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The beginning of another cold war?

by Archives October 30, 2007

The world is ending! Or so the headline will read if all the stars align.
There is a major crisis brewing in the world, and it seems as though many people simply don’t see it. We are so close to the brink of a nuclear war, it’s scary.
Iran’s nuclear ambitions have been making headlines recently, and although they have publicly stated that their uranium refinement is for peaceful, power generation purposes, many (including the U.S.) see it as a cover for a nuclear weapons program.
Currently, the only country in the Middle East that has nuclear weapons is Israel. This creates a so-called ‘balance of power’ – one which Israel will defend using any means necessary. They did so in 1981 when they bombed Iraq’s Osirak nuclear reactor.
Although they don’t officially admit it, Israel allegedly did so again in Syria just last month. Israeli officials believed Syria was constructing a nuclear reactor with the help of North Korean scientists, so they scrambled their fighter jets and destroyed it.
If Iran were to be attacked by Israel, it is likely that they would respond militarily, unlike Iraq or Syria. And this is a very dangerous prospect, because it could create a large-scale Middle Eastern war or worse, open up Pandora’s Box and start a nuclear war. But it could also potentially draw the U.S. and Russia into the conflict.
The Bush administration has in the past given it’s support to Israel – both politically, and militarily by supplying them weapons. Russia’s oil and gas companies such as Lukoil have many vested interests in the oil and gas industry in Iran, and the Russians also have a strategic interest to maintain a strong and independent Iran. Because it shares a border with American occupied Iraq and Russia, it has been suggested that the Russians consider Iran as a sort of buffer zone.
If the U.S. and Russia were to be drawn into the conflict by opposing sides, it would create a truly a frightening scenario. Between the two of them, they possess over 17,000 operational nuclear weapons.
Russia has repeatedly blocked American-backed U.N. resolutions against Iran’s nuclear ambitions, and has publicly stated that they would not accept a potential U.S invasion of Iran, given its geographic proximity to Russia.
Relations between the Americans and Russians have also become increasingly strained recently. Russian President Vladimir Putin suggested last Friday that U.S. plans for a missile shield in Eastern Europe had many similarities to the Cuban Missile Crisis in the 1960’s.
It is a commonly held belief that this crisis was the closest the world has come to nuclear war. But while the crisis was diffused and people gradually went back to living their daily lives, did the threat really dissipate?
While it is true that American and Russian relations thawed in the aftermath of the Soviet Union’s collapse in 1991, they have been going downhill ever since Putin took office in 1999. His comparison of the U.S. missile shield to the Cuban missile crisis marks a serious escalation in the rhetoric commonly exchanged between these two countries.
The leaders of the United States and Russia both know that the stakes are high, and that the consequences would be unthinkable if a nuclear conflict were to arise between them. They would likely try to exhaust every diplomatic option possible to diffuse the situation.
But there are so many variables. If Israel were to launch an attack on Iran, it is possible the Russians would intervene, which would necessitate the Americans becoming involved. What could then ensue would have the possibility of escalating into a major conflict, one that could include the use of nuclear weapons.
With other states including China, India, Pakistan, U.K., France, North Korea, and South Africa possessing nuclear weapons, they could all be drawn into a conflict on opposing sides.
The very existence of these weapons threatens the future of the world, and makes the outbreak of a nuclear war a very real and alarming prospect. But there’s not much anyone can do, because it is very unlikely that any of these countries will be willing to give up their weapons of mass destruction any time soon.

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