| Exploding the Myth of the Iranian Bomb!

Exploding the Myth of the Iranian Bomb ~ Tim Black 

How much evidence is there that Iran is developing deadly WMDs, as Western leaders constantly claim? Not much at all. None, in fact.

Upon his presidential election victory in 2008, Barack Obama received a congratulatory letter from the Iranian president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Obama’s response was not exactly gracious. ‘Let me repeat and state what I stated during the course of the campaign’, he told the international media, ‘Iran’s development of a nuclear weapon, I believe, is unacceptable. We have to mount an international effort to prevent that from happening.’

They have proved to be telling words. Over the past few years, the international obsession with stopping Iran from building its very own nuclear weapon appears to have developed an almost internal dynamic quite apart from what the Iranian government may or may not be doing. In battling Iran’s aspiration towards nuclear warheads, real or not, Western leaders seem to have found a cause, a Good Fight. If Iran’s nuclear ambition didn’t exist, you get the feeling that Western governments would be only too happy to invent it. Which, in part, they may have done.

Take Obama’s speech from July 2010, when he announced yet further sanctions against Iran: ‘We are striking at the heart of the Iranian government’s ability to fund and develop its nuclear programme. We’re showing the Iranian government that its actions have consequences. And if it persists, the pressure will continue to mount, and its isolation will continue to deepen. There should be no doubt – the United States and the international community are determined to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons.’

Or take French president Nicolas Sarkozy speaking in August 2011: ‘Iran’s military nuclear and ballistic ambitions constitute a growing threat that may lead to a preventive attack against Iranian sites.’ And just this weekend, the UK foreign secretary William Hague was similarly angered by Iran’s apparent attempt to build a nuclear weapon, calling it ‘the most serious round of nuclear proliferation since nuclear weapons were invented’. Talking of the onset of a ‘new Cold War in the Middle East without necessarily all the safety mechanisms’, Hague described Iran’s intentions as ‘a disaster in world affairs’.

It has not just been fearful, bellicose rhetoric either. In November last year, the US decided to add to its raft of 30-year-old sanctions by imposing new measures against non-Iranian companies that may merely have aided Iran’s oil and petrochemical companies, while the UK and Canada were busy ordering all financial institutions to stop doing business with their Iranian counterparts. Not wanting to miss out, the EU announced its own list of punishments against Iran in January, including an oil embargo. Given that the EU constitutes nearly 20 per cent of Iran’s oil export market, this will hit Iran’s oil-dependent economy, not to mention the lives of millions of ordinary Iranians, very hard indeed.

So what’s driving this obsession, exactly? Evidence of a clear and present danger? Proof of nefarious intent? Well, no, not really. Hence when US secretary of defence Leon Panetta was asked last month whether Iran was actually trying to develop a nuclear weapon, he responded in unambiguously ambiguous terms: ‘No. But we know that they’re trying to develop a nuclear capability.’ A nuclear capability? This, as it turns out, is not exactly a threat to world peace. In fact, it goes hand-in-hand with the development of nuclear power as a civilian energy source. As Yousaf Butt explains in Foreign Policy magazine, any country with a civilian nuclear sector has, ‘by default’, a nuclear capability. In fact, in Panetta’s terms, Iran is doing no more than what Brazil or Argentina are also doing by developing a civilian nuclear sector – and both Brazil and Argentina, like Iran, do not permit full International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspections.

But what of the IAEA report published in November which, in the words of the US State Department, claimed to show that Iran ‘has carried out activities relevant to the development of a nuclear explosive device’? Again, firm evidence, let alone a smoking gun, was found wanting. As Seymour Hersh pointed out in the New Yorker, the report, aside from a few computer-modelled predictions, drew on virtually no post-2003 intelligence. In fact, its main source of information was a stolen laptop of dubious, possibly Israeli provenance. Little wonder that at a Senate hearing this month, the director of US national intelligence, James R Clapper, admitted that he was not convinced that Iran was trying to build a nuclear weapon. ‘There are certain things they have not yet done and have not done for some time’, he said, in an allusion to the specific steps necessary to prepare a nuclear device.

All of this – the lack of evidence, the lack of knowledge – lends the Western obsession with Iran’s supposed dream of a nuclear arsenal an unreal air. It seems to have less to do with Iran itself, than with the existential needs of Western leaders desperate for a way in which to demonstrate their moral authority on a global stage. And what better way to do this than by chastising the pantomime villain of Iran, a one-time member of Obama’s predecessor’s ‘axis of evil’.

In many ways, this should not be a surprise. The obsession with who can have nuclear weapons and who cannot, institutionalised in the international Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) in the late 1960s, was always informed by an attempt to justify and maintain the global divide between the West and the rest. Back then, with anti-colonial movements in Africa and Asia having cast off their imperial fetters, and many in the West itself questioning the rectitude of older racial notions of Empire, a new non-racial framework was sought to justify Western superiority. So it was that in this context of a withered colonialism that the NPT acquired its original meaning. It helped to reframe the global order in terms of responsible states and fragile, unstable states, between the militarily responsible and the militarily unpredictable.

Whether consciously or not, Obama’s administration drew upon the idea of non-proliferation as a source of international moral authority right from the start of his presidency. In spring 2009, for instance, Obama set out his ‘agenda to seek the goal of a world without nuclear weapons’ to much media fanfare. We were told that the US had a ‘mission’, a ‘moral responsibility’, to rid the world of the nuclear threat. And then at the Nuclear Security Summit the following year, 46 world leaders joined Obama to sign up to new commitments to nuclear non-proliferation and to share in the US-forged dream of a ‘world without nuclear weapons’.

Iran’s current status as No.1 threat to world peace owes much to this US-led, Western focus on non-proliferation. Iran has provided the likes of Obama, Cameron and Sarkozy with the morally irresponsible Other against which they can affirm their own moral authority, as the responsible possessors of nuclear weapons. This is the key dynamic driving the increasingly hysterical attitude towards Iran’s nuclear programme: a quest for moral authority on the international stage, not Iran’s putative quest for a really powerful bomb. And so they keep sending in IAEA inspectors to demonstrate their role as the world’s moral guardians. And so, in turn, the Iranian authorities resent the inspectors’ presence, as shown this week by the IAEA inspectorate’s non-admission to particular sites.

Not that Iran’s rulers have not played their part in this surreal, rapidly escalating conflict. Just as Obama et al are keen to use nuclear non-proliferation as a means to demonstrate Western powers’ moral superiority, so the Iranian government is keen to use its nuclear-power programme as proof both of its own strength and its refusal to kowtow before meddling Westerners. Hence, the state unveiling on Iranian national TV of some new uranium enrichment centrifuges. Ahmadinejad’s speech on live TV showed that he was less interested in nuclear technology than in defying those foreign states that pose as his betters: ‘The era of bullying nations has passed. The arrogant powers cannot monopolise nuclear technology. They tried to prevent us by issuing sanctions and resolutions but failed… our nuclear path will continue.’

There is one thing worth remembering throughout all this posing and counter-posturing over nuclear weapons: to this day, there remains only one country that has ever deployed a nuclear weapon against a civilian population. And it is not Iran.

 

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Watch what happens when 28-year-old Cpl. Jesse Thorsen touches a neuralgic nerve by warning against nitpicking wars and by suggesting that Israel can take care of itself. LOL!


 

 

 

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| Buy oil, pay in any currency: Iran presses ahead with dollar attack!

Iran presses ahead with dollar attack

Last week, the Tehran Times noted that the Iranian oil bourse will start trading oil in currencies other than the dollar from March 20. This long-planned move is part of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s vision of economic war with the west.

 

Iran presses ahead with dollar attack

Iran has the third-largest oil reserves and pricing oil in currencies other than dollars is a provocative move aimed at the US. 

9:00PM GMT 12 Feb 2012.

“The dispute over Iran’s nuclear programme is nothing more than a convenient excuse for the US to use threats to protect the ‘reserve currency’ status of the dollar,” the newspaper, which calls itself the voice of the Islamic Revolution, said.

“Recall that Saddam [Hussein] announced Iraq would no longer accept dollars for oil purchases in November 2000 and the US-Anglo invasion occurred in March 2003,” the Times continued. “Similarly, Iran opened its oil bourse in 2008, so it is a credit to Iranian negotiating ability that the ‘crisis’ has not come to a head long before now.”

Iran has the third-largest oil reserves in the world and pricing oil in currencies other than dollars is a provocative move aimed at Washington. If Iran switches to the non-dollar terms for its oil payments, there could be a new oil price that would be denominated in euro, yen or even the yuan or rupee.

India is already in talks with Iran over how it can pay for its oil in rupees.

Even more surprisingly, reports have suggested that India is even considering paying for its oil in gold bullion. However, it is more likely that the country will pay in rupees, a currency that is not freely convertible.

Last week, Indian state-owned group Hindustan Petroleum said that Indian businesses could not pay for Iranian crude imports in rupees unless the federal finance ministry exempted such payments from crippling withholding tax. This issue remains unresolved.

India and Iran have agreed – but not yet started – to settle 45pc of payments for Iranian oil in rupees. Iran will then use the currency to buy imports from India.

New Delhi currently spends about $12bn (£7.6bn) on Iranian oil each year, importing 12pc of the country’s needs from the country.

India pays for its oil in dollars, routed through a bank in Turkey after a previous mechanism was shut down in 2010. The Indian government has been resisting calls to stop importing oil from the pariah state.

“There have been problems with regard to Iran’s nuclear programme,” Manmohan Singh, India’s prime minister, said on Friday. “We sincerely believe that this issue can be and should be resolved by giving maximum scope to diplomacy.”

All of this means that the EU ban on Iranian oil imports, which comes into force on July 1, could hit Europe harder than it does Iran.

The country currently supplies 500,000 barrels of oil per day to the EU and there is a potential oil price spike in the offing should Iran pre-emptively stop the flow of oil to Europe, which it has threatened to do.

This could be disastrous to businesses that are already finding the economic climate tough.

“While Iran may be able to find markets for much of its oil output in Asia, the alternative sources of supply to Europe are still unclear,” Caroline Bain, a commodities analyst at the Economist Intelligence Unit, said.

“Until the supply outlook stabilises, the oil price is expected to continue to reflect this uncertainty rather than the likelihood of lower growth in global oil consumption in 2012.”

The worries are already sending ripples of concern around the world.

“While we have been listing the Iranian situation as a source of upside risk for a decade, there are some new factors that can make for a far more dangerous outcome, as the current drift of policy on both sides is creating the risk of a significant escalation,” Sudakshina Unnikrishnan, an analyst at Barclays Capital, said.

“Iran may close the Strait of Hormuz, causing an anticipated 50pc rise in crude oil prices, resulting in widespread economic havoc,” the Tehran Times columnist noted.

So the EU ban could be counter productive, as it keeps the oil price high. However, as long as President Ahmadinejad’s economic war doesn’t escalate into an actual war, we may manage to avoid a crippling oil spike.