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The U.S. and Iran: A Manufactured Crisis Print E-mail

Part 1: The Facts of the Matter

No one knows what will emerge ultimately from the talks beginning in Geneva Oct. 1 between Iran and the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany on the matter of the Tehran government’s nuclear program.

Iran says it looks forward to the talks and promises to be forthcoming. But judging by the stance of the United States, Great Britain, France and Germany last week at the UN conferences in New York and the G20 meeting in Pittsburgh, draconian sanctions may be enacted against Iran in a few months. This would result in yet another crisis that the world doesn’t need just now.

Russia and China — which hold veto power in the Security Council that can weaken or prevent additional sanctions — have up to now resisted the Obama Administration’s drive for tough new UN punishments. President Barack Obama met separately during the week with Russian President Dmitri Medvedev and Chinese President Hu Jintao in an effort to obtain their agreement to threaten more stringent sanctions should Iran procrastinate during the talks.

The White House later suggested to the press that Medvedev may be coming around to Obama’s point of view, but this seems to be based on very skimpy evidence — a remark that “in some cases sanctions are inevitable.” Hu evidently didn’t even go that far. China opposes sanctions in principle as a means of resolving international disputes.

Moscow and Beijing do not subscribe to the negative depiction of Iran promoted by Washington, Tel Aviv, London, Paris and Bonn. They understand the situation to be far more complex than the U.S. and its allies publicly acknowledge.

The Iran question suddenly took center stage Sept. 25 during a week of hectic political activity. The White house set up a hastily arranged and theatrically produced press conference at the start of the G20 meeting in order to detonate a political bombshell intended to destroy Tehran’s contention that it is only interested in nuclear power, not nuclear weapons.

The conference opened with Obama standing at the microphone with French President Nicholas Sarkozy and British Prime Minister Gordon Brown positioned solemnly to his left and right. It was explained that German Chancellor Angela Merkel would have joined the trio but was delayed.

Obama then declared that Iran had for several years been secretly building an underground plant in mountainous terrain to manufacture nuclear fuel near the city of Qom about 100 miles from Tehran, in addition to the plant and facilities in Natanz already known to the world. He suggested the new plant was intended to produce weapons without the world’s knowledge, though that was not proven.

Obama then charged that “Iran’s decision to build yet another nuclear facility without notifying the IAEA [International Atomic Energy Agency] represents a direct challenge to the basic compact at the center of the non-proliferation regime … Iran is breaking rules that all nations must follow … and threatening the stability and security of the region and the world.” Refusal to “come clean,” he said, “is going to lead to confrontation.”

Sarkozy and Brown followed Obama and seemed to go even further than the American leader in denouncing Iran, explicitly demanding harder sanctions. Said Brown: “The level of deception by the Iranian government, and the scale of what we believe is the breach of international commitments, will shock and anger the entire international community.”

The New York Times reported that “after months of talking about the need for engagement, Mr. Obama appears to have made a leap toward viewing tough new sanctions against Iran as an inevitability … American officials said that they expected the announcement to make it easier to build a case for international sanctions.”

The majority of House and Senate members have long been critical of Iran’s government and the new allegations have only fanned the flames of their hostility. Right wing Florida Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, the leading Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, declared: “The U.S. and other countries must immediately impose crippling sanctions on the Iranian regime, including cutting off Iran’s imports of gasoline. The world cannot stand by and watch the nightmare of a nuclear-armed Iran become reality.” Massachusetts Democrat John Kerry, chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, stated “now is the time to supplement engagement with more robust international sanctions.”

As intended, the hyped disclosure created headlines around the world. It probably convinced many Americans, already primed to detest Iran, that Tehran is building nuclear bombs to obliterate the U.S. and Israel. This is not an unlikely conclusion for many people to accept after 30 years of Washington’s incessant campaign to demonize the government that overthrew and replaced America’s puppet, the dreaded Shah of Iran. The U.S. broke diplomatic relations with Iran after this act of lèse majesté and the subsequent “hostage crisis,” and has nourished a grudge to this day.

If push does come to shove with Iran it is important to remember how effortless it was to hoodwink the majority of American politicians and the masses of people into backing a completely unnecessary war against Iraq. As in the buildup to the unjust invasion of Iraq, today’s U.S. corporate mass media is playing its principal part to perfection — uncritically echoing government distortions about the danger of Iran’s nonexistent nuclear weapons. The Iran situation is different, but yet similar in terms of mass public manipulation and the possibility of a future confrontation getting out of hand.

Can this be, once again, a situation of high-stakes geopolitics where things are rarely as they seem? We think so. Let’s look at the immediate charge against Iran, based on the “revelations” of the last week, then take on the bigger picture in Parts 2 and 3.

The “shocking” news may have been delivered with a sense of surprise and high urgency, but U.S. intelligence agencies, joined by their counterparts in some allied countries, were aware since 2006 that Iran was constructing a second uranium processing plant that still remains under construction and is not operational. According to a Sept. 26 article circulated by the McClatchy newspaper group quoting a U.S. intelligence official, “There was dialogue with allies from a very early point.”

Bush Administration Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnel first informed Obama about the facility soon after he won election. He has been kept up to date since then. Before going public with the information last week, the president saw to it that several other governments were told in advance, as was the IAEA and others.

Washington officials claimed Iran became aware “in late spring” that the U.S. was spying on the “secret” facility. They said Iran then informed the International Atomic Energy Agency Sept. 21 about the existence of its project, implying Tehran did so because its cover was blown. In a statement Sept. 24 the IAEA acknowledged that Tehran had informed them that a “pilot fuel enrichment plant is under construction in the country,” and that it “also understands from Iran that no nuclear material has been introduced into the facility.”

Iran insisted to the Vienna-based IAEA and the world that the enrichment plant under construction is designed only for fueling nuclear power installations. Soon after Obama’s G20 speech, Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization declared the new “semi-industrial enrichment fuel facility” was “within the framework of International Atomic Energy Agency’s regulations.” Press reports said “The head of Iran’s nuclear program suggested UN inspectors would be allowed to visit the site.” The invitation was extended before Washington’s demand that it do so.

A quite unruffled Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad appeared at a press conference in New York after Obama’s disclosures. He seemed to regard the American president’s allegations, and the staged manner in which they were delivered, not only the making of a mountain out of a molehill but an act of bad faith just before the talks are to begin, suggesting non-threateningly that Obama will come to regret his confrontational demeanor.

Ahmadinejad told the press that the plant in question wouldn’t be operational for 18 more months and that it did not violate the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). He went further and said nuclear weapons “are against humanity [and] they are inhumane,” comments in keeping with his recent calls for eliminating all nuclear weapons. The Iranian leader also said that Iran informed the IAEA about the plant only a few days ago instead of when ground was broken because construction had reached the stage where it should be reported, not because it found out that a U.S. spy agency was watching.

What are we to make of this? First it must be understood there is a dispute over the IAEA’s safeguard provisions governing the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

Iran considers itself to be in total compliance with the NPT, and this appears to be true. Inter-Press Service reporter Jim Lobe wrote Sept. 25 that “Under the basic Safeguards Agreement of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty of which Iran is a signatory, member states are required to declare their nuclear facilities and designs at least 180 days before introducing nuclear materials there.”

According to an article in the Sept. 26 New York Times by Neil MacFarquhar, “Tehran’s stance hinges on different interpretations of the agency’s regulations, said Graham Allison, the director of Harvard University’s Belfer Center and an Iran nuclear expert.

“For two decades, the agency required Iran to report only when nuclear material [for uranium enrichment] was introduced to a facility. By 2003 it rescinded that, in line with the guidelines for most [but not all] countries, demanding reporting when construction began, Mr. Allison said. But the agency never declared Iran out of compliance when Tehran claimed the old agreement was still in place.”

In talking to the press after Obama’s speech, Ahmadinejad said that the new facility would be completed in 18 months, so under Iran’s understanding of its responsibilities, the notification was a year in advance. The U.S. maintains that Iran informed the IAEA when it learned U.S. spy agencies had become aware of the plant, but if that were so, why did Tehran wait three months before contacting the nuclear agency? Had they acted out of fear of being exposed as non-compliant wouldn’t they have contacted IAEA immediately?

“What we did was completely legal, according to the law,” the Iranian president said. “We have informed the agency, the agency will come and take a look and produce a report and it’s nothing new.” According to the Associated Press Tehran’s notice to the IAEA specified that the enrichment level would be up to 5%, suitable only for peaceful purposes. Weapons-grade material is more than 90% enriched.”

The AP also noted that the IAEA now “says Iran is obliged to make such a notification when it begins design of such facilities” and that “a government cannot unilaterally abandon such an agreement.” This is confusing, of course. But since Iran was never designated as non-compliant and was allowed to proceed under the previous rules for years after it registered its rejection of the new terms, the thunderous criticism emanating from the U.S., Britain and France appears to have no serious merit.


THE U.S. AND IRAN: A MANUFACTURED CRISIS — Part 2: Behind the Allegations

There’s obviously more than meets the eye to unproven allegations of late September from the U.S. and its allies that Iran’s nuclear program is really intended to result in the clandestine production of nuclear weapons, presumably to attack other countries.

As we proceed with our analysis, here are a few things that should be kept in mind.

• So far there is absolutely no evidence Iran is going to “weaponize” its nuclear power program and build atomic bombs. So far it has been abiding by the NPT, has pledged not to produce nuclear weapons, is under very close scrutiny by the IAEA, and obviously its program is the target of intensive surveillance by the United States. There is no secret way in which it can construct nuclear weapons under such circumstances.

• Israel possesses an arsenal of up to 200 nuclear weapons and thumbs its nose at the IAEA and the NPT, with which it is notoriously noncompliant. If President Obama must sternly castigate Iran, which does not have nuclear weapons, for “breaking rules that all nations must follow .... and threatening the stability and security of the region and the world,” why does he protect Israel from international sanction and subsidize its military machine? Pakistan and India are also noncompliant, but they too are allies of Washington and thus have been granted immunity.

• In this connection it must be noted that the far right wing Tel Aviv government appears to be on the verge of launching an attack on Iran and has made this well known to the world. But it receives no censure for such threats from the U.S. and its European allies, or for the horror it inflicted on Gaza a few months ago. Imagine the outcry if Iran threatened to attack Israel, or its army entered the territory of a neighboring society and inflicted terrible cruelties largely upon its civilian population for not submitting to national oppression. And yet Tel Aviv calls Iran an "existential" threat despite Israel’s nuclear weapons, it’s superior military force and its support from the entire American military apparatus, including 2,600 strategic nuclear warheads on hair-trigger readiness. But as we've noted before, the only concrete threat to Israel’s existence would be if the U.S. government withdrew its political, military and financial support.

• Washington's geopolitical interests are key to America’s relationship to Iran and the Middle East in general. The U.S. desires to control — or at minimum to keep out of "unfriendly" hands — the immense oil reserves possessed by Iran and neighboring Iraq. It fears a future alliance between these resource rich developing countries, who also happen to be the only two nations in the world governed by Shi’ite Muslims. The U.S. invaded to overthrow the "unfriendly," Sunni-backed Iraqi government of Saddam Hussein. But it can neither rely totally on its selected successor regime in Baghdad, nor has it yet been able to remove the theocratic government in Tehran, which is conservative domestically but puts forward an anti-imperialist foreign policy that drives the world’s remaining superpower to distraction.

Washington’s objective at the talks beginning Oct. 1 is to coerce Iran to accept extremely intrusive controls on its nuclear development, combining dire threats for refusal with small rewards for agreement. The Tehran government said it will reject demands that it halt uranium enrichment, a main concern of the five members of the Security Council plus Germany, but indicated without elaboration that "Iran is ready to ... help ease joint international concerns over the nuclear issue." (Enriched uranium is required to power nuclear plants for civilian uses. Much greatly enriched uranium is required for weapons.)

Washington wants to confine the seven-party discussions to Tehran’s nuclear project, but the Iranian government put forward it own proposal in early September for “comprehensive, all-encompassing and constructive negotiations.” The U.S. rejected the proposal, but accepted it with seeming reluctance the next day. (We don’t know what happened to change things.) The Iranian suggestions include hastening global nuclear disarmament, ending nuclear proliferation and working toward world peace. Theoretically, Washington agrees with these goals, but doesn’t really want to discuss them with Iran.

The White House knows that in a broader discussion of nonproliferation issues Iran would draw attention to the three U.S. allies presently defying the NPT and getting away with it, and also show that the U.S. itself is noncompliant because it was supposed to have made more progress by now in reducing the Pentagon's nuclear arsenal. Further, the U.S. will hardly discuss an Iranian proposal for a comprehensive agreement to achieve “global peace and security based on justice” that includes an inquiry into America’s aggression in Iraq and Afghanistan, and Israel’s astonishingly disproportionate violence against Gaza and Lebanon.

The Obama Administration wants at minimum to impose stringent sanctions on Iran if no progress is made to its satisfaction in the next few months as demanded by U.S. neoconservatives, the right wing in general and those influenced by AIPAC, which describes itself as “America’s Pro-Israel Lobby.”

One reason for harsh sanctions would be to hasten the downfall of the Ahmadinejad government, if possible, by creating a serious economic crisis, unemployment, and suffering to exacerbate existing social tensions within the Islamic Republic. The last time Washington engaged in deep sanctions was from 1991-2003 when it has been verified that over a million Iraqis, including a huge number of children, died from various deprivations from hunger to unclean drinking water.

If sanctions are the minimum, the maximum response would be unleashing Israel to attack Iran — an action that would backfire as surely as there is water in the Hudson River.

After his Pittsburgh speech Obama told the press he wasn't “taking any options off the table,” a phrase he has used a number of times in relation to Iran. It means war remains an option for the U.S., even over the relatively petty issue of an empty building still under construction that’s probably intended to produce energy, not violence. This same statement was a favorite of Bush II as well, and he used it repeatedly in relation to Iran. In April 2006, at a time when Dick Cheney, the neoconservatives and their supporters were pushing hard for war against Iran, the BBC reported that “Bush says all options, including the use of force, are on the table." As they say, the more things change....

Although some in Washington are hopeful that Ahmadinejad will be weakened in the nuclear talks because of opposition claims that he "stole" the June 12 election in Iran, we don’t believe this is a factor. So far, more than three and a half months later, there has not been any concrete evidence to support the opposition allegations of electoral fraud.

While the U.S. mass media depicts Ahmadinejad as being under virtual siege from a majority of Iranians, other information shows this is exaggerated. Inter-Press Service reported the following Sept. 19 in an article by Jim Lobe headlined, "New Poll Finds Strong Domestic Support for Iran Regime.":

"A new survey of Iranian public opinion released here [today] suggests majority domestic support for both him [Ahmadinejad] and the country’s basic governing institutions. Four out of five of the 1,003 Iranian respondents interviewed in the survey released by WorldPublicOpinion.org, a project of the highly respected Program on International Policy Attitudes (PIPA) of the University of Maryland, said they considered Ahmadinejad to be the legitimate president of Iran.

"Sixty-two percent of respondents said they had 'a lot of confidence' in the declared election results, which gave Ahmadinejad 62.6% of the vote within hours of the polls’ closing Jun. 12 and which were swiftly endorsed by the Islamic Republic’s Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Three of four respondents said Khamenei had reacted correctly in his endorsement."

No mass demonstrations have taken place from early August until Sept. 18, when thousands of protestors marched in Tehran in an attempt to rival much larger government-sponsored annual rallies in solidarity with the Palestinian struggle on what is called "Jerusalem Day" in Iran. Coming just two weeks before the opening of the nuclear talks, it was obviously intended to convey the impression internationally that Ahmadinejad did not really represent the will of the Iranian people. Police handled the dissenters with kid gloves.

A number of the demonstrators and signs seemed to oppose the Tehran government's support for the Palestinians as well as Ahmadinejad's re-election. The Economist reported chants of "Not Gaza, Not Lebanon, I'll only give my life for Iran," although Jerusalem Day observances never suggested Iranians should give their lives for either Gaza or Lebanon, both of which have been targets of Israeli military aggression. There were also chants of "Death to Russia" and "Death to China," evidently a reference to their refusal to join the U.S. and Israel in denunciations of the Tehran government.

In a speech that day, Ahmadinejad in effect pulled the rug from under his own feet in terms of international opinion by once again charging that the Holocaust was a "lie." Wisely, the Iranian leader did not repeat the preposterous allegation during his 35 minute speech to the UN General Assembly in New York Sept. 23. He mainly discussed building durable world peace and “elimination of all nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons to pave the way for all nations to have access to advanced and peaceful technology.”

He criticized the U.S. and Israel, but seemed somewhat subdued. According to Sarah Wheaton in the New York Times blog that evening, he “said the United States was aiding Israel in ‘racist ambitions,’ called Israel’s attack on Gaza in December ‘barbaric’ and said the economic blockade of Palestinians amounts to ‘genocide’” — comments that provoked the U.S. and 10 other delegations to walk out. Israel didn’t attend in the first place.

Soon after Ahmadinejad’s speech, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the General Assembly that “The most urgent challenge facing this body is to prevent the tyrants of Tehran from acquiring nuclear weapons,” and urged the delegates to oppose Iranian “barbarism.”

Back in Israel Sept. 26, according to an AP dispatch from Jerusalem, “Netanyahu spoke with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and a number of unidentified U.S. senators and told them that now is the time to act on Iran. Israel maintains the Islamic republic is seeking nuclear weapons. ‘If not now then when?’ the official quoted Netanyahu as saying. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not allowed to speak with the media. He did not disclose what kind of action Netanyahu recommended be taken.

“Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said earlier in the day that the Iranian nuclear facility proves ‘without a doubt’ the Islamic republic is pursuing nuclear weapons. ‘This removes the dispute whether Iran is developing military nuclear power or not and therefore the world powers need to draw conclusions,’ Lieberman told Israel Radio. ‘Without a doubt it is a reactor for military purposes not peaceful purposes.’”

THE U.S. AND IRAN: A MANUFACTURED CRISIS — Part 3: The case for Iran

There have been a number of reports this year that Iran is not constructing weapons. For example, “Intelligence Agencies Say No New Nukes in Iran” was the headline on a Newsweek article Sept. 16 that read in part:

“The U.S. intelligence community is reporting to the White House that Iran has not restarted its nuclear-weapons development program, two counter-proliferation officials tell Newsweek. U.S. agencies had previously said that Tehran halted the program in 2003.

“The officials, who asked for anonymity when discussing sensitive information, said 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 since the formal National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) on Iran's ‘Nuclear Intentions and Capabilities’ in November 2007. Public portions of that report stated that U.S. intelligence agencies had ‘high confidence" that, as of early 2003, Iranian military units were pursuing development of a nuclear bomb, but that in the fall of that year Iran ‘halted its nuclear weapons program.’ The document said that while U.S. agencies believed the Iranian government ‘at a minimum is keeping open the option to develop nuclear weapons,’ U.S. intelligence as of mid-2007 still had ‘moderate confidence’ that it had not restarted weapons-development efforts.

“One of the two officials said that the Obama administration has now worked out a system in which intelligence agencies provide top policymakers, including the president, with regular updates on intelligence judgments like the conclusions in the 2007 Iran NIE. According to the two officials, the latest update to policymakers has been that as of now — two years after the period covered by the 2007 NIE — U.S. intelligence agencies still believe Iran has not resumed nuclear-weapons development work. ‘That's the conclusion, but it's one that—like every other—is constantly checked and reassessed, both to take account of new information and to test old assumptions,’ one of the officials told Newsweek.”

In this connection, National Intelligence Director Dennis Blair — the insider’s insider — testified before Congress in February that there was no evidence Iran is producing the highly enriched uranium required for nuclear weapons.

The September-October issue of the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists contained an interview with Mohamed El Baradei, the retiring long time director of the IAEA, in which he declared: "We have not seen concrete evidence that Tehran has an ongoing nuclear weapons program .... But somehow, many people are talking about how Iran's nuclear program is the greatest threat to the world....

“In many ways, I think the threat has been hyped. Yes, there's concern about Iran's future intentions and Iran needs to be more transparent with the IAEA and the international community .... But the idea that we'll wake up tomorrow and Iran will have a nuclear weapon is an idea that isn't supported by the facts as we have seen them so far."

The Sept. 21 issue of Newsweek reported that “quarrels concerning the ultimate aim of Iran's secretive nuke program have become so heated that some UN officials are making comparisons to the proliferation of misinformation in the run-up to the U.S. invasion of Iraq.” The article continued:

“In a private email sent last week to nuclear experts and obtained by Newsweek, Tariq Rauf, a senior official with the UN's International Atomic Energy Agency, wrote that the mainstream media are repeating mistakes from 2003, when they ‘carried unsubstantiated stories on Iraq and WMD — the same mistakes are being repeated re IAEA and Iran.’ Rauf added that ‘the hype is likely originating from certain (known) sources.’ The message does not specify the sources, but U.S. and European officials have previously accused Israel of exaggerating Iran's nuclear progress.”

On Feb. 22, India’s mass circulation daily The Hindu reported: “Iran has not converted the low-grade uranium that it has produced into weapon-grade uranium, inspectors belonging to the International Atomic Energy Agency have said. The Austrian Press Agency quoted an IAEA expert as saying that the uranium substances that Iran has produced at its Natanz enrichment facility have been carefully recorded and remote cameras have been installed to supervise part of the stockpile. ‘If the Iranians intend to transport these uranium substances to a secret location for further processing, the agency’s inspectors will find out,‘ he said. The expert added that ‘so far, Iran has carried out good cooperation with us in relevant verifications.’”

The French news agency AFP reported Sept. 20 that “Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei today denied the West's charge that Tehran aims to develop nuclear weapons under a covert program, insisting the Islamic Republic bans such activity. ‘They falsely accuse [Iran] of producing nuclear weapons. We fundamentally reject nuclear weapons and prohibit the production and the use of nuclear weapons,’ Khamenei said in a speech broadcast by state television. ‘They know themselves that it's not true ... but it is part of Iran-phobia policy that controls the behavior of these arrogant governments today.’”

In our view, Iran is no danger to Israel, the United States, or the Sunni Arab world. It wants to protect its revolution, independence and what it considers its precious Islamic Republic. The Ahmadinejad government and Ayatollah Khamenei fully understand that heavy U.S. sanctions are capable of causing extreme agony for the masses of its people and would lead to a weakening of the state. Tehran is also aware that if it produces one nuclear weapon it may be mercilessly attacked.

Iran’s leadership is not suicidal, and is well aware that if Tehran not only produced a weapon but actually launched a nuclear missile toward Israel, the massive retaliation from the U.S. and Israel would obliterate most of Iranian society, whether or not its weapon was deflected by the U.S. anti-missile system that the Obama Administration is now going to place aboard Navy ships in the Mediterranean. (President Bush wanted to deploy the system to Poland and the Czech Republic to threaten Russia, not to defend Europe against an Iranian attack. By moving the ABMs south, Obama achieved two objectives: He got Russia off his back, while assuring Israel of yet another layer of U.S. protection.)

For all its fiery international rhetoric, Iran’s leadership is essentially cautious, and its military intentions are defensive. The country hasn’t started a war in almost 200 years, and the Iranian people have no desire to replicate the horror of the defensive war they waged against the Iraqi aggressor for most of the 1980s.

Developing nuclear weapons in today’s world makes a country a recognized power, and is a great defense against imperial aggression, particularly for a country that has long been on Washington’s hit list and narrowly avoided an invasion during the Bush years.

But we believe that Iran — even if it knows how to produce a nuclear bomb — will not weaponize because it wishes to demonstrate its adherence to the Non-Proliferation Treaty, and because it desires to survive the hostility of America and Israel. At the same time, Iran does not intend to be humiliated and hampered by hugely excessive restrictions and intrusive surveillance that is not applied to other countries in compliance with the NPT. Nor does it intend to turn tail because of threats from those who object to its support of the Palestinian people and its opposition to imperialism.

If the United States genuinely wishes to resolve its dispute with Iran, it is possible to do so rationally and without violence. But this means President Obama must treat Iran as an equal, accept the reality that Tehran and Washington see the world differently, and negotiate in good faith.

Most Americans and virtually the rest of the world have high hopes about Obama, especially after the dreadful Bush Administration. We certainly recognize the improvement, but have doubts, not high hopes, when it comes to the direction of American foreign policy. We see little difference, other than the cosmetic, between the Obama Administration’s international strategy and the strategy of American global domination and hegemony based on military power that has prevailed in Washington in its present incarnation since the end of World War II.

We’d like nothing better than to be proven wrong. But that would take the development of a massive progressive movement in this country, focused in this instance on world peace, the equality of peoples, and justice for all, a not unreasonable goal worth struggling for, in our view. And as far as nuclear proliferation is concerned, the only true solution is total nuclear disarmament, a position, by the way, that Iran appears to be putting forth these days.


Jack A. Smith is editor of the Activist Newsletter and a former editor of the Guardian (US) radical newsweekly.


6 comments on this article so far ...

  1. Michael Kenny said on September 28th, 2009 at 9:57am 

    Sticks and stones will break your bones but words will never hurt you! “Thunderous crtiticsm” is right! That’s all there’s going to be! With this plant inside a mountain, (and near a religious shrine!) there’s no way it can now be attacked. The time for an attack was when it was being built: the construction work could have been disrupted. The fact that that was not done indicates that neither the US nor Israel has now, and probably never has had, the slightest intention of launching a military attack against Iran. Iran called the US and Israeli bluff. And won!

  2. Ismail Zayid said on September 28th, 2009 at 11:25am 

    Preident Obama says: “Iran is breaking rules that all nations must follow.”
    Evidently, he means all nations except Israel. As we all know Israel refuses to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, and holds hundreds of nuclear weapons, but there is no whisper on this os coming from President Obama or his British, French, German or Canadian allies.
    Evidently, Israel is above international law.

  3. David said on September 28th, 2009 at 11:42am 

    Israel’s Dimona Nuclear Weapons Factory In 3D

    http://www.youtube.com/watch? v=bbjgDERSuiI&feature

    For the record: “For the first time in 18 years, Israel, the United States and the Western powers were unsuccessful at preventing passage of a resolution calling on Israel to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. The resolution, passed at the end of the annual general assembly of the International Atomic Energy Agency [IAEA] in Vienna on Thursday, also demands that Israel open its nuclear reactor in Dimona to international inspectors. ” (Yossi Melman, Ha’aretz, 22 Sept. 2009)

    If Israel refuses to comply, will the US, Britain, Canada, France, et al. call for strict sanctions against Israel as they have against Iran, or will they maintain the double standard? I think we know the answer.

  4. eileen fleming said on September 28th, 2009 at 12:10pm

    Obama says, “Iran is breaking rules that all nations must follow … and threatening the stability and security of the region and the world…is going to lead to confrontation.”

    How about Obama confront Israel on their still un-inspected WMD Facility that everyone in the world knows all about-except most Americans?

    In 2005, 2006 interviews Mordechai Vanunu told me:

    “The Israelis have 200 atomic weapons and they accuse the Palestinians and Muslims of terrorism. The Dimona is 46 years old; reactors last 25 to 30 years. The Dimona has never been inspected and Israel has never signed the Nuclear Proliferation Treaty but all the Arab states have.

    “Twenty years ago when I worked there they only produced when the air was blowing towards Jordan ten miles away. No one knows what is happening now. The world needs to wake up and see the real terrorism is the occupation and the Palestinians have lived under that terror regime for 40 years.

    “It’s very sad that Hilary Clinton went to the Jewish Wailing Wall and forgot the real crying wall is the Palestinian wall; the apartheid wall, the wall is not for defense, but to keep this conflict permanent.

    “Israel is only a democracy if you are a Jew.”

    How about Obama confront Peres on what he said in 1963?

    Shimon Peres, then Israel’s Deputy Minister of Defense met with President John Kennedy, inside the White House.

    Kennedy told Peres, “You know that we follow very closely the discovery of any nuclear development in the region. This could create a very dangerous situation. For this reason we monitor your nuclear effort. What could you tell me about this?”

    Peres repLIED, “I can tell you most clearly that we will not introduce nuclear weapons to the region, and certainly we will not be the first.”

    By September of 1986, Peres was convulsing over Vanunu, who had been employed as a lowly tech in his progeny; Israel’s clandestine underground nuclear weapons centre in the Negev called the Dimona.

    Peres ordered the Mossad, to “Bring the son of a bitch back here.”

    Peres ordered Vanunu’s kidnapping that included a clubbing, drugging and being flung upon an Israeli cargo boat back to Israel for a closed door trial that led to 18 years in jail-most all in solitary.

    In 1985, before quitting the Dimona, Vanunu shot 56 photos of the top-secret labs and production processes that proved Israel had become a major nuclear power by stockpiling between 100 and 200 atomic bombs within the underground WMD facility where plutonium production, and secret nuclear weapons were assembled without any knowledge, debate or authorization from its own citizens.

    How about Obama confronts what Vanunu told me in 2005:

    “Did you know that President Kennedy tried to stop Israel from building atomic weapons? In 1963, he forced Prime Minister Ben Guirion to admit the Dimona was not a textile plant, as the sign outside proclaimed, but a nuclear plant. The Prime Minister said, ‘The nuclear reactor is only for peace.’

    “Kennedy insisted on an open internal inspection. He wrote letters demanding that Ben Guirion open up the Dimona for inspection.

    “The French were responsible for the actual building of the Dimona. The Germans gave the money; they were feeling guilty for the Holocaust, and tried to pay their way out. Everything inside was written in French, when I was there, almost twenty years ago.

    “Back then, the Dimona descended seven floors underground. In 1955, Perez and Guirion met with the French to agree they would get a nuclear reactor if they fought against Egypt to control the Sinai and Suez Canal. That was the war of 1956. Eisenhower demanded that Israel leave the Sinai, but the reactor plant deal continued on.

    “When Johnson became president, he made an agreement with Israel that two senators would come every year to inspect. Before the senators would visit, the Israelis would build a wall to block the underground elevators and stairways. From 1963 to ’69, the senators came, but they never knew about the wall that hid the rest of the Dimona from them.

    “Nixon stopped the inspections and agreed to ignore the situation. As a result, Israel increased production. In 1986, there were over two hundred bombs. Today, they may have enough plutonium for ten bombs a year.”

    How about Obama recall his promise in Prague:

    “As the only nuclear power to have used a nuclear weapon, the United States has a moral responsibility to act…When we fail to pursue peace, then it stays forever beyond our grasp. We know the path when we choose fear over hope. To denounce or shrug off a call for cooperation is an easy but also cowardly thing to do. That’s how wars begin. That’s where human progress ends…the voices of peace and progress must be raised together…Human destiny will be what we make of it…Words must mean something.”

  5. Shabnam said on September 28th, 2009 at 1:20pm 

    “Kennedy insisted on an open internal inspection. He wrote letters demanding that Ben Guirion open up the Dimona for inspection. “

    This is the reason behind John Kennedy assassination according to Mordechai Vanunu who told the world that:

    [On July 26, 2004 he made headlines in much of the free world press: “Vanunu: Israel behind JKF assassination.” Vanunu found out that Israel had got John F Kennedy assassinated because he had started coercing Israel into shedding light on their Dimona nuclear plant. It was not racist killing as the world was made to believe. Kennedy had sent troops to guard a college where black students were given admission.]

    {In 1955, Perez and Guirion met with the French to agree they would get a nuclear reactor if they fought against Egypt to control the Sinai and Suez Canal. That was the war of 1956. Eisenhower demanded that Israel leave the Sinai, but the reactor plant deal continued on.}

    That was 1959 and different kind of American LEADER was in the White House. Nowadays, especially since the Clinton Administration the Zionist Jews in occupied Palestine, through their fifth column in Washington, have managed to run the foreign policy in the Middle East and North Africa to expand their influence throughout the region by waging wars against Muslims through PROXY. Now, the new protocol of elders, ODID YINON ‘Israel’s strategy in the 1980s’ is used by their puppets in Washington and elsewhere, including OBAMA, to destabilize and partition the regional countries similar to what British Empire and French Empire did in the Middle East during the WWI with the cooperation of their AGENTS, the Zionist Jews in Salonika, to manufacture CRISIS and partition the Ottoman’s territory to get their dirty hands on Palestine where the Ottoman ruler, Abdulhamid, refused earlier to allow zionists under the leadership of Herzl to establish a ‘jewish state’ for the colonists who have NEITHER ANY RELATIONS with THE INDIGENOUS HEBREWS OR the land itself, PALESTINE.

  6. russell olausen said on September 28th, 2009 at 7:48pm

    My whole life has been lived under nuclear threat and any of you would have to be at least 65 to state any differently. This ghastly fact has now infiltrated common morality not to mention political morality. It is only right that the most brilliant men could have produced this legacy. This is acid on the face of those that throw earth legacy as guilt to the common man. I believe a religious man made the comment, we live in a cult of death. I could not agree more. One hopes the recent fever goes down without the medicine of global slavery witch the current snake oil vendors are peddling.



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