The Spectacle Blog

Iranian Nukes, Bahraini Angst

By on 10.8.10 | 7:11PM

 A couple of weeks ago the International Relations and Security Network issued an analysis suggesting that in the case of an attack on Iran's nuclear program, the Islamic Republic might respond through proxy militias targeting the Persian Gulf island nation of Bahrain, where the US 5th Fleet is stationed. But the Bahrainis themselves seem to have the opposite fear: that Bahrain is likely to find itself in the crosshairs if Iran succeeds in building nuclear weapons, as Ben Birnbaum reports:

Bahrain's ambassador to the United States told The Washington Times that she fears her country - home to the U.S. Navy's 5th Fleet - could become the first casualty of a nuclear-armed Iran.

"Iran has had claims in the past on Bahrain," Ambassador Houda Nonoo said in an interview. "The latest was on their 30th anniversary in February 2009, where they mentioned Bahrain as the 14th province. Very similar to [Saddam Hussein's] Iraq mentioning Kuwait as their 19th province."

"We're a small country, we're just across the pond," she said, noting that the island nation is "just 26 miles away from Bushehr," the Iranian port city that hosts one of the nuclear program's key installations. "If Iran has [a nuclear] capability, nobody is going to be able to stop them."

Nonoo doesn't quite say that Bahrain would prefer a military strike on Iran to Iran going nuclear, but she doesn't say the opposite either -- "That's the million-dollar question," she says. The experts Birnbaum talked to agree that the Bahraini government would be happy to see Iranian nuclear facilities pulverized, even given the risk. And Nonoo does say she's skeptical that US/UN/EU sanctions can succeed in halting Iran's progress: "The sanctions never had a chance of working because they've placed so many sanctions before, and they've never worked. Why was this one going to be any different?"

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