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MOSCOW. (RIA Novosti political commentator Pyotr Goncharov)

On February 23, the director of the International Atomic Energy Agency will deliver a report to the UN Security Council on Iran’s compliance with Resolution 1737, adopted last December. The resolution instructed Iran to suspend all uranium enrichment activities by February 21. If the report says that Tehran has ignored these demands, the Security Council will take additional measures to toughen its sanctions.
Meanwhile the stand-off with Iran is developing beyond its nuclear program. The United States is forcing events. According to The New Statesman, the forces deployed in the northwest part of the Indian Ocean and in the Persian Gulf would allow the U.S. president to destroy Iran's political, economic and military infrastructure within a few hours.

Now it has become obvious that Iran's nuclear program is not the main problem in its relations with the U.S. Washington has made it clear that Tehran will not dominate the Middle East, will not control the Persian Gulf and that the U.S. will protect its interests in the region and will not abandon it under any circumstances. Washington has also made it clear that it is not going to tolerate Tehran's policies toward Iraq. All this has been announced as George W. Bush's new strategy.
It is becoming increasingly obvious that the centerpiece of the new strategy is not the sending of two elite marine battalions and five brigades to Iraq. It will be the deployment of two carrier strike groups and the cutting-edge Patriot PAC-3 anti-missile system in the Persian Gulf. The question is whether this huge military potential will be used for its actual purpose, or whether the U.S. will be satisfied with flexing its muscles and demonstrating its determination. It is quite possible that Tehran's refusal to stop uranium enrichment will provide America with a good pretext to get rid of an opponent that claims the role of a key player in the region and is thwarting its new plans.
So far, Bush views all talk of potential military strikes against Iran as typical Washington political speculation. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates echoed this opinion when he said that the carrier group in the Persian Gulf should be viewed as a reliable mechanism to reason with Iran and that the U.S. is a force to be reckoned with even if it is bogged down in Iraq. At the same time, both Gates and Bush acknowledged that force was a last resort, to be used only if Iran does not get the idea that the U.S. must be taken into account under any circumstances.
Judging by external signs, Tehran is in no hurry to take the White House's advice and continues to demonstrate its determination. As a matter of fact, Iran is conducting a military exercise involving 20 brigades. This is not just its biggest exercise in the last few years; it also shows off the country’s newly acquired anti-missile weapons.

Typically, at the last moment Tehran announced it was willing to resume talks on its nuclear program in order to "relieve the fears and concerns" of the international community. To do so, Ali Larijani, secretary of Iran's Supreme National Security Council, will meet the director of the IAEA in Vienna. The next meeting of the IAEA board of governors to discuss the Iranian dossier is scheduled for March 5-6.
Ahead of the meeting, Mohammed ElBaradei said that he would do his best to convince the Iranian party that it was in its interests to look for ways to continue negotiations. If his efforts fail, he cannot predict what will happen even tomorrow, he said.

Yet even if he succeeds, this is unlikely to change the situation drastically. The Iranian president has already said that Tehran will not suspend uranium enrichment, while elite units of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps have shown their worth when they "rebuffed the attack of airplanes, helicopters and missiles of the aggressor using 620 missiles and air defense guns" during the recent exercise.
Iran is showing that it is ready for war.-0-