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IRAN: Former German official says war imminent

May 30, 2008 |  3:13 pm

An opinion piece by the former German foreign minister published today in a leading Middle East paper says that Israel is planning to attack Iran over its nuclear program.

Joschka_fischer_2Joschka Fischer, German's top diplomat from 1998 to 2005, is a visiting scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.

[UPDATE, June 2, 3 p.m. PST: Fischer was actually a fellow at Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton University, not at WWICS]

He wrote a piece that appeared in today's Daily Star, an English-language  Lebanese newspaper, arguing that President Bush's recent visit to the Middle East was a precursor to a war on Iran's nuclear program:

The Middle East is drifting toward a new great confrontation in 2008. Iran must understand that without a diplomatic solution in the coming months, a dangerous military conflict is very likely to erupt. It is high time for serious negotiations to begin.

Fischer said Bush's speech during his address to the Israeli Knesset, or parliament, this month indicated a coming Israeli-U.S. attack on Iran's nuclear program:

He seemed to be planning, together with Israel, to end the Iranian nuclear program -- and to do so by military, rather than by diplomatic, means.... Although it is acknowledged in Israel that an attack on Iran's nuclear facilities would involve grave and hard-to-assess risks, the choice between acceptance of an Iranian bomb and an attempt at its military destruction, with all the attendant consequences, is clear. Israel won't stand by and wait for matters to take their course.

Fischer, former leader of Germany's Green Party, was one of the key diplomats involved in assessing Iran's nuclear facilities and pressuring Tehran for a temporary halt of its uranium enrichment program from 2003 to 2005, when he left office.

His piece was the talk of the town in Beirut. It stunned some abroad, as well. Conservative blogger Don Surber writes:

I had hoped that reasonable minds would by now have resolved this situation amicably and without violence. When a lefty like Fischer doubts that can happen, I worry.

Borzou Daragahi in Beirut

Photo: Joschka Fischer. Credit: Andrzej Barabasz / Wikimedia Commons

P.S. The Los Angeles Times issues a free daily newsletter with the latest headlines from the Middle East. You can subscribe by registering at the website here, logging in here and clicking on the World: Mideast newsletter box here.

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