U.S. National Security Adviser Michael Flynn released a statement Feb. 3 accusing Iran of “destabilizing behavior across the Middle East” and put Iran “on notice” in response to the Iranian government carrying out ballistic missile tests. The day before, Iran was accused of violating the terms of their nuclear deal with the United States as well as being responsible for a Houthi rebel attack on a Saudi naval vessel, which was taking part in the vicious Saudi-led war on Yemen. But make no mistake, no violation occurred.

The deal that Iran is alleged to have violated came into fruition in 2015 as negotiated by the Obama administration and the P5+1 nations (the permanent members of the United Nations Security Council plus Germany) at Geneva. The stipulations for the deal was that Iran curb its nuclear development in return for allaying sanctions on the nation.

The Iranian government is being demonized by big sections of the ruling class and Trump administration as enemy #1. Trump’s national security posts have been filled with neo-cons and war hawks. Trump chose Michael Flynn for National Security Adviser, James “Mad Dog” Mattis for Secretary of Defense, Dan Coats for Director of National Intelligence and Mike Pompeo for CIA director.

No violation, but drumbeats of war

This is all in response to missile tests by Iran, which were not in violation of its nuclear deal with the United States. Moreover, it is Iran’s right to develop weaponry to protect itself from hostile powers. This was a clear exercise in national self-determination and sovereignty.

Iran says that its ballistic missiles are not designed to carry nuclear warheads and the UN Security Council resolution 2231 does not apply. Iran has stated several times that their military developments are for the purpose of self-defense. No wonder the U.S. government is up in arms — it is in their best interests that nations, which are not totally subjugated to U.S. imperialism, never develop the capacity to be self-sufficient or defend themselves militarily.

In the press conference where Michael Flynn denounced Iran’s missile tests he also announced, after a closed door briefing to the media, that the United States intends to take “appropriate action” and is “considering a whole range of options.” Military action against Iran was not ruled out.

Iran has retaliated in word and deed. Tehran says that it has the right to conduct missile tests in self-defense. Iran’s foreign ministry’s spokesman Bahram Qasemi stressed that no country or world body is in the position to question Tehran on its missile activities. He insisted that Iran will not seek permission from anyone when it comes to self-defense.

What enrages the Trump administration is that Iran refuses to cow before threats. If Iran were to grow stronger and more militarily equipped, it could continue to serve as an example of an oppressed and besieged country out-maneuvering U.S. imperialism. In addition, it could more ardently support anti-imperialist forces in the region, which is also a matter of great concern for the Israeli regime.

In an outrageous but predictable show of hypocrisy, the Trump administration says nothing about Israel’s stockpile of nuclear weapons. Israel was fiercely opposed to the 2015 deal, and sees in the new Trump administration hope for an ultra-aggressive shift in the U.S. orientation towards Iran.

Self-determination, defense and sovereignty

The fact is that Iran is targeted with sanctions, not for being an aggressive power, but for exercising its right to self-determination through a non-military nuclear energy program and missile development—which is the right of all sovereign nations. For Iran, the defense of its sovereignty and national economy is especially important given that it is surrounded by antagonistic powers like Turkey, Israel, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and other Gulf monarchies. Moreover, seeing what U.S. imperialism has done to the once most prosperous nation in Africa, Libya, as well as to Syria, Iran is on guard.

The election of Donald Trump has led to profound divisions within the ruling class over which strategy to pursue to control the world. However, for socialists, imperialism is not this or that administration or policy. Imperialism is a system—a stage of capitalism where the big banks are in the driver seat and the domination of the entire world is necessary for capital to continue to expand.

The politicians and the media always feed the people lies about countries they target for regime change. The Trump agenda is a war agenda, and just like we reject the lies they tell about immigrants and Muslims, progressive people should also reject their lies about Iran.