Reuters: The war in Lebanon may have somewhat distracted the world from Iran’s nuclear ambitions, but it will increase scrutiny in the longer term, a senior U.S. official said on Thursday. ROME (Reuters) – The war in Lebanon may have somewhat distracted the world from Iran’s nuclear ambitions, but it will increase scrutiny in the longer term, a senior U.S. official said on Thursday.
The U.S. ambassador to the International Atomic Energy Agency, Gregory Schulte, told reporters in Rome the conflict had highlighted Iran’s support for Hizbollah — branded a terrorist organization by Washington.
It had also shown why a nuclear-armed Iran would be a regional threat, he said.
“Maybe it is taking the focus a little bit off the nuclear issue right now. But I think it has put increased focus on Iran and the implications of its behavior,” Schulte said.
Israel has accused Hizbollah of coordinating its abduction of two Israeli soldiers with Iran to allow it to divert attention away from its nuclear program. The ensuing conflict has since taken centre-stage in world affairs.
Responding to a question on how the war had affected the U.S. campaign to halt Iran’s nuclear fuel program, Schulte said: “In the longer term it emphasizes to us why it is so important that we deal with this”.
Schulte said that the Lebanon conflict also highlighted why a nuclear Iran could trigger an arms race in the Middle East.
“Publicly the Arab governments are not nearly as vocal as the U.S. or Italian government on this issue. But privately they are perhaps even more concerned than we are,” he said.
“After all, these are the countries that sit right in the region. These are the countries that are within range of the Shahab-3 missile force.”