October 1, 2004


Is Iran Next? (Tom Barry, October 1, 2004, In These Times)

On September 21, Iran’s President Mohammed Khatami warned that Iran may withdraw from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty if Washington and the International Atomic Energy Commission demand that the country desist from plans to enrich uranium. The Iranian government says that it has no plans to develop nuclear weapons, and international inspectors have not determined otherwise. However, if Iran does proceed with its plans to enrich nearly 40 tons of uranium, which it says will be used to generate electricity, it is commonly acknowledged that in a few years it could produce several nuclear bombs.

But it’s not only the possibility that Iran could emerge as the Middle East’s second nuclear power that worries the United States and Israel. At the same time that Washington was demanding that the Iranian case be sent to the Security Council, the Iranian army was test-firing its long-range (810 miles) missile – a demonstration of its commitment to an effective deterrent capacity.

From the point of view of the Middle East restructurers, Iran represents an increasing threat to regional stability. Not only does it already have long-range missiles, and might be developing nuclear weapons, its close ties with the Shiite majority in Iraq do not bode well for the type of political and economic restructuring the Bush administration planned for Iraq. Moreover, neoconservatives and Israelis have long complained that Iran backs the Hezbollah militias in Lebanon and is fueling the Shiite rebels in Iraq.

Effectively, Washington has already declared war on Iran. Being named by President Bush as part of the "Axis of Evil" triad targeted in the global war on terrorism and the new U.S. strategy of preemptive war has made Iran increasingly nervous.

Iran – itself a victim of a 1953 British and U.S.-engineered regime change that installed the Shah – has seen the United States implement regime change in Iraq to its west and Afghanistan to its east. Moreover, the U.S. government has for the first time solidly allied itself with the military hardliners in Israel – the region’s only nation with nuclear warheads and one of the few nations that has refused to sign the nonproliferation treaty.

Back in 1996, Feith was busy representing the armament industries in Israel and the United States while at the same time preparing a policy briefing for the Israeli government. In A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm , Feith et al. recommended "a new vision for the U.S.-Israeli partnership … based on a shared philosophy of peace through strength" – a "clean break" policy that is currently being dually implemented by the Bush and Sharon administrations. The next demonstration of strength may well be with Iran.

Jim Lehrer left hanging the most obvious question arising from Senator Kerry's various statements last night: "If you authorized the President to go to war because Saddam might be developing nuclear weapons, but you now say that North Korea and Iran are more potent nuclear threats, would you grant the president or would you seek once you became president, authorization for war against these regimes? If not, then how do you justify your vote?"

Posted by Orrin Judd at October 1, 2004 6:06 PM

One suspects Edwards will be asked this question on Tuesday night, since he was the one from their ticket who first raised the issue about a month ago.

Kerry can glide, but Pretty Boy had better have a solid answer. Cheney will.

Posted by: jim hamlen at October 1, 2004 10:27 PM