[News] US wants SWIFT war on Iran

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Thu Feb 16 11:19:03 EST 2012

US wants SWIFT war on Iran

By Pepe Escobar

What was the parade of European poodles thinking - that Tehran would 
just roll over and absorb the European Union's oil embargo, scheduled 
to start on July 1?

No wonder Brussels was caught as a Gucci deer in the headlights when 
the news started to flow that Tehran would pre-empt the move and 
immediately slap its own embargo of crude oil exports to six European 
Union countries - deeply in crisis Club Med members Portugal, Italy, 
Greece and Spain plus recession-hit France and the Netherlands.

It took virtually no time for Iran's Oil Ministry and then the 
Foreign Ministry to deny it; such a decision, technically, would have 
to be officially announced by the Supreme National Security Council, 
which also deals with the nuclear negotiations.

But only the deaf, dumb and blind wouldn't understand the message; 
blowback for the ridiculously counter-productive European 
sanctions/oil embargo package will only plunge vast swathes of Europe 
further into deep economic pain.

Iran supplies 500,000 barrels of oil a day to the EU. The mere threat 
of an Iranian embargo has already provoked an oil price spike.

Assuming Club Med countries would be able to get oil from other 
sources - and that's not a given; Saudi Arabia wants high oil prices 
with a vengeance - they would have to reconfigure their refineries to 
process it. Inevitably there would be shortages of gasoline; the 
average Italian, for instance, is already furious with the 
skyrocketing price of gas at the pump.

Perhaps those tens of thousands of useless Brussels bureaucrats 
carrying their multicolored files up and down should do something 
meaningful and send a letter to Washington officially congratulating 
the Americans for further impoverishing tens of millions of EU citizens.

When in doubt, slap more sanctions
Yet the vultures, jackals and hyenas of regime change/war can never 
be appeased in their sanction lust. The US is now forcing the EU to 
cut off Iran from Brussels-based SWIFT - the independent telecom 
mechanism/clearinghouse used by every bank in the world to exchange 
financial data (its official name is Society for Worldwide Interbank 
Financial Telecommunications). Iran's Central Bank itself may become a victim.

In a nutshell, SWIFT is the wheel that moves global financial 
transactions and trade. So if this is not an extended, remixed 
declaration of hardcore economic war against one country - nothing else is.

Will it work? Hardly. It will certainly represent more devastation 
unleashed over "the Iranian people" - the vague entity of choice 
against which the US has "no quarrel". More than 40 Iranian banks use 
SWIFT to process financial transactions, and Iranians use it like 
everybody else in a globalized economy.

It will drag SWIFT's carefully maintained reputation for trust and 
neutrality through the mud; imagine other member countries' reaction 
to the fact they can also be totally marginalized according to the US's whims.

Not to mention that Washington cannot tell SWIFT what to do; thus it 
is not so subtly applying "pressure", Mafia-style, on the Europeans. 
The "message" was delivered in person by David Cohen, the US Treasury 
Department's undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence.

And all this for what? According to the relentless, suffocating 
barrage of spin in Western corporate media, to "perhaps" buy some 
time so the Obama administration can "persuade" the warmongering, 
nuclear-armed Likud government in Israel not to attack Iran this 
coming spring.

Watch that American camel
Meanwhile, according to Iran's Atomic Energy Organization, the 
country has developed fourth-generation centrifuges made of carbon 
fiber that are "speedier, produce less waste and occupy less space" 
as they spin at supersonic speeds to purify uranium.

And the first made-in-Iran 20% enriched fuel rods have been installed 
at the Tehran Research Reactor - not a bomb factory but a civilian 
plant designed to produce medical isotopes for cancer treatment; this 
should allow the Research Reactor to operate independently of any 
foreign interference.

To top it off, Tehran sent a letter to the EU "welcoming" the P5+1 - 
the UN Security Council veto members plus Germany - if they seriously 
want to go back to the table for meaningful negotiations about the 
Iranian nuclear dossier.

Let's see what this means.

It's a very sophisticated Persian miniature - to be decoded by the 
Europeans who bother. Tehran is saying; we sincerely want to talk to 
you; but we won't give up on our civilian nuclear program; and if you 
keep treating us like dogs, with these sanctions, embargo and now the 
SWIFT move, we can apply a lot of pressure on your already stricken economies.

Anyone betting on clueless European politicians and their sherpas 
understanding this is hardly guaranteed to hit a jackpot.

Then there's the stupid argument that the recent bombings and failed 
bombings in Delhi, Georgia and Bangkok represent Tehran's retaliation 
for the murder of five civilian nuclear scientists in Iran - 
conducted by the Iranian terrorist group MeK under the orders of the 
Israeli Mossad.

If and when Tehran decides to target Israeli interests, it may be 
able to do it closer to home, and it has the competent operatives to 
do it without a trace. The notion that Tehran would send Iranian 
agents to friendly Asian countries such as India and Thailand - and 
in the case of the Three Stooges in Bangkok openly displaying their 
passports and even rials - is ludicrous beyond belief. These are 
patsies; the question is to find out who's manipulating them.

If the Washington/Tel Aviv-promoted hysteria is already at fever 
pitch, wait for March 20, when the Iranian oil bourse will start 
trading oil in other currencies apart from the US dollar, heralding 
the arrival of a new oil marker to be denominated in euro, yen, yuan, 
rupee or a basket of currencies.

That would suit Asian clients - from BRICS members India and China to 
US allies Japan and South Korea, not to mention NATO member Turkey. 
But that would also suit European clients, to pay for oil in their 
own currency. Tehran - as well as many key players in the developing 
world - does want to sink the petrodollar. That may be the straw to 
break the American camel's back.

Pepe Escobar is the author of 
How the Globalized World is Dissolving into Liquid War (Nimble Books, 
2007) and 
Zone Blues: a snapshot of Baghdad during the surge. His most recent 
book, just out, is 
does Globalistan (Nimble Books, 2009).

He may be reached at pepeusa at mac.com

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