US imperialism cannot give up on its struggle to maintain its domination of the Middle East and of middle-eastern oil, despite the growing hostility of all the peoples of that region, and despite the hammer blows aimed at its occupation forces in Iraq and Afghanistan. For that reason, Washington just cannot stomach President Ahmadinejad’s steadfast assertion of Iran’s national rights. Yet every rock it picks up to crush its enemies, it drops upon its own feet.
Tehran faces down Washington’s UN stunt
In preparing its diplomatic ambush against Iran in December last year, the US made a big song and dance over the government’s supposed ‘secrecy’ about plans to build its new enrichment plant at Qom. On this basis, Washington was able to push through a defamatory resolution at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA, the UN body tasked with monitoring real or imagined infringements of non-proliferation agreements).
The Tehran government responded at once by calling Washington’s bluff. To avoid any future complaints about ‘secrecy’, the country’s vice president made a public announcement to the world, ordering the construction of ten new nuclear plants.
Explaining his action, Ali Akbar Salehi noted that “We had no intention of building many facilities like the Natanz site, but apparently the West doesn’t want to understand Iran’s peaceful message.” For good measure, President Ahmadinejad declared the UN resolution to be illegal, asserting that “The zionist regime … and its … backers cannot do a damn thing to stop Iran’s nuclear work.”
The fact is that Iran is under no legal obligation to curtail her civil nuclear programme at the whim of other nations, however powerful. Indeed, the nuclear-related legal restraints by which she is bound are those which she has voluntarily entered into by signing up to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) – a discipline to which the sole nuclear-armed power in the Middle East, Israel, has never deemed it necessary to submit.
Even now, under the gravest provocation, Tehran declines to withdraw from the NPT and continues to cooperate with every reasonable request from the IAEA. However, the government has given due warning that, should the bullying continue, today’s generous cooperation might have to be reduced to “a legally mandated minimum”.
Faced down by this firm defence of Iran’s sovereign rights in the diplomatic arena, imperialism has resorted to a policy of meddling in Iran’s domestic politics, engaging in dirty tricks and sabre-rattling.
‘Opposition’ demonstrates its impotence
Every time there is a big religious, cultural or commemorative event to pull the crowds out on the streets, the West is urging its reactionary protégés in the ‘opposition’ to try to hijack the occasion, imposing their own ‘liberal’-sounding pro-West agenda and frequently provoking violence and disorder in the process.
So it was on Students Day on 7 December, the day on which the nation commemorates the murder of three patriotic students protesting at President Nixon’s visit to back up the Shah shortly after the overthrow of the democratic government of Mossadeq. The opposition’s attempt to subvert this anti-imperialist remembrance day failed to dent the resolve of the democratically elected government. After a couple of days of speculation about ‘thousands’ clashing with the police, backed up with some bile from Mousavi’s website, the imperialist press had to give up on the story as a non-starter.
The Iranian news agency IRNA described this damp squib as the “last nail in the coffin” of the post-election protests. Meanwhile, large demonstrations in support of the elected government’s defence of national independence continue to reveal the breadth of Ahmadinejad’s popularity.
Unwilling to stop flogging this dead horse, however, imperialism has since done all it can to stoke up similar trouble around the funeral in December of dissident cleric Ayatollah Montazeri and around the Shia religious festival of Ashura. And it is confidently expected that more of the same will be attempted on 11 February, the anniversary of the Iranian revolution.
Such demagogic interventions will doubtless find some fertile soil in the legitimate discontents of the people. But such discontents will find no satisfaction at the hands of imperialism or its comprador stooges. Further social progress can only be won within the common patriotic struggle against imperialist oppression. The large majority secured by Ahmadinejad in the presidential election suggests that this truth is widely appreciated in Iran, however little it may be grasped by the ‘left’ in Britain.
Imperialist dirty tricks
Meanwhile, imperialism is trying to compensate for its failures on other fronts by rolling out a string of dirty tricks. The senior Iranian nuclear scientist, Shahram Amiri, went on pilgrimage to Medina last May and has never been seen since. Allegations that he simply defected hardly seem to square with the facts. After all, getting a high-profile Iranian nuclear boffin to run to the West and blab all over the TV about his country’s nuclear programme would represent a propaganda coup which the West could hardly decline.
Instead, there has been six months of dead silence from Washington on the question, lending credence to Tehran’s allegation that Mr Amiri was in fact kidnapped, with the connivance of the corrupt feudal Saudi sheikdom, as part of a US policy to put a stop to Iran’s nuclear programme.
Washington is putting pressure on France to collaborate in an attempted ‘legal’ kidnapping – ie, the extradition to the US of Majid Kakavand, an Iranian engineer who was grabbed by police whilst on holiday in France and accused of the ‘crime’ of breaking the US trade embargo on Iran.
The suspicion is that this judicial bullying is intended as a tit-for-tat response for actions taken by the Iranian judiciary in defence of Iran’s national security. A French woman called Clotilde Reiss was arrested a few months ago and awaits trial, charged with having taken part in a western plot against Iran, including taking part in illegal protests and snooping for the French Embassy.
It seems that, sooner than respect Iran’s legal process and await the outcome of the trial, Washington prefers to hound Mr Kakavand on a trumped up charge, perhaps hoping to pressurise Iran into dropping its guard. Such an outcome is unlikely, however, given Tehran’s insistence that Reiss must face trial in Iran because of the seriousness of the charges against her.
The most brutal attack of all upon Iran’s scientific personnel came in the new year, with the assassination of nuclear physicist Dr Massoud Ali-Mohammadi by means of a remote-controlled bomb. President Ahmadinejad, noting that the “style of bombing and assassination of the martyred Dr. Ali-Mohammadi was a Zionist one”, remained defiant. The enemies of Iran “want to make sure that Iran does not advance,” he said, “but they cannot remove the knowledge from the Iranian nation by killing its elite”.
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Whom the gods would destroy …
If Anglo-American imperialism, in tandem with its client state Israel, should commit the insanity of taking the path of war against Iran, it will unleash catastrophe upon itself. Awareness of this reality has so far led to a degree of comparative restraint from the Obama administration – at least by contrast with the preceding Bush regime, which threatened fire and brimstone in every other sentence.
In recent months, Washington has largely left it up to its fascist surrogates in Tel Aviv to utter words of war. But US imperialism cannot give up its domination of the region and its resources without endorsing the collapse of its own global authority, no less an impossibility for Obama than for Bush.
So it is that the head of US Central Command (Centcom), David Petraeus, recently told CNN that, as well as all the sanctions and diplomatic arm-twisting, Washington is also considering “contingency plans” against Iran’s nuclear installations, blathering that “It would be almost literally irresponsible if Centcom were not to have been thinking about the various ‘what ifs’ and made plans for a whole variety of different contingencies.”
Iran’s answer to such provocations is twofold. First, hear the measured response of the man from the Foreign Ministry, Ramin Mehman-Parast. Petraeus, he noted, “has made thoughtless comments and it is better that any statement made in this regard take a constructive approach”.
Second, there is evidence that Tehran is giving proper attention to the military defence of the nation, should the worst happen. Shortly before Christmas, Iran successfully test-fired an improved version of a medium range missile, the Sejil-2, with a reported distance of 2,000km. It is calculated that this would afford protection against the threat posed by Israel and by US bases in the Gulf.