138 thoughts on “N.Y. Times Out-Hawks the Iran Hawks – Tikun Olam תיקון עולם إصلاح العالم
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  1. Richard, this is an excellent piece. I agree with everything you say, and am glad you’re finally waking up to the hypocrisy of Obama. Concerning the Robert Wright blog in the NYT, see my response (just sent to you). He, too, is correct on the surface, except that he fails to see, like most commentators, that Iran’s nuclear aims are a red herring.

    Also, you are incorrect that the US won’t attack a country that has nuclear weapons. What is it doing now in Pakistan? The US is playing with fire here.

      1. You’re right. They had already accomplished regime change before they began attacking. They now have a compliant government client accepting the annihilation of its own people.

  2. The “liberal” NY TIMES is playing exactly the same role today as it did before the Iraq invasion — doing all it can to facilitate a US attack against one of Israel’s many enemies.

    In those days Judith Miller was the attack dog and many thought she was primarily to blame for the lies and distortions published by the “newspaper of record”. Miller is long gone, but the Times is doing a repeat performance re: Iran. Clearly the Times is as committed to unending war in the pursuit of empire as Joe Lieberman and the neo-cons.

    1. That has been my reaction, not only to this latest, but from the beginning of the whole “Iran nuclear weapons” nonsense. And yes, the NYT is playing along, helping to whip up the anti-Iran fear and frenzy, but not only the NYT. This whole thing has been a replay of the Iraq thing from the beginning. The only difference really is that Obama is being a bit more subtle about it. He transistioned almost seamlessly from talking about “Iran’s nuclear program” to “Iran’s nuclear weapons program”. The other day I heard him refer to Iran “misbehaving”. But Iran is NOT misbehaving, at least not in the way he implies, or in any way that threatens U.S. or Israeli security, let alone world peace and security. In short, Iran is not misbehaving in any way that needs to be the business of the United States government.

      I can really see no end to this. There are no electable politicians who are likely to follow any other path than the one Obama is continuing. I had very low expectations of him, but this is much worse than I anticipated.

    2. …one of Israel’s many enemies.

      Iran is not really an enemy of Israel so much as Israel is an enemy of Iran. Iran is not a threat to Israel, but Israel most certainly is a threat to Iran, and a very, very serious one.

  3. Let’s say Israel attacks Iran. Iran will of course have every right to retaliate against Israel, but NOT against the US or anybody else.

    If the Iranians attack the US or Arab Gulf countries because of an Israeli attack, that will prove that they are irrational and cannot be trusted with the bomb. And if they attack only Israel, why should you care about that? It is Israel’s problem.

    1. There is no reason to believe Iran is “irrational.” On the other hand, look at the US and Israel. Two of the world’s loose cannons, surely. Iran, on the other hand, does not have an extensive history of military aggressiveness.

      Where have you been living, on the moon? Israel is the US’ parasitic twin; if it is attacked by Iran, the US will retaliate, and we’ll be in World War III.

      1. When Israel was attacked by Hezbollah did the US retaliate? Of course not. Israel does not need the US to retaliate or fight any war on its behalf. You have a total misconception about the Israel US military relation.

        And you didn’t understand my post. If you think that the Iranians are rational, why do you worry about an Israeli attack? If they are rational they will only attack Israel. And why would you care if Israel accepts this risk?

        You can’t have it both ways. If you think the Israeli attack will cause Iran to attack people not involved in the attack on it, then you cannot view them as rational and then you certainly cannot trust them with a nuclear bomb. On the other hand, if they are rational, they will only retaliate against Israel and you have nothing to worry about. So why do you mind if Israel causes problems for itself and attacks Iran?

        1. When Israel was attacked by Hezbollah did the US retaliate? Of course not.

          Oh, you mean the support Bush & Condi offered Israel during the war didn’t enable Israel? And those advanced cluster munitions that arrived via emergency shipment during the war, that wasn’t aiding Israel’s aggression? Puh-leeze.

          I view YOU as irrational, not Iran. And as far as I’m concerned yr nattering about rationality & who blames whom is drivel.

          YOu’re also repeating yrself & you’ve just said the same thing in an earlier comment. Repetition is BORING, so stop.

          1. You are confusing two actions. One is selling or giving weapons. The other is actually fighting. There is a clear distinction between the two. The US is not adding to Israel’s aggression to the extent it exists. All the blame for the aggression is on Israel, not on the US. Guns do not kill people, people kill people.

            Well, it is not exactly an argument saying that you think what someone writes is drivel, but you are of course free to voice your opinion even though you are not backing it up with any sound logic or argumentation.

          2. One is selling or giving weapons. The other is actually fighting. There is a clear distinction between the two. The US is not adding to Israel’s aggression

            More hasbara bullcrap. Of course the U.S. is aiding & abetting Israel’s wars & aggression. We did it starting in 1973 & we’ve been doing it consistently ever since. If the U.S. had not supplied cluster munitions during the Lebanon war Israel would have run out & not used them & hundreds of Lebanese children who are limbless now would not be.

            country B has the right to attack the countries that sold country A weapons? Are you serious?

            Germany did it by sinking the Lusitania thus bringing us into WWI. Israel does it too by attacking military convoys in countries like Sudan which are headed to Gaza. Never heard of it eh?

            you have no problem defining Israeli behavior? Can you please explain the difference?

            I’m Jewish & a ZIonist (critical). That’s what gives me the right. If you don’t like it then sever your ties entirely with the Jewish Diaspora, end the Law of Return, & become an Israeli instead of Jewish state. Then you can tell me to go to Hell. Till then, you’re stuck w. me.

          3. The US just sold Israel weapons. It was not responsible for how Israel used them. Your argument is strange. If someone was stabbed by a knife bought at Sears, is it Sears’ fault? Of course not. Just as Sears is not responsible with what people do with stuff they buy there, neither is the US government.

            And you missed the point entirely about attacking a country supplying weapons. Did the Germans have the fight to drown the Lusitania? No they didn’t. Did Israel have the right to attack the weapons convoy in Sudan? Yes, because it is legally at war with Sudan which Sudan declared. Would Israel had the right to attack a convoy of weapons to Syria or Hezbollah in Russia? No, that would be an aggressive act and a declaration of war on Russia. My point is that if Iran attacks the US because the US supplies Israel with arms, it will be viewed as the aggressor by everybody and it is tantamount to declaring war on the US. It would be an irrational move.

            Sorry, in my book you are not a Zionist. Zionists want to improve Israel. You want to destroy it. There is constructive criticism which comes from true love to a country and the belief in a common fate, and there is your kind of criticism which is aimed at demolishing and not at improving. Israel is a flawed democracy muddling along in a very complicated neighborhood, a neighborhood that no other country has been able to sustain a democracy in. You see a racist state, I marvel at how the Israeli Jews showed so much patience and humanism and did not retaliate against the Israeli Arabs when buses and discos and restaurants etc were being blown up and these actions were supported by the Arabs. In most other countries, including the US, there would be mob aggression and lynching. Just imagine what would happen to a minority in the US if it explicitly supported 9/11. It did not happen in Israel.

            And please stop with the Hasbara crap. I work and speak for nobody but myself.

          4. If you don’t already know, the US violated the Geneva Conventions when its weapons were used in a war of aggression against Gaza last year It is a far cry from blaming Sears for the knife.

            I’m sure Richard can handle the remarks about his support for Israel, but I will tell you that Israel is not the only democracy in the middle east. Turkey has a democratically elected government, in case you are not aware of it. Your praise of Israel is ludicrous if you are trying to portray its people as somehow more moral than people in other countries; considering Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians, it’s actually quite offensive.

            “Mob aggression and lynching” are far from the norm in the US, and I think you’ve been watching too many old movies if you think otherwise. By your reasoning, in the aftermath of 9/11 every Muslim and Arab in the US would have been hanging from every tree. It didn’t happen.

            One more thing – you can be a hasbarist without working for the Israeli government, if you choose to spew lies and half-truths without learning what you need to know first.

          5. Israel is not the only democracy in the middle east.

            Turkey, as you mentioned, has a democratically elected government. Lebanon also has been electing its government for quite a long time. And then, of course, we have the Palestinians’ efforts at democracy, which have been thwarted by Israel and the United States. Most recently, as we know, the Palestinians had an election that was judged to be free and fair, and we all know what happened when the result was not to the liking of Israel and the US.

          6. I didn’t include Palestine because, unfortunately, they do not have true sovereignty. However, you are correct about Lebanon. And Hizbullah’s election successes stick like bones in the throats of Israel and the US.

          7. You are right, Mary, Palestine not only does not have “true” sovereignty, Palestine does not have any semblance of sovereignty, true or otherwise. They don’t even have the partial sovereignty that propagandists would like people to believe they have (as if there were such a thing as partial sovereignty to begin with. If anyone needs evidence of that, just look at the 2006 elections, which the United States forced, tried to engineer to go a certain way, and then, along with Israel, nullified when the results were not to their liking. At what level or degree of sovereignty could that possibly happen?

          8. Partial sovereignty is the same as being partially on fire. It’s a complete misnomer.

            Shirin, all I can say from my daily conversations with Palestinians both in the West Bank and Gaza, and those who are displaced, is that the reality on the ground is so far removed from what the US media wants us to believe that it’s unreal, completely unreal. There have been people here on Richard’s blog and elsewhere who try to tell me that I’m not being objective, but the day they live the life of a Palestinian is the day they can criticize my objectivity. I work full time for Palestine, and I believe there must, and should be, a Palestine. I am damned tired of Israel’s fooling around with the security of the world, which includes their antagonism of Iran and their continued menacing behavior and occupation of the Palestinian people. True to my humanitarian objectives, I try to understand the political underpinnings, but it doesn’t stop me from being utterly incensed by the governments of Israel and the US, who play with people’s lives with no more concern than that of a farmer killing weeds. I have, and continue to have, sleepless nights over the lunacy and idiocy of this world.

          9. The US just sold Israel weapons. It was not responsible for how Israel used them.

            You could not possibly be more wrong if you tried. Not only under internaltional law is the United States responsible for how Israel uses the military aid and equipment and weapons of war it provides, it is also responsible under United States domestic law. US domestic law puts very strict limits on how military and “dual use” equipment sold by the US to foreign countries may and may not be used, and under what conditions it may and may not be sold.

            So yes, the United States is not only morally and ethically responsible, it is also legally responsible.

          10. The US just sold Israel weapons. It was not responsible for how Israel used them. Your argument is strange. If someone was stabbed by a knife bought at Sears, is it Sears’ fault? Of course not. Just as Sears is not responsible with what people do with stuff they buy there, neither is the US government.

            As I have said already, you could not possibly be more wrong. Furthermore, there is no valid analogy between the US selling Israel weapons of war whose sole purpose is to kill, destroy, and maim, and Sears selling people “stuff” that has nothing to do with killing, maiming, or destroying. Additionally, there are, as I pointed out, international and domestic US laws place responsibility on the US for how the weapons of war it sells are used. There are no laws making Sears responsible for a customer’s misuse of a knife he purchased from them.

            if Iran attacks the US because the US supplies Israel with arms, it will be viewed as the aggressor by everybody and it is tantamount to declaring war on the US.

            More bad reasoning. If Iran is attacked by Israel with the permission and active cooperation of the US, then no attack it makes on the US can reasonably be deemed aggression. In this case Iran is the victim of aggression, not the perpetrator.

            As for your paragraph on Zionism, it would take more time than I have right now to take it apart point by point. One could write an entire essay on each sentence and still not adequately deal with it.

          11. Yes, you are right. The US definitely supported Israel’s 1967 war of aggression. I lived in the Arab world then, and have studied that period quite extensively and deeply.

          12. Israel’s attack on Lebanon was an act of aggression on another country and was not in response to an attack by Lebanon. And they were merely attacking a so-called “terrorist organization,” not another sovereign nation. I do recall the US aided Israel and even discouraged it from entering into a cease fire. So much for staying out of it, eh?

            I think Israel is the irrational one, not Iran. That was what I was saying. And I mind very much if they attack Iran; I don’t want to see another war and I don’t think you remember that people die in wars, or does that not matter?

      2. Iran, on the other hand, does not have an extensive history of military aggressiveness.

        It has been nearly three centuries since Iran has aggressively attacked another country.

    2. Iran will of course have every right to retaliate against Israel, but NOT against the US or anybody else.

      I do so love it when Israelis (are you Israeli or just a pro-Israel stooge?) attempt to define what Iranian behavior should be. Who do you think will be supplying the bunker buster bombs used by the IAF in that attack? WHose territory do you think Israel will fly over to get there? Of course Iran will blame the US & rightly so. Who would Israel need to get permission fr. to mount such a foolhardy venture? The U.S.

      1. So if country A attacks country B, country B has the right to attack the countries that sold country A weapons? Are you serious? I have never heard of anyone holding this strange position until now.

        Israeli will be flying over Jordanian and Saudi territory to get to Iran. Does that justify Iran attacking Saudi Arabia and Jordan?

        Iran can blame whomever it wants, but if it is rational, it can only retaliate against the country that attacked it.

        I am an Israeli studying in the US. Why are you against Israelis defining Iranian behavior and yet you have no problem defining Israeli behavior? Can you please explain the difference?

        1. Israeli will be flying over Jordanian and Saudi territory to get to Iran. Does that justify Iran attacking Saudi Arabia and Jordan?

          Any Israeli attack on Iran’s nuclear sites that doesn’t involve the use of missiles (read: nuclear weapons) will have to go over Iraq’s airspace. Who do you suppose is the dominant power in Iraq right now, and the one ultimately deciding what can happen in Iraqi airspace? There is a reason why the Israelis asked Bush back when he was in power if they had permission to use Iraqi airspace if they decided to perform an attack (Bush refused them).

          In other words, unless the US were to actively deter an Israeli overflight towards Iran (and that is highly unlikely), the US will be rightly seen as having granted permission for Israelis to perform their attack (using, as Richard mentioned, American-made weaponry). Since the US is also the biggest ally of Israel, that would make us fair game for retaliation (and the first casualties would likely be American ones).

          1. the first casualties would likely be American ones

            Undoubtedly, there will be many casualties some of whom will be American. But there will be Israeli casualties as well. And if Israel felt threatened by Hezbollah and Hamas’ rockets & missiles in Lebanon & Gaza, they will ten or twenty times more threatened by what Iran likely has in store. For me, this is a nightmare scenario. For over a year, I have been researching, writing & dreading this eventuality. I can only hope that it doesn’t happen. If it does, Israel will sink much lower than it already has and calls for war crimes investigations will increase ten fold or more. Israel doesn’t realize that it has very little margin for error left after decades of exploiting the world’s sympathies. Attacking Iran would be one error too many.

          2. the first casualties would likely be American ones

            Of course, if Israel were to attack Iran, the first casualties would beyond any question be Iranian ones.

          3. I was referring to casualties from any retaliatory effort by Iran, but yes, the very first casualties would probably be Iranian.

        2. Israeli will be flying over Jordanian and Saudi territory to get to Iran.

          Actually, Israel will be flying over Iraqi territory, for which it will require the permission of the United States. Aside from the fact that flying over Saudi territory makes no sense, the Saudis are hardly likely to permit that.

    3. Iran will of course have every right to retaliate against Israel, but NOT against the US or anybody else.

      Rubbish. If Israel attacks Iran it will be with the full permission and active cooperation of Obama and his administration. That certainly gives Iran the right to retaliate against the United States.

      1. You beat me to that one, Richard.

        “Where is Roger Cohen when we need him.”? Who needs him? Talk about stooges!

        1. I am almost ready to eat my words about what I said about Cohen. His op-ed in today’s NYT (12 Feb) is excellent. Except, that he too fails to acknowledge the real purpose of US/Israel policy in the area. It has nothing to do with existential threat, rather with energy hegemony, and nothing will rend them asunder. Iran and the Palestinians are red herrings.

  4. There is no nuclear weapons program; any idiot with 30 minutes of spare time could find that out easily, but this media and political push to convince the world otherwise is obviously a political ploy. Just as it was in Iraq, it’s all about regime change. Iraq, Afghanistan (and Pakistan), now Iran, all for bogus reasons (terrorism, WMD’s, now nuclear weapons). The question is, how gullible are the American people, and how lazy? Will they allow this deadly nonsense to continue to its inevitable conclusion?

    1. The question is, how gullible are the American people, and how lazy? Will they allow this deadly nonsense to continue to its inevitable conclusion?

      Unfortunately, the answer to the first question is “extremely”, and the answer to the second is, “without a doubt”.

      1. I think you’re correct to a large extent, and this is incredibly sad (at least for me as an American). It’s also incredibly sad and tragic for the rest of the world since those who are at the ‘receiving end’ of the brutal brunt of American empire are the real victims of this apathy and acquiescence on the part of the American population.

        Yet it’s important to keep in mind that the U.S. is not really a functioning democracy, at least not today, though we have democratic institutions (or the frayed remnants of them) and certain democratic aspects to our governance. No other Western country has such a vast & radical gulf between the expressed interests/desires of the ‘people’, when one even bothers to consult them, and the actual policies of the corporate state. Our elections are largely (though not totally) a sham and our political leaders are basically lackeys, mandarins.

        I’m not trying to let the American people off the hook, we should really all be out in the streets, storming the Bastille so to speak both in revolt against the domestic plutocracy and our bloody, murderous (international) empire—but our ruling elites do not in any meaningful way represent or reflect ordinary Americans, at least that I can see.

        Having said this, I still tend to vacillate between seeing U.S. policy as an expression of something deeply rotten at the core of American culture, or more or the alienated, elites-unto-themselves dynamic I’m talking about above, there’s probably some of both going on (certainly post 9/11 and the early Bush years saw the ugly mob mass popular appeal side of our awful behavior in the world). It’s very weird being on the inside of this monstrous bubble and realizing how rotten the whole thing is, depressing barely begins to describe it.

        Also, American propaganda is strangely effective in enforcing this oblivion (Chomsky is useful on this subject) and the constant threat of the much feared anti-Semite accusation is a major social enforcer which dissuades a lot of Americans from poking their noses out with fundamental, substantive critiques of our foreign policy (so tied to Israel as it is). Radical dissent tends to risk the tar-brush, the pathetic boob Andrew Sullivan being only the latest ‘victim’.

        1. I realize there’s a basic contradiction or rather paradox if you will, in my above analysis, but I’m not sure of my way around it.

          To the extent some Americans find a way outside of the ‘box, the incessant media propaganda and the dominant paradigm, the media is also quite adept at making people feel isolated and alienated in their dissent, like you’re some kind of freak and this is in turn is effective in keeping Americans ‘de-mobilized’. But the fact remains, we need to get off our asses.

          P.S.—I didn’t at all mean to imply above that Sullivan is a ‘radical dissenter’ (which is how it came across), he is a pathetic boob as I said, and apologist for Western warmongering, if still the recipient of an unwarranted smear by Leon Wieseltier, that intrepid patroller of our pathetically circumscribed & stunted cultural & foreign policy discourse.

  5. Sanctions will not work, and everyone nows that, but they are needed because it is considered impolite nowadays to start bombing before you have applied sanctions first.

  6. Who Wants to Bomb Iran?

    Meet the men calling on Barack Obama to launch airstrikes against the Islamic Republic.

    BY DAVID KENNER

    February 10, 2010 “FP” — They’re back! The “Bomb Iran” crowd is making a big return to the political center stage after months of puzzlement over what to do about developments in the Islamic Republic. Hawks such as Daniel Pipes and John Bolton are arguing that Iran is dead-set on its pursuit of a nuclear arsenal — and point to developments such as President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s announcement this weekend that Iran would enrich its uranium stocks to 20 percent to argue that diplomatic avenues have reached a dead end. The would-be bombers fear that the mullahs will leverage their nuclear capability to expand Persian influence through the Arab world and beyond — and argue that the United States must do anything in its power, including the use of force, to stop them.
    This movement had its heyday in neoconservative circles in 2006 and 2007, following Iran’s official announcement that it had started to enrich uranium and the subsequent U.S.-led push in the U.N Security Council for additional sanctions. And who could forget 2008 presidential candidate John McCain’s memorable “Bomb, bomb, bomb Iran” gaffe, sung to the tune of the Beach Boys’ “Barbara Ann”? In the wake of Iran’s contested election last June, pro-bomb pundits have argued that the popular unrest — including the imminent anti-regime protests scheduled for Feb. 11, the anniversary of the Islamic Republic — far from meaning the United States should hold back, presents a perfect opportunity to target the increasingly unpopular leadership of the Iranian regime. Needless to say, it doesn’t appear that Obama will be taking their advice any time soon; administration officials have strongly suggested they prefer to deal with Iran’s nuclear ambitions through diplomacy and sanctions.

    The Iran hawks are supported by the Obama administration’s old nemesis Dick Cheney, who noted in an interview with Fox News last August that he was “probably a bigger advocate of military action than any of my colleagues” in the Bush administration. Without further ado, here is FP’s guide to this belligerent minority.

    Daniel Pipes

    Perch: Director of the Middle East Forum, Hoover Institution visiting fellow

    Money quote: “[Obama] needs a dramatic gesture to change the public perception of him as a light-weight, bumbling ideologue, preferably in an arena where the stakes are high, where he can take charge, and where he can trump expectations. Such an opportunity does exist: Obama can give orders for the U.S. military to destroy Iran’s nuclear-weapon capacity.” –Feb. 2, 2010, National Review

    Justification: Pipes’s argument was not exactly framed in such a way as to gain adherents within the White House. However, his cold-blooded political justification is enough to make Dick Morris or Karl Rove blush: He cites five polls suggesting a military strike against Iran possesses the support of a solid majority of Americans and posits that others would undoubtedly “rally around the flag,” supporting Obama were he to unleash the bombers. Sarah Palin picked up this argument in an interview with Fox News on Feb. 7, claiming that a decision by Obama to declare war on Iran could boost his chances for re-election in 2012 — though she incorrectly cited Patrick Buchanan as the source of the idea.

    And lest Obama fear that this electoral masterstroke would devolve into an Iraq-style quagmire, Pipes assures us that the United States could limit itself to airstrikes and employ only a few boots on the ground, “making an attack more politically palatable.”

    John Bolton

    Perch: Senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute; former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations

    Money quote: “Those who oppose Iran acquiring nuclear weapons are left in the near term with only the option of targeted military force against its weapons facilities. Significantly, the uprising in Iran also makes it more likely that an effective public diplomacy campaign could be waged in the country to explain to Iranians that such an attack is directed against the regime, not against the Iranian people…. Military action against Iran’s nuclear program and the ultimate goal of regime change can be worked together consistently.” –July 2, 2009, Washington Post

    Justification: Although the unrest following Iran’s contested presidential election this past June convinced many pundits that a U.S. military strike would be counterproductive, Bolton took the opposite tack: With Iran’s hardliners “unmistakably back in control” following the first round of protests, he argued, the timing was ripe to convince the Iranian people that targeted airstrikes on Iran’s nuclear facilities were the fault of their dictatorial government, and not a foreign power.

    Notably, Bolton doesn’t believe the Obama administration will do what he thinks needs to be done in Iran (nor, truth be told, was he sanguine that the Bush administration would listen to his advice in 2008). Instead, he’s putting all his faith in Israel to bomb Iran’s nuclear facilities, referring to the logic of an Israeli strike as “nearly inexorable.”

    Norman Podhoretz

    Perch: Editor at large, Commentary magazine

    Money quote: “In short, the plain and brutal truth is that if Iran is to be prevented from developing a nuclear arsenal, there is no alternative to the actual use of force — any more than there was an alternative to force if Hitler was to be stopped in 1938.” –June 2007, Commentary

    Justification: Podhoretz, the author of World War IV: The Long Struggle Against Islamofascism and one of the intellectual godfathers of the neoconservative movement, regards the showdown with Iran as the latest front in a “protracted global struggle” that has taken the United States from Baghdad to Kabul. In each case, he argues, the United States is defending itself from “Islamofascism” — the intellectual cousin of communism and Nazism that threatens to overwhelm the United States and its allies militarily, and also erode Western values from within.

    Podhoretz sees Ahmadinejad as occupying the revolutionary vanguard of this movement: The first step in the Iranian president’s quest to transform the global balance of power will be to fulfill his promise to “wipe Israel off the map.” From there, Podhoretz fears, a nuclear-armed Iran will attempt to establish its hegemony over the Persian Gulf — and then extend its scope of influence into Europe. Finally, the coup de grâce: Iran will commit itself to neutering U.S. influence worldwide, and perhaps even attempt to fulfill its goal of “a world without America.”

    As in the struggle against Hitler, the only option presented to the United States when faced with an enemy of such sprawling ambition, Podhoretz believes, is the use of military force. A U.S. air campaign, he hopes, could set back the Iranian nuclear program indefinitely and also provide the political preconditions for the overthrow of the Islamic Republic — a message that he also delivered in private meetings with President Bush. The only question, in his eyes, was whether Bush would summon the political fortitude to order the strike before he left office. As he wrote: “As an American and as a Jew, I pray with all my heart that he will.”

    Joshua Muravchik

    Perch: Foreign Policy Institute fellow at Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies

    Money quote: “We must bomb Iran. It has been four years since that country’s secret nuclear program was brought to light, and the path of diplomacy and sanctions has led nowhere…. Our options therefore are narrowed to two: We can prepare to live with a nuclear-armed Iran, or we can use force to prevent it.” –Nov. 19, 2006, Los Angeles Times

    Justification: Frustrated by the United States’ inability to convince Russia or China to commit to a truly biting sanctions regime — and despairing that Iran’s hard-liners could ever be forced from power — Muravchik believed the West’s only remaining option was to destroy Iran’s nuclear program before it could produce a bomb. Iran’s possession of a nuclear weapon would allow the Islamic Republic to establish regional hegemony over the Middle East, pose an existential to Israel’s, and erode what is left of the international nonproliferation regime, Muravchik feared. There was also the danger that Iran could “slip nuclear material to terrorists” — and not only its clients, such as Hezbollah and Hamas, but also al Qaeda.

    Muravchik also took to the pages of Foreign Policy to make the case that full-throated advocacy of a U.S. military strike against Iran was what neoconservatives needed to overcome the stigma that had accumulated around the movement in recent years.

    Thomas McInerney

    Perch: Retired lieutenant general of the U.S. Air Force

    Money quote: “A military option against Iran’s nuclear facilities is feasible…. President Bush is right when he says Iran cannot be permitted to have nuclear weapons. The prospect of leaders like Ahmadinejad, who advocates wiping Israel ‘off the map,’ with their hands on nuclear weapons is a risk we cannot take. Diplomacy must be pursued vigorously, but the experience with Iraq suggests there’s little reason for optimism. Thus, a viable military option is imperative.” –April 24, 2006, Weekly Standard

    Justification: McInerney has put more thought into the actual details of a U.S. military strike on Iraq than most other analysts. In an interview with Fox News host Bill O’Reilly, McInerney laid out a two-pronged strategy, kicked off by “a powerful air campaign that will hit within 36 to 48 hours over 1,500 aim points” in Iran, including its nuclear development facilities, air defenses, and its Shehab-3 missile sites.

    This would soften up the Islamic Republic for the second part of the campaign — covert military operations designed to encourage Iran’s population to rise up in rebellion. McInerney is enamored of the prospects for division presented by Iran’s many ethnic minorities. Iran “is ripe for political discontent, and ripe for people to let the people have their country back,” he argued. McInerney’s plan raised consternation in liberal circles, who pointed out that he had suggested a similar plan in 2002 to topple Saddam Hussein’s regime. McInerney, however, appeared undoubted by the U.S. experience in Iraq, countering that Operation Iraqi Freedom “was a brilliant campaign done in 21 days.”

    Max Boot

    Perch: Senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations

    Money quote: “If Israel’s intelligence agencies can provide reasonable assurance that the Israeli Air Force can derail the Iranian program for, say, six years, then the case for action becomes inescapable. But if they can only delay Iran for six months, is it really worthwhile to risk all the consequences that would come from an air strike? Perhaps so; perhaps the loss of Israeli prestige and deterrence advantage from Iran going nuclear would be so great that even a symbolic strike is worthwhile.” –July 2, 2009, Commentary

    Justification: Following the post-election protests that rocked Iran last June, Max Boot echoed Bolton’s remarks regarding the increasing attractiveness of an Israeli airstrike on the country’s nuclear facilities. But it wasn’t the first time that he called for a more aggressive policy toward Iran — back in 2006, Boot laid out a plan to “do to Iran what the Iranians are doing to us in Iraq” by fomenting ethnic divisions within the country, and funneling weapons and money to anti-regime militias within the country. The only other option, in Boot’s eyes, would be a U.S. airstrike — a development that will become inevitable once the current policy of “half-hearted multilateral negotiations backed by toothless U.N. resolutions fails. (Or, rather, once its failure can no longer be denied.)”

    Information Clearing House

    1. Sarah Palin … [claimed] that a decision by Obama to declare war on Iran could boost his chances for re-election in 2012

      Then I don’t understand why she isn’t doing her damndest to advocate against such a war. Sure she doesn’t want to be seen as a secret supporter of Obama?

  7. Thank you for your sober analysis.

    Also note that the “enough is enough” meme is popping up all of a sudden: Shirin Ebadi’s letter to the UN, UK PM Brown’s little outburst today, and this editorial in the zionist NY Times.

    At the final analysis, I think the audience for the “Green” propaganda/agitation is the public opinion in the West, preparing the ground for yet another chapter in the book of the War Criminals who run the “international community”.

  8. Mary,
    The US, the EU and the UN all agreed that in 2006 it was Hezbollah that was the aggressor since they crossed the Blue Line to kidnap the Israeli soldiers. Also, they shot mortars at Israeli town during the kidnapping as a diversion. So you are just wrong that Israel was the aggressor in 2006.

    It is interesting that you think a bunch of Mullah’s largely disliked by their population and not beneath perpetuating vote fraud are more rational than the Israeli democracy. It is interesting that you think holocaust deniers are rational. Perhaps you believe theocracies work better than democracies. I find your view very peculiar.

    1. you are just wrong that Israel was the aggressor in 2006.

      Hezbollah killed several IDF soldiers and Israel killed 1,100 Lebanese, destroyed its electrical grid, seaport and airport & IDF generals proudly affirmed that their intent was to bomb Lebanon back to the Stone Age. Yes, I’d say Israel was the aggressor regardless of what initiated the hostilities.

      a bunch of Mullah’s largely disliked by their population

      The latest Iranian poll conducted by the Univ. of Maryland disputes yr view & unlike you actually supports its claims w. data. BTW, I didn’t say the Iranian regime was more rational than Israel’s. How can anyone argue that either Ahmadinejad or Bibi are rational. They’re both irrational. But unlike Israel’s policy toward the Arab states which is totally irrantional bordering on pathological, Iran’s foreign policy is far more pragmatic.

      Perhaps you believe theocracies work better than democracies.

      No, they don’t & I don’t support the Iranian regime. But you ought to look at Israel before you cast aspersions on Iran’s theocratic regime. Israel has many of the same trappings except that it hasn’t quite killed off the secular nature of the state. But if things keep moving in the same direction, Israel is well on its way to becoming a supremacist Jewish theocratic state.

      1. OH please….

        Richard, thanks for your response. I am so weary of this stuff that I could just scream.

        I said nothing about holocaust deniers, so why are you bringing that into it? Because Ahmadinejhad is a holocaust denier? What does that have to do with anything here?

        My view isn’t at all peculiar, and it is much more realistic than yours.

        1. Mary said and I quote:
          “I think Israel is the irrational one, not Iran. That was what I was saying.”

          She explicitly said that Iran was rational and Israel wasn’t. You didn’t say that Iran’s regime was more rational but Mary did. And my post was addressed to Mary, not to you.

          1. Iran may be viewed as irrational, but they are not violently irrational in the same way Israel is. Israel swats flies with sledgehammers.

            This is Richard’s blog and he has the right to respond to any comment even if it is not directed at him. You are being argumentative for argument’s sake.

      2. Hezbollah killed several IDF soldiers

        To add to this point, this was not Hezbollah simply attacking IDF soldiers out of the blue. It came after years of skirmishing with the IDF around the border and in southern Lebanon (which Israel had and continues to sit on, at least in part), and particularly in the disputed Shebaa Farms area. Israel chose to blow up that particular incident to a ridiculous proportion, responded in an extremely heavy-handed manner, and of course found itself facing the latest of the list of fiascoes that it has gotten itself involved in with regards to Lebanon.

        1. And Israel’s imprisonment w/o trial of hundreds of Hezbollah prisoners added impetus to this kidnapping attack. Not that I justify it. But it’s important to understand that Hezbollah doesn’t do things like this for no reason or out of pure hatred for Israel.

          1. Richard, I object to your use of the word kidnapped in this context. These soldiers were not civilians, nor were they off duty soldiers going about their business shopping or drinking coffee in Tel Aviv. They were soldiers stationed at the Lebanese border, and may well have been part of the units that frequently terrorize Lebanese civilians from the air, or invade Lebanon from the ground, both violations of Israel’s agreements, not to mention of international law. The soldiers were captured. To say they were kidnapped is propaganda language.

          2. Yes, you are right. It’s a mental habit I’ve gotten into seeing it purely fr. the Israeli pt of view. You are right & captured is a better term. I know I’ve written “kidnapped” before too. It’s hard to lose old perspectives & habits.

        2. the border and in southern Lebanon (which Israel had and continues to sit on, at least in part)

          Israel does not merely sit on that border, it violates it on a regular basis both on the ground and in the air. It overflies Lebanese airspace frequently, terrorizing the people with sonic booms, and other behaviour. Its on-the-ground violations of Lebanese territory sometimes involve the murders of Lebanese civilians, generally people like shepherds and farmers. Israeli troops have even murdered a few children during these small incursions. The U.N. has a record of this behaviour on the part of Israel, though I am sure Israel violates Lebanese territory more often than the U.N. is able to count accurately.

          And then there is the fact that Israel still holds a number of Lebanese civilians whom they kidnapped as “bargaining chips” years ago. Some of those “bargaining chips” were teenage kids when they were kidnapped.

          And Israel has the gall to be outraged when its soldiers are captured by Lebanese?

          1. Not to mention themany Palestinians Israel has locked in its jails without charge while they bemoan the capture of one Israeli soldier whom they also claim was “kidnapped.” Israel respects the rights of no one.

    1. 18 comments in a day. You’ve exceeded your quota and are hogging the threads. You’ll have 3 comments tomorrow. Beyond that your comments may be deleted. Look at my comment rules. When someone abuses their privileges they are moderated.

  9. Who will that harm? The regime? Hardly.

    I will say definitely not. While broadly based sanctions can weaken a state by depriving it of resources in total (as the sanctions on Iraq greatly weakened that state, and put its population in extreme duress), they have not, to the best of my knowledge, ever brought down a highly authoritarian regime. *

    In fact, those regimes tend to be relatively strengthened in such a situation. It absolves them of all responsibility for the plight of their population, and gives them the opportunity to monopolize limited economic resources and use them as a tool to maintain power. This is especially the case with states that have a source of funding, such as oil exports, that they can tap into regardless of the actual strength of the rest of their economy.

    *Sanctions played a role in bringing down South Africa’s apartheid policies. That may be an exception to the rule, although South Africa had some degree of democracy for the white minority.

    If Israel does bomb Iran it will be a horrible deja vu experience for me. Just as it was before the Iraq war, you know what’s coming. You don’t know precisely how the bad news will unfold, but you know it will be bad. Very, very bad.

    It would be a total disaster for Israel and the United States, as well as those who will get caught in the crossfire of the following conflict. Considering the complexity of the mission (it requires multiple in-air refuelings over hostile or at least uncooperative airspace), the difficulty of hitting all the targets (I do not believe that Israel has the technical capability to hit and destroy all of Iran’s nuclear sites with a full degree of confidence without resorting to nuclear-tipped missiles), and the possibilities that Iran has been fortifying key sites with S-300s and other defensive weapons bought from Russia, I believe it would be a fiasco that would greatly damage Israel’s Air Force (the most effective branch of its military), fail to accomplish its objectives, and start a war in the Middle East.

    To put it in a shorter form without so many parenthesis, it would be a losing situation for all parties involved.

    This is an excellent entry, Richard. Keep it up!

  10. Just a minor clarification if I may. Most experts agree, as Richard Silverstein asserted, that Uranium has to be 85% – 90% enriched in order to be considered weapons grade. However, apparently one can still make a crude weapon with 20% enriched Uranium. Might such a crude weapon be somewhat devastating if used against the population center of a small country like Israel?

    1. apparently one can still make a crude weapon with 20% enriched Uranium

      First, I have never heard that this is true & I read very widely on this subject. So I doubt even if it is remotely true, that a weapon of any utility could be produced in this way. 20% is medical grade uranium. Can you imagine creating a bomb from the uranium in a hospital’s medical equipment??

      Might such a crude weapon be somewhat devastating if used against the population center of a small country like Israel?

      Might I walk on the moon tonight? Maybe, but unlikely. But thanks to one of our resident hasbarists for painting the most lurid picture possible fr. this data. Now, we’ll get back to our regularly scheduled program…

      1. Well I try not to ever state anything without some basis for it. The BBC reported the following: “But experts say Iran could convert a stockpile of 20% enriched uranium to weapons grade material within six months.”

        Furthermore the information I had regarding the weaponization of even 20% enriched Uranium came from the International Panel on Fissile Materials: “an independent group of arms-control and nonproliferation experts from both nuclear weapon and non-nuclear weapon states.” Now like I said, a 20% enriched Uranium would be admittedly crude and not terribly effective but if the BBC is right, and they’re usually pretty reliable, the ability to produce 80%-90% enriched Uranium in 6 months seems like a development worthy of some concern.

        Notice please that I am not framing anything in absolutes. If you have information from reliable sources that contradicts mine, then by all means feel free to educate me – citations are appreciated. I’m pretty open minded.

        I also love how my previous stance on free speech has suddenly turned me into a hasbarist!! I support free speech for Ahmadinejad, Finkelstein, Chomsky and pretty much anyone, and that makes me a hasbarist?? That’s hardly in line with the positions of groups like say the ADL or the ZOA! I think you’re being a little harsh.

        1. Pea, I don’t mean to be picky but you could save yourself a lot of trouble, and the rest of us a lot of time, by copying and pasting the relevant passage from this report to include it in your comment. I doubt any of us has the time or inclination to read the whole page in search of whatever you are referring to regarding the 20 percent uranium. Generally, that is the courteous thing to do when making a claim – kindly provide a link and paste the relevant passage.

          Just because “experts say” Iran could create weapons with 20 percent enriched uranium, there is no evidence whatsoever that they have the capability or the inclination to do so. Despite what you may believe, Iran is not a terrorist cell tinkering with nuclear waste for the sake of terrorizing anyone with cheesy little bombs.

          You should also understand that hasbara can be very subtle and sometimes unintentional. Like a virus, it is easily passed on from one person to another, sometimes without their awareness. However, you seem to be quite aware of what you are saying.

          1. Read on, Shirin. editorsteve is now a physicist. This makes him an “expert,” don’t you think? 🙂

          2. Well, Mary, I suppose it IS possible for someone to be a physicist, a journalist, and an expert on international law all at one time.

          3. Look, Richard knows who I am and has my CV.

            All that said, I never claimed to be an expert in international law. But I can read treaties… and even the Goldstone Report, all 600 pages of it.

            I have on occasion corrected your misquotations and mis-assertions.

            I was a full-time university professor for 20 years. I’ve authored or edited 19 books and worked in 85 countries. OK?

          4. steve, the problem is not in your assertions, but that you don’t back them up with anything. Despite how well you say Richard knows you, the rest of us do not know you. If you state something as a fact, please substantiate it. Otherwise, it’s just gas. We don’t care about your credentials, we want to see some kind of verification of the things you say are true. But you hardly ever provide it.

          5. Steve, you have indeed repeatedly presented yourself as an authority on international law, and you are hardly the only one who can read treaties or who has read the Goldstone report. I have done a bit of reading and studying myself when it comes to treaties and reports and what-not,

            And funny, I don’t recall your correcting any misquotations of mine, and it seems unlikely that you have, since when I quote I nearly always copy and paste the text directly from the source if it is available online, or type it directly from the source if it is not. As for your “correcting” my assertions, you certainly may challenge them, and we might differ in our understanding or interpretation, but “correction”? I am not one of your students, and in any case I have never made any assertions here or anywhere else about physics, which I assume is what you taught, being a physicist.

  11. Given the 1980-1988 war against Iran that was waged directly by Saddam Hussein and indirectly by the West – a war that all too many people seem to have conveniently forgotten – Iran has for defensive reasons as much of a right to possess nuclear weapons as does any other country in the world. End of story.

    1. Mary and Shirin,

      You constantly slide down a predictable path. When someone comes up with well-founded criticism of your logic (“everybody knows Iran has no nuclear weapons” is not only not true, it is also irrelevant, because Iran has been violating the provisions of the treaty it signed) you (a) say “so what, Israel is worse” and then (b) you attack and/or demean the person who criticizes.

      And if I raise your ire, being I think pretty reasonable about Iran (noting that the latest violation is a really minor one, so why the call for sanctions), think about people who REALLY disagree with your totally unsupported and illogical statements about Iran’s nuclear program.

      Prove that Iran has no nuclear weapons program. Under the treaty it signed, the burden of proof is on Iran, after all. And until you prove it, why not stop the silly personal attacks?

      1. steve, we do not attack or demean anyone; we merely want them to back up their assertions with facts, and if we do not agree with their assertions, we post a rebuttal. Isn’t that what these discussion threads are for?

        You did not raise my ire. And I did not personally attack anyone. If I ever personally attack you, steve, you will definitely know it. I am quite aware of how many men are taken aback by women who speak strongly and have strong opinions. You made assertions in your comments without explaining how you formulated them. If you want people to take your statements under serious consideration, you need to provide some kind of proof that what you say is true.

        I do not have to prove that Iran doesn’t have a nuclear weapons program. That is an absurd request. Can you prove that it does? I personally do not care if Iran has a nuclear weapons program unless some bellicose idiot government such as the US or Israel decides it wants to “teach Iran a lesson.”

        1. The snarky comment about my claim to be a physicist isn’t an attack? Really? Richard knows my background, BTW, so why would I lie?

          I already laid out my proof. Iran had motive, opportunity, and has acted like it has something to hide. It has, in fact, been found to be hiding a lot of things, and there is some actual nuclear evidence as well (that is public) and apparently some that is not public as well. You have not laid out your evidence for why you believe Iran is NOT aiming to develop a nuclear weapon, and you have repeatedly claimed Iran has rights that it demonstrably does not have. And since the burden of proof, under the nonproliferation treaty, is on Iran, the ball is in your court.

          But as I stated, the weapons issue isn’t relevant anyway. Iran has repeatedly violated the terms of the treaty it signed. If you don’t know that, you don’t get out much. Case closed.

          Yet, I questioned sanctions, treatment of Iran, etc. as perhaps too harsh. So we actually seem to agree on the policy if not on the facts.

          1. As to “women” issues, I took my first nuclear physics course (more than 40 years ago) from Dr. Herta Lang at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. She learned HER nuclear physics from Madame Curie. Wish I had even a small percent of their brilliance.

          2. steve, here is something interesting for you to read:

            http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/02/11/AR2010021104852.html?wprss=rss_world/wires

            “Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad told a rally marking the 31st anniversary of the Islamic Revolution in Tehran that Iran was able to enrich uranium to more than 80 percent purity, but again denied Iran was seeking to build an atomic bomb.

            He also said Iran had produced its first batch of higher-enriched uranium fuel, two days after Iran announced the start of the project to increase the enrichment to 20 percent from 3.5 percent.

            White House spokesman Gibbs rejected Ahmadinejad’s assertions, saying Iran had “made a series of statements that are … based on politics not on physics.”

            “The Iranian nuclear program has undergone a series of problems throughout the year. Quite frankly what Ahmadinejad says … he says many things and many of them turn out to be untrue,” he said.”

            I doubt that you are as wounded as you claim, steve. No one snarked at you. It just seems interesting that you claim to have expertise in so many areas. BTW, having a female physics instructor doesn’t necessarily make a man immune from sexist attitudes. I was not accusing you of sexism, merely pointing out that sometimes it seems that it rears its ugly head in discussions. Please accept my apology for that.

      2. Pardon me, Steve, but why are you addressing me before I have said a word about what you have written here?

        But since you dragged me into this, Steve, nuclear science is a very specialized area, nuclear materials production even moreso, and nuclear weapons still moreso. Being a physicist does not make a person an expert, or even particularly knowledgeable about nuclear matters. So, you will pardon me if I prefer to take the word of people who specialize in the areas involved, including a variety of weapons experts, and the IAEA, who have repeatedly reported on the lack of convincing evidence that Iran is pursuing nuclear weapons.

        1. Actually not so specialized. Pretty much every physicist takes two nuclear/particle physics courses and learns all the equations relevant to bomb-making (and star-making). What we don’t learn is the mechanics of bomb-making. I can tell you exactly what you need in terms of fissile material. But I can’t design a bomb trigger. I actually did a series of articles on this in the 1970s, and published a short article by the then-editor of McGraw-Hill’s Nucleonics Week on how to build a cheapie plutonium extraction facility (deliberately leaving out certain detail). It was based on a classified report, and the FBI descended on my office.

          IAEA inspectors look for the “signatures” — mixtures of various radioactive materials in the same sample — that would indicate things like plutonium production or intense enrichment experiments on tiny samples. They detect the samples by detecting the mix of radiation given off. That’s really very basic physics.

          IAEA has reported suspicious radiation signatures.

          1. Two courses and you know all you need to know about nuclear physics? Wow! I am going to have to tell my two old friends from university days who went to all the trouble, pain, and expense of obtaining PhDs in nuclear physics and nuclear engineering respectively that they were wasting their time, and could have made do with those two courses.

            The IAEA inspectors have repeatedly reported that they see no convincing evidence of an Iranian nuclear weapons program, so whatever they may have detected, it has apparently not been enough to convince them. As long as they remain unconvinced, I remain unconvinced.

            I also remain unconvinced that Iran with a nuclear weapons program is more dangerous than Iran without one, and that the United States and Israel are still and will be for the foreseeable future the most dangerous countries in the world. But that is another topic.

          2. Misquoting as usual. I’ve taken more coursework in this area. But you only need two to understand the decay sequences and radiation patterns for all this stuff. There are literally hundreds of thousands of people who can figure out how to get the nuclear materials for a bomb. That’s not the same as being able to put your hands on the specialized electronic and mechanical parts. But any junior undergrad who has taken the two courses can calculate the minimum time interval needed to bring the bomb-stuff together in a critical mass, once the enrichment level and amount of bomb-stuff is known. Example: VERY easy to do it with 20 pounds of U235 and a gun-type bomb, not so easy with 6 pounds of U235 and an implosion trigger. In my day, we had to do it by hand. Now there is software…

          3. Steve, you keep accusing me of misquoting when I have quoted nothing. I would think that as an editor you would know that in order for there to be a misquote there must be a quote.

            And I made no reference at all to how much course work you may or may not have done in any subject. I have no idea about that.

            As for the physics part, that is your field, and not mine, therefore I must defer to you on that subject.

      3. “everybody knows Iran has no nuclear weapons” is not only not true

        You’ve basically just said that Iran has nuclear weapons. Either that or you’re being very sloppy. I think what you meant to say is that people know Iran has no nuclear weapons PROGRAM, which is an entirely diff. statement & also debatable. If you are a physicist I hope you’re a lot more precise about yr scientific calculations than you are about how you express yrself.

        I don’t think the burden of proof is on Iran to prove anything. If the IAEA thinks Iran has a weapons program it is entitled to do all in its power to prove it. Why should Iran feel it has anything to prove to anyone? And it doesn’t.

        1. If the IAEA things Iran has a weapons program, why doesn’t it says so instead of stating repeatedly that it has seen no evidence of a weapons program?

          1. Don’t take outward IAEA diplomatic politeness as a writeoff. You have to look at what the Security Council does after hearing private IAEA testimony and reviewing its work.

            Indeed, IAEA chief Mohamed ElBaradei has publicly stated that the agency could not be sure, had no firm evidence, but that Iran had probably done some weaponization studies. People who study IAEA pronouncements take that to mean “whoa!” especially since the Security Council (including Iran’s “friend,” China, and reactor supplier Russia) voted to force Iran to swallow the so-called “additional protocol” on nuclear inspection. Usually, countries are only forced to take up the protocol if the UN — meaning the IAEA — finds evidence of weaponization (some countries voluntarily take it anyway). The evidence was a suspicious radiation signature. Iran has rejected the UN demand.

          2. I have zero confidence in the Security Council to do the right thing in regard to Iran or very much of anything else.

          3. Indeed, the Security Council is a sham. As I said, this whole thing is politically motivated, and as we have seen untold numbers of times, the Security Council can be politically manipulated.

          4. Yes, Mary, the Security Council can be politically manipulated, bribed, and bullied into complying with whatever the US wants it to do.

  12. By your logic, if Iran has a right to attack the US following an attack on Iran by Israel, then Israel has a right to attack Iran for it’s support of Hamas and Hizballah. I agree with that, actually.

    1. I didn’t say it had a right to attack Israel. I said it WOULD attack. Those are diff. statements. But there is quite a significant diff. bet. Iran’s support for Hezbollah & Hamas and U.S. support for Israel. Without U.S. support Israel would either cease to exist or would be forced to accomodate itself to Middle Eastern reality through compromise. Without Iranian support Hezbollah and Hamas would continue to exist. So U.S. support is existentially vital to Israel. Without it, Israel’s military machine would falter. I see a far tighter relationship bet. Israel & the U.S. than bet. Iran & Hez & Hamas.

      1. “Without U.S. support Israel would either cease to exist …”
        Under what scenario would Israel stop to exist?

        1. Israel would have been overrun in 1973 w/o the Nixon airlift. If the U.S. ever ceased sharing military technology & weapons w. Israel it would not end in Israel’s destruction, but the country would MUCH more vulnerable militarily than it is now.

          1. Not to mention all those American Zionist investors bankrolling illegal settlements and maintaining AIPAC and other political influence organizations. Without the kowtowing Congress and ever-cooperative POTUS, Israel would be just another tiny middle eastern country. Imagine that.

          2. “Israel would have been overrun in 1973 w/o the Nixon airlift”. How could that be? I thought the leftist talking point was that Egypt only wanted to hold on to a small strip east of the Suez Canal.

  13. Just to clarify, I sincerely hope that neither Israel or the US attack Iran because of the bloodshed that would ensue (not for fear of a war crimes trial).

  14. Let’s be entirely clear about the fact that what even people who should know better keep referring to as “the Iran crisis”, or “the Iran nuclear dilemma”, etc. is a crisis and/or a dilemma only because the United States (and Israel) have decided to gin it up into one. There is no real crisis and no real dilemma because Iran has not done anything that it is not perfectly entitled to do, or that is any of the business of the United States or Israel. Nor has Iran “misbehaved”, to use a term recently bandied about by Obama, in its reaction to the very real threat presented to it by the bellicose rhetoric and behaviour of both the United States and Israel.

    1. It is a deadly game indeed, much worse than that which led to the Iraq invasion. What is making Israel and the US angry is that Iran knows exactly what they are up to, and they refuse to be bullied. They are not afraid of the big bully and his nasty little brother. Of course this makes them a “terrorist state.”

  15. You really have to go back a long way to sort it all out, I think.

    1. Iran is absolutely entitled to conduct a peaceful nuclear program, under the non-proliferation treaty, but only if it submits to IAEA inspection and disclosure rules that it has agreed to under the nonproliferation treaty provisions it signed (the provisions do differ in detail from country to country, by the way). It has a history of spotty compliance.

    2. This latest 20% enrichment deal was noncompliance, but really in a minor sense. IAEA was indeed present when a small amount of 4% enriched fuel was transferred to another facility for enrichment to 20%. But technically, IAEA was not given proper notification time, and was not present when the final part of the transfer supposedly took place. IAEA folks are fuming, but really the level of noncompliance does not seem to be high enough to have triggered such extreme responses in Europe and the US. The issue seems to be more that it was noncompliance, however small, on an agreement Iran just signed, and on top of more serious noncompliance over the years, including an entirely secret facility Iran was forced to admit to last year.

    3. I don’t know where the absolute belief among some on the list that Iran does NOT have a weapons program comes from. I think any reasonable military minds in Iran would have decided to start one 15 years ago, because Iraq was proven to have one (IAEA captured some of its illegal enrichment devices). Tough neighborhood. Since then, evidence is murky but pretty strong. It includes some isotope signatures IAEA has detected that would be difficult to generate in any other way.

    4. You can make a dirty bomb out of 20% enriched uranium, but one that would have low explosive power, high contamination power. It would also be too big to put into a missile. The real danger is that 20% is not that far from 90%. An explanation:

    * Natural uranium has 0.3 to 0.8% fissile uranium (U235, the easily split stuff). So in 1000 pounds of natural uranium, you have, generally, around 3 pounds of the bomb stuff.

    * To get 20% enrichment, you end up with a mix of U235 and heavier U238 that weights only 18 pounds. You have to remove 982 pounds of U238 to enrich that far.

    * to get to 90% enrichment, you end up with (roughly) 3.25 pounds, by removing another 14.75 pounds of U238.

    * The effort is not linear — it is harder per-pound to remove the last few pounds of U238 than the first 982! But you would be dealing with a much smaller, easily fudged amount of material (you need 6 to 10 pounds of 90% enriched uranium to make a warhead if you are fairly smart, 12-15 pounds if you need to be crude).

    It is the small amount and the relative quickness-to-90% that magnifies the IAEA concern, and of course the general concern in the West (and in the mainly Sunni countries just across the Gulf). I think the concern is justified, given the science.

    Are sanctions justified? Are there better alternatives? Iran has indeed been offered security guarantees in exchange for compliance and (ideally) for enrichment abroad. But it took several years of patient negotiations to come to a deal with India. I would assume that the same would be true of Iran. And both sides seem to want to push to the limit, in public anyway. Iran tends to come close to a deal and then back away, infuriating western diplomats but suggesting a split within the Iranian government.

    Iran, in turn, deserves some infuriation of its own over the latest flap, taken as an isolated incident.

    The cause of peace deserves better from all sides.

    1. Whether or not your nuclear enrichment figures make any difference, the fact remains that there is no logical reason why Iran should not be allowed to enrich uranium for its own purposes. It is a country located in a region where there is one neighbor with a completely undeclared nuclear arsenal (who else but Israel is allowed to get away with that? What if the shoe were on the other foot, would Iran be allowed the freedom Israel has to build and maintain a nuclear arsenal?), so even if they are planning on making nukes, who can blame them? The fact remains, however, that there is no proof that this is their intention. The uproar over the whole thing is way out of proportion, and is politically motivated.

      1. Mary, as a physicist I think the proof is overwhelming, but the “logical reason” is that Iran has repeatedly violated the treaty it signed… and has in fact generally admitted to doing so. It WAS allowed to enrich to 20%. It signed an agreement on that just last month, and then immediately violated the agreement — admittedly in a seemingly minor way, but signing and violating is, well, tacky. Especially since other violations were not minor.

        Also logically, no one can prove Iran does NOT have a nuclear program unless it opens up to inspection and declares its nuclear sites, as it is bound by treaty to do. If it had not signed the treaty, Russia could not (as a signatory) have sold reactors to Iran.

        Israel is another issue. They got their fissile material by making plutonium in a research reactor starting in the 1970s. They hid this by creating an elaborate fake control room and instrumentation for the reactor. THAT in turn led to more draconian inspection standards. All that said, Israel by doing all that does in fact not have a commercial nuclear program today. No one can sell them another reactor, for instance.

        When Carter (a nuclear engineer) was president, he got suspicious about the Israel reactor data, in fact, and ordered extra inspections. But Israel fooled the extra inspectors as well.

        And yes, all THAT being said, Iran: Sanctions. Pakistan: Sanctions. India: Sanctions. North Korea: Sanctions. Israel: No nuclear power generation. Absolutely a comparatively small penalty.

        That’s why (in part) I questioned sanctions for Iran. But Iran is really acting badly and options are limited. I don’t personally feel ignoring the treaty violations is an option, but that’s an opinion. Remember, Iran was allowed to enrich to 20% DESPITE previous violations because it agreed to be extra-nice this time… and did not keep its word.

        1. Israel is not in IAEA. Are you saying that it once was? That’s not history as I recall it.

          And as far as I know Iran does allow inspections. Why are you claiming that it doesn’t open itself to inspection?

          1. Interesting story. Israel has not signed the NPT and thus is not eligible to be sold stuff for a civilian nuclear program, as I said.

            But starting in the 1960s, The US insisted on its own inspections, as one of the conditions for sending Israel arms and other support. The Dimona reactor had been built about 10 years earlier. Remember, not every US administration has given Israel a blank check. Eisenhower forced Israel, France and UK back from Suez in 1956, for instance, and in 1973 we stopped Israel from totally encircling and annihilating Egypt’s army.

            Iran has repeatedly cheated on inspections — in one large way and a bunch of small ways — and has refused to implement the so-called “additional protocol,” which the UN imposed.

            I felt I made that point clear — that the cheating doesn’t warrant the crazy talk, Israel is guilty too, and I’m not into sanctions, but there should be some punishment for not living up to the NPT.

          2. Odd that someone who has read extensively on the subject has never heard that crude weapons can be made out of 20% enriched Uranium. But I’m glad I got confirmation on that from an actual expert. editorsteve is the voice of reason here and I appreciate your adherence to facts and sober analysis.

          3. Editorsteve claims he is an expert. But whether he is or not he also made clear that a dirty bomb would be an awfully stupid way to go if you were trying to create a nuclear weapon. It’s a lot more likely an outright terrorist group would pursue this strategy (& they did in the case of Richard Reid) than a state like Iran.

          4. Richard, I thought you had been apprised of Steve’s qualifications in the various areas in which he claims to have expert, or at least authoritative knowledge, and yet you appear to be expressing some doubt.

          5. I feel awkward both being put in a position by EditorSteve of vouching for his credentials and of others for denigrating them. I also feel awkward being asked to vouch for someone’s qualifications in a field about which I’m not qualified to do so. So I want to make clear that the only people whose credentials I vouch for are those I know either personally or have a sense of confidence that I can do so. I am also not saying that EditorSteve is NOT who he says he is. He may be everything he says he is. I’m sorry this isn’t a more definitive statement. But I don’t like being put in the middle of something like this.

            If EditorSteve has a CV available online I suggest that he make a link to it available to others. If he has any other websites, publications or organizations w which he is affiliated that would help others to assess his qualifications I’d urge him to make that available as well. I’m not qualified to do this myself.

          6. We are all asked to substantiate our claims with a link or some other information, but steve never does this. It’s very aggravating that we are supposed to take him at his word when we don’t know where he gets his information from. It is also impossible to respond to any of his comments except to ask again and again, where is your proof? And I’m sorry, but I don’t accept anyone as an authority on any subject simply because they claim to be one.

          7. Pea,

            I’m cutting down my posts to this blog but I want to correct a misconception.

            I don’t want to be called an “expert” but I’m well read on the topic and I have some technical background — more than enough to support my reasoning. You can make what’s called a “dirty bomb” out of almost anything radioactive, and there’s an extensive literature. I wrote about these things extensively in the 1970s, but almost none of that stuff is on the web (too old!) so few people find it. The devastation comes not from the initial explosion (which is mainly conventional) but from the spread of contamination. To get a really destructive “atomic” explosion at 20% requires that the critical mass be brought together very, very fast, and that it be large. Technically hard.

            But note my original context. My point was that although it is possible, it is hardly likely — it’s cumbersome. The real issue is that once you have 20% U235, you have removed 986 of the 995 pounds of U238 from each 1000 pounds of the original ore! (Fior a low-tech but warhead-capable weapon you’d need to start with about 4,000 pounds of ore.

            So the IAEA and Iran haggled for quite awhile over the rules Iran must follow to carry out the enrichment to 20%. Iran signed the agreement, and then immediately violated it. BUT IAEA INSPECTORS WERE THERE! The violation was a technical, minor one.

            I happen to believe (and have explained why I believe it in detail) that Iran has a weapons program. But I stated specifically in the original post, the flap over this violation just seems uncalled for. Gotta be some consequences. But far short of what the crazies have been saying. That was my key take-away.

          8. Thanks again editorsteve for the clarifications. I’ve read extensively on the subject as well but I most certainly do not have any sort of technical background on the issue. For the record, I think that an attack against Iran would be a horrible idea and a horrible waste of human life. I am not in favor of that at all.

      2. The uproar over the whole thing is way out of proportion, and is politically motivated.

        This is the critical point. All the rest is a set of side dishes.

    2. serious noncompliance over the years, including an entirely secret facility Iran was forced to admit to last year.

      You make it sound as if this “entirely secret facility” was an operating production facility that Iran had concealed when it fact its construction was barely completed and it was not even equipped when Iran revealed its existence. Not everyone agrees that this was a serious non-compliance.

      …the absolute belief among some on the list that Iran does NOT have a weapons program comes from.

      I don’t recall anyone here expressing such an absolute belief, though quite a few people have expressed an absolute belief, or something very close, that Iran does have a nuclear weapons program, and presents a dire threat to world peace and security. I, for one, am careful to cite the lack of convincing evidence that Iran has a nuclear weapons program, not an absolute belief that it has none. I am far more afraid of Israel with its very real, and very “secret” nuclear arsenal, than I am of Iran in any capacity.

      I think any reasonable military minds in Iran would have decided to start one 15 years ago…

      What you think is evidence only of what you think, and not of anything real.

      You can make a dirty bomb out of 20% enriched uranium, but one that would have low explosive power, high contamination power. It would also be too big to put into a missile.

      If would be too big to put into a missile, it seems it would be a very difficult weapon to deliver by any means, and therefore not of much use or danger.

      Iran deserves a lot of infuriation of its own on a lot of levels. Maybe, just maybe, if the West would approach Iran with some respect instead of treating it alternatively as a recalcitrant child and an unreasoning threat to civilization it would get a better reaction. Maybe, just maybe, if the West would replace imperialist demands backed by threats of “obliteration” with respectful negotiations and mindfulness of Iran’s rights and needs, Iran would not feel the need to push back.

      As for your last statement, definitely agreed.

      1. On the absolute belief, go back and reread your posts and Mary’s.

        On Iran likelihood of starting a program 15 years ago, my point is that at that time, they had a damn good reason to — Iraq had such a program.

        Dirty bombs can be delivered other ways — Iran has short-range naval cruise missiles that could be adapted. Or on a small, fast boat or commercial aircraft. But actually my complete point is that it is unlikely Iran would go that route. Once you get to 20% the step to 90% is pretty short.

        I’d made the point about Israel seemingly getting off lightly — no commercial fuel cycle because they haven’t signed NPT, but no sanctions in other areas despite obviously having the bomb. But two wrongs don’t make a right. Even China and Russia agree that the world would be a safer place if Iraq does not get a bomb. In exchange, there has to be an absolute guarantee of non-interference in Iranian affairs, and so forth.

        1. On the absolute belief, go back and reread your posts and Mary’s.

          Oh, no you don’t. I’m not playing your game. You copy and paste from my posts a direct and complete quote showing that I expressed such an absolute belief, or this conversation does not go any further.

          Well, I happen to think the world would be a safer place if Iran DOES get a bomb for the simple reason that it would be a deterrent against the United States or Israel attacking Iran. I am far more concerned about the consequence of the US or Israel committing aggression against Iran than I am about the consequences of Iran having a bomb or two.

          As for Israel getting of virtually scot free for illegally developing a major nuclear weapons arsenal, what is new? They have gotten off scot free since day one for all kinds of crimes and atrocities, including crimes against humanity.

          1. I am still waiting for something I can read that will back up what steve has been saying here. The rule that if you make a claim in your comment, you should provide something to substantiate it, should be equally applicable to steve regardless of whether Richard has his CV.

            I, too, would not be disturbed by Iran having a nuclear bomb, in particular. I’m disturbed that ANYONE has a nuclear bomb. But I don’t see Iran as a threat to anyone, and that it has been portrayed as a threat is nothing more than political theater. It is all the more ludicrous because Israel is the true nuclear rogue state but is not held to account for its nuclear weapons program AT ALL.

          2. I am still waiting for something I can read that will back up what steve has been saying here.

            How about the fact that in his view Iran “had a damn good reason”? Does that work for you? :o}

            Yes, I it is disturbing that anyone at all has nuclear weapons*, but if by obtaining one or two nuclear bombs Iran could discourage Israel and the US from committing aggression against it, then on balance I’d rather see Iran have a bomb or two.

            * And in case anyone is taking Obama’s grandiose talk about nuclear disarmament seriously, he is increasing the budget and stepping up the US nuclear weapons program with the aim of modernizing and updating its arsenal.

          3. Definitely, it is a scenario of the big boys keeping their foot on the neck of the underdog. The hypocrisy is breathtaking. Meanwhile, the western press is full of horror stories, or implied horror stories, decrying this non-issue as something of critical importance. Iranophobia is rapidly edging Islamophobia out as the boogeyman du jour.

            Every day I am astounded by the stupidity of it all, and of politicians who do not realize that a thinking person with a modicum of intelligence cannot see it for what it is. However, it is not the thinking people they try to fool, because they cannot. It is the non-thinkers, the great unwashed who get their knowledge from the corner bar, the water cooler, the breakroom at lunch time, and from Fox News, Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck, et al. The subject of Iran is one of many that are distorted and misrepresented on a daily basis by people whose agendas are served by peddling a phony bill of goods.

        2. my point is that at that time, they had a damn good reason to — Iraq had such a program.

          So according to your reasoning, having a “damn good reason” to do something constitutes evidence that they have done it?

    3. to editorsteve: Thank you for your posts. I learned a lot from them on a subject I’ve neglected to keep informed about. You state your case very well and seem to know what you’re talking about. The posters that are arguing with you are obviously not in your league and are constantly repeating themselves with the same old tired arguments that you addressed in one of your first posts anyway. When that doesn’t work they taunt. Called on it, they imply your a sexist. And. well anyway, Israel is much more evil. Yawn.

      1. You’ve “learned a lot” from someone who posts opinions without any substantiation of what he claims? Do you have a history of being gullible?

        There is no reason to believe anyone is not in his “league” since steve does not care to substantiate anything he says no matter how many times he is asked. Nor has he been taunted; we merely want him to put his money where his mouth is.

        If you were really reading anything in this thread, you would have noted that I apologized to steve for any implication of sexism.

        Why don’t you add to the discussion instead?

        1. Amir thinks this is IP baseball and he’s keeping score for us. That’s his MO. Tedious really. But in a way I’m glad Amir is here. We could, & have had far worse commenters in these threads. I just wish he would add to the discussion instead of taking pot shots.

    4. I think any reasonable military minds in Iran would have decided to start one 15 years ago, because Iraq was proven to have one.

      I don’t mean to be picky, but 15 years ago Iraq was crippled on every level by the aftermath of a devastatingly destructive US-led attack; five years of economic and intellectual sanctions that two UN humanitarian coordinators have described as genocidal and resigned over, and that made it impossible for Iraq to repair or maintain even the most basic infrastructure; and had UN weapons inspectors looking into every nook and cranny of its real and alleged weapons programs. I hardly think reasonable military minds anywhere would have considered Iraq a threat 15 years ago.

      logically, no one can prove Iran does NOT have a nuclear program unless it opens up to inspection and declares its nuclear sites…

      Logically, no one can prove Iran does not have a nuclear (weapons) program under any conditions. Logically, you cannot prove nonexistence of anything. As a scientist you should know this.

      1. Reasonable military minds would have been stifled by the powers that be, much as Powell was stifled by the Bush administration when he announced the “irrefutable evidence” in 2002 that Iraq had WMD’s. It is the government’s task to act in spite of evidence contradicting its stance, and this is once again what the US is doing. Obama has turned into Bush Redux with regard to almost every issue both domestic and foreign, and he’s obeying the same masters. I don’t mean that quite literally; I don’t believe in the Bilderberg group and other conspiracy theory nonsense. But I do believe he is being influenced by the same cast of characters as Bush. Any original thought Obama had went out of his head within the first month of his presidency.

        1. I don’t agree that the slimy sniveling crybaby Powell was stifled by the Bush regime. He willingly sold himself for the cheap price of keeping his prestigious government job. I won’t say he sold his soul or his honour because he had long before that proven he had none by, among other things, participating in the My Lai cover up.

          I also don’t think that Obama is doing anything but what he is very, very good at – being a politician. Everything he has done, or not done, was completely predictable, although I must admit that even I did not realize how thoroughly and how quickly he would prove to be little more than Bush in Democratic clothing.

          1. I think I recall Powell saying to someone that he had his doubts about the aluminum tubes and yellowcake, etc. but that he felt compelled to speak before the UN anyway. Ha! No doubt because he was afraid he would lose his job. And you’re right, it was not the first time Powell severely compromised himself. Even after he lied before the UN Security Council, Powell was still frozen out of the loop by Karl Rove, et al, and in the end Powell got a small measure of revenge by endorsing Obama for president.

            We both agree that Obama has done nothing. Actually, I expected absolutely nothing from him anyway. The only reason I voted for Obama was to do my part to keep John McCain and Sarah Palin out of the White House. Obama was the lesser of two evils.

          2. Powell’s own nuclear advisers told him that the aluminum tubes were unsuitable for uranium enrichment, and yet he sold that heavily in the UN speech. In fact, I recall that they told him specifically that anodized aluminum was unsuitable for uranium enrichment, and yet one of his selling points was that the fact that the tubes were of anodized aluminum meant that they must be for the purpose of uranium enrichment. Based on the small amount of research I have done, it appears that it is correct that anodized aluminum is not suitable.

            I have no doubt that Colin Powell knowingly lied in front of the UN and on other occasions related to the aggression against Iraq. And then after he was fired he had the unmitigated gall to wail and whine and snivel in public that he “was deceiiiiiiived” into doing it. Bull****. He chose his own personal ambition over doing what was right, and truthful, and moral. The man is a slimeball.

            I didn’t vote for Obama or Hillary in the primary. In the general election it made no difference at all what I did since my state was guaranteed to go for Obama.

            I thought I knew what to expect from Obama, but I must admit he has managed to disappoint even me. I really did not expect him to be as fond of the use of violence as he clearly is, nor did I expect him to cave as quickly or as easily when it comes to the Palestinians. And I also was a bit surprised to see how quickly, eagerly, and seamlessly he leapt onto the “Iran as threat to world peace du jour” bandwagon. I was not, by the way, even a little bit impressed by his Cairo speech except that it was a very lovely piece of empty rhetoric.

          3. It is very dangerous when a careerist such as Powell tosses his integrity overboard for the sake of keeping his job, which Powell has done at least twice in his life. You must bear in mind that Washington, and the American public, have a very short memory. Most Americans don’t even recall Powell’s involvement in My Lai. What astonished me at the time of his UN speech that it was so obvious that the whole thing was rubbish, yet Powell, Bush and Cheney and their neocon cohorts were able to so easily fool the American people and the UN Security Council so easily. It was the same scenario when Israel claimed they bombed a nuclear facility under construction in Syria – an empty building which could have been anything from a slaughterhouse to a self-storage facility. The mentality is, if you want something to be so, then all you have to do is say that it is so. What I find hard to understand is the willingness of the American people to continue to believe lie after lie after lie.

            As I have said before, the moment I saw Obama genuflecting and groveling at the 2008 AIPAC convention, I knew that I could expect nothing from him whatsoever. I voted for him to keep the Christian Right from taking over the country, which they would have done had McCain been elected.

  16. Shirin

    If the US supported Israel’s 1967 aggression why did Israel attack the USS LIBERTY killing several dozen crew members and woulding some 200 more?

    Surely you cannot be naive enough to buy the official line that this was a “mistake”

    Many believe that the huge growth in the power of the Israel lobby stemmed from this incident when the Zionists discovered that they could get away with the killing of US servicemen with no consequenes whatsoever.

    1. Israel attacked the USS Liberty because president L.B.Johnson told them to attack it, the reasons for which are too complicated to go into here. But a reading of Tom Segev’s “1967” can help to explain it. I personally know people who were involved and could attest to this. Thank you.

    2. CG, what are you suggesting? Are you saying the US did NOT support Israel’s 1967 aggression against Egypt, Jordan, and Syria? If so, that is contrary to the facts. And no, I am not naive enough to believe that the attack on the USS Liberty was a mistake. Thanks for the vote of confidence, though.

  17. Iran envoy reminds France of skeleton in closet
    12 February 2010 00:18

    Iran’s Ambassador to France Mehdi Mir Abu Talebi has called on French officials to be even-handed in their dealings with Iran.

    Speaking to Press TV on the eve of the 31st anniversary of the Islamic Revolution, Mir Abu Talebi reminded France of its secret role in helping Israel develop its nuclear program in 1950s.

    “France was one of European countries which were supporting the Israeli regime by giving it the technology to produce nuclear weapons,” the Iranian envoy said
    .
    “They (the French officials) are acting in two opposite directions. On one hand they condemn Iran for its peaceful nuclear energy activity and on the other hand they are supporting countries that that are not even a member of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty,” Mir Abu Talebi stated.

    Most experts estimate that Israel has between 100 and 200 nuclear warheads, largely based on information leaked to The Sunday Times newspaper in the 1980s by Mordechai Vanunu, a former worker at the country’s Dimona nuclear reactor.

    Israel, which has initiated several wars in the region in its 60-year-old history of occupation, maintains a policy of deliberate ambiguity over its nuclear weapons program.

  18. Ahmadinejad provokes western anger
    By Eric Margolis
    Created Feb 14 2010 – 9:46am
    MIAMI — To fete the 31st anniversary of the 1979 Iranian Revolution, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad gleefully announced his nation will enrich uranium to 20%.

    The fiery Ahmadinejad seems to delight in provoking howls of outrage from the West. They were not long in coming. Western media and politicians loudly denounced Iran’s latest nuclear effort, claiming it would put Tehran within striking distance of achieving the 85-90% enrichment needed for nuclear weapons.

    In fact, Iran will only enrich 40 kilos of low-grade uranium to 20% to fuel a small research reactor in Tehran to produce medical isotopes for cancer treatment and imaging. Iran insists it has no plans to produce nuclear weapons.

    Tehran has offered to swap its low-enriched uranium for fuel rods from Europe and Russia. But Iran says the swap must be simultaneous, while the U.S.-led western powers demand Iran hand over its uranium first, then get the fuel rods at some later date – if it behaves.

    This latest tempest in a teacup comes as Iran slowly develops a nuclear power industry to produce what it maintains will be electricity. Iran’s oil is being depleted. Forty other nations are at similar or more advanced stages of nuclear power generation. This is all quite legal under UN nuclear agency rules.

    Both UN nuclear inspectors and U.S. intelligence say there is no evidence Iran is developing nuclear weapons. Documents claiming the contrary have been debunked as fakes. But nuclear-armed Israel and its partisans warn Iran is developing nuclear weapons and demand sanctions or war.

    Why does Iran keep provoking western anger, defying the Security Council, inviting sanctions and risking devastating Israeli attack when it could simply buy fuel rods from Europe that cannot be used for nuclear weapons?

    Thirty-one years ago, Iranians overthrew the hated, U.S.-backed monarchy of Reza Shah Pahlavi. The revolution was led by an exiled Shia cleric, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini and an old university friend of mine, Sadegh Ghotbzadeh. This historic uprising was ignited by Iranians’ anger at being misruled by a western-installed despot who mocked Islam, allowed his thieving family to loot the nation and spent billions on U.S. and British arms when his people went hungry and illiterate.

    The dreaded U.S. and Israeli-trained secret police, Savak, kept the Shah in power through a reign of terror and torture. Iranians later blamed the U.S. and Britain for engineering and financing Saddam Hussein’s 1980 invasion of Iran which cost one million Iranian casualties.

    In the 1970s, Washington offered to sell the Shah’s regime 31 nuclear reactors. Israel reportedly offered to swap medium-range missiles with nuclear warheads for oil. But after the revolution, Iran was declared a “terrorist regime” when Khomeini demanded Mideast oil money go to its people rather than U.S.-supported monarchies, and championed the Palestinian cause.

    Nuclear power has become Iran’s key national issue. Ali Khamenei, Iran’s current spiritual guide, claims Britain and the U.S. are determined to deny the Muslim world modern technology in order to keep it backwards, weak and forced to buy western arms and exports. Imperial Britain did the same to India, keeping its colony economically backwards for two centuries.

    For most Iranians, developing nuclear power means breaking out of their western-imposed technological ghetto and modernization. It’s a matter of profound national pride and defiance: Iran was repeatedly invaded by Britain and Russia, its governments were overthrown by western powers and its oil exploited. Nuclear technology offers independence and weapons for self-defence, if Tehran so chooses.

    To western dismay, most of the current Iranian protest movement’s leaders back its nuclear program. If Ahmadinejad were replaced, Iran’s nuclear efforts would continue unless the U.S. and Britain managed to achieve their strategy of imposing a new, compliant royalist regime in Tehran.

    In the Iranian view, if France and Britain, and neighbours Russia, Israel, Pakistan and India (now with U.S. help), can have nuclear arms, why can’t Iran at least boil water for tea using nuclear energy?

    The Toronto Sun

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