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Iran and the nuclear bomb
A NUMBER of foreign ministers recently met in London to argue about Iran's nuclear enrichment programme. The Iranian regime had strung out talks with European Union representative Javier Solana for months and ignored an August deadline to suspend enrichment.
Now, while the world powers continue to row over their response, with the US pushing for sanctions and Russia and China opposing significant sanctions, a United Nations (UN) resolution on limited sanctions is being drafted. These might include travel restrictions on officials working on Iran's nuclear programme and embargoes on nuclear technology.
The Iranian regime has been in a strong position to hold out against US threats, feeling strengthened in the Middle East as a result of US policy. In neighbouring Iraq, US removal of the Sunni-Muslim regime of Saddam Hussein has led to domination by a Shia-Muslim block which is supported by Iran.
In Lebanon, Iran's ally Hezbollah gained great standing in the region for its resistance to the brutal July-August US-supported Israeli bombardment. In the Palestinian territories, Hamas, also supported to some extent by Iran, won a general election last January.
Irrespective of these changes, Iran is the fourth largest oil supplier in the world and has the second largest natural gas reserves, so has the potential to severely disrupt world energy supply and markets.
The Iranian regime has also been able to turn the hypocrisy of US imperialism on the nuclear issue to its advantage.
At a UN meeting last month, Iranian president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, posed the question: "If the governments of the United States or the United Kingdom who are permanent members of the security council, commit aggression, occupation and violation of international law, which organs of the UN can take them to account?"
He went on to say that the US has used nuclear weapons, is occupying Iraq, and stood "idly by for many days" while Israel bombed Lebanon.
Iran on the other hand, has not yet developed nuclear weapons and has not even breached the international Non-Proliferation Treaty. And it is surrounded by nuclear powers: Russia, Pakistan, India, Israel, and US military presence in Iraq, Afghanistan and Turkey. The Iranian regime denies that its uranium enrichment programme is for the purpose of creating a nuclear bomb.
Whether this is true or not, international atomic experts believe that with its present facilities it would take Iran over 20 years to generate enough weapons grade nuclear material for a single bomb.
However, these facts are nothing to the Bush regime. In the same way that it claimed Saddam Hussein endangered world peace through having weapons of mass destruction, which in fact never existed, it claims that Iran, with its non-existent nuclear weapons poses a threat. This is while giving nuclear technology to regimes it favours, such as India.
It is therefore clear that US threats to Iran are not at root about nuclear weaponry. Whatever sanctions or direct attacks are directed at Iran, Iran could in any case covertly make nuclear weapons.
Rather the threats are about developing US prestige, influence and profits, even though every step taken by the Bush regime in the Middle East is back-firing on it and doing the opposite of increasing its influence.
The Iranian people, aided by Ahmadinejad's propaganda, can easily see the hypocrisy of US imperialism and most would defend their country's right to pursue its nuclear programme.
However, suffering in a situation of high unemployment, inflation, repression and poverty, many oppose the squandering of valuable resources on nuclear development, and would support the view that socialists take, that both nuclear energy and nuclear weapons are no way forward for humanity and the creation of a sustainable environment.
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