Imperialists threaten Iran with war, sanctions over nuclear energy

On Aug. 22, Iran officially responded to the package that EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana delivered in June. Days after receiving the package, Iran committed to providing a comprehensive response on that date—a commitment that it kept.

However, the UN Security Council, under immense pressure from the United States, concluded that the Iranian

response was not timely enough. On July 31, only three weeks before Iran’s scheduled response, the Security Council passed Resolution 1696. The resolution set Aug. 31 as the deadline for Iran to halt all activities related to uranium enrichment, including research, or face possible sanctions.

The Security Council action came at the end of a nearly four-year process during which imperialist countries known as the EU3—Britain, Germany and France—have been pressuring Iran to end its nuclear program.

Details of the original package and the Iranian response have not been made public, but the broad outlines of the two sides’ positions are well-known.

The United States spearheads the “international community”—the veto holders in the Security Council, mainly imperialist powers—in accusing Iran of pursuing a nuclear weapons program. It cites as “evidence” Iran’s failure to promptly report its previous nuclear activities to the International Atomic Energy Agency. Yet, the IAEA itself has reported that “to date, there is no evidence that the previously undeclared nuclear material and activities … were related to a nuclear weapons program.” The stated objective of the UN Security Council is to halt the development of Iran’s progress in uranium enrichment, an important phase in nuclear technology.

The EU package offers Iran negotiations with the participation of the United States. But the precondition for the negotiations is for Iran to halt all uranium enrichment activities, precisely what is to be negotiated.

Iran’s position has consistently been to uphold its right to develop nuclear technology for peaceful purposes. It has repeatedly declared that it is only interested in developing nuclear energy, and not nuclear weapons.

In the words of Iran’s ambassador to the United Nations, Mohammad-Javad Zarif, “To demonstrate the peaceful nature of its program, Iran submitted its nuclear facilities to an unprecedented inspection by the IAEA in the preceding years, which enabled the agency to organize the most robust inspection it has ever carried out. It included more than 2,000 inspector-days of scrutiny in the past three years.”

Iran’s response to the EU package again expresses its eagerness to negotiate—without preconditions—on all issues involved, including uranium enrichment. Also, Iran has asked clarifying questions regarding the package, including the willingness of the Security Council to recognize explicitly Iran’s inalienable right to nuclear development.

U.S. imperialists leading the charge

Predictably, hours after the Iranian response, the United States accused Iran of failing to meet its obligations. Eager to prevent the possibility of negotiations, U.S. ambassador to the UN, John Bolton, stated that the United States was already working on a resolution that it will introduce to the Security Council shortly after the Aug. 31 deadline. The resolution, Bolton claims, will call for sanctions against Iran, starting with a travel ban on Iranian authorities and a freezing of assets.

According to the Los Angeles Times, Bolton indicated that the United States will pursue an “independent” coalition for penalizing and sanctioning Iran. Bolton said, “you don’t need Security Council authority to impose sanctions.” The United States is mindful of the possibility that Russia and China might not go along with the U.S. plan to circumvent real negotiations and to rush into sanctioning Iran.

It is obvious that UN Security Council Resolution 1696 is unfair and baseless from the standpoint of international law.


Anti-imperialist sign in Tehran, Iran.

Iran is a signatory of the Treaty on the Non-proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), which the nuclear-armed countries in the region—Israel, Pakistan and India—have refused to sign without any consequences. Signed in 1968, the NPT entitles its signatories to the peaceful development of nuclear energy and obligates nuclear-armed nations to dismantle their nuclear weapons and provide technical assistance to non-nuclear nations.

The United States, Britain and France—who, along with others are raising the hysteria over Iran’s nuclear technology development—have no intention of dismantling their enormous arsenals of nuclear weapons Understanding the details of the nuclear issue can help us understand the hypocrisy of the United States and its imperialist allies, which are all nuclear-armed to the teeth and crying foul over an oppressed nation in the early stages of developing nuclear technology.

U.S. threats of direct military intervention and the possibility of sanctions against Iran are no more about nuclear arms in Iran than the invasion of Iraq was about weapons of mass destruction. Washington’s strategy in the Middle East has long consisted of bringing down independent states and breaking down mass resistance, including in Palestine and Lebanon.

European imperialists share similar goals, but they advocate a different approach because of their competition with the United States over the plunder of the region’s resources.

The imperialist dream is what Condoleezza Rice recently termed the “new Middle East”—a region where no independent state or popular resistance movement exists and where key resources are all controlled by transnational corporations. The failure of the imperialists and their lackeys to defeat the resistance forces in Iraq and Lebanon makes the “new Middle East” seem like a fantastic dream.

With the majority of Arab heads of state beholden to Washington, the two states that now stand in the way of the “new Middle East” are Syria and Iran. This is the essence of the conflict. The nuclear issue only serves as a convenient pretext for the imperialists.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s reaction to Iran’s response displayed the imperialist arrogance that hints at the root of the conflict: “What we expected is not set down here: ‘We are suspending our uranium enrichment, we are coming to the negotiating table and we will then talk about the chances and possibilities for Iran.’”

The imperialists’ problem with the Iranian regime is that it will not go to them to ask about the “chances and possibilities for Iran.” Following the 1979 revolution that overthrew the U.S.-backed Shah, Iran has ventured outside the bounds that the imperialists deem permissible for oppressed nations. It has made great strides in industry and agriculture and pursued an independent economic path. As a result, Iran has become a significant force in the region and a source of support for mass struggle against U.S.-Israeli occupation and aggression.

Any sanctions imposed on Iran would be another criminal tactic in pursuit of the imperialist strategy of regime change. But the one lesson that the imperialists never seem to learn is that people never obediently succumb to domination. The people of Iran will similarly resist all forms of imperialist aggression—be it sanctions or invasion.


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