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Heightening Tensions for War on Iran

by Stephen Lendman Thursday, May. 24, 2012 at 9:23 PM


Heightening Tensions for War on Iran

by Stephen Lendman

A previous article discussed two House bills. On May 18, HR 4310 passed. It includes two hawkish anti-Iranian provisions: Sections 1221 and 1222.

So does HR 568. It expressed the importance of preventing Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapons "capability."

Every nation operating commercial nuclear reactors has it. On March 17, the bill passed. Both measures advance the ball closer to war.

Companion Senate bills are easily expected to pass.

On February 16, S. Res. 380: A resolution to express the sense of the Senate regarding the importance of preventing the Government of Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapons capability was introduced.

No further action was taken. It's expected to pass once floor consideration begins.

Its official summary states:

"Affirms that it is a vital national interest of the United States to prevent the Islamic Republic of Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapons capability and warns that time is limited to prevent that from happening.

Urges increasing economic and diplomatic pressure on Iran to secure an agreement that includes:

(1) suspension of all uranium enrichment-related and reprocessing activities,

(2) complete cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) regarding Iran's nuclear activities, and

(3) a permanent agreement that verifiably assures that Iran's nuclear program is entirely peaceful.


(1) the universal rights and democratic aspirations of the Iranian people, and

(2) U.S. policy to prevent the Iranian government from acquiring nuclear weapons capability.

Rejects any U.S. policy that would rely on efforts to contain a nuclear weapons-capable Iran. Urges the President to reaffirm the unacceptability of an Iran with nuclear-weapons capability and oppose any policy that would rely on containment as an option in response to the Iranian nuclear threat."

Senator Lindsey Graham (R. SC) sponsored the bill. Seventy-seven so-sponsors joined him. They included Joe Lieberman (I. CT) and Robert Casey, Jr. (D. PA).

On March 9, they headlined a Wall Street Journal op-ed "Iran Can't Be Allowed Nuclear 'Capability,' " saying:

"The prospect of a nuclear-armed Iran is a threat to the entire world, including particularly the U.S., and its destabilizing consequences are not containable."

"If Iran succeeds in acquiring a nuclear-weapons capability....the odds of nuclear material falling into the hands of rogue terrorists will dramatically increase."

"A nuclear-armed Iran would also threaten the global economy by holding Middle Eastern oil supplies hostage."

Their resolution "send(s) an unambiguous message to the Iranians that we are prepared to do whatever necessary to stop them from acquiring a nuclear-weapons capability...."

Iran threatens no one. Graham, Lieberman, Casey, and other congressional hawks threaten world peace. They dangerously head America toward potentially catastrophic war.

On May 21, the Senate unanimously approved new economic sanctions. Numerous previous ones were enacted.

New ones cover dealings with the National Iranian Oil Company and National Iranian Tanker Company. They aim to close a potential loophole letting Tehran deliver oil with its fleet.

In December, the House passed a companion bill. Expect Obama to sign a resolved version of both.

On May 17, Senate Republicans initially rejected the measure to get tougher provisions added. Once included, unanimous passage followed.

Multiple rounds of sanctions combined with hawkish legislation heads America closer to war. A willing Israeli partner awaits.

On May 23, follow-up P5+1 nuclear talks with Iran convened in Baghdad. The EU's Catherine Ashton heads its delegation. Supreme National Council (SNSC) Secretary Saeed Jalili leads the Iranian delegation.

Tehran wants good faith discussions. Washington intends conflict, not resolution. Obama officials wants regime change. Iran's nuclear program is red herring subterfuge. If not that issue, another would be raised.

Unacceptable demands are made. Resolution won't follow. Washington won't tolerate it.

Iran and IAEA head Yukiya Amano agreed on future inspections. Doing so seemed positive, or did it?

State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said:

An announced "deal is one thing, but the implementation is what we're going to be looking for, for Iran to truly follow through and provide the access to all of the locations, the documents and the personnel that the IAEA requires in order to determine whether Iran's program is exclusively for peaceful purposes."

Washington wants "Iran to demonstrate unequivocally that its program is peaceful. There are separate but linked tracks for doing that."

"One is to do what the IAEA needs, to demonstrate it has seen all the locations and all of the documents. The other is to work with the EU three plus three on concrete steps to give more reassurance of the kind that we're seeking."

In the run-up to the Iraq war, Washington demanded Saddam prove a negative. Compliance is impossible. Iran faces the same hurdle. Expect heightened tensions. Post-November, war seems likely.

America hasn't had an enemy since WW II ended. When none exist, they're invented.

Communism became terrorism. Nonbelligerent countries are called threats. One war follows another. Syria and Iran are targeted.

Cooler heads fear mushroom-shaped cloud resolution. The prospect looms real. Nations willing to use nuclear weapons like king-sized hand grenades threaten humanity.

War is longstanding official US policy. Irresponsible media scoundrels push unthinkable, potentially cataclysmic ones.

On May 18, a Washington Post Jamie Fly/Matthew Kroenig commentary headlined "On Iran, it's time for Obama to set clear lines for military action," saying:

It's time for "sticks," not "carrots." On May 7, Obama's Deputy National Security Advisor, Denis McDonough, said:

"We're not involved in a negotiation effort for the sake of negotiations."

Whether intended or not, it sounded like a Freudian slip. Fly and Kroenig want Washington to halt "Iran's program rather than just buy more time for Tehran."

It's Obama's only way to show he means business. US officials claims Iran's able to "produc(e) weapons-grade uranium without the international community knowing about it."

"Iran has repeatedly crossed what should have been bright red lines for the international community."

"But if we wait until Iran turns the final screws on a nuclear device, we probably will be too late. The administration’s pledge to use force if necessary also rings hollow if Iran is allowed to make significant progress in all the other areas required for a weapon."

Washington must "strike Iran's nuclear facilities" before fissile material is produced. By then, "the game is over."

Both writers want clear red lines drawn. If Tehran won't comply, limited or broader military responses should follow. They "could be commensurate to the seriousness of Iran's transgressions."

"The benefits of being clear about what we cannot accept outweigh the possible costs."

Only threats seem likely to work, claim Sly and Kroenig.  No matter that Iran's program complies with its international obligations. Neither writer considered that reality. Its option is comply or bombs away.

Fly’s the Foreign Policy Initiative's executive director. He formerly served as GW Bush's National Security Council counterproliferation strategy head.

Kroenig's a Council on Foreign Relations nuclear security fellow. He formerly served as a Middle East policy adviser in Obama's defense secretary office.

On April 3, Israel National News contributor Joe Tuzara headlined "7 Reasons Why Israel Should Unilaterally Bomb Iran," saying:

(1) Iran is a "de facto nuclear state."

In fact, Iran's program peacefully complies with NPT provisions. Israel's the problem. So is Washington, not Iran.

(2) "Israel must be wiped off the map."

Israel claims President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said it. In fact, he and others said Israeli policies are self-destructive.

(3) Sanctions don't work.

They hurt ordinary Iranians most. They won't derail Tehran's legitimate nuclear program.

(4) Iran, Hamas and Hezbollah represent existential threats.

In fact, Israel and Washington hold that distinction.

(5) Iran replicates "Pyongyang-style" deceit.

Deceit, belligerence, and warmaking reflect Washington and Israeli policy.

(6) Attacking Iran "will increase regional stability."

Doing so threatens world peace and humanity.

(7) Failure to attack will lose Israel and Washington credibility.

Neither has any to lose.

Tuzara is a former clinical researcher/physician/general surgeon now writing free lance. Hopefully his patients fared better than readers thinking his commentary is credible.

His analysis is sorely lacking. He's ideologically reckless and dangerous. His proposal could destroy humanity, not save it.

On May 18 Yagil Levy headlined his Foreign Policy article "Could an Israeli attack on Iran promote peace?" saying:

"....Israel's attack could probably be an effective way to break the deadlock in the Middle East peace process that shows no signs of going anywhere on its own. While this path is certainly not a desirable option, it is worth considering how it might play out."

Iran would retaliate. Whatever Israel achieves, the cost incurred would be high. A war of attrition could follow. Conflicts insure endless violence.

Israel faces a choice. Strike as it's always done or seek peaceful resolution. Iran might yield some to gain more.

Levy left Washington and Israel's real aim out of his equation entirely. He omitted what's really at issue.

Obama and Netanyahu seek regime change. Both leaders know Iran's program is peaceful. Yet it's used as pretext for conflict.

Tehran won't give it up, nor should it. Nor will it sacrifice independence to please Washington and Tel Aviv. Stalemate seems likely.

Will war follow? Increasingly it looks likely despite potentially catastrophic consequences no responsible leaders should chance. Levy stopped short of explaining what's most important.

He's Associate Professor at the Open University of Israel and Georgetown University visiting department of government professor.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at

His new book is titled "How Wall Street Fleeces America: Privatized Banking, Government Collusion and Class War"

Visit his blog site at and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

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