The Nuclear Demon That Won’t Go Away


Recent news reports in Israeli and US newspapers claim that Israel is planning to attack Iran this summer. The purpose of the attack will be to destroy that country’s nuclear facilities. These same reports also claim that Washington has authorized these attacks. Indeed, unless Iran does not respond to the rumored attacks, one can safely assume that not only will Washington authorize the destruction of Tehran’s nuclear power capability; its armies will be ready to go into Iran. Although both capitals are currently publicly committed to the diplomatic effort spearheaded by the European Union, Israeli officials say the time to attack will come later this year when they believe Iran will be in a position to start processing uranium. These same officials state further that Tel Aviv’s inner cabinet has decided to act alone if the impasse continues after that time. “If all efforts to persuade Iran to drop (what Israel and the US believe to be) its plans to produce nuclear weapons should fail, the US administration will authorize Israel to attack,” said one Israeli security source. (London Times)

Meanwhile, the U.S. Navy aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt is on the move in Atlantic Ocean and rumored to be headed towards the Mediterranean Sea. According to the Indian Daily and a few other sources, if this were true there would be three carrier groups in the corridor of the Middle East. Such a confluence of forces would create quite a strike force against Iran and Syria.

How would such an attack be responded to by Iran? One can assume that the answer is with the greatest force their military can muster. In addition, how would the growing Shia power base in Iraq take such aggression? One scenario that comes to mind is the expansion of the current Iraqi insurgency to include almost all Shia factions. If this were to happen, the unsafe streets (for US forces and their collaborators) of Iraq’s rebellious cities and towns would become the unsafe streets of the entire country. Tacit or not, any approval of an Israeli attack on Iran would not only embolden and strengthen the insurgency in Iraq, it would make most every nation in the Middle East and Central Asia a living hell for US troops that are stationed there. As for Iran, the movement for democracy would be halted as the regime there mobilized against the attackers. Not only would Israel be in the sights of Iranian missiles, so would US troops and their civilian counterparts.

Interesting to this entire scenario is the implication expressed in a New York Times piece that Washington’s real aim in its moves toward Iran and other non-friendly countries with nuclear potential is to make it impossible for these countries to have any type of nuclear capability, peaceful or otherwise. Of course, this doesn’t mean that Washington has become part of the antinuclear movement. What it does mean is that Washington is intensifying its decades-long drive to keep WMD in the hands of its allies and out of the hands of its present and future enemies. This is why Tehran will not give in to diplomatic bribery from the EU or DC. It knows that if it does, the way would be paved for an even greater military domination of the Middle East by Washington and Tel Aviv. In addition, Iran could eventually find itself in the awkward position of either bending to the demands of the US in terms of its oil sales (since military domination could eventually pave the way to Washington’s complete control of fossil fuel energy supplies) or, even more incredibly, actually buying energy from US energy companies. The latter could happen if Tehran’s nuclear power development program was ended either diplomatically or via war. If it was, and Tehran’s claim that its energy needs truly can’t be met from its internal fossil fuel supply become true, it could find itself back in the position of buying oil from a neighboring country via the US.

So, don’t be surprised when Tehran refuses the so-called overtures to give up its nuclear program. No matter how the western media frame the discussions between Tehran and the EU about this matter, there is only one real reason that Washington supports the EU moves. That reason is because the forces in power see them as one more tactic in Washington’s drive to demobilize all potential WMD not controlled by Washington and its allies. In what some might interpret as a rare show of restraint, Washington is supporting these talks. Of course, a more cynical observer might think that Washington is only supporting them to give itself time to regroup militarily, since it doubts very much that Tehran will surrender its right under the Non-Proliferation Treaty to develop nuclear power. This strain of thought acknowledges the current overextension of US military forces and assumes that this strain will ease by the time those forces would be needed in Iran.

In a similar manner, this is the same rationale that underlies the Bush Administration’s support for any kind of multilateral talks with the North Korean government. Currently, the US and southern Korean militaries are beginning their scheduled military exercises in and around the Korean peninsula. Included in these “games” is the deployment of the USS Kitty Hawk-a carrier equipped with nuclear weapons. As in the past, Pyongyang’s forces have been placed on alert. This is because they fear that the mobilized forces of the US and Seoul could be easily be moved from a “war game” mobilization to an actual war. Pyongyang’s fears are not misplaced, since joint US-S. Korean maneuvers have almost gone this way in the past. The most recent occurrence was in 1993, when the Clinton administration almost attacked northern Korea for the same reasons the Bush folks would today.

Like Tehran, Pyongyang is under constant threat from the US, mostly because it refuses to go along with Washington’s plans for the world. Also, like Tehran, Pyongyang not only has a nuclear power program, it believes that it has every right to have one and will defend that right. Unlike, Tehran, Pyongyang has few energy sources of its own and is dependent on imports to fuel its industry and homes. In addition, any moves toward a more open society in the northern part of the Korean peninsula will (if they haven’t already) certainly fall by the wayside as long as the US threatens to attack.
In the title for this piece I refer to a nuclear demon. This reference is not only to the fact of nuclear power and all of its destructive potentialities. It is more specific than that: that demon is the United States and its use of nuclear weaponry to threaten the world into submission.

RON JACOBS is author of The Way the Wind Blew: a history of the Weather Underground, which is just republished by Verso. Jacobs’ essay on Big Bill Broonzy is featured in CounterPunch’s new collection on music, art and sex, Serpents in the Garden. He can be reached at:






Ron Jacobs is the author of Daydream Sunset: Sixties Counterculture in the Seventies published by CounterPunch Books. He has a new book, titled Nowhere Land: Journeys Through a Broken Nation coming out in Spring 2024.   He lives in Vermont. He can be reached at: