Changing Course on Iran

Ahead of the crucial meeting of the board of governors of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) which starts today in Vienna, Mohamed ElBaradei, head of the IAEA, has greeted the recent accord between the IAEA and Iran as “a significant step forward“.

Following the July visit of the IAEA to Tehran, agreement was reached on an action plan with defined modalities and timetable to address all outstanding ambiguities in relation to Iran’s nuclear programme within a strict timeframe until November. As the first outcome of this agreement and a strong vindication of its workability, the August 27 announcement of the IAEA cleared Iran‘s plutonium experiments — labelled by the US as major evidence of Iran’s weaponisation programme. Furthermore, according to a statement, “the Agency has been able to verify the non-diversion of the declared nuclear material at the enrichment facilities in Iran and has therefore concluded that it remains in peaceful use.”

Notwithstanding this very promising development, the US government has described Iran’s cooperation with the IAEA as an attempt by the Iranian government to distract from its alleged intention of developing nuclear weapons. This US description prompted the following response from ElBaradei in an interview with Spiegel: “I am familiar with these accusations. They are completely untrue. It’s not possible to manipulate us. We are not naive and we do not take sides.” Dismissive of the head of IAEA, the US, with some supportive words from Gordon Brown, has recklessly called for a third round of sanctions against Iran by the UN security council, which will no doubt jeopardise the Iran-IAEA agreement as Iran has already warned.

In response to the US stance, ElBaradei warned on Friday that some of the rhetoric against Iran is a reminder of the prelude to the invasion of Iraq and firmly supported the IAEA agreement with Iran. In this context, and faced with the inevitable prospect of Russia vetoing any new sanctions against Iran, the US then adopted a more diplomatic veneer. The US Ambassador to Vienna, Gregory Schulte, while acknowledging the potential of the work plan for resolving “historical questions”, reiterated the US persistence that Iran stops its uranium enrichment programme or face sanctions, pressing to force Iran to open “manufacturing and military facilities” to inspection.

In fact, the Bush-Cheney leadership has shown no interest in the resolution of the outstanding problems between the IAEA and Iran since its principal aim is to grossly distort and exaggerate these issues in order to use them as a false pretext for a military action against Iran, very much like the hysteria it created over the alleged but non-existent weapons of mass destruction in the run-up to the invasion of Iraq.

Thus, in contradiction to the recent findings of the IAEA and the agreed work plan with Iran, George Bush, in his belligerent speech of August 28, raising the prospect of US war against Iran, falsely warned that Iran’s nuclear programme was spreading the “shadow of nuclear holocaust” over the Middle East. Given the completely discredited WMD charges against Iraq such accusations against Iran are hardly convincing, which is why the US has, since early this year, launched a new propaganda campaign to make Iran a scapegoat for its failures in Iraq and Afghanistan and create a casus belli by trying to implicate the Iranian government in supporting the Iraqi anti-occupation forces with roadside bombs that kill American soldiers. In line with this strategy, Bush declared in his speech: “Iran’s leaders … cannot escape responsibility for aiding attacks against coalition forces … The Iranian regime must halt these actions. And until it does, I will take actions necessary to protect our troops. I have authorised our military commanders in Iraq to confront Tehran’s murderous activities.”

However, the US allegations of Iranian involvement in aiding attacks against the coalition forces in Iraq have not been supported by any evidence and, as recently as in the last few weeks, President Karsai and Prime Minister Maliki praised Iran. The British foreign secretary, David Miliband, admitted in his interview with the Financial Times that there was no evidence of Iran’s complicity in violence and instability in Iraq.

Strikingly though, their failure to produce a case to attack Iran has not deterred Bush and Cheney to try to sell their new war of aggression to the US public thanks to the massive demonisation of Iran by the western media. If unchallenged, their bellicose statements and call for new sanctions will pave the way for such an assault in what is eerily reminiscent of the prelude to the invasion of Iraq. There are strong warnings from intelligence sources that massive military strikes on Iran’s nuclear, military, political and economic infrastructure are ready for execution within the next few months with its widely predicted catastrophic consequences for the people of Iran, the region and the whole world.

Today, a delegation of Iranian academics and MPs alarmed by the threat of an imminent US attack on Iran are urging the Brown government to clearly distance itself from the pursuit of aggressive US foreign policy, to denounce US war plans, oppose another round of sanctions on Iran and persuade the EU as a whole to do the same. The British government, and EU, must insist that the IAEA-Iran agreement be allowed to work within the agreed timeline without any act of sabotage by the US so that the remaining outstanding issues over Iran’s nuclear programme are resolved in a peaceful way. Otherwise, if the EU again follows the US to support another round of sanctions on Iran, then it will be complicit in preparing the ground for a new neoconservative illegal war of aggression.

Abbas Edalat is professor of computer science and mathematics at Imperial College London and founder of the Campaign Against Sanctions and Military Intervention in Iran; Mehrnaz Shahabi is the campaign's executive editor of Read other articles by Abbas Edalat, or visit Abbas Edalat's website.

8 comments on this article so far ...

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  1. Shabnam said on September 14th, 2007 at 4:06pm #

    Thanks to both writers for this article who have provided the readers with facts on Iran against propaganda machine which spread lies over the mass media to legitimize the administration’s “war on terror” with spreading manufactured stories against Iran such as IED story and promoting the benefits of “the surge…” in Iraq. The “anti war movement” campaign is good but apparently not enough to have a committed and motivated anti war movement participants to be more effective. We have to expose those elements that act under opposition and “left” umbrella and confuse the international community by not knowing what is the priorities at this moment for a movement to be effective against the fascist administration in Washington and her associates who are former colonial powers around the globe. The Iranian opposition groups and some of the American and British opposition, influenced by arrogant Iranian opposition groups, shouting a slogan “No to imperialist war, no to the theocratic regime” cleverly beating on the war drum and promoting “regime change” in Iran, including Mr. Chomsky and the anti war movement “united front for peace and justice” and confuse the public.
    These “opposition” groups make the 800 pounds gorilla with massive weapons of mass destruction equal to a butterfly and insist the butterfly is more dangerous than the guerrilla with 15,000 nuclear bombs ready to go. Thus these “anti war movement” cause confusion among the less informed public and bring nothing but indecisiveness to the fragile anti Imperialist/Zionist movement which is true enemy of our time. Few Iranians who have been in this country for more than 30 years, almost all their adult life, even go further and push a futile argument that nuclear energy is not good for Iran, against the wish of majority of Iranian, instead of going after thousand of nuclear weapons of US, their adopted country, yet choosing the imaginary Iran nuclear program as target. 1
    In an interview Khoshdel with Ms. Maizar, 2, is trying to attack the British left since they have supported rights of the Lebanese people, among them, Hezbollah group, against Israeli aggression which destroyed Lebanon and killed more than thousand civilians, many children in Lebanon. In addition Mr. Khoshdel tries to criticize and illegitimate the left in general and British left in particular as “left activists who are facing crisis” because this group is against waging war on Iran. The reason is that Iranians opposition like the imperialists see an Islamic movement such as Hezbollah that is supported by Lebanese people regardless of their ethic or religious affiliation as terrorists and see them more dangerous than imperialism and they wish the left be with them on this point. Khoshdel is so arrogant that reserve the right to portrait the Lebanese people as follows: [ “ mixing groups who have bands with engraved moon and star on green background on their foreheads next to red flags with engraved sickle and star and shouting slogan such as “down with Imperialism” which it comes from the mouth of men with beards whose wife’s are walking behind them and Left who consider themselves as progressive. In reality, Ms. Maizar, don’t you think people are going to be fearful of this picture and separate themselves from these groups? ] And Ms. Maizar agrees with him and explained: “Last year at the demonstration where was held in support of Lebanese people against the Israeli aggression both anti war movement and Socialist Workers Party were even worse since their slogan was ‘we are all Hezbollah’.” Arrogant Iranian opposition groups who try to be everywhere including the imperialist camp, label anything which is Islamic as “backward” and embrace everything western as “progressive” be workers movement, or women movement 3 or the youth movement. The “feminist” have undermined positive developments in Iran and has exaggerated the veil instead. Those American feminist should leave Iranian women 4
    alone and work somewhere else such as Yemen 5
    As Mr. Barker has written majority of opposition movements around the world, including Iran, are influenced and manipulated by the imperialist organizations such as NED and Solidarity. 6
    Mr. Khoshdel in another interview with a confused Iranian propagandist, Hassan Daioleslam, who attacks Mr. Edalet and his campaign and attach it as “Iran Lobby” spread his political agenda “regime change” among Iranians by attacking the left sitting on CIA platform, The Voice of America, at least two sessions if not more and is very frustrated to see the left participates in “anti war movement”. As many know, United States with massive financial capabilities has infiltrated the opposition in the targeted countries such as Iran among the Labor movement, women movement
    and youth movement and among Iranians who call themselves “minorities” to play a victim card through NGO’s, agent of Imperialist. And that’s why the Iranian government is trying to control some of the damages inflicted by these institutions and their associates such as NED, freedom house, Solidarity center, civil society and so on and so forth by arresting some of the supporters of these organizations where carrying out the work of CIA which use to be covered activities now is done openly on behave of these organizations. These illegal activities have been exposed by some of the Iranian left websites such as “salaam socialism” 7but majorities of Iranian people are not familiar with these organizations and do not understand their true activities.
    Therefore, we must join not only the demonstration on September 15, but also we have to take initiatives that hurt the war machine. To do that we should stay away from work on every Tuesday until the imperialist army leaves Iraq. In addition, those who can not join the demonstration on sept. 15 should wear a white or light- color flower, sign of peace, on that day to show clearly that we are against any war of aggression and ask for the impeachment of George Bush and his associates.

    2 (3)itemID=11221&sectionID=1 (4) (5) (6) (7)

  2. Shabnam said on September 14th, 2007 at 8:51pm #

    some of the sources for the above comment have been switched.
    the source for #5 is a picture of women graduation in Yemen

    The source for # 3

    Many Iranian opposition web sites and radio are funded by western governments which have the same agenda as NED, freedom house and….
    Radio Zamane where has a website as well radio is funded very well by the government of Netherlands. They are very pro west and against anything Islamic.
    Netherlands like US supports opposition groups through her NGO’s and has the same agenda as NED under spurious title “spread of democracy”. This support was facilitated by work of an Iranian Kurd, Farah Karimi, who was active member of Mojahedin, MKO, is on the United State department’s list as a terrorist organization. Ms. Karimi lives in Netherlands now and is Dutch MP in the Parliament.

  3. Shabnam said on September 15th, 2007 at 6:08am #

    On Iranian women

  4. Mike McNiven said on September 16th, 2007 at 9:59pm #

    Well, fortunately two thirds of Iranians have enough integrity and courage to take a stand against NED, Conoco/Philips, Mobil/Exxon, G-7 imperialism, capitalism, pre-capitalist fascism, theocracy, anti-women laws, anti-labor laws, World Bank orders, racist anti-Kurd sentiments, … All power to them!

    Please see an example of it:

  5. Shabnam said on September 16th, 2007 at 11:35pm #

    The slogan NO TO IMPERIALIST WAR, NO TO THEOCRATIC REGIME is misleading at the best. Middle East region is occupied by imperialist and her extension Zionist with the help of reactionary’s Arab head of states. Our aim is to free middle east from this destructive and brutal force that has killed millions and has destroyed not only lives of more millions of people but also has destroyed cities after cities and has stolen the identity of the population of the region by stealing the remains of their civilization from the museum as much as they could and destroyed the rest when could not carry outside the country. We need a unity of all forces including Iranians, Turks, and Arabs. We need Hezbollah and Pasdaran, the Iranian army, to defend ourselves. This misleading slogan suggests that we should not work with the Iranian army because they are part of the government. When we defeat the fascist then you can beat anything else. Iranian government is not going to stay the same and has to adopt with the realities. Iranian people are not going to accept a government that does not reflect their aspirations. But Iranian people are facing a REAL TREAT. Some of the former Iranian “left” is openly working closely with the Imperialist/ Zionist camp. This stupid slogan has been forced upon the “left” by arrogant Iranians who are living abroad for the past, at least 32 years. Part of this reality is the REAL TREAT from the fascist administration in the US and Zionist forces and their associates who posses massive weapons of mass destruction including nuclear weapons and massive financial resources which is lacking by the other side, including Iran and Syria. Therefore, we have to take steps that eliminate any division in the anti imperialist/Zionist camp and promote the unity among the most diverse population of the region. We are not going to allow bunch of arrogant “left” who either do not understand the situation or cleverly are beating on the war drum for regime change so they can change the Middle East map according to Israel’s vision of the M.E. and good for “Investment”. Furthermore, it is not good to bring a misleading slogan, rather we have to take decisive measures, not empty slogan, against the fascist, Bush and associates; if we are serious to stop more destruction. American must take responsibility for millions of deaths already. Therefore, we have to stop funding the War. To do that Americans must stay away from work one day per week, until US and their associates leave Iraq and the region. The date can be negotiated.
    American must take responsibilities because it is not accepted anymore to hide behind a statement like: WE DON’T HAVE POWER. No one is going to give you that kind of power, you have to create it yourself, especially knowing that phony election in the FAILED STATE, America, is not going to bring any meaningful changes.

  6. Mehrnaz Shahabi said on September 19th, 2007 at 4:04am #

    Dear Shabnam
    Thank you for excellent analyses and comments. Please get in touch with Campaign We need you!

  7. Mike McNiven said on September 21st, 2007 at 2:17pm #

  8. Mike McNiven said on October 7th, 2007 at 6:54pm #

    September 29 / 30, 2007

    An Anti-Imperialist Case And
    Iran’s Nuclear Program