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Iran: The New Iraq?

The U$ has been conducting secret missons with commando units since at least last summer, the target being to amass intelligence data and targeting information on Iranian nuclear, chemical, and missile sites, whether declared or merely suspected.
So word has it that Iran may be the Bush administration’s new target in the War on Terror. But before we get into the current controversy surrounding American/Iranian relations, why don’t we do a brief background of the country Bush has called “the world’s primary state-sponsor of terror,? shall we? For starters, Iran is conveniently located between the U$-occupied nations of Iraq and Afghanistan. Iran’s state-owned oil industry is the backbone of its economy. In fact, it’s OPEC’s (Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries) second largest producer, holding 10% of the world’s oil reserves. Iran also holds the world’s second largest natural gas reserves. Iran is comprised not of Arabs, as most other Middle Eastern states, but instead Persians make up the majority of the population (until 1935 the West referred to Iran as Persia). Most of Iran is Muslim, 89% belonging to the Shiite sect (we’ll get to this later when we look at its close relationship with Iraq).

U$ involvement in Iran began back in 1953 when Mohammed Mossadeq, Prime Minister since 1951 and elected numerous times to parliament, was removed from power by American and British intelligence agencies (Operation Ajax), most likely for his plans to nationalize the country’s oil industry. Iran’s monarch, Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, assumed ultimate power, strongly backed by the U$ and the UK. His dictatorial rule came to an end with the Iranian Revolution in 1979. An Islamic republic, headed under Ayatollah Khomeini, was elected by popular vote over a year later. The new theocracy went in an anti-Western direction, particularly against the U$ for its role in the 1953 coup leading to the Shah’s quarter-century-long dictatorship. And let’s not forget the Iran-Iraq war, beginning in 1980 and lasting until 1988 when peace negotiations began. The U$ is one of ten nations that has been exposed as selling weapons to both sides.

Now the Bush administration has more plans for Iran. In fact, they’ve already began. In 1970 the Non Proliferation Treaty (NPT) was signed by the U$, the Soviet Union, and sixty other countries, one of them being Iran. The goal of the treaty was to limit the production of nuclear arms. Non-nuclear-weapon states signing the treaty agreed not to obtain nuclear arms or the ability to produce them. However, the treaty does allow uranium enrichment for commercial purposes, but the country has to declare the activity to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and let them inspect nuclear facilities. For years Iran hid its enrichment plants from the IAEA but then, once exposed, alleged they are for commercial purposes only. The question is, are they telling the truth?

If Iran was pursuing the making of nuclear weapons, it is unclear how long it would take them to make a bomb using material from its energy program. Mohamed ElBaradei, director of the IAEA, has said Iran could have enough enriched uranium for a bomb within two years, and have a completed weapon within three. The IAEA found out in 2003 that Iran had been secretly acquiring nuclear technology from Pakistan (a U$ ally in the War on Terror) for more than a decade from nuclear mastermind AQ Kahn, who has been found to have sold his services to other “rogue? states such as Libya and North Korea (Kahn is currently under protection by the Pakistani government and is therefore immune from international accountability). But the fact is, despite Iran’s shady dealings, they continue to deny any intentions of building a bomb, and the IAEA has found no proof of a weapons program, despite U$ accusations. Western intelligence agencies and the IAEA have stated many times that Iran’s nuclear program has serious technical problems in respect to its weapons system, especially in the area of producing hexafluoride gas needed to manufacture nuclear warheads.

Russia is currently in the process of building an $800 million nuclear power plant in southern Iran, near the city of Bushehr. The Bush administration has stated its concern that Iran will produce plutonium for weapons by reprocessing fuel from the plant. But Hassan Rouhani, the head of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, after a meeting with Russian President Putin, said Iran was willing to sign an agreement to return all used fuel to Russia, allowing the delivery of nuclear fuel and the opening of the plant next year. “The latest steps by Iran have convinced us that Iran does not intend to produce nuclear arms. In this context, we will continue cooperation with Iran in all areas, including the nuclear energy field,? Putin said after the meeting.

“We don’t have much leverage with the Iranians right now. Diplomacy must be the first choice, and always the first choice of an administration trying to solve an issue of . . . nuclear armament. And we’ll continue to press on diplomacy,? Bush has recently claimed. However, as Britain, France, and Germany continue to negotiate with Iran over its nuclear facilities, the U$ still refuses to take part over two years later. The Bush administration has not given a reason why it won’t participate. As Secretary of State Rice toured Europe recently she stated the administration’s support for the talks, but was unwilling to accept her hosts’ invitations to the negotiations or a security guarantee for Iran. European officials have repeatedly declared that the negotiations are at a standstill and will ultimately fail without American involvement.

Iran has temporarily suspended its uranium enrichment program while it holds talks with the European nations. But it remains unwilling to forfeit its capacity to enrich nuclear fuel for its civilian nuclear power industry, while the Europeans have been unable to meet Iran’s demand of guaranteeing its safety from an invasion by the U$ or Israel. The Bush administration has criticized the Europeans and the IAEA as taking an approach that is too soft on Iran. It has also stated that any failure in the talks is solely the fault of Iran, not the U$ or Europe. The European nations have continually been offering Iran economic and political incentives for disarmament, while the U$ has taken a different approach: demanding the matter be taken to the UN Security Council, where political and economic sanctions would be considered. But any resolution imposing sanctions would probably be vetoed by either China or Russia. The UN could then be blamed and the Bush administration can say the only solution is a military one. According to Shireen Hunter, an Iran specialist at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, “The strategy of the United States is [to hope] that the Europeans can’t deliver on some things Iran wants. The administration is expecting that, by late spring or summer, the European track will fail.?

David Kay, former director of the CIA’s search for WMDs in Iraq wrote in an op-ed article in the Washington Post, “There is an eerie similarity to the events preceding the Iraq war. Now is the time to pause and recall what went wrong with the assessment of Iraq’s WMD program and try to avoid repeating those mistakes in Iran.? Kay goes on to warn about obtaining information from the Mujahedeen-e Khalq, (MEK) an Iranian guerilla group with about 4,000 fighters. He says the MEK and other exile groups are unreliable intelligence sources, much like the failed intelligence reports from exile Ahmed Chalabi in Iraq. The MEK is supported by some neocons, as well as liberals, but has remained on the U$ State Department’s list of terrorist organizations since 1997. Yet the group’s 4,000 fighters are housed in a U$-guarded military base north of Baghdad. These hypocrisies are only amplified inside the U$ as four Iranian brothers, the Mirmehdis, remain detained without charges after over three years for attending a MEK rally (before it was on the terrorist list). MEK rallies frequently feature prominent politicians as speakers and in the past has had outstanding support by, at the time, Senator John Ashcroft. Inside Iran the MEK holds little support, mostly among students and professionals, and outside Iran holds even less credibility. Although the MEK has provided accurate intelligence on some elements of Iran’s alleged nuclear program, others have been proven wrong, leaving many experts like Kay with the impression the U$ is making many of the same mistakes it did in Iraq in 2003. “Having gone to the Security Council on the basis of flawed evidence to ‘prove’ Iraq’s WMD activities, [the United States] only invites derision to cite unsubstantiated exile reports to ‘prove’ that Iran is developing nuclear weapons,? Kay wrote.

It really shouldn’t come as too much of a shock that the U$ is looking at these options for Iran. Bush has said many times, such as in his second inaugural address, what his intentions are: to “spread democracy? throughout the Middle East. In Seymour Hersh’s article entitled “The Coming Wars,? which was printed in The New Yorker, he says, “Despite the deteriorating security situation in Iraq, the Bush Administration has not reconsidered its basic long-range policy goal in the Middle East: the establishment of democracy throughout the region,? and that the administration views its reelection as America’s support for this strategy. The U$ has been flying surveillance drones over Iran for almost a year now, trying to find evidence of a developing nuclear weapons program and identifying weaknesses in air defenses. The pilotless planes have been launched from inside Iraq and use radar, video, still photography, and air filters, which pick up traces of nuclear activity. Aerial surveillance of this type is standard in military preparations for an eventual air attack. Hersh’s article was the first to expose a series of covert operations that have been undertaken in Iran. According to the article, Bush has signed numerous findings and executive orders giving permission to “secret commando groups and other Special Forces units to conduct covert operations against suspected terrorist targets in as many as ten nations in the Middle East and South Asia.? The U$ has been conducting secret missions with such units in Iran since at least last summer, the target being to amass intelligence data and targeting information on khggnuclear, chemical, and missile sites, whether declared or merely suspected. “The goal is to identify and isolate three dozen, and perhaps more, such targets that could be destroyed by precision strikes and short-term commando raids.? It is important to note that the Pentagon has criticized Hersh’s article as being “riddled with inaccuracies,? but has not denied any of the claims put forth.

A military “solution? to the Iran issue still remains unclear as to how it would be carried out. It appears there are three options: 1) a U$ military role, 2) an Israeli military role, or 3) a U$-supported uprising from within Iran. A U$ invasion would undoubtedly bring about a situation much like Iraq, so it is said any U$ role would most likely start as selected bombing of targets being stalked now by commando units. This is supposed to invigorate the Iranian opposition who would then rise up against their oppressive leaders. But the nuclear ambition of Iran is supported within the country across the political spectrum and any attack on the sites would be seen as an attack on Iranians, not Iranian leadership. This could then create a groundswell of support for the regime and a bitter backlash against the U$, also leading to a situation much like Iraq. Back in 1981 the Israeli Air Force destroyed Iraq’s Osirak nuclear reactor, which set back its nuclear program many years. Many are looking at this incident as a blueprint for a similar Israeli attack on Iran. But Shahram Chubin, who is the director of research at the Geneva Centre for Security Policy, says the Osirak bombing “drove the Iranian nuclear weapons program underground, to hardened, dispersed sites.? This means that any attack could not guarantee the elimination of the targets, or how quickly they could be rebuilt.

And what about a counter-attack? The Pentagon has recently declared that it has upgraded its war plans for Iran, “as a matter of routine preparedness.? In response, Iranian officials announced that they are also preparing for a possible attack. Iran has called for an increase in its 7 million-member “Basiji? volunteer militia. In December the military showed its force by deploying 120,000 troops, tanks, helicopters, and armored vehicles near its border with Iraq. In response to the American spy drones, Iran gave orders to its air force to engage any plane violating its air space. Iran’s army is made up of 350,000 active-duty soldiers and 220,000 conscripts. Its elite Revolutionary Guards has about 120,000 soldiers. Its navy and air force totals over 70,000. The military has about 2,000 tanks, 300 combat aircraft, three submarines, hundreds of helicopters, and a large number of Scud and Shahab missiles. “Over the last year, they’ve developed their tactics of ‘asymmetrical’ war, which would aim not at resisting a penetration of foreign forces, but to then use them on the ground to all kinds of harmful effect,? similar to insurgent tactics in Iraq, a Western military expert in Tehran has said.

“Iran would respond within fifteen minutes to any attack by the United $tates or any other country,? an Iranian official stated. Though not a match for the U$ military, the Iranian military is a larger obstacle for an invasion than Iraq’s prewar defenses. Iran also poses a threat to oil shipments in the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman, since it controls the northern coast of the Strait of Hormuz, the waterwathrough. Hezbollah militants in Lebanon, supported by Iran, could initiate attacks on Israel and operatives could attack American interests in Azerbaijan, Central Asia, or Turkey. But most analysts say Iran’s biggest weapon is its ability to turn Iraq into an even more destructive situation for the U$. As I said before, 89% of Iran’s Muslim population is Shiite, which is also the vast majority in Iraq. Most of the Shiites who are now taking power in Iraq spent years in Iran as exiles. 72% of the votes in the Iraqi election went to the United Iraqi Alliance, led by Ibrahim al-Jaarfari, a Shiite cleric who lived in exile in Iran for years, whose Islamic Dawa Party has close ties with the Iranian clerical regime, and who was just nominated to be Prime Minister. Iranian resistance “would surely start with attempts to mobilize Shia partisans in Iraq to try to turn the Iraqi south into an extension of the insurgency in the Sunni triangle,? Gary Sick, professor of Middle East studies at Columbia University and former National Security Council adviser to then President Jimmy Carter, told a congressional panel last week. Iraq’s deputy foreign minister Hamid al-Bayati commented, “If Iran wanted it could make Iraq a hell for the United $tates.?

The Bush administration seems to be leading us down a path all-too-familiar. If the government thinks it can sabotage negotiations concerning the safety of the international community and force this nation into another war, it is wrong. As we start to hear the imperialist, war-mongering rhetoric all over again we must educate ourselves and those around us to better combat the administration’s policies of death and greed. Take to the streets in Santa Cruz, San Francisco, or wherever on March 19th, on the two-year anniversary of the War on Iraq, and protest our continued occupation and the possibility of future occupations! Make your voice heard!


- San Francisco Chronicle, multiple articles
- “The Coming Wars? by Seymour Hersh, The New Yorker
The IAEA didn't know of Iran's nuclear program at Bushehr (above) until 2002. Iran's ambassador says it is used to produce electricity.

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Re: Iran: The New Iraq?

They hung two young gay teens in Iran this week. I guess this is what happens to gays under Sharia Law.


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