No War, No Sanctions Against Iran
Around the world, anti-war activists are preparing for major protests this spring to oppose the continuing U.S.-led occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan. Meanwhile, a storm of developments is dramatically increasing tensions between the United States and the Islamic Republic of Iran. In response, the Campaign Against Sanctions and Military Intervention in Iran (CASMII) is issuing this appeal to the anti-war movements in the United States, United Kingdom and other countries to raise the demands of No war, no sanctions, no internal interference in Iran!
Iran is a country that hasn’t attacked a neighbor in more than 200 years. Even when Saddam Hussein invaded Iran after the 1979 Revolution and, with support from the West, used chemical weapons against both civilians and combatants, the Islamic Republic did not retaliate in kind. And yet the U.S. government claims that Iran represents a serious threat to the Middle East region and the entire world. Without a shred of evidence, the U.S. charges that Iran's program to develop nuclear power for peaceful energy purposes is just a cover to develop nuclear weapons. Never mentioned is the fact that, as a signatory to the U.N.'s Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, Iran's right to develop nuclear energy is enshrined in international law. Just a few months ago, the UN's International Atomic Energy Chief, Mohammed ElBardai, the person responsible for monitoring compliance with that treaty, stated, “Nobody is sitting in Iran today developing nuclear weapons. Tehran doesn’t have an ongoing nuclear weapons program. But somehow, everyone in the West is talking about how Iran’s nuclear program is the greatest threat to the world.” (Interview with the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, Sept. 2009) Instead, warning of world disaster if Iran should succeed in its imaginary goal of obtaining nuclear arms, Washington argues that Iran must be forcefully brought to its knees, through a combination of increasingly crippling sanctions, taking advantage of Iran's internal divisions and preparing for a possible military attack.
Consider these recent developments:
• The U.S has been pressuring the permanent members of the U.N. Security Council to impose a fourth and more severe round of sanctions against Iran. The only real holdout has been the People's Republic of China, which in January held the council's revolving presidency. On Feb. 1, however, the president's seat passed to France, which is nearly as hostile to Iran's nuclear program as is the U.S. (France itself, by the way, relies on nuclear power for 80 percent of its own energy needs.) The Security Council’s permanent members, including China and Russia, have never been a real barrier for the U.S. Not only has the council already approved three rounds of sanctions against Iran, but the Obama Administration is now talking of “bypassing” the UN in its latest push for sanctions. While sanctions are often promoted as an alternative to war, the world now knows that the sanctions imposed by the U.N. against Iraq during the first Persian Gulf War resulted in the deaths of up to 1.5 million Iraqis, a third of them children.
• Not content with just pressuring the UN the U.S. is pushing ahead with plans for more of its own unilateral sanctions. Congress is getting close to passing the Dodd-Shelby Comprehensive Iran Sanctions, Accountability, and Divestment Act. Among other provisions, this bipartisan bill would “impose new sanctions on entities involved in exporting certain refined petroleum products to Iran or building Iran’s domestic refining capacity.” This provision starkly exposes the real U.S. goal: to economically cripple Iran in an attempt to so complicate life for the Iranian people that they might demand a “regime change.” In the past, the U.S. has argued that Iran doesn’t need to develop nuclear power because of its vast oil reserves, while conveniently omitting the fact that Iran doesn't have sufficient refinery capacity to meet its energy needs through oil alone. Targeting companies and countries that sell refined petroleum products to Iran, or that help Iran expand its own refining capacity, shows that the real goal has nothing to do with countering nuclear proliferation. (The U.S. even pressures European countries not to provide Iran with the means to develop wind energy!) Those who desire hegemony over the oil-rich Middle East can tolerate no independent regional powers, whether or not they present a threat to any other country. This reality was dramatically demonstrated in 1953, when the CIA toppled Iran’s democratically elected prime minister, Dr. Mohammad Mosaddegh, for the “crime” of nationalizing Iran’s oil industry.
• Meanwhile, these threats of new sanctions are being accompanied by a military build-up in the Persian Gulf region. On Jan. 31, The Wall Street Journal reported that, in recent months, the U.S. and its Persian Gulf allies have stepped up their military defenses “in response to Iranian missile tests and Tehran's continued defiance of international efforts to curtail its nuclear program.” The moves have included “upgrades, new purchases of American-made Patriot antimissile batteries and the addition of advanced air- and missile-defense radars. ” The Journal reported that, although “some of the buildup has been going on for years ... the heightened profile of the moves comes as the Obama administration has toughened its rhetoric against Tehran.”
• And, according to a Feb. 1 Reuters report, “The United States has expanded land- and sea-based missile defense systems in and around the Gulf to counter what it sees as Iran's growing missile threat ... The deployments include expanded land-based Patriot defensive missile installations in Kuwait, Qatar, UAE and Bahrain, as well as Navy ships with missile defense systems in and around the Mediterranean, officials said. The chairman of the U.S. military's Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen, said last month the Pentagon must have military options ready to counter Iran should Obama call for them.”
• Finally, Iran's ongoing internal political crisis has apparently led some Western anti-war organizations and activists to be ambivalent about the need to stand against Western aggression against Iran. Regardless of how activists view Iran's internal situation, we all must agree that outside pressure and interference must be opposed. Recognizing this, Iran’s political opposition has urged Western countries to stay out of Iran's internal affairs. As presidential opposition candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi, has put it, “We are opposed to any types of sanctions against our nation. This is what living the Green Path means.” (Statement No. 13, Sept. 28, 2009) No truly progressive democracy activist in a country targeted by the U.S. would appeal to the U.S. for support.
The political positions taken by anti-war activists in the West can become a real factor in strategic decisions made by the U.S. government and its allies. Because of this, we are heartened to see that in the United States the National Assembly to End the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars and Occupations and the ANSWER Coalition have added the demand of “No War or Sanctions Against Iran!” to their fliers promoting national anti-war protests on March 20. We call on all other coalitions, organizations and individual activists to do the same, and to further demand “No Outside Interference in Iran's Internal Affairs! Self-determination for the Iranian People!”
Regardless of differences in our political analyses and views, these demands should be acceptable to all who struggle for peace, justice and a better world for all.
This appeal has been initiated by the Campaign Against Sanctions and Military Intervention in Iran (CASMII), www.campaigniran.org
Iran is a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Iran is complying with UN resolutions and has opened its nuclear installations to inspection. It insists that it is committed to developing nuclear power for energy purposes only — as it is entitled to do under international law. Not a shred of evidence has been produced to show that Iran intends to develop nuclear armaments. Iran has stated categorically that it has no such plans.
To no avail.
Iran, says Barack Obama, "must comply with United Nations resolutions" and his secretary of state, Hilary Clinton, says Iran will face "crippling" sanctions if it doesn't do something it is already doing.
"We are committed to demonstrating that international law is not an empty promise," says Obama," president of the nation that has, since 1945, violated more international laws than any other country.
Meanwhile, Israel — a country that has not signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty — has a secret stockpile of nuclear weapons, as revealed 23 years ago by Israeli nuclear technician Dr. Modecai Vanunu, for which service to humanity he was sentenced to 18 years imprisonment. Since his release in 2004 he has been held by the Israeli government under severe restrictions that prevent him from leaving Israel or, without permission, his home town. He is forbidden any communication with foreigners.
Israel is one of only three countries along with India and Pakistan, which is not a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), and is widely believed to possess several hundred nuclear warheads, as well as the means to deliver them.
When the International Atomic Energy Agency for the first time on 19 September 2009 called on Israel to join the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and open up its atomic sites to international inspection, the response was predictable: refusal to cooperate in any way.
Hundreds of powerful U.S. “bunker-buster” bombs are being shipped from California to the British island of Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean in preparation for a possible attack on Iran. According to news reports, the U.S. government signed a contract in January to transport 10 ammunition containers to the island. According to a cargo manifest from the U.S. Navy, this included 387 “Blu” bombs used for blasting hardened or underground structures.
Contract details for the shipment to Diego Garcia were posted on an international tenders’ website by the U.S. Navy. A shipping company based in Florida, Superior Maritime Services, will be paid $699,500 to carry many thousands of military items from Concord, California, to Diego Garcia. Crucially, the cargo includes 195 smart, guided, Blu-110 bombs and 192 massive 2000lb Blu-117 bombs. It is likely that the bombs are being put in place for an assault on Iran’s nuclear facilities.
Although Diego Garcia is part of the British Indian Ocean Territory, it is used by the U.S. as a military base under an agreement made in 1971. The agreement led to 2,000 native islanders being forcibly evicted to the Seychelles and Mauritius. The British Ministry of Defense has said in the past that the U.S. government would need permission to use Diego Garcia for offensive action. It has already been used for strikes against Iraq during the 1991 and 2003 Gulf wars.
In addition, it is thought that one reason behind the “rift” between the U.S. and Israel over the timing of Israeli announcements concerning settlements, is the concern of the military that Arab countries allied with the U.S. are losing faith in U.S. promises, which endangers the U.S. war efforts in the region. Biden reportedly expressed this in private talks with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu: “What you’re doing here undermines the security of our troops who are fighting in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. That endangers us and it endangers regional peace.”
Mark Perry, a writer with long-standing and close ties to the military brass, reported on foreignpolicy.com that Biden's private comments reflected the collective view of top U.S. military commanders throughout the Middle East region. They had been tasked in December by the chief of the U.S. Central Command (CentCom), General David Petraeus, to submit reports to him about the impact of Washington's failure to make progress on Israeli-Palestinian peace on the perceptions of Arab leaders on U.S. standing and influence.
The result was a briefing presented to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Michael Mullen, in January and subsequently communicated to the White House that underlined the growing conviction in the region that "The U.S. was incapable of standing up to Israel, that CentCom's mostly Arab constituency was losing faith in American promises, that Israeli intransigence on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was jeopardizing U.S. standing in the region, and that [White House Envoy] Mitchell himself was ... 'too old, too slow ... and too late'."
According to Perry, a subsequent trip by Mullen to Israel — whose purpose was described in the media as designed to coordinate strategy on Iran — was also aimed at persuading the Israeli top brass of the importance to the U.S. of achieving progress on peace talks.
It is quite possible that the public display with Israel is in part to prepare the ground for concessions, in words, by Israel so as to make it appear the U.S. is succeeding with “peace” talks. The arrangement may well be that in exchange for such concessions, the U.S. will again give the green light for increased repression against the Palestinians and perhaps Lebanon as well.
China has so far also been firm in proposing that instead of sanctions, negotiations are the way forward in addressing concerns regarding Iran's nuclear program. At a press conference held on the sidelines of China's National People's Congress, Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi said: “As everyone knows, pressure and sanctions are not the fundamental way forward to resolving the Iran nuclear issue, and cannot fundamentally solve this issue.”
Earlier in March, speaking ahead of the visit to Brazil by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, also called for negotiations with Iran. “It is not prudent to push Iran against a wall,” Mr. Silva told reporters hours before meeting Ms. Clinton.
Saudi Arabia, also a part of the G-20 group of nations, publicly signaled that it may not support sanctions on Iran.
As Mr. Gates rounded up his visit to the region, Iran questioned the rationale for the presence of U.S. forces in the area. “What are you doing in our region? Why are you deploying military forces here,” said Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. He added, “If you think military deployment will help you seize the oil in Iraq and in the Persian Gulf, I must tell you that the young generation of the Middle East [West Asia] will cut your hands off from the oil reserves of the Persian Gulf,” Iran's semi-official Fars News Agency quoted the President as saying.
Middle East Quartet Condemns Zionist Plans to Expand Illegal Settlements
The Quartet, made up of the United Nations, the European Union (EU), the United States and Russia condemned Israeli moves to expand illegal settlements in the occupied Palestinian territory of East Jerusalem. Earlier this week, Israel’s Interior Ministry announced that it has approved plans to build 1,600 new homes in illegally occupied East Jerusalem. The Quartet statement said it “condemns Israel’s decision to advance planning for new housing units in East Jerusalem.” They added, “The Quartet reiterates that Arab-Israeli peace and the establishment of an independent, contiguous and viable state of Palestine is in the fundamental interests of the parties, of all States in the region, and of the international community."
The statement called for the urgent resumption of talks between the parties to resolve all outstanding issues of the conflict, including the status of Jerusalem. The Quartet said it will study the situation at its meeting in Moscow next week, on Friday, March 19.