The Iran Threat
- The Iran Threat
By: Soraya Sepahpour-Ulrich
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 action?
America and 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 (Meshkati[iv]).
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
Tehran openly 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."
In addition, 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
America had 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 confrontational path?
Ideology - 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].
Islam, it 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
The Soviet 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'.
Money: The 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.
Other economic 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. Syria, 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 dying.
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].
In September 2001, 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 Çýraðan Palace was Israel's Minister of Energy and Infrastructure
Binyamin Ben-Eliezer together with a delegation of top Israeli oil
America and 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
Soraya 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
[iv] Meshkati, Najmedin and Guive Mirferendeski. "North Korean Nuclear
Brinkmanship: The Demise of the NPT Regime of the Failure of the U.S.
Unilateralism?" Iran News 18 Jan. 2003
[v] Mark Hibbs, "US in 1983 stopped IAEA from helping Iran make UF6",
Nuclear Fuel, 4 August 2003
[vi] Monshipouri, Mahmood, "Iran's Search For the New Pragmatism".
Middle East Policy. 6.2 (1998) p.95-113
[vii] Iran Times, August 22, 1997
[ix] Deese, David A. and Joseph S. Nye, Ibid
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