News and opinions on situation in Iran
10th March 2006 22:11
If it is not apparent to the world at large that the US and its allies intend to bomb Iran in the future, it would be only due to avoidance of the news. The question is not ‘if’ but when, and of course, why?
There is much rhetoric flying back and forth across the Atlantic, and between Teheran and the United States, but we must sift the facts out from the fiction, from the lies, and from the war-mongering if we are to make sense of the notion that on the back of a crippling war in Iraq (primarily for Iraqis, but also for the objectives and international standing of the US, the UK and its other allies, such as Australia and Italy) the US seems to be gearing up for yet another large scale conflict, this time in the stronger and more unified state of Iran.
The Official Reasons
The official reasons, put forth by the US and the UK governments for a referral from the International Atomic Energy Agency to the United Nations Security council, are that Iran has breached the Nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty (initially for a period of 18 years ), and that, in the most recent news, it has removed United Nations Atomic Inspectors seals to begin once again the process of nuclear development and enrichment. The official reasons being peddled by the US state that Iran has once again broken the NPT, and are intent, based on the removal of the seals, to further their ‘goal’ towards nuclear weapons – which is, of course, a serious breach of the NPT.
What is not a serious breach of the NPT is the non-declared nuclear programme of which the BBC, much of the media and our leaders (Bush, Blair, Rice, Straw) are making so much of. That breach (a breach of Iran’s safeguards agreement, not the NPT ) was dealt with in 2003, by the Atomic Inspectors, who sealed the enrichment processes and set in place surveillance systems, on the basis that, through the IAEA an agreement would be made and enrichment allowed to continue for peaceful nuclear development (energy, not bombs). Four years later, and co-operation from Iran every step of the way, no progress had been made on the issue, and Iran said they would remove the seals if an agreement could not be made in the near future. It has not been, and Iran has removed the seals. Removing the seals is not a breach of the NPT however (rather an issue of the subsequent safeguards agreement – an obligatory agreement between the 2 parties, in which Iran feels the IAEA has not fulfilled their side – namely, to find a satisfactory way forward to allow Iran to explore its inalienable rights of nuclear technology for peaceful purposes), prior warning has been made, offers to keep the programme transparent have been made, but these details are not enough for the US. Only halting the enrichment of uranium would please the US (for the moment) and this is not something that Iran wishes to do. According to the NPT agreement, it is their inalienable right to use the full potential of the technology for peaceful energy development
During the last 6 months, the US has been busy in the press, attempting to relay to the public ideas that would further the public support of an invasion, or an attack on Iran. In the British press, there have been accusations from military intelligence in Iraq that Teheran has been supplying bomb-making know-how and equipment to ‘Iraqi insurgents’ which have been used to attack US troops and civilians of Iraq . There has of course been no reliable proof of these accusations, just as there has been no reliable proof of Iran subsequent accusations against British intelligence of playing a part in the spate of bombings across Iran. The latter news has barely skimmed the headlines; the former has had a great deal of airtime.
The media campaigning surrounding the fiery words of Ahmadinejad threatening to ‘wipe Israel off the map’ has not been lost on the public – either here (in the UK) or around the world. It is quite entrenched now in the domain of public thought. Ahmadinejad is the man who said…
Never mind the fact that he did not. The exact words were:
”No one believed that some day we would see the collapse of the Soviet Empire. They used to say it is an iron-clad rule. But we saw its collapse in our life time. That regime collapse so dramatically that we must go to libraries to read about it as there are no signs of it left. Our dear Imam [Ruhollah Khomeini] ordered that the occupying regime in Jerusalem be wiped off the face of the earth. This was a very wise statement.”
Then we were told about his holocaust denial, which further rallied the cause against Iran. Here is the offending quote:
””Is it not true that European countries insist that they committed a Jewish genocide? They say that Hitler burned millions of Jews in furnaces … and exiled them,” Ahmadinejad told Al-Alam.
“Then because the Jews have been oppressed during the Second World War, therefore they (the Europeans) have to support the occupying regime of Qods (Jerusalem). We do not accept this,” he said.”
While it is neither here nor there that the president of Iran may believe the figures of WWII exaggerated, the crime of genocide and of the Jewish holocaust is not his crime, nor any other Iranian’s. The crime he talks about is a crime of Europe. That Europe now holds that crime so sacred is Europe’s responsibility and legacy, not Iran’s. For a country that has an immigrant and refugee population far exceeding many countries of Europe, it is obviously a compassionate nation. Ahmadinejad’s main crime here was to suggest that Europe should have shouldered the responsibility of building the dispossessed Jews of WWII a new country, not passed it to the Arab world.
More recently, we have been shown the extreme behaviours of the ‘Muslim world’ in reaction to the now infamous cartoons of The Prophet. What the world has not had explained to it through our mainstream media is that the cartoons were initially published in September of 2005, to almost no fanfare. Only when it suited our governments to begin the rally against Muslims (for the purpose of manufacturing consent for yet another conflict), did the pictures suddenly hit the headlines.
There was violence, there was threat of violence (through placards), and there was death. The deaths were more Muslims, killed by authorities, in Afghanistan, and in Somalia . Despite current laws in the UK making such threats illegal and arrestable offenses, the offending placard-holders photographed to become synonymous with ‘Islamicism’ around the world were not arrested , nor were the many peaceful protests given placement on the barrage of news on the subject. We saw one small side of things, and it was, not surprisingly, the side the media and our governments wished us to see.
In Australia, the violence was publicly condemned by the Australian government. Where were they when 2 mosques were firebombed in 2002 in Brisbane? Or the 5 in Sydney? Or Melbourne?..
The engine is turning, and in ‘free’ Western countries, that means the media, telling us the soon-to-be enemy is dirty, nasty, not to be trusted. We saw all the same in the build up to the Afghanistan invasion – let’s hope not too many people have forgotten.
The Real Reasons
There are a few of these, and like Afghanistan and Iraq, the issue at the heart of it seems to be oil. There is the proposed Iranian Oil Bourse , a precursor also to the invasion of Iraq (3 years prior to the invasion, Saddam Hussein began trading in Euros). Perhaps, as the then 5th largest oil producer in the world, the US saw and felt enough of the heat from that exchange to realise they didn’t like it. Iran has more oil and more gas, and is therefore a bigger trader. The question is, are US fiat dollars strong enough to cope with such a change in the economic structure of the world’s most important resource? Personally, I don’t know, but the argument is strong. The most succinct interpretation of the reasoning behind the Iranian Oil Bourse as a reason for U.S. opposition strong enough to presage war I have read is this, written by David Bracewell, a contributor to Media Lens:
“It’s what happens on the margins which matters. The US need to bring 2 billion into their financial system via the stock market or government bond market every day. It is just managing to do this.
Every country in the world needs US dollars to buy oil. So every country in the world is bound into trading with the US (on US terms) if they want those dollars cheaply. The structure of Neo-Liberalism is now necessary for US survival and much of it relies on the US dollar being at the heart of oil trading. The inequalities in trade are happening because they need to happen for the US economy to function. The biggest stick that the US holds over smaller countries is their access to the US market so that there is a direct trade in dollars. They never really get a fair shake as they are forced to open up their economies and sell off their assets at bargain basement prices – which suit the powerful in those countries. These are the last big reserves which the US capitalist model can exploit.
If countries can begin to trade in Euros or other currencies, the fiscal pressure comes off them to negotiate inequitous and increasingly unattractive trade relationships with the US. A hundred countries diversifying their trade because they can now trade in oil in multi-currencies is going to see that 2 billion dollars a day the US rely on dry up in a matter of a couple years, maybe months. That’s all that needs to happen for the US to go into a major depression, because it is happening in a deflating housing bubble, during a flight of US manufacturing overseas and a within population which dis-saves for the first time in 70 years. The IMF is a discredited instrument being repudiated, and more threateningly in S America, ignored for the first time in a quarter century. SO what does that leave? It will no more be able to hold things together militarily than the Soviet Union could (with short lines of communications and a hundred years of direct occupation of central Asia).
That is why the oil bourse is so important. It doesn’t need to compete with the US, just take the wind out of the sails of incoming capital into the US which is covering its deficit. The US can go to war with whomever at that point. The ability to keep a high tech army up and running in a depression where people are disaffected, the limits of your power are known and you gradually accrue the weight of much of the worlds resistance is about NIL. I mean, a Sunni insurgency of a few tens of thousands has knackered this high tech army in reasonably good times – what chance when the shit hits the fan?”
Add to it the fact that the other place the US is current rallying support against – Venezuela – is also proposing such a bourse, and you begin to suspect that the money behind the oil is possibly the most important aspect .
Then there are military and infrastructure contracts from US wars . Awarded to US companies and close affiliates of the White House, the money made through privatising other countries’ resources may be tremendous – many people have put a lot of time into investigating such issues. Sadly, few of them have been in the mainstream news.
A third, and perhaps most frightening possibility, is the notion that George Bush just wants to do it. Based on his supposedly being Christian – that peculiar American version of a Christian that allows for large scale massacres and human rights abuses within the framework of the commandment ‘Thou shalt not kill’ – and the events of the final book of the bible, Revelations, it would seem he is intent on engineering the events that would bring about the end of the world.
Iran is not any longer in breach of the NPT. The original breach was a small one, in the terms of the agreement; that is to say, they were not breaking the NPT agreement, but failing to keep the process transparent. Jefferson Morley of the Washington Post says “Is Iran in breach of NPT? The reprocessing that it stopped and has now possibly restarted is not actually against the rules of NPT. Iran is being asked to go BEYOND its NPT committments when it’s told to stop reprocessing.”
Bearing in mind the heavy sanctions on Iran at the time the nuclear research was being done, there was a fair amount of it that under sanctions they simply would not have been allowed to do anyway through transparent means – despite the NPT which gives every signatory the inalienable right to development of nuclear power for peaceful processes. The reasons behind the sanctions (which continue even today to a certain degree) stem from US anger at the Iranian hostage crisis of 1979. The fact they remained throughout the period that Iran was under direct threat and attack from Saddam’s Iraq in the Iraq-Iran War in the 1980s shows the US administration’s historical oppression of Iran, and their ‘dislike’ of the state. The fact is that at the time, Iraq was supplied with weapons and intelligence as well as open support from the US administration to further its imperialistic attacks on Iran .
The IAEA Implementation of the NPT Safeguards report from 4th February 2006 concluded that Iran should be referred to the Security Council, after the March board, and with any subsequent resolutions, and by Elbaradei – not, as the BBC told us then, that the report was given to the Security Council then. Although nothing has changed since that date, and no proof has been supplied that Iran may in fact be covertly developing nuclear weapons (and much evidence to the contrary published, such as the amount of uranium enrichment currently being undertaken versus the amount needed to make even one bomb with a great disparity between the two), the IAEA has concluded for referral to the Security Council .
Iran has done nothing wrong, and, unlike two other prominent signatories of the NPT – the United States and the United Kingdom – has not broken the NPT. For existing nuclear powers at the time of signing, the NPT was signed to ensure that, as soon as possible, they would decommission their nuclear weapons so that in the future there would be no nuclear states. For non-nuclear states at the time, the NPT detailed ensuring that they would not become such – so no nuclear weapons would be developed in any countries from that point forward.
Instead, the US has continued to proliferate its nuclear arsenal, through such weapons as depleted uranium shells, bunker-busters and more traditional nuclear bombs . The UK is currently considering revamping their trident system in the next twelve years, and it is currently thought they will buy the weapons from the United States to refresh their ageing weapons already onboard the submarines. In the most heinous way possible, the US and the UK are guilty of breaking the NPT.
Iran is merely pursuing all avenues of nuclear energy. Enrichment processes are essential for light water reactors , compared to the alternatives of gas, or graphite-cooled reactors. The other alternative - using heavy water and no enrichment - could lead to further suspicions, because heavy water is an essential in the production of plutonium (where it is not just produced as a by-product), and heavy water requires more energy to process and 'enrich'. It is most likely for these reasons that the majority of reactors are either light-water reactors, or gas-cooled (in Britain). Enrichment is necessary for medical facilities. It can also be used for the production of nuclear weapons, but this requires other technology (the manufacture of the shells) as well. Iran's president, and, more importantly, the Supreme Leader, have both said that nuclear weapons are not what they want. The supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has “… issued the Fatwa that the production, stockpiling and use of nuclear weapons are forbidden under Islam and that the Islamic Republic of Iran shall never acquire these weapons.” 
In addition, “President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who took office just recently, in his inaugural address reiterated that his government is against weapons of mass destruction and will only pursue nuclear activities in the peaceful domain. The leadership of Iran has pledged at the highest level that Iran will remain a non-nuclear-weapon state party to the NPT and has placed the entire scope of its nuclear activities under IAEA safeguards and additional protocol, in addition to undertaking voluntary transparency measures with the agency that have even gone beyond the requirements of the agency’s safeguard system.”
That’s quite comprehensive – if only we could get the same types of promises out of the leaders of the West, perhaps the world might be a safer place. Perhaps though, if this fatwa is well-known around the world (from what I have seen it is not), the West’s idea is that promises are made to be broken. This is certainly unfair, to say the least. One thing, historically, that Arab and Persian countries have given the West, is their word. It has always been the West to break the promises. We cannot afford to tar the Middle-East with the same brush we are tarred with ourselves.
Yet, most importantly, according to the experts, the stage that Iran is currently at in its enrichment programme means that even if they were telling the West one thing and doing another, and they did indeed wish to have nuclear weapons, the process would take “Several years … First, Iran would have to master the enrichment process. This involves engineering thousands of centrifuges which spin a gas made from uranium ore, a difficult operation. Then it has to learn how to trigger a nuclear explosion and make a device small enough to be carried by an aircraft or missile.” So why, we must ask, is the US focused so heavily on Iran in the first few months of 2006, when March 2006 is when Iran is scheduled to begin their Bourse using Euros? Could it simply be a coincidence?
Further to the fact that the NPT has been breached only by the aggressors (the US and the UK), it has been ignored by other states without consequence; India, Pakistan, North Korea and Israel are not signatories to the NPT. This is more than a small issue of hypocrisy by the West – don’t let the media fool you. The legalities of the situation are purely related to paperwork, and perceived threat. You do not argue with a country which has nuclear weapons, so once they have been developed, sanctions or strikes are not an option. In the case of Israel, it was never an option, and Israel is a good example here, because on the issue of UN resolutions, Israel has broken, and ignored perhaps more than the rest of the ‘democratic’ world put together. They have not been sanctioned or boycotted, and they have certainly not been attacked by the West. Iraq, Syria, Iran, Lebanon on the other hand, have all been sanctioned at one time or another.
Iran has never invaded another state. It does not break international law. Why then, does the West see it as its right to threaten Iran? Based on the mirrored rhetoric coming from Washington of late to that of the build-up to the invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq, there is a very real threat that the US, the UK and quite possibly Israel are gearing up to an attack on Iran, and its people. Are we going to let it happen again?