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1. Historically, NATO was established to counter the Soviet expansion into Europe. This is obviously not an issue anymore. NATO for all intensive purposes is a dying organization with its beaucracy hampering its security operations around the world. The US had used the organization for two purposes: 1. establish a united front vs the USSR and 2. leverage for US foreign policy in Europe. Both now are outdated. If NATO is to continue as a productive organization, it must adjust its purpose to serve as a more anti-terrorism capacity such as Operation Active Endeavour that safeguards the Black Sea region from arms, narcotics and human smuggling which are all exploited by insurgent groups operating its smuggling routes.
The French are hostile NATO members to the US in my opinion. It is on a more EU-oriented defense progression and basically use NATO treaties and vetoes to discredit US foreign policy where it conflicts with French interests. This is why you see a drive to accept traditionally pro-US countries in eastern and central Europe. It will give the US a voice in european affairs to counter hostile French actions within the EU.
NATO acceptence relies on a country's economic, political and military stability. As for Israel's chances for NATO membership; I do not think it is necessary to join. Remember that in joining NATO, some treaties that are required to sign could endanger Israeli military secrets that are vital to its security.
2. The question of curbing terrorist's attempts to attain nuclear weapons should really be a question of when will they acquire such weaponry. The most dangerous scenerio would be Pakistan losing Musharref and having fundamentalist elements gain control of nuclear weapons that would most likely be passed on by the ISI to its terrorist contacts.
The UN General Assembly on April 13, 2005, adopted by consensus an International Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism (“Nuclear Terrorism Convention”) addressing the unlawful possession or use of nuclear devices or materials by non-state actors. This is hardly a revelation by the west, in fact, personally I would see this as an insult to anyone working in the Intelligence services. This has basically been the modus operandi. I seriously doubt that terrorist's or terrorist sympathizer's would adhere to this treaty.
3. With the Iran issue possibly going to the Security Council, could you outlay the different countries' positions (especially the Permanent Members) with regard to diplomatic and military options to deal with the Irani nuclear program? Where is the IAEA standing on that.
I am glad you asked me this question. The major players in this conflict are Russia, China, US, UK, France and Germany.
1. Russia: Opposition to UN sanctions are obviously driven by economic reasons. With nearly 6 billion dollars coming from Iran on nuclear technology and arms sales, it is very unlikely that Russia will be receptive towards referring Iran to the UNSC. Only economic pressure countered by the EU and US will sway Russian decision makers to take a hardline against Iran.
2. China: The People's Republic of China has been on a drive to secure a diverse energy supply to feed its increasing economy. It also opposes referring Iran to the UNSC mainly due to energy and defense contracts with the Iranian regime.
Both Russia and China benefit dually in this conflict currently. Besides the obvious economic issues, there is also the fact that this is a subtle attempt to combat US global dominance. Both however will take a hands off approach if any military operations are imposed against Iran by the west and most likely will not veto sanctions by the Security Council but will abstain.
3. France: The French government is desperatly seeking to put its voice back into the middle east after the Iraq war. This is evident by its harsh rhetoric towards the Syrian government and Iranian regime over its nuclear issue. For the past 3 years, it has maintained that international cooperation is needed to solve complex diplomatic issues and for Iran to basically send a diplomatic 'slap in the face' to the EU3, it will seek to show its authority and will to tackle conflicts like this. Its large islamic population within France is a cause for concern, but Iran's past actions have more than justified international condemnations. Possible Military intervention is a good chance with a broad international coalition for France, who have eager military Generals waiting to prove to the world that they are capable.
4. Germany: With Merkel's government now in control, the US-friendly government will go along with the international voice on Iran. German intel agents have been very well placed within the middle east since the Nazi era and will be very beneficial partners in prohibiting the Islamic Regime of Iran from acquring nuclear weaponry. Military cooperation is likely if a broad coalition emerges.
5. The US and UK: Both partners on the War on Terror, and arguably the most active see Iran as the number one contributor to islamic terrorism in the world. To think that Iran could acquire nuclear weapons is unnerving. Both will do whatever is necessary to prevent it first by economic means and lastly by military means. Personally, I would recommend that both the UK and US(as well as Mossad) intelligence services work covertly to disrupt the Iranian government with both the Kurd's in the north and the Arab sepratists named Ahwaz Liberation Organisation, initiated in 1990, and was created to establish an Arab state in the province of Khuzistan (also known as Al-Ahwaz and Arabistan) in southwest Iran.
Both will refer Iran to the UNSC and impose sanctions. Military intervention is a good possiblity if sanctions do not work or are not imposed.