NEW YORK – The UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA) long awaited, much ballyhooed report on Iran’s nuclear activities has been thunderously greeted here as conclusive evidence that Iran is working on nuclear weapons.
Both Tehran and a 2007 US combined intelligence assessment deny such claims.
There’s little new in this report, and a lot of déjà vu. We read the old story floating around since 2002 about a mysterious laptop stolen from Iran and passed to US intelligence. It allegedly contains scientific material about explosive compression methods to trigger a nuclear explosion, and designs to shrink nuclear warheads to fit in missile nosecones.
The UN and western powers say this stolen computer’s contents conclusively proves Iran has violated the UN’s non-proliferation treaty, to which Tehran is a signatory. Israel and its American partisans are raising a hue and cry about an impending nuclear attack on the Jewish state by Iran’s “crazy” leaders. Republicans are baying for war against Iran.
The US and UN also claim a Russian scientist who supposedly worked on Iranian nuclear weapons explosive technology defected and revealed all to western intelligence.
But it now transpires that the scientists actually worked in Russia on explosive technology to produce industrial diamonds, not weapons. Remember “Curveball,” the key Iraqi defector whose phony claims were the basis for the US invasion of Iraq? Well, welcome Russian scientist, “Curveballski II.”
Last week, Israel launched a new missile capable of delivering a nuclear warhead anywhere in Iran and Pakistan. Israel’s German-supplied submarines lie off Iran’s coast, ready to launch nuclear-tipped cruise missiles.
Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel’s prime minister, again claimed last week that Iran was about to deploy nuclear weapons and threatened war. But Israel’s respected former Mossad intelligence chief, Meir Dagan, warned striking Iran would be a “stupid idea.”
In 1992, Natanyahu claimed Iran would have nuclear weapons in 3-5 years. Shimon Peres, now Israel’s president, insisted Iran would have nukes by 1999.
In 1995, the New York Times claimed Iran was only 5 years from nuclear weapons. In 1998, US Defense Secretary Don Rumsfeld claimed Iran was fielding a nuclear-armed ICBM that could hit the United States.
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And so it has gone, a steady drumbeat of false claims.
This war hysteria comes on the heels of US charges of an alleged Iranian plot to kill the Saudi ambassador in Washington, a claim laughed at by many Mideast experts.
In fact, it’s possible the US FBI mixed up Iranians: the plot’s alleged mastermind may not have been a member of Iran’s elite military forces at all but of the violently anti-Tehran People’s Mujahidin, which Washington still calls a terrorist organization even though it is now in bed with the pro-Israel Republican hard right and Israel.
The IAEA tried to buttress its shaky claims against Iran by insisting, “nine other nations came to the same conclusion about Tehran’s covert nuclear efforts.” We heard the same refrain from Washington over its false claims about Iraq’s non-existent weapons.
In fact, thanks to routine intelligence sharing programs, faked documents about Iraq’s nuclear efforts were fed to other NATO members. Based on such forgeries, some of these nations concluded Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. The same process is now happening over Iran’s alleged weapons program.
Washington has worked for the past 20 years to make the UN the “soft” arm of US foreign policy. The US is the UN’s biggest contributor; it pays 25.8% of the costs of the IAEA and has put its own men in positions of influence. Even so, the latest UN reports hedges conclusions with words like “suggests” and “appears.”
If Iran is indeed trying to produce nuclear weapons – and it has good reasons for wanting them - why has it taken so long? Initial work began in the 1970’s under the Shah. Iran sought to buy nuclear technology from Pakistan twenty years ago.
What’s so crazy about all this is that Israel has a very large arsenal of nuclear and bio-warfare weapons while Iran remains under UN nuclear inspection.
The big nuclear powers – the US, Russia, China, Britain, France – are in violation of the 1995 UN nuclear non-proliferation treaty that mandated eliminating all nuclear weapons within five years. Talk about the nuclear pots calling the Iranian kettle black.