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Nuclear Double Standards in the Middle East

By David Morrison

Al-Jazeerah, CCUN, October 16, 2012

Iran is being subjected to ferocious economic sanctions, which are doing real damage to the Iranian economy and bringing misery to its poorest people.

The sanctions that are doing the damage are not UN sanctions. They haven’t been mandated by the Security Council, and therefore UN member states are under no obligation to implement them.

So, why are many states around the world implementing these sanctions? Answer: because the US is bullying states that don’t want to implement them into doing so.

These sanctions are US sanctions, legislated for by the US Congress, signed off by the US President, that nice Mr Obama, and being enforced by the US administration by ferocious bullying.

It might be more accurate to call them Israeli sanctions, since the Israeli lobby in the US was responsible for persuading the US Congress to pass the first tranche of legislation in December 2011. A second tranche, again promoted by the Israeli lobby, was passed in August 2012 and President Obama signed an executive order bringing it into force on 9 October 2012. All this was carefully planned by the Israeli lobby for the start of presidential election year, so that the possibility of resistance from Obama was minimised in circumstances where his republican rivals were accusing him of being soft on Iran.

The legislation passed last December required the US administration to bully other states around the world into stopping buying Iranian oil, by threatening to cut off their financial institutions from the US financial system, if they conduct transactions with the Central Bank of Iran or other Iranian financial institutions. Since US trade with Iran has been negligible since the Islamic Revolution in 1979, it was no skin off America’s nose to force others to stop buying Iranian oil.

The EU signed up to the US sanctions without having to be bullied, even though this was likely to be painful for some EU states (eg Greece and Italy) who got a significant amount of their oil requirements from Iran. To arrive at this common foreign policy all 27 EU states, including Ireland, must have assented to these Israeli-inspired sanctions and, where appropriate, are proceeding to implement them.

Not because of Iran’s nuclear activities

Why are these Israeli-inspired sanctions being imposed on Iran? It can’t be because of Iran’s nuclear activities, since

Iran has no nuclear weapons

According to US intelligence, Iran hasn’t even got a nuclear weapons programme, and Israeli intelligence agrees.

Iran’s nuclear facilities are open to IAEA inspection

If you don’t believe me, then consider the following from a Reuters Special Report entitled Intel shows Iran nuclear threat not imminent [1], dated 23 March 2012:

“The United States, European allies and even Israel generally agree on three things about Iran's nuclear program: Tehran does not have a bomb, has not decided to build one, and is probably years away from having a deliverable nuclear warhead.”

So, there is no reason to believe that Iran has engaged in the proliferation of nuclear weapons in the Middle East or is about to do so. Thanks to the scandalously misleading reporting of this issue in mainstream media, the man in the street in the US and Europe probably thinks that Iran has nuclear weapons or is in the process of developing them, but it is reasonable to assume the heads of state who are waging this economic war against Iran know the truth.

The Reuters report says that Iran “is probably years away from having a deliverable nuclear warhead”. The latter assumes that Iran will decide one day to build nuclear weapons. In this context, it is worth noting that the Supreme Leader of Iran, Ayatollah Khamenei, has said that “the possession of nuclear weapons a grave sin and believes the proliferation of such weapons is senseless, destructive and dangerous” [2] and that Iran will never acquire them.

However, the possession of nuclear weapons and the means of delivering them is the best means of defence against attack by other states. So, if the present economic warfare against Iran escalates into actual warfare, then it would be difficult for the religious authorities in Iran to maintain a fatwa against their possession as a means of defence. Military action against Iran when it doesn’t possess nuclear weapons is the surest way of persuading the Iranian leadership to acquire them, as quickly as possible.

Israel’s nuclear arsenal

Iran is a party to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons [3], aka the NPT. It has not engaged in the proliferation of nuclear weapons in the Middle East, nor is there any evidence that it is about to do so.

By contrast, Israel has refused to join the NPT and, almost half a century ago, it introduced nuclear weapons into the Middle East.

Today, it has an arsenal of nuclear weapons – the Federation of American Scientists estimates that Israel has 80 warheads [4]; other experts on these matters, for example, Professor Anthony Cordesman of the Center for Strategic & International Studies, reckon it may have as many as 400 (see Israel’s Weapons of Mass Destruction: An Overview [5], p7/8).

Israel can deliver these warheads by aircraft, submarine-launched cruise missiles and ballistic missiles to any capital in the Middle East and much further afield.

Furthermore, the outside world knows almost nothing about what is going on in Israel’s nuclear facilities. Unlike Iran’s, they are almost entirely closed to inspection by the IAEA or any other foreign agency. A small exception is a 5MW reactor supplied by the US in 1955, located at Nahal Soreq, which has been under IAEA safeguards since the early 60s, at the insistence of the US.

Israel’s nuclear facilities remain closed to the IAEA, despite the fact that nearly 30 years ago, on 19 June 1981, the UN Security Council passed resolution 487, which called upon Israel “urgently to place its nuclear facilities under IAEA safeguards” [6].

The resolution was passed in the aftermath of Israel’s aerial attack on an Iraqi nuclear reactor. The resolution was passed unanimously, all five veto-wielding members of the Security Council, including the US, voting for it. Israel has ignored the resolution and nearly 30 years later its nuclear facilities, bar the small exception mentioned above, are still not subject to IAEA inspection.

Unlike Iran, Israel has engaged in nuclear proliferation in the Middle East on an enormous scale. But, far from being sanctioned for this nuclear proliferation, Israel enjoys immense privileges from the US and the EU, who are most vigorous in sanctioning Iran which has not engaged in nuclear proliferation at all. Israel receives over US$3 billion a year in military aid from the US (more US tax dollars go to Israel than to any other state in the world) and the EU accords Israel privileged access to the EU market through the EU-Israel Association Agreement.

One could be forgiven for thinking that a double standard is being applied to Iran and Israel in this regard.

Germany helps Israel to enhance its nuclear weapons systems

There is more. Germany, a state that is actively engaged in sanctioning Iran even though it has no nuclear weapons, is helping Israel enhance its nuclear weapons systems, by supplying submarines from which the nuclear-armed cruise missiles can be launched.

An article in Spiegel Online on 3 June 2012 is entitled Israel Deploys Nuclear Weapons on German-Built Submarines [7]. It begins:

“Germany is helping Israel to develop its military nuclear capabilities, SPIEGEL has learned. According to extensive research carried out by the magazine, Israel is equipping submarines that were built in the northern German city of Kiel and largely paid for by the German government with nuclear-tipped cruise missiles.

“In the past, the German government has always stuck to the position that it is unaware of nuclear weapons being deployed on the vessels. Now, however, former high-ranking officials from the German Defense Ministry, including former State Secretary Lothar Rühl and former chief of the planning staff Hans Rühle, have told SPIEGEL that they had always assumed that Israel would deploy nuclear weapons on the submarines. Rühl had even discussed the issue with the military in Tel Aviv.

“The submarines are built by the German shipyard HDW in Kiel. Three submarines have already been delivered to Israel, and three more will be delivered by 2017. In addition, Israel is considering ordering its seventh, eighth and ninth submarines from Germany.”

There is more. The EU, including Germany, is committed to a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East. Yet Germany is enhancing Israel’s nuclear weapons capability by supplying submarines, and supplying them at a knockdown price – and there is not a word of criticism from any other EU state.

You couldn’t make it up.

Nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East

The creation of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East has been the subject of resolutions in international fora since the mid 70s, when evidence began to emerge that Israel was developing nuclear weapons.

A resolution calling for such a zone, co-sponsored by the US, UK and Russia, was passed at the 1995 NPT Review and Extension Conference [8]. The NPT was initially scheduled to last for 25 years, at the end of which, in 1995, a Conference of the parties to the Treaty had to be held to decide whether to extend its operation. The Conference extended the Treaty indefinitely without dissent, but the “nuclear-weapon” states had to pay a price, namely, a resolution calling for a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East.

Needless to say, the passing of this resolution has had no effect whatsoever on the ground in the Middle East, despite states in the Non-Aligned Movement pressing the matter at subsequent NPT Review Conferences. These take place every five years and enormous diplomatic efforts are invested in advance of the Conference itself to construct a final consensus declaration (which is invariably long and vacuous).

In May 2010, the Obama administration was anxious to avoid a repeat of the outcome of the 2005 Review Conference, which failed to agree a final declaration. On this occasion, pressure from members of the Non-Aligned Movement yielded the promise of “a conference in 2012, to be attended by all States of the Middle East, on the establishment of a Middle East zone free of nuclear weapons and all other weapons of mass destruction” [9].

The conference is being arranged by Finland and is due to take place in December 2012. Israel has just announced that it will not be attending.

Why is the US waging economic warfare against Iran?

So, why is the US waging economic warfare against Iran? As I said, it can’t be because of Iran’s nuclear activities. The only answer that makes sense is that the US wants to crush Iran because it stands in the way of its hegemony in the Middle East. A change in regime to one that is prepared to do US bidding would be ideal and, now that its economic warfare is having an impact, no doubt the US is beginning to think that it is a possibility.

I will end with the words of Bill Blum, author of the book Killing Hope: US Military and CIA Interventions Since World War II, about what drives US foreign policy:

“So, if you want to understand this thing called United States foreign policy ... forget about the War on Terrorism, forget about September 11, forget about democracy, forget about freedom, forget about human rights, forget about religion, forget about the people of Libya and Syria ... keep your eyes on the prize ... Whatever advances American global domination. Whatever suits their goals at the moment. There is no moral factor built into the DNA of US foreign policy.” [10]
















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