Iran With Threat
Of Military Attack
By Peter Symonds
18 August 2005
George Bushs inflammatory comments last Friday menacing Iran with
military attack have again underscored the lawless character of the
US administration. His declaration that all options are on the
table, that is, including the military one, directly undermines
European efforts to negotiate a deal with Iran over its nuclear programs
and signals that Washington is moving toward unilateral military aggression.
Like the US-led
invasion of Iraq, any US military action against Iraneither strikes
on its nuclear facilities or a full-scale attackhas not a shred
of justification in international law. Iran has repeatedly declared
that its nuclear programs are for peaceful purposes and has complied
with the demands of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), including
intrusive new inspections of its sensitive facilities.
In fact, it is Washington
rather than Tehran that is breaching the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty
(NPT). The US, along with the so-called EU-3 (Britain, France and Germany),
is demanding that Iran dismantle its uranium enrichment programsa
clear infringement of its right to develop all aspects of the nuclear
fuel cycle for peaceful purposes. The US, on the other hand, is adding
a new generation of nuclear weapons to what is already the worlds
largest nuclear arsenal, in flagrant disregard of the NPTs requirement
that existing nuclear powers progressively disarm.
That Bush made his
remarks on Israeli television is particularly provocative. Israel is
one of Washingtons main partners in crime in the Middle East,
with a long history of political assassination and military provocation.
In 1981, Israeli warplanes bombed Iraqs French-built Osirak nuclear
reactor, and the current Sharon government has warned that it is prepared
to do the same to Irans nuclear facilities. While claiming without
any evidence that Tehran is secretly building nuclear weapons, Washington
turns a blind eye to the fact that Israel has refused to sign the NPT,
has barred inspection of its nuclear facilities and has covertly built
If Iran is secretly
developing nuclear weapons, it has every justification for doing so.
It confronts a nuclear-armed Israel and a hostile US that has branded
it part of an axis of evil and has large armies stationed
in two of its neighbours. Both the US and Israel have declared that
they are prepared to attack Irans nuclear installations, as Bush
underscored in his comments. The US and Israel, he pointedly declared,
are united in our objective to make sure that Iran does not have
hypocritical double standards are not limited to Israel. Two other US
alliesIndia and Pakistanhave refused to sign the NPT and
developed and tested nuclear weapons, yet no action is threatened against
them. In the case of India, Washington recently lifted the remaining
sanctions put in place after India tested a nuclear device in 1998.
If Bush feels he
is able to get away with his bullying and threats against Iran, it is
because he knows his bogus justifications will not be challenged in
the media or by the Democratic Party. No light will be shed on the real
history of US-Iranian relations. Significantly, the origins of the Iranian
atomic program lie not in Tehran but in Washington, which actively encouraged
its despotic allyShah Mohammed Reza Pahlavito invest extensively
in nuclear research.
The Bush administration
repeatedly points out that Tehran has constructed secret nuclear facilities,
including the Natanz uranium enrichment plant, claiming this to be evidence
of its malevolent intentions. But Iran had every reason to keep its
nuclear programs hidden from US view. Since the Shahs fall in
1979, Washington has done everything in its power to prevent Iran from
gaining access to any nuclear technology. For years, the US effectively
blocked Iranian attempts to complete its nuclear power reactor at Bushehr,
by pressuring Germany to terminate the construction contract.
All recent evidence
demonstrates that Iran has no nuclear weapons program and has bent over
backward to comply with the IAEA requirements. Last November, under
pressure from the EU-3, it agreed to maintain a voluntary freeze on
its uranium enrichment activities while negotiations took place over
its nuclear programs and a package of economic and political incentives.
Tehran insisted that it would not allow talks, and thus the freeze,
to be strung out indefinitely, and that any agreement had to recognise
its rights under the NPT.
mounted in Tehran amid growing signs that the EU-3, particularly after
the US agreed to cooperate in negotiations in March, had
no intention of negotiating in good faith. The final European offer
presented to Iran just over a week ago, with Washingtons approval,
confirmed those fears. The package required that Iran dismantle a number
of programs, including uranium enrichment, and rely on the EU for fuel
supplies to its nuclear power reactors. Tehran dismissed the offer as
an insult and restarted its uranium conversion plant at
Isfahanunder IAEA supervision. The facility produces uranium hexafluoride
gasthe feedstock for its uranium enrichment plant at Natanz, which
remains under IAEA seal.
The Bush administration
reacted by denouncing Iran and demanding that it shut the Isfahan plant
or face UN sanctions. An emergency IAEA meeting held last week was under
enormous pressure from the US to refer Tehran to the UN Security Council.
But Washington and its European allies failed to sway the majority of
IAEA members, who are concerned that any action against Iran will set
a precedent for future moves by the US to shut down similar NPT-sanctioned
programs in other countries.
The final IAEA statement
made no mention of the UN or sanctions and simply urged full suspension
of all enrichment-related activities including conversion on the same
voluntary, non-legally binding basis. It also called on the IAEA
director general to produce a comprehensive report on the implementation
of Irans NPT Safeguards Agreement by September 3. As in
the past, however, the IAEA is likely to conclude that that the agency
has found no proof that Iran has a weapons program.
Coming in the immediate
wake of the IAEA statement, Bushs comments last Friday make clear
Washingtons utter contempt not only for the IAEA, but for the
The use of
force is the last option for any president, Bush declared. This
is a lie. In the case of Iraq, as has been amply documented, overwhelming
military forces was not the last option, but the first. Washington drew
up its plans for military invasion, marshalled the support of Britain
and Australia, and then concocted a series of lies aimed at providing
a pretext for war. When it became evident that the UN Security Council
would not approve an invasion, despite intense US bullying, the Bush
administration attacked Iraq unilaterally in open defiance of the constraints
of international law.
There is no reason
to believe that the Bush administration will act any differently toward
Iran. In case anyone missed the point, Bush underlined the threat by
declaring: You know, weve used force in the recent past
to secure our country.
Insofar as Washington
is concerned about Iran having nuclear weapons, it is only because it
would enable Tehran to better defend itself against US attack. It is
far more likely that Washington would use the nuclear option than Iran.
The new generation of US nuclear weaponsso-called bunker bustersare
specifically being developed for use against fortified underground bunkers
of the type developed by Iran to protect its sensitive facilities.
The British and
German governments immediately distanced themselves from Bushs
comments. A British Foreign Office spokesman declared: Our position
is clear and has been made very, very clear by the foreign secretary.
We do not think there are any circumstances where military action would
be justified against Iran. It does not form part of British foreign
Gerhard Schröder told an election rally last weekend: Dear
friends in Europe and America, let us work out a strong negotiating
position. But lets take the military option off the table. We
have seen that it doesnt work. While there is clearly an
element of electioneering in Schröders comments, the statements
in Britain and Germany reflect deep concerns that unilateral US military
action will once again damage European economic and strategic interests
in the Middle East.
included, who imagines that European concerns or the deepening US disaster
in Iraq are going to constrain Washingtons actions against Iran
is in for a rude shock. While the fact that the US military is currently
bogged down in Iraq may present tactical problems, the Bush administration
has demonstrated already that it would respond to political crises by
embarking on the most reckless military adventures. Not since the days
of the Nazi regime in the 1930s and 1940s has a regime so nakedly resorted
to the methods of diplomatic thuggery and military aggression as the
Far from being influenced
by European pleas, the central thrust of the White Houses strategy
is to use its military muscle to establish untrammelled US dominance
in the resource-rich regions of the Middle East and Central Asia, at
the expense of its rivals in Europe and Asia. As far as Washington is
concerned, the invasion of Iraq has succeeded in achieving one major
objectiveto reduce the country to a quasi-colonial outpost for
US imperialism in the Middle East. Its provocative actions against Tehran,
which has huge oil and gas reserves and stands at a key strategic crossroads,
are aimed at disrupting Irans existing ties with the EU, China,
Russia and Japan and ultimately bringing the country under American
The lack of any
critical response in the American media or the Democratic Party to the
latest threats by Bush against Iran confirms that a consensus has been
reached in the US political establishment that all methods, including
a new military adventure, can and should be used to achieve US objectives
in Iran and more broadly. The lack of serious opposition in US ruling
circles underscores the fact that the only way to end the danger of
war is to disarm the perpetrators. That requires the independent mobilisation
of the working class in the US and internationally to put an end to
the profit system which is dominated by competing national ruling cliques
who will stop at nothing to preserve their privileges and wealth.