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    Middle East
     Aug 22, 2012


Page 1 of 2
THE ROVING EYE
War fever as seen from Iran
By Pepe Escobar

Absent the possibility of joining the Curiosity rover on Mars, there's nowhere to hide from the "Bomb Iran" hysteria relentlessly emanating from Tel Aviv and its Washington outposts. Now that even includes third-rate hacks suggesting US President Barack Obama should go in person to Israel to appease the warmongering duo Bibi-Barak [1].

So it's time for something completely different - and totally absent from Western corporate media; sound Iranian minds rationally analyzing what's really going on behind the drums of war - regarding Iran, Turkey, the Arab world and across Eurasia.

Let's start with ambassador Hossein Mousavian, a research

 

scholar at Princeton University's Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, a former spokesperson for the Iranian nuclear negotiating team from 2003 to 2005, and the author of The Iranian Nuclear Crisis: A Memoir .

Writing at the Arms Control Association website [2] , Mousavian goes straight to the point; "The history of Iran's nuclear program suggests that the West is inadvertently pushing Iran toward nuclear weapons."

In seven key steps, he outlines how this happened - starting with Iran's "entrance into the nuclear field", owed largely, by the way, to Washington; "In the 1970s, the Shah [of Iran] had ambitious plans for expanding the nuclear program, envisioning 23 nuclear power plants by 1994, with support from the United States."

Mousavian stresses how, from 2003 to 2005, during the first Bush administration,
Iran submitted different [nuclear] proposals, which included a declaration to cap enrichment at the 5% level; export all low-enriched uranium (LEU) or fabricate it into fuel rods; commit to an additional protocol to its IAEA safeguards agreement and to Code 3.1 of the subsidiary arrangements to the agreement, which would provide the maximum level of transparency; and allow the IAEA to make snap inspections of undeclared facilities. This offer was intended to address the West's concerns regarding the nature of Iran's nuclear program by ensuring that no enriched uranium would be diverted to a nuclear weapons program. It also would have facilitated the recognition of Iran's right to enrichment under the NPT. In exchange for these Iranian commitments, the Iranian nuclear file at the IAEA would be normalized, and Iran would have broader political, economic, and security cooperation with the European Union. Furthermore, Iran was interested in securing fuel for the research reactor in Tehran and was ready to ship its enriched uranium to another country for fabrication into fuel rods.
The Bush administration refused everything. Mousavian recalls "a meeting I had at the time with French Ambassador to Iran Francois Nicoullaud, he told me, "For the US, the enrichment in Iran is a red line which the European Union cannot cross."

So "the West was not interested in solving the nuclear issue. Rather, the West wanted to compel Iran to forgo its enrichment program completely." This could only lead Tehran to "change its nuclear diplomacy and accelerate its enrichment program, as it sought self-sufficiency in nuclear fuel."

'Zero stockpile', anyone?
Fast forward to February 2010. Tehran proposed, "keeping its enrichment activities below 5% in return for the West providing fuel rods for the Tehran reactor. The West refused this offer."

Then, in May 2010, "Iran reached a deal with Brazil and Turkey to swap its stockpile of LEU for research reactor fuel. The deal was based on a proposal first drafted by the Obama administration with Brazilian and Turkish officials under the impression that they had the blessing of Washington to negotiate with Iran. Regrettably, the United States trampled on their success by rejecting the plan; the UN Security Council subsequently passed additional sanctions against Iran."

Every unbiased observer following the Iranian nuclear dossier knows these facts. Another flash forward, to September 2011, "when Iran had completely mastered 20% enrichment and had a growing stockpile, it proposed stopping its 20%-enrichment activities and accepting Western-provided fuel rods for the Tehran reactor. Once again, the West declined and made it necessary for the Iranians to move toward producing their own fuel rods."

Moving on to this year's talks in Istanbul and Baghdad, Mousavian stresses, "with each blockage and punitive Western action, Iran further advances its nuclear program."

And it gets worse; "A comparison of the June 19 statement in Moscow by Catherine Ashton, the EU foreign policy chief and lead negotiator for the P5+1, with her April 14 Istanbul statement reveals a major difference. The P5+1 is now giving more emphasis to Iran's compliance with its international obligations, namely, UN Security Council resolutions, rather than focusing on the country's obligations under the NPT. This is a clear setback from the Istanbul position. It indicates a focus on suspension of Iran's enrichment activities, a demand that has been a deal breaker since 2003."

The bottom line is "not only has the West pushed Iran to seek self-sufficiency, but at every juncture, it has tried to deprive Iran of its inalienable right to enrichment. This has simply propelled Iran to proceed full throttle toward mastering nuclear technology."

The conclusion is inevitable; "The progress of Iran's nuclear program is the product of Western efforts to pressure and isolate Iran while refusing to recognize Iran's rights."

Washington and its European followers simply can't understand that "sanctions, isolation, and threats would not bring Iran to its knees. On the contrary, these policies have led only to the advancement of Iran's nuclear program." With even more devastating sanctions and the "Bomb Iran" fever turning into an attack, one consequence, says Mousavian, is assured; "Iran would be likely to withdraw from the NPT and pursue nuclear weapons."

What makes it even more absurd is that there is a solution to all this madness:
To satisfy the concerns of the West regarding Iran's 20% stockpile, a mutually acceptable solution for the long term would entail a "zero stockpile". Under this approach, a joint committee of the P5+1 and Iran would quantify the domestic needs of Iran for use of 20% enriched uranium, and any quantity beyond that amount would be sold in the international market or immediately converted back to an enrichment level of 3.5%. This would ensure that Iran does not possess excess 20% enriched uranium forever, satisfying the international concerns that Iran is seeking nuclear weapons. It would be a face-saving solution for all parties as it would recognize Iran's right to enrichment and would help to negate concerns that Iran is pursuing nuclear weapons.
Will Washington - and Tel Aviv - ever accept it? Of course not. The dogs of war will keep on barking.

A new security game
It's also quite refreshing to examine Iranian analysts' take on Syria.

Mehdi Mohammadi, writing at the IranNuc.IR website [3] notes "the fear that the Sunni majority has of a Salafi minority is a very important, and often censored, reality about the situation on the ground in Syria. It is the same reality which has prevented the opposition to accept any form of negotiations or even free elections". This fact is absolutely anathema in Western corporate media's coverage of Syria.

Mohammadi correctly evaluates the discrepancies among different Muslim Brotherhood (MB) factions inside Syria; one hardline faction wants Sharia law; another is convinced the future of the whole region is essentially at the hands of the MB anyway, so they are on a mission from God; but the majority wants to extract as much money as they can from Saudi Arabia while allied with France, the US, Sunnis in Lebanon and Jordan; "this part forms the spine of the armed opposition in Syria".

The bottom line is that even in the best-case scenario, the MB "is making a dire strategic mistake ... Even if Assad's government falls, the Americans will not allow the Syrian government to fall into the hands of that part of the Muslim Brotherhood which seeks to continue and even give more depth to the existing conflict with Israel."

Mohammadi also observes, right on the money, how the US, Israel, Saudi Arabia and Turkey "reached the conclusion that the best way for preventing Arab Spring developments to serve Iran's increasing power in the region was to turn the whole situation into a conflict between Shi'ites and Sunnis."

Essentially, how does Tehran see it? According to Mohammadi, "there is a high degree of confidence that the Syrian government will not fall in medium term." On top of it, "it is very unlikely that Russia and China will reach an agreement with the West over Syria", and "even on Iran's nuclear dossier". 

Continued 1 2  






Israel pushes US to share red line on Iran (Aug 16, '12)

The deadly Israeli and the mad Turk
(Aug 13, '12)


1.
Egypt thumbs nose at US

2. Romney's math and the Ryan nomination

3. What is strategic about China’s European partnerships?

4. Indonesia and Chinese 'congagement'

5. Greater China unites - on barren rocks

6. Disaster in Iraq, disaster at home

7. India's neglect of northeast takes flight

8. No Islam in 'Islamist'

9. A Saudi overture to Iran

10. All (war) roads lead to Mecca

(24 hours to 11:59pm ET, Aug 20, 2012)

 
 



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