to the world economy?
NNJ: No doubt that as the first planes and missiles are flying over Iran, the price of oil is going to jump up – at least for a while. Considering the current economic problems now, I doubt it would be very helpful to the global economy.
RT: Since we’ve started talking about this possible strike, the US and Israel have different views on whether this strike should take place or not. What will happen, in your opinion, after the US presidential election?
NNJ: My guess is that if President Obama is re-elected, he would attempt to somehow work out a plan that would be beneficial for both America and Iran. Up to this point, America should basically consider the pressure. They cannot dismiss the presidential elections, they cannot dismiss the pressure from Israel. But after that, President Obama will be more willing to take risks with diplomatic efforts.
RT: You mentioned you don’t actually think that Israel would go ahead with the strike. But does it actually have the capability to fight the war?
NNJ: Up to this moment I’m almost convinced – though not totally convinced – that Israelis are putting pressure on the international community, particularly America with its presidential election. They want to get more; they want to make America accept their red line, which is zero [uranium] enrichment for Iran. They feel this is the best time to pressure America to accept that red line. America has not accepted that red line. For America, the red line is Iran having actual [nuclear] weapons.
But in case they decide to attack, they will not achieve their objectives. They do not have the capability to attack Iran. At most they can attack a few places by missiles and war planes. That would not convince Iran not to pursue its nuclear program.
If effectively put that way, it can bring out the radicals of Iran – those who are arguing for nuclear weapons. An Israeli attack is the best-case scenario for them. Basically, Israelis would strengthen the [Iranian] radicals who want them out. But the absolute majority of Iranian pundits and elites and officials – they don’t want this [nuclear] weapons. What they want is the capability [to make them]. I’ve been arguing that since 2003, Iran does not want [nuclear] weapons, Iran wants the capability
RT: What is your personal take on Mahmoud Ahmadinejad saying that he wants Israel to be wiped off the face of Earth?
NNJ: To me it is mostly a wish rather than a plan.
RT: But it is something a president of a country comes out and says to the world media.
NNJ: That is very unfortunate that the president of the country would say that, but I’m not convinced at all or rather convinced the opposite, that there is no plan for wiping Israel off the map.
RT: The world is still not convinced that Iran doesn't want to make a nuclear bomb. What other cards does Iran have to prevent a war?
NNJ: I’m not sure about the rest of the world, you can say a few countries.
RT: A few countries that really call the shots, let’s put it that way.
NNJ: Exactly, I fully agree on that. Yes, they are not convinced that the Iranian nuclear program is peaceful. They might decide to attack and wage war on Iran. But what can we do to prevent a war is to convince the international community, particularly the IAEA, that our program is peaceful. We also can bring influential figures of the world to Iran, presenting our case to them and convincing them there is no reason for Iran to have [nuclear] weapons.
A number of important international relation theoreticians have argued [with me] that, considering the situation, Iran should have nuclear weapons. I provided a number of reasons why Iran is not pursuing and does not want to have nuclear weapons. The reason is that they do not enhance security in the region. That would be very stupid of Iran to weaponize its nuclear program.
RT: Let’s talk about sanctions. Iran’s oil revenues have declined since the Western sanctions went in place. Iran’s government said it has not really affected anything, but these sanctions really eaten into Iranian economy, haven’t they?
NNJ: Of course, sanctions have an impact on Iran, but are they enough to convince Iran not to have the enrichment? No, they are not. In the long term, sanctions are going to hurt Iran very much and that is why I’ve been arguing all along that in fact the current situation is very good for the Americans. Why should they change course? That is why they are arguing with Israel “we can achieve our objectives in long term, don’t push it.”
This is an excellent and very low-risk plan for the Americans. They have cornered Iran, put a lot of pressure on it and they say “let’s wait and see what will happen.”
For Iran the situation is not good. Iran should change that element of strategic calculus, so that the Americans think it is not going to be the same. The introduction of a new element – like a military option – would change the entire strategic landscape. That’s why Americans are pressuring Israelis not to take any action.
RT: Another topic the US and Iran disagree on is Syria, and whether [President Bashar] Assad should stay or leave. How long does Iran want the current government in Syria to hold on, and if Assad is ousted, would Iran feel vulnerable?
NNJ: Unfortunately, due to particularly Saudi Arabia and Qatar and to a lesser extent Turkey, the situation in Syria is bad, many people are being killed. I doubt that with Assad leaving things are going to be resolved there for at least next decade. Syria is not going to be the same because so many parties are engaged.
RT: What does it mean for Iran, especially if Assad goes? He will probably go sooner or later.
NNJ: It depends. For Iran the best scenario is preserve the regime – at least the state – but let Assad go. To come up with a resolution so that a sort of national unity government can be formed in the same state, but without Assad. Otherwise, it is going to be chaos for years to come. And it is not going to be contained within Syria. Iraq and Lebanon are going to be influenced, and once they’re influenced, Yemen will follow. Saudi Arabia won’t be immune from the situation, or Iran and Turkey. The whole region is going to be impacted if the conflict is not contained within Syria.