Monday, February 08, 2010

Iran: statesmen anxious to maintain threat of war

ARE Western leaders and Iranian President Ahmadinejad worried that the threat of war might die down if they don't keep fanning the flames?

At the weekend US Defence secretary Robert Gates dismissed assurances by Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki, that his government was close to reaching a deal that would see some of its uranium sent abroad for enrichment.

"Under the present conditions that we have reached, I think that we are approaching a final agreement that can be accepted by all parties," Mottaki said. It should be up to Tehran to set the amounts to be exchanged, based on its needs.

The Iranian minister was speaking at an international security conference in Munich, where he also had a meeting with Yukiya Amano, the head of the International Atomic Energy Authority. "We had a very good meeting," Mottaki said.

But in Ankara, the Turkish capital, US Defence Secretary Gates said he saw no evidence that Tehran had changed its position in its nuclear dispute with the US and its allies and suggested it was time to move forward with sanctions.

"I don't have the sense that we're close to an agreement," Gates said. "If Iran has decided to accept the proposal of the P5-plus-one, they should do that to the IAEA [the International Atomic Energy Agency]," Gates said referring to the five permanent members of the UN security council and Germany.

"The reality is, the longer that this goes on and the longer they continue to enrich, the value of the Tehran research proposal as a reassurance to the international community diminishes," he said. Gates said Iran had done nothing to reassure the international community that they were prepared to comply with the NPT (Non-Proliferation Treaty) or stop their progress towards a nuclear weapon.

Unlike Iran, Israel is not even a signatory to the Non-Proliferation Treaty, and already has a large nuclear arsenal. Far from inviting international inspection of its weapons and nuclear plants, the Zionist State continues to punish nuclear technician Mordechai Vanunu for blowing the whistle on its nuclear weapons. But that is something which US and British governments and the tame media studiously avoid mentioning.

Iran says it needs nuclear energy to reduce dependency on fossil fuels and to develop desalination plants. Western governments accuse Iran of aiming to develop nuclear weapons, and the media persistently links this with President Ahmadinejad's supposed threat to "wipe Israel off the map".

Keeping up the mood, the United States a new computer game has the scenario that begins "Iran explodes a dirty bomb in New York", while in Israel a project is offering well-heeled American tourists the chance to join the Israeli army in war games "against Hamas, Hizbollah, Syria and Iran".

Robert Gates was Defence Secretary under George Bush, when America openly talked of bombing Iran, now he is Obama's Defence Secretary trying to pull other countries behind the policy of sanctions amounting to economic and social war. In Iran, as in Iraq before, it is ordinary people that could suffer from this, and sanctions could prove not an alternative but a prelude to war.

Foad Izadi, a professor of politics at the University of Tehran told Al Jazeera that what is puzzling to some people in Tehran is why, when Iran is willing to accept the offer, are they are being criticised. "Mr. Mottaki said Iran is willing to make a formal offer to the IAEA. [However] there are a number of details that need to be worked out [before that happens] - the timing, the location and the amount of the exchange," Izadi said.

"Because of the history that Iran and the West have had, Iran is somewhat cautious.

"They want to propose an idea, see what the response from the other side is, and then sign papers." Last October, Iran agreed in principle to export the bulk of its uranium to have it enriched to 20% purity and then made into fuel rods in France. However, the deal subsequently unravelled amid disagreements in Tehran.

Today, the British press and TV news which paid little or no attention to Foreign Minister Mottaki's hints of a deal, has headlined a call by President Ahmadinejad for Iran's atomic energy organisation to begin enriching its uranium stockpile to a higher level. Gates call for stepping up moves for international sanctions was linked to this, and the news that Iran would address the United Nations on its plans today.

Ahmadinejad was shown on Iranian TV giving an order for the uranium, currently enriched to the level of 3.5%, to be further refined to 20% purity. State media said the work would start on Tuesday. Iran said that it needs the more concentrated fuel for a research reactor in Tehran which makes isotopes for medical uses. However, western officials argued that Iran does not possess the specialised technology for turning the enriched uranium into the fuel rods used in the Tehran reactor. They were concerned that by enriching uranium to the level of 20%, the Islamic republic would learn how to overcome many of the technical obstacles to making weapons-grade fuel.

Thus the US and allies prefer not to take reassurances from Iran which might lesson the drive for sanctions and the threat of war. Ahmadinejad, for his part, needs the hostility and threats from western powers to maintain a siege atmosphere reinforcing support for his regime, and providing a pretext for repression of opposition at home.

The more this game goes on, the greater the danger of real war.

We must demand that nuclear weapons are banned throughout the Middle East - obviously starting with its one existing nuclear power, Israel - as a move towards ridding the world of this threat. No support for sanctions and war! No support for the Islamicist regime! Full support for the growing workers and students movement for freedom in Iran!

Al Jazeera English - Middle East - US denies Iran nuclear deal 'close'

including day school in Manchester:

Fighting Imperialism and Fighting Repression Day School

Saturday February 13 @ 1pm
University of Manchester Students’ Union Meeting Room 1

Meeting 1: Imperialism and Iran
With speakers from Glasgow University and HOPI

Meeting 2: The Iranian Revolution 1979 and Today
With speakers from HOPI and the Green Party

for more information on this and other events see:



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