from CounterPunch Website
Time after time we have heard statements from Israeli officials, spokesmen of the Israel lobby in the U.S., and Israel’s supporters in Congress that Iran “must” never obtain nuclear weapons. On March 3, 2008, all five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus nine of the ten non-permanent members approved a new round of sanctions against Iran.
Chalk up the final vote of 14-0 with one
abstention (the Muslim nation of Indonesia) as another victory at the U.N.
for the Israel-U.S. partnership.
Iran, a nation of proud people in a neighborhood of proud peoples, sees only absurdity in the discrimination against it when the nearby nations of India, Pakistan, and Israel have all developed their own nuclear weapons without the U.S. stopping them. Israel’s nuclear weapons program particularly sticks in the Iranian craw, because Iranians know that Israel, an enemy but a far smaller country, acquired nuclear weapons over 40 years ago, considerably earlier than either India or Pakistan.
Most Iranians also know that Israel accomplished
this only with public and/or private aid from the U.S. It’s all seen as just
one more example of the U.S. favoring Israel and picking on Iran.
(In the natural state, the raw ore contains
other uranium isotopes as well, and usually has by volume less than one
percent U-235. When concentrated to around three percent U-235, the product
is widely used in common forms of nuclear power reactors. When concentrated
to much higher levels - 90 percent is the figure often cited - the product
becomes the “weapons-grade” material used in nuclear weapons. The equipment
used in this “enrichment” process is not only complicated to build, manage
and maintain; it also requires large amounts of electric power to operate.
But all of this is within the capabilities of numerous nations and, probably
increasingly, some subnational groups as well.)
But if one chooses to believe that Iran really
wants nuclear weapons, another element comes into the equation: the ease
with which an enrichment operation can be converted to produce weapons-grade
uranium. Various Western experts commonly believe that if a nation or group
is capable of going from less than one percent to a three or four percent
enrichment level, then the technical difficulties of moving from three or
four to 90 percent enrichment are not at all major.
But for Iran, a simple guess of three or four
years probably would be in the ball park.
The U.S., however, and most other signatories of the treaty who already possess nuclear weapons have made no serious efforts to work toward global nuclear and general disarmament as called for in the NPT. The treaty, of course, has no timetable or deadlines in it. But the fact that the major powers who signed the treaty have not even begun multilateral negotiations on nuclear disarmament in 38 years gives Iran a good excuse, if it needs one, to abrogate its participation in the treaty. Some day Iran may do just that.
The fact that Israel, India, and Pakistan, who
have refused to sign the treaty from the start, have now become known
nuclear powers, gives leaders in Teheran yet another excuse to get out of
the NPT if it wishes.
They will not indefinitely accept that the
smaller state of Israel has any greater right to nuclear weapons than they
have. Nor will they even accept that the much larger U.S. has a greater
right to such weapons. Short of being forced abjectly to surrender to the
U.S.-Israeli partnership, no Iranian government leaders could accept such
The tragedy is that at the moment there is
simply not enough trust among the governments of the globe, or even within
one region thereof. Take the United States alone, or the U.S.-Israel
partnership. It is inconceivable that the present government of either
partner would be able even to begin negotiations on eliminating its nuclear
weapons, no matter what the possible benefits might be. The same would apply
to China, Russia, Britain, France, India, and Pakistan to greater or lesser
The immediate task of the conference should be
to define areas of agreement and disagreement on disarmament and on the
other three issues in different regions of the world. The chairperson should
be a very senior U.N. official, and the unusual feature of the conference -
its permanence - should receive great emphasis on every public occasion.
Costly new difficulties in any of the three areas might even lead in fairly short order to a rolling snowball of global opposition and disgust over new nuclear spending. No one can foresee how great will be the changes in daily life caused by the three crises but we should, as best we can, work to make the changes add to rather than detract from harmony among the world’s peoples.
We should all specifically try to use these
crises to encourage everyone to think first as citizens of the world, only
second as citizens of a particular nation or region.
Since the present group of Republicans and copycat Democrats in Congress refuses to impeach Bush and Cheney, the danger of a war against Iran instigated by the U.S. and Israel remains real. The overextended state of U.S. ground forces, and Bush’s probable willingness to treat at least small nuclear weapons as ordinary weapons, mean that a war would possibly not be a ground war at all, but would begin with large air attacks and early use of nuclear weapons.
While the longer term results of using nuclear weapons would be utterly disastrous, both for the world and for the U.S., the immediate results might be seen as a quick and cheap victory for the U.S. If the apparent military victory occurred before the November 2008 U.S. election, it would probably guarantee a Republican electoral victory.
Given Bush’s interest in his own place in
history, such a scenario could easily appeal to his gambling instincts.
Pound out the message through every medium we can access, including music and literature, that ordinary people around the world DO NOT WANT THE U.S. AND ISRAEL TO KILL A SINGLE PERSON IN IRAN, regardless of the status of Iran’s nuclear weapons program.