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Answering the Charges Against Iran
On Friday 26th January 2007, a delegation including the veteran antiwar leader Tony Benn, Professor Abbas Edalat and Professor Pirouz Mojtahedzadeh, delivered a report to Number 10 Downing Street and to the news editors of all major media networks in Britain and the world, countering the misconceptions that surround alleged threat posed by Iran.
The report, ‘Answering the Charges”, drafted by Campaign Iran, sets out the most popular charges that have been levelled at Iran and answers each of them in turn. Relying on the facts as they are currently known, the report challenges the accuracy of many of the key claims commonly made against Iran. The report follows a spate of investigations into standards of reporting on Iran undertaken by the Press Complaints Commission, and is intended to raise the awareness among journalists, politicians and the public, that much of what has become the conventional wisdom on Iran, is incorrect.
Professor Abbas Edalat of Campaign Iran said:
“We are concerned that military action against Iran is not just a real possibility but an imminent reality. Unable to provide any justification for such action, the case against Iran is being built on insinuation, accusation and misinformation. Despite the stories that fill the news, we have yet to see any evidence that Iran poses a real and imminent threat to any nation, least of all the US or the UK. We have yet to see any evidence that Iran is engaged in the development of nuclear weapons or that it has breached any of its international treaty obligations regarding nuclear proliferation. We have yet to see any evidence that the Iranian government is supplying weapons to insurgents in Iraq or harbouring terrorists within its borders.
“We hope that this report will provide people with the facts that they need in order to make a rational and unbiased judgement on the current situation with regards to Iran. We also hope that it may help to calm some of the hysteria that is building around the need for military intervention against Iran.
“Military action against Iran would be completely unjustified, counterproductive and have disastrous consequences for the people of the country and the region. We should aim to resolve differences between nations through dialogue and diplomacy rather than through incendiary threats and military intervention.”
Dispelling the Demonising Myths
A number of inaccurate statements about Iran have been made by politicians and repeated uncritically in the media. Campaign Iran, an international group opposed to sanctions and military intervention against Iran, here counterpose some of these popular myths against the facts as they currently stand.
Iran is developing nuclear weapons
There is absolutely no proof that Iran has a nuclear weapons programme. Inspections over the past three years have found no evidence of a nuclear weaponization programme. There have been over 2200 person/hours of inspections of Iran's nuclear facilities by the IAEA and Mohammed El Baradei has stated that there is no evidence that Iran has a weapons programme. There is also a religious decree by Ayatollah Khamenei, who has the final say on all major issues, against the production and use of nuclear weapons.
Iran has been blocking inspections of its nuclear plants for years
Iran has fully complied with International Atomic Energy Agency inspections. They signed the Addition Protocol of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and for most of the last three years have allowed inspectors "to go anywhere and see anything".
Iran is currently blocking IAEA inspections
After they were referred to the UN Security Council last year, Iran withdrew from the voluntary enforcement of the Additional Protocol. They are however still in full compliance with their international obligations and are allowing inspections. Inspectors from International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspected Iran's nuclear installations in Isfahan and Natanz on 10-12th January 2007 and further inspections will take place on 2-6th February 2007. The greater the threat of military action, the more difficult inspections are likely to become.
Iran is enriching uranium
Enrichment of uranium for domestic power purposes is an inalienable right under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). Iran is believed to have enriched uranium to the 3.5% level, enough for use as nuclear fuel, but it would require 90% enrichment, with 50-100 kg of it, to make a single bomb. Even a CIA’s official 2005 US government report states that Iran is at least 10 years away from the capacity for a nuclear weapon.
Inspectors found traces of highly enriched uranium
In 2004 IAEA inspectors did find traces of highly enriched uranium in the plant in Natanz. In 2005 the IAEA confirmed that this highly enriched uranium was Pakistani and came to Natanz as a result of imported centrifuges.
The UN has passed a resolution against Iran
There is no basis for Resolution 1737 under international law and questions have been raised as to whether political pressure was exerted on the Security Council members to vote in favour of it. Without evidence that Iran has diverted its civilian nuclear activities into a weaponization programme and since she has fully cooperated with the IAEA, there were no grounds within the NPT either to refer Iran to the UN Security Council, or to pass Resolution 1737.
The UN Security Council represents the view of the International Community
In June 2006, 56 nations signed the Baku Declaration which stated "the only way to resolve Iran's nuclear issue is to resume negotiations without any preconditions and to enhance cooperation with the involvement of all relevant parties". Similarly the Non-Aligned movement representing the majority of the international community has recognised Iran’s right for a civilian nuclear technology.
The UN resolution is only about sanctions
Resolution 1737 has given Iran 60 days to stop conducting uranium enrichment. After this deadline expires the US will no doubt try and pass another Resolution involving ‘tougher measures,’ namely military intervention.
With so much gas there is no reason for Iran to want nuclear power
Iran would like to export more oil and gas. It was Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld and Paul Wolfowitz who, under President Ford, persuaded the Shah to establish a large nuclear programme to meet its energy needs and sold the first nuclear reactor to the country.
Iran is harbouring Al Qaeda and supporting terrorists
There is absolutely no evidence that Iran has in any way collaborated with Al Qaeda. In fact Iran condemned the 9/11 attacks by Al Qaeda and supported Coalition’s attack on the Taliban.
Iran is supplying weapons and intelligence to Iraqi insurgents
No evidence whatsoever has been produced to link the Iranian government to Iraqi insurgents. General Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, admitted at a Pentagon news conference in January 2007, that he had no evidence of the Iranian government sending any military equipment or personnel into Iraq.
Iran is planning to destroy Israel
Iran does not have the military power to pose an objective threat to Israel.
President Amadinejad “Israel should be wiped of the map” comment has been widely reported in the Guardian and elsewhere to have been a mistranslation and what he actually said is “the regime occupying Jerusalem must vanish from the page of time". Rather than “Israel should be wiped off the map”, as wrongly attributed to him by the western media, he has called for a change of the occupying regime in the same way that the Soviet Union went through a regime change. It is said that President Amadinejad rhetoric against Israel is inflammatory. However a distinction must be drawn between angry rhetoric and genuine threats.
Iran is a threat to the stability of the region
Iran is surrounded by countries to the west, north and east that have nuclear weapons - the US (in Iraq and Afghanistan and in the Indian Ocean), Israel, Russia, China, India and Pakistan, and now North Korea. Iran has not invaded or threatened any country in the past two and a half centuries. The only war the Iran has fought was the war imposed by Saddam’s army, which invaded Iran with the backing of the US and its allies. An attack on Iran with cause instability to the region and the world, just as the invasion and occupation of Iraq has done.
The targeting of Iran has nothing to do with oil or gas
Iran holds the world's largest supplies of oil after Saudi Arabia and Iraq, and holds more oil and gas combined than any other country on the planet. As Peak Oil rapidly approaches, the US demand to control the lion's share of what is left. Iran has also just shifted its petrodollars into a Euro-based bourse. The effect on the value of the dollar will be significant.
Democracy should be installed in Iran
Iran has an active indigenous democracy movement who ultimately are the only ones who can secure a sustainable democracy. Any military assault on the country will hugely strengthen the anti-democratic political forces in Iran. The burgeoning civil society organisations in Iran would be one of the first major victims of any military attack on the country. Iranian people are wholly opposed to military action against their country.
US forces are too overstretched to take military action against Iran
A full ground invasion of Iran is highly unlikely. It would be possible, however, for the US to use their massive air power to destroy Iran’s civilian and military infrastructure. A limited ground invasion could be used to take over Khuzestan province which borders Iraq and contains 90 percent of Iran’s oil and gas reserves.
America has learned a lesson from the chaos in Iraq
The US is fearful that failure to act against Iran will allow the Iranian’s to gain too much influence in Iraq. The US is not thinking in the short-term. They are not backing out of Iraq as the redeployment of 21,500 troops to Iraq attests.
Military action against Iran would be too unpopular with the US public opinion
The deployment of an extra 21,500 troops to Iraq has shown that George Bush is willing to suffer unpopularity with his voters.