Daily Archives: January 13, 2012

IRAN: THE NEOCONS ARE AT IT AGAIN

by Ralph Nader

The same neocons who persuaded George W. Bush and crew to, in Ron Paul’s inimitable words, “lie their way into invading Iraq” in 2003, are beating the drums of war more loudly these days to attack Iran. It is remarkable how many of these warmongers are former draft dodgers who wanted other Americans to fight the war in Vietnam.

With the exception of Ron Paul, who actually knows the history of U.S.-Iranian relations, the Republican presidential contenders have declared their belligerency toward Iranian officials whom they accuse of moving toward nuclear weapons.

The Iranian regime disputes that charge, claiming they are developing the technology for nuclear power and nuclear medicine.

The inspection teams of the International Atomic Energy Authority (IAEA) that monitor compliance with the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), to which Iran belongs, have entered Iran numerous times and, while remaining suspicious, have not been able to find that country on the direct road to the Bomb.

While many western and some Arab countries in the Gulf region have condemned Iran’s alleged nuclear arms quest, Israel maintains some 200 ready nuclear weapons and has refused to sign the NPT, thereby avoiding the IAEA inspectors.

Israelis in the know have much to say. Defense Minister Ehud Barak responded to PBS’s Charlie Rose’s question “If you were Iran wouldn’t you want a nuclear weapon?” with these words:

“Probably, probably. I don’t delude myself that they are doing it just because of Israel. They have their history of 4,000 years. They look around and they see the Indians are nuclear. The Chinese are nuclear, Pakistan is nuclear as well as North Korea, not to mention the Russians.”

The Iranian regime, with a national GDP smaller than Massachusetts, is terrified. It is surrounded by powerful adversaries, including the U.S. military on three of its borders. President George W. Bush labeled Iran, along with Iraq and North Korea, one of  three countries in the “axis of evil,” and Tehran knows what happened to Iraq after that White House assertion. They also know that North Korea inoculated itself from invasion by testing nuclear bombs. And all Iranians remember that the U.S. overthrew their popular elected Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddegh in 1953 and installed the dictatorial Shah who ruled tyrannically for the next 27 years.

Recently, Iran has experienced mysterious cyber sabotage, drone violations of its air space, the slaying of its nuclear scientists, and the blowing up of its military sites, including a major missile installation. Israeli and American officials are not trying too hard to conceal this low-level warfare.

Israel military historian-strategist Martin van Creveld said in 2004 that Iranians “would be crazy not to build nuclear weapons considering the security threats they face.” Three years later he stated that “the world must now learn to live with a nuclear Iran the way we learned to live with a nuclear Soviet Union and a nuclear China….We Israelis have what it takes to deter an Iranian attack. We are in no danger at all of having an Iranian nuclear weapon dropped on us…thanks to the Iranian threat, we are getting weapons from the U.S. and Germany.”

U.S. General John Abizaid is one of numerous military people who say that the world can tolerate a nuclear Iran — which, like other countries, does not wish to commit suicide.

Using the “Iranian threat,” served Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, who on his first tour of duty back in 1996, speaking to a joint session of Congress, made a big point of the forthcoming Iranian bomb.

Somehow the Iranians, who were invaded in 1980 by a U.S.-backed Saddam Hussein, resulting in a million casualties, and who have not invaded anybody for 250 years, are taking a very long time to build a capability for atomic bomb production, much less the actual weapons.

In mid-2011, Meir Dagan, recently retired head of Israel’s “CIA,” repeated his opposition to a military attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities, adding it would engulf the region in a conventional war.

He further took the Israeli government to task for failing “to put forth a vision,” noting that “Israel must present an initiative to the Palestinians and adopt the 2002 Saudi Arabia peace proposal, reiterated since, that would open full diplomatic relations with some two dozen Arab and Islamic countries in return for an Israeli pullback to the 1967 borders and recognition of a Palestinian state.”

The warmongers against Iran have often distorted Iranian statements to suit their purpose and kept in the shadows several friendly Iranian initiatives offered to the George W. Bush Administration.

Flynt Leverett, now with Brookings and before a State Department and CIA official, listed three initiatives that were rejected. Right after the Sept. 11 attacks, Iran offered to help Washington overthrow the Taliban. The U.S. declined the offer. Second, in the spring of 2003, top Iranian officials sent the White House a detailed proposal for comprehensive negotiations to resolve questions regarding its weapons programs, relations with Hezbollah and Hamas and a Palestinian peace agreement with Israel. This proposal was rebuffed and ignored.

Third, in October 2003, European officials secured an agreement from Iran to suspend Iranian uranium enrichment and to pursue talks that Mr. Leverett said “might lead to an economic, nuclear, and strategic deal.” The Bush administration “refused to join the European initiative, ensuring that the talks failed,” he added.

A few days ago, U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said Iran was developing a capability for making nuclear weapons someday but was not yet building a bomb. So why is the Obama Administration talking about a western boycott of Iran’s oil exports, so crucial to its faltering, sanctions-ridden economy? Is this latest sanction designed to squeeze Iranian civilians and lead to the overthrow of the regime? Arguably it may backfire and produce more support for the government.

Backing the Iranian regime into such a fateful corner risks counter-measures that may disrupt the gigantic flow of oil through the Strait of Hormuz. Should that occur, watch the prices of your gasoline, heating bill, and other related products go through the roof — among other consequences.

Isn’t it about time for the abdicatory Congress to reassert its constitutional responsibilities? It owes the American people comprehensive, public House and Senate hearings that produce knowledgeable testimony about these issues and all relevant history for wide media coverage.

The drums of war should not move our country into a propagandized media frenzy that preceded and helped cause the Iraq invasion with all the socio-cide in that country and all the costly blowbacks against U.S. national interests?

It is past time for the American citizenry to wake up and declare: Iran will not be an Iraq Redux!

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TURKISH OFFICIAL SAYS A RUSSIAN SHIP, PERHAPS WITH MUNITIONS, HAS REACHED SYRIA

New York Times

A Turkish Foreign Ministry official said that a Russian ship thought to be carrying a cargo of munitions reached Syria on Thursday, in defiance of a European Union embargo, after stopping to refuel in Cyprus and receiving what the Turks said was inadequate scrutiny there.

“The Cypriot officials not only falsely included Turkey as the vessel’s destination, which seems to be originally Syria, but also failed in examining the vessel thoroughly to see whether it carried arms as speculated,” said the official, who spoke on the condition that he not be named because of his diplomatic status.

Cypriot officials had categorized the cargo of the ship, the Chariot, as “dangerous” in a written statement on Wednesday, and said the ship had stopped at Limassol, Cyprus, on Tuesday because of poor weather and a need to refuel.

The statement said that the officials received confirmation from the operator of the vessel, Westberg Limited of St. Petersburg, Russia, that it would not continue on to its originally intended destinations, Turkey and Syria.

But the Turkish Foreign Ministry said the ship arrived at the Syrian port of Tartus early on Thursday, without stopping anywhere in Turkey.

Officials seemed unable to say for certain what was in the ship’s hold.

“Actual examination of the content of the containers was not possible due to the narrow confines of the ship,” the Cypriot Foreign Ministry said Wednesday in a statement.

The Turkish Foreign Ministry said it “cannot confirm whether the vessel carried around 60 tons of ammunition, as claimed in various news reports.”

Questions were also raised about a convoy of trucks that tried to enter Syria from Turkey on Thursday through the Oncupinar border post. The four trucks, registered in Iran, were stopped by Turkish officials for further examination, the Foreign Ministry official said.

“Turkey has to consider local and international regulations as well as embargoes and regimes imposed by international organizations like the United Nations to ensure the compatibility of the cargo destined for Syria,” he said. “Necessary controls are under way to determine what these lorries hold.”

Though Turkish officials say the country has tightened its border controls, Syrian official news outlets have accused Turkey at least three times in recent months of allowing armed groups to cross the border and confront the government’s forces. The Turkish government strongly denied the claims.

“Such news comes out of Syria for mainly propaganda reasons and never proves to be correct after our thorough examinations,” the Foreign Ministry official said.

At the same border crossing, a group of more than 100 dissident Syrians appeared Thursday on the Turkish side in a 20-vehicle convoy, saying they wanted to cross into Syria to deliver food and other humanitarian supplies to people in border towns, according to Erkan Capan, a local government official, the semiofficial Anatolian News Agency reported.

The group demonstrated, chanted slogans and waved flags in support of Syrian opposition groups before approaching the border crossing, the agency said. But the Turkish border police stopped them from crossing into Syria, citing safety concerns.

The Turkish Embassy in Damascus remains open, but diplomatic relations between the countries have deteriorated sharply. Turkish leaders have strongly criticized the Syrian government of President Bashar al-Assad over its violence against protesters, and have urged Mr. Assad to step down.

Turkey has also imposed trade sanctions, frozen the assets of senior Syrian officials and welcomed Syrian opposition leaders.

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AHMADINEJAD: ‘INTERNATIONAL ZIONISM’ ASSASSINATED IRAN NUCLEAR SCIENTIST

IRNA quotes Iranian President’s letter to family of Mostafa Ahmadi, who was killed in a bombing attack earlier this week; Iran Supreme Leader: Mossad, CIA behind assault.

Haaretz

A recently assassinated Iranian nuclear scientist was killed by “agents of imperialism and international Zionism,” Mahmoud Ahmadinejad wrote Friday in a letter to the family of Mostafa Ahmadi, the target of a bombing attack earlier this week.

The letter, which was reported by the official Iranian news agency IRNA, came as the country’s state television quoted Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei as blaming Israel and the U.S. for the Tehran attack.

“This cowardly [act of] terror, whose perpetrators and plotters will never dare to confess to their dirty and hideous crime or accept responsibility for it, has been carried out by the planning or support of CIA and Mossad services, like all other crimes of the network of international state terrorism,” Khamenei was quoted as saying by Press TV.

Khamenei added that the assimilation indicated that “the global arrogance spearheaded by the US and Zionism has reached a deadlock in confrontation with the determined, devout, and progressive nation of Islamic Iran,” adding that Iran’s scientific progress was not dependent on individuals but was a “historic movement” rising from the “invulnerable national resolve” of Iranians.

The Iranian Supreme Leaders spoke after a hard-line Iranian newspaper called Thursday for retaliation against Israel, a day after the mysterious killing of a nuclear scientist in Tehran with a magnetic bomb attached to his car.

A column in the Kayhan newspaper by chief editor Hossein Shariatmadari asked why Iran did not retaliate.

“Assassinations of Israeli military and officials are easily possible,” he wrote. The attack – which instantly killed the scientist and his driver on Wednesday – was at least the fourth targeted hit against a member of Iran’s nuclear brain trust in two years.

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton denied any U.S. role in the slaying, and the Obama administration condemned the attack.

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