Friday, December 02, 2011

Build up for a Boom - but not the economic kind FLYING KITE - Guardian November 3. Now Iranians have brought down US drone.

WHILE Britain and Iran go through the game of embassy row and expulsion of diplomats, the build up is continuing towards what would not be a mere war of words. Following renewed claims - which Iran denies - that it developing nuclear weapon capacity - both the United States and European Union governments have rushed to step up economic sanctions against Iran.

It is these measures, which as with Iraq, hit ordinary citizens, that led to angry Iranians sacking the British embassy in Tehran, in what the British government accuses was a state-sanctioned attack. British media reported that Iranian demonstrators chanted slogans about destroying "the Fox's den", and said this meant Britain. What they did not say was that the Iranians might have been alluding to former British Defence Secretary Liam Fox, who had to resign after reports about his friend Adam Werrity's contacts with the Israeli military and claims to have gathered intelligence on trips to Iran.

A month ago the Guardian front-paged a report that the British Ministry of Defence had signalled readiness to join a US-led attack on Iran, possibly a bit of kite flying from the MoD itself, either to test public opinion or divert domestic criticisim of its workings and costs.

But it is reported today that Iranian forces have brought down an unmanned US spy drone flying over their eastern border region. "An advanced RQ170 unmanned American spy plane was shot down by Iran's armed forces. It suffered minor damage and is now in possession of Iran's armed forces," Iranian officials said. NATO forces in Afghanistan said one of their drones had gone out of control and might have crossed the border.

See also:
and John Pilger :

It would be a poor capitalist government in this hour of economic difficulty that didn't take advantage of the build up for war to boost hardware sales in pursuit of that elusive economic recovery. Here is an item from the Morning Star last week:

Germany approves fourth nuke sub sale to Israel

Thursday 01 December 2011

Berlin has approved the sale of a fourth Dolphin military submarine to Israel and will stump up a third of its cost, a senior German official revealed today.

Dolphin-class submarines are capable of launching nuclear-tipped missiles, and it is an open secret that Israel has nukes.

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said that parliament has set aside €135 million (£116m) in next year’s budget to subsidise the sale.

Germany has already sold three Dolphin subs to Israel — one half-funded and two entirely paid for by Berlin.

Two more are being built by workers at Germany’s HDW shipyard, which is a division of ThyssenKrupp AG.

Iran’s investment arm IFIC owns about 4.5 per cent of the firm, which has been tainted by its exploitation of slave labour during World War II in support of the nazi war effort.

Chancellor Angela Merkel’s right-wing government has tried harder this year to break into the huge Middle East arms market, traditionally dominated by Britain, the United States, France and Russia.

Berlin recently approved the sale of 270 tanks to Saudi Arabia in a shady £1.3 billion deal and is planning to export £9bn-worth of frigates, armoured vehicles and border security systems to Algeria.

Der Spiegel magazine recently noted that Ms “Merkel is breaking with a traditional doctrine of German foreign policy.

“The fundamental principle used to be that weapons produced in Germany couldn’t be delivered to countries engaged in a conflict.”

Israel is not the only proxy being brought into the act. As the Saudi-owned media site Al Arabiya reports:

"The Obama administration has proposed selling 600 “bunker buster” bombs and other munitions to the United Arab Emirates, which lies across the Gulf from Iran, to deter what it called regional threats.

Iran is widely suspected of seeking to develop nuclear arms through a program that Tehran says is for peaceful power generation only.

The proposed $304 million sale would include 4,900 tail kits built by Boeing Co that turn unguided free-fall bombs into guided weapons and 4,300 “general purpose” bombs, the Defense Department said in a mandatory arms sale notice dated Wednesday.

The deal would boost UAE’s ability “to meet current and future regional threats” and to help deter aggression, the Pentagon’s Defense Security Cooperation Agency said in the note to lawmakers.

The BLU-109 “Hard Target Penetrator” bomb, or bunker buster, is a 2,000-pound (900-kg) weapon designed to smash into buried enemy command posts, munitions depots and other hardened targets before using a delayed fuse to explode.

Iran’s nuclear facilities are widely dispersed around the country, some of them in fortified bunkers underground.

Boeing’s Joint Direct Attack Munition, or JDAM, is a tail section containing technology that uses global positioning system (GPS) data to home in on a target from up to 15 miles away.

UAE operates Lockheed Martin Corp’s F-16 “Block 60” fighter aircraft, the most advanced F-16 model flown.

Lawmakers have 30 days to accept or reject a foreign military sale after formal notification. None has been rejected to date after formal notification.

“The UAE government continues vital host-nation support of U.S. forces stationed at Al Dhafra Air Base, plays an important role in supporting U.S. regional interests, and has proven to be a valued partner in overseas operations,” the notice to Congress said.

The top U.S. military officer said on Wednesday he did not know whether Israel would alert the United States ahead of time if it decided to take military action against Iran.

Army General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told Reuters that sanctions and diplomatic pressure was the right path to take on Iran, without ruling out military action as a last resort.

The British government has condemned what it calls the use of "state-sposored mobs" to attack the embassy. I can understand how indignant the Foreign and Commonwealth Office must feel. Leaving aside the not entirely explained circumstances of the famous Iranian embassy siege here in London, it is fifty years since the Abadan oil crisis, occasioned when the Iranian parliament decided in March 1951 to nationalise the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company.

This was a popular move in Iran, where it was seen as a way for the country to controland develop its own oil wealth and use it to raise people from poverty. But the British government thought it outrageous to touch a profitable British interest. Foreign Office emissaries tried to persuade America that the Iranian communists, the Tudeh party, were behind prime minsiter Dr,Mossadegh, and that letting him nationalise the oil company "would be widely regarded as a victory for the Russians": what's more it would "cause a loss of one hundred million pounds per annum in the United Kingdom's balance of payments, thus seriously affecting our rearmament program and our cost of living."

British warships blockaded the oil port of Abadan, and the British cabinet imposed a series of economic sanctions on Iran. It prohibited exports of key British commodities, including sugar and steel, directed the withdrawal of all British personnel from Iranian oil fields and all but a hard core of about 300 administrators from Abadan and blocked Iran's access to its hard currency accounts in British banks.

The US and other states joined Britain in this dispute, one exception being Italy. In July 1952, the Royal Navy intercepted the Italian tanker Rose Mary and forced it into the then British protectorate of Aden, saying it was carrying "stolen petroleum". This scared off others and shut off Iranian oil exports.

The US government saw an opportunity both to stop nationalisation catching on in the Middle East and to step into what had been Britain's privileged monopoly in Iran. The Dulles bothers were a long-standing link between the State Department and Standard Oil, by way of the CIA. Using the Shah, selected ayatollahs and army officers, and hired Tehran street thugs, the CIA and Britain's MI6 prepared the coup that would terrorise the Tudeh and get rid of Mossadegh. The Yanks had the dollars and the Brits had the dirty tricks expertise. Busloads of supporters were brought in to the capital to reinforce the gangsters, and riot for the shah, and hundreds of people were killed. With the Shah secure on his throne, Mossadegh and his supporters locked up, and the SAVAK secret police set up to torture the Left, control of Iranian oil was taken by a consortium in which five US companies were now involved.

Further information: 1953 Iranian coup d'état

So the ayatollahs were left to consider that one day they would be the ones to gain power, using others rather than merely lending their support; and the British spooks and their Whitehall masters left with the feeling that they are the experts when it comes to organising mobs on the street for a bit of mayhem.

...or Law n'Order

JUST to make sure British industry is given a fair share of the publicity, here is a PS courtesy of the Independent on Sunday to our story about American tear gas in Egypt:

A British firm manufactured some of the tear gas used by Egyptian security forces battling pro-democracy protesters in Egypt's Tahrir Square the IoS can reveal.

CS gas canisters fired at civilians during recent clashes were produced by British defence contractor Chemring Defence, formerly known as PW Defence, the company confirmed this weekend. A spokesman said the gas is thought to have been sold to the Egyptian army more than a decade ago or, alternatively, reached Egyptian military via a third country.

The company, which said it has not directly supplied CS gas to Egypt since 1998, has not broken UK laws forbidding such sales. But critics say Egyptian use of British-made products to quash political dissent reveals “serious flaws” in the UK's controls on arms exports to the Middle East. Demonstrators in Egypt who found themselves caught in the stench of CS gas in the recent clashes on Mohamed Mahmoud Street on the south east side of Tahrir Square, said they experienced symptoms of burning, skin irritation, difficulty breathing, chest pain, and loss of feeling in their limbs. Many collected the discarded rounds after they had been fired during more than 120 hours of protests. Amongst those collected were the red-striped 38mm long range rounds produced by Chemring Defence, which the IoS has seen.

Serial numbers and lot numbers were seen on a number of canisters, which are being used to track their journey from the UK to Egypt. One had a manufacturing date on it of 1995. Ahmed, a 19-year-old law student, who did not want to give his surname, found his canister on Monday 21 November after he was gassed. He said: “They shot many canisters like this one at the same time... It causes so much tearing; it makes your chest hurt so badly. It burns when you're sweating and it causes you to shake.”

A spokesman for Chemring Group PLC - the company which owns Chemring Defence - said it did not dispute that it produced the canisters were produced by the UK company. But he said his firm has not supplied CS gas to Egypt since 1998, when products were sent directly to the Egyptian army under licenses from the Ministry of Defence, with a shelf-life of between three and five years. Chemring Group's board of directors include former Tory minister, Lord Freeman, chairman of arms firm Thales UK plc. The firm accompanied David Cameron on his arms tour of Egypt earlier this year.

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