At the end of this operation, Washington should have complete control
over the world’s main hydrocarbon production and reserves. It will control
the world economy without the need to share power.
Reseau Voltaire (Translated
by Colin Buchanan (endempire.blogspot.com)
The confrontation between the big powers over Iran continues with antagonisms
hidden from view. Since December 2002, the USA has accused Iran of seeking nuclear
arms in violation of the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT)
The seizure of Iran by the USA would mean them taking control of both the East
bank of the Persian Gulf and the Southern Caspian, including their reserves
of oil and gas estimated to be the second largest in the world.
Already the US have military control of part of the Caspian basin and of a
corridor enabling them to link this area with the Indian Ocean (Afghanistan
and Pakistan). They have also taken control of the key areas of the Gulf (Saudi
Arabia and Iraq). At the end of this operation, Washington should have complete
control over the world’s main hydrocarbon production and reserves. It
will control the world economy without the need to share power.
At the present stage in the conflict, the big powers are divided with regard
to US strategy goals. The UK, France and Germany are convinced that Iran has
a nuclear arms programme. They base this on briefing by the US intelligence
services who have shown them secret documents asserting that Tehran is working
on a Green Salt Project aimed at developing a missile system with nuclear warheads.
On the other hand, Russia, China and India consider Iran’s programme to
be purely civilian in nature. They base themselves on the Fatwa of Ayatollah
Khomeiny, decreeing that the production, possession and use of nuclear weapons
is contrary to Islamic teaching.
Objectively, the NPT’s distinction between between legitimate civilian
and prohibited military programmes is no longer pertinent given the techniques
now available. Civilian know-how and facilities can easily be adapted to military
use. A rigorous reading of NPT would lead to the prohibition of nuclear programmes
for all states, whereas a more lax interpretation would open the door to generalized
proliferation. Without dealing with this question it is impossible to resolve
the Iranian case, and it is precisely this grey area which the US is exploiting
in order to lead the way to war.
There is, however, perhaps one means of clarifying the situation . A special
method of enriching uranium, not yet completely developed, would, once again,
allow a clear distinction between civilian and military usage. Russia is endeavouring
to perfect this method and proposes that it be used not only for Iran’s
benefit but for that of the international community as a whole. This is expected
to be one of the three major proposals which President Putin will put forward
at the G8 summit in St. Petersburg, this summer.
The feasibility of this project remains to be demonstrated. Russia would produce
nuclear fuel on its own territory in factories constructed in partnership with
the state in question under the control of the International Atomic Energy Authority(IAEA).
Detailed procedures still have to be worked out to guarantee the interests of
all the protagonists. If this project were to be fully realized international
relations as a whole would be turned completely upside down. Russia, as the
guarantor of energy provision throughout the world would eclipse the authority
of the USA which today satisfies their own energy needs at the expense of the
rest of the world.
Iran has made of its nuclear programme a symbol of its independance with regard
to Anglo-Saxon colonialism from which it has suffered so much. Contrary to an
idea put about for some time now in the atlanticist press, this ambition is
not the reserve of a particular faction within Iran but is shared throughout
Iranian society. In addition, if the Islamic Republic has abandoned its dream
of expansion dating from the Khomeiny revolution, nowadays, it intends to play
a leading role in the rejuvenated non-aligned movement.. It also intends to
share its demands regarding nuclear power with other countries and reaffirm
the right to a peaceful nuclear programme, not just for itself, but for everyone.
Far from being concerned exclusively with Iran, the present diplomatic game
will impact on the international balance of power and the intention of the USA,
reaffirmed yesterday in the State of the Union Address, to take on unilateral
Throughout 2004 and 2005 the various powers have been making increasingly complicated
moves. A European Troika was meant to play the role of honest broker between
the USA and Iran; they demanded a halt in Iran’s nuclear programme and
then leant decisively towards the American camp. Iran, after accepting a two
and a half year moratorium on its nuclear research, resumed them on the 10th
January 2006, considering that they had waited long enough as a sign of good
will without any serious response form the Europeans. The Russian position had
become completely opaque, the foreign minister giving to understand that he
shared the point of view of the Europeans until being put in his place by Putin
who reaffirmed his commitment to a peaceful solution. Finally, a series of diplomatic
missions have enabled Russia, China and Iran to develop a common strategy.
The whole question was given a kick-start when Britain organsied, on 30th January,
a « private ministerial dinner » bringing together the foreign ministers
of Britain, France, Germany, Russia, the USA and China.. In the course of this
meeting, Jack straw, British foreign minister proposed that the IAEA refer the
question to the Security Council, the first step on the way to war. His Russian
and Chinese opposite numbers emphasized that such a decision would have no basis
in international law. Confident in the viability of their uranium enrichment
project, the Russian Federation wished simply to play for time, the time necessary
to put together an agreement with Iran i.e. one or two months according to the
experts. The dinner was concluded by setting out a timetable which each side
presented as a victory: the IAEA Council of Governors will not be able to refer
Iran to the UN Security council next week because it lacks the power to do so,
but will demand of the UNSC that it be given the powers to do so at a future
This compromise allows the Americans and Europeans to maintain the pressure
and the Russians and Chinese to gain time. Working out who came out best depends
on whether you consider the glass half-full or half-empty.
In practice, assuming that the Security Council gives the Council of Governors
the requisite powers, the latter can only put them into effect at their next
meeting on 9th March.
The Iranians make play of resenting this horse trading as a betrayal by their
friends the Russians. But, it is quite possible that they have obtained a written
guarantee from the Russians that they will veto any vote by the Security council
Whatever the case may be, the Iranians are appealing to their partners in the
non-aligned movement for help. President Ahmadinejad received a phone call of
support from Thabo Mbeki( South Africa, who had produced nuclear during the
apartheid era, along with Israel, later renounced them). Indonesia has repeatedly
called for peace, whilst Venezuela and Malaysia are soon to receive the Iranian
At the same time, Iran is preparing « a world without Israel and the
USA ». Tehran is optimistic about putting in place an oil spot market
which doesn’t accept dollars. This is already working at an experimental
stage. If no nation has officially announced its participation, many are encouraging
participation through private companies acting as intermediaries. Now, the dollar
is an overvalued currency whose value is maintained essentially by its role
as a petro-currency. Such a spot market, once really up and running, would provoke
a collapse of the dollar, comparable to hat of 1939, even if its transactions
only amounted to a tenth of the world turnover. US power would be undermined
by the falling dollar and, in time, Israel would also find itself bankrupt
Washington is then obliged to apply all its force to ensure that the major
world powers break with Tehran. Short of war, the US must at least succeed in
imposing economic isolation on Iran. Paradoxically, neither option seems possible.
The US and Tsahal can hardly bomb Iran’s nuclear sites, since these are
maintained by Russian advisers and technicians. Attacking Iran would imply declaring
war against Russia. Furthermore, even if strikes were possible, Iran would not
neglect to strike back at Israel with the devastating Thor-1 missiles sold to
them by the Russians. The Shiites would make life even harder for the occupation
forces in Iraq. If the US choose to use an economic blockade of Iran, this could
easily be bypassed through Iran’s special relationship with China. Meanwhile,
Iran would deny the West part of its oil supply, bringing about a rise in prices
of 300% per barrel and a huge economic crisis.
Quite clearly, the outcome of this confrontation depends on the ability of
each protagonist to impose his own timetable on events. Meanwhile, the Bush
administration stubbornly drives towards a confrontation which it lacks the
means to carry through successfully and in which it risks loosing its authority.