Being Logical About Iran

Fact Sheets of Iran-US Standoff: Twenty Reasons against Sanctions and Military Intervention in Iran
May 11, 2007


Four years since the US-UK led illegal invasion of Iraq, which has brought the ongoing catastrophe for Iraqi people, all peace loving people and antiwar organizations in the world are appalled by the current Iran-US standoff that has a shocking resemblance to the run-up to the invasion of Iraq. The same neo-conservatives and hawks, headed by Dick Cheney in Washington, who championed the cause of invasion of Iraq, are now shamelessly calling for a military attack on Iran. The same Israeli lobby which pushed for the invasion of Iraq, is now pushing for a military attack on Iran. The same strategy of lies and distortions which was used to dupe the international community and soften it up for the invasion of Iraq, is again used to pave the way for another illegal pre-emptive war of aggression against Iran. As in the case of Iraq, the UN Security Council Resolutions against Iran, obtained by massive US pressure and coercion, would provide a veneer of legitimacy for such an attack.

Contrary to the myth created by the western media, it is not Iran, but the US and its European allies which are defying the overwhelming majority of the international community, in that, they have resisted the call to enter into direct, immediate and comprehensive negotiations with Iran without any pre-conditions. The US and its European allies show their lack of good faith in a diplomatic solution to the standoff by demanding that Iran concede the main point of negotiations, namely, suspension of enrichment of uranium which is Iran’s legitimate right under the Non-Proliferation Treaty, before the negotiations actually start.

Here, we examine and debunk the common myths and charges against Iran and provide a list of twenty reasons to oppose sanctions and military intervention in Iran. The Campaign Against Sanctions and Military Intervention in Iran (CASMII) calls for immediate and direct negotiations between the US and Iran without any pre-conditions in order to avert a new even more horrifying catastrophe in the Middle East.


1. There is no evidence of a nuclear weapons programme in Iran. The US and Israel pressure Iran to prove that it is not hiding a nuclear weapons programme. This demand is logically impossible to satisfy and only serves to make diplomacy fail in order to force regime change. Numerous intrusive and snap visits by International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspectors, totalling more than 2,700 person-hours of inspection, have failed to produce any shred of evidence for a weapons programme in Iran. Traces of highly enriched uranium found at Natanz in 2004, were determined by IAEA to have come with imported centrifuges.

In June 2005, Bruno Pellaud, former IAEA Deputy Director-General for safeguards, was asked by Swissinfo if Iran was intent on building a nuclear bomb. He replied: “My impression is not. My view is based on the fact that Iran took a major gamble in December 2003 by allowing a much more intrusive capability to the IAEA. If Iran had had a military programme they would not have allowed the IAEA to come under this Additional Protocol. They did not have to.” Even the ex-British Foreign Minister, Jack Straw, admitted on 9/4/2006 that “there is no smoking gun and therefore no justification for a military attack”. Still, for the US the absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.

2. Iran’s need for nuclear power generation is real. Even when Iran’s population was one-third of what it is today, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld and Paul Wolfowitz, negotiating on behalf of President Gerald Ford, persuaded the former Shah that Iran needed nuclear power and over twenty nuclear reactors. [1] Today Iran’s electricity output forecast falls so much short of projected needs that even concerns over the preservation of historic sites did not impede Tehran’s plans to dam a river near the national heritage ruins near Pasargad. With Iran’s population of 70 million fast growing, and its oil resources fast depleting, Iran will be a net importer of oil productions in just over a decade from now. Nuclear energy is thus a realistic and viable solution for electricity generation in the country.

3. The “crisis” over Iran’s nuclear programme lacks the urgency claimed by Washington. Even if it were to militarize its nuclear programme, for which there is no evidence at all, Iran would be many years away from mastering the technology, giving proliferation concerns ample time to be resolved by negotiation. Weapons grade uranium must be enriched at least to 85%. A 2005 CIA report determined that it could take Iran 10 years to achieve this level of enrichment. Many independent nuclear experts have stated that Iran would face formidable technical obstacles if it tried to enrich uranium beyond the 3.5% required for electricity generation. According to Dr Frank Barnaby of the Oxford Research Group, because of contamination of Iranian uranium with heavy metals, Iran cannot possibly enrich beyond even 20% without support from Russia or China [2]. IAEA director, Dr. Mohammad ElBaradei, too, has declared that there is no imminent threat and “We need to lower the pitch.”

4. Iran has met its obligations under the Nuclear non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). Iran has fully cooperated in the last three years with the IAEA and had voluntarily accepted and enforced safeguards well above the Additional Protocol until Iran’s nuclear file was reported under the pressure of the US to the Security Council in February 2006. (The U.S., by contrast, has neither signed nor implemented the Additional Protocol, and Israel has refused to sign the NPT.)

Iran’s earlier concealment of its nuclear programme took place in the context of the US-backed invasion of Iran by Saddam; Iraqi chemical weapons provided to Saddam by the US, German and UK companies with the approval of their governments which were used against Iranian soldiers and civilians and Israel’s destruction of Iraq’s Osirak reactor in 1981 with impunity. Iranian leaders concluded from these gross injustices that international laws are only “ink on paper” as Rafsanjani put it.

But the most direct reasons for Iran’s concealment were the American trade embargo on Iran and Washington’s organized and persistent campaign to stop civilian nuclear technology from reaching Iran from any source. For example, in 1995 Germany offered to let Kraftwerk Union (a subsidiary of Siemens) finish Iran’s Bushehr reactor, but withdrew its proposal under US pressure [3]. The following year, China cancelled its contract to build a nuclear enrichment facility in Isfahan for the same reason [4]. Thus Washington systematically violated, with impunity, Article IV of the NPT, which allows signatories to “facilitate, and have the right to participate in, the fullest possible exchange of equipment, materials and scientific and technological information for the peaceful uses of nuclear energy”.

Nevertheless, Iran’s decision not to declare all of its nuclear installations did not violate any rules. According to David Albright and Corey Hinderstein, who first provided satellite imagery and analysis of the facilities at Natanz and at Arak in December 2002 [5], under the safeguards agreement in force at the time, “Iran is not required to allow IAEA inspections of a new nuclear facility until six months before nuclear material is introduced into it.”

5. Iran has given unprecedented concessions on its nuclear programme. Unlike North Korea, Iran has resisted the temptation to withdraw from the NPT. Besides accepting snap inspections under Additional Protocol until February 2006, Iran has invited Western companies, including American companies, to participate in a consortium to develop Iran’s civilian nuclear programme. Such joint ventures combined with Iran’s pledge to ratify the Additional Protocol for intrusive IAEA inspections, would create the best assurance that the enriched uranium would not be diverted to a weapons programme. Such concessions are very rare in the world, but the U.S. and its allies have refused Iran’s offer.

6. Enrichment of uranium for a civilian nuclear programme is Iran’s inalienable right. Every member of the NPT has the inalienable right to enrich uranium for a civilian nuclear programme and is entitled to full technical assistance.

But with the US as the back seat driver and in violation of their assistance obligations, France, Germany, and the UK insisted in three years of negotiations, that Tehran forfeit its right, in return for incentives of little value. Some European diplomats admitted to Asia Times-on-line on 7th September 2005, that the package offered by the EU-3 was “an empty box of chocolates.” But “there is nothing else we can offer,” the diplomats went on to say. “The Americans simply wouldn’t let us.”

7. The Western alliance has not tried true diplomacy. Washington has refused to participate in talks with Iran and instead outsourced the task to the EU. But negotiators for France, Britain, and Germany were hamstrung by the Bush Administration, which disapproved any substantive incentives, including a US guarantee not to attack Iran. This was the reason Iran ended its two-year voluntary suspension of uranium enrichment.


8. The UN resolutions against Iran in contrast to the treatment of South Korea, India, Pakistan, and Israel smack of double standards. The UN Security Council sanctions on Iran expose the double standards of the Western powers, which ignore the NPT violations by Washington’s allies. For example, in the year 2000, South Korea enriched 200 milligrams of uranium to near-weapons grade (up to 77%), but was not referred to the UN Security Council.

India has refused to sign the NPT or allow inspections and has developed an atomic arsenal, but receives nuclear assistance from the US which is a violation of the NPT. More bizarrely, India has a seat on the governing board of IAEA and, under US pressure, voted to refer Iran as a violator to the UN Security Council. Another non-signatory, Pakistan, clandestinely developed nuclear weapons but is supported by the US as a “war on terror” ally.

Israel is a close ally of Washington, even though it has hundreds of clandestine nuclear weapons, has dismissed numerous UN resolutions and has refused to sign the NPT or open any of its nuclear plants to inspections.

The US itself is the most serious violator of the NPT. The only country to have ever used nuclear bombs in war has refused to reduce its nuclear arsenal, in violation of Article VI of NPT. The US is also in breach of the treaty because it is developing new generations of nuclear warheads for use against non-nuclear adversaries. Moreover, the US has deployed hundreds of such tactical nuclear weapons all around the world in violation of Articles I and II of the NPT.

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