Archive for the ‘intelligence’ Category

Video from the August 1 Forum on the Crisis in Iran

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Does a Bush ‘October surprise’ await Iran?

from the Independent:

Bill Kristol, editor of the Murdoch owned neocon house journal the Weekly Standard says Bush is more likely to attack Iran if he believes Barack Obama is going to be elected.

Speaking on Sunday to Fox News’ Chris Wallace he said, “If the president thought John McCain was going to be the next president, he would think it more appropriate to let the next president make that decision than do it on his way out,” before suggesting Bush might move more quickly if he thought Obama was going to win. Wallace then asked if Kristol was suggesting that Bush might “launch a military strike” before or after the election. Watch it

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America Is Already Committing Acts of War Against Iran

from Alternet:

The war between the United States and Iran is on. American taxpayer dollars are being used, with the permission of Congress, to fund activities that result in Iranians being killed and wounded, and Iranian property destroyed. This wanton violation of a nation’s sovereignty would not be tolerated if the tables were turned and Americans were being subjected to Iranian-funded covert actions that took the lives of Americans, on American soil, and destroyed American property and livelihood. Many Americans remain unaware of what is transpiring abroad in their name.

Many of those who are cognizant of these activities are supportive of them, an outgrowth of misguided sentiment which holds Iran accountable for a list of grievances used by the U.S. government to justify the ongoing global war on terror. Iran, we are told, is not just a nation pursuing nuclear weapons, but is the largest state sponsor of terror in the world today.

full article here

Is an Attack on Iran Imminent?

from Common Dreams

George W. Bush is poised to order a massive aerial bombardment — possibly including tactical nuclear weapons – of up to 10,000 targets in Iran. The attack would be justified on grounds that Iran is interfering with U.S. efforts in Iraq and that Iran is developing a nuclear weapon, a charge that was debunked last fall in the National Intelligence Estimate (NIE).

According to international experts, the U.S. declared economic war against Iran on March 20. On that day, the U.S. Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) called on the world’s financial institutions to stop doing business with Iran, making it much more difficult for Iran to engage in global commerce.

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Israel Rehearses Iran Attack

Israel renews threats against Iran

from Press TV:

Thu, 31 Jul 2008 05:46:11

Israel has renewed threats against Iran over its nuclear program saying no option against the country should be removed from the table.

“Our position is that time is of the essence,” Israeli defense minister Ehud Barak told reporters after a meeting with UN chief Ban Ki-moon on Wednesday.

Barak also said that Tel Aviv would not remove any option from the table to halt Iran’s nuclear program.

The remarks were made at a time that Iran resumed its talks with the West in a bid to end the dispute over its nuclear program.

The US and its allies accuse Iran of developing nuclear weapons. Iran has dismissed the charges saying its nuclear activities are aimed at peaceful purposes.

“We emphasized to the secretary general our expectation that the world community will take a coherent, concerted, coordinated action to put an end to Iranian activity in the area of military nuclear technologies,” Barak said.

Iran has warned that while it adheres to diplomacy as the only solution to solve the nuclear issue, it would strongly repel any military attack.

SB/RE

HANDS OFF IRAN!

Another moment of truth approaches. While Washington finally joined talks with Tehran, Congress is still considering a resolution calling for an air, sea and land blockade of Iran, opening one path to war.

What is the relationship between U.S. imperialism and the Islamic Republic of Iran? Will the talks lead to an agreement or will the U.S. warships in the Gulf— or the Israeli military—unleash a massive air attack against the Iranian people? What is the stake for workers and the oppressed in the U.S.?

The U.S. is the wealthiest, most militarized imperialist state. The Pentagon’s role is to impose U.S. diplomatic and economic policy on the world, to control raw materials, to police worldwide ocean trading lanes, and to impose the power of the U.S.-based multinational corporations to super-exploit workers worldwide, including workers inside the U.S. Washington is the home office of world repression and exploitation. Israel is its branch office.

The Iranian state is the result of a popular revolution in 1979 that overthrew the shah, a monarchic dictator. A CIA-directed conspiracy had re-installed this shah in 1953, deposing an elected government. The shah, armed and backed by U.S. imperialism, had his military and police murder tens of thousands of people in his failed attempt to stop the 1979 revolution. This revolution stopped short of overturning capitalist social relations in Iran, but it broke the grip of the imperialist corporations and opened the door to social development in Iran.

There is no doubt a sovereign and independent Iran has the right to trade with whatever countries it chooses, to explore possible energy supplies, including nuclear energy, and even to prepare for self-defense with nuclear weapons. The U.S. possesses almost limitless nuclear weapons and Israel is suspected of possessing 200; these states are both declared enemies of Iran. Nearby India and Pakistan also possess at least some of these weapons, without U.S. hostility.

Washington has just signed a pact helping nuclear-armed India develop its civilian nuclear power, even though the U.S. excuse for threatening Iran is Tehran’s program for developing civilian nuclear power. Last December, 16 U.S. spy agencies reported that there is no evidence that Iran has a nuclear weapons program. Prevention of nuclear proliferation is the U.S. cover story. Iran’s independence from imperialism, its sovereignty and its oil reserves are the real reasons why Washington has targeted the Islamic Republic.

The next question is—despite Bush’s weakened position as the most unpopular president since Richard Nixon in his final days in office, despite Bush’s isolation from not only the U.S. population but sectors of the Pentagon brass who fear the stress and strain on their ground troops after the setbacks in Iraq and Afghanistan, despite the potential for a disastrous explosion in the Middle East and the entire Muslim world, despite the possibility of a massive increase in the price of oil, despite all these dangers—will the Bush gang use what it believes is overwhelming U.S. air power to attack Iran, perhaps following an initial strike by Israel?

A look at the history of imperialist adventures in World Wars I and II, up to the assault on Iraq in 2003, shows that it would be foolish to rule out the possibility of a new adventure simply because that aggression might become another enormous setback for U.S. imperialism itself—not to mention a horror for 70 million Iranian people. The Bush gang, the oil monopolies and the military-industrial complex might be all too ready to back such a risky move. We cannot rule out that the deepening, unsolvable economic crisis might drive imperialism to another war.

For U.S. workers of all nationalities facing unemployment, foreclosures and evictions, not only would such a war be a distraction from their necessary struggle for economic justice, it would be an additional disaster, no matter the outcome. They must mobilize to stop this new war. It is the responsibility of the anti-war movement and the entire workers’ movement to take this danger seriously and organize the kind of independent struggle that can stop it.

War With Iran?

from Counterpunch:

Those predicting an assault point to the incessant propaganda campaign against Iran, abject Congressional complicity in that campaign, military preparations in the U.S. and Israel, the recent flurry of U.S.-Israeli military contacts, the power of AIPAC and Israel in U.S. politics and specifically their influence on the impressionable mind of President Bush. They point to the sidelining of mainstream intelligence reports that declare Iran has no active military program, and to the nearly identical rhetoric from Bush, McCain and Obama about how that (probably non-existent) program poses an “existential threat” to (nuclear) Israel. They suggest Burns’ recent step and other small diplomatic initiatives are really cover, merely designed to convince the world that the U.S. is exhausting diplomacy before the bombing starts.

full article here

The real nuclear threat

from the Pasadena Weekly:

We heard a lot recently about the nuclear threats posed by North Korea and Iran. The Bush administration is the main promoter of these alleged threats, but given that we now know its claims about Iraq’s nuclear arsenal were completely bogus, this should remind us to treat all the administration’s allegations with a great deal of skepticism.

full article here

Sanctions, diplomacy, missiles: U.S. takes aim at Iran’s sovereignty

What is the significance of the widely publicized announcement that the Bush administration has finally agreed to talk to Iran?

Have U.S. aircraft carriers, nuclear-armed and powered submarines, destroyers or missiles been pulled back from Iran’s coast? Has Washington renounced its years of sabotage, assassinations and other covert actions inside Iran? Will any of the many sanctions imposed to constrict Iran’s development be lifted or even eased?

On July 19 Undersecretary of State William Burns sat in on a six-nation gathering in Geneva and “observed” nuclear negotiations between Iranian negotiator Saeed Jalili and Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China. The talks are scheduled to resume in August, but Burns will not return for them. The one-time presence of this third-ranking diplomat is supposedly enough to show that Washington has made an effort at a diplomatic solution.

U.S. participation in the meeting came after increasingly frantic appeals from European powers and from the feudal and military regimes in the Persian Gulf region for diplomacy rather than war. They fear the destabilizing consequences of another U.S. attack. Even in top circles of the U.S. ruling class and military command, concern has been expressed about the risks and dangers of a new war.

Following his appearance at the Geneva meeting, Burns and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice met in Abu Dhabi with foreign ministers and senior officials of the six Gulf states, along with Egypt, Iraq and Jordan. At the meeting Rice warned that Iran had two weeks to halt its development of nuclear energy or face further “punitive measures.” Iran will also be the main topic at a meeting of European Union foreign ministers the following day.

Washington says its possible next step is to push for an intense level of international sanctions in the U.N. Security Council. If council members don’t go along with its demands, the U.S. is threatening military action.

To reinforce the threat, Rice’s statement was immediately followed by an announcement from Israeli military adviser Amos Gilad that Israel was preparing to attack Iran if diplomacy failed—and that the U.S. would not veto such action.

Although Burns sat in on the Geneva meeting, the U.S. did not give its agreement to a European proposal that, in exchange for an Iranian “freeze” on its enrichment of uranium, a six-week “freeze” be put on more restrictive sanctions against Iran. Lifting the existing sanctions was not even proposed.

U.S. sanctions have been imposed on Iran since the 1978 Iranian Revolution. Soon after the U.S. invasion of Iraq, the U.N. Security Council imposed three new rounds of sanctions on Iran. Now Washington is demanding new and far harsher sanctions—despite International Atomic Energy Association (IAEA) reports that Iran does not have a nuclear weapons program and a similar conclusion in the National Intelligence Estimate report of December 2007, endorsed by the 17 top U.S. spy agencies.

Iran has every right under international law and treaties to develop nuclear energy for civilian purposes. Its nuclear power plants are all under the inspection and safeguards of the IAEA. The IAEA has continually said that there has been no illicit diversion of declared nuclear material.

It is now clear that the State Department’s one-day venture into talks with Iran was merely positioning by Washington to get its allies to agree on far harsher economic sanctions and other efforts to sabotage Iran’s national development.
Iran’s real crime

Iran has a severe energy shortage. Although it is the world’s fourth-largest oil producer, its ability to refine crude oil into gasoline and diesel fuel is limited. As a country with a history of underdevelopment, Iran must import more than half its refined petroleum products to fuel its new industries and a modern transportation system. Iran is now the second-largest importer of gasoline and diesel fuel in the world. (Toronto Globe and Mail, July 22)

A bill has been introduced in the House of Representatives prohibiting the export to Iran of all refined petroleum products and imposing “stringent inspection requirements on all persons, vehicles, ships, planes, trains, and cargo entering or departing Iran.” This would amount to a blockade—an act of war—and a threat to Iran’s sovereignty. It is also an example of how U.S. policy is aimed at keeping resource-rich countries underdeveloped and under its control.

At the same time that the U.S. is trying to cripple Iran’s economy, supposedly over its nuclear program, it is pursuing a deal with India to provide it nuclear fuel and technology. India is not yet a signer of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty or a member of the IAEA. Iran is both.

Iran’s real crime, in the eyes of the Pentagon and the corporate oil giants who determine U.S. policy, is that it is determined to use its resources for the further development of its own economy. The other oil-producing states in the region are corrupt semi-feudal regimes, each with a compliant and dependent ruling class. These regimes are under the total control of U.S. corporations and banks. The largest portion of their vast revenue from oil sales is wasted in purchases of U.S. weapons systems or invested in U.S. banks.

Millions of Iranian people participated in the 1978 revolution that overthrew the corrupt U.S.-backed shah. Since then, great social advances have transformed Iran. Once the people liberated their oil resources from the control of giant U.S. and British corporations, billions of dollars were available to develop Iranian industries and social services.

In less than two decades, Iran moved from 90 percent illiteracy for rural women to full literacy; more than half the university graduates are now women. Stunning improvements in totally free as well as subsidized health care meant record-breaking improvements in life expectancy, birth control and infant mortality. Even according to World Bank figures, Iran has exceeded the social gains of any other country in the region.

This is what U.S. policy makers are determined to reverse. They want control of the vast wealth that comes from every aspect of exploration, pumping, transport and refining of the planet’s most valuable and needed resource. They are willing to destroy millions of lives and spend hundreds of billions of dollars on war in this struggle.
Past history of U.S. talks

It is important to recall the many rounds of talks between U.S. and Iraqi delegations before the war. The U.S. repeatedly demanded the authority to carry out inspections in Iraq any time, any place, to search for non-existent “weapons of mass destruction.” Just before the Pentagon attack, there was the heaviest round of diplomatic talks involving Iraq, members of the U.N. Security Council and Washington’s European allies. The talks were aimed at imposing still stricter sanctions, supposedly to gain Iraq’s total disarmament. This was years after U.N. inspectors had declared Iraq fully disarmed.

It is also important to remember the U.S./NATO “peace talks” with the Yugoslav government in Rambouillet, France. U.S. negotiators gave Yugoslavia an ultimatum: accept total U.S./NATO military occupation and dismemberment or face massive bombardment. When the Parliament of the Yugoslav Federation voted overwhelmingly to refuse the NATO “peace” demand of occupation of their sovereign territory, the Pentagon began 72 days of massive bombardment followed by the NATO seizure of Kosovo.

The U.S. conducted five years of “peace negotiations” with theVietnamese while escalating its bombardment, including carpet bombing.

Secretary of State Rice has announced the U.S. is considering the establishment of an “interests section” in Tehran and compared it to the interests section that the U.S. has maintained for decades in Cuba. “We have an interests section in Cuba, so I wouldn’t read thawing of relations into anything,” she said. Throughout the decades that Washington has maintained an interests section in Havana, the blockade of Cuba, sabotage and attempted assassinations of Cuban leaders have continued.

U.S. “talks” are too often preparation for the next stage of war. It is important for the movement on a global scale to remain on the alert and to understand that U.S. imperialism’s aims and plans have not changed.

Fact Sheets of Iran-US Standoff: Twenty Reasons against Sanctions and Military Intervention in Iran

reprinted from CASMII:

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Click [here] to download this paper in PDF format.

[Last Updated January 2008]

INTRODUCTION

Five years into the US-UK illegal invasion of Iraq and its consequent catastrophe for Iraqi people, peace loving people throughout the world are appalled by the current Iran-US standoff and its resemblance to the run-up to the invasion of Iraq . The hawks, headed by Dick Cheney in Washington , are now shamelessly calling for a military attack on Iran . The same Israeli lobby which pushed for the invasion of Iraq is now pushing for a military attack on Iran . The same distortions which were attempted to dupe the western public opinion for the invasion of Iraq , are now used to pave the way for another illegal pre-emptive war of aggression against Iran . As in the case of Iraq , the UN Security Council Resolutions against Iran , extricated through massive US pressure, are meant to provide a veneer of legitimacy for such an attack.

Contrary to the myth created by the western media, it is the US and its European allies which are defying the international community, in that they have rejected negotiations without pre-conditions. They show their lack of good faith by demanding that Iran concede the main point of negotiations, namely, suspension of enrichment of uranium which is Iran ‘s legitimate right under the Non-Proliferation Treaty, before the negotiations actually start.

The Campaign Against Sanctions and Military Intervention in Iran (CASMII) calls for immediate and direct negotiations between the US and Iran without any pre-conditions.

Here, we debunk the main unfounded accusations, lies and distortions by the US and Israel and their allies while highlighting the main reasons to oppose sanctions and military intervention against Iran .

IRAN ‘S NUCLEAR PROGRAMME: FACTS AND LIES

1 . There is no evidence of a nuclear weapons programme in Iran . The US and its allies pressure Iran to prove that it is not hiding a nuclear weapons programme. This demand is logically impossible to satisfy and serves to make diplomacy fail in order to force regime change. Numerous intrusive and snap visits by International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspectors, totalling more than 2,700 person-hours of inspection, have failed to produce a shred of evidence for a weapons programme in Iran . Traces of highly enriched uranium found at Natanz in 2004, were determined by the IAEA to have come with imported centrifuges.

In July 2007, IAEA and Iran agreed on a work plan with defined modalities and timetable to clarify all issues of concerns in relation to Iran ‘s nuclear programme. On 27 th August 2007 IAEA announced that “The Agency has been able to verify the non-diversion of the declared nuclear materials at the enrichment facilities in Iran and has therefore concluded that it remains in peaceful use ”. The Agreement also cleared Iran ‘s plutonium experiments, which the Cheney Camp had accused of being evidence of Iran ‘s weaponisation programme.

Dr Mohammad El-Baradei, the IAEA Director General, said on 7 th September 2007, “For the last few years we have been told by the Security Council, by the board, we have to clarify the outstanding issues in Iran because these outstanding issues are the ones that have led to the lack of confidence, the crisis” , “We have not come to see any undeclared activities or weaponisation of their programme”.

Two years earlier, in June 2005, Bruno Pellaud, former IAEA Deputy Director General for Safeguards, was asked by Swissinfo if Iran was intent on building a nuclear bomb. He replied: “My impression is not. My view is based on the fact that Iran took a major gamble in December 2003 by allowing a much more intrusive capability to the IAEA. If Iran had had a military programme they would not have allowed the IAEA to come under this Additional Protocol. They did not have to.”

2. Iran ‘s need for nuclear power generation is real. Even when Iran ‘s population was one-third of what it is today, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld and Paul Wolfowitz, negotiating on behalf of President Gerald Ford, persuaded the former Shah that Iran needed over twenty nuclear reactors. With Iran ‘s population of 70 million, and growing, and its oil resources fast depleting, Iran may be a net importer of oil in just over a decade from now. Nuclear energy is thus a realistic and viable solution for electricity generation in the country.

3. The “crisis” over Iran ‘s nuclear programme lacks the urgency claimed by Washington . Weapons grade uranium must be enriched at least to 85%. A 2005 CIA report determined that it could take Iran 10 years to achieve this level of enrichment. Many independent nuclear experts have stated that Iran would face formidable technical obstacles if it tried to enrich uranium beyond the 3.5% purity required for electricity generation. According to Dr Frank Barnaby of the Oxford Research Group, because of contamination of Iranian uranium with heavy metals, Iran cannot possibly enrich beyond even 20% without support from Russia or China. IAEA director, Dr. Mohammad ElBaradei, too, reiterated in October 2007 that “I don’t see Iran , today, to be a clear and present danger. And our conclusion here is supported by every intelligence assessment I’ve seen that even if Iran has ambitions to develop nuclear weapons, it’s still three to eight years away from that”..

4. Iran has met its obligations under the Nuclear non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). Iran voluntarily accepted and enforced safeguards stricter than IAEA’s Additional Protocol until February 2006, when Iran ‘s nuclear file was reported, under the pressure from the US , to the Security Council. (The US , by contrast, has neither signed nor implemented the Additional Protocol, and Israel has refused to sign the NPT.)

Iran ‘s earlier concealment of its nuclear programme took place in the context of the US-backed invasion of Iran by Saddam. Not only the U.S. , Germany , and the UK were complicit in the sale of chemical weapons to Saddam which were used against Iranian soldiers and civilians but Israel ‘s destruction of Iraq ‘s Osirak reactor in 1981 was treated with total impunity. Iranian leaders then concluded from these gross injustices that international laws are only “ink on paper”.

But the most direct reasons for Iran ‘s concealment were the American trade embargo on Iran and Washington ‘s organized and persistent campaign to stop civilian nuclear technology from reaching Iran from any source. For example, in 1995 Germany offered to let Kraftwerk Union (a subsidiary of Siemens) finish Iran ‘s Bushehr reactor, but withdrew its proposal under US pressure . The following year, China cancelled its contract to build a nuclear enrichment facility in Isfahan for the same reason. Thus Washington systematically violated, with impunity, Article IV of the NPT, which allows “signatories the fullest possible exchange of equipment, materials and scientific and technological information for the peaceful uses of nuclear energy”.

Nevertheless, Iran ‘s decision not to declare all of its nuclear installations did not violate its NPT obligations. According to David Albright and Corey Hinderstein, who first provided satellite imagery and analysis in December 2002, under the safeguards agreement in force at the time, ” Iran is not required to allow IAEA inspections of a new nuclear facility until six months before nuclear material is introduced into it.”

5. Iran has given unprecedented concessions on its nuclear programme. Unlike North Korea , Iran has resisted the temptation to withdraw from the NPT. Besides accepting snap inspections under Additional Protocol until February 2006, Iran has invited Western companies to develop Iran ‘s civilian nuclear programme. Such joint ventures would create the best assurance that the enriched uranium would not be diverted to a weapons programme. Such concessions are very rare in the world, but the U.S. and its allies have refused Iran ‘s offer.

6. Enrichment of uranium for a civilian nuclear programme is Iran ‘s inalienable right. Every member of the NPT has the right to enrich uranium for a civilian nuclear programme and is entitled to full technical assistance.

But with the US as the back seat driver and in violation of their assistance obligations, France , Germany , and the UK insisted throughout the three years of negotiations that Tehran forfeit its right, in return for incentives of little value. Some European diplomats admitted to Asia Times Online on 7th September 2005, that the package offered by the EU-3 was “an empty box of chocolates.” But “there is nothing else we can offer,” the diplomats went on to say . “The Americans simply wouldn’t let us.”

7. The Western alliance has not tried true diplomacy and relies instead on threats. Iran refuses to suspend its enrichment of uranium before bilateral negotiations begin, as demanded by the White House, because it suspects Washington will stall with endless doubts regarding verification of suspension.

WESTERN HYPOCRISY

8. The UN resolutions against Iran , in contrast to the treatment of the US allies, South Korea , India , Pakistan , and Israel , smack of double standards. For example, in the year 2000, South Korea enriched 200 milligrams of uranium to near-weapons grade (up to 77%), but was not referred to the UN Security Council.

India has refused to sign the NPT or allow inspections and has developed an atomic arsenal, but receives nuclear assistance from the US in violation of the NPT. More bizarrely, India has a seat on the governing board of IAEA and, under US pressure, voted to refer Iran as a violator to the UN Security Council. Another non-signatory, Pakistan , clandestinely developed nuclear weapons but is supported by the US as a “war on terror” ally.

Israel is a close ally of Washington , even though it has hundreds of clandestine nuclear weapons, has dismissed numerous UN resolutions and has refused to sign the NPT or open any of its nuclear plants to inspections.

The US itself is the most serious violator of the NPT. The only country to have ever used nuclear bombs in war, the US has refused to reduce its nuclear arsenal, in violation of Article VI of NPT. The US is also in breach of the Treaty because it is developing new generations of nuclear warheads for use against non-nuclear adversaries. Moreover, Washington has deployed hundreds of such tactical nuclear weapons all around the world in violation of Articles I and II of the NPT.

9. Iran has not threatened Israel or attacked another country. The track records of the US , Israel , the UK and France are very different. These so called “democracies” have a bloody history of invading other countries. Iran ‘s supreme leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, has declared repeatedly that Iran will not attack or threaten any country. He has also issued a fatwa against the production, stockpiling and use of nuclear weapons and banned nuclear weapons as sacrilegious. Iran has been a consistent supporter of the Nuclear non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and called for a nuclear weapons free Middle East .

The comments of Iran ‘s President Ahmadinejad against Israel have been repeated by some of Iran ‘s leaders since 1979 and constitute no practical threat. The statement attributed to him that “ Israel should be wiped off the map” is a distortion of the truth and has been determined by a number of Farsi linguists, amongst them, Professor Juan Cole, to be a mistranslation. What he actually said was that “the regime occupying Jerusalem must vanish from the page of time”. Ahmadinejad has made clear that he envisions regime change in Israel through internal decay, similar to the demise of the Soviet Union . Iranian leaders have said consistently for two decades that they will accept a two-state solution in Palestine if a majority of Palestinians favour that option.

This is in sharp contrast to the explicit threats by Israeli and the US leaders against Iran , including aid to separatist movements to disintegrate and wipe Iran off the map [9], as reported by Seymour Hersh and Reese Erlich . There is considerable evidence of clandestine operations by the US , British and Israeli agents who are arming, training and funding terrorist entities such as Jundollah in Baluchistan, Arab separatists in Khuzestan, and PJAK in Kurdistan . These concrete attempts at disintegration of Iran , as well as the 100 million dollars congressional funding for ‘democracy’ promotion in Iran , constitute aggression and are interference in Iran ‘s domestic affairs and Iranian people’s rights of sovereignty. They violate the bilateral Algiers Accord of 1981, in which Washington renounced any such actions in the future.

Furthermore, President Bush and Vice President Cheney, former UN ambassador, John Bolton, Senator Lieberman, as well as presidential candidates Guilliani, Romney and McCain are openly advocating and pushing for pre-emptive military attack on Iran. The French President, Sarkouzy, and his Foreign Minister, Kouchner, the new recruits to the Neo Cons camp, have added their voice to this chorus for war . British Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, too has not ruled out the pre-emptive military option against Iran .

Iran is no match for Israel , whose security and military needs are all but guaranteed by the US . Iran is surrounded on all sides by the US Navy and American bases.

Iran has not invaded or threatened any country for two and a half centuries. The only war the Islamic Republic fought was the one imposed by Saddam’s army, which invaded Iran with the backing of the US and its allies. When Iraq used chemical weapons, supplied by the West, against Iranian troops, Iran did not retaliate in kind. When Afghanistan ‘s Taliban regime murdered eight Iranian diplomats in 1996 and remained unapologetic, Iran did not respond militarily.

10. The US “democratization” programme for Iran is a hoax. Although violations of human rights and democratic freedoms do occur too often in Iran , the country has the most pluralistic system in a region dominated by undemocratic client states of the US . It is sheer hypocrisy for the US, which turns a blind eye to the gross human rights abuses by its allies, such as Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Israel, Libya, and Egypt, to misrepresent its agenda in Iran as a “democratization” programme. Washington ‘s pretensions ring especially hollow when one remembers that in 1953 Iran ‘s nascent democracy under Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadeq was overthrown by the CIA, which restored a hated military dictatorship for the benefit of American oil conglomerates.

UN SECURITY COUNCIL INVOLVEMENT TOTALLY UNJUSTIFIED

11. There are no legal bases for Iran ‘s referral to the UN Security Council. Since there is no evidence that Iran is even contemplating to weaponize its nuclear programme, no grounds exist for this sidelining of the IAEA.

Michael Spies of the New York-based Lawyers’ Committee on Nuclear Policy has clarified the issue: “Under the Statute (Art. 12(C)) and the Safeguards Agreement, the Board may only refer Iran to the Security Council if it finds that, based on the report from the Director General, it cannot be assured that Iran has not diverted nuclear material for non-peaceful purpose. In the past, findings of `non-assurance’ have only come in the face of a history of active and ongoing non-cooperation with IAEA safeguards. The pursuit of nuclear activities in itself, which is specifically recognized as a sovereign right, and which remain safeguarded, could not legally or logically equate to uncertainty regarding diversion.”

The IAEA director, Dr ElBaradei, has in fact consistently confirmed that there has been no diversion of safeguarded nuclear material in Iran . He has asserted unambiguously in his interview with New York Times on 7 th September 2007 that in Iran “we have not come to see any undeclared activities … We have not seen any weaponisation of their programme, nor have we received any information to that effect” . He has also repeatedly urged skeptics in Western capitals to help the IAEA by sharing any possible proof in their possession of suspicious nuclear activity in Iran .

The IAEA-Iran work plan of August 2007 has reconfirmed this. It has stated that all declared nuclear activirties in Iran have been verified to be for peaceful purposes. It has also cleared Iran of its plutonium experiments which had been regarded as a smoking gun by the US .

Dr ElBaradei has nevertheless said, under pressure from Washington , that he cannot rule out the existence of undeclared nuclear activities in the country. However, according to the IAEA’s Safeguards Implementation Report for 2005 (issued on 15 June 2006), 45 other countries, including 14 European countries, in particular Germany , are in this same category as Iran .

Moreover, according to the UK-based Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, certifying non-diversion of nuclear material to military purposes for any given country takes an average of six years of inspections and verification by the IAEA. In the case of Iran , these investigations have been going on for only about four years now.

Iran ‘s file, therefore, must be returned to the jurisdiction of the IAEA and the rules of the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT). The US and its allies violated the rules by exerting massive pressure on the IAEA to report Iran without any legitimacy to the UN Security Council. For example, David Mulford, the US Ambassador to India , warned the Government of India in January 2006 that there would be no US-India nuclear deal if India did not vote against Iran at the IAEA. On February 15th 2007, Stephen Rademaker, the former US Assistant Secretary for International Security and Non-Proliferation, admitted publicly that the US coerced India to vote against Iran. Clearly, reporting Iran to the UN Security Council and the subsequent adoption of the Resolutions 1696 and 1737 have been carried out with US coercion and have thus no legitimacy at all.

The IAEA report on the outcome of the “work plan” between Iran and the IAEA released on 15/11/07 has confirmed that ” Iran has provided sufficient access to individuals and has responded in a timely manner to questions and provide (needed) clarifications and amplifications,” . The report has stated that Iran had made “substantial progress” towards clarifying outstanding questions about its nuclear programs , that “The agency has been able to conclude that answers provided on the declared past P-1 and P-2 centrifuge programs are consistent with its findings” and that “We will however continue to seek corroboration and to verify the completeness of Iran’s declarations”. It has also confirmed repeatedly in various parts of the document that, in relation to all issues of ambiguity such as past black market procurement and concealment, Iran ‘s statements are consistent with the information independently available to the agency.

The response from the US/Israel and their allies has been immediately negative, accusing Iran of “selective cooperation” with the IAEA. Shaul Mofaz , Israel ‘s deputy prime minister, called for the sacking of Dr ElBaradei over the IAEA’s recent report on Iran . The US is pressing with the demand for Iran to stop its uranium enrichment, which is Iran ‘s inalienable right as a signatory to the NPT. Probably under direct pressure from the US and its allies, trying to discredit the successful collaboration of Iran with the IAEA, the report has at the same time pointed to the agency’s “diminishing knowledge” about Iran ‘s current nuclear programme. Such a situation, as Dr ElBaradei later asserted in his speech to the Governors’ Board of the IAEA in November 2007, is true of (over forty) countries that do not enforce the additional protocol. In the case of Iran , which is singled out among these countries by the west for political reasons, the US and its European allies bear the direct responsibility for this situation. As previously pointed out, they coerced the Governors Board of the IAEA to report Iran ‘s file to the UN in 2005 and early 2006, which prompted Iran to suspend its voluntary enforcement of the Additional Protocol and to resume enrichment of uranium.

The National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) on Iran , issued on December 3, refutes the US and Israeli accusations that Iran has a covert nuclear weapons programme. The statement vindicates Iran ‘s claim that the decision by the Governors Board of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to report its nuclear file to the UN Security Council in February 2006 and the subsequent Security Council resolutions and sanctions against Iran lack legitimacy.

The NIE report had been held for nearly one year in an effort by Vice President Cheney’s office to force the intelligence community to remove some of the dissenting judgments on Iran ‘s nuclear program.

Representing the views of 16 US intelligence agencies, the NIE on Iran sharply reverses its 2005 version that claimed Iran was developing nuclear weapons. The report assesses that Iran ‘s alleged military nuclear work ended in 2003, but fails to provide any evidence that such activity ever existed. If proof for this assessment had been found, it was the obligation of the US to provide it to the IAEA for on-the-ground verification.

A senior IAEA official was quoted by the IHT on December 4: “despite repeated smear campaigns, the IAEA has stood its ground and concluded time and again that ‘there was no evidence of an undeclared nuclear weapons program in Iran ‘”.

While the IAA and Iran are collaborating to resolve the final components of the outstanding issues on the Iranain nuclear programme by March 2008, the US and its European allies have pushed for a third round of the UN sanctions against Iran when according to its own intelligence Iran does not have a nuclear weapons programme.

SANCTIONS NOT A GOOD IDEA

12. Dr ElBaradei, the head of the IAEA, has said that more sanctions are counterproductive. Economic sanctions on Iran will harm the people of Iran , as they were devastating to Iraqis, resulting in the death of at least 500,000 children. Sanctions would not however bring the Islamic Republic to its knees. Instead, any kind of sanctions, including the so-called “targeted” or “smart” sanctions, are viewed by the Iranian people as the West’s punishment for Iran ‘s scientific progress (uranium enrichment for reactor fuel). As sanctions tighten, nationalist fervour will strengthen the resolve of Iranians to defend the country’s civilian nuclear programme.

13. Sanctions are not better than war; they can be exploited as a diplomatic veneer and a provocative prelude to military attack, as they were in Iraq . Thus, countries which support sanctions against Iran are only falling into the US trap in aiding the war drive on Iran .

STATEGIC SHIFT TO MULTI-FOCAL TARGETS

14. A US attack on Iran is imminent. The end of George Bush’s presidency in 2009 could be a serious set back for the NeoCons’ hegemonic dreams to control the energy resources in the region. He is unlikely to leave office bearing the legacy of failures in Afghanistan and Iraq and particularly leaving Iran a stronger player in the region. Thus the likelihood of military attack on Iran before Bush leaves office is a reality. Washington insiders have told security analysts that preparations for military attack have been made and are ready for execution.

Since January, in addition to the nuclear issue, the US has also focused its propaganda to falsely implicate Iran in the violence and failures of US policies in Afghanistan and Iraq . The Iran-US bilateral dialogue this summer was derailed amidst accusations that Iran aided the killing of American soldiers by providing sophisticated weapons and training to Afghan and Iraqi fighters. As in the nuclear case, Washington has provided no proof .

British Foreign Minister, David Miliband, admitted in an interview with the Financial Times on 8 th July 07 that there was “No Evidence” of Iranian involvement in the violence and instability in Iraq . Likewise, the British Defence Minister, Des Browne, in August 07 maintained categorically that “No Evidence” existed of Iranian government’s complicity or instigation in supplying weapons to Iraqi militias. The Washington Post, too, reported from Iraq that hundreds of British troops combing southern Iraq for sign of Iranian weapons have come up empty-handed. Furthermore, Hamid Karzai, the Afghan president, and Al-Maleki, the Iraqi Prime Minister, have stated Iran ‘s positive role in providing whatever limited stability there is in both these countries. Nevertheless, G eorge Bush’s speech on 28 th August, authorizing the American military to “ confront Tehran ‘s murderous activities”, and the deployment of British troops to the Iranian border to guard against Iran ‘s “proxy war” in Iraq , signaled a systematic building towards a casus belli for another illegal pre-emptive war. The Kyle-Lieberman Amendment to the Defence Authorisation Bill, too, accused Iran of killing American servicemen in Iraq and nearly authorized the military to take all necessary action to combat Iran .

A third focus in the US war drive has now been launched by branding Iran ‘s Revolutionary Guards as a terrorist organization. This unprecedented move in US foreign policy and international relations is the proclaimed basis for imposing the toughest sanctions ever on Iranian banks, companies and individuals.

These new measures represent a massive escalation in the US war drive, they are a prelude to a military attack on Iran and provide the legal pretext for the US military to wage war on Iran without the prior approval of the US Congress.

ILLEGALITY OF A MILITARY ATTACK

15. Foreign state interference in Iran violates the UN charter. According to Seymour Hersch, the US is running covert operations in Iran to foment unrest and ethnic conflict for the purpose of regime change. Unmanned US drones have also entered into Iranian air space to spy over Iranian military installations and to map Iranian radar systems. These actions violate the UN Charter’s guarantee of the right of self-determination for all nations.

The Bush Administration has also confirmed, in the 2006 US National Security Strategy, its long term policy for pre-emptive military action against Washington ‘s rivals. Former British prime minister, Tony Blair, supported this policy in his 21st March 2006 foreign policy speech, and his successor Gordon Brown has not rejected the pre-emptive use of military force against Iran . However, unprovoked strikes are illegal under international law. To remove this obstacle, John Reid, the then British Secretary of Defence, in his speech on 3rd April 2006 to the Royal United Services Institute for Defense and Security Studies, proposed a change in international law on pre-emptive military action.

16. Reports of nuclear attack scenarios against Iran can serve to raise the public’s tolerance for an act of aggression with conventional military means. People of conscience and sanity must not only condemn even contemplation of a nuclear attack, but also denounce any conventional attack.

UNINTENDED CONSEQUENCES OF AN ATTACK ON IRAN

17. Bombing cannot end Iran ‘s nuclear programme. Since Iran already has the expertise to enrich uranium up to the 3.5% grade for a fuel cycle, no degree of bombing will halt Iran ‘s civilian nuclear programme. On the contrary, the resulting mass casualties and destruction would strengthen the voices that argue Iran , like North Korea , should build a nuclear deterrent.

18. An attack on Iran will unite Iranians against the US and its allies. A great majority of the public in Iran support the country’s right to enrich uranium for civilian purposes. This has been confirmed by all opinion polls conducted in the country, including polls taken by Western institutions. Therefore, a bombing campaign will not lead to an uprising by the Iranian people for regime change as envisaged by the US . Rather, it would ignite nationalist feelings in the country and unite the population, including most of the government’s critics, against the West.

19. A nuclear attack on Iran would fuel a new nuclear arms race and ruin the NPT. Any military intervention against Iran will lead to a regional catastrophe and expanded terrorism. Senator McCain, the Republican presidential hopeful, who has himself advocated the use of force on Iran , has predicted that an attack against Iran will lead to Armageddon. American or Israeli aggression on Iran , coming on the heels of the Iraq disaster, would inflame the grievance and outrage of Muslims worldwide and help jihadi extremists with their recruitment campaign. The region wide conflagration resulting from an Israel/US attack on Iran would dwarf the Iraq catastrophe.

20. The cause of democracy in Iran will suffer gravely if the country is attacked. President Bush’s “axis of evil” rhetoric severely undermined the reformist movement in Iran at a time when the country’s president promoted Dialogue Among Civilizations. Bush’s hostile posture strengthened the hands of Iranian hardliners and contributed to the reformist movement’s electoral defeat in 2005. That setback would be dwarfed by the consequences of a military assault on the country.

Copyright 2008, CASMII

Sy Hersh: Congress Is Funding Major Escalation in Secret Operations Against Iran

reposted from Alternet:
By Amy Goodman, Democracy Now!
Posted on July 1, 2008, Printed on July 9, 2008
http://www.alternet.org/story/89963/

Congressional leaders agreed to a request from President Bush last year to fund a major escalation of covert operations against Iran aimed at destabilizing Iran’s leadership. This according to a new article by veteran investigative journalist Seymour Hersh in the New Yorker magazine.

The operations were set out in a highly classified Presidential Finding signed by Bush which, by law, must be made known to Democratic and Republican House and Senate leaders and ranking members of the intelligence committees. The plan allowed up to $400 million in covert spending for activities ranging from supporting dissident groups to spying on Iran’s nuclear program. full article here

‘Congress approved funding of escalated covert operations in Iran’

from the Jerusalem Post:

Jun. 29, 2008
JPost.com Staff , THE JERUSALEM POST

Congress agreed in late 2007 to US President George W. Bush’s a request to fund a major escalation of covert operations against Iran in order to destabilize the Islamic Republic’s religious leadership, The New Yorker reported Sunday.

The report was based on a highly classified Presidential Finding signed by Bush.

“The Finding was focused on undermining Iran’s nuclear ambitions and trying to undermine the government through regime change,” an unnamed official who was familiar with its contents told the magazine. He said it involved “working with opposition groups and passing money.”

IAEA Report: “The Agency has been able to continue to verify the non-diversion of declared nuclear material in Iran

IAEA Report: “The Agency has been able to continue to verify the non-diversion of declared nuclear material in Iran.” Bush and Congress are lying again. Read it here.

Bush gang’s plan to attack undercut by NIE report

Two strategies against Iran

Published Dec 16, 2007 10:41 PM

A bitter dispute within the Bush administration became a public fight on Dec. 3 when all 16 U.S. spy agencies jointly announced, in a National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) report, that Iran had neither a nuclear program nor nuclear weapons.

This intelligence about-face was not the result of new spy data or a better spying technique. It was a political move taken by the U.S. military itself to stop the clique headed by President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney from the dangerous adventure of bombing Iranian nuclear installations when the Pentagon is already hopelessly bogged down in Afghanistan and Iraq.

This victory for Iran reflects the strength of the national liberation struggles in the Middle East, which have not been stopped by Pentagon threats or bombings. It also is a result of anti-war sentiment in the U.S., as even the Pentagon owns up to difficulties recruiting soldiers to fight in the Middle East.

The NIE report removed the linchpin holding up the Bush-Cheney argument for aggression against Iran: the nuclear weapons myth. Immediately after the report’s release, the attempt by the White House to corral the U.N. Security Council for a third round of sanctions against Iran fell apart.

Who is behind the report? “The secretaries of state and defense and the leaders of the uniformed military had decided that diplomacy was the best way to deal with an admittedly hostile and dangerous force in Tehran.” (Time, Dec. 17)

Tehran ‘has no nuclear weapons’

The NIE report represented all 16 U.S. spy agencies, eight of them directly linked to the military. Its conclusions are available online. It assessed with “high confidence” that “in 2003 Tehran halted its nuclear weapons program,” had not restarted it, and today “has no nuclear weapons.” While Iran continues to enrich uranium as part of its civilian nuclear energy program, the report finds it likely that Iran would not have enough plutonium for a nuclear weapon until 2015.

The NIE contradicted its own earlier findings, made in 2005, that Iran was secretly building nuclear weapons. The NIE issued this bombshell five years after a 2002 report in which U.S. spies claimed that Iraq had “weapons of mass destruction.” This blatantly false statement gave the Bush gang its rationale for launching what many in the military now see as their debacle in Iraq.

While Bush and Cheney were trying to construct a similar pretext for bombing Iran, the Pentagon spy agencies undercut the pretext.

A year ago “Bush asked the [Joint Chiefs of Staff] about attacking Iran. He was told that a bombing campaign could do severe damage to Iran’s military and nuclear facilities, but the Chiefs said they were opposed to such a strike because of the probable ‘blowback.’ The Iranians, Bush was told, could make life very difficult for the U.S. troops on the ground in Iraq. They could shut off the flow of oil through the Strait of Hormuz, thereby creating a global economic crisis.” (Time)

In truth, U.S. generals have reasons to avoid a war at this time against a country of 71 million whose population is militantly anti-imperialist and showed what they could do just 30 years ago, when they staged a fierce and mass revolutionary struggle that ousted a U.S. puppet, the hated shah of Iran.

But Bush was moving ahead anyway, so the military pulled the rug out from under him. “The truth about Iran appeared to shatter the last shreds of credibility of the White House’s bomb-Iran brigade, and especially that of Vice President Dick Cheney,” wrote Time magazine.

A victory for Iran

This is why Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said, “This report tries to extract America from its impasse, but it also is a declaration of victory for the Iranian people against the great powers.” (aljazeera.net, Dec. 5) This view is held by the Iranian people as well, according to Al Jazeera’s reporter in Tehran.

While U.S. spies have exposed one lie, it does not mean that what they are saying now is the whole truth. Iran says it has never sought to produce atomic weapons. “Ali Lariyane, delegate of the Supreme Leader of the National Higher Security Council, said if the U.S. government has any evidence of this, it should hand it over to Mohammad El Baradei, director of the International Atomic Energy Agency.” (Prensa Latina, Dec. 7)

Iran, an oppressed country, has every right to develop nuclear weapons as a deterrent against the U.S. and Israel, which are bent on Iran’s destruction and pose the real threat in the Middle East. Israel has 75 to 200 nuclear warheads, according to the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. The U.S., with more than 9,000 nuclear warheads, has a string of bases in the Middle East, three aircraft carrier groups in the Arabian/Persian Gulf with guns pointed at Iran, and troops on two of Iran’s borders, in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Want to subvert Iran

The main movers in the report are National Intelligence Director Adm. Mike McConnell and Thomas Fingar, chair of the National Intelligence Council. McConnell, who came out of retirement to take on this study, was the chief security advisor to the Joint Chiefs of Staff during the dissolution of the Soviet Union and during the first Gulf War. Fingar has a long intelligence history with the State Department and was part of John Negroponte’s inner circle.

Members of Congress had requested the NIE report. Among elected officials mentioned in the New York Times in conjunction with the report is Republican Sen. Charles Hagel of Nebraska.

In a recent speech at the Center for Strategic and International Relations on U.S.-Iran relations, Hagel gave more details on the view of the departments of State and Defense and of the Joint Chiefs on how to approach Iran.

“Loose talk of World War III, intimidation, threats, bellicose speeches only heighten the dangers we face in the world. … What confidence should we have in a strategy that, to date, has nothing to show for it … that has achieved no tangible changes to Iran’s nuclear program and actually has seen the Middle East become more dangerous and Iran more defiant? Is the U.S. pursuing a policy that could very well produce a self-fulfilling prophecy of the president’s warning of World War III?

“By refusing to engage Iran in direct, unconditional and comprehensive talks, we are perpetuating dangerous geo-political unpredictabilities. Our refusal to recognize Iran’s influence does not decrease its influence, but rather increases it.

“Our strategy must be one focused on direct engagement and diplomacy … backed by the leverage of international pressure, military options, isolation and containment … not unlike the strategies that the United States pursued during the Cold War against the Soviet Union.”

‘Talks’ as cover for destabilization

Hagel continued, “Inside Iran, there are social strains and serious differences of opinion. … There are political divides in Tehran. … Our strategy should exploit these differences. … The United States must be wise enough … and patient enough … not to follow the same destructive path on Iran that we did on Iraq.”

The forces backing the NIE report are just as hostile towards Iran as Bush and Cheney. They merely think other tactics would be more successful in bringing down Iran. For example, at a conference on regional security in Bahrain on Dec. 8, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates called Iran “a grave threat to regional security even without nuclear weapons.” (New York Times, Dec. 9)

If Bush doesn’t bomb Iran in the next year, it doesn’t mean that the next administration won’t. Norman Podhoretz, a senior neoconservative and a cheerleader for bombing Iran, is foreign policy advisor to Rudolph Giuliani’s presidential campaign. And neither of the Democratic Party frontrunners, Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama, has pulled back from shrill and aggressive positions on Iran.

Mass struggle made Pentagon blink

This is a falling out among thieves on how best to bring Iran down and how to stop the struggle in the Middle East. The NIE benignly describes itself as “the intelligence community.” It is really a collection of assassins, liars, mass murderers and destabilizers of progressive governments. The Bush-Cheney forces are no different. Both sides are hired guns for a U.S. ruling class determined to control Middle Eastern oil.

It is the strength of the mass liberation struggles—from Iran to Iraq to Afghanistan to Lebanon to Palestine—which made the biggest military colossus in the world blink. The spy report is an admission that Pentagon bombs cannot stop the mass struggle and often drive it forward. It is this struggle that will determine the fate of the Middle East.

What’s behind U.S.spy agency report on Iran?

Joyce Chediac, a Lebanese-American activist, on the report that 16 U.S. spy agencies announce that Iran does not have a nuclear weapons program, Dec. 7, 2007.
Click here to listen . (Running time is 10:53, filesize is 3.3MB)