Tension is apparently rising between Washington and Teheran. As usual, President Trump is blowing hot and cold. Thus, on 21 June, he went as far as ordering the bombing of Iran, then changed his mind a few minutes before attacking his targets. And yet this behaviour, which has often allowed Donald Trump to win successes in the West, does not carry much weight with the Persian psychology. But is he trying to impress Iran ?
The attitude of the North Americans must be understood from the point of view not only of their Middle Eastern policy, but also their global policy. More than a conflict with Iran, it’s the balance of power between East and West that is at stake.
Since the Second World War, the central preoccupation of the United States has been their rivalry with the USSR, then Russia. Since the first Geneva Conference (June 2012), on the margins of the Syrian conflict, Moscow has proposed to be the guarantor of regional peace alongside and in equality with Washington. This recalibration of international relations was imagined under the auspices of the ex-Secretary General of UNO, Kofi Annan. The agreement signed in Geneva – in the presence of the other permanent members of the Security Council, plus Turkey for NATO and Iraq, Kuwaït and Qatar for the Arab League, but in the absence of all the Syrian protagonists – lasted no longer than a week. This failure pushed Kofi Annan to withdraw from centre-stage, and led to the beginning of the war waged by the members of NATO against Syria.
It was this project that was re-examined on 24 June by the three national Security advisors of the USA, Israël, and Russia, and which might put an end to the destructive Rumsfeld/Cebrowski strategy. Without a doubt, John Bolton dug in his heels, Meir Ben-Shabbat kept an eye on which way the wind was blowing, and Nikolaï Patrouchev waxed ironic about the comparative advantages of US defeats and Russian military successes.
It was in this context – and not at all in terms of their pro-Israëli affinities – that the United States imagined the « Deal of the Century » in Palestine, of which the first elements have just been released and will be discussed in Manama.
The second preoccupation of the United States vis-à-vis Iran is that of the Pentagon : to prevent Iran from rebooting the nuclear programme that they had offered Shah Reza Pahlevi. However, contrary to the ignorant commentaries regurgitated by the Western Press, Iran no longer has any intention of possessing atomic bombs, since Imam Khomeini condemned weapons of mass destruction as being incompatible with his conception of Islam. On the contrary, as the secret archives of Benjamin Netanyahu attest (despite himself) all Iranian research concerns the fabrication of a shock-wave generator and nothing else. Certainly, this type of generator could be used in the composition of an atomic bomb, but as the inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency have shown, this is not Iran’s objective.
We do not know what Teheran’s ambitions are, nor why the Pentagon is blocking them.
The third preoccupation of the United States is that of the Trump administration : to boost employment at home, which implies rebalancing their commercial exchanges, particularly with China, and maintaining the price of oil at the level of profitability of their shale oil (about $70 per barrel). This is why they oppose Iranian, Venezuelan and Syrian sales on the international market until 2025, and are attempting to block the access of Russian hydrocarbons to the European Union.
It so happens that Russia – whose hydrocarbons furnish most of its financial resources – is attempting to decelerate the fall of prices. It has signed an agreement with OPEC in this sense, and has voluntarily reduced it own production, which indicates that it will slow the inevitable confrontation with Washington on this question while waiting for the constitution of the new European Commission. If Brussels were to give in once again to Washington and forbid the import of Russian gas, Moscow would accept a drop in prices in order to sell off its production and, de facto, would probably ruin the US shale oil industry. The distribution of parts would therefore be shaken up, and the United States would have no further interest in opposing the sales of Iranian, Venezuelan and Syrian oil.
It could also happen that China may decide to reduce its exports to the United States and sell them instead on its own interior market, which is now flourishing. However, that would suppose that it could sustainably furnish its energy economy at a lower price than that of the current market. While Brussels falls into line, complaining about the US interdiction on the buying of Iranian oil, Beijing ignores Washington and is trying to pursue its imports, although at a much lower level. In order to avoid having to react, Washington pretends that it is authorising China to buy small quantities of Iranian oil. A true agreement, even tacit, could enable the USA, Iran, and China to develop.
Source: Voltaire Network
If, as you say, “We do not know what Teheran’s ambitions are…” then how could you or the IAEA know that Iran doesn’t intend to produce a nuke?
A “shock wave generator” (which compresses the highly enriched uranium core by initiating simultaneous explosions in a surrounding sphere) not only “could” be used in a uranium bomb, but is necessary for one; and has no significant other uses.
Iran has frequently proclaimed it’s intention “Death to America”; how else could that be done, if not by nukes? How else could the power grid assuredly be disabled, semi-permanently?
For what other purpose does Iran need a nuclear program? They can’t even refine their own oil, and are also neglecting their natural gas resources (or solar power, which is practical in areas of high intensity sunlight).
You obviously interpret Iran’s attitude according to your own culture.
I do not seek to take sides in this conflict, but just to understand the positions of each other taking into account cultural differences.
1) During Iraq’s war against Iran, both sides used weapons of mass destruction, including US gas (sold on both sides by Donald Rumsfeld). However, towards the end of the war, an Iraqi missile attack hit Iran hardly. These missiles were rudimentary and untargeted. The Iranian army responded identically, but Imam Khomeini was offended: for him the Iraqi attack had killed Iranians indiscriminately and there was no question of doing the same thing. He then took a fatwa prohibiting as “anti-Islamic” the principle of weapons of mass destruction. The army then closed the military nuclear program inherited from Shah Reza Pahlevi. This fatwa was confirmed by Ayatollah Khamenei. It is impossible that today this program has restarted in secret because it would involve many people and would constitute a violation of religious law.
2) I’m not an expert on atomic issues, but it’s not because in the West we use shock wave generators to make atomic bombs and that’s the only use we make of them that Atomic technicians can not use it for anything else. An Iranian program existed under Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to create a new type of nuclear power plant. The idea was to make Third World countries independent of Western oil companies. This program was interested in the shock wave generator. That may be the answer to my question, but I do not know. This is only an hypothesis.
3) “Death in the United States! Death to Israel!” Are religious motos. Iran has suffered greatly from the United Kingdom (which left the famine of the First World War killed 6 million people in Iran), the United States (which organized the overthrow of the nationalist Prime Minister Mossadegh, have transformed their embassy in espionage center, and tried to free their spies during Operation « Eagle Claw “), and Israel (which led a program of assassination of its scientists to prevent the country from developing) . In the Shia mentality these three countries are associated with Satan. To claim their death is to call for the end of Evil, it is not to announce a war that would be lost in advance.
Thank you for your comments I regard Voltaire very highly. The US and France have gotten along well enough, except for that nasty “French and Indian War”.
Concerning my culture, what do you think that is?
1. At the time of the Iraq-Iran war, Iraq had the upper hand in weaponry, particularly WMD, thanks to assistance of the US and particularly the USSR. So their disinclination at the time to use chemical WMD might have been tactical, not principled. Concerning principles, we cannot reasonably rely upon religious doctrines, as they are based on delusions and full of contradictions and reversals. Islamic doctrine has shown a flexibility according to circumstances. When weak, be meek. When strong, attack. When a madman proclaims he has a direct pipeline based on religious feeling, prudent men should be on guard. In any event, I’d appreciate a reliably translated version of the alleged fatwa, instead of your interpretation based on your culture.
2. Not just in the west, but presumably everywhere natural laws prevail. The construction of a nuke is not a matter of cultural preferences. A shock wave generator based on simultaneous explosions in a sphere–what other uses than nukes do they have? If you don’t know, forgive me if I don’t rely upon your hypothesis. There are much more prosaic, practical, and constructive technologies that Iran’s mullahs could pursue, if Iran’s rational self-interest were their concern. Things like oil refineries and solar power.
After the US invasion of Iraq, Iran feared Rumsfeld’s plan would be implemented, and other regimes (like theirs) would be toppled. This fear-induced pause didn’t last long. For the same motivation, Ghadaffi went even further, and dismantled his nuke program, allowing inspectors to verify. But unfortunately for him, Obama decided he was becoming dangerously pro-western (as Obama is anti-western), and Obama provided the military muscle necessary for Europe’s vanity victory. Ghadaffi’s plan for a non-US-FRN-based, gold-backed currency may have had something to do with the backstab.
3. The only legitimate purposes of government, are to protect life, liberty, and rightful property from force-initiation. Nationalization of oil infrastructure amounts to aggression, from which companies have a right to expect protection for the taxes they pay. Companies signed contracts and invested billions of dollars, only to see what they built stolen. Ideally, the protection would be funded by user-fees and not taxation (itself a form of theft). The motivation of a thief makes no difference morally; whether by nationalism, religious fervor, or because space aliens say so.
If Iran’s mullahs don’t mean “Death to America” when they say “Death to America”, they should clarify what they really mean, and act accordingly. I’m not in the mood for a seance to know what they “really” mean. When Cicero said “Cathego delenda est”, people knew what that meant and the meaning was illustrated by example. Iran has provided plenty of examples of what they mean, when they are distracted from their short-term objective of killing non-Shia terrorists, and long-term direct or inspire or engage in attacks on Israel or US soldiers or threaten international shipping.
Indeed, the Iranians have also rewritten the story, it is difficult to understand.
1. The Westerners have armed both Iraq and Iran, always ensuring that neither can win this war, but that they weaken each other. Iran was notably supported by the United States and Israel with the Iran-Contras program. It is therefore wrong to say that Ayatollah Khomeini could afford to ban weapons of mass destruction because he did not have any.
2- No comment
3- The question of nationalization comes from each nation. It is not because you think that Mossadegh was not allowed to nationalize its country’s oil that it gives foreigners the right to overthrow him.
4- You can not compare the Shiite clergy and Cicero because, for you, Cicero is clear, but you refuse to admit that the Shiite clergy express themselves in a language that you misinterpret.
1. The Iran-Contra project gave Iran only $21 million. Khomeini may have had chemical WMD, but I believe Iraq had more. But chemical WMD are not very effective, given that soldiers can wear suits and masks can mitigate their effects; so the effects are mainly on the civilian population. Nuclear WMD are the crown jewels of WMD, the only way to disable a continent-wide electrical grid.
During WW2, Hitler had chemical WMD capability, but didn’t use them, fearing retaliation. Still he had a nuke program, which he would have used had it been successful. His efforts were slowed by his purge of the best scientists for being Jewish, and lack of resources/money. There are some reports indicating he was closer than we now think, and that is why FDR focused on the European theater, even though Japan had attacked us and not Hitler.
3. A nation (meaning the inhabitants of a territory) does not rightfully own anything. Otherwise, government could morally seize any business that was built from commerce. Rightful government would be supported by user fees and not taxes. Mossadegh was overthrown primarily by Persians who opposed him for different reasons. The US gave it’s assent, but little physical aid.
4. Clergy and religion generally make sense only when reasonable. The faith element in religion hinders rational dialogue and interpretation and amounts, at best, to harmless gibberish; and at worst, demented rationalizations for the worst impulses. Generally, when faith is used to justify force-initiation and domination of government, prudent people should be on guard. Actions speak clearer, and although the mullahs are making an effort to keep their aggression just below the threshold that would trigger war, the persistence of their aggressions and their bellicose threatening rhetoric already provide a casus belli; whether retaliation would be wise, or what shape retaliation should take, these are factual matters.
I prefer this strategy with Iran: send drones to gather intelligence, and when shot down, use other drones to attack the anti-aircraft facilities. That way, their air defenses are gradually degraded while all-out war is avoided.
Again, this is probably just at the rhetorical stage; but analogously, must the bank guard wait until the bank robber actually pulls the trigger? The west shouldn’t be expected to become immersed in Islamic rhetoric; rather, Islamists should use universal language that is empirically-based.
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates – Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Wednesday warned that Iran would increase its enrichment of uranium this weekend to whatever level was needed beyond the cap set by the nuclear agreement.
Iran has repeatedly threatened to increase enrichment above the 3.67 percent level allowed under the nuclear deal by July 7 unless it receives some relief from U.S. sanctions. European countries are struggling to meet Tehran’s demands to keep the 2015 nuclear deal alive.
“Our enrichment rate is not going to be 3.67 percent anymore,” Rouhani said. “It’s going to be as much as we want it to be.”
Uranium needs to be enriched at low levels to be used as fuel in a nuclear reactor but if it is enriched to much higher levels, around 90 percent, it can turned into a weapon.
We are beginning to reconcile our points of view.
Regarding the Iraq-Iran war, Western arms transfers to Iran have been much larger than the figure you quote. This is why Hashemi Rafsanjani became the richest man in the country.
Most countries in the world, including those of the European Union, recognize the legitimacy for a government to nationalize strategic sectors of its economy.
The overthrow of Mossadegh was carried out exclusively by MI6 and the CIA. It was the first time Westerners had staged a popular protest like a Hollywood film scene. There is a very abundant literature on this subject.
I absolutely share your opinion on the religion / political mix. The fundamental problem of Iran for several centuries has been the veneration of the people for the clergy. The last politician to have tried to separate the two domains is Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. He had pronounced for a constitutional reform which put an end to the function of Guide of the Revolution; a function inspired by Plato’s “government of the wise”. Unfortunately, Ahmadinejad was overthrown, with the help of Barack Obama, by an alliance between the Guide and the high Shiite clergy. He is currently under house arrest and his team is in prison.
About the enrichment of uranium. It is currently 3.75%. That is, well below what is needed for a bomb (+ 90%).