A series of statements by Iranian leaders seem to indicate that February 11th, the anniversary of the Islamic Revolution that toppled the US-backed shah in 1979, will be used as the date of some sort of military move antagonistic toward the West. Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said that Iran is set to deliver a “punch” to the western world:
The Iranian nation, with its unity and God’s grace, will punch the arrogance (Western powers) on the 22nd of Bahman (February 11) in a way that will leave them stunned.
Khamenei’s remarks come a few days after President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said his country would deliver a harsh blow to “global arrogance” on Feb 11th, and it’s all pointing to some sort of action being taken this Thursday.
My first speculation is that it will be some sort of nuclear test, but I’m unsure whether Iran has enriched enough uranium to have even a small-scale test. I would bet against overt military action of some kind, which leads me back to some sort of test, perhaps another long-range missile, although that’s been done before and wouldn’t really be a “telling blow” against the West. Could it indeed be a nuke test, albeit a tiny one? Even a small nuclear detonation would indeed be a game-changer.
The US under the Obama administration is dispatching Patriot missile batteries to four countries in the region and keeping two ships handy capable of shooting down incoming Iranian missiles. The move was actually announced back on Jan. 22nd, but it illustrates that the Pentagon is taking these threats seriously.
Furthermore, it’s an acknowledgement by the Obama administration that their efforts at engagement and diplomacy with Iran have been largely fruitless. It’s true that the Bush administration deserves some blame for failing to adequately address the question of Iran’s nuclear program, which can no longer be construed as merely peaceful. But the current administration has wasted a year pursuing pie-in-the-sky solutions with a rogue state that has been perfectly willing to string us and the rest of the international community along for the ride.
The question now seems to be when, not if, Iran gets the bomb. It will be an event that profoundly affects the Middle East and will put the Western nations at a greater risk of nuclear terrorist attack. February 11th, this Thursday, will hopefully not give us a taste of that troubling future, but whatever transpires that day, we should be paying close attention.