THE ROVING EYE A bad case of nuclear Iranophobia
By Pepe Escobar
As the climax to a leaking frenzy in Western corporate media that bordered on -
literally - nuclear hysteria, United Nations inspectors at the International
Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) finally released a report essentially charging that
Tehran had tried to design a nuclear weapon to fit in a missile warhead until
as late as last year.
According to the report, Iran worked "on the development of an indigenous
design of a nuclear weapon including the testing of components".
Besides the effort to redesign and miniaturize a Pakistani nuclear weapon,
Tehran is also accused of trying to develop a covert
operation to enrich uranium - the "green salt project" - that could be used "in
an undisclosed enrichment program".
All this leads the IAEA to express "serious concerns" about research and
development "specific to nuclear weapons".
The report sells the notion that while the IAEA has tried for years to monitor
declared Iranian stockpiles of uranium ore and processed uranium - currently
73.7 kilograms of 20%-enriched uranium in Natanz plus 4,922 kg of uranium
enriched to less than 5% - Tehran, in secret, has been trying to build a
The IAEA insists is relying on "credible" intelligence - over 1,000 pages of
documentation - from more than 10 countries, and has drawn on eight years of
Yet the IAEA has no independent means to confirm the enormous mass of
information - and disinformation - it receives from mostly Western powers.
Mohammad ElBaradei - who was the predecessor of the Japanese Yukya Amano as the
head of the IAEA - said so, explicitly, many times. And he always disputed what
passes for "Iran intelligence" - knowing it was politicized to the extreme, and
trespassed by waves of rumor and speculation.
No wonder ultra-conservative Iranian newspaper Kayhan had reason to ask whether
that was a IAEA report or an American diktat to the meek, easily pressured
There's nothing even remotely earth-shaking about the report - satellite images
and speculation by "diplomats" being sold as irrefutable "intelligence". If
this looks like the build-up towards the war on Iraq, that's because it does.
Essentially, it's regurgitation of a four-year-old farce, known as the "laptop
of death". 
The scenario closer to reality - even taking into consideration the existence
of a covert program, which is not substantiated - spells out that building a
nuclear warhead, for Tehran, is counter-productive.
Yet the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) - in charge of all high-level
military programs - may certainly keep the option of building a nuclear warhead
as fast as lightning, as a deterrent in case they were absolutely sure the US
would invade, or even launch an extended "shock and awe". The undisputed true
consequence of Iran eventually holding a nuclear weapon is to end once and for
all with the ever-present threat of an American attack. Any doubts, please
consult the North Korean dossier.
The Tehran regime may be ruthless, but they're no amateurs; to build a nuclear
weapon - either in secret or in full view of the IAEA - and go bang, would lead
them nowhere. The regime - which is already embroiled in a vicious, complex
internal battle between the Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and the faction of
President Mahmud Ahmadinejad - would be totally isolated geopolitically.
The Iranian population is way more concerned with inflation, unemployment,
corruption and the yearning for more political participation to be plunged
inside a global nuclear controversy. There is ample positive consensus in Iran
about a civilian nuclear program. But there's no guarantee even a minority
would endorse an "Islamic bomb".
Calling Israel's bluff
What does rattle the nerves not only of Israel but the powerful array of US
interests who 32 years later are still in denial about losing their prized
gendarme of the Gulf (the shah of Iran) is that Tehran keeps them guessing,
Predictably, the government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Israel will
keep barking to deafening levels, while trying by all ruses necessary to wag
the (American) dog.
The same Netanyahu that neither US President Barack Obama nor French President
Nicolas Sarkozy can stand anymore has a single-minded strategy; to draw
Washington and a few minions, from the Brits to the House of Saud - and this
has nothing to do with "international community" - to exercise maximum pressure
on Tehran. Otherwise, Israel will attack.
This is nonsense, because Israel can't attack even a stray poodle. All its
crucial military hardware is American. It needs special permission to cross
Saudi or Iraqi airspace. It needs a green card from Washington from A to Z. The
Obama administration may be accused of everything - but it's not suicidal.
Only those non-entities at the US Congress - despised by the overwhelming
majority of Americans, according to any number of polls - can possibly believe
in the martial marching orders they get from Netanyahu via the powerful
American Israel Public Affairs Committee lobby.
So what's left is the possibility of even more sanctions. Four rounds of harsh
UN Security Council sanctions already target Iran's imports and banking and
finance. But that's the end of the line.
Russia is not convinced by the IAEA report, and already said so explicitly.
China is not impressed; the IAEA simply did not have enough evidence to flatly
accuse Iran of conducting an active nuclear weapons program.
So forget about Russia and China accepting another US-imposed round of
sanctions at the UN - which would be literally nuclear; a de facto boycott of
Iran's sales of oil and gas.
Only a bunch of clowns can assume that China would vote against its national
security interest at the UN Security Council. Iran is China's third-largest oil
supplier, after Saudi Arabia and Angola. China is importing around 650,000
barrels of oil a day from Iran - 50% more compared to last year. That's over
25% of Iran's total oil exports.
Even the Obama administration had to admit publicly that a boycott is
unimaginable; it would deprive the depression-bound global economy of no less
than 2.4 million barrels of oil a day, with the barrel probably hitting $300 or
Tehran has - and will continue to find - ways to bypass financial sanctions.
India has paid Iranian oil imports via a Turkish bank. Tehran is starting to
use a Russian bank as well.
This also proves that Israel's mantra of the "international community"
isolating Iran is a monumental bluff. Key actors such as BRICS members Russia,
China and India keep close commercial relations.
On top of it, amid all the Iranophobic hysteria, the Shanghai Cooperation
Organization (SCO) - China, Russia and four Central Asian "stans" - engaged in
their latest summit in St Petersburg. Iran - which enjoys observer status - was
there, via Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi. Sooner or later Iran will be
admitted as a full member.
If even before Iran joining the SCO China and Russia considered an attack on
Iran as an attack on both of them - as well as on the idea of Asian energy
integration - it will be very enlightening to watch Israel trying to convince
the US to conduct an attack on Asia.