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April 18, 2006

Replaying the "Weapons of Mass Destruction" Farce

In what seems like a replay of the run-up to the U.S. invasion of Iraq, the government is trying to create a new hysteria about Iran carrying on a "secret nuclear weapons program."

Since December 2002, the U.S. government has repeatedly asserted that Iran is building nuclear weapons. Over the last 3 years, the International Atomic Energy Agency, under pressure from the U.S. and its allies, has carried out continuous inspections into Iran's nuclear program. The IAEA inspectors have consistently reported "there is no evidence [that Iran's activities] are related to a nuclear weapons program."

In fact, Iran has voluntarily submitted to extra inspections and protocols far beyond those required by the Nuclear NonProliferation Treaty. Still the IAEA reports no evidence of nuclear weapons production.

But the U.S. government is not satisfied and will never be satisfied. Every school child has heard the rule: "innocent until proven guilty" but the U.S. government turns this rule upsidedown. According to U.S. imperialism, anyone it doesn't like is "guilty until proven innocent." In fact it is impossible for Iran to prove its "innocence" because the U.S. keeps insisting that the weapons, which no one has ever seen, are hidden where they can't be found. And since Iran is guilty, it can be threatened, bullied, inspected, cursed and even invaded.

The U.S. and its allies keep escalating their demands. The U.S. has declared that Iran cannot be allowed to carry forward its uranium enrichment and research projects and that Iran must give international inspectors free license to intrude and spy anywhere on Iranian soil.

A fundamental cornerstone of the NonProliferation Treaty is that every country has the right to pursue the peaceful development of nuclear energy, including uranium enrichment. But the U.S. government has announced that "Iran can't be trusted" and because it has been judged and condemned by the emperors of Washington, D.C., Iran is no longer entitled to the same rights as those nations blessed by the U.S. U.S. imperialism is again flaunting international law and declaring itself the judge, jury and executioner of the peoples. It is declaring that it alone can decide which countries are sovereign and entitled to develop nuclear energy and which aren't.

The struggle of the Iranian government to defend its sovereign rights in the face of U.S. pressure is a just struggle which contributes to the defence of peace, international law and the rights of nations.

In sum, this is the "logic" of U.S. imperialism: it declares, without any facts and in spite of the facts, that Iran is guilty. Next the U.S. declares that because it has said that Iran is guilty, Iran must be denied its sovereign rights. Yet more, because Iran disobeys the U.S., it must be subjected to international sanctions and even invasion.

The whole hysteria about Iran's nuclear weapons program, like Iraq's phantom "weapons of mass destruction," is nothing but a Big Lie smokescreen to hide U.S. pressure and justify possible U.S. aggression against Iran.

U.S. Military Threats

In the most recently updated National Security Strategy, published in March 2006, the U.S. government zeroes in on Iran as the number one "danger" to the U.S. and the number one target of its military plans. At least since 2002, the National Security Strategy has included plans for nuclear strikes against Iran. (This is a blatant violation of the NonProliferation Treaty which forbids the use of nuclear weapons against non-nuclear weapons countries such as Iran).

Bush, Cheney and other leading figures in the administration as well as the Democratic Party leadership have repeatedly threatened military action against Iran.

For example, on February 22, 2005, while in Brussels, Bush said: "This notion that the U.S. is getting ready to attack Iran is simply ridiculous. (Short pause) and having said that, all options are on the table. (Laughter)." (quoted from White House website).

Similarly, Cheney, in an interview with MSNBC in January 2005, was asked about the possibilities of Israeli military strikes against Iran. He said: "Given the fact that Iran has a stated policy that their objective is the destruction of Israel, the Israelis might well decide to act first." Cheney noted that in this respect Israel would "be doing the bombing for us."

As for the Democrats they have been side-by-side with the Republicans in stirring up a war hysteria against Iran. On January 20, the Democratic Leadership Council (the leading policy-making body in the party) wrote: "Should Iran persist in its intransigence, the [UN Security] Council would then have no choice but to impose economic and diplomatic sanctions. It is essential that the major powers dramatically raise the costs to Tehran of pursing the capability to produce nuclear weapons. If that fails, we will have to seriously contemplate the use of military force."

Such leading Democrats as Joseph Biden, Hilary Clinton, Joe Lieberman, etc. have echoed this statement. For example, on January 22, on CBS' Face the Nation Lieberman said: "We are capable, if necessary, of continuing to pursue our aims militarily in Iraq and Afghanistan and elsewhere and, if necessary, conduct a military attack on Iran."

Lieberman said that while the military option remains a last resort for the U.S., "I want the people who lead Iran to understand that it is on the table. We deem their pursuit of nuclear weapons to be dead serious."

Active War Preparations

According to Newsweek writer, Seymour Hersh, the U.S. military has actively deployed reconnaissance planes and commando units inside Iranian air space and on Iranian territory since 2004. Their specific purpose is to locate military targets as part of U.S. preparations for war.

In 2005, Vice-President Cheney ordered USSTRATCOM to draft a "contingency plan" which "includes a large-scale air assault on Iran employing both conventional and tactical nuclear weapons." (quoted from Philip Giraldi - former CIA official - in Attack on Iran: Pre-emptive Nuclear war, The American Conservative, August 2, 2005.)

Since January of this year, the U.S. government has dramatically stepped up its war propaganda.

Bush, Cheney, Rice, Rumsfeld, etc. have repeatedly threatened Iran with international sanctions and reminded Iran, in the words of Rumsfeld, that "All options - including the military one - are on the table."

European news sources have reported on urgent U.S. preparations for attacks against Iran. Several reports say that CIA Director Porter Goss visited Turkey to ask that government to provide support for airstrikes against Iranian nuclear and military facilities and to provide intelligence for the U.S. Other reports indicate that European allies of the U.S., as well as the governments in Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Oman and Pakistan have been informed of U.S. plans for military attacks.

These plans allegedly call for massive aerial bombardment, on par with the "shock and awe" campaign launched in 2003 against Iraq. The use of tactical nuclear weapons has not been ruled out.

In April of this year, a number of articles in the monopoly-controlled media in both the U.S. and Britain reported on the Pentagon's war plans, including "the use of bunker-buster tactical nuclear weapon, such as B61-11, against underground nuclear sites." (Seymour Hersh in the "New Yorker," April 17, 2006).

Economic Sanctions

U.S. imperialism's pressure against Iran began in the late 1970's when the Iranian revolution overthrew the regime of the Shah of Iran, the strong ally of the U.S. Amongst other things the U.S. government has imposed a series of brutal economic sanctions against the country.

- In November 1979. President Carter issued Proclamation 4702, imposing a ban on the importation into the U.S. of Iranian oil and shortly thereafter froze all property within U.S. jurisdiction owned by the Central Bank and Government of Iran. Further executive orders embargoed exports and imports between the 2 countries and barred U.S. citizens from traveling to the country. After the resolution of the "hostage incident" most of these sanctions were revoked, with the exception of the order blocking Iranian Government property within U.S. jurisdiction.

- In January 1984, the Reagan Administration declared Iran "a sponsor of international terrorism." This made Iran ineligible for various forms of U.S. foreign assistance. The U.S. government worked to bar international loans and assistance to Iran. In August 1986, under the Arms Export Control Act, Iran was prohibited from receiving US arms (including spare parts).

Reagan also imposed a ban on all imports from Iran, including crude oil.

- In October 1992, during the Bush administration, the Iran-Iraq Arms Non-Proliferation Act barred Iran from receiving any "dual use" items - goods used for civilian purposes but which could have a military application. The administration cited the threat of Iran building "weapons of mass destruction."

- In March 1995, President Clinton issued Executive Order 12957, banning U.S. contributions to the development of petroleum resources in Iran. Two months later another Executive Order expanded the sanctions to include a complete ban on trade and investment with Iran. Clinton claimed that Iran was building "weapons of mass destruction" and was a "supporter of international terrorism."

In 1996, the Iran-Libya Sanctions Act empowered the President to impose various sanctions against non-U.S. companies which invest more than $40 million in any one year period in Iran's oil industry.