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Western Meddling with Iran's Nuclear Program is Unacceptable: Part 2/2
by Dr. Habib Siddiqui
2010-02-07 09:59:03
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Let’s now review the issues of the last few months following Iran’s rejection of the preliminary agreement that was reached between the two sides on Oct. 1, 2009 in Geneva. Under the deal, Iran was supposed to send 75 percent of its stockpile of low-enriched uranium (LEU) to Russia for conversion into fuel for a research reactor in Tehran. Russia was supposed to enrich Iran’s LEU to 19.75 percent, and France to convert it into fuel rods. Iran also agreed to allow the inspectors of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to visit the newly disclosed uranium-enrichment facility in Qom – called the Fordow facility – within two weeks. Iran delivered on that promise. After the visit by the inspectors, Dr. Mohamed ElBaradei, the IAEA outgoing director-general, declared that the facility was a “big hole in the mountain” and nothing to worry about.

The inclusion of France and Russia in the Geneva Agreement to reprocess uranium was rather precarious given both these countries’ monumental records of cheating and ignoble intentions. Some background information is necessary to understand this. In June 1974 the Shah of Iran and Dr. Akbar Etemad, head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, visited Paris and ratified an earlier agreement, according to which France was to supply five 1,000-MW nuclear reactors with enriched uranium and help set up a nuclear research center in Iran. To ensure that Iran would receive the LEU (low-enriched Uranium), the Shah agreed to buy Sweden’s 10 percent share in Eurodif, a consortium that operates a uranium enrichment plant in France.

The consortium was founded in 1973 by France, Belgium, Spain, and Sweden. Cogéma, a French-government subsidiary, and Iran established the Sofidif (Société Franco-Iranienne pour l’enrichissement de l’uranium par diffusion gazeuse), with 60 percent owned by France and the rest by Iran. Sofidif then purchased 25 percent of Eurodif, thereby giving Iran its 10 percent share of the latter. Iran paid $1 billion in 1975 and $180 million in 1977 in return for the right to 10 percent of the LEU production of the company. As noted in the Anti-war.com by Professor Muhammad Sahimi, an Iranian expatriate who teaches chemical engineering at the prestigious University of Southern California, Los Angeles, as soon as the Islamic Revolution overthrew the Shah in February 1979, “France has refused to deliver Iran’s share of the LEU or to refund Iran with interest. Thus, there are solid historical reasons for Iran to be suspicious of France.” Given President Sarkozy’s rabid Islamophobia and horrendous records of human rights violations against French Muslims, plus bulldog behavior using threatening language against Iran ever since he was elected, no Iranian trusts him to deliver on promise.

Dr. Sahimi also cites several reasons for Iran’s distrust of Russia, which in the Soviet Era occupied Iran during World War II. He says, “Russia took large parts of Iran’s territory in the Caucasus region in 1813 and 1827 and never relinquished them. Russia also helped the counterrevolutionaries during Iran’s Constitutional Revolution of 1905-1911 and was opposed, through its Iranian proxies, to Iran’s industrialization in the 19th and early 20th centuries… It took advantage of Iran’s weak government and looted Iran’s caviar and fisheries in the Caspian Sea from 1927 until the mid-1950s… The Soviet Union and Iran signed two treaties in 1921 and 1940 that forbade the two nations from taking unilateral actions regarding the natural resources of the Caspian Sea, yet Russia has done exactly that, signing bilateral agreements, over Iran’s strong objections, with the other littoral states, namely, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, and Kazakhstan.” We have heard much about Iran’s Bushehr facility where Russia is building a 1,000-MW light-water nuclear reactor. This facility was supposed to be operational many years ago. But Russia has not been a trusting partner. As noted by Prof. Sahimi, “And it has become an annual ritual for Russia to announce at the beginning of every year that the … nuclear reactor that … will come online by middle of the year. When the middle of the year arrives, it is announced that the reactor will come online by ‘early next year.’”

Thus, the Geneva Agreement was widely unpopular inside Iran. The opposition leader Hossein Mousavi called the agreement “astonishing.” Dr. Etemad, living now in France, said, “This is a bad deal. They want to get Iran’s uranium. There is no trust in Russia or France that if they received Iran’s uranium, they will return it. They have broken their promises in the past.” Dr. Ebrahim Yazdi, Iran’s foreign minister in the first year after the 1979 Revolution, who now leads the Freedom Movement (a reformist party in Iran), also said, “This is a meaningless agreement. Iran has invested billions of dollars for uranium enrichment, but now does this [shipping the LEU to Russia and France]!” In a letter to the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, former president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani has also expressed concerns about the agreement. Finally, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has the final say in the most important issues facing the nation, rejected the proposal.

Iran then made a counterproposal to the P5+1 group (the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council plus Germany) in which Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki declared that Iran was open to a simultaneous exchange of fuel rods for its research reactor with Iran’s LEU in Tehran. As per this proposal, Iran would ship its LEU in several batches, rather than all at once, in order to guarantee that once the LEU is converted to fuel rods, it will be returned to Iran. But EU diplomats and the United States and its allies in the P5+1 group quickly rejected this suggestion angrily. This attitude only deepened Iranian suspicion about western ulterior motives. According to Prof. Sahimi, “If the ultimate goal is to transfer Iran’s LEU outside of its reach, what difference does it make where to deliver the fuel and receive the LEU?”

The USA and her allies lobbied the IAEA to pass a resolution on November 27 to censure Iran for the construction of the Fordow enrichment plant. The resolution, drafted by the P5+1 group, demanded that Tehran stop uranium enrichment and immediately freeze the construction of the Fordow nuclear facility. It passed in a 25-3 vote with six abstentions. As expected, Tehran rejected the IAEA resolution, the first one passed against Iran since 2006, as “politically motivated” and “illegal,” aimed at depriving Iran of its basic rights. And Iran is right to say so.

As a signatory to the NPT, Iran has all the rights to pursue its nuclear program for civilian use. By demanding that Iran suspend all its nuclear operations, the IAEA continues to violate its own charter (e.g., Article IV), much like what its BOG (Board of Governors) did back in February 4, 2006 when it illegally referred the matter of so-called non-compliance to the UNSC. Interestingly, the responsibility for identifying non-compliance rests not with the BOG, but with the inspectors and the director-general, none of whom ever reported Iran to be in non-compliance with the NPT (i.e., making nuclear weapons in secret, helping another member state to do so, or transferring nuclear technology to a non-member state). Reviewing the 2006 nuclear dossier on Iran to the UNSC, Prof. Sahimi comments, “The dossier should be referred to the UNSC only if the NPT has been violated by the member state … or if nuclear materials have been diverted to non-peaceful applications (bomb-making) or if a breach has occurred to ‘further any military purpose.’ But the IAEA has certified time and again that none has occurred in Iran’s case. The resolution adopted for sending Iran’s dossier to the UNSC also made illegal demands on Iran beyond the authority of the BOG and the IAEA… There is not a single word in the UN Charter, the NPT, Iran’s Safeguards Agreement, or the IAEA Statute that indicates that the BOG (Board of Governors of the IAEA) or the director-general need to satisfy themselves that a country’s nuclear program is exclusively peaceful, or that it even has the authority to make such demands.”

In its latest resolution against Iran, issued on November 27, the IAEA once again made illegal demands by ordering Iran to stop construction of the Fordow facility. As noted by Prof. Sahimi, “To give its demands ‘legal’ cover, the resolution refers to the UNSC resolutions against Iran. But those resolutions too are illegal, because not only were they issued after Iran’s nuclear dossier was sent illegally to the UNSC, but the UNSC also did not follow the correct procedure for filing its resolutions under Chapter VII of the UN Charter.”

An objective analysis leads most neutral observers and analysts to conclude that the western powers, esp. the USA, have been insincere and untrustworthy from day one and have set a trail of double-standards when it comes to resolving the nuclear problem with Iran peacefully and fairly. It is quite obvious that their agenda remains denying Iran the right to exploring nuclear technology for civilian use, under the smokescreen of claiming that Iran would use such for military use – an allegation, much like Iraq’s WMDs, which has been rejected by the UN watchdog group, IAEA. It all goes back to the same rogue mentality of Bush and Cheney when they, aided by disinformation campaign of the Jewish neocons and Israel, were cocksure about the Saddam Hossein’s WMDs. Their savage formula: hang the innocent before he commits a crime. After all, as the Mafia Dons of our world they ought to know better!

In recent days we hear that the United States and France are again threatening more sanctions against Iran over its nuclear program, drafting a resolution to present to the UNSC.

Last week U.S. Secretary of State Clinton, an unabashed supporter of Israel, met French President Nicolas Sarkozy. She later said, “France’s leadership is greatly appreciated. The international community is united on Iran.” After a summit meeting with Israel’s Netanyahu last month, Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany said, “We will work for more sanctions.” Germany, always mindful of erasing its genocidal past in causing the Jewish Holocaust, is one of the six powers that have been working to curb Iran’s nuclear program. Germany is Israel’s third largest trading partner and the most steadfast supporter and benefactor behind the USA.

On December 15, 2009, the U.S. House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed the “Iran Refined Petroleum Sanctions Act of 2009.” It is very similar to the Senate bill. The latter extends sanctions to include companies that build oil and gas pipelines in Iran and provide tankers to move Iran’s petroleum. It also prohibits the U.S. government from buying goods from foreign companies that work in Iran’s energy sector. So, in effect, the Senate bill imposes sanctions on Iran’s entire oil and natural gas industry.

However, as we have learned from previous experiences, such sanctions are not only criminal they actually would harm ordinary Iranians. This is a view also held by defeated presidential candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi who warned that tightening sanctions would hurt ordinary people and turn them against the United States, not the regime. (Newsweek, Oct. 3, 2009)

Against that backdrop of western threats and blackmails, it is good to notice China’s position which has been calling for a diplomatic solution to the dispute over Iran’s nuclear program. On December 27, during a joint press conference with his Turkish counterpart Ahmet Davutoglu, Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi of China again made the proposal in Istanbul.

So, how to resolve the tense relationship between Iran and the West, esp. the USA? As noted by many experts, war is not a solution. The cost-benefit ratio is unfavorable to the West. Even if the nuclear facilities are destroyed completely by joint Israel-US air raids, the regime has oil money, and with heightened national support and resolve, it could quickly rebuild most of its facilities. A better option lies in not exaggerating Iran’s nuclear ambition. Much in contrast to the reassurances of her leaders, even if Iran were to produce a nuclear bomb sometime in the future, our world, including the Middle East, will not end, nor will Israel be threatened. As a matter of fact, all the nuclear untouchables in the region are at the mercy of Israel, the rogue nuclear Brahmin, today. At its best, the Iranian bomb can actually be a deterrent to future wars in the region. At its worst, with all the financial aid and support it gets from the guilt-ridden western countries, and the overwhelming power of the Israel Lobby, Israel will continue to remain the most dangerous nation in the region, capable of destroying any country there that foolishly attacks her.

Mending good relationship with Iran would serve the interest of Washington and its European allies better, especially now when people in the West are suffering economically and are tired of lies and distortion of facts coming from Israel and her patrons and allies. They don’t want another war which would definitely lead to the collapse of their free market capitalism. They seek peace and not unnecessary and avoidable war.

However, as we have noted earlier, Washington was never serious about improving relations with Iran. The Bush administration alienated Iran right after Tehran had cooperated with Washington to oust the Taliban and set up the Karzai government in Kabul. And, haughty about its military prowess as the hyper-power of the 21st century, it deliberately ignored all gestures or concessions made by the reformist government of Mohammad Khatami.

Even today, when it comes to dealing with Iran, sadly, the Obama administration has not revised the stupid policy of its predecessor. That’s a non-starter! As President Ahmadinejad commented last September during his trip to attend the UN General Assembly, “If Mr. Bush’s policies are to be continued with new language, we will not be able to achieve much… If these policies do not change, no real change will happen.”

For a genuine dialogue with Iran to succeed, our western leaders need to make a much more active effort to engage the Iranians, listening and responding to their concerns, allaying their suspicions, ending “regime change” policies and offering the real prospect of recognition to the Islamic Republic and normal relations with the United States. The Iranian people do have some legitimate security concerns. They feel surrounded on all sides by governments that are backed either by the USA or Russia, each with problematic past of subjugation and crime committed against the Iranian people. They live in a neighborhood surrounded by nuclear powers—Israel, Russia, China, India, and Pakistan – each capable of becoming an existential threat to Iran. If the West lessen such legitimate fears and concerns, Iranian leaders will be more likely to cooperate on the nuclear front.  

Prof. Sahimi believes that only a clean diplomacy without prejudice, double standards, and illegal demands can settle this nuclear tug-of-war with Iran. He believes, “If a solution is reached, it will allow Iran’s democratic movement to advance further. If Iran does become a democracy, the question of its nuclear program should become moot.”

Will the nuclear Brahmins ever have the wisdom of giving diplomacy a chance for a peaceful world?

Click here for part one

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