The rhetoric coming from the US, British and Israeli governments is that all the sanctions being imposed are about bringing Iran to the negotiating table, because we supposedly could not risk the “threat” that Iran would pose if it developed nuclear weapons, despite the fact that not even the head of Mossad believes Iran would use nuclear weapons against Israel if it developed them.
(Map of US military bases and allies around Iran from The Peoples Voice blog)
Apart from US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta saying Iran is not currently developing a nuclear weapon ; and the fact that we’ve been being told Iran was about to develop a nuclear weapon for 20 years, including among many, many others, some CIA claims in 1992 and Israeli intelligence claims in 1995 that Iran would have them in 5 years and US State Department claims that they’d have one within 16 days in December 2006; not even the current head of Mossad thinks Iran would use nuclear weapons on Israel if it developed them (1) – (5).
Last month he told ambassadors that Iran developing nuclear weapons would not be an “existential threat” to Israel (6). Former US General John Abizaid, US Central Command (Middle East) commander under Bush agrees with Israeli military historian Martin Van Creveld that if Iran does develop nuclear weapons it will be as a deterrent against attack, not to launch nuclear Armageddon (7) – (8).
As Condoleezza Rice wrote in Foreign Affairs in 2000, before she began participating in war propaganda, ‘if they ["rogue states"]do acquire WMD, their weapons will be unusable because any attempt to use them will bring national obliteration’ (9).
This is certainly the case, as even if Iran wiped out Israel in a sudden nuclear strike (the supposed threat), it would then face either a counter-strike or a massive invasion from the US and it’s allies which no senior Ayatollahs or Revolutionary Guard commanders would survive.
The past decisions of the Ayatollahs and Revolutionary Guard commanders also show they don’t wish to commit national suicide. In 1988, fearing the US military was joining the Iran-Iraq war on Saddam’s side, they persuaded Khomeini to negotiate peace (10) – (11).
The issue can’t be democracy or “Iranian aggression” either, when our governments continue to support and sell arms to the Saudi monarchy whose troops have invaded Bahrain in British Aerospace Systems vehicles to ensure there are no concessions to democracy protesters; only jail, torture or death for them (12). Saudi forces killed their first ‘Arab Spring’ protester in their own country earlier this month (13). Bahrain and Saudi were still invited to arms fairs in London. Hyping up the Iranian “threat” may be helping boost western arms sales to the gulf emirates though.
The Iran “nuclear threat” is as phony as the Iraq “WMD threat”. Saddam was not prepared to risk nuclear retaliation or being overthrown by a US invasion by using WMD when he did have them, in 1991 , either. His chemical warheads for his scuds were never used in attacks on Israel or Kuwait – only conventional warheads. (14).
The current campaign of sanctions and ‘covert action’ including assassinations of Iranian nuclear scientists may well be designed to try to provoke Iran’s rulers into retaliation that can be used as a pretext for war (15) – (17).
The huge cost in lives of sanctions and war against non-existent threats
The story that sanctions or war will do less harm and carry less risks than maybe letting Iran get it’s own nuclear deterrent is the opposite of the truth. Sanctions on Iraq killed millions due to shortages of food and medicines, including over 500,000 children, according to the two heads of the sanctions programme who resigned in protest (18) – (19).
Iraq is now full of not only Al Qa’ida terrorists, but also US trained police commando and ‘counter terrorist’ death squads, ( modelled on the notorious ones trained by US forces in El Salvador in the 1980s), using the same torture methods as under Saddam – rape, electrocution, beatings, breaking bones, pulling out nails – and additionally kidnapping people to torture to extort money from their families (20) – (25). Arab Spring demonstrations against the government led to protesters being shot dead (26).
War on Iran would lead to the kind of chaos there has been in Iraq since the invasion (and the same massive increase in terrorism ) or the kind of chaotic civil war that is going into it’s second round already in Libya, as rebels imprison, torture or kill many thousands of people on suspicion based on the colour of their skin or what tribe they belong to, leading to renewed fighting in Bani Walid (27) – (29).
In Iraq, far from securing arms dumps or suspected WMD sites the US invasion and occupation allowed huge amounts of conventional weapons and ammunition, hundreds of tonnes of explosives and machinery which could potentially be used to make chemical weapons or nuclear components to be looted. Much of the conventional arms and explosives likely used by insurgents and terrorists afterwards (30) – (34).
In Libya Gaddafi’s armouries weren’t secured either in an “intervention” which supposedly “would not repeat the mistakes made in Iraq” - and Al Qa’ida may now have it’s hands on surface to air missiles as a result (35) – (36).
By far the most likely way terrorists could get their hands on nuclear material would be if Iran was collapsed into chaos by war or civil war, Iraq or Libya style. No government, religious (e.g Pakistani military, military fundamentalist since General Zia) or secular, democracy or dictatorship(e.g China and North Korea as one party states with nuclear weapons), has ever given WMDs to terrorist groups, because it would have lost control of incredibly dangerous weapons by doing so.
The threat of WMD attacks by terrorist groups is also greatly exaggerated though. Massive amounts of nuclear material went onto the black market when the Soviet Union collapsed in 1990 – and smaller amounts in the chaos in Iraq after the invasion. Yet no terrorist group has used any of this material in any attack in the 21 years since the USSR collapsed or the 8 years since the invasion of Iraq.
Same Old Lies – To the Same Old Tune ‘It’s different this time’
We’re seeing a re-run of the sanctions and UN resolutions on Iraq, on Iran – a combination of a means of weakening a country with a lot of oil reserves that won’t obey orders; and for show to say that we tried sanctions and diplomacy, but they didn’t work, so we have “no choice” but to go to war against a non-existent threat from a minor power. Iran is supposedly threatening Israel, the strongest military (and nuclear) power in the Middle East, which has the greatest military and nuclear power in the world (the US) as it’s ally, plus the rest of NATO (the UK, France, Germany, Australia, Canada), by getting it’s own nuclear deterrent to deter those powers from attacking it (37).
Of course it also provides a useful distraction from mass unemployment, made worse by austerity policies at home, which take jobs and benefit money from the majority, the poor, the disabled and the unemployed, but never result in an end of government subsidies for the wealthiest or arms companies.
Whether Iran is actually developing nuclear weapons or not does not matter to the Israeli or US or British governments, let alone whether they would actually use them or not.
With Iraq we were told that if it allowed inspections and disarmament, there would be no war. In fact when UNMOVIC head Hans Blix reported twice to the UN Security Council that weapons inspectors that they were making more and more progress in destroying what little WMD remained (relatively small quantities of nerve gas and chemical mortar rounds) along with destroying those of Saddam’s missiles which had a range of over 150 kilometres (38) – (39).
Bush invaded anyway, because whether Saddam had WMDs and whether he would use them were only ever pretexts designed to fool the gullible and those who wanted to believe their country and it’s government must be in the right.
Will we really fall for exactly the same lies twice, played to the same old tune of ‘it’s different this time’?
(1) = USA Today 08 Jan 2012 ‘Panetta: Iran not building bombs yet’,http://www.usatoday.com/news/world/story/2012-01-08/iran-nuclear-weapons/52451620/1
(2) = NYT 21 Aug 2004 ‘Sharon on the warpath : Is Israel planning to attack Iran?’ by Martin Van Creveld, http://www.nytimes.com/2004/08/21/opinion/21iht-edcreveld_ed3_.html ‘On the other hand, the claim that Iran is working on nuclear weapons and would have them within three years has now been floating about for almost a decade and a half and, so far, has always proved false.’
(3) = Forward (Jewish Daily) 19 Aug 2009 ‘With Each New Assessment, Iran’s Nuclear Clock Is Reset’http://www.forward.com/articles/112468/ , ‘The senior Israeli official’s tone was dire. In only a few years, the Iranians would be ready to launch a nuclear bomb. He minced no words. “If Iran is not interrupted in this program by some foreign power, it will have the device in more or less five years.”......The year this apocalyptic prediction was made: 1995. …. In 1992, Robert Gates, then director of the CIA, pointedly upended conventional thinking about Iran’s nuclear progress when he gave a much shorter time span for attainment of the bomb. “Is it a problem today?” he asked at the time, “probably not. But three, four, five years from now it could be a serious problem.”’
(4) = Bloomberg 12 Apr 2006 ‘Iran Could Produce Nuclear Bomb in 16 Days, U.S. Says (Update2)’, http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=newsarchive&sid=aduNTcpDuDd4&refer=germany
(5) = Haaretz (Israel) 29 Dec 2011 ‘Mossad chief: Nuclear Iran not necessarily existential threat to Israel’, http://www.haaretz.com/print-edition/news/mossad-chief-nuclear-iran-not-necessarily-existential-threat-to-israel-1.404227
(6) = Israel National News 29 Dec 2011 ‘Mossad Chief: Nuclear Iran Not an Existential Threat’,http://www.haaretz.com/print-edition/news/mossad-chief-nuclear-iran-not-necessarily-existential-threat-to-israel-1.404227
(7) = CNN 18 Jun 2007 ‘Retired general: U.S. can live with a nuclear Iran’, http://articles.cnn.com/2007-09-18/world/france.iran_1_nuclear-weapon-nuclear-program-nuclear-fuel?_s=PM:WORLD
(8) = Forward (Jewish Daily) 24 Sep 2007 ‘The World Can Live With a Nuclear Iran’ by Martin Van Creveld, http://www.forward.com/articles/11673/#ixzz1kQQdA2qR
(9) = Rice, Condoleeza (2000) in Foreign Affairs January/February 2000‘ - 'Campaign 2000: Promoting the National Interest' http://www.foreignaffairs.org/20000101faessay5-p50/condoleezza-rice/campaign-2000-promoting-the-national-interest.html - cited in Chomsky, Noam (2003) 'Hegemony or Survival' , Penguin Books , London & NY 2004, pages 34 & 260 citing Mearsheimer, John & Walt, Stephen (2003) in Foreign Policy Jan/Feb 2003
(10) = Takeyh, Ray (2006), ‘Hidden Iran - Paradox and Power in the Islamic Republic, Times Books, New York, 2006 , pages 170-174
(11) = Pollack, Kenneth M.(2004), ‘The Persian Puzzle', Random House, New York, 2005 paperback edition, pages 231-233
(12) = Financial Times (ft.com) 12 Sep 2011 ‘Bahrain and Saudi offered slots at arms fair’, http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/65a7634e-dd27-11e0-b4f2-00144feabdc0.html#axzz1kQT7iY9p ‘Bahrain and Saudi Arabia have both been invited to the UK’s largest arms fair this week, in spite of the two countries’ roles in suppressing pro-democracy movements earlier this year…..This year Saudi Arabia used Tactica armoured vehicles made by BAE to send its National Guard into Bahrain to suppress pro-democracy protests.’
(13) = BBC News 13 Jan 2012 ‘ Shia protester 'shot dead' in Saudi Arabia’, http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-16543013 ‘At least one person has been killed and three others injured in clashes between security forces and Shia protesters in eastern Saudi Arabia, activists say.Issam Mohammed, 22, reportedly died when troops fired live ammunition after demonstrators threw stones at them in al-Awamiya, a town in the Qatif region.’
(14) = Nye , Joseph S. & Smith , Robert K. (1992), ‘After the Storm, Madison Books , London , 1992 , hardback edition, pages 211-216
(15) = BBC News 11 Jan 2012 ‘Iran car explosion kills nuclear scientist in Tehran’, http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-16501566
(16) = guardian.co.uk 11 Jan 2012 ‘Iran nuclear scientist killed in Tehran motorbike bomb attack’, http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/jan/11/iran-nuclear-scientist-killed
(17) = Haaretz (Israel) 29 Dec 2011 ‘Mossad chief: Nuclear Iran not necessarily existential threat to Israel’, http://www.haaretz.com/print-edition/news/mossad-chief-nuclear-iran-not-necessarily-existential-threat-to-israel-1.404227 ‘According to three ambassadors present at the briefing, the intelligence chief said that Israel was using various means to foil Iran's nuclear program and would continue to do so, but if Iran actually obtained nuclear weapons, it would not mean the destruction of the State of Israel.’
(18) = BBC News 30 Sep 1998 ‘UN official blasts Iraq sanctions’, http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/183499.stm
(19) = Guardian 29 Nov 2001 ‘The hostage nation’, http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2001/nov/29/iraq.comment
(20) = NYT magazine 01 May 2005 ‘the way of the commandos’, http://www.nytimes.com/2005/05/01/magazine/01ARMY.html
(21) = The Nation 22 Jun 2009 ‘Iraq's New Death Squad’, http://www.thenation.com/article/iraqs-new-death-squad
(22) = BBC News 27 Jan 2005 'Salvador Option' mooted for Iraq’, http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/4209595.stm
(23) = Times 08 Aug 2005 ‘West turns blind eye as police put Saddam's torturers back to work’, http://www.infowars.com/articles/iraq/west_turns_blind_eye_saddams_torturers_at_work.htm
(24) = Amnesty International Annual Report 2011 – Iran,http://www.amnesty.org/en/region/iran/report-2011#section-64-6
(25) = Guardian 16 Jan 2012 ‘Corruption in Iraq: 'Your son is being tortured. He will die if you don't pay'’,http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/jan/16/corruption-iraq-son-tortured-pay
(26) = BBC News 25 Feb 2011 ‘Protesters killed in Iraqi 'day of rage'’,http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-12576613
(27) = Independent 24 Jun 2011 ‘Amnesty questions claim that Gaddafi ordered rape as weapon of war’, http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/africa/amnesty-questions-claim-that-gaddafi-ordered-rape-as-weapon-of-war-2302037.html ; ‘Rebels have repeatedly charged that mercenary troops from Central and West Africa have been used against them. The Amnesty investigation found there was no evidence for this. "Those shown to journalists as foreign mercenaries were later quietly released," says Ms Rovera. "Most were sub-Saharan migrants working in Libya without documents."….Others were not so lucky and were lynched or executed. Ms Rovera found two bodies of migrants in the Benghazi morgue and others were dumped on the outskirts of the city. She says: "The politicians kept talking about mercenaries, which inflamed public opinion and the myth has continued because they were released without publicity."’
(28) = Guardian 24 Nov 2011 ‘Libyan rebels detaining thousands illegally, Ban Ki-moon reports - An estimated 7,000 detainees being held, including women, children and black Africans tortured for skin colour’, http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/nov/24/libya-illegal-detentions-un-report
(29) = Independent 27 Jan 2012 ‘'Free' Libya shamed by new torture claims’, http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/africa/free-libya-shamed-by-new-torture-claims-6295394.html
(30) = Times 28 Oct 2004 ‘350 tonnes of high explosive looted in Iraq’,http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/iraq/article498870.ece
(31) = AP 31 Oct 2004 ‘2nd Site With U.N.-Sealed Arms Was Looted, Inspectors Report’,http://www.nytimes.com/2004/10/31/international/middleeast/31chemical.html
(32) = Washington Post 11 May 2003 ‘Iraq nuclear sites reportedly looted’, http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2003-05-11/news/0305110454_1_nuclear-bomb-looted-iraq
(33) = AP Worldstream 31 Oct 2004 ‘Iraq Looted Chemical Site’, http://www.highbeam.com/doc/1P1-101900373.html
(34) = NYT 13 Mar 2005 'Looting at Weapons Plants Was Systematic, Iraqi Says', http://www.nytimes.com/2005/03/13/international/middleeast/13loot.html
(35) NPR 27 Jan 2012 ‘U.S. Fears Terrorists Could Acquire Looted Weapons’, http://www.npr.org/2011/09/12/140388721/fears-terrorists-could-land-looted-gadhafi-weapons
(36) = CNN 07 Sep 2011 ‘Missiles looted from Tripoli arms warehouse’, http://articles.cnn.com/2011-09-07/world/libya.missing.arms_1_igla-s-surface-to-air-missiles-shoulder-launched-missiles?_s=PM:WORLD
(37) = Arms Control Association – ‘Nuclear Weapons : who has what at a glance’, http://www.armscontrol.org/factsheets/Nuclearweaponswhohaswhat
(38) = Briefing of the Security Council, 14 February 2003: An update on inspections, Executive Chairman of UNMOVIC, Dr. Hans Blix, http://www.un.org/Depts/unmovic/new/pages/security_council_briefings.asp#6
(39) = Briefing of the Security Council, 7 March 2003: Oral introduction of the 12th quarterly report of UNMOVIC, Executive Chairman Dr. Hans Blix,http://www.un.org/Depts/unmovic/new/pages/security_council_briefings.asp#7