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Avoiding a War with Iran

Mike Whitney

iran-target200[1].jpeg

January 18, 2006

The march to war with Iran is continuing apace despite skyrocketing gold prices, a jittery oil market, and the unrelenting chaos in nearby Iraq.

Are we surprised?

The control of Middle East oil has always been a central part of the neocon strategy for global domination. That won’t change.

The toppling of Iran’s theocratic regime would consolidate dwindling resources under the stars and stripes and guarantee continued supremacy of US financial institutions, American energy giants, and the faltering greenback. Additionally, it would defang a potential rival to an emergent Israel, which sees itself as the prevailing power in the region.

Game; set; match!

There have been many signs that war is imminent, perhaps, none as convincing as the unexpected announcement last year that both General Electric and Halliburton were picking up stakes and leaving Iran.

Is Halliburton normally that squeamish about ethical issues related to trading with nations boycotted by the US?

The recess appointment of mad-hatter John Bolton as ambassador to the UN was another indication that Washington was on the warpath. The fiery Bolton was "back-doored" into his position against the strong dissent of Democratic senators for one reason alone; to bully the Security Council into another preemptive war. He hasn’t disappointed.

Just yesterday, Bolton lashed out in one of his familiar tirades saying, "This will be a test for the Council, and appropriately so, because the Iranian pursuit of nuclear weapons and ballistic missile delivery systems threatens their region and threatens the world as a whole."

Whoa!

No one except Bolton and his neocon friends in the hard-right think-tanks have made such unsupportable allegations. Could it be that the whole nuclear weapons issue is just a convenient pretext for war?

Could it be (as the Downing Street Memo avers) that the "facts and intelligence are being fixed around the policy"?

Condoleezza Rice has added her voice to the chorus of right-wing pundits and politicos who want to expand the war in the Middle East. Just yesterday she said, "We’ve got to finally demonstrate to Iran that it can’t with impunity just cast aside the just demands of the international community." Then she added ominously, "(The president) always keeps all his options open."

The "demands of the international community" never factor in to the decision making process at the Bush White House; nor do the facts. As yet, there’s no concrete proof that Iran is in violation of its treaty requirements under the terms of the NPT (Nonproliferation Treaty). The case before the IAEA is a feeble rehashing of breaches that date back more than 2 years. Since then, Iran has been under the strictest inspection regimen ever devised by the watchdog agency.

The results have shown no evidence that Iran has a nuclear weapons program; as IAEA Chief Mohamed ElBaradei said, "We don’t see a clear and present danger".

This is bad news for the war-mongers.

Given the sketchiness of the allegations, it’s looking increasingly uncertain that the case will go beyond the IAEA to the UN Security Council. However, one should never underestimate the persuasive powers of the Bush diplomatic team.

Presently, the US, Britain and Israel are pushing hard to have the case referred to the UN-5, (the 5 permanent members of the Security Council) but Russia and China are understandably reluctant. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov was unwilling to even discuss sanctions on Iran saying, "Sanctions are not the best way to solve international problems"; dismissing the suggestion as "putting the cart before the horse."

Chinese Foreign Minister Kong Quan was equally hesitant to support any move that would bring Iran before the Council saying, "We think the most urgent thing for all the parties now is to still keep patient and make the utmost efforts to resume the negotiations between the EU-3 and Iran".

Never the less, the Bush administration believes it can garner the necessary votes to bring Iran before the Security Council and, perhaps, win support for punitive action.

The European allies remain deeply skeptical. After all, Europe and China depend heavily on Iranian oil and natural gas. (China imports 17% of its oil from Iran) So, any major disruption of supplies or closing down of the Straights of Hormuz would have a catastrophic effect on their economies.

In a worrisome article in the Christian Science Monitor, "On Iran, the West looks for a Plan" reporter Howard LaFranchi notes, "For some experts the time is ripe to prepare the world economy for living without Iranian oil—by developing pipelines in the oil-rich Gulf region to circumvent Iran-dominated transport routes"…."countries should take steps now to ease the burden of future moves".

"If you’re not prepared to do this", says Henry Sokolski, executive director of the Nonproliferation Policy Education Center of Washington, "you’re not going to do very much."

"Living without Iranian oil"?!?

This shows us how grave the situation really is, and how the administration and Israel may be willing to disrupt the global economy and sent oil prices shooting through the ceiling to achieve there mutual objectives.

Still, there’s the nettlesome problem of whether Iran is guilty of the breaches in the NPT for which it stands accused. It could be that the administration is simply wrong as it was about Iraq.

It’s also worth considering that the mere existence of WMD cannot be considered a legitimate rationale for aggression; a point that now seems to be an article of faith among liberals and conservatives alike. The possession of WMD neither proves "intention" nor "imminent threat". If the production of WMD legitimized preemptive action, than the United States would be a justifiable target for every other nation in the world.

In Iran’s case, we have no evidence of a nuclear weapons program or of non-compliance. Rather, we have the Bush administration asking its allies to deprive Iran of its "inalienable rights" under the NPT; to enrich uranium for peaceful purposes.

Nuclear weapons expert Gordon Prather points out the flaws in the administration’s position when he repeats the comments of Iran’s Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi in his recent article "What Noncompliance?"

Kharrazi says:

"The 'inalienable right’ of states to develop nuclear technology for peaceful purposes emanates from the universally accepted proposition that scientific and technological achievements are the common heritage of mankind…. It is unacceptable that 'some’ intend to limit the access to peaceful nuclear technology to an exclusive club of technologically advanced states under the pretext of 'nonproliferation’. This attitude is in clear violation of the letter and spirit of the treaty and destroys the fundamental balance which exists between the rights and obligations in the treaty."

"Scientific …achievements are the common heritage of mankind."

Amen.

Neither the United States nor the world community has the right to deprive Iran of the peaceful use of nuclear technology.

The United Nations should be looking for ways to strengthen the existing treaty and avert an impending war.

As Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov opined, "Our common goal is to ensure the viability of the nuclear nonproliferation regime. If we all strive for this main goal, we will be able to find a collective approach to solving this issue."


Courtesy and Copyright © Mike Whitney


:: Article nr. 19723 sent on 19-jan-2006 00:41 ECT

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