With or without an agreement, Iran will be a nuclear state and have a nuclear weapon within five years, tops.”- Israeli Finance Minister Avigdor LiebermanIsrael sees Iranian atomic bomb in five years, deal or no deal | Reuters
My first blog entry is about today’s news is that Israeli sources are claiming that 5 years away from making nukes, regardless of whether the JCPOA is in effect or not, and naturally they reserve a “right” to attack Iran to prevent it from gaining “threshold status”, ie: capable of making nukes in short notice. The intention is to create a perception of a crisis as Iran supposedly goes for nukes, and so supposedly has to be held back by the Israelis.
There’s a deliberate obfuscation between “capability” and “getting nukes” that’s being played-on to create an atmosphere of crisis. Nuclear capability is not illegal or even rare in the world, and is not prohibited by the Non-Proliferation Treaty. Iran has supposedly been just about to make nukes for 40 years now:
“Iran is engaged in the production of an atomic bomb, likely to be ready within two years, according to press reports in the Persian Gulf last week.”
— Jane’s Defense Weekly, 24 April 1984.
Four years later, the world was again put on notice, this time by Iraq, that Tehran was at the nuclear threshold, and in 1992 the CIA foresaw atomic arms in Iranian hands by 2000. Then U.S. officials pushed that back to 2003. And in 1997 the Israelis confidently predicted a new date — 2005.Ever a ‘threat,’ never an atomic power, Iran points up challenges of nuclear technology, Charles Hanley, Associated Press Feb 27, 2007
The predictions continued…
“Late 1991: In congressional reports and CIA assessments, the United States estimates that there is a ‘high degree of certainty that the government of Iran has acquired all or virtually all of the components required for the construction of two to three nuclear weapons.’ A February 1992 report by the U.S. House of Representatives suggests that these two or three nuclear weapons will be operational between February and April 1992.”
“February 24, 1993: CIA director James Woolsey says that Iran is still 8 to 10 years away from being able to produce its own nuclear weapon, but with assistance from abroad it could become a nuclear power earlier.”
“January 1995: The director of the U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency, John Holum, testifies that Iran could have the bomb by 2003.”
“January 5, 1995: U.S. Defense Secretary William Perry says that Iran may be less than five years from building an atomic bomb, although ‘how soon…depends how they go about getting it.’”
“April 29, 1996: Israeli prime minister Shimon Peres says ‘he believes that in four years, they [Iran] may reach nuclear weapons.’”
“October 21, 1998: General Anthony Zinni, head of U.S. Central Command, says Iran could have the capacity to deliver nuclear weapons within five years. ‘If I were a betting man,’ he said, ‘I would say they are on track within five years, they would have the capability.’”
“January 17, 2000: A new CIA assessment on Iran’s nuclear capabilities says that the CIA cannot rule out the possibility that Iran may possess nuclear weapons. The assessment is based on the CIA’s admission that it cannot monitor Iran’s nuclear activities with any precision and hence cannot exclude the prospect that Iran may have nuclear weapons.”Cato-at-liberty » Bad Intelligence–But in Which Direction? (archive.org)
And ever since, there’s a daily dose of media scaremongering about how “close to the bomb” Iran is becoming, just by virtue of just possessing uranium.
The truth is that Iran’s nuclear program is quite legal, and was started under the former US-backed regime of the Shah with US encouragement and support; just some of the facts that tend to go missing from the scaremongering. And even if the JCPOA ceases to exist tomorrow, Iran’s standard safeguards agreement with the IAEA continues to be in effect since 1974, allowing all the usual, normal IAEA inspections that are actually required under the terms of the NPT – so there’s no actual nuclear threat, not even hypothetically, and not even if the JCPOA dies.
Of course the Iranians have long since seen through the pretext and know that whatever concessions they make on the nuclear issue will only be met with additional demands, because the nuclear issue is just pretextual:
‘I would like you to write this down… If we backed down on the nuclear issue, the U.S. would have found fault with our medical doctors researching stem cells.’Ex-official explains Iran’s wariness – Africa & Middle East – International Herald Tribune – The New York Times (nytimes.com)
But what I find really amusing in the coverage is when reporters take it upon themselves to personally assure readers of the intentions of the negotiators, specifically telling readers matter-of-factly that the “intentions” of the US and the JCPOA are to “prevent” Iran from obtaining nukes — never mind that Iran was actually making far better compromise offers than the JCPOA earlier on, which the US spurned, undermined or killed-off after Iran had said yes, in order to maintain the nuclear issue as a pretext for the actual policy of imposing regime-change (which not just failed but massively backfired, forcing Iran to expand the nuclear program and increase enrichment levels to near-20% to make fuel for medical reactors, as well as gaining massive popularity among ordinary Iranians across the political spectrum.)
In 2005, Iran offered a deal. We rejected it, refused to talk to Iran directly, and doubled down on sanctions. Ten years later, we settled for much less.Lessons from America’s Continuing Misadventures in the Middle East | Middle East Policy Council (mepc.org)
Even the Director of the IAEA, Mohammad El-Baradei, concluded this:
I have seen the Iranians ready to accept putting a cap on their enrichment [program] in terms of tens of centrifuges, and then in terms of hundreds of centrifuges. But nobody even tried to engage them on these offers. Now Iran has 5,000 centrifuges.ElBaradei: Iranians “Are Not Fanatics” (newsweek.com)
They weren’t interested in a compromise with the government in Tehran, but regime change—by any means necessary.Mr. Amano and Regime Change – CounterPunch.org
So whatever concessions Iran made, were met with moving goalposts and increasing demands by the US, demands that included “Zero Enrichment” and “not one spinning centrifuge” (ie that Iran give up a sovereign right to enrich its own uranium reactor fuel) which was a deliberate “poison pill” inserted into negotiations by the US in order to prevent any deals (since no country has or would agree to that.) The JCPOA deal was reached only after the US dropped the zero enrichment precondition that had blocked progress in any deal.
In any case the framing of the issue portrays Iran as rushing towards either nukes or “threshold status” and being held back by pressure. This myth of “threshold status” or “breakout” as the constraining factor in US-Iran negotiations is widely perpetuated in the US media which assure readers matter-of-factly in their coverage that the “intention” of the US in the nuclear talks (or threats) is to prevent Iran from reaching “breakout.”
And as I intend to detail later in this blog in minute detail this concept of “breakout” or “threshold status” that the media flogs as a constraining factor in the nuclear talks, and which people buy-into unquestionably, is simply a manufactured concept intended to create and perpetuate a nuclear crisis with Iran for reasons that have nothing to do with nukes. Nukes as a whole, are just a pretext for policy of imposing regime-change in Iran, just as “WMDs in Iraq” were a lie and pretext, and brought to you by the very same people.
With regard to the this latest claim: any country can make a nuke in 5 years’ time (Pakistan built theirs in 3 years.) So that’s hardly saying much. In fact way back in 2004 the IAEA Director pointed out that 40 countries could make nukes quickly if they wanted to (and that’s about 1 out of 4 countries on Earth):
More than 40 countries with peaceful nuclear programs could retool them to make weapons, the head of the U.N. atomic watchdog agency said yesterday amid new U.S. and European demands that Iran give up technology capable of producing such arms.U.N. official says 40 nations capable of making nukes | The Seattle Times
This is not because these countries are planning to make nukes; it is simply due to the fact that nuclear technology is inherently dual-purpose. That’s why the Non-Proliferation Treaty exists and requires inspections of nuclear sites (and not non-nuclear sites like centrifuge manufacturing facilities, hard water production facilities etc that Iran has since permitted the IAEA to access) however unlike what most people assume, the NPT does not prohibit nuclear technology that may be applicable to nukes; quite the reverse it requires the sharing of nuclear technology “to the fullest extent possible” and “without discrimination” (including data from nuclear test explosions that were once thought to have civilian applications) so long as the non-nuclear armed signatories to the NPT 1- maintain a safeguards agreement with the IAEA and allow the required inspections pursuant to that safeguards agreement, and 2- the IAEA verifies that there is no evidence of any “diversion of fissile material to non-peaceful uses” — and Iran has consistently met & exceeded both obligations all along as verified repeatedly in every single IAEA report. It is important to note that even the “clandestine” activities which the US accused Iran of undertaking and which were dramatically ‘exposed’ in Dec 2002, involved no diversion of nuclear material and were “unrelated to a weapons program” according to the IAEA reports, and as such were not in violation of the NPT.
The conclusion that no diversion has occurred certifies that the state in question is in compliance with its undertaking, under its safeguards agreement and Article III of the NPT, to not divert material to non-peaceful purposes. In the case of Iran, the IAEA was able to conclude in its November 2004 report that that all declared nuclear materials had been accounted for and therefore none had been diverted to military purposes. The IAEA reached this same conclusion in September 2005.Lawyers’ Committee on Nuclear Policy (archive.org)
That conclusion has been stated in every IAEA report on Iran, even the Dec 2015 one which was misrepresented quite blatantly in the US media and the NY Times specifically as has having supposedly confirmed the existence of a nuclear weapons program.
And quite unlike all those other countries that have nuclear capability, Iran has suspended enrichment repeatedly as a good faith gesture during the course negotiations for periods of years at a time, and has agree to restrictions and limitations on its nuclear program well beyond what any other country has or ever will agree to — and yet the speculation about Iran seeking nukes goes unabated.
Remember that the next time you hear scaremongering about how Iran is “close to nukes” – yet again.