[News] Accusing Iran; Ignoring History

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Fri Feb 26 11:17:29 EST 2010

Accusing Iran; Ignoring History

By <http://www.zcommunications.org/zspace/TedSnider>Ted Snider

Friday, February 26, 2010

Did Hillary Clinton seriously just accuse Iran of heading toward 
becoming a dictatorship? This accusation is one of two made in the 
past couple of weeks against Iran that totally defy history.

The U.S. has never minded Iran being a dictatorship. On the contrary, 
given the choice between an uncooperative democracy and a cooperative 
dictatorship in Iran, the U.S. chose dictatorship.

This story of intrigue and spies begins not in America, but in 
Britain. Through its Anglo-Iranian Oil Company (AIOC), Britain 
totally controlled Iranian oil in the first half of the twentieth 
century. The AIOC held exclusive rights to extract, refine, ship and 
sell Iranian oil. And though they did pay Iran a small amount for 
these rights, the AIOC made ten times what it paid Iran. Hardly fair. 
At least, it hardly seemed fair to the impoverished Iranians.

So in 1951, Mohammad Mosaddeq surged to power in Iran propelled by a 
wave of Iranian nationalism determined to recapture their oil so that 
the profits could be used for the benefit, not of the British people 
and the British navy, but of the Iranian people. Mosaddeq was 
enormously popular, a genuine democrat and nationalist and the first 
democratically elected leader of Iran. Here was a chance to foster 
democracy in Iran.

But democracy meant losing control of Iran's oil. Mosaddeq 
immediately started trying to nationalize Iran's oil. In April 1951, 
the Iranian parliament nationalized the oil industry. In May, 
Mosaddeq was elected Prime Minister and signed the bill into law. 
Britain responded by clamping a crushing embargo on Iran. The AIOC 
led an international boycott of the new Iranian oil industry. Then 
Britain began diplomatic and covert actions against Mosaddeq. But 
Mosaddeq was wildly popular and the people supported his moves. 
According to the U.S. State Department, he had the support of a full 
95-98% of Iranians. He easily won a huge referendum victory.

So Britain tried to overthrow him. They failed. Miserably. Mosaddeq 
responded by shutting down the British embassy in Iran, and when all 
the diplomats were purged, all the spies were flushed out with them. 
England had no one in Iran to overthrow the Prime Minister.

Enter America. But not yet. Britain turned to America. But though 
Truman had been willing to drop a nuclear bomb on Japanese citizens, 
he was not willing to use the CIA to overthrow a foreign government. 
The CIA was brand new, and for Truman, it was for intelligence 
gathering and not for government overthrowing. But in 1952, when the 
Republican Eisenhower came to power, everything changed. Eisenhower 
was willing, and he agreed to do Britain's dirty work. And in an 
incredible story of intrigue, Kermit Roosevelt, the grandson of 
Theodore Roosevelt, would take the helm of Operation Ajax, and in 
August of 1953, in the very first CIA coup, the American advised 
Iranian military, completed the CIA and M16 inspired and organized 
coup and overthrew Mohammad Mosaddeq.

With that America ended a flowering and promising period of Iranian 
democracy because it threatened their interests and reinstalled the 
Shah of Iran who would carry out his many years of savage and 
repressive dictatorship. The Shah would repress opposition media, 
political parties, unions and other groups. He would bring in SAVAK, 
that most notorious and murderous secret police and their hellish 
torture chambers. With the Shah now in power, for their share of the 
dirty work, the U.S. acquired 40% of Iran's oil industry. AIOC, now 
renamed British Petroleum, got back 40% of Iran's oil.

And this dance with dictatorship was no short term blip. After 
Eisenhower, Nixon would ally America with the Shah, Ford received him 
in the White House, and even Jimmy Carter said Iran "blossomed" under 
his "enlightened leadership".

So when Iran began a promising experiment in democracy, the U.S. took 
it out because it threatened U.S. interests and put in a brutal 
dictatorship, for which Iran has never forgiven America, showing that 
it is cooperating with U.S. interests and not being democratic that 
wins U.S. support. So when Clinton accuses Iran of becoming a 
dictatorship, Iranians, and anyone who agrees not to ignore history, 
laugh. Iranians wanted democracy; America gave them a dictator.

But Iran is not only rushing headlong into dictatorship, it is also 
hurtling inexorably towards becoming a nuclear state with weapons of 
mass destruction. Iran recently announced that it would begin 
enriching uranium not only to 3.5%, as it has up to now, but up to 
19.5%. The western world screams hysterically and points to the proof 
that Iran is rejecting proposals for trading their low-enriched 
uranium for 19.5% uranium processed abroad and that it is placing 
itself dangerously and inevitably within striking distance of being 
able to enrich weapons grade uranium.

Like the claim about Iranian dictatorship, this claim utterly ignores 
history: albeit much more recent history.

First of all, let's get the numbers straight. Uranium enriched to 
3.5% is what Iran needs to run its power reactors to produce energy. 
19.5% enriched uranium is what it needs to produce medical isotopes 
for treating and imaging cancer in its hospitals. Uranium for nuclear 
weapons has to be enriched to 90%: hardly placing Iran within 
striking distance or proving that it has a weapons program.

In fact, Iran is running out of uranium enriched to 19.5% for cancer 
treatment in its hospitals and soon will have to shut its medical 
reactors down. Why is it running out? In 1988, Iran signed an 
agreement with Argentina to receive 23 kilograms of fuel enriched to 
20% so that it could produce medical isotopes in its, ironically, 
U.S. built medical research reactor. That 23 kilograms is nearly used 
up. Iran requested that the International Atomic Energy Association 
(IAEA) help it purchase more under IAEA supervision, which it has 
every right to do, like every other country who is signatory to the 
Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. But the U.S. and Europe stepped in 
and prevented the purchase, leaving Iran without the ability the rest 
of the modern world has to use nuclear fuel to treat cancer.

So if Iran is enriching uranium to 19.5% instead of 3.5%, it is only 
because we forced her to: ironic, since we are supposedly trying to 
prevent just that. And far from being evidence of a massive weapons 
program, Iran is only hoping to enrich 40 kilograms for medical use. 
Could it continue to enrich that 19.5% uranium to 90% weapons grade 
uranium? Is that the concern? Forget about it. Scott Ritter, who was 
a top U.N. weapons inspector in Iraq, one of the only loud public 
voices to contradict the Bush White House and warn that there were no 
weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, and the author of a book on 
Iranian nuclear showdown, says that the IAEA can account for all of 
Iran's nuclear material and would be able to detect any diversion of 
nuclear material.

And there have been other opportunities to prevent Iran from further 
enriching uranium for medical purposes. Though prevent is perhaps too 
strong a word, since they only seem reluctantly to be enriching after 
their preferred choice of legally purchasing was prevented. In 2009, 
the U.S. proposed a nuclear swap in which Iran would send its 3.5% 
enriched uranium out of the country where it would be enriched into 
fuel rods for the medical reactor and sent back to Iran. Iran agreed 
in principal, again showing their lack of desire to further enrich 
uranium, but did not agree on the details. Why did Iran reject the 
details, but not the point of the plan? Because the U.S. was being 
disingenuous: it was a trick.

According to both Scott Ritter and Gareth Porter, whose reports on 
Iran's nuclear program have been invaluable, the real objective of 
the American swap plan was to get every bit of the 3.5% enriched 
uranium out of Iran to buy the U.S. several months, or even a year. 
And there was another problem from Iran's perspective. The American 
plan called for Iran to send away all its 3.5% uranium immediately 
even though it would take a year, or even several years, to receive 
the 19.5% enriched uranium needed for its medical reactor. That would 
not only leave Iran without its 3.5% enriched uranium needed to force 
the Americans to take Iran seriously in negotiations, but it would 
defy the point of the whole plan: leaving Iran without medical 
isotopes and forcing its medical facility to shut down. So Iran made 
a counterproposal. They would send out their 3.5% uranium in batches, 
and when the enriched uranium for medical isotopes was returned, they 
would send out the next batch: a so-called "simultaneous exchange". 
America ignored Iran's counterproposal. It was only then that Iran 
declared that it would try to enrich its own uranium.

So the claim that Iran's intention to further enrich uranium to 19.5% 
is proof of its intention to pursue a nuclear weapons program ignores 
two important pieces of recent history: that Iran first tried to 
purchase it and then agreed in principal to a fair swap for it. It 
was not Iran's intent to further enrich uranium: it was the last 
resort. And there is a third piece of recent history that the nuclear 
accusation ignores: the lack, as in Iraq, of any evidence that Iran 
is pursuing nuclear weapons. Not only the U.N.'s nuclear inspectors 
say that there is no evidence of an Iranian nuclear weapons program, 
all of the several American intelligence organizations have 
unanimously agreed, not once, but twice, in uncommon public 
declarations that there is no evidence of an Iranian nuclear weapons 
program. Each sensational story of proof to the contrary that keeps 
glittering in the headlines of the western media has been clearly and 
consistently refuted, as shown by the reports of people like Porter 
and Ritter. It is the reports and not the refutations, though, that 
make the headlines. And that's an old and effective trick for 
misshaping public opinion: report the error in large letters, but not 
the correction that follows.

The media and the political powers provide the erroneous accusations; 
history, if you listen to it, provides the corrections.

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