Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Iran Intelligence Report: Another Psychological Warfare?

By Soraya Sepahpour-Ulrich for

To subdue an enemy without fighting is the acme of skill…’ - Sun Tzu

Under the current administration, it is increasingly difficult to know who the enemy is, but what is certain is that the latest National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) is a brilliantly executed psychological warfare by way of misinformation. This dastardly plan is so devious that even the anti-war groups are jubilant at its release, and they are naively sharing its contents. Perhaps non are as enthusiastic about the report as the most powerful lobby group in America hostile to Iran.

The AIPAC was quick to announce: "Far from acquitting Iran, the NIE reveals that Tehran continues to violate the international community's calls to end the pursuit of the fuel cycle and the ability to make highly enriched uranium, concludes that Iran has utilized and has at its disposal a hidden, secret second unacknowledged, unmonitored track for enriching bomb fuel, and has engaged in a nuclear weaponization program, an assessment never before made public by the American intelligence community". "All in all, it's a clarion call for additional and continued effort to pressure Iran economically and politically to end its illicit nuclear programs” (source JTA

The NIE claims that ‘Iran halted its nuclear weapons program in 2003’. This report now in circulation, and being repeated by every media outlet, and as importantly, by way of word of mouth, is giving credibility to the warmongers that Iran actually had a nuclear weapons program, with the idea that ‘repetition begets belief’. Drumming home a false message, the White House will get the justification it needs to impose further sanctions, with the idea of escalating into a war.

In December 2002, an Iranian terrorist group, the Mojahedeen-e Khalg (MEK), listed on the State Department’s list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations, informed the U.S. government of the existence of two nuclear sites in Iran. Sy Hersh later revealed in The New Yorker that Israel had provided them with this information. It must also be pointed out that as a member of the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), Iran is not under any obligations to inform the IAEA of construction sites. However, members must inform the Atomic Agency 180 days prior to introducing uranium processing equipment and material to the site. Once the United States confirmed the existence of the sites by satellite, it accused Tehran of "across-the-board pursuit of weapons of mass destruction." To dispel such accusations, Iran agreed to intrusive inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency. This accusation was false.

Iran was late in reporting which is a Safeguard issue. In a spirit of cooperation, and in an attempt to demonstrate its in October 2003, after meeting French, German and British foreign ministers, Tehran voluntarily stopped the process of enriched uranium; it also allowed the IAEA to carry out intrusive, spot inspections. No country has allowed as many inspection hours as Iran. In the meanwhile, it proposed to operate Iran’s enrichment program as joint ventures with private and public sector firms from other countries; this would ensure that the program remained transparent and could not be secretly diverted for military purposes, at the same time it would maintain Iran’s sovereignty by having an indigenously enriched uranium cycle (source: IAEA Bulletin Online, vol 46, no 2, 2004 “Nuclear fuel cycle: which way forward for multilateral approaches?”) . Although this was rejected, Iran continued to cooperate.

Iran suspended its enrichment activities for two and half years, but each time under pressure from the U.S., the burden of proof was transferred to Iran knowing the negative could not be proved. Instead of Iran getting the full cooperation of the IAEA for the development of nuclear technology, it was ordered to stop preparations for large-scale uranium enrichment. In 2005 U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell labeled Iran a growing danger and called for the UN Security Council to impose sanctions.

According to Article 19 of Iran’s safeguards agreement with the IAEA, the Agency may refer Iran to the UN Security Council if it is “unable to verify that there has been no diversion of nuclear material required to be safeguarded under this agreement, to nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices”. The IAEA had reported that all declared fissile material in Iran had been accounted for, and none has been diverted. (source:

In December 2006, Congress overwhelmingly signed a controversial bill to expand the sale of civilian nuclear technology to India. Not only is this bill in violation of Article III of the NPT given that India is not a member state of the NPT, but the irony is that the catalyst for the Nuclear Supplier Group (NSG)) in 1976 was India’s nuclear test. This group (first called the London Group) met to restrain the transfer of uranium-enrichment and plutonium-extraction equipment and technology. What added to the Iranian grievance was the speech given by undersecretary of State, Nicholas Burns, as he announced the U.S.-India nuclear cooperation: “after 30 years we have realized that the NPT is ineffective, therefore we are going to reward India for non-proliferation . In response to a reporter who quizzed him about Iran, he said we plan to punish Iran for violating the NPT. Iran was sent to the UNSC, however, later it was revealed by (former) undersecretary for arms control Radermaker that the U.S. had coerced India into voting against Iran.

As for the covert operations Iran is accused of, again, it is worthwhile examining the facts versus the mainstream media propaganda.

In 1982 Iranian officials announced that they planned to build a reactor powered by their own uranium at the Isfahan nuclear technology centre after the Iraqis destroyed the one almost completed under the Shah. The IAEA inspected that and other facilities in Iran in 1983, and planned to assist Iran in converting yellowcake into reactor fuel. The IAEA report stated clearly that its aim was to “contribute to the formation of local expertise and manpower needed to sustain an ambitious program in the field of nuclear power reactor technology and fuel cycle technology” – the inalienable right of an NPT signatory under Article IV, but the agency’s assistance program was terminated under US pressure (source: Mark Hibbs, “US in 1983 stopped IAEA from helping Iran make UF6", Nuclear Fuel, 4 August 2003).

Undeterred, Iran searched for alternatives sources of uranium and in 1984 Iranian radio announced that negotiations with Niger on the purchase of uranium were nearing conclusion. In 1985 another broadcast openly discussed the discovery of uranium deposits in Iran with the director of Iran’s atomic energy organization. In 1992, an IAEA spokesperson, Melissa Flemming, confirmed that its inspectors had visited the mines and Iran had announced plans to develop the full nuclear fuel cycle. (Source: Associated Press, 10 February 2003 and “Front End nuclear capability being developed”, Nuclear Engineering International, 31 March 2003).

Tehran had openly entered into negotiations with several nations, including Brazil, Russia, India, Argentina, Germany, Ukraine and Spain, for the purchase of nuclear energy facilities and components. Almost all of these deals ultimately fell through after pressure from Washington. Iran finally turned to the Soviet Union( later Russia) and concluded a deal in .

Despite economic ties with Iran and a foothold into the Moslem world, under pressure from the U.S., Russian officials expelled Iranians studying nuclear physics and missile science from Russian schools in late 1997 (Iran Times, August 22, 1997). They also halted all vocational training of Iranian students in fields that may have had applications for nuclear weapons and missiles. In addition to this, the power stations that Iran bought from Russia and China are peaceful nuclear technology. President Yeltsin assured Washington that Iran would not be able to make weapons-grade plutonium and that he had canceled the "military components" of two nuclear reactors bound for Iran. Under U.S. pressure, both Ukraine and China have made some adjustments. China also suspended the sale of a plant for the conversion of uranium hexafluoride, which is required for making fuel rod.

None of this points to a covert nuclear program.

For readers who feel some relief that the prospect of an imminent war has somewhat faded, let us be reminded of the report’s ‘findings’, its implications, and of recent history.
Word is being circulated that sanctions were effective in curbing Iran’s nuclear weapons program. First, as discussed above, Iran did not have a nuclear weapons program, and second, Iran voluntarily halted its enrichment program two years BEFORE sanctions were imposed on it.

The international community must put pressure on world leaders to lift current sanctions on Iran. It cannot be emphasized strongly enough that sanctions are a form of long warfare. How can we forget the 500,000 Iraqi children who died as a result of our sanctions? We shamelessly overlook the other Iraqis whose lives we took with our sanctions. As citizens of the country we live in and as members of a global community, each one of us must be reminded of the “Universal Declaration of Human Rights” and act on it:

Whereas recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world,Whereas it is essential to promote the development of friendly relations between nations,Whereas the peoples of the United Nations have in the Charter reaffirmed their faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person and in the equal rights of men and women and have determined to promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom, Whereas Member States have pledged themselves to achieve, in cooperation with the United Nations, the promotion of universal respect for and observance of human rights and fundamental freedoms.