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International flaw: With new Iran sanctions, POTUS calls Tehran's kettle black

Nima Shirazi | 04.10.2010 15:52 | Anti-militarism | Anti-racism | Repression | World

On Wednesday afternoon, in a joint press conference, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Secretary of the Treasury Timothy Geithner announced that the United States had imposed a new set of unilateral sanctions, including a travel ban and freezing of assets, against a number of top-ranking Iranian officials whom it accused of "serious and sustained human rights abuses" since the presidential election last year. The measure, which comes less than four months after the UN Security Council's latest illegal resolution and the Obama administration's last round of economic sanctions, was enacted via an Executive Order signed into effect last night by the President.

The double standards of the US government continue to betray its real intentions and motivations regarding the Middle East, namely the maintenance of military hegemony, allegiance to Zionist mythology, and the continued demonization and threatening of any country that dares question the moral superiority of the United States or opposes American and Israeli imperialism in the region.

International flaw: With new Iran sanctions, POTUS calls Tehran's kettle black

by Nima Shirazi, 29 September 2010

"The West won the world not by the superiority of its ideas or values or religion but rather by its superiority in applying organized violence. Westerners often forget this fact, non-Westerners never do." - Samuel P. Huntington

"By alleging Iran has some problems, America’s problems aren’t resolved. Just alleging that Iran has a problem is not going to resolve Mrs. Clinton’s problems for her."
- President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, speaking with Charlie Rose, May 3, 2010

On Wednesday afternoon, in a joint press conference, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Secretary of the Treasury Timothy Geithner announced that the United States had imposed a new set of unilateral sanctions, including a travel ban and freezing of assets, against a number of top-ranking Iranian officials whom it accused of "serious and sustained human rights abuses" since the presidential election last year. The measure, which comes less than four months after the UN Security Council's latest illegal resolution and the Obama administration's last round of economic sanctions, was enacted via an Executive Order signed into effect last night by the President.

This marked, as Clinton pointed out, "the first time the United States has imposed sanctions against Iran based on human rights abuses." Every US administration since Carter's has issued unilateral sanctions against Iran due to its continued opposition to US imperialism and insufficient deference to American diktat. However, the sanctions have previously been justified using the pretense of Iran's alleged "active support of terrorism," its totally legal and fully monitored nuclear energy program, as well as the wholly fabricated notion that "the actions and policies of the Government of Iran constitute an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security, foreign policy, and economy of the United States" and required "the declar[ation of] a national emergency to deal with that threat." This last hysterical claim was introduced by the Secretary of State's Presidential husband back in 1995.

This time around, Hillary Clinton stated, with regard to the eight government officials specifically targeted by the new order, "on [their] watch or under their command, Iranian citizens have been arbitrarily arrested, beaten, tortured, raped, blackmailed, and killed. Yet the Iranian Government has ignored repeated calls from the international community to end these abuses, to hold to account those responsible and respect the rights and fundamental freedoms of its citizens. And Iran has failed to meet its obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights."

Apparently, the United States' own recent history regarding the invasion and occupation of two foreign countries, the kidnapping, indefinite detention without charge, and the physical and psychological torture of thousands of people, including at places like Guantanamo, Bagram, and Abu Ghraib (where prisoners were raped by their American captors) is irrelevant to the administration's finger-pointing charade and ongoing demonization campaign against Iran. Prisoners held by the United States in Afghanistan and Guantanamo, in addition to being "chained to the ceiling, shackled so tightly that the blood flow stops, kept naked and hooded and kicked to keep them awake for days on end," have also been beaten to death by their interrogators. Of the fifteen soldiers charged with detainee abuse ranging from "dereliction of duty to maiming and involuntary manslaughter," all but three have been acquitted. Those three received written reprimands and served, at most, 75 days in prison for their crimes.

In contrast, after reports of torture at Iran's Kahrizak prison surfaced, the Iranian government moved swiftly to close the facility because it "lacked the standards" to maintain "rights of detainees" and launched an investigation into the allegations. Around the same time, 140 detainees were released from Tehran's Evin Prison at the urging of the head of the Judiciary and Majlis ministers.

Additionally, according to a Financial Times report from June 25, 2009 and featured only as an insert in the print edition, several students who had been arrested during the post-election protests, rallies, and riots, were freed in order to join 1.3 million other young Iranians in taking the national university entrance exam.

In December 2009, Iranian authorities announced that twelve prison officials from Kahrizak had been arrested and charged with murder and other crimes, including abuse, negligence and deprivation of prisoners' legal rights. This past June, courts passed down prison sentences and other punishment to those accused and two prison guards were convicted of murder and "intentional assault and battery" and were sentenced to death. It was reported this week that the death sentences have been rescinded at the request of the families of the victims.

Of course, human rights abuses in Iran are indeed serious and deserve condemnation. Most recently, Hossein "Hoder" Derakhshan, Iran's so-called "blogfather," has been convicted of "collaborating with hostile governments, committing blasphemy and propaganda against the Islamic Republic, and managing an obscene website" and sentenced to 19.5 years in prison.

Meanwhile, the United States continues firmly protecting its own war criminals, maintains a two-tiered justice system, routinely criminalizes dissent and whistleblowing, and breeds soldiers who kill civilians for sport and dismember corpses for fun.

"The steady deterioration in human rights conditions in Iran has obliged the United States to speak out time and time again. And today, we are announcing specific actions that correspond to our deep concern. The mounting evidence of repression against anyone who questions Iranian Government decisions or advocates for transparency or even attempts to defend political prisoners is very troubling," Clinton continued, at the press conference. The Secretary of State also noted the distressing treatment of Iranian "human rights lawyers, bloggers, journalists and activists for women’s rights."

This heartfelt announcement came just five days after the FBI launched its latest surreal assault in the US government's "war on dissent" (as termed by former FBI agent and courageous whistleblower Coleen Rowley) by kicking down doors, raiding homes at gunpoint, issuing grand jury subpoenas, and seizing the personal property, including "documents, files, books, photographs, videos, souvenirs, war relics, notebooks, address books, diaries, journals, maps, or other evidence," such as computers, cell phones, and emails of several American peace and justice activists in the Midwest. The raids were conducted under the guise of determining whether the targeted peace organizers and human rights advocates were actually devious supporters of "foreign terrorist organizations."

Elderly anti-war protesters, graduate students, neuroscientists, and civil rights attorneys have all been held for years by the US government and sentenced to lengthy prison sentences on bogus charges.

Furthermore, the claim that the US government supports "transparency" is deeply ironic, considering Obama's obsession with invoking "state secrets" and "sovereign impunity" in order to shield illegal programs like warrantless wiretapping and spying, extraordinary rendition, torture, drone warfare, and the extrajudicial assassination of American citizens from proper scrutiny and prosecution.

Whereas American officials are quick to declare their unqualified promotion of "new tools of communication" and support for "a free and open Internet," as President Obama did last week at the United Nations General Assembly, the US is itself a surveillance state, which relentlessly monitors its own citizens. The CIA and other intelligence agencies have invested in technology and companies that specialize in monitoring social media and, this past summer, a Senate committee approved a wide-ranging cybersecurity bill that may grant the US president the authority to unilaterally shut down parts of the Internet during a "national cyber-emergency." Just this week, the New York Times reported that the Obama administration will propose new legislation to mandate US government access to all forms of electronic communications, "including encrypted e-mail transmitters like BlackBerry, social networking Web sites like Facebook and software that allows direct 'peer to peer' messaging like Skype."

"In signing this Executive Order," Clinton declared on Wednesday, "the President sends the message that the United States stands up for the universal rights of all people" and serves "as a voice for the voiceless."

Obviously, she didn't mean the universal right of self-determination for or the cries for human dignity of the Palestinian people, who have been ethnically cleansed from their homeland to make room for US-backed and nuclear-armed colonial settlers and serial human rights abusers who systematically, and with total impunity, continue to dispossess, disenfranchise, displace, demolish, and destroy the indigenous population of the stolen land they occupy and control.

This should hardly be surprising due to the fact that during the "carefully choreographed" meeting between the American President and Israeli Prime Minster Benjamin Netanyahu in July 2010, described as "empty theater" by Atlanta Journal-Constitution columnist Jay Booker, Obama pointed out that his administration is "unwavering in our commitment to Israel's security," while making sure to specifically not affirm the safety, human rights, or self-determination of Palestinians.

Last week, at the UN, Obama went even further in demonstrating the blatant hypocrisy entrenched in the United States doctrine of defending Zionist war crimes while condemning human rights abuses elsewhere around the world. The President stated, as he has so many times before, that any "efforts to chip away at Israel's legitimacy [sic] will only be met by the unshakeable opposition of the United States," continuing that "efforts to threaten or kill Israelis will do nothing to help the Palestinian people. The slaughter of innocent Israelis is not resistance - it's injustice."

No mention was made of the constant Israeli murder - with US weaponry - of Palestinian civilians, despite the fact that, in the past decade alone, Israeli security forces have killed 6,371 Palestinians, of whom 1317 were minors, about 250 were police officers bombed to death during the 2008-9 Gaza massacre, and 240 were targets of assassinations. Apparently, this is not "injustice," according to the President, it's just a necessary side-effect of Zionism that didn't warrant a mention.

Hillary Clinton, after announcing the new Iran sanctions, claimed that "[the US] will hold abuse of governments and individuals accountable for their actions." The simplicity of this statement is profound considering it is a complete and provable lie.

Last year, when the United Nations released the Goldstone Report, which found overwhelming and irrefutable evidence that Israel had committed gross "violations of international human rights and humanitarian law and possible war crimes and crimes against humanity" during its 2008-9 Gaza assault, the US government roundly condemned the findings and refused to hold Israel accountable for anything.

Last week, the day before Obama addressed the General Assembly, the UN itself released its findings with regard to the Gaza Freedom Flotilla massacre. The report stated, not only that the ongoing Israeli blockade of Gaza is illegal under international law and constitutes collective punishment (which is a war crime), but also:

"The conduct of the Israeli military and other personnel towards the flotilla passengers was not only disproportionate to the occasion but demonstrated levels of totally unnecessary and incredible violence. It betrayed an unacceptable level of brutality. Such conduct cannot be justified or condoned on security or any other grounds. It constituted grave violations of human rights law and international humanitarian law."The UN report also found "clear evidence to support prosecutions of the following crimes within the terms of article 147 of the Fourth Geneva Convention: willful killing; torture or inhuman treatment; willfully causing great suffering or serious injury to body or health," and stated that Israel had seriously violated its obligations under the United Nations International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, including the "right to life...torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment...right to liberty and security of the person and freedom from arbitrary arrest or detention...right of detainees to be treated with humanity and respect for the inherent dignity of the human person...[and] freedom of expression."

Additionally, in July 2010, domestic Israeli policy and its occupation conduct had been found to violate these very same statutes (among others) by the United Nations Human Rights Committee.

Based on both "forensic and firearm evidence," the fact-finding panel concluded that the killing of American citizen Furkan Dogan and that of five Turkish citizens by the Israeli troops on the Mavi Marmara "can be characterized as extra-legal, arbitrary and summary executions."

It has also been reported that Israel is not only proud of its actions, but actually awarded the Israeli commando who single-handedly shot most of those killed on the Mavi Marmara with a medal of valor, despite the fact that the government refuses to publicly release the soldier's name. What a hero.

In response, the United States voiced its objections to what it termed the UN report's "unbalanced language, tone and conclusions." It seems that the US government won't hold Israel accountable for the intentional murder of its own citizens, just as it has looked the other way when Israel has killed American sailors, severely injured American peace activists, and blinded American art students.

The same day the US dismissed the UN Flotilla report, President Obama signed his Executive Order sanctioning Iranian officials for human rights violations.

Despite Israel's constant ignoring of international law, UN Security Council resolutions, and blatant disregard for human rights, including brutal torture, beating and raping Palestinian children in prison, rampant police brutality and the aggressive stifling of peaceful dissent and demonstrations in East Jerusalem, the deliberate killing of protesters, the raiding of peace and justice organizations, the restriction of press freedom and enforcing media blackouts, the kidnapping and torture of democracy advocates, the destruction of Bedouin villages in the Negev, and the arresting of Torah-carrying women who dare approach the male side of the Western Wall to pray, the US government continues to provide political cover, financial assistance, and tremendous military aid without reservation.

The US Congress endorses each and every illegal act of Israeli aggression, defends West Bank colonization, praises the flotilla massacre.

In his much-lauded June 2009 speech in Cairo, President Obama declared, "The United States does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlements. This construction violates previous agreements and undermines efforts to achieve peace. It is time for these settlements to stop."

But the illegal colonization of the occupied West Bank didn't stop. Not only that, massive US aid to Israel was completely unaffected by Israel's refusal to abide by international law and weapons trade between the countries actually increased. Eventually, the US just dropped any demand for a settlement freeze of any kind.

Between last year's UN General Assembly address and the one delivered last Thursday, it appears that Obama has also dropped any real demands regarding permanent borders, Palestinian refugees, and the status of Jerusalem.

During Wednesday's press conference, Clinton, on behalf of the American government, declared "solidarity with their victims and with all Iranians who wish for a government that respects their human rights and their dignity and their freedom" and "convey[ed] our strong support for the rule of law." Whose rules and which law she was referring to is unclear.

Among the latest stipulations of the new UNSC sanctions, bullied into approval this past June, is the insistence that "States will be required to block Iranian investments outside the Islamic Republic in uranium mining or the production of nuclear materials and technology" and that "States will be barred from supplying Iran with specified categories of heavy weaponry that could potentially be used in offensive military operations," due to Iran's perceived violations of international law.

Nevertheless, the US government has continued to violate international and domestic laws regarding Israel's undeclared nuclear program and the constant shipment of American-made weaponry to the so-called Jewish State.

Recently, the United States has "sold" Israel, among other armaments, AH-64 and AH-64D Apache Longbow fighter helicopters, F-16 and F-15 Eagle fighter planes, F-16 Peace Marble II and III Aircraft, F-35 fighter jets, Boeing 777s, Hercules C-130J airplanes, Arrow missiles, Arrow II interceptors, AGM-114 D Longbow Hellfire missiles, GBU-9 small diameter bombs, bunker buster bombs, Tomahawk missiles, Patriot and Hellfire precision-guided missile systems, D9 Caterpillar military bulldozers, specifically designed for Israel's use in invasions of built-up areas.

Such sales are governed by the US Arms Export Control Act, which limits the use of US military aid to "internal security" and "legitimate self defense" and prohibits its use against civilians along with the Foreign Assistance Act which explicitly prohibits US assistance "to the government of any country which engages in a consistent pattern of gross violations of internationally recognized human rights, including torture or cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment, prolonged detention without charges, causing the disappearance of persons by the abduction and clandestine detention of those persons, or other flagrant denial of the right to life, liberty, and the security of person, unless such assistance will directly benefit the needy people in such country."

A more appropriate and accurate description of the State of Israel can not be found.

And yet, the United States shipped 3,000 tons of "ammunition" to Israel in the middle of the 2008-9 Gaza massacre. US weaponry was undoubtedly used in the assault, during which gross violations of international law, abrogation of human rights, and crimes against humanity were committed.

The connection of US outrage and sanctions to international human rights is, quite simply, absurd. One look at the recent $60 billion arms deal the US made with the human rights-challenged Kingdom of Saudi Arabia makes the American contention ridiculous and embarrassing.

The United States fetes European and Israeli war criminals, all of whom call for military aggression against the Islamic Republic, while imposing a travel ban on Iranian officials.

The double standards of the US government continue to betray its real intentions and motivations regarding the Middle East, namely the maintenance of military hegemony, allegiance to Zionist mythology, and the continued demonization and threatening of any country that dares question the moral superiority of the United States or opposes American and Israeli imperialism in the region. While Barack Obama continues to claim that he is "willing to reach out with an open hand to the Iranian government," it seems he's forgotten to first wash off all the blood.

Nima Shirazi
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Hide the following 11 comments

Thank you for the excellent article!

04.10.2010 16:16

Nima, THANK YOU for the excellent article ! ... was lead to your fantastic site via another blog & just love everything you've done here, GOOD works, man !

another story/article that you may be very interested in & ties in somewhat with the underlying theme of your's above, though gets more into the shenanigans of the press & NGO's that inform the american & brit publics (on Iran) :

Eye On Essence

Two points

04.10.2010 18:38

A United Nations Security Council resolution is described as 'illegal'. What law is it breaking? Are all Security Council resolutions illegal, or just the ones you don't like?

Second - the United States can trade with whoever it wants to trade with, and if it doesn't want to trade with Iran, so be it.


Two Answers

05.10.2010 06:38


Thank you for your close reading of the article and for your comments. Please allow me to address your questions:

1. The notion that the UNSC resolutions regarding Iran's nuclear program is illegal is not based on my personal feelings about Iran or selective readings of international law. It is simply a matter of fact. No document whatsoever, including the UN Charter, the articles of the NPT, cooperation agreements between the UN and the IAEA, the Safeguards Agreement between Iran and the IAEA, and the IAEA Statute itself, authorizes the UN Security Council to enforce Iran's IAEA Safeguards Agreement. Remember, the IAEA is its own entity, not under the auspices or legal framework of the United Nations. It has a legal relationship with the UN, but is not an arm of the organization.

However, the IAEA is authorized (perhaps even required) to "report" certain matters to the Security Council. The purpose of this authorization has nothing to do with UNSC-backed enforcement of IAEA Safeguards; rather, it is to inform the UNSC that, in the opinion of the IAEA, there may be reason to believe a country's (in this case, Iran's) nuclear program is, in the words of Article 39 of the UN Charter, a "threat to the peace, breach of the peace, or act of aggression." It follows that, if the Security Council determines that a "threat...etc" exists, it may then, legally, take action against Iran such as adopting resolutions and implementing non-binding "provisional measures" (Article 40), authorize and implement non-military action against Iran (Article 41) if the provisional measures do not yield results, and even authorize military action "to maintain or restore international peace and security" (Article 42) if the previous measures prove inadequate.

The UNSC has never determined Iran to be a "threat to peace," has never found Iran to be in "breach of peace," and has never accused Iran any "act of aggression." The very first resolution regarding Iran's nuclear program (1696) was enacted ONLY "under Article 40 of Chapter VII of the Charter of the United Nations," thereby skipping Article 39 altogether. Article 39 is never even mentioned in the resolution (or any subsequent resolution). In fact, the following resolutions have all simply been "authorized" under Article 41 as "giving effect" to the previous resolutions, but never cite Article 40 in their own right and never once - NEVER ONCE - reference Article 39, which is required for any actions taken after it to be legitimate.

As such, none of the resolutions are, in fact, legally binding on Iran since they all lack the vital element - initial authorization via Article 39 of the UN Charter.

Furthermore, the IAEA's referral of Iran's nuclear "dossier" to the UNSC in the first place was itself illegal. The IAEA Statute (and reaffirmed in Iran's Safeguard Agreement with the IAEA) only authorize a referral to the UNSC when there has been a confirmed diversion of nuclear material for non-peaceful use. The IAEA has confirmed time and again that there has been no such diversion, and that all declared fissile material in Iran has been accounted for and is under full IAEA supervision, seal and containment. Iran's nuclear facilities are under 24-hour surveillance and (even though it is not even allowed under Iran's Safeguards Agreement with the IAEA) there have been at least 35 unannounced, surprise inspections of these facilities since March 2007. Throughout all of this monitoring and observation, the IAEA has consistently come to the following conclusion: "The Agency has been able to continue to verify the non-diversion of declared nuclear material [to weaponization] in Iran."

Additionally, even if the IAEA dossier referral and the UNSC resolutions themselves were technically legal (which, as we've seen, they're not), the call for Iran to suspend its enrichment of uranium, nuclear research and development, and potential energy production, which is what the resolutions call for, would still be totally illegitimate in and of itself. That is a demand that no resolution or legal body can take away from any country.

Note that under Article IV, paragraph 1 of the Nuclear Proliferation Treaty, "Nothing in this Treaty shall be interpreted as affecting the inalienable right of all the Parties to the Treaty to develop research, production and use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes without discrimination..."

Inalienable Right. Research. Production. Use. Without discrimination. These matters are not under the purview of the UN, and are therefore legally "ultra vires" (beyond the powers) of the UNSC. The right to enrich uranium and pursue peaceful energy is not granted by the NPT, as can be seen above; the NPT merely recognizes and affirms those rights as "inalienable," deriving not from treaty agreements but as fundamental and sovereign rights of all nations regardless of what treaties or resolutions are adopted by the international community. As a result, the UN also has no power whatsoever to limit or suspend these rights.

If you have any information that affirms the right of the UNSC to demand Iran suspend its technological progress or prevent it from acquiring nuclear power, please let me know.

2. You are correct that the United States may determine its own best interest for itself. If it wants to limit trade with Iran, so be it. I never wrote, or even suggested, that the unilateral US sanctions are illegal. They're merely absurd and hypocritical. Notably, as discussed in my article, using "human rights violations" as the basis for imposing sanctions represents a staggering double standard when considering that the United States' closest friends in the region are serial human rights violators like Israel and Saudi Arabia.

(Note that I did not write "allies" since that term is reserved for countries that have entered into legal treaties with one another - NATO, for example. Israel, for instance, has explicitly rejected US offers to become legal allies. Meanwhile, the US refuses to act on behalf of its actual ally, Turkey, when its citizens are murdered in international waters by Israeli commandos. As a NATO member, an attack on a Turkish-flagged ship and the execution of nine Turkish citizens - one of which was also an American citizen - should have been seen as an Israeli act of war against Turkey itself, which would then have to be seen as an attack on all of NATO. But, unsurprisingly, Israel acts with impunity as it kills, occupies, ethnically cleanses, and colonizes.)

Thanks again for your comments. I hope my answers have cleared some things up.

Nima Shirazi
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A considered response

05.10.2010 09:40

First of all, may I thank you for taking the time and trouble to provide a specific response to individual comments. Such courtesy is rare.

A couple of questions arise - if the resolution is illegal, why didn't someone on the SC (and looking at the list of membership, they cannot all be vehemently anti-Iranian) point this out?

I assume this is the IAEA report you are referring to:

I don't think anyone [including the US] has any objection if Iran does build nuclear reactors [although is very strange to see people on Indymedia advocating nuclear energy!]. However, if Iran simply wanted to pursue a civil nuclear power strategy, then it is going about it in a very peculiar way. Whilst no material might yet have been diverted, the way the programme is being set up allows for that to happen at almost any stage.

Put another way, you do not need to spend an awful lot of money enriching uranium to high levels for a civil power programme. The action of the fifteen members of the UNSC implies they too are sceptical of the peaceful nature of the programme.


A Follow-Up

05.10.2010 19:12


You raise some more excellent points that certainly deserve to be addressed.

Firstly, the United States has a long history of bullying other UN members to into doing what it says. This can be seen in the strong-arm tactics employed (along with Russia) back in 1947 to gain support for the recommendations of the UN Partition Plan for Palestine. More recently, and considerably more relevant, was the revelation that the United States coerced India into voting for the first anti-Iran UNSC resolution back in 2005.

According to Stephen Rademaker, former Assistant Secretary for Nonproliferation and International Security at the US State Department, the US leveraged its own help with an future Indian nuclear energy program (remember, this is illegal under the NPT since India is not a signatory and the US is) against India's anti-Iran vote. The July 2005 deal signed between the US and India essentially made India beholden to US diktat thereafter. "The best illustration of this is the two votes India cast against Iran at the IAEA," Rademaker said, adding: "I am the first person to admit that the votes were coerced."

To imagine that India is the only country which the US has forced to comply with its demands would be naive, to say the least. Once this first resolution was passed, subsequent resolutions have simply reaffirmed the original as a fait accompli.

You wonder why, if the legality of the resolutions are dubious, no one speaks up? Well, they do (we just don't really hear about it). For example, all 118 member countries of the Non-Aligned Movement support Iran's peaceful nuclear program and recently noted "with concern, the possible implications of the continued departure from standard verification language in the summary of the report of the [IAEA] director general [Yukio Amano]." All 22 members of the Arab League and 56 members of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference (there is some crossover, of course) also support the Iranian program. The UN has fewer than 200 members, so it is clear that the vast majority of the world supports Iran.

In 2006, Qatar voted against the initial UNSC resolution (1696) demanding that Iran "suspend all uranium enrichment and related activities or face the prospect of sanctions." In 2008, Indonesia abstained from voting for further sanctions. Earlier this year, both Turkey and Brazil voted against renewed sanctions, which followed the Tehran Declaration between those two countries and Iran which affirmed, in its very first article: "We reaffirm our commitment to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons and in accordance with the related articles of the NPT, recall the right of all State Parties, including the Islamic Republic of Iran, to develop research, production and use of nuclear energy (as well as nuclear fuel cycle including enrichment activities) for peaceful purposes without discrimination."

This declaration clearly views any attempts to prevent Iran from continuing with its nuclear program to be an abrogation of Iran's sovereign rights.

And yet, the Western politicians and the press that speaks for them continue to insist that "Iran is isolated" in the international community on this issue. This is a lie. But it clearly shows just how powerful the five permanent members of the UNSC are. And remember, all five are veto-weilding, nuclear-armed states which have done nothing to dismantle their own nuclear arsenals and stockpiles, as demanded by the NPT.

I wonder in what "very peculiar way" you believe Iran is going about its nuclear program. IAEA inspectors have had open access to the gas conversion facility at Esfahan, the enrichment facility at Natanz, and the new lightwater reactor at Bushehr, as well as the secondary enrichment facility under construction at Qom (which Iran actually declared to the IAEA a full year before required to, when it was, as then-IAEA Secretary General Mohammed El-Baradei described "a hole in a mountain" and "nothing to be worried about"). Iran's facilities continue to be monitored and supervised by the IAEA in full compliance with its Safeguards Agreement.

Iran has only enriched uranium to low levels, nowhere close to what is needed for a nuclear warhead. Nuclear fuel cycles require enrichment of 3%, which Iran has mastered, and medical treatment material to be used as fuel in the Tehran Research Reactor (needed to treat over 80,000 cancer patients) requires enrichment to just under 20%. This is now being produced domestically in Iran because the US has prevented Iran from buying more 20% fuel (needed to keep the Tehran Research Reactor operational) on the open market and is also trying to prevent Iran from exchanging LEU for fuel rods (which can't be converted for weaponization) as outlined in the Turkey-Brazil-Iran agreement.

Still both 3% and 20% are low-enrichment levels. Over 90% enrichment is needed before a nuclear weapon can be produced. That's a huge difference. The only way Iran could begin enriching to such a high level is by literally kicking all IAEA inspectors out of the country and leave the NPT altogether. Iran has shown no signs of intending to this whatsoever. Therefore, your suggestion that "the way [Iran's nuclear] programme is being set up allows for [enriching uranium to high, weaponization-grade levels] to happen at almost any stage," is false and unsupported by facts.

Additionally, Iran has enacted numerous "confidence building measures" asked of it by the IAEA in the past only to have the response by Western states be aggressive and illegal. Iran even voluntarily - VOLUNTARILY - halted its enrichment and implemented the Additional Protocols of the IAEA Safeguards for over two years and was still met with confrontation by the EU. When the IAEA sent the Iranian nuclear dossier to the UNSC in February 2006 (as discussed previously), Iran saw what the West's true intentions were and stopped abiding by the voluntary Protocols, which it was never legally obligated to adhere to in the first place.

A look at the 2007 "Work Plan" between Iran and the IAEA (a prime example of 'confidence building measures') and Iran's compliance with fulfilling these measures to the IAEA's satisfaction shows that Iran has indeed responded as desired to the IAEA's demand for clarification on outstanding issues. As pointed out in Iran's 'explanatory note' to the IAEA, following February 2010's Safeguards report, "It should be recalled that there were only six past outstanding issues which had been included in the agreed Work Plan (INFCIRC/711) and that all of them have been resolved. Also the part IV. 1 of the Work Plan reads as follows: 'These modalities cover all remaining issues and the Agency confirmed that there are no other remaining issues and ambiguities regarding Iran's past nuclear program and activities.' Therefore, no new issues should be raised such as 'possible military dimension'."

This seems to me to represent more than mere disingenuousness on the part of the IAEA - and the US' exploitation of IAEA reports - with reference to its continued insistence obfuscating the truth about Iran's nuclear program. It could also be pointed out that the "alleged studies" which are so often discussed as "proof" Iran's military intentions (and which include forged documents and a phony stolen laptop supplied to the US by members of the terrorist cult MEK - via mutual friends in Israel) have never even been shown to Iran in order to be properly addressed and proven inauthentic.

Essentially, the IAEA and the UNSC are demanding that Iran "prove a negative" by providing evidence that it does not have secret, undeclared facilities and that is is not attempting to build a bomb, which is, as analyst Scott Horton recently explained, "to say the least, a difficult obligation to meet: You say you haven’t read Webster’s Dictionary cover to cover? Prove it!"

Again, I hope I have answered your questions. Thanks again for thoughtful comments.

Nima Shirazi
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Thank you for your response

05.10.2010 21:06

It makes a refreshing change to meet a poster on Indymedia who is prepared to answer comments so comprehensively.

I suspect that I am going to disagree with some of statements, partly as a result of what might be described as semantics.

You say the vast majority of the world supports Iran's programme - I would say that a large number of governments do; but many of those governments cover relatively small numbers of people. Thus if we add the population of America, Russia, China, France, Russia and the UK, then your vast majority shrinks a little.

I would certainly take exception to: 'Therefore, your suggestion that "the way [Iran's nuclear] programme is being set up allows for [enriching uranium to high, weaponization-grade levels] to happen at almost any stage," is false and unsupported by facts.'

On the contrary, the material could be diverted at any stage. And whilst I would agree that the enrichment achieved so far is only 20%, there is no reason why the facilities could not be used to achieve any level of enrichment required.

Much more interestingly, why is it that whilst very many countries in the world have a civil nuclear programme, whereas virtually none, apart from Iran, have enrichment programmes?
Canada and Australia, to take two countries at random, have reactors producing isotopes for medical purposes, but they don't have enrichment programmes.

I agree proving a negative is very difficult, but why is Iran pursuing a path that no other country using nuclear power does - and a path that can very easily lead to a nuclear device?


In Response

05.10.2010 21:42


Adapting the enrichment process from low-level to high-level is no small undertaking and cannot be accomplished with the flip of a switch. Iran can't wake up one more and decided to start enriching uranium to 90% without kicking inspectors out and making major equipment changes.

Whereas you state that virtually no countries with civilian nuclear energy programs, with the exception of Iran, are enriching uranium. This is patently untrue. In fact, as of 2006, the following countries are known to operate enrichment facilities (most of which are commercial-scale): The US, the UK, Russia, France, China, Japan, Germany, India, the Netherlands, Pakistan, Israel, Brazil, and, of course, Iran. Furthermore, Belgium, Italy, and Spain all hold an investment interest in the French enrichment plant (run by the company Eurodif). Iran is also a Eurodif investor and is entitled to 10% of the enrichment uranium output from that plant. Incidentally, since you bring up Australia, you should know that Australia has invented a process called "Separation of Isotopes by Laser Excitation," or "SILEX," the technology for which has been transferred to the US and which some physicists believe "poses a significant threat to nuclear security." Naturally, Australia is not being threatened with sanctions.

So, again, what path is Iran pursuing "that no other country using nuclear power" is also pursuing?

Nima Shirazi
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05.10.2010 22:06

'The US, the UK, Russia, France, China, Japan, Germany, India, the Netherlands, Pakistan, Israel, Brazil, and, of course, Iran'

Let's see - 13 countries enrich uranium - 8 of them have nuclear weapons. Possibly some correlation there. Japan and Germany don't, but given recent events (1945!) that's not surprising. So, 8 out of 11 - I think that makes my point for me.

Laser separation is nothing new. Inventing a technique is not the problem - applying the technique is the problem. Are you saying Australia has a enrichment programme?

'Iran can't wake up one more [sic. morning?] and decided to start enriching uranium to 90% without kicking inspectors out and making major equipment changes.'

Well, kicking out inspectors can be done in 24 hours, so that's hardly a problem. In principle, no major equipment changes are needed. Enrichment is an iterative process - only question is when to stop.


Oh So Genuine

06.10.2010 03:50

Sorry about that silly "more" typo - yes, I of course meant "morning." I was typing quickly. My apologies.

I'm not quite sure what point you think has been made for you by the list of countries that enrich uranium; I thought we were discussing the legality of sanctions and Iran's legal right to enrich uranium under international law. Iran is still a member of the NPT (and has been for the past 40 years) and has never once indicated that it has been, or will be, pursuing a nuclear weapon. There is literally no evidence for this - quite the contrary. That's what I thought we were discussing; that's what I thought the "point" was.

The control nuclear weapon (and UNSC permanent member) states have over the nuclear energy is evident in everything we're discussing, including the SILEX innovation by Australia. Basically, nuclear technology is being hoarded by these states and, in many cases, being denied to other sovereign states, despite international law. (This is not an endorsement of nuclear power, simply an endorsement of law and an opposition to double standards based on ridiculous mythologies of "good guys" and "bad guys".)

In my opinion, Iran's continued enrichment has to do mainly with two considerations, which are interrelated: self-sufficiency and respect. The US (and submissive European nations) have refused to negotiate with Iran in a reasonable manner that recognizes its sovereign, inalienable rights, have reneged on offers to supply fuel to Iran in exchange for Iran halting 20% enrichment, have consistently prevented Iran from buying fuel (from the commercial enrichment sites mentioned previously), and continue to make baseless accusations about Iranian ambitions (and threaten military attacks on Iran). As a result, Iran has understandably decided to take care of itself. Its own energy needs exceed the domestic capabilities of the Iranian oil industry (mostly due to 30 years of US sanctions) and Iran has long been interested in exploring alternatives to fossil fuels, knowing that - some day - its deep oil reserves will be depleted and it will still need to provide power to its 70+ million citizens. Iran is looking to the future and looking out for its own best interests (again, this is not an endorsement of nuclear energy), yet this is deemed unacceptable by the only superpower on the planet. The name of the game here is hegemony.

Also, if you're going to bring up the events of 1945 with regard to the use of nuclear weapons, I find the US far more condemnable and dangerous than any other country you care to mention. Chances are the hundreds of thousands of Japanese civilians murdered by US nuclear bombs would agree with me.

Thanks again for your close consideration.

[Note: I did not post my article here on Indymedia on my own accord, it was reposted here from my own website by someone unknown to me. (I am thrilled to have my writing distributed and republished, of course, so this is not a problem at all.) I happened to come across my article here and, upon reading your first comment (snide though it was), thought it deserved a response. My suggestion is, if you would like to continue this conversation, please email me directly or perhaps post a comment on my own website. If you choose to do that, I might repost these comments there first so that the entire discussion can be archived and contextualized. Let me know if this interests you.]

Nima Shirazi
mail e-mail:
- Homepage:

Posting & reposting

06.10.2010 09:08

That fact that it was copied from your website without your knowledge shows some of strengths and weaknesses of Indymedia, where a standard response to many articles or comments is a 'spam' repost from Global Research or Dandelion Salad.

On the other hand, no doubt it is a compliment to either your writing or your political sentiments that someone has chosen to post your article.

I think this debate could go on for a very long time. Rather than take up everyone's time and bandwidth, I will just give my own personal point of view, with which people may or may not agree.

I think Iran wants civil nuclear power, I think it also wants to have the option to build a bomb, and that they have tailored their civil programme in such a way that it could easily be switched to military purposes if need be. At the moment, it is entirely civil, but that could be changed quite quickly and easily. They are keeping their options open [and deliberately annoying America in the process!].

The merits and demerits of the attitude of the Security Council and America towards nuclear energy is a separate debate, which might exhaust quite a few electrons in the process.


Regimes, regimes, everywhere.

06.10.2010 22:47

"I think Iran wants civil nuclear power, I think it also wants to have the option to build a bomb, and that they have tailored their civil programme in such a way that it could easily be switched to military purposes if need be. At the moment, it is entirely civil, but that could be changed quite quickly and easily. They are keeping their options open [and deliberately annoying America in the process!]."

Iran and America aren't the foes most people naturally assume them to be.

They are both severe human rights abusing regimes with long, provable records of barbarity against innocent people. The only thing that differentiates them is that Iran routinely abuses its own people but America reserves that brutality for foreigners.

They have simply realised that by tossing fraudulent rhetoric at each other, they are able to distract and mislead the international community away from pursuing meaningful sanctions against either regime. Its nothing more than horse-trading for mutual benefit, the currency is death of their opponents.

Neither one is any more legitimate than the other. They are both thoroughly repellent.

As Namir rightly points out, the difference between nuclear energy production to meet the civil needs of the domestic population and weaponising this provision is neither easy or anything other than horrendously expensive.

Iran has no economic reason to commit itself to the expense of nuclear production, maintenance, security, infrastructure, material, logistic and program expertise that is required to manage a nuclear arsenal of the type it would need to assure its own defence.

This reason instead is being leant to it by the United States that has surrounded it on its western and eastern flanks. Iran needs the ability to generate nuclear energy, its need to develop that energy into a weaponised provision is a need entirely generated by the United States.

If Iran goes will be America and its hapless stupidity which will usher it onto the world stage as a nuclear power.

Just another example of the United States driving proliferation and steadily, bit by bit, making the world much less safe for us all.

The whole damn thing is one inglorious, idiotic short term fraud executed by people that have a fundamental inability to see more than five minutes into the future


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