Confronted with the US accusation of supporting terrorism and, further, being involved in the September 11 terrorist attacks, Iran posed a cautious stance with resolute refutations, but tension between the two countries has been escalated all the same.
A US September 11 Commission report, issued on Thursday but revealed earlier, said that Iran might have been involved in the terrorist attacks against the US through providing some al-Qaida members with safe transit to and from terrorist training camps in Afghanistan.
Meanwhile, Bush said on July 19 that Washington was scrutinizing the alleged relation between Iran and the September 11 terrorist attacks.
All of these revelations, underlaid by a report of the Times on July 18 that Bush's second term would seek an overturn of the current Iranian authority, touched off extensive imaginations, which later converged into an implication that the Islamic Republic has become the next target of attack for the US.
However, US National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice responsively stated that all of these did not necessarily mean Washington would draw the sword, for Iran was different from Iraq.
Indeed, since former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein's downfall, the US has greatly reinforced its control over the Middle East in spite of the turbulent Iraqi situation.
Additionally, Iran has become the only substantial threat to the US presence in this strategic region. The military deployment of the US in Iraq has also pulled the two countries geo-politically nearer.
The redressed regional situation protruded the prolonged hostility between the two countries, who used to be close allies more than 25 years ago.
In the 1970s, the partnership between Washington and the Pahlavi throne of Iran helped the latter boast hegemony in the Middle East. In return, Iran spared no effort in safeguarding Washington's benefits in the region.
Hatred between broken lovers often turns out to be more deeply-rooted, which holds similarly true for international affairs. The Islamic Revolution of Iran in 1979 suddenly shattered the alliance. Since then, relation between the two countries has always been tense.
The US has consistently been applying every political and economic effort to pressurize Iran, hoping the resulting harsh domestic and international situation would breed a collapse inside the Islamic Republic. Washington was even behind Iraq when it launched a greatly damaging war upon Iran.
Unimaginably, Saddam's metamorphosis damped the US' maneuver, who therefore encountered another block on its road to controlling the region and had to launch its main attack upon the newly converted foe. As to Iran, Washington could just afford containment.
Now, Saddam authority has faded away, and the US will naturally point to Tehran. There is no doubt that the Islamic Republic is fully aware of the looming danger no matter whether a hot war is going to be launched by the only superpower.
Anyway, since September 11, 2001, the US, flying high the flag of anti-terrorism, has won two wars without much loss. Even the slightest possibility of being sorted out to be its next target deserves the highest alert.
Traditionally, Iran was adept at introducing a "third power" to form a strategic balance when its national security witnessed a strong threat from an invincible enemy.
Unfortunately, disputes on Iran's nuclear issue have further weakened the already-weak confidence between Tehran and the European countries, let alone the question whether the EU is strong enough to serve as the "third country."
What comforts a little is that the US has not specifically defined its next move to Iran, for the superpower has shouldered too many burdens, with security situation of Iraq as the heaviest one.
Under these circumstances, Iran's wisest choice is to confine the disputes into diplomatic arena. Since the US allegation in question emerged, Foreign Ministry Spokesman Hamid-Reza Asefi has refuted it for three times, with much testimony provided by the intelligence agency on the country's efforts on fighting terrorism. Quite different from previous times, the Iranian armed forces did not utter anything provocative until now.
Iran is trying to clear itself with great care.
(Xinhua News Agency July 26, 2004)