December 6, 2009
Senior NATO officials last week called Iran's nuclear and missile programs "a potential threat to the peace and security of the entire world." The comments came in conversations with journalists during the meeting in Brussels last week of foreign ministers of North Atlantic Treaty Organization member states.
Iran's nuclear program is not at the top of NATO's agenda. Most of the deliberations, as well as the press briefings, were focused on Afghanistan. Central to the discussion was the recent announcement by U.S. President Barack Obama of the decision to dispatch more American troops to that country. Advertisement
The international community's efforts to pressure Iran into ceasing its nuclear ambitions is spearheaded by the United States, in cooperation with other permanent members of the UN Security Council and Germany. In closed talks, and in particular in response to questions raised by journalists from Persian Gulf states, where Iran is perceived as a direct threat, senior NATO officials acknowledged the gravity of the situation.
One official said that if the Iranian nuclear issue is not resolved, "It may develop into a threat to the peace and security of the entire world, not only in a specific region [like the Persian Gulf or Israel]." When asked whether NATO would defend states in the event of an Iranian assault he said that the alliance is committed to providing support to all its members, but said, "However, we have other interests. In case of need, we shall take action as we see fit."
In general the impression from a visit to NATO headquarters is that the organization's diplomats are gradually coming around to the viewpoint and parameters of Washington regarding the potential threat posed by Iran.
Three months ago, an official NATO spokesman was quoted by Germany's dpa news agency as saying that missiles pose an increasing threat to Europe, partly due to Iran's missile program.