teleSUR, 9 August **** Front Page

The Greatest Threat to World Peace?

By Airin Bahmani

While Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu argues that "Iran's nuclear program is the biggest threat to global security", an extensive international survey shows otherwise.

The Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has stated that “Iran's nuclear program is the biggest threat to global security” and that the current Iranian president Hassan Rouhani is “a wolf in sheep's clothing”.

The preponderance of the Western media coverage on Middle East and Iran echoes these remarks.

An extensive international survey suggests something quite different. WIN/Gallup International interviewed almost 67,000 people in 65 countries at the end of 2013. The most significant finding is that a quarter of the world's population sees the United States as the greatest threat to world peace. Only four percent of all the respondents regard Iran as “the greatest threat to world peace”. Israel, Afghanistan and North Korea are tied for fourth place.

The current negotiations between Iran and the P5 + 1 (United States, Russia, China, United Kingdom, France and Germany) on Iran's nuclear program have been extended for four months. The deadline for a comprehensive agreement on Iran's nuclear program was in July 20.  

Before the 1979 Islamic Revolution, The US had deep ties with the Shah regime which was fully accommodating to the military and economic interests of the US. Somewhat ironically, Iran launched its nuclear program with the help of the US in the 1950s.

While demonstrations took place in Iran against Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, the United States National Security Adviser, Zbigniew Brzezinski, was of the opinion that the shah should have his troops “shoot down as many people as necessary and bring an end to the rebellion once and for all”.

A quarter of the world's population sees the United States as the greatest threat to world peace.

During the love affair of the Shah and US, Amnesty International dubbed the security apparatus of the Shah as one of the worst human rights violators in the world.

After the overthrow of the dictatorship of the Shah in 1979, the US lost its clout in Tehran.

Since then the Iranian nuclear program has served as the cornerstone of US attempts to delegitimize the Islamic regime. 

The Iranian regime has been viewed as a menace before: in 1951, when Iran nationalized its British-owned oil industry. Britain then labeled Iran “as a threat to international peace”.

The current Islamist regime is not the first Iranian regime that has been described as a threat to international peace. Another instance was in 1951 when The British went to the UN Security Council, arguing that Iran's decision to nationalize the oil would be “threat to international security and peace”.    

The Iranian nuclear controversy is not technical in nature - rather, it is political.  

This time Iran was brought to the UN by asserting that Iran's nuclear program is a threat to international peace and security.

Iran has signed all the Weapons of Mass Destruction agreements, including the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC), the Biological Weapons Convention (BWC) and the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

Signing these conventions entails rights and obligations for all signatories.

In Iran's case it appears that rights are denied and obligations demanded.

Article IV of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty states that “[n]othing in this Treaty shall be interpreted as affecting inalienable right of all the Parties to the Treaty to develop research, production and use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes without discrimination and in conformity with Articles I and II of this Treaty”.

Even the US government National Intelligence Estimate says that Iran probably stopped weaponization around 2004.

Furthermore, the Pentagon's Annual Report on the Military Power of Iran stated in April 2012, that “Iran's security strategy remains focused on deterring an attack”. (italics added)

Robert Kelley, an Associated Senior Research Fellow of the SIPRI Nuclear Weapons Project and a former director at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has stated that IAEA does not have any evidence of weaponization in Iran after 2004. According to Kelley, IAEA is stretching all they know to imply they are not sure there is any nuclear weapon program: “This goes far beyond their legal mandate or technical capability”.

“As a member of the IAEA's Iraq Action Team in 2003, I learned firsthand how withholding the facts can lead to bloodshed.”

Mohamed El Baradei, a former Director General of the IAEA and the Nobel Peace Prize laureate also confirmed there is “no evidence” of nuclear weapons and that “many other countries are enriching uranium without the world making any fuss about it".    

Although Iran has an inalienable right to enrich uranium as guaranteed in the NPT, it has continuously been under military threat by the US-Israeli alliance and US-imposed economic sanctions.  

In May 2003, Iran issued a proposal to US calling for negotiations. Tim Guldimann, the Swiss ambassador in Tehran passed on the Iranian proposal to the US State Department, adding that “I got the clear impression that there is a strong will of the regime to tackle the problem with the U.S. now and to try it with this initiative”.

The proposal included negotiations on disarmament, economic cooperation and regional security.

The Bush administration ignored the proposal.

The then Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security John Bolton wanted to move the Iranian issue out of the IAEA, to the UN Security Council . Gareth Porter, an investigative journalist and historian argued in his book Manufactured Crisis that “the idea was to prevent IAEA director general Mohamed ElBaradei from reaching an agreement with Iran, blurring Iran's status as part of the ‘axis of evil'.”

Later when Yukiya Amano took over as the director general of the IAEA, WikiLeaks published a cable written by the US charge d'affaires, Geoffrey Pyatt, stating: “Amano reminded [the] ambassador on several occasions that he would need to make concessions to the G-77 [the developing countries group], which correctly required him to be fair-minded and independent, but that he was solidly in the US court on every key strategic decision, from high-level personnel appointments to the handling of Iran's alleged nuclear weapons program". (my emphasis)

The rejectionist US policy towards Iran has led to a situation in which Iranian civil society keeps paying the highest price.

The US-imposed sanctions against Iran have led to a steady decrease in the standard of living of ordinary Iranians. If the sanctions program has been targeted against the general population, they have indeed been a success.

A study published by the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran (ICHR) reports that maintaining the essential imports including foods, medicines and other humanitarian items has become difficult. Also, the study demonstrates that the US sanctions have crippled Iran's public healthcare system.  

This is hardly the first time that the US has descended upon a civilian society with economic sanctions. For example, a survey by the Lancet, the journal of the British Medical Association, estimated that 576,000 Iraqi children died as a result of the economic sanctions that preceded the 2003 Iraq war.

The then Secretary of State of the US, Madeleine Albright, infamously stated on the dead Iraqi children that “we think the price is worth it”.

Not only has the standard of living among ordinary Iranians decreased dramatically, the country iis living under a constant military threat.

In January, while the negotiations between Iran and the P5 +1 were underway the US Secretary of State John Kerry reminded that “the military option that is available to the United States is ready and prepared to do what it would have to do”.

The details of the rejectionist US policy towards Iran leave no room for doubt: concerns about Iran's nuclear ambitions cannot be the source for the current US-Iranian confrontation.

The Helsinki conference was scheduled for 2012. Its purpose was to ban atomic arms and other weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East by establishing a nuclear-weapon-free zone. The conference was cancelled by the US and Israel.

Iran announced it will attend the Helsinki conference. The US argued that “banning nuclear weapons in the Middle East cannot be convened at this point” and Shaul Horev, the director of the Israeli Nuclear Energy Committee stated as follows: “This is an idea born in other areas and alien to the reality and political culture of the area. Nuclear demilitarization in the Middle East, according to the Israeli position, will be possible only after the establishment of peace and trust among the states of the area, as a result of a local initiative, not of external coercion.”   

The main concern appeared to be that Israel would be pressured and, ultimately forced to dismantle its nuclear weapon arsenal.  

In December 2012, the UN General Assembly passed a resolution where it is “Calling on Israel to accede to the NPT without further delay and on it not to develop, produce, test or otherwise acquire nuclear weapons, to renounce possession of those weapons, and place all its unsafeguarded nuclear facilities under full-scope Agency safeguards”.

Unsurprisingly the US voted against the resolution.

Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu gave a speech in UN General Assembly. He stated: “Israel will not allow Iran to get nuclear weapons. If Israel is forced to stand alone, Israel will stand alone - - We in Israel, we know all too well the cost of war. But history has taught us that to prevent war tomorrow, we must be firm today.  When it comes to Iran's nuclear weapons program, here's my advice: Distrust, dismantle and verify.”

It is certainly not that an Israeli head of government would make such a statement should not be a source for astonishment. What is noteworthy, however is that the political commentators in the western media and the western political class do not ridicule such remarks coming from a prime minister of the region's only nuclear weapon state and directed toward state without a nuclear weapons program nor a credible capacity to launch an international military aggression.

 

Archive: Airin Bahmani, Iran, United States, Middle East, International affairs

 

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