Iran's nuclear program?: The REAL
issue behind the conflict
Cyrus Safdari

Iran Affairs

June 19, 2008

The "Iranian nuclear threat" talk is a pretext, a distraction and a smokescreen. "WMDs in Iraq" was the pretext to invade Iraq, and "Communism" was the same pretextual justification for the CIA's 1953 coup in Iran to secure oil. Bloggers should not allow themselves to be distracted into that debate, and should keep the focus on the real issue.  

As the Los Angeles Times reported:

“Developing nations are skeptical of the intentions of the five original nuclear states and are reluctant to give up the option of enriching uranium… Developing nations say they don’t want to give up their rights to uranium enrichment and don’t trust the United States or other nuclear countries to be consistent suppliers of the nuclear material they would need to run their power plants.” (A New Global Nuclear Order , Alissa J. Rubin, Los Angeles Times, October 20th, 2006)

In allowing themselves to be drawn into debates over whether Iran could/would really represent a threat with nukes or not, too many bloggers are allowing themselves to be misled from the fact that the feigned concern about "danger of Iranian nukes" asserted by the Bush administration is merely a pretext for another policy entirely, as well as a deliberate distraction from that policy.

This whole conflict with Iran has NOTHING to do with nuclear weapons. Note that the US isn't imposing sanctions on Pakistan or India which have refused to sign the NPT, or Egypt and South Korea which had violated its nuclear safeguards agreement. 

In fact, as other governments in the region have noted, the Iranians have consistently pressed for the creation of a nuclear-weapons free zone in the Mideast since the 1970s, only to be rejected by the same countries that accuse Iran of posing a nuclear danger. The Iranians vehemently agree with opponents of nuclear weapons that such weapons are immoral, would not improve their security nor act as a deterrent to outside aggression:

“Iran today is the strongest country in its immediate neighborhood. It does not need nuclear weapons to protect its regional interests. In fact, to augment Iranian influence in the region, it has been necessary for Iran to win the confidence of its neighbors, who have historically been concerned with size and power disparities. On the other hand, Iran, with its current state of technological development and military capability, cannot reasonably rely on nuclear deterrence against its adversaries in the international arena or in the wider region of the Middle East. Moreover, such an unrealistic option would be prohibitively expensive, draining the limited economic resources of the country.  In sum, a costly nuclear-weapon option would reduce Iran's regional influence and increase its global vulnerabilities without providing any credible deterrence.” (An Unnecessary Crisis: Setting the Record Straight about Iran's Nuclear Program)

Rather than trying to build nukes to fend off aggression as some bloggers claim, the Iranians have repeatedly offered to impose additional restrictions on their nuclear program in order to address any real and legitimate concerns about nuclear weapons proliferation. These proposed compromise offers by Iran go far beyond the legal requirements of the Non-Proliferation Treaty and the limits that other countries with uranium enrichment (ie: Brazil, Argentina) have agreed to accept. International bodies and experts have also endorsed some of these compromise offers by Iran -- such as the suggestion of operating Iran's nuclear` facilities as joint ventures with foreign participation.

And thus far, the Iranian compromise offers have been dismissed offhand without the least consideration by the Bush administration, which instead spurns Iranian peace offers and lies about them, smears the IAEA, consistently increases its demands on Iran, moves the goalposts and imposes ridiculous pre-conditions on negotiations which are actually intended to kill off any chance of real negotiations.

In short, the nuclear weapons issue is a pretext, a distraction and a smokescreen - and bloggers should not allow their debates to go down this pathway. The conflict with Iran isn't about nuclear weapons, and never was. Instead, what we are witnessing is an effort by some countries to essentially deprive other countries of independent access to the future’s sole source of energy, under the guise of preventing nuclear weapons proliferation.

As I have written elsewhere, the entire world is moving towards nuclear power, and it will be particularly crucial for developing states such as Iran to obtain that technology and know-how to make nuclear fuel. In fact, the NPT says that countries such as Iran are entitled to have this knowledge, and nuclear-armed countries such as the US are obligated to share the technology with them in return for signing the NPT. The US and other nuclear-armed countries have instead attempted to monopolize and limit the technology to themselves, while they have refused to disarm their own nuclear weapons - all in violation of their NPT obligations.

Nuclear power comes primarily from enriched uranium. The prices of uranium have shot up dramatically in the last few years. Huge deposits of natural uranium are found in many places around the world - Central Asia, Africa, Canada, Australia etc. but without enrichment technology, it can't be used to generate power. 

THAT is really what is behind this nonsense about “nuclear weapons” — a battle by developing nations with the rich to control their access to energy by monopolizing nuclear enrichment technology under the guise of non-proliferation. In the particular case of Iran, the Bush administration is also seeking to keep Iran economically deprived and backward, to suit Israel and thereby help secure Israel's dominant position in the Mideast while also creating a pretext for implementing a policy of regime change.