Last month, Reps. Gary Ackerman (D-NY) and Mike
Pence (R-IN) introduced a new resolution to Congress, demanding the President
to initiate an international effort to impose a land, sea, and air blockade
on Iran to prevent it from importing refined petroleum products and to subject
all cargo entering or leaving Iran to "stringent inspection requirements."
Aside from the evident inflationary impact that such radical measures would
have on the already exorbitant price of oil, it is important for the American
constituent to realize that this resolution (H.Con.Res.362) contains a significant
number of factual fallacies, wrong assumptions and unfounded assertions that
could lead the country down another destructive path in the Middle East.
1) At the outset, the title of the Resolution makes an explicit reference
to "Iran's pursuit of nuclear weapons":
Yet, this assertion is misleading and absolutely inconsistent with the findings
of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) since 2003, as well as with
the National Intelligence Estimate's (NIE) most recent assessment of Iran's
nuclear ambitions and capabilities.
The case of Iraq has already demonstrated that such sensationalist and hypothetical
assumptions could very well predispose the Congress to make decisions that are
incompatible with the realities on the ground to the detriment of America's
long-term security interests. Therefore, in order to prevent the same mistakes
in the case of Iran, it is important for the American constituent to realize
that, as to this day, the IAEA has conducted more than 3000 man/days of scrupulous
inspection of Iran's military and nuclear facilities, including at least 9 unannounced
visits in the past few months. So far, all IAEA reports, including the
latest one issued in May 2008, have exonerated Iran of any allegation of diversion
from its nuclear activities to a weaponization program. In fact, the IAEA, along
with American, European and Israeli intelligence communities have never been
in a position to demonstrate or confirm the existence of a covert non-peaceful
nuclear program in Iran. Most IAEA reports contain so far a phrase to the effect
that the Agency "has not seen any diversion of nuclear material to nuclear
weapons or other nuclear explosive devices."
Furthermore, the National Intelligence Estimate, which expresses the coordinated
judgements of a group of 16 U.S intelligence agencies – has also stated "with
high confidence" in its November 2007 report, that Iran is no longer pursuing
any military related nuclear activity.
So, the question is, on what objective basis do the authors of this resolution
refer to "Iran's pursuit of nuclear weapons"? And why have they not
stated their source in the text of the resolution?
2) A "whereas" clause misleadingly asserts that "the IAEA
has confirmed such illicit covert nuclear activities as the importation of uranium
hexafluoride, construction of a uranium enrichment facility, experimentation
with plutonium, importation of centrifuge technology, construction of centrifuges,
and importation of designs to convert highly enriched uranium gas into metal
and shape it into the core of a nuclear weapon."
Actually, none of the activities labelled in this clause as "illicit"
are confirmed as such by the IAEA or understood as such under international
law, the Nuclear non-Proliferation Treaty of 1968 (NPT), Iran's agreements with
the Agency or any other binding legal instruments for that matter. In other
words, neither the importation of uranium hexafluoride, nor the construction
of a uranium enrichment facility, nor the experimentation with plutonium are
On the contrary, the NPT explicitly recognizes the development, research,
production and use of nuclear energy as the "inalienable right of all the
Parties to the Treaty," without discrimination (NPT, Art.4 (1)). In fact,
the NPT even contains a number of provisions aimed at facilitating the
"exchange of equipment, materials and scientific and technological information"
from nuclear states to non-nuclear signatories such as Iran.
With respect to the claim concerning Iran's alleged "importation of designs
to convert highly enriched uranium gas into metal and shape it into the core
of a nuclear weapon," the authors of the Resolution once again conveniently
discard the findings of the IAEA over the past 5 years, as well as the 2007
NIE assessment report regarding Iran's nuclear intentions and capabilities.
The authors of this resolution ought to explain to their constituents why they
deem that the findings of the IAEA and the NIE are irrelevant.
3) A "whereas" clause deceptively claims that the November 2007
National Intelligence Estimate has reported "that Iran could have enough
highly enriched uranium for a nuclear weapon as soon as late 2009":
The authors of this clause regrettably omit to quote the full paragraph of
the NIE report in its context, where it is clearly stated that such possibility
is "very unlikely" (November 2007 NIE; p. 7). In fact, the 2007 NIE
report explicitly concludes that "Iran is unlikely to achieve this capability
before 2013" and further reassures that ‘"all agencies recognize
the possibility that this capability may not be attained until after
Once again, the American constituent ought to ask why the authors of this resolution
so deliberately left out crucial sections of the NIE report and cited some sections
completely out of context to create an artificial sense of urgency about Iran's
4) A "whereas" clause falsely claims that "Iran has
consistently refused" offers of economic, diplomatic, and security incentives
from the United States, Europe, Russia and China, in exchange of suspending
its enrichment program.
First, it is important to note that, as an absent Party to the negotiations,
the United States has never directly offered any meaningful "security incentives"
to Iran. On the contrary, the omnipresent rhetoric of war and sanctions from
Washington, as well as the "regime change" policy pursued by the current
administration, have constantly clouded the atmosphere of the negotiations and
obscured the prospect of a meaningful agreement between parties.
Secondly, despite the aforementioned clause's claim, recent developments indicate
that Iran is rather remarkably receptive to negotiations on the terms of the
new incentive package (S210/08) offered to her by the 5+1 group in June 2008.
The confrontational measures prescribed in resolution H.Con.Res.362 would only
seriously interfere with this promising new round of negotiations.
So why speak of "refusal" when the negotiations are still in progress?
5) A "whereas" clause wrongly
asserts that "Iranian leaders have repeatedly called for the destruction
First, in order to get a clear and objective picture of the situation at hand,
it is imperative to separate the Iranian nuclear issue from matters related
to the unfortunate mutual antagonism between Iran and Israel. Once again, there
is absolutely no clear evidence indicating that Iran has or intends to divert
its nuclear program towards weapon development for military uses. So linking
Iran's nuclear program to its alleged hostile intentions regarding Israel is
completely unfounded. Furthermore, despite the harsh rhetoric on both sides,
there is absolutely no strategically sound and justifiable reason to believe
that Iran is disposed to use force against the nuclear-armed State of Israel.
Moreover, it is important to recognize the difference between the sporadic
and random rhetoric emanating from some radical ideological factions within
the Iranian political apparatus, and Iran's verifiably pragmatic foreign policy,
driven by geopolitical considerations. Threats and psychological warfare are
not uncommon in the world of domestic or international politics. Senator Hillary
Clinton, a former presidential candidate, has just very recently threatened
to "obliterate" Iran during the course of her campaign. But it is
generally admitted that this sort of rhetoric does not merit to be considered
as indicative of the United States policy toward Iran. So why treat them as
such when they emanate from some Iranian authorities or use them as an excuse
to stop Iran's legitimate nuclear program?
The truth, that the media often fails to reflect, is that Iran's official position
toward Israel has been the same for the past two decades. Iran's official policy
on Israel has always been "a one-state solution" decided through a countrywide
referendum. Even Ahmadinejad endorses this policy:
Ahmadinejad: "[...] Our suggestion is that the 5 million Palestinian refugees
come back to their homes, and then the entire people on those lands hold a referendum
and choose their own system of government. This is a democratic and popular
way." (Interview with Time magazine).
6) A "resolved" clause demands that the President initiate an
international effort to (inter alia) impose a land, sea, and air blockade
on Iran to prevent it from importing refined petroleum products and to subject
all cargo entering or leaving Iran to stringent inspection requirements.
The wording of this clause leaves the door open to "convenient interpretations"
by those within the U.S administration who seek military confrontation with
Iran. Just as Congressmen Kucinich (D-OH) and Wexler (D-FL) rightly point out
in separate letters, this language could be understood to contradict the "whereas"
clause that states that "nothing in this resolution shall be construed
as an authorization of the use of force against Iran." More importantly,
this clause fails to call on the President to seek Congressional approval in
the likely event that the implementation of these provocative measures requires
the use of force against Iran.
Furthermore, despite what the authors of the resolution claim, H.Con.Res.362
is not "just reiterating" the U.N Security Council's previous resolutions
against Iran, but is rather introducing a whole new set of unilateral punitive
measures, while leaving the door open for escalation. The sanctions prescribed
in H. Con. Res. 362 go far beyond existing sanctions and previously proposed
sanctions for dealing with Iran. The impact of these measures would only severely
undermine the prospect of diplomacy and the chance to succeed in achieving a
peaceful resolution. Moreover, the Charter of the United Nations provides specific
provisions under which such measures ought to be implemented. Resorting to a
naval blockade without the explicit mandate of the Security Council under Chapter
VII would be construed by the court of public opinion, and by foes and allies
alike, as a blatant violation of the Charter by the United States and make the
task of gaining the cooperation of the international community much more problematic
Furthermore, it is important for the American constituent to know that coercive
policies have never produced any constructive results in the context of the
US-Iran relations. In fact, over 12 years of sanctions under the Iran-Libya
Sanction Act (ILSA 1996) have demonstrated that Iran is absolutely not responsive
to force or any kind of confrontational measures. None of America's confrontational
policies have so far resulted in a change of attitude by Tehran. These unilateral
actions, or even the threat thereof, would only have the effect of further diminishing
America's image and fueling anti-American sentiments among the otherwise US-friendly
people of Iran.
As Congressman Kucinich rightly warns, "If this body [Congress] truly
wants to find a peaceful solution to Iran's nuclear program and influence in
the Middle East, we must use the best and most credible form of diplomacy at
our disposal. The US must engage Iran in direct diplomatic talks without preconditions.
Passage of this resolution only escalates our strained relationship with Iran."