"I can't strut my stuff / when I got those lock‑step blues."
- Blind Lemon Jefferson, Lock Step Blues (1928)
- Blind Lemon Jefferson, Lock Step Blues (1928)
During a Special Edition of NBC's Today Show, broadcast live on Sunday before the Super Bowl, Matt Lauer interviewed Barack Obama and asked the President about a potential Israeli attack on Iran. Obama said,
"I think they, like us, believe that Iran has to stand down on its nuclear weapons program...[Iran is] feeling the pinch, they are feeling the pressure, but they have not taken the step that they need to diplomatically, which is to say, 'We will pursue peaceful nuclear power. We will not pursue a nuclear weapon.' Until they do, I think Israel rightly is going to be very concerned and we are as well."Obama also noted that the United States and Israel "have closer military and intelligence consultation between our two countries than we ever have" and are working "in lock-step" to "solve" the Iranian nuclear issue, "hopefully diplomatically."
Watch it here:
(apologies for the advertisement that plays before the clip)
By blithely referring to an Iranian "nuclear weapons program," the President of the United States is knowingly contradicting the findings and statements of both the American and Israeli military and intelligence communities; the very communities he notes are engaged in such high-level information sharing, cooperation, and coordination.
On January 8, 2012, speaking on CBS's Face The Nation, Obama's own Defense Secretary Leon Panetta declared, "Are they trying to develop a nuclear weapon? No." He added that the U.S. was "putting diplomatic and economic pressure" on Iran in order "to make sure that they do not make the decision to proceed with the development of a nuclear weapon."
Ten days later, Israeli daily Ha'aretz reported that, when U.S. Joint Chiefs chairman General Martin Dempsey would soon meet with "various senior defense officials, including Barak and Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Benny Gantz," he would be presented with an "intelligence assessment" that "indicates that Iran has not yet decided whether to make a nuclear bomb." Ha'aretz continues,
The Israeli view is that while Iran continues to improve its nuclear capabilities, it has not yet decided whether to translate these capabilities into a nuclear weapon - or, more specifically, a nuclear warhead mounted atop a missile. Nor is it clear when Iran might make such a decision.One week ago, on January 31, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper delivered his annual "Worldwide Threat Assessment of the US Intelligence Community" to members of Congress. Clapper reported that while American intelligence assumes that "Iran is keeping open the option to develop nuclear weapons, in part by developing various nuclear capabilities that better position it to produce such weapons," the decision to do so has not been made. "We do not know, however, if Iran will eventually decide to build nuclear weapons," Clapper said. This assessment was identical to the assessment delivered in March 2011 by Lieutenant General Ronald Burgess, Director of Defense Intelligence Agency. Speaking before the Senate Committee on Armed Forces, Burgess said, "we assess Iran is unlikely to initiate or intentionally provoke a conflict or launch a preemptive attack."
Following the leaked (and over-hyped) release of the latest International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Safeguards Report on Iran in early November 2011, The National Journal's Marc Ambinder quoted a "senior administration official" as saying, "The IAEA does not assert that Iran has resumed a full scale nuclear weapons program nor does it [demonstrate] how advanced the programs really are."
Recently, due to sloppy reporting and public condemnation, ombudsmen at The New York Times, The Washington Post, and National Public Radio have all warned against claiming that Iran has a nuclear weapons program when the IAEA, U.S., and Israeli findings all deny that one exists.
"Shorthand references are often dangerous," wrote NPR's Edward Schumacher-Matos, "Repeated enough as fact — 'Iran's nuclear weapons program' — they take on a life of their own." The Post's Patrick Pexton noted that such misleading statements "can circle the globe in minutes" and "can also play into the hands of those who are seeking further confrontation with Iran."
Beyond that, Obama's claim that Iranian leaders have not yet declared their intentions regarding their nuclear program is not only disingenuous, it's a blatant lie. Iran has consistently maintained that its nuclear program is for civilian purposes only, that it is Iran's inalienable national right as affirmed by the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, that it operates under strict IAEA safeguards and inspections, and that Iran has no intention of weaponizing.
There's no reason why Obama should be waiting for Iranian officials to say "We will not pursue a nuclear weapon," when they've been saying it for years.
Here are just a small sampling of examples:
As far back as November 27, 1992, Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Ali Mohammad Besharati declared on Iranian state radio, "We have no need for nuclear weapons" and described allegations that Iran was planning to acquire nuclear weapons as "a lie and a plot."
On March 23, 1997, then-Iranian President Rafsanjani, during an interview with Mike Wallace on 60 Minutes, was asked whether Iran was pursuing nuclear weapons. In response, Rafsanjani declared, "absolutely not. We hate that weapon." After even more prodding by Wallace, Rafsanjani added, "We make missiles and we tell everybody that our missile industry is strong. But we're not after nuclear bombs and we won't go after biological and chemical weapons."
In early January 1998, the newly-inaugurated Iranian President Seyyed Mohammad Khatami stated, "We are not a nuclear power and do not intend to be, we have no plans to build nuclear weapons and are only seeking to have peaceful nuclear energy." The following year, while in Saudi Arabia, Khatami issued a statement calling for a Nuclear Weapons Free Zone in the Middle East.
Later that year, addressing the United Nations General Assembly on September 21, 1998, Khatami called for the world "to be liberated from the nightmare of nuclear war and weapons of mass destruction," explaining that "the idea of attaining security through the acquisition of such armaments is nothing but an illusion." He stated that "a resolute global determination to eliminate all existing arsenals of weapons of mass destruction" and "[t]he establishment of zones free from weapons of mass destruction, particularly in the Middle East, constitutes an appropriate first step in alleviating tension and mistrust emanating from these weapons."
During an extensive and wide-ranging ABC News interview with Chris Wallace, conducted in Tehran in mid-September 2002, Hassan Rohani, the head of Iran's Supreme National Security Council and top adviser to then-president Mohammad Khatami, said, "When we have signed international treaties, it means we are not pursuing making nuclear weapons. We are not pursuing making chemical weapons. We are not pursuing making biological weapons. Iran is not interested in any of these."
Speaking in the northeastern Iranian city of Mashhad at the Imam Reza Shrine on March 21, 2003, Iranian head of state Ayatollah Sayyid Ali Khamenei declared, "The statement that the Islamic Republic wants to obtain chemical weapons and the atomic bomb is totally false...Nuclear know-how is related to a particular field of knowledge and serves many objectives. If there are people who are interested they could use certain aspects of the know-how to build an atom bomb. But we are not interested in an atomic bomb. We are opposed to chemical weapons. When Iraq was using chemical weapons against us we refused to produce chemical weapons. These things are against our principles. They are lying to justify themselves."
Later that year, during a speech to Revolutionary Guards commanders in Tehran on September 15, 2003, President Khatami declared, "[N]ot only are we not aiming to produce weapons of mass destruction, but we want the region and the world to be free of weapons of mass destruction," according to the official IRNA news agency. He continued, "We don't need atomic bombs, and based on our religious teaching we will not pursue them. But at the same time we want to be strong, and being strong means having knowledge and technology."
On September 12, 2004, The Financial Times quoted Iranian Supreme National Security Council official Hussein Musavian as stating, "The religious verdict of our leader is that using mass destruction weapons is forbidden, is haram [‘unlawful’ in Islam]," while Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Assefi was quoted the same day in the Iranian media as saying, "We believe that the use of nuclear weapons is religiously forbidden. This is the leader's fatwa [religious decree]."
In an op-ed in the Los Angeles Times on November 5, 2004, Javad Zarif, Iran's ambassador and permanent representative to the United Nations, explained why Iran had no reason to seek a nuclear weapon, noting, among other reasons such strategic uselessness and financial burden, that Iran has "serious ideological restrictions against weapons of mass destruction, including a religious decree issued by Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran, prohibiting the development and use of nuclear weapons."
On August 10, 2005, Iranian nuclear negotiator Sirus Naseri delivered a statement to an emergency meeting of the IAEA Board of Governors which read, in part, "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 Mahmud 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." Naseri also affirmed that "[t]he leadership of Iran has pledged at the highest level that Iran will remain a non-nuclear-weapon state party to the NPT."
In his very first address to the United Nations General Assembly on September 17, 2005, newly-inaugurated Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad reiterated Iran's "previously and repeatedly declared position that in accordance with our religious principles, pursuit of nuclear weapons is prohibited."
Iran's UN Ambassador Javad Zarif wrote another op-ed, this time in the New York Times, on April 6, 2006. In it, he reiterated that "Iran's reliance on the nonproliferation regime is based on legal commitments, sober strategic calculations and spiritual and ideological doctrine. Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the leader of the Islamic Republic, has issued a decree against the development, production, stockpiling and use of nuclear weapons," adding that Iran remains "party to all international agreements on the control of weapons of mass destruction."
During a June 4, 2006 speech at Ayatollah Khomeini's mausoleum outside Tehran, the leader of the Islamic Republic reaffirmed the official Iranian policy towards atomic weapons. With regard to the allegation that Iran "seeks a nuclear bomb," Khamenei insisted, "It is an irrelevant and wrong statement, it is a sheer lie. We do not need a nuclear bomb. We do not have any objectives or aspirations for which we will need to use a nuclear bomb. We consider using nuclear weapons against Islamic rules. We have announced this openly. We think imposing the costs of building and maintaining nuclear weapons on our nation is unnecessary."
Current Iranian President Ahmadinejad, that spooky specter of genocidal doom, said in August 2006, "Nuclear weapons have no place in Iran's defense doctrine and Iran is not a threat to any country...We are not a threat to anybody; even our solution to the Zionist regime is a referendum." Soon thereafter, Ahmadinejad told CBS's Mike Wallace, "Basically we are not looking for - working for the bomb...The time of the bomb is in the past." The next month, Ahmadinejad said to NBC's Brian Williams, "You must know that, because of our beliefs and our religion...[w]e are against the atomic bomb."
In response to the imposition of illegal sanctions on Iran over its nuclear program, Iranian Ambassador Zarif delivered a statement to the United Nations Security Council in which he reminded the body that Iran has "categorically rejected development, stockpiling and use of nuclear weapons on ideological and strategic grounds" and "reiterat[ed] that the Islamic Republic of Iran firmly believes that the days of weapons of mass murder have long passed; that these inhumane instruments of indiscriminate slaughter have not brought internal stability or external security for anyone and they will not be able to do so in the future."
When asked by CBS by Scott Pelley the following year whether Iran was building a nuclear weapon, Ahmadinejad answered, "It is a firm 'no.' I'm going to be much firmer now. I want to address all politicians around the world, statesmen. Any party who uses national revenues to make a bomb, a nuclear bomb, will make a mistake. Because in political relations right now, the nuclear bomb is of no use....we don't need such weapons. In fact, we think that this is inhuman." A few days later, when interviewed by Charlie Rose, Ahmadinejad repeated himself, adding, "We've said many times before, we don't need the weapon. It's not enshrined in our defense doctrine, nuclear defense. And ideologically, we don't believe in it either. We have actually rejected it on an ideological basis. And politically, we know that it is useless."
At Columbia University, on September 25, 2007, Ahmadinejad stated, "Making nuclear, chemical and biological bombs and weapons of mass destruction is yet another result of the misuse of science and research by the big powers." In a response to a question from an audience member, he reiterated, "We do not believe in nuclear weapons, period. It goes against the whole grain of humanity."
Speaking to Charlie Rose in Tehran on August 22, 2008, Ahmadinejad declared, "We want nuclear disarmament [for all countries]...and we consider it to be against humanity to manufacture nuclear weapons...we oppose that strongly," continuing, "Our position is very clear...We believe that a nuclear weapon has no use, obsolete. Anyone who has a nuclear weapons does not create any political advantage for themselves."
A month later, on September 23, 2008, Ahmadinejad told Larry King, "We believe, as a matter of religious teaching, that we must be against any form of weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear weapons. The production and the usage of nuclear weapons is one of the most abhorrent acts to our eyes." He added, "The time for a nuclear bomb has ended. Whoever who invests in it is going the wrong way."
The same day, during an interview with NPR's Steve Inskeep, Ahmadinejad insisted that Iran was "a country that is simply seeking peaceful nuclear energy" and not nuclear weapons.
When MSNBC's Ann Curry interviewed Ahmadinejad the next year, in September 2009, he again said, "We don't have such a need for nuclear weapons. We don't need nuclear weapons. Without such weapons, we are very much able to defend ourselves...It's not a part of our any – of our programs and plans." (Nevertheless, MSNBC titled Curry's report, "Ahmadinejad refuses to rule out weapons.")
Iranian leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei delivered a sermon for Eid al-Fitr on September 20, 2009 in which he condemned Western countries of "falsely accus[ing] the Islamic Republic’s establishment of producing nuclear weapons." He made the official Iranian positon clear:
We fundamentally reject nuclear weapons and prohibit the use and production of nuclear weapons. This is because of our ideology, not because of politics or fear of arrogant powers or an onslaught of international propaganda. We stand firm for our ideology.In December 2009, President Ahmadinejad told the press in Copenhagen, "[W]e do not want to make a bomb...Our policy is transparent. If we wanted to make a bomb we would be brave enough to say so. When we say that we are not making one, we are not. We do not believe in it."
At the same time, they are aware of this. The US officials who claim that the Iranian missiles are dangerous or that we seek to produce atomic bombs know themselves that such statements are false. But it is part of the policy of Iranophobia that dominates the behavior of these arrogant governments today. They should correct their behaviour. The Iranian nation is vigilant and understands their enmity, and it will stand firm against them. The Islamic Republic will not surrender in the face of any attack.
On February 19, 2010, Iranian leader Ayatollah Khamenei issued a statement in response to Western allegations of an Iranian nuclear weapons program which declared, "[W]e have often said that our religious tenets and beliefs consider these kinds of weapons of mass destruction to be symbols of genocide and are, therefore, forbidden and considered to be haram," continuing, "This is why we do not believe in atomic bombs and weapons and do not seek them."
In early April 2010, in anticipation of a government-sponsored nuclear disarmament conference entitled "Nuclear Energy for All, Nuclear Weapons for None," then-Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki clarified the official Iranian position on nuclear arms. "Iran does not believe in nuclear weapons nor does it need one," he stated. "Iran believes that the era of nuclear weapons is over. These weapons are not even of use to those who possess them."
A statement by Iranian head of state, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, determined that "any use of or even threat to use nuclear weapons is a serious and material violation of indisputable rules of humanitarian law and a cogent example of a war crime." His message concluded, "We regard the use of these weapons to be illegal and haram, and it is incumbent on all to protect humankind from this grave disaster."
Speaking at the United Nations NPT Review Conference in May 2010, Ahmadinejad stated, "The nuclear bomb is a fire against humanity rather than a weapon for defense." He continued, "The possession of nuclear bombs is not a source of pride; it is rather disgusting and shameful. And even more shameful is the threat to use or to use such weapons, which is not even comparable to any crime committed throughout the history."
The same day, during an interview with Charlie Rose, Ahmadinejad said, "We are opposed to the bomb, the nuclear bomb, and we will not build it. If we want to build it, we have the guts to say it...So when we say we don't want it, we don't want it."
In an interview with Euronews, Iranian Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani said that Iran was determined to be "a new peaceful nuclear power" and insisted that "being a nuclear power does not mean that we are going to make a bomb."
Addressing the U.N. General Assembly in September 2010, Ahmadinejad reiterated his condemnation of atomic weaponry, saying, "The nuclear bomb is the worst inhumane weapon and which must totally be eliminated." He proposed "that the year 2011 be proclaimed the year of nuclear disarmament," reaffirming Iran's commitment to establishing a Nuclear Weapons-Free Zone in the Middle East.
Ahmadinejad also told Larry King, "We are not seeking the bomb. We have no interest in it. And we do not think that it is useful. We are standing firm over the issue that both the Zionist regime and the United States government should be disarmed."
In a statement made on December 22, 2010, Khamenei said, "We don't have any belief in the atomic bomb and don't pursue it. Our religious principles and beliefs forbid the acquisition and use of such weapons of mass murder. We consider such weapons to be a symbol of destruction."
On June 15, 2011, Russia Today reported that during a meeting between Ahmadinejad, Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization's 10th annual summit in Astana, "[t]he Iranian President has once again declared unequivocally that his country has no intention of possessing a nuclear weapon." According to the Interfax news agency, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told journalists after the talks that, according to Ahmadinejad, "this will be Iran's official firm and invariable position in all practical affairs."
In early August 2011, Euronews published an interview with President Ahmadinejad during which he repeated these consistent statements on the nuclear weapons issue: "When we say we don't have any intention to build a bomb, we're honest and sincere. We believe that today if someone wants to build a bomb he's crazy and insane...An atomic bomb is against all humans."
During an interview with Russia Today conducted in Tehran in mid-August 2011, Ahmadinejad was asked whether, at some point in the future, Iran "may want to acquire a nuclear deterrent, a nuclear weapon." He responded, "Never, never. We do not want nuclear weapons. We do not seek nuclear weapons. This is an inhumane weapon. Because of our beliefs we are against that. Firstly, our religion says it is prohibited. We are a religious people. Secondly, nuclear weapons have no capability today. If any country tries to build a nuclear bomb, they in fact waste their money and resources and they create great danger for themselves."
In an interview with the Washington Post, also conducted in Tehran and published September 13, 2011, Ahmadinejad told Lally Weymouth, "If we want to have a nuclear weapon, we are not afraid of others; we will publicly announce it...When we say we are not going to build nuclear weapons, we mean it. Because we consider it an evil thing and we do not need those items."
On September 20, 2011, speaking with George Stephanopoulos of ABC News, Ahmadinejad said that the only people who believe Iran is seeking nuclear weapons are "European and American politicians," and repeated, "I've said many times we don't want a bomb and we are against any nuclear bombs."
The same day, Ahmadinejad was interviewed by The New York Times' Nicholas Kristof and explained that the Iranian nuclear program was intended only "for peaceful purposes." He repeated this shortly thereafter to Edith M. Lederer of the Associated Press and also told Charlie Rose, "We are not seeking the weapon. We are not seeking the nuclear weapon."
In an interview with Charlie Rose aired on November 18, 2011, Mohammad Javad Larijani, head of Iran’s High Council for Human Rights and close adviser to Khamenei, said that Iran seeks "advancement in science and technology related to nuclear area, not directed toward the weapon area," adding, "We are a signatory of NPT, we are a sincere signatory to the NPT. We think non-proliferation is a benefit of Iran and all of us...We are an advocate of a Middle East free of nuclear weapons."
In mid-January 2012, Majlis Speaker Ali Larijani reaffirmed, "We are not after nuclear weapons. We do not find nuclear weapons right from a religious perspective."
On January 30, 2012, speaking before a visit by top IAEA officials to Iran, Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi declared, "Iran is never, ever after nuclear weapons."
For some time now, Supreme Leader Khamenei's own website has had an entire page specifically dedicated to Iran's official policy on nuclear energy and nuclear weapons. It should be read in full by anyone even attempting to discuss Iranian discourse on the nuclear and claiming that the Islamic Republic is "hell-bent" on building a nuclear arsenal. For instance, Khamenei repeatedly makes the distinction between nuclear technology and weaponry, stating,
...a country may be moral and disciplined in terms of its social behaviors. It may acquire knowledge and wealth as well, but at the same time it may use the knowledge, wealth and discipline of its people to annihilate another nation. This is wrong. According to our logic, it is not right for a country to use its knowledge to produce such weapons as nuclear bombs which annihilate armed soldiers, innocent civilians, children, babies and oppressed people indiscriminately once they are dropped somewhere.He also declares,
Nuclear technology is different from building atomic bombs. Achieving nuclear technology constitutes scientific growth in a field that offers many different advantages. Those who are after building an atomic bomb can achieve their goal by following a certain branch of nuclear technology. Iran is not after an atomic bomb, and it is even opposed to possession of chemical weapons. Even when Iraq used chemical weapons against Iran, we did not try to manufacture chemical weapons. Such things are not in line with the principles of the Islamic Republic of Iran.Khamenei, referencing the American use of nuclear weapons to murder hundreds of thousands of Japanese civilians at Hiroshima and Nagasaki, explains that the "anti-human effects went beyond political and geographic borders, even inflicting irreparable harm on future generations. Therefore, using or even threatening to use such weapons is considered a serious violation of the most basic humanitarian rules and is a clear manifestation of war crimes."
And there's more:
On numerous occasions, the Iranian people and government officials have announced that they do not seek to develop nuclear weapons and that nuclear weapons have no place among the needs of the nation and the military system of the country. We believe that using nuclear weapons is haram and prohibited and that it is everybody's duty to make efforts to protect humanity against this great disaster. We believe that besides nuclear weapons, other types of weapons of mass destruction such as chemical and biological weapons also pose a serious threat to humanity.Of course, one may believe or disbelieve the statements of Iranian leaders, but to say that they have not clearly articulated their official position on the continued peaceful nature of their legal and safeguarded nuclear program is simply not true.
Only those who have the motivation will go after nuclear weapons. The Islamic Republic of Iran does not have this motivation, and it has never been after nuclear weapons. Iran does not need a nuclear bomb.
Iran is not after a nuclear bomb. Why would Iran want a nuclear bomb? Moreover, when an atomic bomb is detonated, it does not just kill enemies. Rather, it kills innocent people as well, and this goes against Islamic beliefs and the principles of the Islamic Republic of Iran. An atomic bomb does not discriminate between good and bad people, and it is not something that the Islamic Republic would use. The Islamic Republic is relying on something that is not affected by bombs, foreign invasions and other such things. Such things only strengthen what the Islamic republic is relying on. The Islamic republic is relying on the people.
Yet, despite these clear denouncements of nuclear weapons by Iranian leaders and repeated assurances that they have no intention of building such weapons, along with the unequivocal assessment by Western and Israeli intelligence agencies that Iran has no nuclear weapons program, President Barack Obama showed he has no problem repeating propaganda in order to score political points in an election year.
February 8, 2012 - Former CIA analyst Ray McGovern (with whom I've had the pleasure of sharing a podium) has also similarly addressed Obama's Matt Lauer interview in an excellent article entitled "Obama's Super-Bowl Fumble on Iran" on Consortiumnews.
McGovern points out that Obama's use of the term "lock-step" when discussing U.S. collaboration with Israel might not mean what the President thinks it means. McGovern writes:
What probably exceeded the Israeli leadership's fondest expectations, though, was Obama's pledge that in addressing Iran's alleged nuclear ambitions, the U.S. will "work in lockstep" with Israel.It should also be noted that "lock-step" is a generally pejorative term, with origins not only in dehumanizing military obedience but also in prison - specifically, chain gang - terminology. The "lock-step" was enforced as a controlling mechanism and punitive tool in the American and Canadian penal systems of the 19th and early 20th centuries.
("Lockstep?" What does Webster's say of "lockstep?"
1 – a mode of marching in step by a body of men going one after another as closely as possible;
2 – a standard method or procedure that is mindlessly adhered to...
– in perfect, rigid, often mindless conformity or unison.)
Obama poured icing on Israel's cake when he emphasized that Israeli-U.S. military and intelligence consultation has never been closer. The result? Up in smoke went any possibility of plausible denial of foreknowledge on Washington's part, if — despite Panetta's oft-repeated pleas that Israel and the U.S. must "work together" — Israel follows its customary practice of shunning any advance warning (much less requests for permission), in favor of seeking post-hoc forgiveness for launching armed attacks.
On second thought, maybe that's exactly what Obama meant.
With that in mind, I'll leave you with Blind Lemon Jefferson's "Lock Step Blues."
Lock Step Blues (1928)
by Blind Lemon Jefferson
I used to take my feet / in a midnight tramp
Now they got me / doing a different kind of dance
I couldn't keep away from [wild, bad] women / bad [liquor, whiskey] cards and dice
Now I'm doing the lock‑step baby / things ain't going so nice
It don't matter to me / whether it sunshine snow or rains
Because I can't go gay cutting / and carry a ball and chain
Mean old jailor / taking away my dancing shoes
I can't strut my stuff / when I got those lock‑step blues
Big rats in my cell / keeps me woke all night
My woman done turned me down / and I don't think that's right
Every morning / I walk down that big long hall
I'm screaming for my mama / can't make no time at all
February 23, 2012 - Adding once more to the litany of explicit statements made by senior Iranian officials regarding the country's official stance on obtaining nuclear weapons, the seniorest of them all, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Sayyed Ali Khamenei - Iran's head of state and commander-in-chief - said yesterday that "the Iranian nation has never sought and will never seek nuclear weapons and has the capacity to break the supremacy of powers that rely on nuclear arms."
The Leader's own website reported:
Ayatollah Khamenei further noted that arrogant powers regularly engage in spreading propaganda and publicity with the ultimate objective of impeding Iran's scientific advancement.*****
"There is no doubt that decision-making establishments in countries that stand against us are quite aware that Iran does not seek nuclear weapons since the Islamic Republic of Iran regards the possession of nuclear weapons as a great sin, in terms of thought, theory and religious edict, and also believes that holding such weapons is useless, costly and dangerous," Leader of the Islamic Revolution said.
February 28, 2012 - Addressing the United Nations Conference on Disarmament in Geneva today, Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi described nuclear weapons as "immoral and illegitimate," called the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki by United States an "inhumane massacre," and lamented the continued existence of massive nuclear arsenals maintained by a few world powers.
He also reiterated the Islamic Republic's official stance on nuclear weapons:
I would like to re-emphasize that we do not see any glory, pride or power in the nuclear weapons, quite the opposite based on the religious decree issued by our supreme leader, the production, possession, use or threat of use of nuclear weapons, are illegitimate, futile, harmful, dangerous and prohibited as a great sin. We have clearly stated time and again that there are two alternatives in dealing with the Iranian peaceful nuclear program: one way is engagement, cooperation and interaction, and the other is confrontation and conflict. The Islamic Republic of Iran, confident of the peaceful nature of its nuclear program, has always insisted on the first alternative. When it comes to our relevant rights and obligations, our consistent position is that Iran does not seek confrontation, nor does it want anything beyond its inalienable legitimate rights. What we are looking for, is justice and the refusal of double standards.Furthermore, Salehi once again, as Iranian officials have done consistently for years, encouraged the establishment of a Nuclear Weapon Free Zone in the Middle East.
April 6, 2012 - In an interview that appears in the spring issue of the Tehran-based quarterly Faslnaameh Motaale'aat-e Beynolmelali (International Studies Journal), former Iranian President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani addressed Iran's nuclear posture and clarified comments he made in a 1999 sermon which have long been misinterpreted as a nuclear threat to Israel. He stated:
We really do not want to make nuclear weapons and a nuclear weapon program. In a sermon during a Friday Prayer [at the University of Tehran in 1999] I advised the occupying regime of Israel that having nuclear weapons is not even in Israel's interest. If there is ever a nuclear confrontation -- Israel is a small country, it will not be able to take even one bomb. It is a small country and can be destroyed easily, although they interpreted my advice as a threat. We deeply believe that nuclear weapons must not exist, and this has been part of our policy.*****
April 8, 2012 - On the evening of April 6, the website for the Majlis (Iranian Parliament) quoted lawmaker Gholamreza Mesbahi Moghadam as saying that, even though Iran already has the knowledge and scientific capability to produce nuclear weapons due to its mastery of the nuclear fuel cycle and enrichment of uranium, it will never manufacture or acquire these weapons.
"Iran has the scientific and technological capability to produce [a] nuclear weapon, but will never choose this path," the website quoted him as saying.
While this comment sparked the predictable round of hysteria on the part of alarmists and fearmongers, it is hardly a shocking statement and is simply rooted in fact, not braggadocio or bellicosity.
It has long been known that at least 140 countries "currently have the basic technical capacity to produce nuclear weapons." Additionally, according to Green Peace, "[o]ver 40 countries have the materials and knowhow to build nuclear weapons quickly, a capacity that is referred to as 'rapid break-out.'"
April 12, 2012 - Just days before renewed nuclear talks begin in Istanbul between Iran and the P5+1, White House spokesman Jay Carney on Wednesday reiterated to reporters at a press conference that the United States is still looking for Iran "to forsake their nuclear weapons ambitions, to demonstrate verifiably that they can reassure the world that they do not seek to acquire nuclear weapons."
This statement comes despite the fact that U.S. and Israeli officials, including U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, Israeli Defense Minster Ehud Barak, and even President Obama himself, have repeatedly affirmed the fact that Iran is not building a nuclear bomb, does not even have a nuclear weapons program and has long assessed that no decision has been made by the Iranian government to pursue weaponization of its fully monitored, IAEA-inspected civilian nuclear energy program.
In order to meet the "bottom line" of American demands, Carney said, Iran must - at the insistence of the United States and explicit abrogation of Iran's own sovereign, inalienable, national rights - immediately implement "the full suspension of uranium enrichment."
In so doing, Carney has essentially repeated the position articulated by George W. Bush back in September 2005. Speaking alongside Iraqi President Jalal Talabani at the White House, Bush spoke of a way to "enable [Iran] to have civilian nuclear power without learning how to make a bomb" while noting that "it's a right of a government to want to have a civilian nuclear program." Bush suggested that "there ought to be guidelines in which they be allowed to have that civilian nuclear program. And one such guideline would be in such a way that they don't gain the expertise necessary to be able to enrich"
Look how far we've come.
April 13, 2012 - In a editorial entitled "Iran: We do not want nuclear weapons," and published April 12, 2012 in The Washington Post, Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi writes,
We have strongly marked our opposition to weapons of mass destruction on many occasions. Almost seven years ago, Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei made a binding commitment. He issued a religious edict — a fatwa — forbidding the production, stockpiling and use of nuclear weapons. Our stance against weapons of mass destruction, which is far from new, has been put to the test. When Saddam Hussein attacked us with chemical arms in the 1980s, we did not retaliate with the same means. And when it comes to our nuclear energy program, the IAEA has failed to find any military dimension, despite an unprecedented number of man-hours in intrusive inspections.
Meanwhile, Iranian English-language outlet PressTV reports today that Tehran's interim Friday Prayers leader, Ayatollah Mohammad Emami-Kashani, declared,
As the Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei has said and other Iranian officials have reiterated, the work done in the field of nuclear energy is not meant for making nuclear weapons.*****
These activities are for scientific purposes; you must realize and believe this.
April 15, 2012 - Yesterday, CNN released a new three-part, 25-minute mini-documentary from Christiane Amanpour on the Iranian nuclear issue, entitled "A Nuclear Iran: The Expert Intel." The special program features such Iran analysts and nuclear proliferation experts as David Albright, Hillary Mann-Leverett, Hooman Majd, Robert Kelley, and Anthony Cordesman.
The piece also includes excerpts from a recent interview Amanpour conducted with longtime senior adviser to the Iranian head-of-state and commander-in-chief Ali Khamenei, Mohammad Larijani. Larijani tells Amanpour, "The message is clear: deal with Iran as it is. Iran is not after nuclear weapon[s]. Nuclear weapon is not an asset for us, it is more [of a] liability. Pakistan has nuclear weapons, you see is a shambled country in terms of security. It doesn't add to our security. We are secure enough, we are strong enough, without nuclear weapon. And it is against the fatwa of Ayatollah Khamenei. Nobody [would dare] do that."
When Amanpour presses the issue, asking Larijani, "So even if Iran was attacked, you wouldn't decide to go towards a nuclar military program?," Larijani responded, "This is the fatwa of Iman Khomeini and the fatwa of Ayatollah Khamenei."
May 23, 2012 - Speaking today at a memorial event for Iranian victims of Iraqi chemical weapons during the eight year Iran-Iraq War, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad reiterated Tehran's official policy that "production and use of weapons of mass destruction is forbidden" by Islam and that "[t]here is no room for these weapons in Iran's defense doctrine."
June 16, 2012 - In advance of the latest round of talks between Iran and the P5+1, Russia Today conducted an interview with Iran's chief negotiator Saeed Jalili. Asked how the negotiations can be most constructive and successful, Jalili said:
To advance the talks we need consensus on two major issues. Firstly, we are strongly against weapons of mass destruction. Today, the Islamic Republic of Iran has the capacities to cooperate in disarmament and nuclear non-proliferation, so these capacities should be used by the international community. Secondly, we expect that Iran’s right to nuclear technologies, including uranium enrichment, will be recognized and respected. This is something that is clearly defined by the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. I think that addressing these two issues will help to advance the negotiations.*****
August 30, 2012 - During his opening remarks at the Non-Aligned Movement summit in Tehran, Ayatollah Khamenei repeated the official Iranian policy towards nuclear weapons:
Nuclear weapons neither ensure security, nor do they consolidate political power; rather they are a threat to both security and political power...
The Islamic Republic of Iran considers the use of nuclear, chemical and similar weapons as a great and unforgivable sin. We proposed the idea of [a] "Middle East free of nuclear weapons" and we are committed to it. This does not mean forgoing our right to peaceful use of nuclear power and production of nuclear fuel...
I stress that the Islamic Republic has never been after nuclear weapons and that it will never give up the right of its people to use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes. Our motto is: "Nuclear energy for all and nuclear weapons for none."*****
September 17, 2012 - Iranian Vice President and head of the Atomic Energy Organization Fereydoon Abbasi-Davani again affirmed to delegates to the IAEA in Vienna that "The Islamic Republic of Iran...has always opposed and will always denounce the manufacture and use of weapons of mass destruction."
September 26, 2012 - As usual, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad made his media rounds while in New York this past week for the opening of the 67th annual United Nations General Assembly. And, as usual, he repeated what he and other Iranian officials have been saying about it nuclear energy program for two decades now.
On September 23, 2012, Ahmadinejad told The Washington Post's David Ignatius, "We will never use the wealth of our nation for these [nuclear weapons] objectives."
On September 24, 2012, at an early morning breakfast meeting with members of the mainstream media, Ahmadinejad said that the nuclear issue "is a very tiresome subject" and one that "is a political issue, not legal or technical." He continued, "At the end of the day, everyone knows that Iran is not seeking a nuclear bomb. The scene resembles one of a comedy show. Those who accuse us are those whose warehouses have nuclear stockpiles. They talk of security. If you are so preoccupied with this, why not do away with your own nuclear stockpiles?"
In an interview with CBS's Norah O'Donnell and Charlie Rose the same day, Ahmadinejad reiterated the Iranian position on nuclear weapons, both their strategic insignificance and their moral unacceptability. "Let's even imagine that we have an atomic weapon. What intelligent person would fight 5,000 American bombs with one bomb? Also, because of our beliefs, we do not believe in a nuclear weapon. We are against it."
October 2, 2012 - Speaking yesterday at the Council on Foreign Relations, Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi again explained that Iran had no intention of acquiring nuclear weapons, appealing to the strategic liability such weapons would be for the Islamic Republic, reports Laura Rozen of Al-Monitor.
"Had Iran chosen to [go] nuclear in the sense of weaponization, it would not be a deterrent for Iran," Salehi explained in English to an audience of foreign policy experts. "It would attract more threats from the other side."