August 15, 2005

Bad Blood

Iran responds to Bush's threats:

... "I think Bush should know that our options are more numerous than the U.S. options," said Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi. "If the United States makes such a big mistake, then Iran will definitely have more choices to defend itself."

He offered no specifics but characterized Bush's words as part of an ongoing psychological war against Iran. ...

Asefi is likely right. At this point, they've got the home court advantage and they haven't been at war with anyone since the 80's. Ironically, not only is the current Bush team responsible for our present pickle, they're responsible for much of the run-up as well. (Emphasis in quotes mine throughout.)

First, when the Shah was in charge of Iran, all the old gang put it into the heads of the Iranians that they really, truly, desperately needed nuclear power:

Lacking direct evidence, Bush administration officials argue that Iran's nuclear program must be a cover for bomb-making. US Vice President Dick Cheney recently said: "They're already sitting on an awful lot of oil and gas. Nobody can figure why they need nuclear as well to generate energy.''

Yet Cheney, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and outgoing Deputy Secretary Paul Wolfowitz held key national security posts when the administration of Gerald Ford made the opposite argument 30 years ago.

Ford's team endorsed Iranian plans to build a massive nuclear energy industry, but also worked hard to complete a multibillion-dollar deal that would have given Teheran control of large quantities of plutonium and enriched uranium - the two pathways to a nuclear bomb.

... Using arguments identical to those made by the shah 30 years ago, Iran says its nuclear program is essential to meet growing energy requirements, and is not intended for bombs. Teheran revived the program in secret, its officials say, to prevent the United States from trying to stop it.

... Ford's team commended Iran's decision to build a massive nuclear energy industry, noting in a declassified 1975 strategy paper that Teheran needed to "prepare against the time - about 15 years in the future - when Iranian oil production is expected to decline sharply.''

Estimates of Iran's oil reserves were smaller then than they are now, but energy experts and US intelligence estimates continue to project that Iran will need an alternative energy source in the coming decades. Iran's population has more than doubled since the 1970s, and its energy demands have increased even more. ...

Though the deal went south after the 1979 revolution, the groundwork for Iran's nuclear program and the seed of the idea was laid during the Ford administration. Then, as Jason Leopold reports, Cheney was so greedy to sell fighter jets to Pakistan that he looked the other way as they developed nuclear technology. Which they eventually sold to Iran:

When news of Pakistan’s clandestine program showed how the country's top nuclear scientist was secretly selling Iran and North Korea, the so-called “Axis of Evil,” blueprints for building an atomic bomb were uncovered last year, the world’s leaders waited, with baited breath, to see how President Bush would punish Pakistan's President Pervez Musharaff.

... Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney and top members of the administration reacted with shock when they found out that Abdul Qadeer Khan, Pakistan ’s top nuclear scientist, spent the past 15 years selling outlaw nations nuclear technology and equipment. So it was sort of a surprise when Bush, upon finding out about Khan’s proliferation of nuclear technology, let Pakistan off with a slap on the wrist. But it was all an act. In fact, it was actually a cover-up designed to shield Cheney because he knew about the proliferation for more than a decade and did nothing to stop it.

... In 1989, the year Khan first started selling nuclear secrets on the black-market; Richard Barlow, a young intelligence analyst working for the Pentagon prepared a shocking report for Cheney, who was then working as Secretary of Defense under the first President Bush administration: Pakistan built an atomic bomb and was selling its nuclear equipment to countries the U.S. said was sponsoring terrorism.

... "A finding that Pakistan possessed a nuclear bomb would have triggered a congressionally mandated cutoff of aid to the country, a key ally in the CIA's efforts to support Afghan rebels fighting a pro-Soviet government. It also would have killed a $1.4-billion sale of F-16 fighter jets to Islamabad ," Mother Jones reported.

... Cheney dismissed Barlow’s report because he desperately wanted to sell Pakistan the F-16 fighter planes. Several months later, a Pentagon official was told by Cheney to downplay Pakistan ’s nuclear capabilities when he testified on the threat before Congress. Barlow complained to his bosses at the Pentagon and was fired. ...

Add $60/barrel oil (making their fuel more valuable to them for export than internal use,) five major nuclear neighbors (China, India, Israel, Pakistan and Russia) and major conflicts involving the world's Only Remaining Superpower (TM) along two of their borders, well, that's a recipe for a powerful desire for nuclear energy. The BBC summed things up best when they said:

... The United States and some Western countries say that Iran cannot be trusted. Allowing Iran to go ahead and enrich uranium would also be a precedent for others, they say.

... Enriched uranium (basically the higher-grade material extracted from the original ore) provides fuel for a nuclear power station. Iran says it needs to be able to develop this process itself because it cannot trust outside suppliers. It says they might be subject to American influence. ...

Indeed, through influencing corporate conglomerates, America has been preventing the sale of commercial aviation parts to Iran for quite some time. Though demand for passenger flights has been growing, the safety of the aging Iranian passenger fleet (scroll down) continues to decline and accidents are becoming more common. Given such a history, it's unlikely that Iran will trust any deal that has them depending on outside suppliers that could be put under pressure by America. Unlike Saudi Arabia, they do almost everything in-house now, and have become exporters of engineering and manufacturing expertise.

Bush's cabal of loyal henchmen/puppeteers have had a major hand in creating the Iran of today. Considering that they obviously didn't know what they were doing at the time and apparently still don't, I'm prepared for the eventual national embarassment when they figure out a way to screw this pooch even harder.

Posted by natasha at August 15, 2005 01:39 AM | International | Technorati links |