IAEA On Iran: Nothing But Know-How

Most of what I think needs to be said on the Iran nuclear weapons issue I’ve already written, or has already been written elsewhere. Namely, U.S. policy influences Iran strongly towards attaining a nuclear deterrent, so the notion that Iranians have intent here should not be a surprise. The U.S. has waged two aggressive, unnecessary wars directly along Iran’s east and west borders, constantly floods the Persian Gulf with fleets of navy warships, bribes client states surrounding Iranian territory with weapons systems and money to be subservient to U.S. interests and allow U.S. military bases there, and heaps restrictive sanctions on Iran’s energy and banking industries. Despite reprehensible policies of both governments, the U.S. is very close friends with Saudi Arabia and Israel, two of Iran’s top security threats, one of which the U.S. lets have nuclear weapons and both of which have recently called for unilateral strikes. In addition, towards the end of their reign, the Bush administration asked Congress for funding for a program of support for anti-Tehran rebel ethnic groups to work to undermine the government, as well as for intelligence gathering and sabotage of the nuclear program. For years now, a concerted covert U.S. campaign of cyber-terrorism, commercial sabotage, targeted assassinations, and proxy wars has been under way in Iran. Add to that the constant public statements by U.S. officials of the highest order literally urging military attack and regime change in Iran.

In such an environment, why wouldn’t the Iranian government want a nuclear weapon so as to prevent an attack against their country? As former IAEA chief Hans Blix recently said, Tehran is acting out of a perception of threat, and must be reassured that it does not need a nuclear deterrent: “I think the talks that will resume should give Iran insurance that they will not be attacked from the outside under any circumstances.”

But, I did want to add one important point in addition to the above context I’ve already laid out here multiple times. The media echo chamber, in tandem with relentless rhetorical aggression by politicians, has essentially decided from the leaks of the IAEA report due out tomorrow that Iran has nuclear weapons capability. The leaked statements say no such thing. In the Washington Post article, former IAEA official David Albright said the report claims that all Iran has is the information needed to make weapons. That’s it, just know-how…not material necessities or resources or anything else. Just information.

Albright said IAEA officials, based on the totality of the evidence given to them, have concluded that Iran “has sufficient information to design and produce a workable implosion nuclear device” using highly enriched uranium as its fissile core. In the presentation, he described intelligence that points to a formalized and rigorous process for gaining all the necessary skills for weapons-building, using native talent as well as a generous helping of foreign expertise.

And this conforms to U.S. intelligence, says the Post:

U.S. intelligence officials maintain that Iran’s leaders have not decided whether to build nuclear weapons but are intent on gathering all the components and skills so they can quickly assemble a bomb if they choose to.

Honestly, this seems like an understandable posture for a government that is under attack both by implication and in actual reality (as I explained above, garrisoning Iran’s surroundings with provocative militarism, funding violent rebel groups within Iran, conducting terrorist attacks and targeted assassinations on Iranian nuclear scientists, etc.). If the leaks, the IAEA report, and U.S. intelligence are accurate – and, as we know, even that is questionable – it seems the Iranians are holding on to this information in case of an act of international aggression against them.

But the media and the government have latched onto these leaks as evidence of inherent Iranian evil that is aggressively working to attain a nuclear weapons to obliterate Israel and incinerate the U.S. homeland or bases abroad. Psychotic babble, particularly but not exclusively from the Republican Party, has shifted the debate into one of belligerence, fear, and war. On ABC News, presidential candidate Michele Bachmann said the following: “They [Iran] have already stated that they would use a nuclear weapon to wipe Israel off the face of the map. Iran has also stated they would be willing to use a nuclear weapon against the United States of America. I think if there’s anything that we have learned over the course of history, it is that when a madman speaks, we should listen.” Yes, except when he hasn’t spoken. Nobody in Iran has said they will use a nuclear weapon to attack the U.S. or Israel. Iran denies in the first place that its nuclear program is for anything other than civilian purposes, so how could they have said that? Ah, yes…Bachmann, like the rest of her extremist war-mongering allies in Washington, simply made it up. Back on Earth, even Israeli intelligence doesn’t believe Iran is an existential threat.

Iran is on the defensive, not the offensive. If the U.S. and its allies reversed the aggressive militaristic postures and rhetoric and terrorism that I mentioned at the top, the Iranian nuclear issue would be moot. All of this seething, rabid rallying for war against Iran would be irrelevant if the U.S. simply took the opportunity to establish a nuclear-weapons-free-zone in the Middle East, a treaty that would be viable but for Israel’s nuclear weapons that it will not give up even for peace and stability in the region.

Instead of these reasonable, peaceful approaches, we get Bachmann-type rhetoric and successive crankings of the war machine. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been pushing his cabinet to support a unilateral attack on Iran, and on Wednesday Israel tested a ballistic missile while making public statements about an Iranian nuclear threat. Reports the following day revealed that Netanyahu ordered an investigation into a leak of plans to attack Iran, with the prime suspects being two former Israeli intelligence officials with a history of advocating against such a unilateral attack. Meanwhile, Britain unveiled preparations and plans to attack Iran, supposedly in case of a U.S. attack in which they would play an assisting role. Additionally, a bipartisan House committee unanimously pushed forward two bills that would impose harsher sanctions on Iran’s energy and banking sector. Who really believes these measures – or worse – would convince Iran it doesn’t need a nuclear deterrent?