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Nuclear Free Scotland February 2005

IRAN - THE NEXT TARGET?

Abdul Qadeer Khan, Pakistan’s nuclear godfather who is reputed to have sold nuclear secrets to several countries

Not content with a blood bath in a destabilised Iraq, Bush is now ratcheting up the pressure on Iran. As one Middle Eastern journalist recently put it, ‘Could it be that the same president who gave us the Iraq war in his first term is preparing the Iran war in his second?’

While it seems extraordinary that the US, still enmeshed in Iraq, should wish to take on a country with almost three times the population of Iraq, the US performance over Iran’s nuclear programme seems to suggest that is where it is going.

Iran has signed up to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) as a non-nuclear weapons state, pledging to maintain that status. Under the NPT, Iran is also entitled to develop ‘the applications of atomic energy for peaceful purposes’. In other words, it is entirely legitimate for Iran to develop nuclear power for civil purposes.

Iran does have a nuclear power programme, as do many countries across the world, and is adamant that the programme is strictly peaceful. The US administration refuses to accept this, suggesting that nuclear materials ostensibly produced for civil nuclear power may actually be used for nuclear weapons development. The issue arises over Iranian production of enriched uranium as fuel for civil nuclear reactors, which can also be used as raw explosive material for atomic bombs.

The International Atomic Energy Authority (IAEA) inspectors have

Kate Hudson and others
demonstrating at the US embassy on 20th January 2005

recently declared that Iran has not diverted declared nuclear materials to make weapons, and Iran has also signed an agreement with Britain, France and Germany, which included the indefinite suspension of its uranium enrichment programme. This is clearly not enough for the US, because hard on the heels of that agreement, Colin Powell announced that the US has intelligence that Iran is working to adapt missiles to deliver nuclear weapons — a claim declared by the Iranians to be baseless. At the same time, an Iranian opposition group alleged that Iran is enriching uranium at a secret facility unknown to UN weapons inspectors. The opposition group has produced no evidence to support its allegations but raises the spectre of ‘undeclared’ materials.

Clearly the US is trying to derail the Europe-Iran agreement, which runs counter to its own preferences: for over a year the US has been trying to get the IAEA to take Iran before the UN Security Council. This has been prevented by the non-aligned states, together with the European countries involved in the agreement, and with Russia and China. It has also been prevented by Iran’s high level of cooperation with the IAEA. But feelings run high over this issue within Iran. The overwhelming view is that Iran is being persecuted and unreasonably prevented from exercising its legitimate rights to civil nuclear power. Any further attempts to humiliate Iran over this question

are not going to go down well with the Iranian population.

These events are horribly reminiscent of the run up to the war on Iraq. UN weapons inspectors had done a thorough job in Iraq. They believed there to be no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq — and they were right. But so-called ‘intelligence’ insisted otherwise and trumped up charges were brought about and war was declared to — ostensibly — disarm an already disarmed Iraq. The prospect of endless charges of Iranian possession of undeclared nuclear material looms ahead. It is less likely, however, that the Iranians would allow the endless searches that characterized the run up to the war on Iraq. This is not necessarily because they have anything to hide, but because they have a strong sense of national pride and have also seen their neighbour comply with everything demanded of it and still be invaded.

The US is hostile to Iran. Iran is on the US nuclear hit-list and part of its ‘Axis of Evil’. It would clearly like to bring about a regime change in Iran. The question is, how will it attempt to pull it off? The ‘weapons of mass destruction’ charade is clearly one possible scenario that is being set up.

Although Britain has joined with Germany and France, pursuing the negotiated route, it is pretty likely that if Bush goes to war on Iran, Blair will not be far behind. Unfortunately our government has fully supported the bogus US use of the threat of nuclear proliferation: used as a justification for pre-emptive war to bring about regime change in Iraq. We cannot allow this to happen again.

 

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