“As President Bush scans the world’s horizon there is no greater potential flashpoint than Iran, the President and his Foreign Policy team believe the Islamic regime in Tehran is actively pursuing nuclear weapons.”
-- Chris Wallace, FOX News
Iran has no nuclear weapons program. This is the conclusion of Mohammed el-Baradei the respected chief of the IAEA. The agency has conducted a thorough and nearly-continuous investigation on all suspected sites for the last two years and has come up with the very same result every time: nothing. If we can’t trust the findings of these comprehensive investigations by nuclear experts than the agency should be shut down and the NPT (Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty) should be abandoned. It is just that simple.
That, of course, is exactly what the US and Israel would prefer since they have no intention of complying with international standards or treaties and are entirely committed to a military confrontation with Iran. It now looks as though they may have the pretext for carrying out such an attack.
Four days ago, Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman formally rejected a plan submitted by the EU members that would have barred Iran from “enrichment-related activities.” Foreign Minister Hamid Reza Asefi said, “The Europeans' submitted proposals regarding the nuclear case are not acceptable for Iran."
Asefi did the right thing; the offer was conspicuously hypocritical. The United States doesn’t allow any intrusive inspections on its nuclear weapons sites even though it is the only nation that has ever used nukes in battle and even though it is developing a whole new regime of tactical “bunker-buster” bombs for destroying heavily-fortified weapons sites buried beneath the ground.
The US is also the only nation that claims the right to use nukes in a “first-strike” capacity if it feels that its national security interests are at stake.
The NPT is entirely designed to harass the countries that have not yet developed nuclear weapons and force them to observe rules designed by the more powerful states. It was intended to maintain the existing power structure not to keep the peace.
Even so, Iran is not “violating” the treaty by moving ahead with a program for “enriching uranium.” They don’t even have the centrifuges for conducting such a process. The re-opening of their facility at Isfahan signals that they will continue the “conversion” process to produce the nuclear fuel that is required in nuclear power plants. This is all permitted under the terms of the NPT. They temporarily suspended that right, and accepted other confidence-building measures, to show the EU their willingness to find a reasonable solution to mutual concerns. But, now, under pressure from the Bush administration, the EU is trying to renege on its part of the deal and change the terms of the treaty itself.
So far, Iran has played entirely by the rules and deserves the same considerations as the other signatories of the treaty. The EU members (England, Germany, and France) are simply backpedaling in a futile effort to mollify Washington and Tel Aviv. Besides, when Iran re-opens its plant and begins work, the UN “watchdog” agency (IAEA) will be present to set up the necessary surveillance cameras and will resume monitoring everything that goes on during the sensitive fuel-cycle process.
Iran has shown an unwillingness to be bullied by Washington. The Bush administration has co-opted the EU to enforce its double standards by threatening military action, but that doesn’t’ conceal the duplicity of their demands. Why should Iran forgo the processing of nuclear fuel for peaceful purposes if it is written right into the treaty? Would Israel or Pakistan accept a similar proposal?
Of course not. Both countries ignored the treaty altogether and built their own nuclear weapons behind the back of the international community. Only Iran has been singled out and punished for COMPLYING with the treaty. This demonstrates the power of Washington to dictate the international agenda.
Iran’s refusal puts the EU in a position to refer the case to the IAEA, where the board members will make their determination and decide whether the case should be sent to the UN Security Council. Whether the IAEA passes the case along or not makes little difference. Bush, Sharon and the Western media will exploit the details in a way that condemns Iran and paves the way for a preemptive attack. The drive to war will not be derailed by mere facts.
Iran has weathered the media criticism and the specious claims of the Bush administration admirably. They have responded with caution and discipline seeking reasonable solutions to thorny issues. Nevertheless, they have been unwavering in defending their rights under the NPT. This consistency in behavior suggests that they will be equally unswerving if they are the targets of an unprovoked attack. We should expect that they will respond with full force, ignoring the threats of nuclear retaliation. And, so they should. One only has to look at Iraq to see what happens if one does not defend oneself. Nothing is worth that.
The Iranian people should be confident that their government will do whatever is in their power to defend their borders, their national sovereignty and their right to live in peace without the threat of foreign intervention. That, of course, will entail attacking both Israel and US forces in Iraq. Whether or not the US actually takes part in the initial air raids is immaterial; by Mr. Bush’s own standards, the allies of “those who would do us harm” are just as culpable as those who conduct the attacks. In this case, the US has provided the long-range aircraft as well as the “bunker-busting” munitions for the planned assault. The administration’s responsibility is not in doubt.
We should anticipate that the Iranian government has a long-range strategy for “asymmetrical” warfare that will disrupt the flow of oil and challenge American interests around the world. Certainly, if one is facing an implacable enemy that is committed to “regime change” there is no reason to hold back on doing what is necessary to defeat that adversary. So far, none of the terrorist bombings in London, Spain, Turkey, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia or the US have implicated even one Iranian national. That will certainly change. Iranian Intelligence has probably already planned covert operations that will be carried out in the event of an unprovoked attack on their facilities. Iran is also likely to become an active supporter of international terrorist groups, enlisting more recruits in the war against American interests. After all, any attack on Iran can only be construed as a declaration of all-out war.
Isn’t that so?
If Iran retaliates against Israel or the US in Iraq, then both nations will proceed with a plan that is already in place to destroy all of Iran’s biological, chemical and conventional weapons sites. In fact, this is the ultimate US strategy anyway; not the elimination of the “imaginary” nuclear weapons facilities. Both the US and Israel want to “de-fang” the Mullah-regime so that they can control critical resources and eliminate the possibility of a regional rival in the future.
In the short term, however, the plan is fraught with difficulties. At present, there is no wiggle room in the world’s oil supply for massive disruptions and most experts are predicting shortages in the 4th quarter of this year. If the administration’s war on Iran goes forward we will see a shock to the world’s oil supplies and economies that could be catastrophic. That being the case, a report that was leaked last week that Dick Cheney had STRATCOM (Strategic Command) draw up “contingency plans for a tactical nuclear war against Iran”, is probably a bit of brinksmanship intended to dissuade Iran from striking back and escalating the conflict.
It makes no difference. If Iran is attacked they will retaliate, that much is certain.
It is always the mistake of extremists to misjudge the behavior of reasonable men, just as it is always the mistake of reasonable men to mistake the behavior of extremists.
We should not expect the Bush administration to make a rational choice. That would be a dramatic departure from every preceding decision of consequence.
The President of the United States always has the option of unleashing Armageddon if he so chooses. Normally, however, sanity prevails.
When the bombs hit the bunkers in Iran, World War III will be underway
Mike Whitney lives in Washington state, and can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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