Deconstructing Lieberman’s Iran Resolution
By Muhammad Sahimi
February 29, 2012 "Antiwar" - - Sen. Joseph Isadore “Joe” Lieberman, the “independent Democrat” from Connecticut, has been one of the most hawkish members of the Senate for years. He is in fact a turncoat who campaigned for John McCain in 2008, and in many ways he has been more Republican than Republicans. He supported the invasion of Iraq in 2003, and he has blindly supported and defended Israel to the point that he has been given an award for his support.
Most importantly, Lieberman has consistently advocated tough economic sanctions and even military attacks on Iran. In a conference of Christian Zionists in 2009, Lieberman declared, “The chief obstacle to peace in the Middle East is not Israelis living on the West Bank but the regime in Tehran.” He has been a sponsor or co-sponsor of many anti-Iran Senate resolutions, including those that directly intervene in Iran’s internal affairs and impose economic sanctions on the country.
In January 2011 Lieberman announced that he will retire from the Senate when his term expires this year. He is now using his last months in the Senate to provoke a war with Iran. Earlier this month, Lieberman, together with Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), the man who has declared, “I want to destroy Iran,” and Robert Casey (D-Pa.), introduced Senate Resolution 380 to give President Obama a blank check to go to war with Iran and prevent diplomacy. In effect, it declares that it should be the policy of the United States to prevent Iran “from acquiring a nuclear weapons capability” and it “rejects any United States policy that would rely on efforts to contain a nuclear weapons-capable Iran.” As recently reiterated by Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, the U.S. policy has been preventing Iran from having nuclear weapons, but Resolution 380 declares that Iran cannot even have the know-how. The resolution is replete with lies, exaggerations and half truths. Let’s begin:
False: What Iran has set up is a complete cycle for producing nuclear fuel. The same facilities can be used to produce high-enriched uranium for nuclear weapons, but there is no evidence, as certified time and again by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), that Iran has diverted its nuclear facilities and materials to production of nuclear weapons.
Half-truth: True, the Security Council has demanded suspension of Iran’s nuclear program, but sending Iran’s nuclear dossier to the Council was an illegal act taken by the Board of Directors of the IAEA in the first place.
Half-truth: The activities that the IAEA pointed out, if they have taken place, are all research, not development of any particular nuclear device; they all have a variety of civilian applications; and in many cases, the results of the research have been published in open source journals. In addition, the IAEA is not even sure whether all the activities have taken place, as its report is replete with “perhaps,” “may,” “might,” “possible,” etc.
Half-truths: True, Iran has produced low-enriched and 20% enriched uranium, but they are all sealed and safeguarded by the IAEA. So long as they are, Iran will not be able to use them for any purpose other than fuel for nuclear reactors. In addition, Iran began producing the 20% enriched uranium only after the IAEA and the West refused to supply nuclear fuel for Tehran Research Reactor that produces medical isotopes for 850,000 Iranian patients every year, in which the 20% enriched uranium will be spent.
Insinuation: The Fordow facility is monitored and safeguarded by the IAEA inspectors. Nothing is going on there that can be hidden from them.
False: There is no evidence of that. But, if that is going to happen, who is going to supply the nuclear technology to these countries? Clearly, it will be the United States and France, which already have signed agreements with Saudi Arabia and Bahrain. So, if there are concerns, the West can simply deny them the technology and offer them security guarantees.
Absurd: This is the same prince who has referred to the Arab Spring as the “Arab Troubles.” Since when must one pay attention to such absurd proclamation by one of the most reactionary and corrupt Saudi officials?
False: What Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said was, “The Imam [Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini] said this regime occupying Jerusalem must vanish from the page of time,” meaning the government, not the people of Israel, must disappear. Since the 1979 Revolution, Iran has always advocated a democratic state in Palestine in which Jews, Christians, and Muslim can live side by side.
Double standards: The State Department has also listed the Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK) organization, an Iranian terrorist cult, as a foreign terrorist organization (FTO), but its agents have been free to recruit former senior U.S. officials in order to remove the MEK from the FTO list without any hindrance whatsoever. So the list is purely political and subjective.
Half-truth and exaggeration: The Shi’ites came to power in Iraq as a result of the U.S. invasion. They are supposedly our allies. Hamas does receive aide from Iran, but follows its own independent path. The Lebanese Hezbollah is Iran’s first line of defense, not offense, against Israel. This is not to say that Hamas and Hezbollah have not committed terrorism in the past. They have, but everything must be put in its proper context.
False: al-Qaeda is Iran’s bloody enemy. The allegations have already been rejected both in the United States and in Europe. To the contrary, Iran offered to exchange senior al-Qaeda members who are under arrest in Iran for senior members of the MEK, but the United States refused.
Absurd: The allegations were so absurd that they were emphatically rejected even by those who have spent a lifetime fighting the Islamic Republic. What happened to the allegations, anyway? The main Iranian-American supposed culprit recanted his confessions, and everything died down quickly after that.
Crocodile tears: True, the Iranian regime has oppressed its people and has put down peaceful demonstrations by violence. But these are internal matters for Iranians, or at most for credible international organizations for human rights, such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch. How can a Senate Resolution that “urges continued and increasing economic and diplomatic pressure on the Islamic Republic of Iran” and in effect advocates war with Iran help the Iranian people? How credible are people such as Lieberman and Graham, who constantly advocate paralyzing economic sanctions and attacking Iran, when they shed crocodile tears for the Iranian people?
Half-truth: The effort by the president was halfhearted to begin with, and as demonstrated by Trita Parsi, it was derailed quickly by Saudi Arabia’s and Israel’s lobbies in the U.S. No serious efforts have ever been devoted to diplomacy with Iran, and no serious considerations have ever been given to Iran’s legitimate national security concerns.
False: The president and the defense secretary were both talking about nuclear weapons, not the nuclear-weapons capability that the resolution emphasizes. The two are vastly different. Any state that uses nuclear technology has the potential for making nuclear weapons. The main point is to keep the potential latent, and in Iran’s case it has remained so.
Once again, we have a Senate resolution based on lies, exaggerations, and half-truths. Once again, warmonger wolves in sheep’s clothes are trying to bring about an unnecessary war against a nation that has not attacked any other country for hundreds of years, a nation that poses no threat against anyone, least of all Israel and the United States, which are armed with thousands of nuclear warheads. Once again, supporting Israel and ignoring the United States’ true national interests will bring destruction and misery to another nation in the Middle East.
Muhammad Sahimi, Professor of chemical engineering & materials science and the National Iranian Oil Company chair in petroleum engineering at the University of Southern California, has published extensively on Iran’s political development and its nuclear program. He is the lead political columnist for the web site PBS/Frontline/Tehran Bureau, blogs at The Huffington Post, and contributes regularly to antiwar.com and National Public Radio on issues related to Iran.