The drums of war are beating loudly again since the IAEA's recent report detailing Iran’s nuclear activity. Sanctions and the cutting of diplomatic and financial ties could precede a stepping-up in military posturing against Iran. But it is worth thinking back to the invasion of Iraq in 2003. Similarities between the Iran nuclear hype and the run-up to the bombing and coalition invasion of Iraq are too important to ignore.
Now is the time for calm, rational discussion of fact rather than the misinformation and speculation spurred on by the corporate media.
I am staunchly opposed to nuclear weaponry, but I believe that any country is entitled to build or possess nuclear weapons so long as Britain, America, and Israel do. Thus the way forward is through non-proliferation treaties, disarmament, and diplomacy.
Iraq ended its weapons program after the Gulf War, and Iran has merely developed its own “break-out” strategy (or “nuclear latency”) – it is developing the technology and know-how should an equivalent response ever become necessary.
The bottom line is: Iran will become a nuclear state if attacked.
The charges made against Iran are much like those produced in Colin Powell’s “impressive” (and largely deceitful) speech to the United Nations Security Council, as well as the “dodgy dossier” released almost simultaneously here in Britain.
The irony is, like Iraq and its WMDs, Iran has a nuclear program because the U.S. endorsed it, under President Eisenhower, in 1957, with the ironically named Atoms for Peace campaign.
Then the U.S. was building Cold War proxies against the Soviets and susceptible Arab Nationalist governments. Now they are preparing for another military showdown, another Cold War. If you remember, in 2000, the Project for the New American Century called for removal of threats to American power against Iraq, Libya, Iran, China, and North Korea. Two down, two to go.
So it is increasingly important to focus on facts on the ground. Iran has never discharged nuclear inspectors from its borders. You would imagine a country “illegally” producing nuclear weapons might do so. Iran has reportedly complied with IAEA protocol every year and has not diverted any uranium into a weapons program. It produces low-enriched uranium (LEU) under the supervision of IAEA, not suitably enriched for the production of weapons.
There could be any number of reasons why Western populations are so fearful of Iran, let alone a nuclear one. Perhaps it is the dictatorial zealot Ahmadinejad, the result of propagandizing at home, or the closed-off and mystical feeling that Iran holds in the Western imagination.
Meanwhile, we should remember that Israel is the only country in the Middle East with a nuclear arsenal, and a country whose recent history – with invasions and occupations in Syria, Lebanon, and Palestine – suggests it would be more willing to launch an attack on Iran than vice versa. This is an uncomfortable – and barely mentioned – truth in Western discussions of Iran’s nuclear capability. Israel has already used terrorist tactics to damage Iran – including the much-lauded computer virus, Stuxnet. This will only push Iran further towards weaponization.
Hawkish figures, Tony Blair among them, have also attempted a renewal in interventionist rhetoric by claiming they believed Iraq had weapons – silly us! – but this time, in Iran, we know. This is the regime which – earlier this year – Blair discussed in certain terms on BBC’s The Andrew Marr Show:
BLAIR: I am saying that I think it is wholly unacceptable for Iran to have nuclear weapons capability.
MARR: But what can we do about it?
BLAIR: And, um, and um I think we've got to be prepared to confront them, er–
BLAIR: If necessarily militarily.
Iran has a disgusting human rights record. The fact is, international relations are a matter of give and take – something our Western leaders often forget in their current diplomatic course with Iran. We must stop now and change, or risk the actual weaponization of Iran, rather than mere disinformation in preparation for another Western war.
Photo Credit: Danielle Zalcman