The Militant (logo)  

Vol. 74/No. 37      October 4, 2010

Washington tightens
its noose around Iran
(front page)
Divisions among Iran’s rulers are sharpening as economic sanctions take their toll on growing layers of the population, and the U.S. and Israeli governments prepare for military action if Tehran does not stop enriching uranium for its nuclear program. Washington and Tel Aviv contend the enriched uranium will be used to make a nuclear weapon, which Tehran denies.

The former head of Israel’s Mossad spy agency, Danny Yatom, said September 12 that “the price Israel will pay when Iran has a nuclear bomb is immeasurably heavier than what we will pay if someone carries out an attack on some of Iran’s nuclear sites.” U.S. officials have acknowledged discussions with Tel Aviv on launching a military strike against Iran if it appears close to having nuclear weapon capacity.

The Sunday Times of London reported that the government of Saudi Arabia has agreed to let Israeli bombers fly over its territory to attack nuclear sites in Iran. Washington is offering to sell Riyadh up to $60 billion in F-15 combat jets, Apache attack helicopters, and Black Hawk troop transport helicopters. “The deal has been put together in quiet consultations with Israel,” reported the New York Times. The paper pointed out that with the weapons purchase come U.S. trainers.

Iranian military commanders continue to argue that Iran can withstand any attack. “Every U.S. warship is within the reach of the coast-to-sea missiles of our armed forces,” Maj. Gen. Yahya Rahim Safavi said September 17.

“The one who’s bluffing is Iran, which is trying to play with cards they don’t have,” said Daniel Ayalon, Israel’s deputy foreign minister. “All the bravado that we see and the testing and the very dangerous and harsh rhetoric are hiding a lot of weaknesses.”

Sanctions levied against Iran by the United Nations, Washington, and major European governments for continuing to enrich uranium are having a big effect. Forced to conduct financial transactions primarily through Asian banks, Tehran suffered a big blow when both Japan and South Korea decided to enforce sanctions.

Meanwhile, the government of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has cut off another source of trading for Tehran by freezing the bank accounts of 41 Iranian entities and individuals. “We have also interdicted dozens of ships and inspected hundreds of shipments of Iran-bound cargos … and have coordinated closely with American and international authorities,” the UAE ambassador to the United States, Yousef Al Otaiba, declared proudly.

The official stance of Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei, the clerical leader of the country, is that sanctions have no effect. “Even if the U.S. administration increases the sanctions … 100 times more … we in Iran are in a position to meet our own requirements,” Ahmadinejad told NBC News September 15.

But at the same time Tehran is taking radical steps in its economy. Iran lacks sufficient refining capacity to produce enough of its own fuel and several major foreign suppliers of gasoline stopped shipments to Tehran last spring. In September the government announced it was converting all the country’s petrochemical facilities into refineries to produce gasoline to supply consumers, while oil for the strategic reserves will continue to be imported.

Also in September the government announced a ban on importing more than 40 different food items. According to the online Asia Times, in the last year milk and yogurt prices doubled, and chicken and lamb went up 75 percent. Unemployment is at least 20 percent.

A senior cleric, Grand Ayatollah Nasser Makarem-Shirazi, sharply criticized the government September 10. “Officials report every day that inflation has dropped but this is contrary to what people are witnessing,” Press TV reported him saying. “If you give people false figures about inflation, they will not turn pessimistic about the facts on the ground; they will become pessimistic about your figures.”

Former Iranian president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani gave a speech attacking Ahmadinejad September 14. “Throughout the revolution we never had so many sanctions and I am calling on you and all officials to take the sanctions seriously and not as jokes,” he said.  
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