RETIRED American General Wesley Clark has warned Iran of possible attack in the event of the Central Asian country going ahead with its nuclear plans.
Clark served the warning while speaking at a session on ‘Regional Security: Iran, the United States and the Middle East’, held as part of the ‘Enriching The Middle East’s Economic Future Conference’ at Ritz-Carlton Hotel yesterday.
The former US army official is currently serving as a senior fellow at the University of California, Los Angeles’ (UCLA) Burkle Centre for International Relations.
Elaborating on the role of the United States in the region, Clark said Iran could not underestimate America’s capability to launch strikes against the country in the event of a military option.
“If a military option is necessary, we could penetrate Iran’s air space in no time,” said the ex-general.
However, Clark said America favoured calm and peace to prevail in the Middle East region, and Iran had the duty to ensure peace for the region’s population.
Clark said US’ accusation against Iran on its nuclear programme was based on some solid evidence that it had received from reliable sources and the Persians were duty-bound not to vitiate the atmosphere in the region by some ill-advised steps.
Iran’s refusal to resume talks with International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA) officials itself is evidence of its nuclear ambitions, and with this adamant attitude Tehran is causing serious worries among the people of the whole of the Middle East, Clark said.
To tide over the whole issue, there is urgent necessity on the part of countries in the region to pressurise Iran to come to the negotiation table.
Acknowledging that US very much favoured effective dialogue with Iran, Clark said the government of that country should ensure that the region remained intact without precipitating a crisis. “We are for talks with Iran by Qatar, Saudi Arabia or any of America’s numerous friends in the region, but Iran should not consider dialogues as a sign of weakness of the US or its friends,” Clark said.
Talking later, Dr Sadegh Zibakalam from Iran said his country did not understand what exactly was in the mind of the US on the issue of Iran’s nuclear plans. “I strongly believe that the US is in a state of confusion and is worsening the scenario with the kind of bullying tactics that Americans had been employing for quite long,” he said.
“I do not know if US wants us to align with them in its ongoing war in Iraq. Lack of coherent directions on the part of the US could lead to serious consequences in the entire region,” said an emotionally charged Iranian representative.
The professor said that America’s adamant anti-Iranian attitude could strengthen the radicals in his country and benefit the country’s nuclear programme indirectly.
The speaker also said that the Americans were relying on a large group of Sunnis who accused Iran of what they called its “sectarian” policy in Iraq.
Dr Zibakalam stressed that his country was in no way involved in the ongoing inter-sectarian war in Iraq.
Before winding up his speech, the Iranian delegate appealed to the US to come out clear on the whole issue and asked the Americans not to go ahead with plans that he said could only strengthen the radicals in his country.
In his address, Francois Gere, president of the French Institute for Strategic Analysis, suggested 10 points which he said would help normalise relations between the US and Iran.
Brigadier General Abdul Aziz al-Mahmoud, director of Strategic Studies Centre, Ministry of Defence, Qatar, and John Wang spoke.
Michale Yaffe, academic dean, NESA Center of US, was the moderator.