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The Countdown to War with Iran

Mike Whitney

1802063_afp300iran.jpg

January 12, 2006

Iran must defend itself if it is attacked by the United States or Israel.

Defending one’s country against unprovoked aggression is sanctioned under international law and is a requirement of true leadership. We would expect no different if either the United States or Israel was attacked.

The Sharon and Bush administrations’ have done an admirable job of poisoning public opinion against Iran; interpreting President Ahmadinejad’s comments as a potential danger to Israel’s welfare. But such statements, however offensive, are commonplace in the Middle East and cannot be construed as a credible threat.

The media has assumed its traditional role of defending American and Israeli aggression against peaceful nations by providing ample space for the spurious allegations of administration officials, right-wing pundits, and disgruntled Iranian exiles, while carefully omitting the relevant facts in Iran’s defense.

There is no evidence that Iran has a nuclear weapons program.

None.

Not even George Bush would make that claim.

There’s also no evidence that Iran has the centrifuges necessary to enrich uranium to weapons-grade material, but the reader is not likely to find that crucial fact in the 2,500 articles written on the current "crisis".

IAEA chief Mohammed Elbaradei has repeatedly stated that his team of inspectors, who’ve had the opportunity to "go anywhere and see anything", has found nothing to corroborate the assertions of the US or Israel.

On the other hand, we know that the US has developed a new regime of low-yield "usable" nuclear weapons to destroy underground bunkers. We also know that the militarists in the Pentagon have threatened to use nuclear weapons in a "first strike" preemptive attack, and that the main players in the Defense Dept. unanimously believe that nuclear weapons should be used as part of America’s strategy for global security.

Iran claims that developing nuclear weapons runs counter to their religious beliefs, while the Bush administration (as per the Nuclear Posture review) believes that nuclear weapons are an integral part of the war on terror. Rumsfeld has even shaken up the Pentagon to further surround himself with like-minded people who support this basic thesis.

Perhaps, our fear of Iran is misplaced?

Presently, the administration is trying to bring Iran before the UN Security Council for violations that date back more than 2 years. Since then, there have been no violations and Iran has willingly complied with strict enforcement of its treaty obligations under the NPT (Nuclear Proliferation Treaty) as well as other "confidence-building" measures which it freely accepted as a sign of good-will.

As always, the New York Times has spearheaded the propaganda war with an article by Richard Bernstein and Steven Weisman which lays out the sketchy case against Iran. In the first paragraph the Bernstein-Weisman combo suggest that Iran has restarted "research that could give it technology to create nuclear weapons."

Nuclear weapons?

Perhaps, the NY Times knows something that the IAEA inspectors don’t? If so, they should step forward and reveal the facts. More likely, however, they are simply following in the tradition of mentor Judith Miller whose scurrilous front-pages articles misled the nation to war with Iraq.

In truth, Iran is fully entitled to enrich uranium under the terms of the NPT and has agreed to do so in a manner that is consistent with the strict rules of the IAEA. Iran will not, however, give up its "inalienable right" to convert fuel for peaceful purposes, such as for use in nuclear power plants. The conversion process takes place in front of IAEA inspectors and cameras that are set up to film the entire procedure. If there is not complete transparency then the IAEA is required to report it to the UN Security Council for punitive action. (Israel, Pakistan and India all avoided this regimen and developed nuclear weapons secretly)

Britain’s Foreign Minister Jack Straw, who played such a critical role in disseminating the lies that preceded the Iraq war, has been equally disingenuous regarding Iran.

"For two and a half years, we’ve been working with Iran and the rest of the international community to bring Iran into compliance with its very clear obligations not to do anything that leads to suspicions they are developing a nuclear weapons capability."

Straw knows, of course, that Iran has not violated its treaty obligations for over two years and has been in FULL COMPLIANCE since then. His statement only confirms what reasonable people already know; Washington wants another war.

The Bush administration knows that there’s no hope of passing a Security Council resolution for sanctions against Iran. Neither Russia nor China would agree to penalties nor is there any proof of wrongdoing. The case will simply be used to increase public suspicion and fear while Israel-Washington put the final touches on their battle plans.

It is worth noting, however, that Iran will be attacked without a shred of evidence that they have nuclear weapons, a nuclear weapons program, or even a long-range plan for hostilities against the US or Israel. In other words, they are completely innocent.

Now that the administration has abandoned the internationally recognized benchmark of an "imminent threat", it has also disposed of any other reasonable claim to justify unprovoked aggression. Iran will be attacked without pretext and without congressional or UN authorization invoking the executive authority to prosecute the war on terror by "all necessary and appropriate means".

The determination to attack Iran goes back more than a decade to now famous policy documents (PNAC) which support the idea of integrating Iranian resources into the global system while eliminating potential adversaries of Israel in the region. This first phase is intended to defang the regime and leave it vulnerable to future invasion or regime change.

The forthcoming attack will unfold as surgical strikes by Israel on perhaps as many as 12 facilities and weapons sites. Both Israel and the US have sent a clear message to Iran via their surrogates in the press that retaliation will escalate quickly to nuclear war. In fact, the Pentagon hawks may desire such a conflict to deter future adversaries in Latin America and Asia.

If Iran does respond in force, there’s no telling how things will develop. The markets could nosedive, the dollar could fall precipitously, and vital oil shipments could be indefinitely disrupted. (Read the business page and see how jittery many analysts are) If the conflagration goes nuclear, then we can expect that China, Russia and Venezuela will take firm steps to demonstrate their disapproval. Oil shipments from Venezuela may be curtailed while China is likely to stage a sell-off of its $769 billion foreign-exchange. Either way, there will be a hefty price to pay for Washington’s recklessness.

Whatever the cost, the attack will be carried out sometime on or before March 2006 when Iran plans to open its new oil bourse. The new exchange which directly challenges the continued dominance of the greenback in the oil trade (the largest commodity trade in the world) poses an "existential threat" to the well-being of western financial institutions and elites.

Beyond the media subterfuge of "nuclear weapons" and "non-compliance", the empire is marching resolutely to war; voluntarily risking nuclear holocaust to preserve the system of privilege and concentrated wealth.

Courtesy and Copyright © Mike Whitney


:: Article nr. 19560 sent on 13-jan-2006 01:21 ECT

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