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Iran’s Nuclear Enrichment Facility


 What is going on with Iran?  Recent internal unrest, protest, and reactionary oppression aside, the country has been in the headlines a lot lately.  The reason is the supposed controversy surrounding the country’s nuclear program.  At least that is the stated pretext.  Voices on the left have been sounding the alarm for years about the impending bombing campaign about to descend on Iran courtesy of the US, Israel, or both.  Although Bush II invaded and occupied two of the countries that border Iran, his administration never pulled the trigger on Iran.  That wasn’t because there weren’t advocates, both in and outside of the administration, but rather because of the geo-political realties and the revolt of the upper echelons of US military.  Well, now Obama is here and once again Iran seems to be falling under the crosshairs of US.  I have to believe that all the talk on the Left of a media amplified propaganda campaign followed by an impending strike on Iran is a bit off base.  It actually seems to me that in raising the alarm and drawing on the similar circumstances in which disinformation was presented to the US public before the Iraq invasion; the Left is trying to make up for the earlier episode.  Admirable as that may be the reality of the situation seems to imply that a US (or Israeli) strike against Iran, say in bombing it’s nuclear facilities, would do far more damage to US interests than help them.

Leaving that possibility aside for the moment, let us return to the nuclear issue.  Iran just concluded a meeting with the P5 +1 (US, UK, France, China, Russia, and Germany) in Geneva on October 1.  Despite previous rhetorical claims to the contrary from the Iranian government, the main issues discussed were related to Iran’s nuclear program.  This meeting comes on the heals of an announcement by Iran of a second uranium enrichment facility currently under construction in Qom.  In the same time period Iran tested a new ballistic missile with a range of 2,000 km, putting the southern edge of Europe, Israel, the Persian Gulf region and Afghanistan all within range.  Both have been trumpeted by politicians and the media as examples of Iran’s dangerous and aggressive nature and reasons why they must be stopped, at any means.  Let us examine both of these points in more detail.

The new revelation of an enrichment facility at Qom (the second know such facility in Iran, the other being located in Natanz) has been characterized by the media and politicians in the west as ‘secret’, ‘illegal’, and a sign of Iran’s dubious intentions to cooperate with the ‘international community’.  There have also been comments from some media outlets about the ‘nuclear weapons making facility’ in Qom.  In reality all these statements are utterly false or misleading.  Firstly, the enrichment facility is still being constructed and is a long way, years, from being operational.  Secondly, under the existing nuclear treaty regime, the NPT, Iran has the right to develop nuclear technology freely in accordance with the principal of peaceful use.  Under the NPT Iran, or and other signatory to that treaty, is not obliged to inform the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) of the plant until before it becomes operational.  Iran is in full compliance with the treaty in this regard.

However, in 2005 Iran voluntarily adhered to the Additional Protocol of the NPT, which mandates that a signatory inform the IAEA when the plans are officially put in place to begin a nuclear facility.  It is this sticking point that critics have decried the Qom facility as illegal.  Upon closer inspection though this accusation also falls to pieces.  Iran only voluntarily adhered to the Additional Protocol in 2005 as an act of goodwill towards the P5+1 and never signed nor ratified the Protocol in the Iranian legislature.  In 2007, following increased pressure and sanctions, Iran informed the IAEA that it would no longer be adhering to the Additional Protocol as it had not resulted in anything positive for Iranian interests.  Thus Iran’s announcement of the facility at Qom was fully in accord with the existing NPT framework and was only spun by US, European, and the Israeli governments as a deception and act of illegality on the part of the Iranians.  If one reads any number of mainstream media accounts it appears that Obama was the one to announce to the world that US intelligence had discovered the Iranian facility and the Iranian announcement followed in reaction.  In fact it was the other way around, with Iran informing the IAEA of the facility days before Obama made his disclosure.  Let us move on to the missiles next.

Iran has also recently tested a new series of ballistic missiles with a reputed range of 2,000 km.  Of course the predictable alarm bells were rung from the media and scaremonger politicians about the ‘mad mullahs’ and the danger Iran is posing to the world.  It is clear though that the missile system is only intended as a defense system against attack from Iran’s powerful and aggressive enemies, namely the US and Israel.  One only has to look at recent history to see how the US has attacked and invaded Iran’s neighbors (Iraq 1990, 2003 Afghanistan 2001) and Israel has bombed its neighbors in limited air strikes (Iraq 1980, Syria 2008) and launched invasions (Lebanon 1980, 2006).  For its part Iran has launched no aggressive war in its modern history and has a policy of ‘no first strikes’ at the heart of its defense philosophy in contrast to preemptive doctrines adopted by the US and Israel.  Any defense or security analyst will tell you that the Iranian missile systems are in place as a defensive deterrent against an attack.  This is also the stated policy of the Iranian government.  A nuclear weapons program is against the interests of Iran, as has been stated numerous times by various political figure in the country.  The same can be said of any offensive war or aggression on the behalf of the Iranians and is only possible in reaction as a response to aggression against Iran.

After digging only a tiny bit under the surface the reality of the situation surrounding Iran begins to emerge, a reality far different from the one currently being espoused by Northern politicians and echoed by the media.  As Lenin said, “A lie repeated enough becomes truth”.  Let us hope that by dispelling some of the lies we may advert another horrible truth from coming to pass in Asia.

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