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Next week we will be publishing excerpts from Barsamian's interview with Noam Chomsky.
By David Barsamian
Under George W. Bush, U.S.–Iranian relations have deteriorated drastically. In his 2002 State of the Union address, President Bush designated Iran as part of the “axis of evil.” The speech stunned Tehran, particularly as it had just assisted the Bush administration in ousting the Taliban in Afghanistan. The “axis of evil” label was a big setback for reform president Mohammad Khatami (1997–2005), who risked much in cooperating with the United States. For Iran to be categorically grouped with Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, which had waged an eight-year war against Iran (1980–88), was an additional humiliation....
Political tensions with the United States have sharply escalated in 2006–7. United States allies Israel, India, and Pakistan all possess nuclear weapons but have not signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). Washington gives those countries a free pass, but not Iran, which is a signatory to the NPT and has come under intense scrutiny. As a signatory to the treaty, it is permitted to enrich uranium. However, it is accused by the Bush administration, with some European support, of enriching uranium to develop nuclear weapons. The International Atomic Energy Agency, based in Vienna, referred the issue of Iranian compliance or noncompliance with the NPT to the UN Security Council in New York. In December 2006, the Security Council voted to impose limited sanctions on Iraq. More comprehensive sanctions, with the United States pressing the issue, are on their way. Interestingly, the United States is also a signatory to the NPT and, as such, is obliged to draw down its nuclear weapons arsenal. Despite their importance for understanding the crisis, it is virtually impossible to find mention of these key facts in most U.S. media reporting on the issue.
The central tenet of U.S. policy is: What we say goes. To make certain Tehran understands this basic principle of statecraft, in February 2007 Washington has dispatched yet another aircraft carrier battle group to the Persian Gulf to join the already deployed Eisenhower group. The new armada is led by the carrier USS John C. Stennis.
One can only imagine the response from Washington if Iranian naval vessels were deployed offshore from New York or Seattle.
The U.S. position on talking with Iran is: Give us what a negotiation would produce before the negotiations start. You concede, and then we can sit down and talk. This posture is a nonstarter as far as the Iranians are concerned. On February 27, 2007, Iran’s foreign minister, Manouchehr Mottaki, restated his country’s position: “Demands that Iran halt enrichment are illegal and illegitimate.” That will “never” happen, he said. However, he added, Iran is prepared to negotiate about its nuclear program “without any preconditions.”
Although the Bush administration says it has no intention to invade Iran, the New Statesman and the BBC, on February 19 and 20, 2007, revealed detailed plans of what an American attack would look like. The BBC reported that two triggers would cause U.S. military action: (a) any confirmation that Iran was developing a nuclear weapon or (b) if Iran were responsible for a high-casualty attack against U.S. forces.
Shirin Ebadi, Iran’s 2003 Nobel Peace Prize laureate, in an opinion piece in USA Today, has this advice for Americans and the regime in Washington: “The Iranian people are exceedingly proud of their 2,500-year history and culture. Iran as a country is larger and greater than its rulers and exists apart from any government in power at any particular time. If America attacks, however, Iranians will unite, forgetting their differences with their government, and they will fiercely and tenaciously defend their country.”
David Barsamian is the award winning founder and director of AR (Alternative Radio) and author of 14 books. To purchase a copy of the book 'Targeting Iran', click here, or go to the link at the top of the page.