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Chronology of a Pretext in Progress The Saga of Iran's Alleged WMD
The Saga of Iran’s Alleged WMD
by SASAN FAYAZMANESH


In an article that I wrote for CounterPunch in early July 2003, I discussed the events leading to the June 19 report on Iran’s nuclear activities prepared by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). The report, as I pointed out, was not the damning account that the holy alliance, US-Israel (USrael), expected to see. A damning report would have given USrael the justification to either report Iran to the UN Security Council for violation of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) or bomb certain nuclear facilities in Iran with impunity.

In either case, USrael would have achieved victory. In the first case, the UN potentially could have imposed economic sanctions against Iran, similar to those imposed on Iraq in the early 1990s. This would have wrecked the Iranian economy and, in the estimate of USrael, helped to overthrow the current Iranian government in favor of a USrael-friendly regime. Or, it would have led to a scenario similar to the one in Iraq, where after years of sanctions an attack would have been waged against a defenseless country for not destroying its nonexistent weapons of mass destruction. In the case of a surgical strike, similar to what Israel did in Iraq in 1981, USrael would destroy Iranian nuclear facilities, including its power plant in Bushehr. This, according to the USraeli calculation, would maintain the monopoly of USrael as a nuclear power. Moreover, such an attack would terrorize the Iranians and show the impotence of their government. This scenario, too, USrael hopes, would lead to the overthrow of the present government in Iran and the installment of a colonial regime friendly to USrael.

To follow the saga of USrael’s attempt to use Iran’s alleged WMD to overthrow the Iranian government, I will chronicle below a sample of news reports that have appeared since July, 2003, on Associate Press (AP), United Press International (UPI), Reuters, Agence France Presse (AFP), and some newspapers. The sample needs no commentary, since it clearly shows that the aim of USrael is to use the excuse of WMD to achieve results similar to those achieved in Iraq.

Chronicle

AP (July 2, 2003)-JERUSALEM- Israeli officials urged the United States and Europe on Monday to pressure Iran to stop its alleged nuclear weapons programs after Tehran inaugurated a missile capable of hitting Israel. . . Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom told European Union foreign ministers in Brussels that Iran’s nuclear program was threatening world stability and warned the new missile could also reach Europe. "The EU should take a key role in the last efforts to prevent them from having this ability," he said.

The Washington Post (August 13)- A grim warning from Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to President Bush that Iran is much closer to producing nuclear weapons than U.S. intelligence believes has triggered concern here that Israel is seriously considering a preemptive strike against Iran’s Bushehr nuclear reactor. Sharon dramatized his forecast by bringing Maj. Gen. Yoav Galant, a three-star army officer who serves as his military secretary, to a meeting with Bush in the Oval Office two weeks ago. . . Galant showered a worried-looking Bush with photographs and charts from a thick dossier on Iran’s covert program.

The Jerusalem Post (August 19)-TEHERAN – Iran, building its first nuclear reactor and planning a second, said Israel would "pay dearly" if it attacks the nuclear installations, as it did an Iraqi facility in 1981. Hamid Reza Asefi, the Foreign Ministry spokesman, told reporters Monday that he hopes Israel, which has warned against Iran’s alleged nuclear weapons program, will not resort to such an "adventure." "At any rate, the Zionist regime proved to be adventurous in the past and doesn’t abide by any principles. In case it will commit such a mistake, it will pay dearly," he said.

Reuters (August 22)-WASHINGTON- The United States, convinced Iran is deceiving the world about its nuclear ambitions, has launched a campaign to bring the issue before the U.N. Security Council, including a top official’s trip next week to Moscow. Undersecretary of State John Bolton, the Bush administration’s senior non-proliferation official, will urge Russia and other countries to lay the Iranian nuclear issues at the feet of the international community’s premier body, U.S. officials told Reuters on Friday.

AP (September 9)-JERUSALEM- Israel has hinted at possible military action to stop what it calls a nightmare scenario – nuclear weapons in the hands of Iran – but for now is waiting for U.S. diplomatic pressure and closer international scrutiny to do the job. . . Israel estimates Iran is just two to three years from having nuclear weapons. . . If diplomacy fails, Israel, which is about 600 miles to the west of Iran, has made clear a military operation is feasible. . . Israeli security officials said Iran’s nuclear program is a focus of the army’s five-year strategic plan, and Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has ordered the Mossad spy service to keep a close eye on the developments in Tehran. . . "Any Iranian regime knows of course that Israel has the capability, the wherewithal, to deal with a military threat," said Zalman Shoval, an aide to Sharon. "Hopefully, a military threat can be avoided, nipped in the bud … before it begins and this is where the United States comes in." Israel has never confirmed being a nuclear power, but it is widely believed to have nuclear weapons.

AP (September 12)-VIENNA- After days of intense lobbying by the United States, diplomats appeared likely to set an October deadline for Iran to prove it is not trying to make nuclear weapons. Ahead of Friday’s meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency’s board of governors, Iran warned it would not accept any deadline that carries the possibility of future U.N. Security Council involvement. But diplomats said that by late Thursday, more than 20 members of the 35-nation board had indicated they would vote in favor of the resolution, with an unknown number likely to abstain.

AFP (September 13)-TEHRAN- Iran has angrily hit back at the UN nuclear watchdog for imposing an October 31 deadline on the Islamic republic to prove it is not secretly developing atomic weapons, dismissing the resolution as "political." Amid warnings that future cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) could be in doubt, Tehran’s ambassador to the body, Ali Akbar Salehi told the official news agency IRNA that "Iran cannot take part in a political process." . . State television said in a commentary that the resolution was "political", and "directed by the United States and the Zionist regime (Israel)."

AP (September 17)-WASHINGTON- Iran’s nuclear program is a threat to the Middle East as well as the United States, a State Department official told U.S. and Israeli lawmakers Wednesday. Paula DeSutter, assistant secretary of state for verification and compliance, told the U.S.-Israel Joint Parliamentary Committee that Iran is likely to develop missiles capable of reaching the United States or Western Europe. DeSutter’s comments were echoed by the four U.S. lawmakers and four Israeli Knesset members on the panel. Israeli lawmaker Yuval Steinitz warned that Iran’s nuclear program could reach the "point of no return" by next year. "Time is running out," he said.

Reuters (September 19)- BRUSSELS/VIENNA- Britain, Germany and France defied the United States last month by offering Iran the prospect of sharing technology if it stops its disputed nuclear fuel enrichment program and accepts tougher U.N. inspections. Western diplomats told Reuters a joint letter by the big three European foreign ministers, the content of which has not previously been disclosed, was delivered to Tehran in early August despite intense lobbying by Washington. It highlighted a gulf between the administration of President Bush and even its closest European ally, Britain, on whether to engage or isolate the Islamic republic.

AFP (September 24)- JERUSALEM- Israel’s military chief of staff issued a warning over the danger represented by non-conventional weapons of "an irresponsible" state such as Iran. "The fact that a country like Iran, an enemy (of Israel) and which is particularly irresponsible, has equipped itself with non-conventional weapons is worrying," General Moshe Yaalon told military radio. "The combination in this case of a non-conventional regime with non-conventional weapons is a concern," Yaalon said in an interview to mark the Jewish new year. "At the moment there is ongoing international diplomatic activity to deal with this threat and it would be good if it succeeds. But if that is not the case we would consider our options," the general added. Israel has come to regard Iran as its chief military threat since the downfall of Saddam Hussein’s regime in Iraq.

Reuters (September 25)-WASHINGTON- President Bush said on Thursday that Iran faces "universal condemnation" if it keeps pursuing a nuclear weapons program. Bush told reporters Iran’s alleged pursuit of a nuclear weapon will be on the agenda for his talks on Friday and Saturday with Russian President Vladimir Putin at Camp David. "It is very important for the world to come together to make it very clear to Iran that there will be universal condemnation if they continue with a nuclear weapons program," Bush said.

Reuters (October 9)-LONDON- A senior U.S. official predicted on Thursday Iran will seek to "throw sand" in the world’s eyes to prevent a showdown over an October 31 deadline for Tehran to dispel international suspicion of its nuclear ambitions. "I think what will happen prior to October 31st is the Iranians will cooperate a little bit and the issue will be, ‘Did they cooperate enough?"’ U.S. Undersecretary of State John Bolton told reporters in London, speaking about the deadline set by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). "They will try and throw sand in our eyes and use a modest level of cooperation to hide some level of obfuscation and lack of cooperation, to conceal as much as they can, to delay, to fight for time, and to avoid having the issue referred to the (U.N.) Security Council," he added. Bolton predicted that if unchecked, Iran could have nuclear weapons capability "toward the end of the decade," though some people theorize it could be much sooner, he said.

AFP (October 12)-JERUSALEM- Newspapers were gripped by US and German press reports of Israel’s nuclear capabilities and that spy agency Mossad has drawn up preemptive plans to attack six nuclear sites in archfoe Iran. The Yediot Aharonot, Maariv and Haaretz dailies splashed on a Los Angeles Times report that modified US-made cruise missiles are capable of carrying nuclear warheads on submarines, allowing Israel to launch atomic weapons from land, air or sea. The three newspapers also carried reports in Monday’s edition of the Germany Der Spiegel magazine that a special Mossad unit received orders two months ago to prepare plans for strikes on half-a-dozen targets in Iran suspected of being used to prepare nuclear weapons. Complete destruction of the targets by F-16 fighter bombers was deemed achievable by Mossad, it said, citing Israeli security officials.

Reuters (October 15)-VIENNA- The U.N. nuclear watchdog asked to look at military sites in Iran as part of its investigation to determine if Iran has a secret atomic weapons program as the United States alleges, diplomats said Wednesday. Diplomats also said it was very likely that the U.N. agency’s governing board would choose to report Iran to the U.N. Security Council in November, though it would almost certainly not press for any kind of sanctions yet.

AP (October 16)-WASHINGTON- Acting through a prominent conservative with friends at the Pentagon, a central figure in the Iran-Contra scandal has passed allegations to the Bush administration that enriched uranium was smuggled from Iraq into Iran five years ago and some may remain hidden in Iraq. The intermediary, Michael Ledeen, said the CIA failed to aggressively check out the allegations because of its long-held distrust of Manucher Ghorbanifar, the middleman in the Iran-Contra arms-for-hostages deals of the Reagan years. The CIA agrees it is skeptical of information from Ghorbanifar, saying he has "proven to be a fabricator."

AP (October 22)-TEHRAN- With the European Union now in his corner, Iran’s president on Wednesday described the showdowns over the country’s nuclear ambitions as a diplomatic "boxing match" with the United States. . . Iran is claiming victory in the latest round. A promise to expand the bounds of nuclear inspections and suspend uranium enrichment-made Tuesday after talks with foreign ministers from Germany, France and Britain-is expected to secure Iran’s immediate goal: keeping allegations of a secret atomic weapons program from reaching the U.N. Security Council. But Iran also displayed its ability to work the diplomatic seams as part of a broader strategy to isolate Washington on the nuclear issues, experts said. Iran-facing an Oct. 31 deadline to prove its nuclear program is peaceful-reached out to EU heavyweights that favor dialogue with the Islamic rulers. The tougher line favored by Washington suddenly appeared stalled.

AFP (October 23)-VIENNA- Iran delivered a report to the UN nuclear watchdog to allay international concern about its nuclear program, just a week ahead of a deadline to prove it is not secretly developing atomic weapons. . . The keenly-awaited handover of the report comes two days after three EU foreign ministers visited Tehran to persuade the Islamic republic to come clean on its nuclear program and allow tougher inspections of nuclear sites. The report "fully discloses all our past peaceful activities in the nuclear field," said Iranian ambassador to the International Atomic Energy Agency, Ali Akbar Salehi, who handed over the documents to IAEA chief Mohamed ElBaradei.

AFP (October 31)-VIENNA- The UN nuclear watchdog described Iran’s declaration on its atomic program as comprehensive but cautioned that the jury is still out on its accuracy, as a crunch deadline falls Friday for the Islamic Republic to prove it is not secretly making the bomb. . . International Atomic Energy Agency chief Mohamed ElBaradei said in Canada Thursday that the report Iran filed October 23, a week ahead of an IAEA deadline Friday for Iran to prove it is not making nuclear weapons, "looks comprehensive.". . He stressed however that IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) inspectors were " in Iran now, verifying that declaration."

AP (November 2)-MOSCOW- Prime Minister Ariel Sharon arrived Sunday in Moscow, where he is expected to talk with President Vladimir Putin over Israel’s concerns over Iran’s nuclear program and a Russian-backed U.N. resolution on a Mideast peace plan. Iran has pledged to open its nuclear program to unfettered inspections and to suspend uranium enrichment. But Israeli officials fear Iran is continuing to covertly acquire nuclear arms know-how, at least some of it from countries of the former Soviet Union, possibly including Russia. The head of Israeli military intelligence told a parliamentary committee last week that, if unchecked, Iran would have a self-sufficient nuclear weapons capability by next summer.

AP (November 10)-VIENNA- A confidential United Nations nuclear agency report has found "no evidence" to back U.S. claims that Iran tried to make atomic arms, but it cannot rule out the possibility because of past cover-ups by Tehran, diplomats told The Associated Press on Monday. . . Citing the report by the head of the Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency, the diplomats said the 29-page document faults Iran for not telling the truth in the past about its nuclear programs.

AFP (November 12)-WASHINGTON)- Visiting Israeli Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz said Wednesday he raised the Jewish state’s concerns over Iran’s nuclear program with US officials. Mofaz, speaking after meeting with Secretary of State Colin Powell, reiterated comments he made in an address earlier in the day in which he warned that Iran would reach a "point of no return" in its nuclear program within a year unless there were concerted efforts to stop it. . . "Concentrated efforts are needed to delay, to stop or to prevent the Iranian nuclear program," he said in the speech, according to a transcript of the event. . . "I hope that you understand what I said," Mofaz told reporters at the State Department. . . An Israeli official said earlier that Mofaz had raised also the matter with US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld on Tuesday.

Reuters (November 13)-VIENNA- The United States has accused the U.N. nuclear watchdog of downplaying what it says is clear proof Iran is working on an atomic bomb, in a dispute over the word "evidence" reminiscent of the run-up to the war on Iraq. . . The International Atomic Energy Agency’s confidential report obtained by Reuters concluded there was no evidence yet that Iran’s nuclear program was for anything but peaceful purposes. In the first U.S. reaction, Undersecretary of State John Bolton said on Wednesday this was "impossible to believe." . . On Thursday, the IAEA stuck to its guns. "We stand by the report, but it’s classified and will be considered at next week’s (IAEA) board meeting," said spokesman Mark Gwozdecky.

AFP (November 13)­WASHINGTON- The United States fueled a growing transatlantic rift over Iran as it dismissed as "impossible to believe" a report from the UN’s nuclear watchdog that said there was no evidence Iran is pursuing atomic weapons. . . John Bolton, Washington’s top diplomat for arms control, said the International Atomic Energy Agency’s conclusion flew in the face of established facts. However, he stopped short of directly criticizing IAEA director general Mohammed ElBaradei who authored the report. . . "After extensive documentation of Iran’s denials and deceptions over an 18-year period and a long litany of serious violations of Iran’s commitments to the IAEA, the report nonetheless concluded that ‘no evidence’ had been found of an Iranian nuclear weapons program," Bolton said.

AFP (November 17)-JERUSALEM- Iran’s nuclear program poses the biggest threat to Israel’s existence since the country’s creation more than five decades ago, the chief of the Mossad overseas intelligence agency warned MPs. In a rare appearance before the Knesset’s foreign affairs and defence committee, Meir Dagan said Iran was now close to the "point of no return" in developing nuclear arms. The program was "the biggest threat to Israel’s existence since its creation" in 1948, he was quoted as saying Monday. The dire warning comes just three days before the United Nation’s nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), is to decide whether to haul the Islamic republic before the UN Security Council for hiding sensitive aspects of its nuclear program.

AFP (November 19)-VIENNA- Israel urged leading European members of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) on Wednesday to take a tougher stand against Iran’s uranium enrichment program. Speaking on the eve of a crucial meeting at the agency’s Vienna headquarters, Israeli Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom said "a robust European stand is needed" because "Iran has violated its commitments" under IAEA rules. Britain, France and Germany are expected to resist a call from the United States at an IAEA board meeting scheduled Thursday to cite Iran for non-compliance with the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

AFP (November 19)-ROME- Israel’s Prime Minister Ariel Sharon called on EU president Italy to pressure Iran for guarantees about its nuclear program in talks here Wednesday with Italy’s Foreign Minister Franco Frattini. "The prime minister has asked Europe to intervene to ensure transparency in Iran’s nuclear program and we told him that we are waiting concrete signs from Iran," Frattini told reporters after the meeting in Rome which lasted more than an hour. The European Union has taken a notably softer line on Iran’s nuclear program than the United States, Israel’s closest ally, which insists Teheran is seeking nuclear weapons in violation of international agreements.

AFP (November 20)- WASHINGTON- The United States confirmed Thursday its desire to take up Iran’s nuclear program before the UN Security Council, which could place sanctions on the Islamic republic. The State Department said Washington expected the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), meeting Thursday and Friday in Vienna, to move in that direction.

AFP (November 21)-VIENNA- Iran has brazenly and systematically violated its nuclear non-proliferation obligations, the US ambassador to the UN atomic watchdog charged. "Iran’s breaches of its obligations have been brazen and systematic and far from merely ‘technical’ ones," Ken Brill told a board of governors meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in Vienna. . . The United States accuses Iran of secretly trying to develop nuclear weapons and wants the IAEA’s 35-nation board to ask the UN Security Council to address the claims, a move that opens the door to possible sanctions.

AFP (November 21)-VIENNA- Europe’s big three–Britain, France and Germany–were toughening a resolution for a Friday meeting of the UN atomic watchdog in order to reach agreement with the hard-line United States on warning Iran about hidden nuclear activities, diplomats said. In intense, sometimes acrimonious, closed-door negotiations at the Vienna headquarters of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the "Euro 3" went through two revisions Thursday to move closer to the US position. They went from talking merely about Iranian "failures" to comply to saying the IAEA "strongly deplores Iran’s past breaches" of international nuclear safeguards agreements, according to a text shown to reporters.

AP (November 21)-VIENNA- The United States accused Iran of trying to make nuclear arms, in harsh comments Friday at a U.N. atomic agency meeting that reflected the split between Washington and key European nations over how far to go in censuring Tehran for past activities. Unable to bridge that rift, delegates at a board of governors’ meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency decided to adjourn until next week in hopes of finding a compromise.

AFP (November 22)-WASHINGTON- EU and US leaders sought to bridge a transatlantic divide, this time on tackling Iran’s nuclear program, Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage said. "There’s movement on all sides as we fashion the appropriate response," he told PBS television. . . Armitage said the transatlantic allies were not at loggerheads. . . "We’re still continuing these discussions," he told the public broadcaster, according to a transcript provided by the State Department. . . The number-two US diplomat did not bring up the State Department’s earlier goal of taking the matter before the UN Security Council, which could decide whether to impose sanctions. On Friday, the State Department backed off.

AFP (November 23)-JERUSALEM- Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon is personally supervising efforts to stop arch enemy Iran from acquiring a nuclear arsenal, Israeli army radio said on Sunday. Israel’s hardline premier has also instructed the foreign ministry to lobby other countries to act to stop Iran’s nuclear activities, the radio said. . . Mossad, Israels’s overseas intelligence service, which is directly answerably to Sharon, has been put in charge of "all other aspects" of efforts to foil the Islamic republic’s alleged covert nuclear programme, it added. . . Israel and the United States accuse Tehran of trying to develop nuclear weapons, a charge Iran fiercely denies. . . The plan of action was drawn up during a special meeting Sharon convened with Foreign Minister Sylvan Shalom, Defence Minister Shaoul Mofaz and Mossad agents, the radio said.
AFP (November 25)-TEHRAN- Iran on Tuesday slammed Israel’s campaign to convince the world that the Islamic republic is intent on acquiring a nuclear weapon. "The falsification of the facts and negative propaganda about Iran’s civilian nuclear activities are totally motivated by the hostility of the Zionist regime," foreign ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Assefi told the student news agency ISNA. "The Zionist regime is seeking, via political tactics and false statements, to disturb the atmosphere of the board of governors’ meeting," he said, referring to a session Wednesday of the 35-member board of the Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) on Iran’s nuclear activities.

AFP (November 25)-VIENNA- The United States yielded to Europe’s big three­Britain, Germany and France­in a compromise UN draft resolution that condemns Iran’s nuclear program but stops short of taking the issue to the UN Security Council for possible sanctions, diplomats said. "This is a resolution we can live with," a Western diplomat said of the text for the UN nuclear watchdog that balances the US call to condemn Iran for almost two decades of covert nuclear activities with the European demand that Iran be rewarded for cooperating with the watchdog since October. . . After five days of intense discussions with US diplomats, the three main EU countries known as the Euro 3 filed the draft late Monday with the Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency, the diplomats said.

AFP (November 27)-TEHRAN- Iran has gleefully welcomed a UN nuclear watchdog’s resolution on its atomic program as a victory over arch-foe Washington, ignoring warnings that international pressure on Tehran may have only just begun. . . "The United States did not achieve a single one of its objectives concerning Iran’s nuclear activities," said Hassan Rowhani, who as secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council handles the country’s nuclear affairs. . . Foreign ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi said: "What has taken place these past few days is the failure of unilateral policies … and a victory for cooperation, politics and dialogue."
AFP (November 27)-VIENNA- The UN atomic watchdog has given Iran breathing space over its contested nuclear program but the United States is lying in wait for revelations of hidden activities that will clear the way to tougher action, analysts said.

Conclusion

The above chronicle of news items clearly shows the pattern of behavior of USrael and its true intensions: To use the nonexistent Iranian atomic weapons program to overthrow yet another government in the Middle East and to make the region safe for the USraeli colonial rule. Thanks to the vigilance of the Europeans-a majority of whom considers USrael to be the "biggest threat to world peace" (AFP-Nov 3, 2003)-the plan to start another war in the Middle East was foiled for the time being. Yet, the saga is not over. USrael is "lying in wait," not for "revelations of hidden activities," as the "analysts" believe, but for an excuse to carry out a sinister plan.

SASAN FAYAZMANESH is Associate Professor of Economics
at California State University in Fresno. He can be reached at: sasanf@csufresno.edu