Wednesday, 18 November 2009

The Fake Nuclear Threat From Iran

The Morning Star is not always right, but it certainly is this time:

If you've been taking the US and Britain's recent pronouncements on Iran seriously, you're probably just about ready to stock up on canned food and start digging a fallout shelter in your back garden.

Secret underground nuclear facilities? Breaches of non-proliferation rules? Dark hints of military action to stop the mad mullahs from a crazed attack on Israel?

To listen to Barack Obama and Gordon Brown, you'd think the world was plunging into a new cold war.

So we should treasure the words of former British diplomat Richard Dalton. They're a rare sign that someone in the Establishment is willing to talk sense on Iran - although Dalton doesn't go nearly far enough.

He's right that attacking Iran would make the world more dangerous. We've seen what a mess we've made of Iraq and Afghanistan. We've no reason to believe an assault on Iran would be any less disastrous.

He's right that ignoring international law - yet again - would only harm prospects for world peace.

But Dalton could and should have been far more damning in his criticism of Western sabre-rattling.

It's not enough to say there's no solid evidence of Iran's nuclear ambitions and no proof that the Qom facility is designed for making weapons. Technically true, certainly, but not enough by a long way.

Here's what Dalton could have said, if he wanted to tell the whole truth.

He could have said that Iran has no nuclear ambitions and no plans to attack any other country.

Iran has an official policy, restated again and again, of "no first strike." It hasn't started a war of aggression in modern history - unlike, say, the US, Britain or Israel. Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has forbidden nuclear weapons as un-Islamic and he maintains that Iran is not trying to develop them.

And the US intelligence agencies all agree that he's telling the truth.

Dalton could have said that Obama had, if not lied about, then massively exaggerated the "dramatic discovery" of the "secret" underground facility at Qom.

After all, it's not as if James Bond had to sneak in with a camera hidden in his watch. This "secret" facility was "discovered" when Iran told the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) about it - completely in line with the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

Qom could, in theory, be used to enrich uranium for bombs - but not if IAEA inspectors are present, and Iran has said it's happy to let them in.

Dalton could also have pointed out that Obama was talking nonsense when he accused Iran of "breaking rules that all nations must follow."

First, Iran has broken no rules. It has put noses out of joint at the IAEA, which is why the agency is throwing tantrums. But that's hardly cause for dire threats.

Second, "all" nations? If only Obama's words were true the world would be safer. But Britain and the US are only two of the countries failing to fulfil their own obligations under the Non-Proliferation Treaty - which requires them to scrap their own nukes and help other nations, such as Iran, with peaceful nuclear energy programmes.

And four countries are not bound by the treaty. Of these, only one has a secret stockpile of up to 400 warheads. Only one regularly launches unprovoked attacks on its neighbours. And only one is willing to be the first to use nukes in a conventional war.

Is Obama sincere in his call for total nuclear disarmament? Is he willing to earn the Nobel prize he was so prematurely given?

If so, he should drop the threats against Iran and rein in that one country - Israel, the Middle East's real rogue state.

Israel has the only outstanding threat of nuclear action by any country against any other. But any such attempted strike - against Iran, which has not started a war in modern times - would be shot down by Obama’s boys in Iraq. There is no other reason why they are still there. And America owes Israel one from way back where "friendly fire" is concerned.

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