Iran’s Nuke Double-Talk

June 11th, 2011 at 1:41 pm | 21 Comments |

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In an exercise straight out of the political  theater of the absurd, Iran this Sunday will convene a two-day conference on “International Nuclear Disarmament.” According to Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister Mohammad Mahdi Akhoundzadeh, the conference will discuss the “doctrines of nuclear powers”, “practical measures to have a world free of weapons of mass destruction” and review “regional as well as international disarmament commitments”. I wonder what’s next — maybe Syria can hold an international conference on Effective Crowd Dispersion Methods and Saudi Arabia could convene a conference on the Advancement of the Status of Women & Minorities?

Recent Posts by Arsen Ostrovsky

21 Comments so far ↓

  • Bunker555

    Iran and the Uses of “Preventive” War
    By Col. DAN SMITH
    After months of verbal jabs at the U.S., the UN, and others trying to find a way out of the impasse over Iran’s nuclear program, Ahmadinejad sent Bush an 18-page letter that, as a cartographer might say, was “one over the world.” Perhaps not willing to study such a wide-ranging tome, the White House dismissed the letter as philosophical and irrelevant. Reportedly, among other subjects, the Iranian president pointed to what he saw as a chasm between Bush’s professed Christian values, his actions in Iraq and Afghanistan, and his threats against Iran.

    • Arms Merchant

      Thanks for linking to an article from May 2006 concerning Iran and a president long gone.

      I’m sure glad we have a president now who doesn’t go around starting wars of convenience to overthrow regimes.

      Oh, wait…

  • baw1064

    technically, a country that detonates nuclear weapons is reducing its stockpile.

  • Arms Merchant

    After the Cold War, two administrations were able to conclude deals with Kazakhstan and Ukraine to give up their nukes inherited from the Soviet Union.

    Thanks to President Clueless, no country’s leader in his right mind will negotiate a deal with the U.S. to give up his nuclear program. They can all see how well that worked out for Daffy.

    • baw1064

      Ukraine and Kazakhstan weren’t ruled by end times religious fanatics–big difference. Ahmadinejad probably truly believes that starting a nuclear war will cause the lost Imam to reappear.

      As for Libya, if Reagan had merely finished the job (after Pan Am 103, if not before), we wouldn’t be having this conversation.

      • Arms Merchant

        So you’re saying you agree with Obama’s decision to kick over the game board without even trying for a deal? Because the Libya thing killed any chance.

        Pan Am 103 exploded on Dec 21, 1988 in the waning days of Reagan’s 2nd term. At the time it was not clear that Libya was responsible. He wisely left the war decision to his successor who would have to live with it.

        There are lots of reasons why going to war with Libya was and is not a vital national interest.

        • baw1064

          After the speech naming Iran as a member of the Axis of Evil and then the subsequent invasion of the one member of said axis that *didn’t* have an active nuclear program, you really think there was a chance of a credible deal?

        • Arms Merchant

          Iran put out feelers in 2003 and then subsequently withdrew them when the U.S. started losing in Iraq.

  • ottovbvs

    Yeah we know Israel is allowed to secretly build and stockpile nuclear weapons but Iran isn’t. Naughty. Naughty.

  • rbottoms

    I’d say sly diplomatic double-talk is preferable to actual war.

    Perhaps now might be the time for Israel to stop pretending it doesn’t have nuclear weapons and sign on to the Non-Proliferation treaty?

  • baw1064

    Iran put out feelers in 2003 and then subsequently withdrew them when the U.S. started losing in Iraq.

    This pretty much makes the opposite point of the argument you’re trying to make.

    In 2003, we invaded Iraq and effected a regime change against a government that gave up its active nuclear program (admittedly, under duress). And Iran’s response was to put out feelers. They seem to respond positively to us enacting regime change in the Middle East (at least when we’re successful). By that token, the best way to get the Iranians to play nice would probably be to have a full-scale invasion of Syria and Lebanon (I’m not proposing that, BTW).

    In any event, putting out feelers isn’t always very meaningful. They put out feelers in the late 1980′s, too. That didn’t work out well. And, even if we make an agreement, how do we know they won’t just cheat? We made an agreement with the North Koreans in the 1990s, which they promptly found a pretext to violate.

    I have no idea why you say that GHWB was correct in letting Libya off the hook for Pan Am 103 when invading Panama was apparently in our national interest. The message that sent was that we don’t respond to large-scale terrorist attacks–a message that Osama bin Laden took to heart. Would-be state sponsors of terrorism have no moral qualms about killing as many people as possible, and they take advantage of our general unwillingness to want to start wars. The only way to make them stop is to threaten them with dire consequences–and to carry out the threat when necessary.

    • Arms Merchant


      My, this is tedious. I’ll take it slowly so you can follow along.

      “I have no idea why you say that GHWB was correct in letting Libya off the hook for Pan Am 103 when invading Panama was apparently in our national interest.”

      I said no such thing. I said Reagan was correct in leaving the decision to his successor because a decision to go to war is grave and the evidence was unclear. I wasn’t defending Bush 1′s foreign policy, I was defending Reagan’s, as well as correcting your historical inaccuracy.

      “This pretty much makes the opposite point of the argument you’re trying to make.”

      And which point is that? You don’t specify (I suspect because you’d rather criticize it than try to understand it). It’s difficult to determine exactly what point you think that I’m making.

      Here it is: W’s policy was to frighten the dictators into giving up their program. The Afghanistan and Iraq invasions reinforced this. I think we are in agreement here. On the other hand, Obama’s policy is to offer a combination of positive and negative incentives get them to negotiate away their nukes. But if you want to make a deal, you not only have to offer something valuable in return, but you have to prove that you are going to keep your promise (not stab your deal-partner in the back, like Obama did).
      1. Iran was already pretty sure that Obama won’t invade, now that we are bogged down in two wars and a “kinetic action.” If Obama is negotiating, it’s from a position of weakness.
      2. Obama’s foolish action in Libya pretty much dropped to zero the probability of getting a deal with Iran. It vastly increased Iran’s determination to proceed with their nuclear programs, the bomb being one thing that can deter an invasion by the U.S. I think you and I agree that their incentive to build a bomb was high before Libya. Now it’s astronomical. Obama has sabotaged his own policy.

      “[Iran seems] to respond positively to us enacting regime change in the Middle East (at least when we’re successful). By that token, the best way to get the Iranians to play nice would probably be to have a full-scale invasion of Syria and Lebanon (I’m not proposing that, BTW)…And, even if we make an agreement, how do we know they won’t just cheat? We made an agreement with the North Koreans in the 1990s, which they promptly found a pretext to violate.”

      You say you’re not advocating war, but you seem to think an agreement would be useless because they’d cheat. And you seem to be defending Obama’s Libya policy. Do you think it will scare Iran into giving up their nukes? If not, then what exactly are you arguing, other than that you disagree with my analysis?

      • baw1064

        What I’m advocating is for us to be in a position where we don’t have to care about Iran. The more we hyperventilate about whether they’re going to get nukes, the more incentive they have to get them. I suspect that Ostrovsky and Frum have their own agenda of hyping the threat from Iran to keep the money flowing to Israel. I personally have no reason to care about the Middle East, except that we’ve gotten ourselves stuck in the position of needing to import oil.

        So I advocate imposing a tariff on oil imported from outside North America sufficient to 1) at least pay for the entire cost of our military involvement in the Middle East and 2) hopefully give enough economic incentive for the market to find another energy source. The Middle East will continue to be a problem, I predict (it has been for the last 5000 years), but at least it will be somebody else’s problem once we don’t need the energy supply.

        My rationale for action in Libya is against Qaddafi personally–he’s a terrorist who deserves the same fate as McVeigh and bin Laden. If it hadn’t been for Pan Am 103, I wouldn’t support our involvement.

        • balconesfault

          So I advocate imposing a tariff on oil imported from outside North America sufficient to …

          While I’ve been favoring an oil tax to do what you’ve been talking about before, and while it’s tempting to talk about an imported oil tariff (instead of just an oil tax) – there are some severe economic problems form going with the tariff idea.

          Mainly, that refineries get tuned into a specific type of crude, and it’s very expensive to switch. Thus, while it makes sense that a certain refinery might just tap into the crude from a local shale play instead of refining imported oil, a lot of time you’ll be forcing them into a bad decision.

          Also, if you put a tariff on import oil, you’ll basically be creating a windfall for domestic producers, who set their prices not based on production costs but on the global price of oil. Maybe you WANT to create this windfall, but from where I sit it would be better if we all just accept that oil is a fungible commodity and slap a much simpler tax on it.

        • baw1064

          You make a couple of good points. I agree that because of the capital investment and the time it takes to come up with a new energy source, any tariff/tax would have to be phased in slowly to avoid a serious market disruption. Maybe bump it up by 1-2% per year.

          Yes, you’re right about oil being fungible, well…do we want to give domestic producers a windfall? Might increase the chances of it being politically feasible, although in general you’re right that it is a market distortion. More seriously, though, my thought was that the cost of our involvement in Iraq is pretty clearly an external cost of getting petroleum from the Middle East (Afghanistan is a little more complicated, since it’s in some ways a continuation of our involvement during the Cold War, although one could argue that if not for oil Osama bin Laden would never have been in Afghanistan).

  • balconesfault

    Iran is clearly a brutish, thuggish oligarchy dressed up as a theocratic republic. It sponsors terrorism when it believes it supports its geopolitical interests, it actively subverts international law by sending out agents to kill dissidents and opponents in other parts of the world, and it clearly wants to obtain nukes so that it can be a bad actor in the world and not fear retribution.

    OK. So there’s plenty of reason to condemn and contain Iran. But it would be nice if the US had a bit more moral high ground here … if we hadn’t been supporting terrorism (even if we redefine it) when it suits our purposes, if we hadn’t been practicing extraordinary rendition and relying on Guantanamo and black CIA facilities around the world to avoid US law, if we hadn’t been spending much of the last few years openly discussing the possibility of a unilateral nuclear strike on Iran in order to take out their nuclear capability.

    I see little reason to suspect that “Ahmadinejad … truly believes that starting a nuclear war will cause the lost Imam to reappear.” And if he did, the Imams who run the show would probably have him out of his job fast enough to make his head spin. They are about defense, and about exporting their form of Islam … but there’s little evidence that the nation is run by Escatalogical fetishists. Hell – there’s more evidence of that kind of craziness in America’s religious right than in Iran’s.

    • Bunker555

      +1 balconesfault

      We’re number one in wingnuts and whackjobs.

      • balconesfault

        Moreover – I doubt you have anyone who gets taken seriously in Iran advocating use of nukes based on the premise they could carry out a strike (or even give one to a terrorist organization) without suffering massive numbers of casualties in retaliation.

        The US, on the other hand, takes people who talk like that very seriously … as if the use of a unilateral nuclear strike wouldn’t unleash the mother of all unintended consequences against America interests around the globe.

  • tommybones

    Um, what? Iran doesn’t have a nuclear arsenal. And for decades, they have been pushing politically for a nuclear-free Middle East. How is the current position “absurd”?

    Let’s review:

    George W. Bush thanked the Iranian government after they helped the U.S. topple the Taliban regime in Afghanistan by infamously labeling them part of an “axis of evil,” along with Iraq and North Korea. This absurd charge ignored the fact that those three nations had little contact with one another and what contact they did have, especially in the case of Iran and Iraq under Saddam, would not qualify as friendly and therefore could hardly be termed an “axis” of any kind. This double-cross created an enormous firestorm in Iran, as the hardliners used it as leverage against the moderate Iranian President, pointing out that they had always stated that you could not trust the United States government.

    Nevertheless, in 2003, the moderate Khatami government in Iran offered to completely suspend nuclear enrichment as well as open all areas of disagreement with Washington to negotiations. This included all nuclear issues, the Israeli/Palestinian issues and support of Hezbollah. The only condition placed on such negotiations was a halt to the threats of attack by Washington and removal of Iran from the “axis of evil.” Not only does the Bush administration reject the offer, they didn’t even respond to it, and reprimanded the Swiss diplomat who brought the offer. One has to question the true motivations of an administration that rejects such a pragmatic offer with such blatant contempt.

    Additionally, Mohamed ElBaradei, head of the IAEA and 2005 Nobel Laureate, proposed putting all weapons-grade fissile material production under international control and supervision, while allowing any nation that wanted the materials for peaceful use to apply for it. The only nation to agree to the very practical idea was Iran. The only nation on earth. During the same IAEA meetings in Vienna, Iran’s Supreme Leader, the Grand Ayatollah Ali Khamenei issued a fatwa, decreeing that the production, stockpiling and use of nuclear weapons was forbidden under Islam. Furthermore, the EU made a deal with Iran (a country that hasn’t invaded another nation in over 250 years) to guarantee “security” (read: no U.S. invasion) in exchange for a halt in uranium production. Washington forced the EU to back out of the deal.

    Where did this lead? Khatami, who took a huge risk in taking a diplomatic stance with Washington in the face of severe hardline opposition, was humiliated and the moderates lost the next election to Ahmadinejad. Unlike in our ally countries like the arch-repressive Saudi Arabia, Iran actually holds elections, with limited but very real consequences. Hardline President Ahmadinejad won the election, and the nuclear power program then began in earnest.

    Even with the election of a hardliner President, Iran continued its diplomatic overtures. In 2006, Iran’s supreme leader had agreed to abide by the tenets of the Arab peace initiative, also known as the “Saudi Plan,” which is a two-state solution that respects Israel’s right to exist as a free and sovereign nation within the pre-war 1967 borders. This news was, as is usually the case, largely ignored by the U.S. corporate media.

    Let’s logically look at the Iranian “threat”. What would happen to Iran if they attacked either Israel or the United States, either directly or through a secondary agent? The answer is simple; they would be wiped from the face of the earth in a few hours. Israel has the capability to do this all by themselves. The United States clearly could do it as well. So, an attack by Iran would essentially be a call for mass suicide by the Iranian government. That makes little sense. As nasty as the Iranian government can be to its own population, they haven’t given the slightest hint that they are in fact a suicidal nation. What makes a lot of sense, in fact it’s as clear as day at a mere glance, is the concept that Iran is only our “enemy” because they refuse to cater to U.S. and Israeli hegemony in the region.

    Let’s look at the nuclear threat that has everyone up in arms. Iran has maintained the right to produce nuclear power, which is in fact their right under the existing Nuclear Non Proliferation Treaties (In fact, the Iranian nuclear power program first began in the 1970’s under the guidance and approval of none other than Dick Cheney, then serving as Chief-of-Staff to President Ford).

    Meanwhile, it is common knowledge that Israel has stockpiled an enormous nuclear arsenal at Iran’s doorstep, thanks to the U.S.A, in violation of those same NPT’s. When the U.N has repeatedly called for sanctions to be brought against Israel, the U.S. has vetoed those proposed sanctions in an egregious double standard that is almost never commented on in the United States corporate media. In November 2007, Israel displayed “chutzpah” of the highest caliber by publicly lamenting that the head of the IAEA is “sticking his head in the sand over Iran’s nuclear programme.” Additionally, the U.S. has recently entered into negotiations with India with a goal toward providing India with the technical know-how and resources to begin a large-scale nuclear weapons program, again in direct violation of those same NPT’s.

    One has to ask, why would Iran want a nuclear arsenal, if indeed they do? What would be the reason? The answer is simple and can be found by taking a comparative look at how the U.S. government handled two of the three members of the “axis of evil”.

    North Korea has a modest nuclear arsenal and therefore will not be attacked by the United States. Instead, we are forced to deal with North Korea through diplomatic means. Iraq had no such deterrent, and therefore was attacked as a first resort. What lesson did this teach Iran? What lesson did it teach the rest of the world? The United States, the leading Rogue State on the planet earth, perhaps in human history, will attack wherever and whenever they see a potential threat, real or imagined, unless there is a nuclear deterrent. Essentially, George Bush’s unilateral, illegal invasion has basically told the world to acquire nuclear weapons, or else face the consequences. Would you blame Iran for wanting a nuclear deterrent under this scenario? Should they be punished for a situation that we created?

  • tommybones

    One merely has to look at the egregious United States use of its United Nations votes in regards to WMD initiatives since 1972 to see the hypocrisy and convenience of our case against the WMD “threats” formerly of Saddam Hussein and presently in Iran:

    • 1979 – The USA, UK and France veto a United Nations resolution calling for an end to all military and nuclear collaboration with the apartheid regime in South Africa (The vote is 114 to 3); The USA, UK and France veto a United Nations resolution concerning negotiations on disarmament and cessation of the nuclear arms race (120 to 3)

    • 1980 – declaration of non-use of nuclear weapons against non-nuclear states. The vote is 110 to 2; The USA and UK also veto a United Nations resolution calling for the cessation of all nuclear test explosions

    • 1981 – To establish a nuclear weapon free zone in the Middle East (107 to 2 with UK); for the cessation of all test explosions of nuclear weapons (118 to 2 with UK); Calls for action in support of measures to prevent nuclear war, curb the arms race and promote disarmament (78 to 3 including Canada). Urges negotiations on prohibition of chemical and biological weapons (109 to 1)

    • 1982 -For a comprehensive nuclear test ban treaty (111 to 1); Request to USA and USSR to make public their nuclear arms negotiations (114 to 1, the USSR abstained); Prevention of arms race in outer space (138 to 1); Prohibition of chemical and bacteriological weapons (95 to 1)

    • 1983 – Prevention of an arms race in outer space (147 to 1); Prohibition of manufacture of new weapons of mass destruction (116 to 1); Reversing the arms race (133 to 1), Prohibition of chemical and bacteriological weapons (98 to 1); Requests a study on the naval arms race (113 to 1); Disarmament and security (132 to 1)

    • 1984 – Prohibition of new types of weapons of mass destruction (125 to 1)

    • 1987 – The USA vetoes 2 United Nations resolutions supported only by France and / or the UK: Calling for a comprehensive test ban (143 to 2); Calling for a halt to all nuclear explosions (137 to 3)

    • 2004 – Mohamed ElBaradei, head of the International Atomic Energy Agency proposes that all production and processing of weapon-usable material should be under international control, with “assurance that legitimate would-be users could get their supplies”. The Fissile Material Cutoff Treaty (or Fissban) was debated by the United Nations Committee on Disarmament in November. The vote was 147 to 1, with two abstentions: Israel and UK.
    • 2005 – A year later the United Nations General Assembly would offer the same resolution (179 to 2 USA and Palau) with Israel and UK abstaining.