By Andrei Ptashnikov
It looks like the current tension in and around Syria has moved the Iranian problem to the back burner but that does not mean that this problem has lost its significance.
Information about events taking place in Iran comes in every day and the number of reassuring reports more or less equals that of discouraging ones. Here is a short summary of the developments which have taken place in Iran in the last few days.
In an interview with Reuters Commander of the U.S. Fifth Fleet Vice Admiral Mark Fox has expressed his opinion about the possibility of a military action against Iran. “The Fifth Fleet is currently stationed in the Persian Gulf and in the event such an operation is launched will take an active part in it,” he said. This is why Fox’s words attracted attention. The Vice Admiral reported that Tehran had considerably increased the number of its submarines and fast attack craft in the Strait of Hormuz. Such boats can be used, in particular, to stage suicide attacks against US ships. According to the information Fox has at his disposal, these boats and submarines are outfitted with new missiles which carry have more powerful warheads. If hostilities began, Fox said, Iran could make life extremely difficult for the US. The Vice Admiral concluded that diplomacy should be given priority in resolving the current tension. Even though Fox is neither a diplomat nor politician, his name would suit both professions. Neither is he independent: if ordered to attack Iran he will carry out the order. However, the fact that comments like these were made by such a high-ranking officer makes them all the more reassuring.
However, the information that follows below does not sound that encouraging. Tel Aviv, which has been playing a very active role in whipping up tensions around Tehran, has accused it of organizing terrorist acts against Israeli Embassies in India and Georgia. Recall that a bomb attached to an Israeli Embassy car exploded in New Delhi on Monday. One person was wounded as a result. On the same day, an explosive device was found under a car belonging to the Israeli mission in Tbilisi. It was luckily found and defused in time. Three more explosions sounded in the capital of Thailand Bangkok on Tuesday. There were other accusations levelled against Tehran but the latter rejected them all. Obviously, these developments have not helped as far as the situation around Iran is concerned.
Russia and China continue to make every effort to find a peaceful solution to the Iranian problem. In Moscow, this issue was discussed at a meeting of foreign ministers of Russia and Bahrain. In a separate development, an official representative from the Chinese Foreign Ministry visited Tehran this week. Speaking to journalists at the end of his visit, he announced that Iran is ready to resume the talks on its nuclear programme with the 5+1 group of intermediaries. The latest round of these talks took place in Turkey over a year ago but failed to yield any results. We can only hope that the discussion will resume in the near future, at least before the 1st of July, otherwise it could be too late. So far, as is known, the EU-imposed embargo on the import of Iranian oil is due to come into force on that day. In response Iran is threatening to block the Strait of Hormuz and impede the deliveries of any oil flowing from the region to the west. Should that threat be carried out, Vice Admiral Fox would indeed be likely to receive an order to attack Iran.