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U.S government claims Tehran is near having nuclear arms
Atomic agency report is latest salvo in U.S. anti-Iran campaign
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A socialist newsweekly published in the interests of working people
Vol. 67/No. 21June 23, 2003

lead article
U.S government claims Tehran is
near having nuclear arms
Atomic agency report is latest salvo
in U.S. anti-Iran campaign
A report by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) accusing the Iranian government of secretly buying uranium 12 years ago is the latest salvo in the U.S.-led campaign to declare Tehran in violation of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT).

“The number of failures by Iran to report facilities and activities in a timely manner, as it is obliged to do, is a matter of concern,” said the report. One of its main claims is that Tehran did not make public a purchase of 1.8 tons of uranium from China in 1991. Washington contends that some of this uranium was secretly enriched, although the amount involved would not be enough to produce a single nuclear bomb.

The IAEA report, while not officially released yet, was quoted in major daily papers June 7. It was issued in preparation for the June 16 meeting of the agency’s Board of Governors, made up of representatives from 35 countries. If that board finds Iran in violation of the NPT, the issue will automatically be placed on the agenda of the United Nations Security Council, which may consider imposing sanctions.

“The assessment is that they do have a very active program and are likely to have nuclear weapons in a relatively short period of time,” said U.S. secretary of defense Donald Rumsfeld, referring to Iran, during a visit to Germany June 11. He also attacked Tehran for alleged interference with the U.S. occupation of Iraq. “The efforts by Iran to try to make Iraq become a model of Iran with a small group of clerics taking over the country and controlling it, we’re not going to let happen,” he stated.

Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Hamid-Reza Asefi responded to the IAEA report by saying that Tehran had not been obligated to publicize its purchase of nuclear fuel. He added that the “IAEA has not been able to raise a single specific issue against Tehran over the past 12 years, and this shows that we have been transparent over these years and have performed our commitments.” Tehran has acknowledged buying nuclear fuel and building facilities to process it, insisting that they are part of its nuclear energy program.

Washington is continuing to press its accusations that Iran is seeking to build nuclear weapons, and “supporting terrorism,” with the aim of forcing a “regime change” in the largest country in the Middle East.

This is an escalation of the hostile policy the U.S. rulers have maintained against Iran since 1979, when the workers and farmers there overthrew the brutal U.S.-backed monarchy of the shah, which had been a bastion of imperialist domination in the region. The government that replaced the shah is a capitalist regime, wrapped in clerical forms that are increasingly out of step with the views and sentiments of many working people. Nevertheless, Tehran has remained at odds with U.S. imperialism and has not been able to roll back all of the political and social gains won by the toilers through their struggles, nor has it crushed their aspirations and anti-imperialist sentiments.

Iranian security forces arrested more than 80 people in Tehran during overnight clashes with the police June 10, according to Agence France Presse. The police broke up demonstrations that began with some 500 students at Tehran University protesting government attempts to privatize some campuses. The students were joined by others shouting slogans such as “the clerical regime is nearing an end,” swelling the crowd to more than 1,000. It was the first such protest in at least six months. “These people, incited by extremists outside the country, were shouting illegal slogans,” said Iran’s intelligence minister Ali Yunesi, according to the student news agency ISNA. He stated that Tehran “will use force to prevent all illegal actions.”

The IAEA report follows a June 2 declaration by the “Group of 8” (G-8)—made up of seven major imperialist states plus Russia—that singled out the governments of Iran and north Korea for allegedly seeking to develop nuclear arms. Nuclear proliferation is “the pre-eminent threat to international security,” said the statement, signed by U.S. president George Bush and his counterparts in Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Japan, Italy, and Russia. It called for stepped-up, intrusive inspections at nuclear plants and related facilities; export controls directed against Tehran and Pyongyang; and, “if necessary, other means in accordance with international law”—a threat of possible military action if all other measures fail.

A day later, French president Jacques Chirac and Japanese prime minister Junichiro Koizumi told reporters that this statement did not imply a threat of force. These imperialist powers agree with the U.S. rulers’ goal of preventing Iran and north Korea from acquiring nuclear weapons, but at the same time have competing interests with Washington.

The G-8 declaration was reminiscent of the various United Nations resolutions against Iraq leading up to the U.S. invasion of that country earlier this year. Paris, for instance, joined in the unanimous UN Security Council vote on November 8, 2002, dictating the ultimatums that Washington used a few months later as justification for the invasion. At the same time, the French rulers—who stood to lose out on their lucrative trade with Baghdad—presented themselves as the peace party compared to Uncle Sam. Today, once again, Washington’s imperialist rivals are voting for the resolutions that will be used down the road as the pretext for U.S. military action and domination of these countries.

Liberal critics of the Bush administration in the United States have also gone out of their way to praise the course of the White House vis--vis Iran and north Korea. “It is easy to see why world leaders at the recent Group of 8 summit meeting in France declared the spread of such unconventional weapons to be, along with international terrorism, ‘the preeminent threat to international security,’” said an editorial in the June 7 New York Times, titled “New tools for arms control.”

“It is encouraging to see that the Bush administration is now proposing some intriguing new ideas for reinforced international cooperation in this area,” the editorial continued. “No country has yet been able to develop unconventional weapons without some degree of outside help. If such aid can be thwarted, either at the source, by stronger export controls, or in transit, by naval or air interception of contraband cargoes, proliferation can be much more effectively contained.”

Meanwhile Moscow, which has a valuable contract to complete the construction of a nuclear power reactor in the Iranian city of Bushire, is coming under greater pressure from Washington and London to back out of the deal. British prime minister Anthony Blair told his parliament June 4 that the Russian government had pledged to suspend shipment of nuclear fuel to Iran unless Tehran agreed to accept much more intrusive “inspections” of its nuclear facilities. Russian atomic energy minister Aleksandr Rumyantsev denied this, although Moscow has said Tehran should agree to the inspections.
Related articles:
Washington’s anti-Iran course

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