By Arab News
By Linda Heard
American and Israeli intelligence agencies are openly deviating from the political script on Iran’s nuclear program. While Washington and Tel Aviv are bent on ratcheting up the ante with assertions that Tehran seeks nuclear weapons and threats of military strikes on Iranian nuclear facilities, intelligence chiefs are singing from an entirely different hymn sheet.
It seems they’ve wizened-up after the Iraq War intelligence debacle when intelligence was sculptured around the Bush administration’s regime change goal, purposefully exaggerated — and, in some cases, fabricated.
When no WMD turned up in Iraq politicians conveniently threw up their hands in faux astonishment and re-directed the heat toward their intelligence bureaus. What’s clear is that the 2003 US/UK propaganda scam that oiled the road to war has exceeded its shelf life. This time, the saber-rattlers need a genuine smoking gun but, unfortunately for them, thus far, there isn’t even a whiff of proof that Tehran is actively building a nuclear bomb.
Predictions by Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak and others that Iran will succeed in developing nukes in two years, five years, ten years etc., seem to be random timelines they’ve drawn from a hat if you believe US National Intelligence Estimates (NIEs) compiled by 16 different agencies suggesting Iran halted its efforts to build a nuclear warhead in 2003.
Earlier this month, the New York Times reported that the Mossad agrees with the assessment of US spy agencies. Former Mossad spymaster Meir Dagan told CBS News of his opposition to Israel striking Iran warning of potentially devastating repercussions including the ignition of regional war. Moreover, “There’s no military attack that can halt the Iranian nuclear project. It could only delay it”, Dagan claimed.
So, in that case, those politicians champing at the bit to launch missiles in Iran’s direction have no solid ground to stand on.
An article published in the Los Angeles Times and headed “US does not believe Iran is trying to build a nuclear bomb” quotes US officials as saying they’ve seen no “evidence that has caused them to significantly revise that judgment” — and, according to those officials, Israel doesn’t “dispute the basic intelligence or analysis” but, nevertheless regards Iran as a threat to its existence.
In other words, Israel wants to bring Tehran under its heel just in case the ayatollahs decide to reconstitute a nuclear weapons program at some future point. This is a scenario straight out of Steven Spielberg’s futuristic movie “Minority Report” wherein a specialized police department called “PreCrime” arrests “criminals” before they commit a crime based on psychic foreknowledge.
It’s mind-boggling to think a country could come under attack simply because some pundits believe it might one day decide to develop a nuclear arsenal with which to threaten its enemies; foes that are themselves nuclear powers with vast stockpiles of nukes.
It’s worth recalling that the only nation to have used at atom bomb in warfare is the US while, unlike Iran, Israel is not a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). To this day, with Washington’s collusion, Israel retains the policy of nuclear ambiguity and ruffles its feathers when any UN Security Council member state inadvertently refers to its activities in the Negev, exposed by former nuclear technician Mordechai Vanunu in the mid-1980s.
Indeed, the moral platforms of both joined-at-the-hip allies on this issue are far shakier than that of Iran which hasn’t breached NPT rules and does allow monitoring of its nuclear facilities by the international nuclear watchdog the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). By its failure to issue Iraq with a clean bill of health under heavy US pressure, the IAEA virtually rubber-stamped the invasion of Iraq. According to former senior IAEA officials, including weapons inspector Robert Kelley and former IAEA director Hans Blix, the IAEA may be on the point of making the same mistake with Iran. They accuse IAEA Chief Yukiya Amano of pro-Western bias and over-reliance on unsubstantiated intelligence.
Amano has been portraying the Iranians as uncooperative but after Iran’s permanent representative to the IAEA spoke before the IAEA board of governors laying out the facts, Amano admitted that talks between the Agency and Iran “took place in a constructive spirit”, adding, “Differences between Iran and the Agency appeared to have narrowed.”
A recent op-ed by author Mark H. Gaffney supports my contention that the nuclear issue is being deliberately hyped. Urging the American people not to fall for this “phony crisis”, Gaffney says “Despite public perceptions, and all the rhetoric about nukes, the present crisis has nothing to do with Iran’s alleged nuclear weapons program. In my opinion, that is just a cover story. The real issue is the fact that Iran has upgraded its medium-range conventionally-armed missiles with GPS technology making its missiles much more accurate. This means Iran can now target Israel’s own nuclear, bio and chemical weapons stockpiles, located inside Israel, as well as the Dimona nuclear reactor.”
I largely agree with Gaffney on this latter point but believe the real aim of the US and Israel is regime change — an illegal casus belli under the UN Charter and International law — although for different reasons. The stronger Iran becomes the more Israel feels vulnerable; the US seeks total domination of the oil-rich Gulf region and its waterways.
Many of Iran’s neighbors bless regime change too, concerned that Tehran is whipping up Shiite passions against governments, using its oil wealth to lure some Arab states into its sphere of influence, arming non-state actors and making territorial claims on Arab lands. A free and democratic Iran, as it was briefly in the early 1950s before Dr. Mohammed Mossadegh was ousted by Britain’s scheming, would be in just about everyone’s interest including that of the Iranian people themselves. But as long as the West tries to indoctrinate them with WMD fairytales, kills off their nuclear scientists and threatens missile attacks, the ayatollahs are there to stay.