Sunday, November 1, 2009
A Hitchhiker's Adventure in Iran by Jamie Maslin
When we sped past an army barracks, everyone, including myself, yelled drunken abuse at it out of the window. And the lads had good reason to do so as they'll all soon become much better acquainted with the army when they finished their studies and started compulsory military service. The irony is that if Iran is ever invaded then Pedram, Ali, Behzad, and all my other friends will all be called up to defend their country, and if they die they'll be written off in the West as expendable "legitimate military targets", not civilian deaths. With the way Iran is constantly demonized in the media, I fear this may become the case. For just like the American and British lies over Iraq's supposed weapons of mass destruction, much the same is now happening to Iran over its alleged "nuclear ambitions", despite the fact that inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) have found zero evidence that Iran is trying to obtain a nuclear weapon.
Under the terms of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), Iran has every right to enrich uranium for peaceful civilian purposes, and according to the IAEA, there is no evidence that Iran has ever deviated from this. This organization's head, Dr. ELBaradei, has reiterated this fact repeatedly and stated that his inspectors have for the most part been allowed to "go anywhere and see anything". Pakistan, India and Israel all developed their nuclear arsenals clandestinely and refuse to sign the NPT, but since their governments are buddies with the U.S. and Britain, no one makes such a fuss. Such double standards are not lost on the Iranian people.
What the U.S. and Israel craftily demand of Iran is to somehow prove it is not in any way violating nuclear agreements, which is of course impossible. And since you can't prove a negative the IAEA inspectors are obviously incapable of giving a 100 percent assurance that somehow, somewhere in Iran there isn't the fainest possibility that a nuclear weapons program exists. But this is no more evidence for one existing than to say that because I can't categorically prove Bertrand Russell's famous ironic suggestion that there is a celestial teapot orbiting the earth to be false, then, in fact, there must be one up there doing just that.
Even the CIA itself had admitted that Iran has no nuclear weapons program, by noting that Iran is ten years away from developing nuclear weapons. The importance of this time frame cannot be overstated, for it means Iran has no such program whatsoever, or, as former UN weapons inspector Scott Ritter put it in a recent speech, "Ten years, ladies and gentlemen, in this modern day and age, means Iran is not doing anything! Any nation in the world today is ten years from developing nuclear weapons!" In 2007, much the same was concluded when America's collective intelligence agencies produced an authoritative National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) on the current state of Iran's "nuclear intentions and capabilities". This report rubbished claims that Iran is trying to obtain a nuclear weapon and concluded with "high confidence" that as of 2005 Iran had abandoned its nuclear weapons program and had not restarted it.
Another oft repeated distortion to demonize Iran is that the country's president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has stated that he wants to "wipe Israel off the map." My personal opinion of President Ahmadinejad is that he's an odious little twat, but when translated correctly, his alleged remark, which took place in a controversial speech in 2005, actually says something quite different. According to American professor of modern Middle Eastern history, Juan Cole, as well as other Farsi language analysts, the correct literal translation of the remark is, "The Imam said this regime occupying Jerusalem must vanish from the pages of time." No reference to "Israel" or to a "map". And a regime is very different to the landmass of a country and its people.
Ahmadinejad had actually been quoting from a speech given by the late Ayatollah Khomeini back in the early 1980s which expressed a hope that one day the Israeli regime mistreating Palestinians would be replaced by a fairer, more equitable one. Also generally unknown is that Ahmadinejad compared the downfall of the regime occupying Jerusalem to the demise of the Shah of Iran. Jonathan Steele makes the following observation in an article for one of Britain's leading newspapers, the Guardian:
"The fact that he compared his desired option- the elimination of the regime occupying Jerusalem" with the fall of the Shah's regime in Iran makes it crystal clear that he is talking about regime change, not the end of Israel. As a schoolboy opponent of the Shah in the 1970s, he surely did not favor Iran's removal from the pages of time. He just wanted the Shah out."