The Iran Threat
--- -- In 2001, 83% of the Pakistanis supported the Taliban[i].
Six years later, in a 2007 World Public Opinion poll[ii],
84% of the Pakistanis thought attacks on civilians for the
purpose of reaching a political goal was justified. Given that
there are radicals who support terrorism with the possibility of
gaining access to nuclear bombs in a country that is currently
under emergency rule, common sense demands that world leaders
turn their attention to Pakistan. Yet, inexplicably, the
United States continues to hand out aid to its ‘ally’ Pakistan
while quietly upgrading special stealth bomber hangars on the
British island of Diego Garcia in preparation for a military
assault against Iran[iii].
What motivates the United States to take such paradoxical
Israel have accused Iran of intending to diversify its program –
they allege that Iran is using its civilian program as a cover
to build nuclear bombs. This supposition begs the question why
Iran would place itself in the spotlight instead of renouncing
the energy program for history has shown that having an
operating nuclear power reactor is no longer a prerequisite or
even a necessary condition of obtaining fissile material which
can be used for the development of nuclear materials. South
Africa was able to develop five nuclear bombs without having a
nuclear energy program. North Korea was able to acquire enriched
uranium with mundane centrifuges and other technologies to
constitute the critical mass needed for a low-yield “dirty” bomb
Iran has also
been accused of pursuing its nuclear program in ‘secret’,
further ‘proof’ of its alleged intentions to divert its nuclear
program into a bomb making one. Contrary to these allegations,
the new Iranian government decided to continue its nuclear
energy projects to meet the surging needs of the growing
population and to compensate for the immense damage caused to
the infrastructure of the country during the war with Iraq. In
1982 Iranian officials announced that they planned to build a
reactor powered by their own uranium at the Isfahan nuclear
technology centre. In 1983, the IAEA reported that they were
ready to “contribute to the formation of local expertise and
manpower needed to sustain an ambitious program in the field of
nuclear power reactor technology and fuel cycle technology”.
Under pressure from the United States, their cooperation was
negotiated with several nations (unsuccessfully under pressure
from Washington) until finally it struck a deal with Moscow.
This met with former President Clinton’s ‘duel-containment’
policy. Executive Order 12957 given by Clinton specifically
banned any "contract for the financing of the development of
petroleum resources located in Iran."
President Yeltsin had assured Washington that Iran would not be
able to make weapons-grade plutonium and that he had canceled
the "military components" of two nuclear reactors bound for
Iran. Under U.S. pressure, both Ukraine and China had made some
adjustments. Ukraine, announced that it would not supply
turbines for a Russian reactor project at Bushehr. China
suspended the sale of a plant for the conversion of uranium
hexafluoride, which is required for making fuel rods[vi].
In 1997, Russian officials expelled Iranians studying nuclear
physics and missile science from Russian schools in late 1997[vii].
They have also halted all vocational training of Iranian
students in fields that may have applications for nuclear
weapons and missiles.
long said –and it continues to say today, that its single
biggest concern is for Iran to have the knowledge which could
lead to making the bomb. So why did it not stop its
Regrettably, the history of the Middle East shows that secular
resistance to foreign exploitation has been crushed by imperial
powers. Mossadeq, a fierce nationalist, who was democratically
elected to be prime minister of Iran, was removed by a
CIA-backed coup when he nationalized Iran’s oil. Likewise,
Egypt’s leader, Nasser, a secular and fiercely nationalist
leader, was called ‘Hitler on the Nile’ for wishing to control
the Suez canal. Six months before the French and the British
invaded Egypt in 1956,
Britain had drawn up secret plans
to cut off the flow of the River Nile to try to force Nasser to
give up the Suez Canal[viii].
would seem, has proven itself capable of challenging the world’s
superpower. And it was not with its effects on the region.
Saudi Arabia felt unsettled with events in Iran and the lack of
support the Shah seemed to have received from the U.S. “The
Saudis undoubtedly felt considerable annoyance at the United
States for doing too little to prevent the Shah’s fall and too
much to promote Sadat’s peace initiative”. For this reason, at
the onset of the Iranian revolution, the Saudis dropped their
production by 1 million barrels per day, playing havoc on oil
markets at a most crucial time (Deese and Nye 68)[ix].
Although Saudi Arabia later picked up Iran’s slack, Washington
was not prepared to have Saudi Arabia follow Iran’s suite. Nor
was Washington accustomed to having an Arab nation ‘threaten’
its oil supply.
invasion of Afghanistan was the pretext Washington needed to
make its move. The ‘Carter Doctrine’ was nothing short of
putting American soldiers in harms way to protect the free flow
of oil. In subsequent years this doctrine took on other forms
such as the Gulf War, and War on Terror and democratization.
But putting the life of American soldiers in harms way for the
sake of oil required a noble cause – the public have always been
led to believe that wars have been necessary to defeat ‘evil’.
root of all Evil - In 1960s, an agreement was struck with
OPEC to price oil in U.S. dollars exclusively for all worldwide
transactions. In essence, the dollar was now backed with oil
instead of gold. In return, the U.S. promised to protect the
various oil-rich kingdoms in the Persian Gulf against threat of
invasion or domestic coup. The arrangement gave the dollar
artificial strength. Deviation from this by any OPEC member
would impact the dollar. Iran announced its intentions to
convert to Euros in 1999.
factors include a renewable 15-year Memorandum of Understanding
(MoU) between the U.S. and Israel signed in September 1975, in
which the United States Government has undertaken to promptly
make oil available for purchase by Israel. If Israel is unable
to secure the necessary means to transport such oil to Israel,
the United States Government will make every effort to help
Israel secure the necessary means of transport[x].
The 1979 overthrow of the Shah created
added expense and inconvenience for Israel and America. The
Shah supplied all Israel's oil needs via a pipeline from Eilat.
After the revolution, the clergy put a stop to this and Israel
was forced to buy more expensive oil – footed by the U.S. In
the 1980’s, Israel’s National Infrastructure Minister
Joseph Paritzky was considering the possibility of reopening the
long-defunct oil pipeline from Mosul to the Mediterranean port
of Haifa in northern Israel.
acceded to a request from Iran to block the flow of Iraqi oil
to the Mediterranean (The flow of oil from Mosul was redirected
from Haifa to Syria after the British Mandate for Palestine
expired in 1948).[xi]
The plan was postponed.
The ‘war on terror’ presented yet
another opportunity, but Washington's game plan seems to have
been stymied by Iraq's Shiite majority which is a close ally of
Iran’s. This explains why Iran is cast as a threat and the
endless efforts of the mainstream media delivering news to every
living room of deaths caused by ‘Iranian-backed Shiite
militias’. This is the evil that must be overcome in order for
democracy to prevail, and this is why American soldiers are
Where there is oil, there is Plan ‘B’
- Upon taking office, George W. Bush. commissioned the
Bakers Institute (Rice University) and the Council on Foreign
Relations to study the energy trends and requirements of the
21st century. The comprehensive 99-page report favored the
Iranian route for the Caspian oil exports which would serve
several purposes. In itself, it would translate into a policy
shift towards Tehran, and throw Iran as a counter weight to
Iraq. The transport of oil through Iran versus the
prohibitively expensive longer and costly Baku-Ceyhan pipeline
would be of great benefit to the West, and the world, and help
build up the drastically low global spare capacity, according to
the report. Another strong contention of the report was that
the U.S. ought to move the Caspian region into a zone of
cooperation with Russia instead of a zone of competition and
confrontation, enabling future cooperation such as jointly
countering Islamic militants in the region (Strategic Energy
Policy Challenges for the 21st Century, 2001, pp. 38-40,45,)[ii].
Of note, the Kazakh officials had been in favor of the Iran
route, as well as the U.S. oil companies such as Chevron,
Exxon-Mobil and Conoco[iii].
A.Nesdat Pamir of the
Jerusalem based think-tank IASPS, challenged the commission
report with a strategy paper called “Turkey: The Key to Caspian
Oil and Gas”. He argued that “ given that the price of oil
have allowed states to invest heavily in Weapons of Mass
Destruction (WMD), the primary external of this development,
both economically and diplomatically, has been Russia”[iv].
Russia, therefore, is arming the Middle East with WMD and the
80% oil potential should be rescued. According to him, the
lifeline of America would be for it to use the prohibitively
expensive Ceyhan –Baku Pipeline [through Turkey and Israel] in
order to avoid the anti-American Middle East .
Given that the
mainstream media does not serve the public, it comes at no
surprise that a day after the Israeli assault on Lebanon last
summer the inauguration of the Ceyhan-Tblisi-Baku (BTC) oil
pipeline took place[xii].
Noted among the guests at the inauguration reception in
Istanbul, hosted which was by Turkey's President Ahmet Necdet
Sezer at Çırağan Palace was Israel's Minister of Energy and
Infrastructure Binyamin Ben-Eliezer together with a delegation
of top Israeli oil officials.
Israel insist on reject the report card from the IAEA the UN
watchdog chief has been told that he must be ‘sacked’ for not
understanding Iran’s ‘intentions’. One must have a clear
understanding that Iran’s nuclear ambitions do not pose a
threat, however, due to isolation, Iran has become a
self-reliant nation and has escaped self-colonization. Iran is
politically aware, and technologically advanced. She is keen to
pursue her civilian nuclear technology, not as a violation or as
a threat to world order, but as her inalienable right under
international law and in response to the current and future
needs of the Iranian people.
No doubt the
perceived threat from Iran will diminish should Tehran yield to
Washington, generously delivers its oil to Israel to better
enable it to continue its expansionist policies, and participate
in human rights abuses in the name of freedom and democracy vs.
state sovereignty. But even if the regime in Tehran succumbs,
will the people who have accomplished so much under such
extraordinary circumstances, surrender?
Sepahpour-Ulrich has lived and studied in Iran, the UK, France,
Australia and the US. She obtained her Bachelors Degree in
International Relations from the University of Southern
California, Los Angeles, and she is currently pursuing a Masters
Degree in Middle East Studies concentrating in Political
Science. She has done extensive research on US foreign policy
towards Iran and Iran’s nuclear program.
Hibbs, “US in 1983 stopped IAEA from helping Iran make
UF6", Nuclear Fuel, 4 August 2003
“Iran’s Search For the New Pragmatism”. Middle East
Policy. 6.2 (1998) p.95-113
Iran Times, August 22, 1997
Deese, David A. and Joseph S. Nye, Ibid
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