"Destroying Iran's nuclear facilities would be a totally different affair from destroying Osirak: it would be both harder and much more dangerous," it warns in next week's issue.
"For a start, Iran has many installations scattered over its huge territory, and they are protected. The main military site, at Natanz in central Iran, is buried deep underground," the British weekly said in its main cover story.
It suggested that even if bombing Bushehr, one plant on the verge of completion, were feasible (with Russian technicians working there moved out of the way), "it would bring about huge retaliation while chalking up only limited military gains."
"And Iran, unlike Iraq, has many means of retaliation, directly against Israel and indirectly against US interests in Iraq and elsewhere," the New Statesman further warned.
It also believed that America's onslaught against with Iraq and Afghanistan have put Iran at the "heart of the world's most sensitive region, giving it ample opportunity for good or for mischief."
The News Statesman was considering whether the US and Iran were playing a game of bluff or double bluff in a dangerous game that was keeping the rest of the world guessing.
With regard to the question on whether Iran would develop its nuclear industry for military means, it said that there was "one very good reason why it should, exemplified by North Korea."
"By acquiring the bomb, North Korea had put itself on a higher level. Equally, there would be no better way for the Iranian regime to protect itself from overthrow from outside than by having the bomb," the magazine said,
It also referred to Iran being surrounded, and in some cases threatened, by nuclear countries and forces, including the US in Iraq as well as Israel and suggested having its own bomb would would "provide a safety net for Tehran's leaders."
On the other hand, the weekly believed as long as Iran did not go nuclear, there was the possibility of a trade-off for some grand international deal.
With the notion of the US and Iran developing a new relationship remaining a "forlorn, if not surreal, hope," it believed that the most likely outcome was that Washington would in the end getting the case referred to the UN Security Council.
The New Statesman said that the US would then press the UN to punish Iran with some form of sanctions, but which was unlikely to go as far as oil "for no other reason than the precipitous effect this would have on oil prices."
There was also questions on whether other Security Council members, like Russia and China, would allow any resolution on sanction be passed.
The result, it concluded, was likely to be another stalemate. "It looks as if the perilous brinkmanship will continue - until one side or the other steps over the edge," it said.
... Payvand News - 10/15/04 ... --