The Islamic Republic of Iran (IRI) has been developing nuclear power for a number of years. The government asserts that the purpose of Iran’s program of enriching uranium is to develop energy, not weapons, and U.S. and European spy agencies have provided no evidence that this is not so. Yet, as with Iraq’s nonexistent “weapons of mass destruction,” the White House is using Iran’s denied nuclear schemes to justify considering another invasion in the Middle East.
In a rational world, no country should have nuclear arms. But it is boundless hypocrisy for the United States, the only country that has ever used nuclear bombs against an enemy, to present itself as the world’s guardian against them.
And, whatever nuclear goals Iran has, they are not what’s behind the U.S. military threat.
The neoconservatives who came to power in the U.S. five years ago have long had plans to invade both Iraq and Iran under one pretext or another. What the empire builders want is control over economic and geopolitical pivots around the world.
Iran is surely one of these points. It dominates a vast oil-rich region from the Persian Gulf north to the Caspian Sea, an area from which Russia, China, Japan and Europe get their natural gas and oil. It is the world’s fourth-biggest exporter of oil. It is a trade artery to the markets of Central Asia. It supports and funds Hamas in Palestine and influences Shi’a Moslems in Iraq and Lebanon.
For 27 years, since the “embassy hostage crisis” during the Jimmy Carter administration, Iran assets worth $10 billion dollars have been frozen in U.S. banks, and Washington has shunned direct negotiations with Iran. Now, however, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice says she will join Russia, China and European allies in direct talks with Iran over its nuclear program.
Why the change? For one thing, attacking Iran would jeopardize the concrete help the IRI has been giving to the U.S.-engineered occupation governments in Iraq and Afghanistan. For another, the U.S. is stretched thin militarily and stuck in a quagmire in Iraq. With sentiment against the merciless war on Iraq growing, administration officials know that they have little support for a similar undertaking in Iran — not internationally and not domestically, even from the military establishment.
For its part, the IRI regime has been suffering from instability for a long time. Recently there have been numerous outbursts, riots, and strikes, with unrest in Azerbaijan, demonstrations by women and students, and labor actions by factory workers and Tehran bus drivers. Millions of young people have no hope of decent jobs and rebel at fundamentalist restrictions. To stabilize its grip, the regime is using the issue of nuclear power as a rallying cry to heighten nationalist fervor.
Neither Iranian nor U.S. workers, however, will put up with the manipulations of their regimes indefinitely.