Cuba Warns of Countdown on Iran
Ever since the United States and Iran’s dictator Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, the Shah, were forced out of Iran, Washington has longed to return. Remember the hostage crisis that brought the superpower to its knees? So do many Republicans and Democrats.
In a period of less than six months in 1979, the final year of the Carter administration, three revolutions occurred around the world in countries that were previously under US domination. First came Iran in the Persian Gulf in February, then the Caribbean Island nation of Grenada in March, followed by Nicaragua in Central America in July.
To counteract this trend toward independence that could serve as an alternative model for other countries, Ronald Reagan invaded Grenada in 1983 to reverse that country’s progressive political and social process. He also used hundreds of millions in both covert and overt aid to mount a full-scale guerrilla war against the Sandinistas in Nicaragua, a job finished by George Bush Sr., who played a key role in this recovery of a previously subservient ally by 1990. The third country in the picture is Iran.
In a televised address last week, Cuban President Fidel Castro warned of the “seriousness of the threats of a military attack” on the Persian Gulf nation of 68 million inhabitants “based on an unjustified pretext that it intends to produce nuclear weapons.”
He recalled that Iran is one of the major oil suppliers of China and other nations and noted that US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice declared that time is running out on the Middle Eastern country.
“The proclamation by the US-NATO alliance on the use of nuclear weapons against a state that they term as ‘terrorist’ is something to be concerned about,” said Fidel Castro, whose country was on the verge of being hit by a US nuclear strike during the October Missile crisis in 1962.
A THORN IN WASHINGTON’S SIDE
The Iranian revolution changed the political map of the Middle East —a region of immense strategic importance because it has almost two thirds of the world’s proven oil reserves. The US had controlled Iran’s government and US and European corporations its oil ever since the CIA-planned coup in 1953 that put the Shah in power.
During the 1980-1988 Iran-Iraq war, in which at least a million people are estimated to have died, the Reagan administration conducted the very profitable business of selling weapons to both sides, often through indirect sales. While the weapons sales to Iran were used to help fund the Nicaraguan “contras”, Washington’s real hopes were hinged on Saddam Hussein’s Iraq defeating the Iranians.
Donald Rumsfeld, the current US Defense Minister, met Saddam Hussein on December 19-20, 1983 and again in March 24, 1984; the same day the UN released a report that Iraq had used mustard and Tabun nerve gas against Iranian troops. The NY Times reported from Baghdad on March 29, 1984, that "American diplomats pronounce themselves satisfied with Iraq… and suggest that normal diplomatic ties have been established in all but name."
But things didn’t turn out the way Washington wanted. The war ended in 1988 with a United Nations mandated cease fire.
Unable to destroy Iran or force it into its fold, Washington’s eyes turned to Iraqi oil reserves and George Bush Sr. betrayed the former US ally and bombarded Iraq during the first Gulf War in 1991. However, here too, the Pentagon failed, it was unable to totally defeat Iraq militarily, depose its leader or seize the oil.
The US —first under Bush Sr. and then under Clinton— then resorted to pushing through United Nations sanctions that over a decade caused more Iraqi deaths than the Gulf War through hunger, disease and other calamities.
When that didn’t work either, Bush Jr. picked up the baton, fabricated reports on weapons of mass destruction, and sent in the troops.
Nearly three years later, the Pentagon was finally successful in ousting Hussein and has taken over part of the coveted oil wells; but the situation remains extremely volatile. There is no end in sight to maintaining well over 150,000 US occupation troops in Iraq that are getting picked off one by one to the tune of over 2,230 dead and 16,420 wounded (an undisclosed number of which either died or are maimed for life). Casualties among the thousands of “contract” security personnel are also top secret. Not to mention the estimated 100,000 plus Iraqi dead.
The prolonged nature of the Iraq and Afghanistan occupations, the huge cost to the taxpayers, and the corruption in giving contracts to corporations with ties to the administration, has brought growing discontent in the US population, something the president has withstood since he was already been re-elected to hold office until January 2009.
With mid-term elections coming up in November 2006, history states that the party of lame duck presidents usually lose some seats. Then the incumbent party tries to regain momentum for the general elections two years later.
But the self-proclaimed “wartime president” may have a plan to maintain the Republican’s absolute majority. It begins to appear that he and his associates see short term political and long term economic gains by attacking yet another country with extensive oil reserves that refuses to submit to the empire’s mandates.
How would it all work? Fear has proven the most effective tool in US politics.
Fear of the example of Cuba has brought us nearly a half century of US blockade on the Caribbean island. Fear of Iraq blinded both the US media and the vast majority of Congress into being hoodwinked into war. Fear of the unknown enemy allowed the Bush administration to ram through the Patriot Act which greatly limits civil liberties.
Now the administration is mounting a campaign of fear of “Islamic” Iran, a country that denounces US imperialism, does business with China and Russia and dares to have friendly relations with US nemeses Fidel Castro and Hugo Chavez. The administration may be plotting to rally the masses around the flag, the presidency, and support yet another military intervention of the black-and-white Hollywood style of good-versus-evil.
DOES IRAN HAVE THE RIGHT
Iran is a member of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and its leaders have always said that they are conducting nuclear research solely for peaceful purposes.
In a recent interview with Granma newspaper, Ahmad Edrisian, the Iranian ambassador to Cuba stated:
“It is medieval to say that Iran does not have the right to carry out scientific research about nuclear energy. Or is that the countries of the Third World are forbidden from using this energy with peaceful ends for their development?
“What occurs is that the West wants to monopolize this technology and then sell it at a very high price to the underdeveloped countries,” said Edrisian.
Of the world’s 443 operating nuclear plants 383, or 86.45 percent, are in developed countries in North America (122) and Europe (174), and in Russia (31) and Japan (56).
The fact is that research to diversify electricity generation to include nuclear plants is nothing new in Iran.
It all began back in 1959 when the Shah purchased a research reactor from the US, points out the Christian Science Monitor in a January 24 article by staff writer Peter Grier.
“The Shah had big plans for a network of 23 power reactors, but the US did not consider this a danger, because he was an ally,” recalls the Monitor.
However the daily goes on to cite unidentified US officials and outside experts as saying Iran’s interest in developing nuclear power “makes no sense for a nation with 10 percent of the world’s known oil reserves.”
But that doesn’t wash either. Look at the United States, a major oil producer in its own right. According to the European Nuclear Society, the US has 104 operating nuclear power plants, 23.47 percent of the world’s total.
Is Washington saying that Iran should rush to use up its non-renewable resource while the US considers it strategic to protect its own reserves, and that anything contrary is irrational and cause for suspicion?
BUILDING A CASE FOR WAR
Last week the US repeated that neither it nor its European partners want to return to the negotiating table with Iran, reported the Christian Science Monitor.
“The international community is united in mistrusting Tehran with nuclear technology,” said US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. “We have been very clear that the time has come for a referral of Iran to the UN Security Council.”
A formal “referral” is necessary if the Council is to impose any penalty, such as economic sanctions, the same route used as a prelude to attacking Iraq.
“It’s difficult to escape the conclusion that Iran is pursuing nuclear weapons,” says a US Department of Energy intelligence analysis quoted by the Monitor.
The Iranian ambassador to Havana has countered by saying: “We warn that taking Iran to the Security Council will create a new crisis, this time real, instead of eliminating the artificial one created by the West.”
He notes in his interview with Granma daily that “The world must take note that the Europeans and the United States are making judgments about the ´supposed intention´ of Iran to develop nuclear activity. They make conclusions based on presumptions without any real basis.”
“Let’s not forget that the nuclear weapons that the West possess could destroy the entire world more than ten times over. Israel for example, has dozens of nuclear warheads and is a threat to regional and world peace. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has never verified or monitored this activity. Nobody says anything about it.”
Ambassador Edrisian further asks “How is it possible that those who make war, drop bombs, make thousands of nuclear arms, torture in their jails, and wiretap—that is to say, the biggest violators of human rights in the world—can try and impose their model on everyone else?”
RERUN OF THE IRAQ SCENARIO
“As the Bush administration pushes to refer Iran to the UN Security Council, many members of Congress support keeping the use of military force as an option to thwart Tehran’s nuclear ambitions,” states an AP wire from January 25.
In a replay of the run-up to the Iraq invasion, “Republicans and Democrats alike say the United States should seek international economic sanctions that are harsh enough to hurt Iran, while securing assurances from Tehran’s major trading partners that they will abide by any restrictions the Security Council imposes,” reports Liz Sidoti of Associated Press (AP).
The widely distributed wire service is already using the same language that led the New York Times and Washington Post to admit long after the Iraq invasion that they had been misled by false information to stack their coverage in support of the war on Iraq.
US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has repeatedly claimed that the United States is committed to addressing the Iran standoff diplomatically just like her predecessor Colin Powell said with Iraq. But the reality is that arm twisting has begun to line up support for a vote of the IAEA to refer Iran to the Security Council.
Reuters reported on Wednesday that a senior US diplomat has suggested a nuclear cooperation deal between Washington and India could collapse unless New Delhi votes against Iran next month at the IAEA.
If India failed to vote against Iran, “the effect on members of the US Congress with regard to India’s civil nuclear initiative will be devastating,” the US ambassador to India, David Mulford told the Press Trust of India news agency.
WAR DRUMS ON CAPITOL HILL
Just as in the months preceding the Iraq invasion, US Senators and Representatives are following the administrations cue and are lining up to strike the cord of fear that Iran could obtain weapons of mass destruction and must be stopped sooner than later.
“It’s important to give diplomacy a try, but I don’t believe we should take any option, including military force, off the table,” Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Emerging Threats Subcommittee, told AP.
“If you eliminate the threat of military action, the possibility of it, then there’s no way to secure compliance,” added Rep. Gary Ackerman, D-NY., a House International Relations Committee member.
Some legislators go so far as to say that independent of the nuclear issue, a new Iranian leadership is needed. This was President Bush’s fallback option when his claim of Iraq having weapon’s of mass destruction fell through the floor.
Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., told AP that the United States and its allies must intensify their pressure on Iran to halt its nuclear program. “But ultimately,” he said, “there must be change in the country’s leadership.”
Sen. Cornyn said Iran has become more authoritarian and autocratic. “We need to do a better job of letting pro-democracy forces in Iran know that we are supportive of their efforts of peaceful regime change.”
The Iranian ambassador to Havana responded to these arguments by saying: “The United States should not be talking about human rights or democracy when its governments financed and supported military dictatorships in Latin America and other continents.”
In addressing the accusations against his country the ambassador added, “Our president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has repeated that Iran is willing to receive international cooperation for peaceful nuclear development. We have nothing to fear. We can show all our plants, all our activities. There is nothing hidden, nothing confidential.”
“Iran has used everything to create and maintain a climate of trust. We hope the Europeans and the North Americans recognize our right to develop nuclear energy for peaceful ends, which is the right of all countries that sign the Non-Proliferation Treaty,” concluded the Iranian diplomat.