Iran is being pressurized to abandon its nuclear programme. Tel Aviv and Washington
are behind this. London has joined the duo. Paris and Berlin are lending their
support just as some other Western capitals are also 'concerned' about Iran.
The present Iranian leadership has made it explicitly clear that its nuclear
programme---which incidentally began as an agreement between the pro-Washington
Iranian monarch, Reza Shah Pahlavi and the US government in 1957---is for peaceful
purposes. If it has undertaken nuclear enrichment it is because this is allowed
under the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT) of which Iran is a signatory.
The Tehran government further asserts that it has since late 2002 facilitated
countless inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). These
inspections have shown that Tehran has not made any attempt to produce nuclear
weapons. Besides, nuclear weapons, as the Iranian Supreme Leader, Ayatollah
Ali Khamenei, and numerous government officials have averred in recent years,
go against the grain of Islamic teachings. This is because they kill innocent
civilians; are injurious to the health of unborn generations; and devastate
It is equally significant that on the 3rd of October 2004 the Director General
of the IAEA, Mohamed ElBaradei, stated openly that, "Iran has no nuclear
weapons program, but I personally don't rush to conclusions before all the realities
are clarified. So far I see nothing which could be called an imminent danger.
I have seen no nuclear weapons programme in Iran. What I have seen is that Iran
is trying to gain access to nuclear enrichment technology, and so far there
is no danger from Iran. Therefore, we should make use of political and diplomatic
means before thinking of resorting to alternatives".
And yet almost a year later, on the 24th of September 2005, the IAEA Board
of Governors adopted a resolution criticizing Iran for "failures and breaches…which
constitute non-compliance" with the NPT and called on Iran to re-suspend
conversion of uranium at its Isfahan plant. The resolution also urged Iran to
return to negotiations with the European Union (EU) 3, namely, Britain, France
and Germany, on the nuclear issue. Given "the absence of confidence that
Iran's nuclear program is exclusively for peaceful purposes," the IAEA
resolution hinted that it (the program) "has given rise to questions that
are within the competence of the Security Council". This suggests that
Iran may be referred at a later date to the Security Council for possible sanctions.
Iran has rejected the resolution. It maintains that it has not violated the
NPT or other related protocols in any way. Its resumption of the conversion
of uranium yellowcake to uranium hexafluoride at Isfahan is within the ambit
of the NPT which guarantees any nation the right to pursue elements of the fuel
cycle for civilian purposes. In any case, this activity is being carried out
under the supervision of IAEA inspectors. Iran is prepared to re-commence discussions
with the EU3 but it will not agree to the permanent suspension or the abandonment
of its nuclear enrichment programme. Since other countries which have peaceful
nuclear programmes are allowed such activities Iran sees no reason why it should
be denied this right under the NPT. Why is Iran being discriminated against,
ask its leaders. Why is Iran being singled out ?
The answer is obvious. It is because of Israel that Iran is being singled out.
Three years ago, Israeli Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon, had already advocated
military action against Iran. The British newspaper, The Guardian, of 5 November
2002, quoted him as saying that "as soon as the US and Britain had completed
their proposed attack on Iraq" they should turn against Iran.
Iran is Israel's target since the latter is determined to ensure that no nation
in the Middle East which is ardently opposed to Israeli occupation of Palestine
and other Arab lands and at the same time offers tangible assistance to Palestinian
and Arab freedom fighters has the capacity to develop nuclear weapons. This
is why it took unilateral action to destroy Iraq's nuclear reactor at Osirak
Indeed even if a nation in the Middle East has no nuclear programme but is
independent minded and does not acquiesce with Israel's role or the United States'
regional and global hegemony, it is bound to incur Tel Aviv's wrath. Syria,
especially under the late President Hafiz Assad would be a case in point. Similarly,
popular grassroots movements like the Hizbollah in Lebanon or Hamas in Palestine
which regard Israel as an interloper that has annexed and usurped Arab territories
and dispossessed and disenfranchised Arab peoples, are --- in Israeli eyes---mortal
foes that should be destroyed and decimated at all costs. It is only if those
states and movements which are opposed to Israel are emasculated and rendered
impotent, will Israel be safe and secure.
To put it in a different language, since the creation of Israel in 1948, one
of the overriding considerations of its leadership has been the total, absolute
security of the state. It will not tolerate even the slightest hint of a threat
to its security. To achieve total, absolute security, it has armed itself to
the teeth. Israel as is well known is the only state in the Middle East with
nuclear weapons. Its clandestine nuclear programme at the core of which are
an estimated 200 nuclear warheads has never ever been subjected to any form
of scrutiny. The IAEA has not sought to investigate Israel's nuclear weapons
programme. It does not even dare to chide Tel Aviv for its cleverly concealed
nuclear operations. The unspoken understanding within the IAEA is that Israel
has the sacred right to possess nuclear weapons in order to protect its security.
It is not just its nuclear weapons which are designed to make Israel feel secure.
The Israeli armed forces are more powerful than all the other militaries in
the Middle East put together. Israel is in command of the most sophisticated
and up-to-date weaponry in the region. Perhaps even more important, it is protected
by the world's most formidable military power --- the United States of America.
From an objective standpoint, no nation, indeed no combination of nation states,
in the Middle East is in a position to challenge Israel's military supremacy.
Today, Israel equates its security, nay its very survival, with its ability
to perpetuate its unassailable military supremacy. In other words, it has to
be totally dominant in order to be completely secure. Hegemony, in Israel's
view, has become the only way of guaranteeing the nation's security. When hegemonic
power becomes synonymous with national security, it is inevitable that Israel's
neighbours will feel threatened and intimidated.
This is perhaps what the Israeli leadership wants. If governments in the Middle
East are petrified of Israeli power, it becomes easier for Tel Aviv to impose
its hegemonic will upon the region. The Israeli position in this regard is slightly
different from that of its Western patrons and protectors. They refuse to acknowledge
that Israel's hegemonic notion of security is generating fear within its neighbourhood.
They do not want to admit that Iran's - and before that Iraq's --- desire to
go nuclear may well be a response to Israel's massive nuclear and military power.
Travesty of Justice.
If the centres of power in the West have chosen to mollycoddle Israel and its
hegemonic notion of security, it is partly because of the holocaust and the
sympathy that it continues to generate in the West for the Jewish state and
the Jewish people. Since the Jews had suffered so much at the hands of the Christian
West in the past---so the argument goes --- they should be allowed to define
their security in whatever manner they deem fit. Besides, Israel is still not
safe or secure today - according to many Western governments and a significant
segment of the Western public---because it operates within a hostile environment
where many Arabs and Muslims remain determined as ever to wipe out the Zionist
For the vast majority of Arabs and Muslims, on the other hand, the manner in
which the West had compensated the Jews for the holocaust and their centuries
old persecution in Europe represents a terrible travesty of justice. Palestinians
and Arabs, it is important to reiterate, were made to pay with their blood and
their land for the injustices perpetrated by Christianity and Nazism against
the Jews. The conquest of the home they had owned and occupied since time immemorial
and their subsequent subjugation and annihilation will continue to rankle in
their minds for eternity. This monumental act of injustice, embodied in the
establishment of the state of Israel, was a deep and painful wound in the Arab
and Muslim heart for two other reasons. The victims of the Zionist desire for
a state were a people, who unlike the Christians of the West until the 18th
century, had right through history treated the Jews in their midst with a certain
degree of respect and had on a number of occasions provided shelter and succour
to them when they were subjected to ethnic pogroms in various parts of Europe.
If this wasn't tragic enough, every Zionist leadership in power in Israel since
1948 starting with David Ben-Gurion had either usurped more land or expelled
more Palestinians or demolished more Palestinian homes in a cruel and ruthless
manner. It is because of this --- the arrogant and aggressive behaviour of the
Zionists before, during and after the establishment of their state---that there
is so much antipathy and antagonism towards Israel, Israelis and their backers
throughout the Arab and Muslim world.
This is why for the Muslim masses Iran's nuclear programme is not a problem
at all. Iran has every right to develop nuclear technology especially if it
is for peaceful purposes. In fact, even if it manufactures nuclear weapons ---
which would be unfortunate --- they would regard it as 'a justifiable act',
given the circumstances. In their minds the crucial issues in the crisis over
Iran's nuclear programme are unambiguously clear. The root cause of the crisis
is Israel with its obsession for hegemonic security. Israel has nuclear weapons.
Israel is militarily powerful. Israel is hegemonic. Israel is aggressive and
arrogant. Israel occupies Palestinian and Arab lands. Israel demolishes Palestinian
homes. Israel massacres Palestinian women and children.
What infuriates a lot of Muslims is that the West, especially the US, Israel's
principal patron and protector, is so biased towards Israel as evidenced in
the Iran nuclear issue. The West's double standards - lucidly demonstrated in
its accommodative attitude towards Israel's nuclear weapons --- and its selective
persecution --- vividly reflected in its deliberate targeting of Iran---have
eroded further whatever little credibility it enjoys in the Muslim world. On
a number of other issues too over the last four decades, the US in particular
has been unashamedly biased towards Israel even when the Zionist state's oppression
of the Palestinians and Arabs is incredibly ugly and hideous. This is one of
the main reasons why a huge chasm has developed between the US elite and the
Muslim masses worldwide.
Instead of putting Iran in the dock, the US and the West should examine Israel's
conduct. They should look at how Israel's obsession with security is now expressing
itself through an arrogant, aggressive hegemony that has few parallels in contemporary
international relations. It is high time they realize that Israel's hegemonic
political posturing in the Middle East is the single most dangerous threat to
not only regional stability but also to world peace.
The choice before the US and the West is stark and simple : either they continue
to work in tandem with Israel and destroy the world or they curb and control
Israel's drive for hegemonic power and usher in a new era of peace and justice.