The spotlight on Iran intensifies

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Pressure on the Islamic Republic of Iran to abandon its plans to convert fuel into highly enriched uranium is increasing. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the UN Security Council, coerced by the United States of America, is moving to impose sanctions if Iran does not comply with its demands.

Iran is a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), a body set up to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons and aims to develop the peaceful use of nuclear power. Ratified by 190 countries in the world, the countries known to possess nukes, but have not signed the NPT are India, Pakistan and Israel.

The USA, Britain and Israel have turned the world’s spotlight onto Iran. Silvan Shalom, the Israeli foreign minister, who described this as a "nightmare scenario”, alleged that Iran was "fast approaching the point of no return in its efforts to acquire nuclear weapons capability." The Israeli Defense Minister, Shaul Mofaz wailed: “Concentrated efforts are needed to delay, to stop or to prevent the Iranian nuclear program. I hope that you understand what I say.”

Richard Boucher, US State Department official summed up- "There’s no economic justification for a state that is so rich in oil and gas like Iran to build these hugely expensive nuclear fuel cycle facilities”. Britain’s Prime Minister Tony Blair echoed that preventing the spread of weapons of mass destruction –” if necessary by pre-emptive force –” is at the top of his foreign policy priorities.

This elite ‘nuclear club’ possessing weapons of mass destruction has used proliferation to wipe out competition and to maintain its stranglehold over countries opposing its hegemonic designs. The United States has at all times possessed the largest arsenal of nuclear weapons in the world and is the only country which has used such weapons in war, in the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Clearly, the USA is guilty of double standards, not only because it fails to take into account its own massive nuclear stockpile, but also its refusal to consider the threat posed by its allies Pakistan, India and Israel. Seymour Hersh in The Samson Option has documented how Israel has built up its nuclear arsenal with Western connivance. Yet the US, the IAEA and the UN Security Council has remained silent on the threat posed by Israel’s possession of the bomb, while whipping up a hysteria over the alleged Iranian threat.

For its part, the Islamic Republic has been forthright in both its declarations about the purpose and progress of its nuclear program and its adherence to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Pact, which is more than can be said for either Israel or the United States.

Iran says it is honouring a pledge not to put uranium hexafluoride gas into centrifuges, spin it and make enriched uranium. Iran, it must be noted, is not prohibited from enrichment under its obligations to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

Iran is sensitive to the alarming and hostile rhetoric of “illegal” weapons of mass destruction emanating from its adversaries through the IAEA, paid western journalists and leaders demanding an immediate halt to the peaceful nuclear programme. Surrounded by regimes subservient to, and harbouring American bases, including Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, the Gulf and the Central Asian states, present a formidable and daunting challenge.

Threats by Bush, Blair and Sharon are setting the stage for a future confrontation with Iran. Israel previously destroyed Iraq’s Osirak nuclear reactor in 1991 has threatened the same. The Los Angeles Times reported that “the CIA has briefed friendly foreign intelligence services on a contingency plan for air and missile strikes on Iranian nuclear installations."

The hypocrisy of the IAEA is evident: there is silence while the US continues to develop new forms of nuclear weapons. US-friendly states that refused to sign the NPT but have nuclear weapons (India, Israel and now Pakistan) are treated with kid gloves, but Iran, a signatory of the NPT, is being threatened with punishment and possible attack.

The Canadian president of the Centre for Islam and Science, Dr Muzaffar Iqbal pointed out that when compared with the stand taken by North Korea, the case against Iran falls flat. Iran has no bomb and has consistently said that it has no plans to develop one. It has a declared nuclear-power programme, however, and it plans to develop full-cycle fuel-enrichment to achieve self-sufficiency. But even this appears to be unacceptable to the US and its allies.

The issue is not merely that of fuel-enrichment. As the only Muslim country at the moment with an Islamic government, Iran stands out in the whole world as a prototype for future Islamic movements. It has its weaknesses, and the Revolution has not been successful in maintaining its momentum, but it remains the only reasonably successful experiment in establishing an Islamic state by a mass revolution in modern times.

Iran’s nuclear programme gives the Islamic Republic something that is fundamentally important to Iran but intolerable to the US –” freedom to act independently. An indigenous nuclear program will enable the Islamic Republic to manage its own energy resources and technological development. It is a demonstration of national will and sovereignty. This is what is not "acceptable" to those who wish to impose their own economic and political systems on the rest of the world.

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