Escalation in t…
Iran, one of the world’s biggest oil producing nations, is at the centre of international controversy surrounding a European Oil Embargo and continuing pressure over the development of the state’s nuclear program.
Iran, a Theocratic state (a mix between religion and authoritarian rule ) , has an ever increasing military which is now currently 10th largest in the world. It has been linked directly with the expansion of a nuclear energy program by the European Union and certain United Nation members. They have deemed this expansionism as a “threat…(to) the peace and security of us all” , and today cemented a planned Oil Embargo which they hope will undermine Iran’s ability to fund its nuclear project. It is however unclear whether this embargo is justified, as Iran from the outset have continually claimed that their nuclear program is for peaceful and domestic purposes aimed at providing an alternative energy source to its population, which is growing at an exponential rate. As it stands, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has not found evidence of nuclear weapons, merely the indication of the intent to begin construction.
These sanctions imposed by the European Union could have undesired consequences, as the Iranian Foreign Minister explained to the press earlier this week. He stated that these sanctions are “unfair” and “doomed to fail”, as Iran currently supplies 20% of European Oil. The European Union would have to diversify its imports at an inferred economic cost, which could also be a problem if Iran follows through with retaliatory threats. Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei claimed the state would retaliate with an “Iron Fist” if attacked and will close the Hormuz Straight a vital shipping route which falls within Iranian waters. The shipping passage sees approximately 35% of the world’s oil travel through it on a yearly basis, making it an integral part of global oil supplies.
Events have the potential to escalate but two key narratives seem most prominent. They could mimic the Oil Embargoes of the 70’s, which first saw the deployment of the “Oil Weapon” but faded out due to the economic decline of all parties involved. In this situation the political message was conveyed, but a solution was reached via talks and dialogues. However there is always a potential for conflict, as French Foreign Minister Kouchner warns “we must prepare for the worst and the worst is war”. This seems to be what some European nations are doing, with the U.K sending HMS Argyll to the Gulf on Sunday, joining with a larger contingent of American ships based in and around the Hormuz straight. It seems however that this show of force is doing little to alter Iranian perspective as they openly challenge moves by the International Community. The E.U only makes up 20% of their market, with China and India consuming the vast majority of Iranian Oil exports, meaning that there will still be a constant demand for their product. If the desire is there, fuelled by provocative actions from the West, Iran could still easily upgrade its military and fund its nuclear program.
The European Union would be wrong to ignore Iran’s development. Any state with the potential for a nuclear program needs to be inspected thoroughly for the safety of neighbouring states and the security of the rest of the world. However, taking increasingly hostile actions on the basis of inconclusive evidence from the IAEA could be a mistake (a lesson we should have learnt from the recent Iraq war and Suddams so called WMD’s). Iran still claims that its intentions are peaceful and until there is direct evidence of an international threat found by UNSCOM (United Nations Special Commission) or the IAEA, then all hostilities and provocations should cease, and meaningful dialogue should ensue.