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Ahmadinejad Demands West’s Apology

Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad demanded an apology from the West over Iran’s nuclear ambitions, saying, “Today they tell our nation that nuclear energy is a bad thing and it is not necessary for our people to have it. But the nation of Iran has stood. Those who head war and crimes accused the Iranian nation of war seeking. They insulted our nation. I do advise them to apologize.”

But the apology was not as forthcoming as he may have hoped as Britain also ‘stood’ on its position of a 14-day Iranian ultimatum from the UN Security Council. Monday’s session of talks ended without agreement, however, though many, including US Ambassador to the UN, John Bolton, remain more optimistic than ever that a firm resolution will be passed post-wrangling.

According to a report by London’s Telegraph, a Western diplomat said that the ”vast majority of Security Council members are ready to act. Russia and China are not signed up yet, but they have given pretty strong signals that they will.”

It would be interesting to hear how much of the private conversations between Putin and the Chinese revolved around alternative short-term energy needs in their meetings held Monday in China. Perhaps. Perhaps not. But if either or both will agree to (or not obstruct) UN action towards Iran, this surely must be in the cards. Russia is more likely to support the majority of the Security Council on Iran. China relies heavily on Iranian oil imports and would necessarily need to make some adjustments in such an event, at least in the near term.

Also not very reassuring for Ahmadinejad was President Bush’s terse warning to Iran over its long-stated foreign policy aim of the destruction of Israel. “I see a threat in Iran. The threat is, of course, their stated objective to destroy our strong ally Israel. I’ve made it clear and I’ll make it clear again, that we will use military might to protect our ally Israel,” President Bush declared.

Undeterred, Iran is set to step up its uranium enrichment by activating a 164-centrifuge cascade, virtually daring the Security Council members and the American president to act.

One underlying reason that may have prompted President Bush to use the language he did and specifically address the Iranian threat to Israel is the recent ratcheting of both rhetoric and reinforcement currently underway by Hezbollah along the Lebanon-Israel border. Last week, Kofi Annan even called Syria’s Assad regarding the Hezbollah buildup on the border and Israel remains on high alert to the north. Both Syria and Hezbollah are Iranian clients, the latter an Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps creation in the early 1980’s. Iran’s tentacles of terror in the form of cash, arms and training encircle Israel. Hezbollah, al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades and Islamic Jihad are openly coordinating and planning attacks on Israel.

Meanwhile, on Monday Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah vowed to free all of its prisoners and land from Israel, warning that no matter how vigilant they may be, that Hezbollah will attack. He declared , “This enemy must understand that in Lebanon there is a resistance that cannot leave its detainees in jails, forget its occupied land and be patient with assaults and violations.”

Couple that with the obligation brought about by Hamas’ dependence on Iranian funds to fuel their governance of what’s left of the Palestinian Authority and the picture comes undeniably into focus for even the casual observer.

Less and less are these groups seen as mere proxies for Iran. With increasing clarity, these groups are de facto arms of Iranian foreign policy, by obligation or by desire. And Iran’s foreign policy objectives are neither subtle nor obscure.

Because of this collision velocity, the Iranian crisis and the Arab-Israeli crisis, once covered as separate but related tracks in this space, will in the coming weeks increasingly intertwine nearly indistinguishable by the force of their own inertia.