Sunday, December 27, 2009

The New York Crimes:
All The Lies That Fit to Print

"Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I'm not sure about the universe."
- Albert Einstein
"The age of military attacks is over, now we've reached the time for dialogue and understanding. Weapons and threats are a thing of the past...even for mentally challenged people."
- Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, 11/23/2009

The American political, academic, and media establishment has long been beating the drums of war with Iran and, as the author of The New York Times' latest OpEd encouraging the US bombing of that country, University of Texas professor Alan J. Kuperman has now emerged as the Keith Moon of sensational jingoism and, considering his concept of reality, morality, and legality, is probably twice as crazy.

Mr. Kuperman, in a piece published on December 23rd and titled "There’s Only One Way to Stop Iran", stridently advocates for an immediate, unilateral, unprovoked and devastating aerial assault on Iran's nuclear facilities. He writes,
"Since peaceful carrots and sticks cannot work [with Iran], and an invasion would be foolhardy, the United States faces a stark choice: military air strikes against Iran's nuclear facilities or acquiescence to Iran’s acquisition of nuclear weapons."
Apparently, Mr. Kuperman's "one way" is a premeditated act of war, a preemptive attack on a sovereign nation that has not threatened nor invaded any country in over two and half centuries. The "stark" choices that Mr. Kuperman proposes do not include the obvious legal answer: for US policy to abide by international law and ratified treaties guaranteeing the right of Iran to a peaceful nuclear energy program and therefore cease threatening Iran with homicidal military action.

Though Mr. Kuperman claims to believe that "negotiation to prevent nuclear proliferation is always preferable to military action," he immediately turns around to state, "We have reached the point where air strikes are the only plausible option with any prospect of preventing Iran’s acquisition of nuclear weapons." He concludes with the dire warning that "Postponing military action merely provides Iran a window to expand, disperse and harden its nuclear facilities against attack. The sooner the United States takes action, the better."

Mr. Kuperman even believes that "Iran's atomic sites might need to be bombed more than once to persuade Tehran to abandon its pursuit of nuclear weapons." His suggestions not only defy all basic logic and reason, but, more perversely, demonstrate his utter contempt for global jurisprudence, basic facts, and human life.

Despite being a highly educated scholar, Mr. Kuperman, who has a Ph.D. in political science from MIT, reveals a stunning lack of historical knowledge, a general disinterest in providing any sort of supporting evidence or documentation for his baffling assumptions, and a bewildering inability to discern truth from propaganda, all of which, unfortunately, inform his outrageous conclusions. In fact, there are so many unsubstantiated claims and outright lies packed into the relatively short article, it's an absolute wonder that The New York Times chose to print it. Has the Grey Lady laid off all its fact-checkers?

Then again, it should probably come as no surprise that the "newspaper of record" has no qualms about printing fiction masked as truth, as seen with the relentless build-up to the invasion and occupation of Iraq just seven years ago.

First of all, Kuperman's constant mischaracterizations of Iran's wholly legal energy program as an illicit, covert effort to build a nuclear bomb stands in stark contrast to all available information provided and accepted by both the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which monitors Iran's nuclear program, and the intelligence community of the United States, which spies on Iran's nuclear program. The IAEA has repeatedly found, through intensive, round-the-clock monitoring and inspection of Iran's nuclear facilities - including numerous surprise visits to Iranian enrichment plants - that all of Iran's centrifuges operate under IAEA safeguards and "continue to be operated as declared."

In an IAEA report from as far back as November 2003, the agency states that "to date, there is no evidence that the previously undeclared nuclear material and activities referred to above were related to a nuclear weapons programme." Then, after extensive inspections of Iran's nuclear facilities, the IAEA again concluded in its November 2004 report that "all the declared nuclear material in Iran has been accounted for, and therefore such material is not diverted to prohibited activities."

In May 2008, the IAEA reported that it had found "no indication" that Iran has or ever did have a nuclear weapons program and affirmed that "The Agency has been able to continue to verify the non-diversion of declared nuclear material [to weaponization] in Iran." Earlier this year, IAEA spokesperson Melissa Fleming even issued a statement clarifying the IAEA's position regarding the flurry of deliberately misleading articles in the US and European press claiming that Iran had enriched enough uranium "to build a nuclear bomb." The statement, among other things, declared that "No nuclear material could have been removed from the [Nantanz] facility without the Agency's knowledge since the facility is subject to video surveillance and the nuclear material has been kept under seal."

This assessment was reaffirmed as recently as September 2009, in response to various media reports over the past few years claiming that Iran's intent to build a nuclear bomb can be proven by information provided from a mysterious stolen laptop and a dubious, undated - and most likely forged - two-page document. The IAEA stated, "With respect to a recent media report, the IAEA reiterates that it has no concrete proof that there is or has been a nuclear weapon programme in Iran."

Both the out-going and in-coming Director-Generals of the IAEA, Mohamed ElBaradei and Yukiya Amano, respectively, have stated that there is absolutely no evidence of an Iranian nuclear weapons program.

Even the United States' National Intelligence Estimate (NIE), which aggregates classified information from 16 American intelligence and security agencies, concluded in a formal evaluation of Iran's "Nuclear Intentions and Capabilities" in November 2007 that Iran had no active nuclear weapons program. A recent Newsweek report, from September 16, 2009, indicates that, despite what is constantly repeated by administration officials and warmongers like Mr. Kuperman, the NIE stands by its 2007 assessment and that "U.S. intelligence agencies have informed policymakers at the White House and other agencies that the status of Iranian work on development and production of a nuclear bomb has not changed."

Jeremy R. Hammond of Foreign Policy Journal accurately points out the "important difference between the U.S. intelligence community’s and the IAEA’s assessments," continuing, "According to the 2007 NIE, Iran had a nuclear weapons program until 2003. According to the IAEA - the international nuclear watchdog agency actively monitoring Iran’s program and conducting inspections in the country - there is no proof Iran ever had a nuclear weapons program."

Nevertheless, in a mere 1492 words, Mr. Kuperman refers to, what he terms, Iran's "bomb program" eight times and makes ten additional references to Iran's so-called pursuit of a nuclear weapon arsenal, nuclear weapons techniques, weapons-grade enrichment, and weapons trafficking. One can only assume, then, that he has information that neither the IAEA inspectors nor the United States government has yet to uncover and examine.

Perhaps, devoid of any actual evidence, Kuperman simply takes as a matter of faith that the Iranian government is intent on and committed to acquiring nuclear weapons. Maybe he's just worried about supposed apocalyptic ideologies of modern governments which blend theocracy and republicanism and agrees with war criminal Benjamin Netanyahu, who warned during his September 24 speech at the UN, in what may have been the single most ironic and self-unaware statement since "Let them eat cake", that "the greatest threat facing the world today is the marriage between religious fanaticism and the weapons of mass destruction." This amazing statement came from the designated (not elected) Prime Minister of a self-described "Jewish State" which currently has upwards of 400 nuclear warheads yet has never signed the NPT and is therefore not subject to inspection and monitoring.

But if faith really is a consideration, due to the fact that Iran is a deeply religious society and a constitutionally mandated Islamic Republic, perhaps Mr. Kuperman should be aware that, on August 10, 2005, Iranian nuclear negotiator Cyrus Naseri informed an emergency meeting of the IAEA Board of Governors that a religious decree unconditionally prohibiting the acquisition of nuclear weapons was in effect. He stated,
"The Leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran, 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. 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."
Furthermore, Congressional foreign policy advisor Gregory Aftandilian, speaking at a Center for National Policy event titled “A Nuclear Middle East” in October 2008, stated rationally that Iran is "not stupid" and "has a long history, thousands of years, of statecraft…Tehran is not suicidal."

Even more to the point, the government and military of Iran has a strict "no first strike" policy, something that countries like the United States and Israel obviously don't have. Iranian government and military officials have long stated that they will act in self-defense only if their country is attacked and have never issued threats about initiating aggression against another nation. As General Hoseyn Salami, commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Air Force, remarked on an Iranian news program on September 28, 2009, "As long as our enemies act within a political domain, our behavior will be completely political. However, if they want to leave the domain of political action and enter the domain of military threat, then our action will be exactly and completely military."

Whereas Iran operates legally with defensive consideration for its own security in the face of constant bellicose rhetoric and aggressive posturing from both Washington and Tel Aviv, Mr. Kuperman's advice to the US government directly contravenes international law. In fact, even the threat of attack is prohibited by the Charter of the United Nations, which states, "All Members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state, or in any other manner inconsistent with the Purposes of the United Nations." (Article 2, paragraph 4)

In July 1946, Robert Jackson, the chief US prosecutor at Nuremburg after World War II, stated in his Closing Argument of the Trial of the Major War Criminals before the International Military Tribunal that of all Nazi war crimes, including invasion, occupation, mass displacement, concentration and extermination camps, ethnic cleansing, and genocide, "the central crime in this pattern of crimes, the kingpin which holds them all together, is the plot for aggressive wars."

When the judgment of the IMT was delivered a few months later, it maintained that "To initiate a war of not only an international crime; it is the supreme international crime, differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole."

The Nuremburg judgment had a profound influence on subsequent international law; its findings and conclusions served as the framework for UN Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (1948), The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948), The Geneva Convention on the Laws and Customs of War (1949) and its additional protocols (1977), The Nuremberg Principles (1950), The Convention on the Abolition of the Statute of Limitations on War Crimes and Crimes against Humanity (1968), and the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (1998).

Considering Mr. Kuperman has a Masters degree in international relations and international economics from the Bologna-based Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies, one might assume he would have a strong grasp on these governing principles of international law. Alas, as his policy suggestions seem based upon myriad misunderstandings of simple information and are tantamount to the supreme war crime of aggression, it appears that his higher education is not the only thing about Kuperman that's bologna based.

Kuperman begins his OpEd by declaring that the recent draft agreement proposed by the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council (all of them nuclear weapons states) and Germany (which engages in "nuclear sharing" with the United States, widely seen as a major breach of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty itself) was defective from the outset and would have aided Iran on, as Kuperman would have us believe, its nefarious quest to build nuclear bombs. He claims that the proposal, which called for roughly 70% of Iran's accumulated low-enriched uranium to be sent to Russia and France for further processing before it was returned (sometime in the future) for use in a medical reactor core in Tehran, would have "rewarded [Iran] with much-coveted reactor fuel despite violating international law" and "fostered proliferation" because "the vast surplus of higher-enriched fuel Iran was to get under the deal would have permitted some to be diverted to its bomb program."

The Western proposal was met with considerable and understandable skepticism from all segments of Iranian establishment who see the offer as being a way to permanently stop Iran's enrichment capabilities, which are legally guaranteed by the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, to which Iran has been a signatory for over 40 years. Iran's Speaker of Parliament Ali Larijani warned on October 24 that "Westerners are insisting to go in a direction that suggests cheating." Iran's head-of-state Grand Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, speaking on November 4, also cautioned against the deal, stating, "When we carefully look at the situation, we notice that [the United States and its allies] are hiding a dagger behind their back."

Even Mir Hossein Mousavi, presidential challenger and leader of the current opposition movement, criticized the proposal in late October when he declared, "If the promises given [to the West] are realized, then the hard work of thousands of scientists would be ruined." Mehdi Karroubi, another opposition leader and presidential hopeful, accused Ahmadinejad's administration of abandoning national interests by negotiating with the IAEA.

Nevertheless, Reuters reported on October 29 that President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad insisted that "conditions have been prepared for international cooperation in the nuclear field," that Iran "welcome[s] cooperation on nuclear fuel, power plants and technology," and that his administration is "ready to cooperate." Furthermore, Iran's nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili, Armed Forces chief of staff General Hassan Firouzabadi, and Iran's representative to the IAEA, Ali Asghar Soltanieh all expressed a desire to use diplomatic efforts to find a reasonable and suitable solution to the current standoff.

In early December, Iran’s Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki stated that Iran was "willing to exchange most of its uranium for processed nuclear fuel from abroad" in a phased transfer of material with full guarantees that the West "will not backtrack an exchange deal." Mr. Mottaki proposed that Iran would agree to initially hand over 25% of its uranium in a simultaneous exchange for an equivalent amount of enriched material in order to fuel the medical research reactor. The remainder of the uranium would be traded over "several years."

In response, The New York Times reported that this proposed timetable was immediately rejected by Western powers. The US government-sponsored Voice of America quoted an unidentified senior US official as claiming that the Iranian counter-proposal was inconsistent with the "fair and balanced" draft agreement. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who has previously threatened to "totally obliterate" Iran, urged the Islamic Republic to "accept the agreement as proposed because we are not altering it."

Apparently, the US government is unaware of what a "draft agreement" is. By definition, it is a proposal - a "draft" - not a final, binding accord. It is a primary piece of negotiation that can and should be revised by all parties until a mutually beneficial agreement is reached. The West appears to only accept its own offers and dismisses any other suggestions. This is not diplomacy, this is no "outstretched hand." This is, quite simply, an illegal and imperial ultimatum dictated to the sovereign nation of Iran by historically aggressive, colonial powers.

As The New York Times reported,
"Mr. Mottaki also suggested that the Western news media had helped torpedo the October agreement by framing it in hostile terms that confirmed Iran’s fears of losing its nuclear supplies.

'We said we are in agreement on the principles of the proposal, but suddenly the Western media announced that 1,200 kilograms of uranium would be leaving Iran to delay the construction of a nuclear bomb,' Mr. Mottaki said, according to Iran’s semiofficial Mehr news agency. 'Is this the answer to Iran’s confidence-building?
Still, Mr. Kuperman mischaracterizes Iran's supposed acceptance-then-rejection of the absurd Western proposition. "President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad initially embraced the deal because he realized it aided Iran's bomb program," he writes, and then claims that "under such domestic pressure, Mr. Ahmadinejad reneged."

Mr. Kuperman declares that "Tehran’s rejection of the deal was likewise propelled by domestic politics - including last June's fraudulent elections and longstanding fears of Western manipulation." Not only does this statement simply assume that the reelection of President Ahmadinejad was stolen and illegitimate (a tired narrative devoid of any substantiated evidence), he dismisses foreign involvement - namely that of the US - in Iranian affairs by employing the word "fears" rather than "facts."

Perhaps Mr. Kuperman is unaware that in 2007, ABC News reported that George W. Bush had signed a secret "Presidential finding" authorizing the CIA to "mount a covert 'black' operation to destabilize the Iranian government." These operations, according to current and former intelligence officials, included "a coordinated campaign of propaganda broadcasts, placement of negative newspaper articles, and the manipulation of Iran's currency and international banking transactions." The Sunday Telegraph corroborated this information when it stated, "Mr. Bush has signed an official document endorsing CIA plans for a propaganda and disinformation campaign intended to destabilize, and eventually topple, the theocratic rule of the mullahs."

It is also well-known that, a year later, the Bush administration was granted $400 million with which to further destabilize Iran via, as the Washington Post reported at the time "activities ranging from spying on Iran’s nuclear program to supporting rebel groups opposed to the country’s ruling clerics…" The rebel groups supported by such funding and training include, according to both Counterpunch's Andrew Cockburn and the New Yorker's Seymour Hersh, the militant Sunni group Jundullah, or "army of god," and the Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK or PMOI), which maintains an "enduring position on the State Department's list of terrorist groups."

Although Washington officially denies involvement, the Sunday Telegraph reports that funding for Jundallah's "separatist causes comes directly from the CIA's classified budget but is now 'no great secret', according to one former high-ranking CIA official," whose claims were confirmed by former US State Department counter-terrorism agent Fred Barton, who said that Jundallah's terrorist activities "inside Iran fall in line with US efforts to supply and train Iran's ethnic minorities to destabilise the Iranian regime." Among the bombings and violent attacks for which Jundallah has claimed responsibility are the killings of nine Iranian security guards in 2005, another 11 in a 2007 bombing, at least 16 Iranian police officers in a 2008 attack, and, most recently, the deadly bombing of a security gathering in southeast Iran on October 18, 2009 which killed 35 people including several top regional security officials and provincial commanders of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC).

Further, ABC News has reported that, according to Pakistani and U.S. intelligence officials, Jundallah is "responsible for a series of deadly guerrilla raids inside Iran" and "has been secretly encouraged and advised by American officials since 2005." The report continued,
"U.S. relationship with Jundullah is arranged so that the U.S. provides no funding to the group, which would require an official presidential order or "finding" as well as congressional oversight. The money for Jundullah was funneled to its leader, Abdelmalek Rigi, through Iranian exiles who have connections with European and Gulf states."
These connected Iranian exiles are members of the MEK, the Iranian opposition network that, in 1981, assassinated about 70 high ranking Iranian officials including cabinet members, elected parliamentarians, and the new Chief Justice when it bombed state headquarters. After the Iranian Revolution, the group moved its headquarters to Iraq and was supported by Saddam Hussein during the eight-year Iran-Iraq War that claimed the lives of over a million people. The MEK also claims responsibility for informing the United States and its allies about Iran's supposed nuclear weapons program, for which no verifiable evidence has ever been found.

On December 15, 2009, Texas Representative Sheila Jackson-Lee addressed Congress regarding that fate of MEK exiles currently living in Camp Ashraf in Iraq. The Congresswoman pleaded for the Obama administration to "save" the "Iranian dissidents [who] are now huddled [at Camp Ashraf], fearful for their lives." She claimed that the Iraqi government, which is now tasked with guarding the camp after US forces recently handed over control, had put the exiles "at risk of arbitrary arrest, torture or other forms of ill treatment and unlawful killing," and described the MEK - which, again, is designated as a terrorist group by the US State Department - as "dissidents who simply want to live in peace and alone." Apparently, Ms. Jackson-Lee saw nothing wrong with begging the United States to support terrorists, as long as those terrorists have the goal of toppling the Iranian government.

Plus, just last week, Iranian Intelligence Ministry announced that a number of MEK members have been arrested for violent activity and destruction of public and private property at recent anti-government protests in Tehran.

American involvement, both overt and covert, in Iranian affairs is beyond doubt, thereby making Mr. Kuperman's blow-off of Iran's "fears of Western manipulation" completely absurd.

In a June 24, 2009 interview on Al Jazeera reporter Josh Rushing asked former National Security Advisor Brent Scowcroft if the US has "intelligence operatives on the ground in Iran," to which Scowcroft simply replied, "Of course we do."

The very next day, USA Today reported that "the Obama administration is moving forward with plans to fund groups that support Iranian dissidents" via the US Agency for International Development (USAID) program which has long been known as a cover for the US government to fund regime change operations in various parts of the world.

A few days later, during a June 28 CNN interview with Robert Baer, Fareed Zakaria asked the retired 21 year CIA veteran and former Middle East undercover operative, "Isn’t it true that we do [try to destabilize the regime]? Don’t we fund various groups inside and outside Iran that do try to destabilize the government?" Baer answered, "Oh absolutely," adding, "There is a covert action program against Iran where the [U.S.] military is running; a covert action against Iran from Iraq and Afghanistan."

One month later, on July 26, Mr. Zakaria interviewed Seyyed Mohammad Marandi, a North America studies professor and political analyst at the University of Tehran. Mr. Marandi revealed that "Right now you have almost 40 television channels in Persian being broadcast into Iran from the United States and Europe - basically funded by the American government and European governments, or in some cases owned - which have played a very negative role over the past few weeks, turning people against one another... in many cases, they call for riots, and they call for violence." Mr. Zakaria, for unknown reasons, took it upon himself to deny these widely-accepted and well-evidenced allegations.

The veracity of such claims was confirmed a couple of weeks later, on August 9, when Secretary of State Hillary Clinton declared "Now, behind the scenes, we were doing a lot," Clinton said. "We were doing a lot to really empower the protesters without getting in the way. And we're continuing to speak out and support the opposition."

Even John Limbert, embassy hostage turned Deputy Assistant Secretary for the Near East at the US State Department, chimed in during a December 10, 2009 interview with CNN's Christiane Amanpour. He stated that the United States government "will not sit silently" and "will not ignore what happens on the streets of Tehran," continuing that, "we believe, as we have always believed, that the Iranian people deserve decent treatment from their government."

This is a truly amazing thing for a US official to say, especially one who worked in Tehran during the Iranian Revolution thirty years ago. At that time, the United States government supported, both vocally and materially, the brutal dictatorship of the Shah of Iran, referred to as "an island of stability" by President Carter in 1977. Under the Shah's tyrannical rule, a Time article from January 7, 1980, tells us, "Dissent was ruthlessly suppressed, in part by the use of torture in the dungeons of SAVAK, the [US and Israeli-trained] secret police."

Furthermore, the Time article continues,
"The depth of its commitment to the Shah apparently blinded Washington to the growing discontent. U.S. policymakers wanted to believe that their investment was buying stability and friendship; they trusted what they heard from the monarch, who dismissed all opposition as 'the blah-blahs of armchair critics.' Even after the revolution began, U.S. officials were convinced that 'there is no alternative to the Shah.' Carter took time out from the Camp David summit in September 1978 to phone the Iranian monarch and assure him of Washington's continued support." [emphasis mine]
Limbert, of all people, should know better than to claim that the US government cares about the rights and desires of the Iranian people. What it really cares about, and has always cared about, is fueling protests of anti-imperial governments and bolstering opposition to administrations that repel American hegemony, hubris, and dominance.

It may also be interesting to note that, whereas the US Department of Defense considers "protests" to be a type of "low-level terrorist activity," according to one of its 2009 training manuals, State Department official Limbert takes great pride in saluting the "brave people of Iran...who are going out on the street and demonstrating." One wonders if he also salutes anti-war protesters here in the United States.

But this is all just the tip of Mr. Kuperman's iceberg of deliberate disinformation.

Insisting multiple times during his piece that Iran is "violating international law" by not responding to UN Security Council resolutions calling for an immediate halt to its enrichment program, Mr. Kuperman again demonstrates his own lack of awareness of the fundamental principles of jus cogens, or peremptory norm, as it applies to the authority of UNSC resolutions and the NPT agreement. Again, this is surprising due to Mr. Kuperman's current role as director of the Nuclear Proliferation Prevention Program at the University of Texas at Austin and his former stint as Senior Policy Analyst for the nongovernmental Nuclear Control Institute.

Mr. Kuperman might want to review the tenets of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty first. Article IV of the treaty states:
1. Nothing in this Treaty shall be interpreted as affecting the inalienable right of all the Parties to the Treaty to develop, research, production and use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes without discrimination and in conformity with Articles I and II of this Treaty [which prohibit the transfer or acquisition of nuclear weapons].

2. All the Parties to the Treaty undertake to facilitate, and have the right to participate in the fullest possible exchange of equipment, materials and scientific and technological information for the peaceful uses of nuclear energy. Parties to the Treaty in a position to do so shall also co-operate in contributing alone or together with other States or international organizations to the further development of the applications of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes, especially in the territories of non-nuclear-weapon States Party to the Treaty, with due consideration for the needs of the developing areas of the world. [emphasis mine]
As neither the IAEA nor the US intelligence community has found any evidence of an Iranian nuclear weapons program, Iran not only has the legal right to develop and produce peaceful nuclear energy on its own soil, but it has the inalienable right to do so, under the terms of the NPT. Under these terms, no one and nothing - government, agency, council, resolution, draft agreement - can infringe upon Iran's right to operate power plants and enrich uranium for a civilian nuclear program.

Therefore, any resolutions calling for Iran's inalienable right to be relinquished are, in and of themselves, wholly illegal. Paranoid suspicions, demonizing propaganda, and allegations without evidence are totally insufficient to demonstrate any violations of the NPT by the Iran government.

Cyrus Safardi of IranAffairs, in addition to supplying supporting documentation from the UN's own International Law Commission and the British Institute of International and Comparative Law, explains,
"Article 103 of the UN Charter says that UNSC resolutions trump obligations under international treaties such as the NPT. However, Article 103 does not apply to sovereign rights and jus cogens. It is a general and well-recognized principle of international law that UNSC resolutions that are contrary to jus cogens are ultra vires and NOT binding."
With this in mind, it is clear that all UNSC resolutions that "demand" Iran suspend enrichment and close its intrusively monitored and meticulously inspected nuclear facilities - UNSC resolutions 1696 (2006), 1737 (2006), 1747 (2007), and 1803 (2008) - are contradictory, illegal and consequently non-binding.

Furthermore, Safardi writes that "Iran's safeguard agreement with the IAEA, and the IAEA statutes, only permit a referral to the UNSC when there has been a diversion of fissile material for non-peaceful use." Since the IAEA had previously confirmed that there had been no such diversion and without any evidence of a nuclear weapons program, its referral of the Iranian nuclear dossier to the UN Security Council was, as CASMII founder Abbas Edalat points out, "politically motivated and illegitimate." Edalat continues,
"On February 15th [2007], Stephen Rademaker, the former US Assistant Secretary for International Security and Non-proliferation confessed that the two crucial votes by India against Iran in the Governors’ Board of the IAEA which led to Iran’s referral to the Security Council were indeed the result of US coercion. Incidentally India, like the other US allies Pakistan and Israel, is not a signatory to the NPT and has developed nuclear bombs which is tolerated and supported by the US.
Because the IAEA's referral of Iran's file to the UNSC was unwarranted and because the UNSC resolutions are themselves illegal, Iran has no reason to abide by them and is therefore under no obligation to halt its nuclear program, as Mr. Kuperman keeps insisting.

In fact, the United States is currently in violation of the NPT itself, insofar as "the US has refused to negotiate for complete disarmament and verification per treaty terms and actively plans to use nuclear weapons, including first-strike use against 'enemies' who may only become threats in the future," according to Carl Herman of the Examiner.

Even though Mr. Kuperman deems violations of international law cause enough to justify military campaigns, he doesn't seem to mind Israel's constant trespasses and consistent ignoring of numerous Security Council resolutions since 1967.

Continuing, Mr. Kuperman declares that "while Iran permits international inspections at its declared enrichment plant at Natanz, it ignores United Nations demands that it close the plant, where it gains the expertise needed to produce weapons-grade uranium at other secret facilities like the nascent one recently uncovered near Qom."

Isn't everything "secret" until it's announced? What Mr. Kuperman probably knows, but refuses to say since it would weaken his argument for illegally bombing another country and willfully murdering innocent people, is that the new Fordo nuclear facility was actually announced to the IAEA by Iran itself, in advance of the panicky press conference held on September 25 by President Obama, UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown of Britain and French President Nicholas Sarkozy. "I can confirm that on 21 September, Iran informed the IAEA in a letter that a new pilot fuel enrichment plant is under construction in the country," IAEA spokesman Marc Vidricaire said.

Under its current safeguards agreement with the Agency, Iran is not obligated to inform the IAEA of any new facilities until six months before the introduction of nuclear material to the site. Since the Fordo enrichment plant is not yet operational, and won't be for another 18 months, Iran has broken no rules. In fact, the site was announced a full year before it needed to be. As Ali-Akbar Salehi, Iran's nuclear chief, remarked, "This installation is not a secret one, which is why we announced its existence to the IAEA."

Ahmadinejad even pointed out that the agreements and guidelines between Iran and the IAEA do not require approval by the United States. "We have no secrecy, we work within the framework of the IAEA," he said. "This does not mean we must inform Mr Obama’s Administration of every facility that we have."

That Mr. Kuperman would claim the Fordo site near Qom was "secret" is unsurprising, considering the same constant refrain in media outlets like the New York Times. What is interesting is his allegation that the facility allows Iran to acquire knowledge about producing nuclear weapons is especially bizarre considering that, after inspectors surveyed the new plant, IAEA Director-General ElBaradei declared that the agency's monitors found "nothing to be worried about," continuing, "It's a hole in a mountain."

"The idea was to use it as a bunker under the mountain to protect things," ElBaradei said. Due to the constant threats by the US and Israel to bomb Iran, especially by arm-chair warriors like Mr. Kuperman, it should come as no surprise that the Iranian government might be interested in defending their scientific facilities and technological progress from such attacks. In fact, not doing so would be irresponsible.

Without providing even a shred of evidence, Mr. Kuperman states that "Iran supplies Islamist terrorist groups in violation of international embargoes." He is obviously referring to Hamas and Hezbollah, two democratically-elected resistance groups, which are consistently demonized in the Western press for being opposed to Israeli settler-colonialism, illegal and oppressive occupation, and American military imperialism. What is left out, of course, is that the US-supported Israeli siege of Gaza is itself "illegal" and displays "profound inhumanity," according to John Ging, Gaza's director of operations for the refugee agency UNRWA. Furthermore, according to the Policy Declaration of the new Government of the Republic of Lebanon, issued on November 26, 2009,
“It is the right of the Lebanese people, Army and the [Hezbollah led-]Resistance to liberate the Shebaa Farms, the Kfar Shuba Hills and the northern part of the village of Ghajar as well as to defend Lebanon and its territorial waters in the face of any enemy by all available and legal means.”
As a result, Lebanon expert Franklin Lamb explains, "Legally, constitutionally, and politically, Lebanon’s new National Unity Government policy legitimizes, embraces, and incorporates by reference, according to some Pentagon and State Department analysts, the National Lebanese Resistance," and affirms that Hezbollah and the State of Lebanon are "inseparable and indivisible with respect to defending this country from foreign interference and occupation. It affixes the Governmental imprimatur for liberating Lebanese lands still occupied by Israeli forces." Lamb continues,
"According to some international lawyers, it also fulfills UN Security Council Resolution 1559 regarding disarming militias because Lebanon has in effect declared that the arms of the Hezbollah led Resistance are part of the defense of Lebanon itself and not a particular movement or political party. This Policy statement satisfies UNSCR 1701 for the same reason."
Mr. Kuperman also does not address how American funding of the Israeli occupation and military support for its frequent invasions, massacres, and war crimes violate numerous US statutes including the Arms Export Control Act (P.L.80-829) which states that exported weaponry must be relegated to "internal security” and “legitimate self-defense” only, the Foreign Assistance Act (P.L.97-195) which holds that “No assistance may be provided…to the government of any country which engages in a consistent pattern of gross violations of internationally recognized human rights,” and the Foreign Ops Appropriations Act's "Leahy Law" which demands that no aid be provided to "any unit of the security forces of a foreign country if the Secretary of State has credible evidence that such unit has committed gross violations of human rights." One look at the UN Goldstone Report proves that the United States has consistently violated its own legislation with regard to Israel, as well as numerous international laws. For example, the US is violating the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC), which the US claims it will not fulfill until 2023, even though the convention requires the elimination of these weapons by 2012 (already an extension from 2007). Also, Obama has rejected inspection protocol for US biological weapons despite his stated dedication to strengthen the Biological Weapons Convention (BWC) and has refused to ratify the international antipersonnel landmine ban, despite being lauded by the Nobel Peace Prize committee for his commitment to "disarmament and arms control negotiations."

In his New York Times piece, Mr. Kuperman warns that "If Iran acquired a nuclear arsenal, the risks would simply be too great that it could become a neighborhood bully." Clearly, the argument assumes, only the United States and Israel should be allowed to bully Middle Eastern countries with their own nuclear arsenals, invasions, occupations, and international impunity.

He then goes on to state that "history suggests that military strikes could work," claiming that "Israel's 1981 attack on the nearly finished Osirak reactor prevented Iraq's rapid acquisition of a plutonium-based nuclear weapon and compelled it to pursue a more gradual, uranium-based bomb program."

This is a dubious conclusion to draw based on the fact that the Iraqi nuclear program before 1981 was peaceful, under intensive safeguards and monitoring, and that the Osirak reactor was, as Harvard physics professor Richard Wilson has explained, "explicitly designed by the French engineer Yves Girard to be unsuitable for making bombs. That was obvious to me on my 1982 visit."

What Mr. Kuperman also omits is that the Israeli attack, code named Operation Opera, took the lives of ten Iraqi soldiers and one French civilian researcher and was widely lambasted by the international community, prompting a UN General Assembly resolution (36/27) on November 13, 1981 that "strongly condemn[ed] Israel for its premeditated and unprecedented act of aggression in violation of the Charter of the United Nations and the norms of international conduct, which constitutes a new and dangerous escalation of the threat to international peace and security."

The resolution also reaffirmed Iraq's "inalienable sovereign right" to "develop technological and nuclear programmes for peaceful purposes" and stated that, not only was Iraq a party to the NPT, but had also "satisfactorily applied" the IAEA safeguards required of it. Conversely, it noted "with concern" that "Israel has refused to adhere to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, and, in spite of repeated calls, including that of the Security Council, to place its nuclear facilities under International Atomic Energy Agency safeguards."

In addition to condemning "the misuse by Israel, in committing its acts of aggression against Arab countries, of aircraft and weapons supplied by the United States of America," the resolution reiterated "its call to all States to cease forthwith any provision to Israel of arms and related material of all types which enable it to commit acts of aggression against other States" and requested "the Security Council to investigate Israel's nuclear activities and the collaboration of other States and parties in those activities" and "institute effective enforcement action to prevent Israel from further endangering international peace and security through its acts of aggression and continued policies of expansion, occupation and annexation."

Furthermore, the General Assembly demanded that "Israel, in view of its international responsibility for its act of aggression, pay prompt and adequate compensation for the material damage and loss of life suffered" due to the illegal and lethal attack.

For Mr. Kuperman, this constituted a successful mission (which, considering that none of the UN's demands have ever been met over the past 30 years, perhaps it was). Truth be told, this is an unsurprising conclusion for someone who claims that "the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have shown that the United States military can oust regimes in weeks if it wants to." Perhaps Mr. Kuperman doesn't get out much.

That might explain why Mr. Kuperman also claims that "Iran could retaliate [in response to a US air strike] by aiding America’s opponents in Iraq and Afghanistan, but it does that anyway," without any evidence to back up that assertion. Is he unaware that Iran is a longtime enemy of both the Taliban and Al Qaeda and enjoys moderately good relations with the puppet government in Iraq? Does he not remember that Iranian intelligence provided valuable assistance to the US military before the invasion of Afghanistan in 2001? Does he not know that the claims that Iran supplies weapons to Iraqi militias and resistance fighters have been repeatedly debunked?

Take, for example, the time in 2008 when a cache of thousands of weapons was seized during raids of Mahdi Army arsenals around Karbala. Military spokesman Major General Kevin Bergner, when asked in May 2008 about the proportion of Iranian weapons then in the hands of Iraqi fighters, muttered the standard deflection and insinuation that the resistance groups "could not do what they're doing without the support of foreign support [sic]" and then broadly defined such "support" as training, funding, and arming fighters with weapons. The evidence, eventually handed over to the Iraqi government by US forces a few months later, was found to provide no solid proof that the weapons came from Iran and the charges were withdrawn after a meeting with Iranian officials. The allegations collapsed once and for all when the weapons were looked at again by the Americans who, via a military spokesman, "attributed the confusion to a misunderstanding that emerged after an Iraqi Army general in Karbala erroneously reported the items were of Iranian origin." The entire embarrassing episode was summed up by Keith Olbermann on Countdown at the time:
"Major General Kevin Bergner convened a news conference in Baghdad last Wednesday to list 20,000 items of ammunition, explosives, and weapons captured or uncovered by US and Iraqi governmental forces in the last few weeks of fighting. 45 rocket-propelled grenades, 570 assorted explosive devices, 1800 mortars and artillery rounds. The point? This was the big day, this was the day, according to the LA Times, that the American military was to show the media of the world the conclusive evidence that at least some of the weaponry used by Iraqi insurgents had been supplied by Iran. The US military spokesman confirming to that newspaper that that's what the dog-and-pony-show was to include. They were all ready to show off Iran's tangible responsibility for some of the haul of the machinery of death, to establish the link between American fatalities and Iran: trademarks or company logos or Made in Tehran stickers or something.

When US experts took a second look at all this stuff, they then said 'None of this is from Iran.' 20,000 blowing-up things? Hard count of those supplied by Iran: zero. Percentage of the whole imported from Iran: no percent. Amount of tangible evidence linking Iran to anti-American uprisings in Baghdad: none. You do realize, they are making this up about Iran!"
And still, despite all the painfully obvious truth of the matter, US military officials continued to accuse Iran of channeling weaponry to Shia militias who are opposing the illegal US occupation in Iraq. In late May 2008, Gareth Porter reported in IPS News that the alleged weapons were clearly not of Iranian origin (they were mostly manufactured in China, Russia, and the former Yugoslavia) and were obtained by Iraqi militias on the international black market.

With a quick look at some other facts, it can even be argued that the US military has itself provided lethal weaponry to Iraqi "insurgents" on a scale that could easily be called negligent collaboration. In August 2007, the Pentagon admitted to losing track of a whole third of the total weapons distributed to Iraqi security forces in 2004 and 2005. As a result, states Global Research, "The 190,000 assault rifles and pistols roam free in Iraqi streets today."

As his battle cry draws to an end, Mr. Kuperman suggests that "air strikes could degrade and deter Iran's bomb program at relatively little cost or risk, and therefore are worth a try."

The costs and risks that Mr. Kuperman so deftly avoids addressing are the lives and livelihoods of the people of Iran. No type of "surgical" or "precision" bomb-dropping can avoid the loss the human life. A country of 70 million living, breathing, working, walking, talking, laughing, crying, dissenting, protesting, counter-protesting, praying, not praying, dreaming, wishing, hoping, loving human beings deserves far more consideration and calculation than what Mr. Kuperman provides or could ever understand.

New York politician Charles Evans Hughes, who, in the early 20th Century, served as Governor of New York, United States Secretary of State, and Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, once said, "War should be made a crime, and those who instigate it should be punished as criminals."

With this in mind, let's hope there's a special cell in hell reserved for lying warmongers like William Kristol, Judith Miller, and now, Alan Kuperman.



alex george said...

It is strange indeed that when it comes to the main Iranian opposition group, the MEK, the writer is parroting the misinformation put out by the notorious Iranian ministry of intelligence and security. Whose side are you on Mr. Shirazi, any way?

It is common knowledge that the terror label on the MEK was a failed attempt by the Clinton Administration to placate the real terrorists, the turbaned tyrants of Iran. While the top counterterrorism official in the State Department pushed for the MEK's removal from the list in November 2009, Condoleezza Rice overruled him because she was more interested in opening up an interest section in Iran on the advise of discredited Iran appeasers in Washington, DC.

There is absolutely no factual, legal and moral justification for keeping the ban on the MEK, which acts as the catalyst for change in Iran. Whether the author and his likeminded apologists for Tehran like it or not, the slogans chanted in the streets of Tehran and other Iranian cities today are the ones espoused and disseminated for three decades by the MEK.

Indeed, the millions in Iran want to see this regime go, as does the MEK. In a free Iran, Mr. Shirazi and those who for 30 years did the mullahs' bidding have a lot to answer for. The Iranian people do not forget their friends, nor do they forget their enemies.

Alex George

Nima Shirazi said...

Thank you for your close reading of my article, Mr. George, and for your response.

I do, however, beg to differ with you about the MEK's noble aspirations. I too have a big problem with the US State Department's determination of what and what is not a "terrorist organization" and it is obvious that most designations are made for political reasons. Just look at Hamas and Hezbollah, for example. Clearly, the fact that Nelson Mandela and other former ANC members were only removed from the US terrorism watch list in July of 2008 speaks volumes as to how absurd the whole thing is in general.

That said, the point I make in my article is that the MEK, which is designated as a terrorist group (a label the EU dropped a year ago) and funded by the US – in part by the US government via covert channels and also by the large and wealthy Iran monarchist contingent in Los Angeles and elsewhere – is treated by members of Congress when it suits their agenda as simply a "dissident group" that stands in opposition to the Iranian government. It seems that certain "terrorist groups" are better than others, according to Washington DC…the groups that fight against US and Israeli hegemony and occupation in their own countries are evil monsters, but the groups that fight to overthrow governments that don't bow down to US domination are to be supported.

You say that there is "absolutely no factual, legal, and moral justification for the ban on the MEK, which acts as the catalyst for change in Iran." I, too, hope for change in Iran. I am no fan of any sort of theocracy – even one with strong republican elements – and I would very much like to see Iran's human rights record improve, just as I have hopes for the United States government to improve its own. But I wonder how your claims square with the evidence of MEK responsibility for the 1992 near-simultaneous attacks on Iranian embassies and institutions in thirteen countries, the 1998 assassination of the director of Iran’s prison system, Asadollah Lajevardi, the 1999 assassination of the deputy chief of Iran’s armed forces general staff, Ali Sayyad Shirazi, the February 2000 “Operation Great Bahman,” during which MEK launched twelve attacks against Iran, the 2000 mortar attack on President Mohammed Khatami’s palace in Tehran, and the series of mortar attacks and hit-and-run raids during 2000 and 2001 against Iranian government buildings, one of which killed Iran’s chief of staff. Human Rights Watch has also accused the group of perpetrating serious human rights abuses, including torture, at a number of secret prison camps. Furthermore, the MEK's funding by and support of Saddam Hussein during the eight-year war against Iran is unconscionable. During the war, the MEK launched suicidal, mass wave attacks against Iranian forces. The MEK's siding with the Iraqi regime is widely seen as undermining their credibility among the Iranian public and, as Newsweek reported just days after the June election, the MEK "enjoy[s] very little popular support inside Iran, yet in their propaganda they have been claiming that the protestors are out in the streets in support of their cause."

It appears you have bought into this very propaganda yourself when you state that "the slogans chanted in the streets of Tehran and other Iranian cities today are the ones espoused and disseminated for three decades by the MEK." You seem to forget that the Iranian opposition movement chants include "Allah O Akbar!" – God is Great – along with "Peace be upon the prophet Mohammad and his family!" and "Ya Hossein!," all deeply religious phrases which prove that the dissident movement in Iran is not a "secular revolution," as you and the MEK perhaps hope, but rather has strong undercurrent of religiosity like most aspects of Iranian culture.

...continued below...

Nima Shirazi said...

...continued from above...

Are you unaware that the color green, which has been appropriated by the opposition movement and seen by Western commentators and casual observers as the bucolic color of progress, environmentalism, clean energy, rebirth, and renewal, is also the color of Islam? Iranians are well aware of the symbolism of wearing green. Green is one of Iran's national colors, not some chromatic infiltration of kaleidoscopic revolt.

Opposition leader Mir-Hossein Mousavi has written to his supporters, "Let's not abandon the green color which is a symbol of spirituality, freedom and religious mentality and moderateness and the Allah O Akbar slogan that tells us of revolutionary roots…This is the color and slogan that is still unifying our nation and will be the best measure to connect our hearts and needs." Mousavi has also declared that "We, as those who are loyal to the Islamic Republic and its constitutional laws, consider the Holy Jurisdiction one of the fundamentals of this regime and follow the political movements within legal frameworks." Even Mousavi's wife, Zahra Rahnavard, a highly-regarded champion of women's rights in Iran, has felt the need to remind a group of students that she and her husband still believe strongly in the ideals of the revolution and don't regard anti-Islamic Revolution elements as their allies.

This all hardly sounds like a movement dedicated to the overthrow of the Iranian government, as the MEK would like. You say that "millions in Iran want to see this regime go," and this may be true, but in a country of 70 million people, you'd need many many millions of Iranians to back any sort of regime change movement for it to actually work. Meanwhile, a September poll taken by WorldPublicOpinion (WPO), a project of the highly respected Programme on International Policy Attitudes (PIPA) of the University of Maryland, showed that about 80% of Iranians consider Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to be the legitimately elected president of Iran and that nearly three out of four respondents expressed either "a lot" (38%) or "some confidence" (34%) in the Ministry of Interior, which ran the election. Additionally, 85% expressed either "a lot" (64%) or "some" (21%) confidence" in Ahmadinejad himself, 83% expressed "a lot" (52%) or "some" (31%) confidence in the police. 60% of those polled said they were comfortable with the extent of Ayatollah Khamenei's power.

Now, I'm sure you will claim that these numbers can't be trusted and that they are due to governmental intimidation. And yet, we've seen tens and hundreds of thousands of people in the streets of Iran who seem not to be intimidated or deterred by the government.

Also, for me to hear what the Iranian people want and what they "do not forget" from someone like you is pretty hilarious. Perhaps next time I speak to or visit my hundreds of family members (some of whom are staunch supporters of the opposition while some are not) in Tehran, Varamin, and Karaj, I'll pass along what Alex George has told them they want and see how they respond. My guess is it'll be something like, "Allah O Akbar!"

Thanks again for your comment and insight.