Is this year's mega-blockbuster going to be the new Indiana Jones movie, or will it instead be a third illegal attack and invasion of a Middle Eastern country? Let's hope it's the former, though many signs and foreign policy experts point to the latter. In the past few weeks, even, there has been a striking up-tick in US government propaganda demonizing Iran and promoting unsubstantiated claims of both a phantom nuclear menace and the training of Iraqi "extremists" (has the term insurgent already lost its sexiness?). The recent accusations levied against Iran (in the hopes of turning public opinion in favor of another unprovoked act of aggression on an innocent, sovereign nation) include escalating rhetoric regarding Iran's role in aiding Iraqi militia groups and the repeated falsehoods regarding Iran's totally legal nuclear program.
Within the span of a single week, genocide candidate Hillary Clinton threatened to "obliterate" the entire country of Iran in response to a ludicrous question regarding a hypothetical, "unprovoked" Iranian nuclear attack on Israel within the next ten years, a cargo ship called Westward Venture and carrying US military hardware fired "warning" shots at Iranian speed boats in the Persian Gulf (sound familiar?), and a second U.S. aircraft carrier was positioned in the Gulf. The addition of the warship was described by U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates not as an escalation, but rather as a "reminder" to Iran.
It would seem that the US is doing its best to instigate some sort of Iranian conflict, what with unjust UN Security Council sanctions against Iran for refusing to stop doing something it has every legal right to continue doing, surrounding Iran with US troops, a growing armada, and military bases, and, most recently, a secret authorization by George W. Bush to widen covert operations against Iran. Andrew Cockburn, a regular contributor to Counterpunch, reports,
Six weeks ago, President Bush signed a secret finding authorizing a covert offensive against the Iranian regime that, according to those familiar with its contents, "unprecedented in its scope."Even just yesterday, the propaganda continued to spew forth from the pages of the New York Times, penned by none other than "journalist" Michael R. Gordon (creative writing buddy of Bush administration hack Judith Miller and co-author of most of the Times' nonsense reporting regarding Iraq's WMDs in 2002. Yup, all those lies and he's still at it!) and claiming that members of the Lebanese militia Hezbollah have been training Iraqi fighters near Iran's capital city of Tehran. Juan Cole, in response to this story, writes today, "I am suspicious of this story not because it is necessarily untrue (how would I know?) but because it shares with typical Bush administration propaganda the 'gotcha' technique in which questions of proportionality, significance and causality do not arise." Essentially, for my part, given Gordon's dubious past, anything he writes should be considered laughable fiction and used to sop up cat vomit at the absolute earliest convenience.
Bush’s secret directive covers actions across a huge geographic area – from Lebanon to Afghanistan – but is also far more sweeping in the type of actions permitted under its guidelines – up to and including the assassination of targeted officials. This widened scope clears the way, for example, for full support for the military arm of Mujahedin-e Khalq, the cultish Iranian opposition group, despite its enduring position on the State Department's list of terrorist groups.
Similarly, covert funds can now flow without restriction to Jundullah, or "army of god," the militant Sunni group in Iranian Baluchistan – just across the Afghan border -- whose leader was featured not long ago on Dan Rather Reports cutting his brother in law's throat.
Other elements that will benefit from U.S. largesse and advice include Iranian Kurdish nationalists, as well the Ahwazi arabs of south west Iran. Further afield, operations against Iran's Hezbollah allies in Lebanon will be stepped up, along with efforts to destabilize the Syrian regime.
All this costs money, which in turn must be authorized by Congress, or at least a by few witting members of the intelligence committees. That has not proved a problem. An initial outlay of $300 million to finance implementation of the finding has been swiftly approved with bipartisan support, apparently regardless of the unpopularity of the current war and the perilous condition of the U.S. economy.
So, at this point, the legitimacy of a US assault on Iran rests upon two equally absurd allegations, as previously mentioned: Iran's training of Iraqi militias and its Israel-threatening nuclear weapons program. Unfortunately for the US (and Israel), both of these claims are baseless and founded only on manipulating the general public and furthering the US/Israeli policies of political and military intimidation, territorial expansion, and imperial hegemony...though bald-faced lies haven't seemed to deter their war policies before.
Two weeks ago, CIA director Michael Hayden, while speaking at Kansas State University, actually said, "It is my opinion, it is the policy of the Iranian government, approved to highest level of that government, to facilitate the killing of Americans in Iraq." This is a very serious allegation and supposedly founded in proof that Iran has provided money and weaponry to Iraqi fighters. An Associated Press report elaborates,
U.S. military officials have said its evidence that Iran is aiding Iraqi militias includes caches of weapons that have date stamps showing they were produced in Iran this year. The weapons include mortars, rockets, small arms, roadside bombs and armor-piercing explosives - known as explosively formed penetrators, or EFPs - that troops have discovered in recent months, according to another senior military official who spoke on condition of anonymity because the evidence has not yet been made public.Numerous reports last week cited claims from US officials speaking on behalf of the Iraqi government, which they say is "tired of the Iranians meddling in Iraq." An L.A. Times report reveals that Navy Admiral Michael Mullen, the current chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, believes that Iraq is subject to the "increasingly lethal and malign influence" of the Iranian government, a viewpoint shared and promoted by the top US commander in Iraq and commander-elect of CentCom, General David Petraeus. (Quick question: what type of influence does the American occupation have in Iraq? As Paul Craig Roberts reminds us, "It is the US, not Iran, that is responsible for as many as one million dead Iraqis and four million displaced Iraqis, the 'collateral damage' of a 'cakewalk war' now into its sixth year?")
According to one official, plans for U.S. officials to publicly present the evidence of Iranian support for the militias have been delayed to give the Iraqis time to speak directly to Tehran about the problem.
Mullen, during a news conference in late April, stated that the Pentagon is indeed planning and preparing for, what he called, "potential military courses of action" against Iran. The Joint Chief continued that, while a third Middle East engagement in seven years would be "extremely stressing" on the already over-extended US military, "it would be a mistake to think that we are out of combat capability." He then went on to contradict Hayden's comments by admitting that there is "no smoking gun which could prove that the highest leadership [of Iran] is involved in [Iraqi militia attacks]."
Earlier that week, in a speech at West Point, Defense Secretary Robert Gates spouted the oft-repeated lie that Iran "is hell-bent on acquiring nuclear weapons," continuing that a military conflict with Iran would be "disastrous on a number of levels. But the military option must be kept on the table given the destabilizing policies of the regime and the risks inherent in a future Iranian nuclear threat."
Despite all of this ever-so-menacing and scrotum-swinging rhetoric from top American officials and military brass, Admiral Mullen has since backtracked a bit from his previous statements by saying yesterday, during an interview in Jerusalem, that "I actually am very hopeful that we don't get into a position where we have to get into a conflict [with Iran]," adding, "It would be a very significant challenge for the United States right now to get into a third conflict in that part of the world." So, basically, it's not that they don't want to bomb Iran, it's that they don't think they could get away with it easily. How reassuring.
But, wait, what actually happened when the Iraqi delegation went to Iran to address the issues of Iranian "influence" in Iraq?
Maybe the headline from a McClatchy Newspapers article on Sunday is a good indication: Iraq backs off allegations that Iran is behind violence.
The report says,
The Iraqi Government seemed to distance itself from U.S. accusations towards Iran Sunday saying it would not be forced into conflict with its Shiite neighbor. And Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki ordered the formation of a committee to look into foreign intervention in Iraq.CBS News reports that when al-Dabbagh was asked about US reports alleging that recently made and Iranian-supplied rockets were seized in a raid against militias in Iraq, he replied simply, "There is no conclusive evidence."
The government spokesman, Ali al Dabbagh, told reporters Sunday that a committee was formed to find "tangible information" about foreign intervention, specifically Iran's role in Iraq rather than "information based on speculation."
This should be good news. But we all know that the US propaganda machine has never actually needed evidence to justify bellicose rhetoric or subsequent illegal military actions. The grim specter of "terrorism" and "nuclear weapons" tends to be enough to scare the unthinking and misinformed American public into believing this is a world of good guys and bad guys. As Vali Nasr, Middle East expert at Tufts University, said recently, "The threshold for demonization of Iran is fairly low. The public would readily believe the worst about Iran."
So what is Iran doing about all this?
In response to the recent allegations that murdering American troops is Iranian state policy, Tina Susman reports that,
Iran, meanwhile, dismissed the latest accusations as "ridiculously false" in a letter to the U.N. Security Council on Monday. "It is not the first time that the international community is witness to the United States' baseless allegations," it said, referring to Bush administration claims that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction.They're not wrong and the world knows it. The Iranian people certainly know it, though concerns about a potential US attack have waned of late. Iran has attempted to clarify all outstanding questions regarding its nuclear energy program, has agreed to accept and observe the Additional Protocol, and has offered to cooperate fully with the UN's International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspectors in an agreement that IAEA chief Mohamed ElBaradei called a "milestone" and "a positive step." Naturally, this kind of stuff doesn't sell newspapers or TV ads in the United States and so it's not mentioned by the media here...nor do Iranian allegations that the US is funding the actions of rebels on the Iraq/Iran border. We also don't hear about the secret talks held between the US and Iran over Iran's nuclear program or that Iran is willing to discuss its nuclear energy program with any country who wishes to engage them. As reported in RIA Novosti on 23 April 2008, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said, "The Iranian nation has always believed in fair negotiations to resolve the [nuclear] issue, based on respect for the rights of other nations. It makes no difference with whom we conduct such negotiations," and continuing, "Peaceful nuclear energy belongs to all nations." These sentiments were echoed Sunday by Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who stated, "We will continue with our path with power and we will not allow the arrogant ones to step on the right of this nation." I guess it's only the bad guys who talk about peace and rights these days.
Iran is subject to a staggering double standard when it comes to the expected intrusive inspections of their nuclear program. Still, Iran has not refused to accept such inspections (as sensational headlines would have you believe), it only asks that all nuclear nations are treated equally. Reuters reports,
Iranian Ambassador Ali Asghar Soltanieh asked why developing nations should accept intrusive International Atomic Energy Agency inspections as a condition for obtaining nuclear know-how when nuclear arms powers could unilaterally curb IAEA checks of their facilities.The five permanent members of the UN Security Council and Germany are planning to offer Iran an incentive package (supposedly containing economic benefits and opportunities) in exchange for an immediate halt to Iran's nuclear activities, as they have offered in the past. Iran has and will reject these overtures as they are empty gestures by six of the world's strongest powers. And by empty gestures, I mean bullshit bribery dressed up as positive diplomacy. Positing a potential end result of open negotiations as a precondition for those very talks is quite devious and, unfortunately, the American public still doesn't see through the thinly veiled nonsense of it all. Iranians, however, are not fooled by the circular argument of Western powers.
Soltanieh accused industrialized powers of enshrining "nuclear apartheid" by imposing harsher export controls for developing states within the NPT while secretly helping non-NPT state Israel build a nuclear arsenal.
"This double standard cannot be sustained and no additional measure in strengthening (IAEA) safeguards can be accepted by non-nuclear weapons parties unless these serious constraints and discrimination are removed," he said.
"Regarding the incentives package ... we believe the path adopted in the past should not be continued. They should act based on realities and international regulations. Talks should be held based on respecting nations' rights," Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Mohammad Ali Hosseini said recently. But, of course, this isn't reported widely (if at all) by our press here.
In addition to the other stuff we don't hear about from the American mainstream media, Iran has "launched an ambitious initiative aimed at preventing war, based on a comprehensive package of economic, political and security measures on a vast regional plane. The package includes proposals to settle remaining questions related to Iran's nuclear energy program, but is not limited to that," according to an extensive and fascinating report by Muriel Mirak-Weissbach of Global Research.
What else doesn't make it to the American airwaves or press, you ask? How about the release last Friday of Russian equipment for Iran's first nuclear power plant that was being held at the border of Azerbaijan for over a month. The Associated Press reports that the Azerbaijani State Customs Committee "halted the cargo of heat-isolating equipment headed for the Bushehr plant on March 29, demanding more information from Russia about the nature of the material. Azerbaijani officials said they feared the equipment could violate United Nations sanctions. The Russian state-run company building Bushehr, OAO Atomstroiexport, accused Azerbaijan of deliberately obstructing the cargo." The report continues to explain that the US and other Western powers have "criticized Russia in the past for building Bushehr" but reveals that the Bush Administration has recently "softened its position after Iran agreed to return spent nuclear fuel to Russia to ensure it does not extract plutonium from it that could be used to make atomic bombs."
The United States and its Western allies also agreed to drop any reference to Bushehr in the sanctions resolutions passed by the U.N. Security Council as a result of Russian pressure.Why don't we hear this stuff? Maybe because, if we did, it would severely hurt the war cause, what with all the "legal" arguments and reasonable "diplomacy" that actually goes on out of sight of the pandering media.
Russia says the plant's contract is in line with all international agreements aimed at preventing nuclear weapons proliferation.
What we do hear about, however, is that Iran has halted any new talks with the US regarding the future of Iraq. What we hear less about, though, is why. Reuters' Hossein Jaseb, reveals that Iran has "dismissed any prospect of new talks with the United States on Iraq, accusing U.S.-led forces on Monday of a "massacre" of the Iraqi people." The report quotes Foreign Ministry spokesman Mohammad Ali Hosseini, "Right now, what we observe in Iraq is a massacre of the Iraqi nation by the occupying forces...Concerning this situation, talks with America will have no results and will be meaningless."
Let us all take a minute to remember, as Hosseini reminds us, that Iraq (just like Afghanistan) is occupied by US troops. Let us also take a minute to remember, as Paul Craig Roberts reminds us, that "unlike the US and Israel, Iran is neither occupying any other country’s territory nor threatening to invade another country. Nevertheless, propaganda against Iran is spouting from US and Israeli mouths at an increasing rate. Lie after lie rolls off the tongues of leaders of the 'two great democracies.'" And yet, Iran is accused of "interfering" in the affairs of a sovereign state? Curious. Ridiculous.
And yet, the absurd charade continues...and not only by American politicians, pundits, and military officials. Anti-Iranian rhetoric is a popular past-time for the Israeli administration (and press) as well. Early this week and reported by Ha'aretz, Israeli President Shimon Peres "compared the Iranian nuclear threat to Hitler's Germany."
"I am not in favor of a military attack on Iran, but we must quickly and decisively establish a strong, aggressive coalition of nations that will impose painful economic sanctions on Iran," he said regarding Tehran's nuclear program.These false sentiments were shared by Israeli Air Force Commander Major General Eliezer Shkedy on CBS' 60 Minutes last week. During the shameless and nauseatingly aggrandizing report, Shkedy repeated the claims that Iran is an existential threat to Israel and that Ahmadinejad is the new Hitler. Once again, Paul Craig Roberts sets the record straight, stating, "There are better candidates for the role than Ahmadinejad. Gen. Shkedi [sic] himself sounds like Hitler blaming Poland for the outbreak of the second world war. Ahmadinejad has attacked no country, whereas Israel repeatedly invades its neighbors and continues 40-year occupations of Syrian and Palestinian territory."
Addressing a press conference of foreign journalists, Peres said that "Iran's efforts to achieve nuclear weapons should keep the entire world from sleeping soundly."
Israel and Western nations accuse Iran of covertly seeking nuclear weapons, while Tehran insists its nuclear program is entirely peaceful.
"[Iranian President Mahmoud] Ahmadinejad is calling for Israel to be wiped off the map, and the combination of nuclear weapons in the hands of a deranged extremist religious leader is a nightmare for the world," Peres went on to say.
"In a way it's more complicated than in the time of the Nazis," he said. "Hitler didn't have a nuclear bomb."
The president also said that Iran is a global terror center which "trains and finances generations of killers and terrorists."
So what happens next? Is all the rhetorical acrobatics just part of the same old political game? Or is a US (or Israeli) attack on Iran this summer not only a mere possibility, but rather a likely probability? Is former UN weapons inspector Scott Ritter right when he confidently suggests that "the United States is planning right now, as we speak, a military strike against Iran." He elaborated, on Democracy Now! with Amy Goodman,
"[Senior US military officials and politicians] speak of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Command as being a rogue organization within the Iranian government that provides this support [to so-called Iraqi "special groups"]. The United States Senate, through the Kyl-Lieberman resolution, has pretty much given a target list blessing to the US military by passing a resolution that labels the Revolutionary Guard Command as a terrorist organization. And the Bush administration, of course, is engaged in a global war on terror backed by two congressional war powers resolutions.Let's all hope, for humanity, legality, and morality's sake, that Ritter is wrong. But, chances are, he's not.
We take a look at the military buildup, we take a look at the rhetoric, we take a look at the diplomatic posturing, and I would say that it’s a virtual guarantee that there will be a limited aerial strike against Iran in the not-so-distant future, that focuses on the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Command. And if this situation spins further out of control, you would see these aerial strikes expanding to include Iran’s nuclear infrastructure and some significant command and control targets."
Military Intervention in Iran
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[Last Updated January 2008]
Five years into the US-UK illegal invasion of Iraq and its consequent catastrophe for Iraqi people, peace loving people throughout the world are appalled by the current Iran-US standoff and its resemblance to the run-up to the invasion of Iraq. The hawks, headed by Dick Cheney in Washington, are now shamelessly calling for a military attack on Iran. The same Israeli lobby which pushed for the invasion of Iraq is now pushing for a military attack on Iran. The same distortions which were attempted to dupe the western public opinion for the invasion of Iraq, are now used to pave the way for another illegal pre-emptive war of aggression against Iran. As in the case of Iraq, the UN Security Council Resolutions against Iran, extricated through massive US pressure, are meant to provide a veneer of legitimacy for such an attack.
Contrary to the myth created by the western media, it is the US and its European allies which are defying the international community, in that they have rejected negotiations without pre-conditions. They show their lack of good faith by demanding that Iran concede the main point of negotiations, namely, suspension of enrichment of uranium which is Iran's legitimate right under the Non-Proliferation Treaty, before the negotiations actually start.
The Campaign Against Sanctions and Military Intervention in Iran (CASMII) calls for immediate and direct negotiations between the US and Iran without any pre-conditions.
Here, we debunk the main unfounded accusations, lies and distortions by the US and Israel and their allies while highlighting the main reasons to oppose sanctions and military intervention against Iran.
IRAN'S NUCLEAR PROGRAMME: FACTS AND LIES
1. There is no evidence of a nuclear weapons programme in Iran. The US and its allies pressure Iran to prove that it is not hiding a nuclear weapons programme. This demand is logically impossible to satisfy and serves to make diplomacy fail in order to force regime change. Numerous intrusive and snap visits by International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspectors, totalling more than 2,700 person-hours of inspection, have failed to produce a shred of evidence for a weapons programme in Iran. Traces of highly enriched uranium found at Natanz in 2004, were determined by the IAEA to have come with imported centrifuges.
In July 2007, IAEA and Iran agreed on a work plan with defined modalities and timetable to clarify all issues of concerns in relation to Iran's nuclear programme. On 27 th August 2007 IAEA announced that “The Agency has been able to verify the non-diversion of the declared nuclear materials at the enrichment facilities in Iran and has therefore concluded that it remains in peaceful use.” The Agreement also cleared Iran's plutonium experiments, which the Cheney Camp had accused of being evidence of Iran's weaponisation programme.
Dr Mohammad El-Baradei, the IAEA Director General, said on 7 th September 2007, “For the last few years we have been told by the Security Council, by the board, we have to clarify the outstanding issues in Iran because these outstanding issues are the ones that have led to the lack of confidence, the crisis,” “We have not come to see any undeclared activities or weaponisation of their programme.”
Two years earlier, in June 2005, Bruno Pellaud, former IAEA Deputy Director General for Safeguards, was asked by Swissinfo if Iran was intent on building a nuclear bomb. He replied: "My impression is not. My view is based on the fact that Iran took a major gamble in December 2003 by allowing a much more intrusive capability to the IAEA. If Iran had had a military programme they would not have allowed the IAEA to come under this Additional Protocol. They did not have to."
2. Iran's need for nuclear power generation is real. Even when Iran's population was one-third of what it is today, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld and Paul Wolfowitz, negotiating on behalf of President Gerald Ford, persuaded the former Shah that Iran needed over twenty nuclear reactors. With Iran's population of 70 million, and growing, and its oil resources fast depleting, Iran may be a net importer of oil in just over a decade from now. Nuclear energy is thus a realistic and viable solution for electricity generation in the country.
3. The "crisis" over Iran's nuclear programme lacks the urgency claimed by Washington. Weapons grade uranium must be enriched at least to 85%. A 2005 CIA report determined that it could take Iran 10 years to achieve this level of enrichment. Many independent nuclear experts have stated that Iran would face formidable technical obstacles if it tried to enrich uranium beyond the 3.5% purity required for electricity generation. According to Dr Frank Barnaby of the Oxford Research Group, because of contamination of Iranian uranium with heavy metals, Iran cannot possibly enrich beyond even 20% without support from Russia or China. IAEA director, Dr. Mohammad ElBaradei, too, reiterated in October 2007 that “I don't see Iran, today, to be a clear and present danger. And our conclusion here is supported by every intelligence assessment I've seen that even if Iran has ambitions to develop nuclear weapons, it's still three to eight years away from that.”
4. Iran has met its obligations under the Nuclear non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). Iran voluntarily accepted and enforced safeguards stricter than IAEA's Additional Protocol until February 2006, when Iran's nuclear file was reported, under the pressure from the US , to the Security Council. (The US, by contrast, has neither signed nor implemented the Additional Protocol, and Israel has refused to sign the NPT.)
Iran's earlier concealment of its nuclear programme took place in the context of the US-backed invasion of Iran by Saddam. Not only the U.S., Germany, and the UK were complicit in the sale of chemical weapons to Saddam which were used against Iranian soldiers and civilians but Israel's destruction of Iraq 's Osirak reactor in 1981 was treated with total impunity. Iranian leaders then concluded from these gross injustices that international laws are only “ink on paper.”
But the most direct reasons for Iran's concealment were the American trade embargo on Iran and Washington's organized and persistent campaign to stop civilian nuclear technology from reaching Iran from any source. For example, in 1995 Germany offered to let Kraftwerk Union (a subsidiary of Siemens) finish Iran's Bushehr reactor, but withdrew its proposal under US pressure. The following year, China cancelled its contract to build a nuclear enrichment facility in Isfahan for the same reason. Thus Washington systematically violated, with impunity, Article IV of the NPT, which allows “signatories the fullest possible exchange of equipment, materials and scientific and technological information for the peaceful uses of nuclear energy.”
Nevertheless, Iran's decision not to declare all of its nuclear installations did not violate its NPT obligations. According to David Albright and Corey Hinderstein, who first provided satellite imagery and analysis in December 2002, under the safeguards agreement in force at the time, "Iran is not required to allow IAEA inspections of a new nuclear facility until six months before nuclear material is introduced into it."
5. Iran has given unprecedented concessions on its nuclear programme. Unlike North Korea, Iran has resisted the temptation to withdraw from the NPT. Besides accepting snap inspections under Additional Protocol until February 2006, Iran has invited Western companies to develop Iran's civilian nuclear programme. Such joint ventures would create the best assurance that the enriched uranium would not be diverted to a weapons programme. Such concessions are very rare in the world, but the U.S. and its allies have refused Iran's offer.
6. Enrichment of uranium for a civilian nuclear programme is Iran's inalienable right. Every member of the NPT has the right to enrich uranium for a civilian nuclear programme and is entitled to full technical assistance.
But with the US as the back seat driver and in violation of their assistance obligations, France , Germany , and the UK insisted throughout the three years of negotiations that Tehran forfeit its right, in return for incentives of little value. Some European diplomats admitted to Asia Times Online on 7th September 2005, that the package offered by the EU-3 was “an empty box of chocolates.” But “there is nothing else we can offer,” the diplomats went on to say, “The Americans simply wouldn't let us.”
7. The Western alliance has not tried true diplomacy and relies instead on threats. Iran refuses to suspend its enrichment of uranium before bilateral negotiations begin, as demanded by the White House, because it suspects Washington will stall with endless doubts regarding verification of suspension.
8. The UN resolutions against Iran , in contrast to the treatment of the US allies, South Korea, India, Pakistan, and Israel, smack of double standards. For example, in the year 2000, South Korea enriched 200 milligrams of uranium to near-weapons grade (up to 77%), but was not referred to the UN Security Council.
India has refused to sign the NPT or allow inspections and has developed an atomic arsenal, but receives nuclear assistance from the US in violation of the NPT. More bizarrely, India has a seat on the governing board of IAEA and, under US pressure, voted to refer Iran as a violator to the UN Security Council. Another non-signatory, Pakistan, clandestinely developed nuclear weapons but is supported by the US as a “war on terror” ally.
Israel is a close ally of Washington, even though it has hundreds of clandestine nuclear weapons, has dismissed numerous UN resolutions and has refused to sign the NPT or open any of its nuclear plants to inspections.
The US itself is the most serious violator of the NPT. The only country to have ever used nuclear bombs in war, the US has refused to reduce its nuclear arsenal, in violation of Article VI of NPT. The US is also in breach of the Treaty because it is developing new generations of nuclear warheads for use against non-nuclear adversaries. Moreover, Washington has deployed hundreds of such tactical nuclear weapons all around the world in violation of Articles I and II of the NPT.
9. Iran has not threatened Israel or attacked another country. The track records of the US, Israel, the UK and France are very different. These so called “democracies” have a bloody history of invading other countries. Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, has declared repeatedly that Iran will not attack or threaten any country. He has also issued a fatwa against the production, stockpiling and use of nuclear weapons and banned nuclear weapons as sacrilegious. Iran has been a consistent supporter of the Nuclear non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and called for a nuclear weapons free Middle East.
The comments of Iran's President Ahmadinejad against Israel have been repeated by some of Iran's leaders since 1979 and constitute no practical threat. The statement attributed to him that “Israel should be wiped off the map” is a distortion of the truth and has been determined by a number of Farsi linguists, amongst them, Professor Juan Cole, to be a mistranslation. What he actually said was that “the regime occupying Jerusalem must vanish from the page of time." Ahmadinejad has made clear that he envisions regime change in Israel through internal decay, similar to the demise of the Soviet Union. Iranian leaders have said consistently for two decades that they will accept a two-state solution in Palestine if a majority of Palestinians favour that option.
This is in sharp contrast to the explicit threats by Israeli and the US leaders against Iran, including aid to separatist movements to disintegrate and wipe Iran off the map, as reported by Seymour Hersh and Reese Erlich. There is considerable evidence of clandestine operations by the US, British and Israeli agents who are arming, training and funding terrorist entities such as Jundollah in Baluchistan, Arab separatists in Khuzestan, and PJAK in Kurdistan. These concrete attempts at disintegration of Iran, as well as the 100 million dollars congressional funding for ‘democracy' promotion in Iran, constitute aggression and are interference in Iran's domestic affairs and Iranian people's rights of sovereignty. They violate the bilateral Algiers Accord of 1981, in which Washington renounced any such actions in the future.
Furthermore, President Bush and Vice President Cheney, former UN ambassador, John Bolton, Senator Lieberman, as well as presidential candidates Guilliani, Romney and McCain are openly advocating and pushing for pre-emptive military attack on Iran. The French President, Sarkouzy, and his Foreign Minister, Kouchner, the new recruits to the Neo Cons camp, have added their voice to this chorus for war. British Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, too has not ruled out the pre-emptive military option against Iran.
Iran is no match for Israel, whose security and military needs are all but guaranteed by the US. Iran is surrounded on all sides by the US Navy and American bases.
Iran has not invaded or threatened any country for two and a half centuries. The only war the Islamic Republic fought was the one imposed by Saddam's army, which invaded Iran with the backing of the US and its allies. When Iraq used chemical weapons, supplied by the West, against Iranian troops, Iran did not retaliate in kind. When Afghanistan's Taliban regime murdered eight Iranian diplomats in 1996 and remained unapologetic, Iran did not respond militarily.
10. The US “democratization” programme for Iran is a hoax. Although violations of human rights and democratic freedoms do occur too often in Iran, the country has the most pluralistic system in a region dominated by undemocratic client states of the US. It is sheer hypocrisy for the US, which turns a blind eye to the gross human rights abuses by its allies, such as Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Israel, Libya, and Egypt, to misrepresent its agenda in Iran as a “democratization” programme. Washington's pretensions ring especially hollow when one remembers that in 1953 Iran's nascent democracy under Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadeq was overthrown by the CIA, which restored a hated military dictatorship for the benefit of American oil conglomerates.
UN SECURITY COUNCIL INVOLVEMENT TOTALLY UNJUSTIFIED
11. There are no legal bases for Iran's referral to the UN Security Council. Since there is no evidence that Iran is even contemplating to weaponize its nuclear programme, no grounds exist for this sidelining of the IAEA.
Michael Spies of the New York-based Lawyers' Committee on Nuclear Policy has clarified the issue: "Under the Statute (Art. 12(C)) and the Safeguards Agreement, the Board may only refer Iran to the Security Council if it finds that, based on the report from the Director General, it cannot be assured that Iran has not diverted nuclear material for non-peaceful purpose. In the past, findings of `non-assurance' have only come in the face of a history of active and ongoing non-cooperation with IAEA safeguards. The pursuit of nuclear activities in itself, which is specifically recognized as a sovereign right, and which remain safeguarded, could not legally or logically equate to uncertainty regarding diversion."
The IAEA director, Dr ElBaradei, has in fact consistently confirmed that there has been no diversion of safeguarded nuclear material in Iran. He has asserted unambiguously in his interview with New York Times on 7 September 2007 that in Iran “we have not come to see any undeclared activities...We have not seen any weaponisation of their programme, nor have we received any information to that effect.” He has also repeatedly urged skeptics in Western capitals to help the IAEA by sharing any possible proof in their possession of suspicious nuclear activity in Iran.
The IAEA-Iran work plan of August 2007 has reconfirmed this. It has stated that all declared nuclear activirties in Iran have been verified to be for peaceful purposes. It has also cleared Iran of its plutonium experiments which had been regarded as a smoking gun by the US.
Dr ElBaradei has nevertheless said, under pressure from Washington, that he cannot rule out the existence of undeclared nuclear activities in the country. However, according to the IAEA's Safeguards Implementation Report for 2005 (issued on 15 June 2006), 45 other countries, including 14 European countries, in particular Germany, are in this same category as Iran.
Moreover, according to the UK-based Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, certifying non-diversion of nuclear material to military purposes for any given country takes an average of six years of inspections and verification by the IAEA. In the case of Iran, these investigations have been going on for only about four years now.
Iran's file, therefore, must be returned to the jurisdiction of the IAEA and the rules of the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT). The US and its allies violated the rules by exerting massive pressure on the IAEA to report Iran without any legitimacy to the UN Security Council. For example, David Mulford, the US Ambassador to India, warned the Government of India in January 2006 that there would be no US-India nuclear deal if India did not vote against Iran at the IAEA. On February 15th 2007, Stephen Rademaker, the former US Assistant Secretary for International Security and Non-Proliferation, admitted publicly that the US coerced India to vote against Iran. Clearly, reporting Iran to the UN Security Council and the subsequent adoption of the Resolutions 1696 and 1737 have been carried out with US coercion and have thus no legitimacy at all.
The IAEA report on the outcome of the “work plan” between Iran and the IAEA released on 15/11/07 has confirmed that "Iran has provided sufficient access to individuals and has responded in a timely manner to questions and provide (needed) clarifications and amplifications." The report has stated that Iran had made “substantial progress” towards clarifying outstanding questions about its nuclear programs, that "The agency has been able to conclude that answers provided on the declared past P-1 and P-2 centrifuge programs are consistent with its findings” and that “We will however continue to seek corroboration and to verify the completeness of Iran's declarations.” It has also confirmed repeatedly in various parts of the document that, in relation to all issues of ambiguity such as past black market procurement and concealment, Iran's statements are consistent with the information independently available to the agency.
The response from the US/Israel and their allies has been immediately negative, accusing Iran of “selective cooperation” with the IAEA. Shaul Mofaz, Israel's deputy prime minister, called for the sacking of Dr ElBaradei over the IAEA's recent report on Iran. The US is pressing with the demand for Iran to stop its uranium enrichment, which is Iran's inalienable right as a signatory to the NPT. Probably under direct pressure from the US and its allies, trying to discredit the successful collaboration of Iran with the IAEA, the report has at the same time pointed to the agency's “diminishing knowledge” about Iran's current nuclear programme. Such a situation, as Dr ElBaradei later asserted in his speech to the Governors' Board of the IAEA in November 2007, is true of (over forty) countries that do not enforce the additional protocol. In the case of Iran, which is singled out among these countries by the west for political reasons, the US and its European allies bear the direct responsibility for this situation. As previously pointed out, they coerced the Governors Board of the IAEA to report Iran's file to the UN in 2005 and early 2006, which prompted Iran to suspend its voluntary enforcement of the Additional Protocol and to resume enrichment of uranium.
The National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) on Iran, issued on December 3, refutes the US and Israeli accusations that Iran has a covert nuclear weapons programme. The statement vindicates Iran's claim that the decision by the Governors Board of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to report its nuclear file to the UN Security Council in February 2006 and the subsequent Security Council resolutions and sanctions against Iran lack legitimacy.
The NIE report had been held for nearly one year in an effort by Vice President Cheney's office to force the intelligence community to remove some of the dissenting judgments on Iran's nuclear program.
Representing the views of 16 US intelligence agencies, the NIE on Iran sharply reverses its 2005 version that claimed Iran was developing nuclear weapons. The report assesses that Iran's alleged military nuclear work ended in 2003, but fails to provide any evidence that such activity ever existed. If proof for this assessment had been found, it was the obligation of the US to provide it to the IAEA for on-the-ground verification.
A senior IAEA official was quoted by the IHT on December 4: "despite repeated smear campaigns, the IAEA has stood its ground and concluded time and again that 'there was no evidence of an undeclared nuclear weapons program in Iran.'"
While the IAA and Iran are collaborating to resolve the final components of the outstanding issues on the Iranain nuclear programme by March 2008, the US and its European allies have pushed for a third round of the UN sanctions against Iran when according to its own intelligence Iran does not have a nuclear weapons programme.
SANCTIONS NOT A GOOD IDEA
12. Dr ElBaradei, the head of the IAEA, has said that more sanctions are counterproductive. Economic sanctions on Iran will harm the people of Iran, as they were devastating to Iraqis, resulting in the death of at least 500,000 children. Sanctions would not however bring the Islamic Republic to its knees. Instead, any kind of sanctions, including the so-called "targeted" or "smart" sanctions, are viewed by the Iranian people as the West's punishment for Iran's scientific progress (uranium enrichment for reactor fuel). As sanctions tighten, nationalist fervour will strengthen the resolve of Iranians to defend the country's civilian nuclear programme.
13. Sanctions are not better than war; they can be exploited as a diplomatic veneer and a provocative prelude to military attack, as they were in Iraq. Thus, countries which support sanctions against Iran are only falling into the US trap in aiding the war drive on Iran.
STATEGIC SHIFT TO MULTI-FOCAL TARGETS
14. A US attack on Iran is imminent. The end of George Bush's presidency in 2009 could be a serious set back for the NeoCons' hegemonic dreams to control the energy resources in the region. He is unlikely to leave office bearing the legacy of failures in Afghanistan and Iraq and particularly leaving Iran a stronger player in the region. Thus the likelihood of military attack on Iran before Bush leaves office is a reality. Washington insiders have told security analysts that preparations for military attack have been made and are ready for execution.
Since January, in addition to the nuclear issue, the US has also focused its propaganda to falsely implicate Iran in the violence and failures of US policies in Afghanistan and Iraq. The Iran-US bilateral dialogue this summer was derailed amidst accusations that Iran aided the killing of American soldiers by providing sophisticated weapons and training to Afghan and Iraqi fighters. As in the nuclear case, Washington has provided no proof.
British Foreign Minister, David Miliband, admitted in an interview with the Financial Times on 8th July 07 that there was “No Evidence” of Iranian involvement in the violence and instability in Iraq. Likewise, the British Defence Minister, Des Browne, in August 07 maintained categorically that “No Evidence” existed of Iranian government's complicity or instigation in supplying weapons to Iraqi militias. The Washington Post, too, reported from Iraq that hundreds of British troops combing southern Iraq for sign of Iranian weapons have come up empty-handed. Furthermore, Hamid Karzai, the Afghan president, and Al-Maleki, the Iraqi Prime Minister, have stated Iran's positive role in providing whatever limited stability there is in both these countries. Nevertheless, George Bush's speech on 28th August, authorizing the American military to “confront Tehran's murderous activities,” and the deployment of British troops to the Iranian border to guard against Iran's “proxy war” in Iraq, signaled a systematic building towards a casus belli for another illegal pre-emptive war. The Kyle-Lieberman Amendment to the Defence Authorisation Bill, too, accused Iran of killing American servicemen in Iraq and nearly authorized the military to take all necessary action to combat Iran .
A third focus in the US war drive has now been launched by branding Iran's Revolutionary Guards as a terrorist organization. This unprecedented move in US foreign policy and international relations is the proclaimed basis for imposing the toughest sanctions ever on Iranian banks, companies and individuals.
These new measures represent a massive escalation in the US war drive, they are a prelude to a military attack on Iran and provide the legal pretext for the US military to wage war on Iran without the prior approval of the US Congress.
ILLEGALITY OF A MILITARY ATTACK
15. Foreign state interference in Iran violates the UN charter. According to Seymour Hersch, the US is running covert operations in Iran to foment unrest and ethnic conflict for the purpose of regime change. Unmanned US drones have also entered into Iranian air space to spy over Iranian military installations and to map Iranian radar systems. These actions violate the UN Charter's guarantee of the right of self-determination for all nations.
The Bush Administration has also confirmed, in the 2006 US National Security Strategy, its long term policy for pre-emptive military action against Washington 's rivals. Former British prime minister, Tony Blair, supported this policy in his 21st March 2006 foreign policy speech, and his successor Gordon Brown has not rejected the pre-emptive use of military force against Iran. However, unprovoked strikes are illegal under international law. To remove this obstacle, John Reid, the then British Secretary of Defence, in his speech on 3rd April 2006 to the Royal United Services Institute for Defense and Security Studies, proposed a change in international law on pre-emptive military action.
16. Reports of nuclear attack scenarios against Iran can serve to raise the public's tolerance for an act of aggression with conventional military means. People of conscience and sanity must not only condemn even contemplation of a nuclear attack, but also denounce any conventional attack.
UNINTENDED CONSEQUENCES OF AN ATTACK ON IRAN
17. Bombing cannot end Iran's nuclear programme. Since Iran already has the expertise to enrich uranium up to the 3.5% grade for a fuel cycle, no degree of bombing will halt Iran's civilian nuclear programme. On the contrary, the resulting mass casualties and destruction would strengthen the voices that argue Iran, like North Korea, should build a nuclear deterrent.
18. An attack on Iran will unite Iranians against the US and its allies. A great majority of the public in Iran support the country's right to enrich uranium for civilian purposes. This has been confirmed by all opinion polls conducted in the country, including polls taken by Western institutions. Therefore, a bombing campaign will not lead to an uprising by the Iranian people for regime change as envisaged by the US. Rather, it would ignite nationalist feelings in the country and unite the population, including most of the government's critics, against the West.
19. A nuclear attack on Iran would fuel a new nuclear arms race and ruin the NPT. Any military intervention against Iran will lead to a regional catastrophe and expanded terrorism. Senator McCain, the Republican presidential hopeful, who has himself advocated the use of force on Iran, has predicted that an attack against Iran will lead to Armageddon. American or Israeli aggression on Iran, coming on the heels of the Iraq disaster, would inflame the grievance and outrage of Muslims worldwide and help jihadi extremists with their recruitment campaign. The region wide conflagration resulting from an Israel/US attack on Iran would dwarf the Iraq catastrophe.
20. The cause of democracy in Iran will suffer gravely if the country is attacked. President Bush's "axis of evil" rhetoric severely undermined the reformist movement in Iran at a time when the country's president promoted Dialogue Among Civilizations. Bush's hostile posture strengthened the hands of Iranian hardliners and contributed to the reformist movement's electoral defeat in 2005. That setback would be dwarfed by the consequences of a military assault on the country.