Iran is being pressurized to abandon its nuclear programme. Tel Aviv and Washington are behind this. London has joined the duo. Paris and Berlin are lending their support just as some other Western capitals are also ‘concerned’ about Iran.
The present Iranian leadership has made it explicitly clear that its nuclear programme—which incidentally began as an agreement between the pro-Washington Iranian monarch, Reza Shah Pahlavi and the US government in 1957—is for peaceful purposes. If it has undertaken nuclear enrichment it is because this is allowed under the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT) of which Iran is a signatory. The Tehran government further asserts that it has since late 2002 facilitated countless inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). These inspections have shown that Tehran has not made any attempt to produce nuclear weapons. Besides, nuclear weapons, as the Iranian Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and numerous government officials have averred in recent years, go against the grain of Islamic teachings. This is because they kill innocent civilians; are injurious to the health of unborn generations; and devastate the environment.
It is equally significant that on the 3rd of October 2004 the Director General of the IAEA, Mohamed ElBaradei, stated openly that, “Iran has no nuclear weapons program, but I personally don’t rush to conclusions before all the realities are clarified. So far I see nothing which could be called an imminent danger. I have seen no nuclear weapons programme in Iran. What I have seen is that Iran is trying to gain access to nuclear enrichment technology, and so far there is no danger from Iran. Therefore, we should make use of political and diplomatic means before thinking of resorting to alternatives”.
And yet almost a year later, on the 24th of September 2005, the IAEA Board of Governors adopted a resolution criticizing Iran for “failures and breaches…which constitute non-compliance” with the NPT and called on Iran to re-suspend conversion of uranium at its Isfahan plant. The resolution also urged Iran to return to negotiations with the European Union (EU) 3, namely, Britain, France and Germany, on the nuclear issue. Given “the absence of confidence that Iran’s nuclear program is exclusively for peaceful purposes,” the IAEA resolution hinted that it (the program) “has given rise to questions that are within the competence of the Security Council”. This suggests that Iran may be referred at a later date to the Security Council for possible sanctions.
Iran has rejected the resolution. It maintains that it has not violated the NPT or other related protocols in any way. Its resumption of the conversion of uranium yellowcake to uranium hexafluoride at Isfahan is within the ambit of the NPT which guarantees any nation the right to pursue elements of the fuel cycle for civilian purposes. In any case, this activity is being carried out under the supervision of IAEA inspectors. Iran is prepared to re-commence discussions with the EU3 but it will not agree to the permanent suspension or the abandonment of its nuclear enrichment programme. Since other countries which have peaceful nuclear programmes are allowed such activities Iran sees no reason why it should be denied this right under the NPT. Why is Iran being discriminated against, ask its leaders. Why is Iran being singled out ?
The answer is obvious. It is because of Israel that Iran is being singled out. Three years ago, Israeli Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon, had already advocated military action against Iran. The British newspaper, The Guardian, of 5 November 2002, quoted him as saying that “as soon as the US and Britain had completed their proposed attack on Iraq” they should turn against Iran.
Iran is Israel’s target since the latter is determined to ensure that no nation in the Middle East which is ardently opposed to Israeli occupation of Palestine and other Arab lands and at the same time offers tangible assistance to Palestinian and Arab freedom fighters has the capacity to develop nuclear weapons. This is why it took unilateral action to destroy Iraq’s nuclear reactor at Osirak in 1981.
Indeed even if a nation in the Middle East has no nuclear programme but is independent minded and does not acquiesce with Israel’s role or the United States’ regional and global hegemony, it is bound to incur Tel Aviv’s wrath. Syria, especially under the late President Hafiz Assad would be a case in point. Similarly, popular grassroots movements like the Hizbollah in Lebanon or Hamas in Palestine which regard Israel as an interloper that has annexed and usurped Arab territories and dispossessed and disenfranchised Arab peoples, are — in Israeli eyes—mortal foes that should be destroyed and decimated at all costs. It is only if those states and movements which are opposed to Israel are emasculated and rendered impotent, will Israel be safe and secure.
To put it in a different language, since the creation of Israel in 1948, one of the overriding considerations of its leadership has been the total, absolute security of the state. It will not tolerate even the slightest hint of a threat to its security. To achieve total, absolute security, it has armed itself to the teeth. Israel as is well known is the only state in the Middle East with nuclear weapons. Its clandestine nuclear programme at the core of which are an estimated 200 nuclear warheads has never ever been subjected to any form of scrutiny. The IAEA has not sought to investigate Israel’s nuclear weapons programme. It does not even dare to chide Tel Aviv for its cleverly concealed nuclear operations. The unspoken understanding within the IAEA is that Israel has the sacred right to possess nuclear weapons in order to protect its security.
It is not just its nuclear weapons which are designed to make Israel feel secure. The Israeli armed forces are more powerful than all the other militaries in the Middle East put together. Israel is in command of the most sophisticated and up-to-date weaponry in the region. Perhaps even more important, it is protected by the world’s most formidable military power — the United States of America. From an objective standpoint, no nation, indeed no combination of nation states, in the Middle East is in a position to challenge Israel’s military supremacy.
Today, Israel equates its security, nay its very survival, with its ability to perpetuate its unassailable military supremacy. In other words, it has to be totally dominant in order to be completely secure. Hegemony, in Israel’s view, has become the only way of guaranteeing the nation’s security. When hegemonic power becomes synonymous with national security, it is inevitable that Israel’s neighbours will feel threatened and intimidated.
This is perhaps what the Israeli leadership wants. If governments in the Middle East are petrified of Israeli power, it becomes easier for Tel Aviv to impose its hegemonic will upon the region. The Israeli position in this regard is slightly different from that of its Western patrons and protectors. They refuse to acknowledge that Israel’s hegemonic notion of security is generating fear within its neighbourhood. They do not want to admit that Iran’s – and before that Iraq’s — desire to go nuclear may well be a response to Israel’s massive nuclear and military power.
Travesty of Justice.
If the centres of power in the West have chosen to mollycoddle Israel and its hegemonic notion of security, it is partly because of the holocaust and the sympathy that it continues to generate in the West for the Jewish state and the Jewish people. Since the Jews had suffered so much at the hands of the Christian West in the past—so the argument goes — they should be allowed to define their security in whatever manner they deem fit. Besides, Israel is still not safe or secure today – according to many Western governments and a significant segment of the Western public—because it operates within a hostile environment where many Arabs and Muslims remain determined as ever to wipe out the Zionist state.
For the vast majority of Arabs and Muslims, on the other hand, the manner in which the West had compensated the Jews for the holocaust and their centuries old persecution in Europe represents a terrible travesty of justice. Palestinians and Arabs, it is important to reiterate, were made to pay with their blood and their land for the injustices perpetrated by Christianity and Nazism against the Jews. The conquest of the home they had owned and occupied since time immemorial and their subsequent subjugation and annihilation will continue to rankle in their minds for eternity. This monumental act of injustice, embodied in the establishment of the state of Israel, was a deep and painful wound in the Arab and Muslim heart for two other reasons. The victims of the Zionist desire for a state were a people, who unlike the Christians of the West until the 18th century, had right through history treated the Jews in their midst with a certain degree of respect and had on a number of occasions provided shelter and succour to them when they were subjected to ethnic pogroms in various parts of Europe. If this wasn’t tragic enough, every Zionist leadership in power in Israel since 1948 starting with David Ben-Gurion had either usurped more land or expelled more Palestinians or demolished more Palestinian homes in a cruel and ruthless manner. It is because of this — the arrogant and aggressive behaviour of the Zionists before, during and after the establishment of their state—that there is so much antipathy and antagonism towards Israel, Israelis and their backers throughout the Arab and Muslim world.
This is why for the Muslim masses Iran’s nuclear programme is not a problem at all. Iran has every right to develop nuclear technology especially if it is for peaceful purposes. In fact, even if it manufactures nuclear weapons — which would be unfortunate — they would regard it as ‘a justifiable act’, given the circumstances. In their minds the crucial issues in the crisis over Iran’s nuclear programme are unambiguously clear. The root cause of the crisis is Israel with its obsession for hegemonic security. Israel has nuclear weapons. Israel is militarily powerful. Israel is hegemonic. Israel is aggressive and arrogant. Israel occupies Palestinian and Arab lands. Israel demolishes Palestinian homes. Israel massacres Palestinian women and children.
What infuriates a lot of Muslims is that the West, especially the US, Israel’s principal patron and protector, is so biased towards Israel as evidenced in the Iran nuclear issue. The West’s double standards – lucidly demonstrated in its accommodative attitude towards Israel’s nuclear weapons — and its selective persecution — vividly reflected in its deliberate targeting of Iran—have eroded further whatever little credibility it enjoys in the Muslim world. On a number of other issues too over the last four decades, the US in particular has been unashamedly biased towards Israel even when the Zionist state’s oppression of the Palestinians and Arabs is incredibly ugly and hideous. This is one of the main reasons why a huge chasm has developed between the US elite and the Muslim masses worldwide.
Instead of putting Iran in the dock, the US and the West should examine Israel’s conduct. They should look at how Israel’s obsession with security is now expressing itself through an arrogant, aggressive hegemony that has few parallels in contemporary international relations. It is high time they realize that Israel’s hegemonic political posturing in the Middle East is the single most dangerous threat to not only regional stability but also to world peace.
The choice before the US and the West is stark and simple : either they continue to work in tandem with Israel and destroy the world or they curb and control Israel’s drive for hegemonic power and usher in a new era of peace and justice. Chandra Muzaffar, GlobalResearch.ca