On the Washington stage, under the world’s media spotlight, Obama declaimed: "As president and commander in chief, I prefer peace to war." But, he added, "Israel’s security is sacrosanct," and to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon, "I will not hesitate to use force, including all elements of American power."

Nuclear weapons included, therefore. Words worthy of a Nobel Peace Prize. That’s the scenario. To find out what it is really all about, we need to go behind the scenes. Leading the anti-Iranian crusade we have Israel, the only country in the region that possesses a nuclear arsenal and, unlike Iran, refuses to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Then we have the United States, the greatest military power, whose political, economic and strategic interests cannot afford to have a State in the Middle East escape its influence.

It is no coincidence that the sanctions promulgated by President Obama last November ban the supply of equipment and technologies that would "enhance Iran’s ability to develop its own oil resources." The embargo has been joined the European Union, buyer of 20% of Iranian oil (of which about 10% is imported by Italy), and Japan, which imports a similar amount and whose need for oil has further increased as a result of the Fukushima nuclear disaster. A flying success for Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who convinced allied countries to freeze energy imports from Iran at the expense of their own interests.

The embargo, however, is not working. Defying Washington’s ban, Islamabad confirmed on 1 March that it will complete the construction of the Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline. More than 2 000 km long, the Iranian section will soon see the light of day whereas the Pakistani side will be finished by 2014. It could, at a later stage, be extended by 600 km to reach India. Russia has expressed interest in participating in the project, whose estimated cost is $ 1.2 billion. Meanwhile, China, which currently imports 20% of its oil from Iran, signed an agreement with Tehran in February, which contemplates an increase to half a million barrels per day in 2012. Pakistan is also expected to boost its imports of Iranian oil.

Furious, Hillary Clinton has stepped up pressure on Islamabad, using the carrot and the stick: on one hand the threat of sanctions; on the other the offer of a billion dollars for Pakistan’s energy requirements. In exchange, it should abandon the pipeline with Iran and rely solely on the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India pipeline, backed by Washington. Its cost is estimated at 8 billion, twice as much as originally foreseen.

In Washington, however, it is the strategic motivation that prevails. The Turkmen natural gas deposits are largely controlled by the Israeli Merhav Group, headed by Mossad agent Yosef Maiman, one of the most influential figures in Israel. But the realization of the pipeline, which in Afghanistan passes through the provinces of Herat (where the Italian troops are stationed) and Kandahar, is running late. As things stand, it is the Iran-Pakistan one that has the edge. Unless, of course, the cards are redistributed by a war against Iran. Even if President Obama "prefers peace."