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8 February 2007  |     mail this article   |     print   |    |  Oxford Research Group
Time to Talk: The Case for Diplomatic Solutions on Iran
Read the report [PDF].
Also read the article British Groups Say Not to Attack Iran by the Associated Press on the report and its writers.
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Oxford Research Group is part of a consortium of organisations to publish this important report, coordinated by Crisis Action. The joint report by 15 organisations - including think tanks, aid agencies, religious groups and trade unions - warns that, despite the seriousness of the situation, there is still 'time to talk'.

The prospect of a nuclear Iran causes acute concern not only in the United States and Israel, but also in Europe, the Middle East and most of the rest of the world. This report does not seek to quantify the likelihood of military action against Iran. It argues that the consequences of any possible future military action could be wholly counterproductive as well as highly dangerous. Diplomatic solutions to the Iranian nuclear issue must be pursued resolutely.

The report concludes that military action against Iran could:

  • Further jeopardise the prospects of peace taking root in the Middle East - Long standing Iranian links to Hamas in Gaza and the West Bank, Hezbollah in Lebanon and Shia groups in Iraq, along with the presence of significant minority Shia populations in Saudi Arabia, could lead to severe destabilisation throughout the Middle East.
  • Severely undermine hopes for stability in Iraq - Iran has several thousand intelligence agents operating in the Shia region of Iraq and has been accused of arming Shia insurgents. A decision to activate insurgent units could lead to a massive escalation in violence.
  • Bolster the position of hard-liners and set back chances of reform within Iran - Recent municipal elections suggest that the bellicose rhetoric of Ahmadinejad is beginning to lose appeal. Over the winter there have been fuel shortages and inflation continues to rise. Ahmadinejad's popularity is waning. Military strikes would unify Iranians, ignite greater nationalist feeling and undermine the growing prospects of an internal shift in power.
  • Push developing countries into greater poverty - If military action led to an increase in oil prices. For example, a $10 increase in oil price could drop the GDPs of Sub-Saharan African states by an average of 3% with serious implications for those already living in poverty.
  • Damage UK, US and European economies - if oil prices rose to $100 per barrel this could increase the risk of recession.
  • Threaten serious environmental contamination - Bombing could result in radioactive contamination, oil slicks and oil well fires that could take years to deal with.
  • Increase the terror threat to the UK by fuelling resentment and bolstering extremists.
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