Post by CHORNYVOLK on Jul 23, 2009 18:05:54 GMT -5
Iran and Russia, scorpions in a bottle By Pepe Escobar
HONG KONG - Things get curiouser and curiouser in the Iranian wonderland. Imagine what happened last week during Friday prayers in Tehran, personally conducted by former president Ayatollah Hashemi Rafsanjani, aka "The Shark", Iran's wealthiest man, who made his fortune partly because of Irangate - the 1980s' secret weapons contracts with Israel and the US.
As is well known, Rafsanjani is behind the Mir-Hossein Mousavi-Mohammad Khatami pragmatic conservative faction that lost the most recent battle at the top - rather than a presidential election - to the ultra-hardline faction of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei-Mahmud Ahmadinejad-Iran Revolutionary Guard Corps. During prayers, partisans of the hegemonic faction yelled the usual "Death to America!" - while the pragmatic conservatives came up, for the first time, with "Death to Russia!" and "Death to China!"
Oops. Unlike the United States and Western Europe, both Russia and China almost instantly accepted the contested presidential re-election of Ahmadinejad. Could they then be portrayed as enemies of Iran? Or have pragmatic conservatives not been informed that obsessed-by-Eurasia Zbig Brzezinksi - who has US President Barack Obama's undivided attention - has been preaching since the 1990s that it is essential to break up the Tehran-Moscow-Beijing axis and torpedo the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO)?
On top of it, don't they know that both Russia and China - as well as Iran - are firm proponents of the end of the dollar as global reserve currency to the benefit of a (multipolar) basket of currencies, a common currency of which Russian President Dmitry Medvedev had the gall this month to present a prototype at the Group of Eight (G-8) meeting in Aquila, Italy? By the way, it's a rather neat coin. Minted in Belgium, it sports the faces of the G-8 leaders and also a motto - "Unity in diversity".
"Unity in diversity" is not exactly what the Obama administration has in mind as far as Iran and Russia are concerned - no matter the zillion bytes of lofty rhetoric. Let's start with the energy picture.
Iran is world number two both in terms of proven oil reserves (11.2%) and gas reserves (15.7%), according to the BP Statistical Review of World Energy 2008.
If Iran ever opted towards a more unclenched-fist relationship with Washington, US Big Oil would feast on Iran's Caspian energy wealth. This means that whatever the rhetoric, no US administration will ever want to deal with a hyper-nationalist Iranian regime, such as the current military dictatorship of the mullahtariat.
What really scares Washington - from George W Bush to Obama - is the perspective of a Russia-Iran-Venezuela axis. Together, Iran and Russia hold 17.6% of the world's proven oil reserves. The Persian Gulf petro-monarchies - de facto controlled by Washington - hold 45%. The Moscow-Tehran-Caracas axis controls 25%. If we add Kazakhstan's 3% and Africa's 9.5%, this new axis is more than an effective counter-power to American hegemony over the Arab Middle East. The same thing applies to gas. Adding the "axis" to the Central Asian "stans", we reach 30% of world gas production. As a comparison, the whole Middle East - including Iran - currently produces only 12.1% of the world's needs.
All about Pipelineistan A nuclear Iran would inevitably turbo-charge the new, emerging multipolar world. Iran and Russia are de facto showing to both China and India that it is not wise to rely on US might subjugating the bulk of oil in the Arab Middle East. All these players are very much aware that Iraq remains occupied, and that Washington's obsession remains the privatization of Iraq's enormous oil wealth.
As Chinese intellectuals are fond of emphasizing, four emerging or re-emerging powers - Russia, China, Iran and India - are strategic and civilizational poles, three of them sanctuaries because they are nuclear powers. A more confident and assertive Iran - mastering the full cycle of nuclear technology - may translate into Iran and Russia increasing their relative weight in Europe and Asia to the distress of Washington, not only in the energy sphere but also as proponents of a multipolar monetary system.
The entente is already on. Since 2008, Iranian officials have stressed that sooner or later Iran and Russia will start trading in rubles. Gazprom is willing to be paid for oil and gas in roubles - and not dollars. And the secretariat of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) has already seen the writing on the wall - admitting for over a year now that OPEC will be trading in euros before 2020.
Not only the "axis" Moscow-Tehran-Caracas, but also Qatar and Norway, for instance, and sooner or later the Gulf Emirates, are ready to break up with the petrodollar. It goes without saying that the end of the petrodollar - which won't happen tomorrow, of course - means the end of the dollar as the world's reserve currency; the end of the world paying for America's massive budget deficits; and the end of an Anglo-American finance stranglehold over the world that has lasted since the second part of the 19th century.
The energy equation between Iran and Russia is much more complex: it configures them as two scorpions in a bottle. Tehran, isolated from the West, lacks foreign investment to upgrade its 1970s-era energy installations. That's why Iran cannot fully profit from exploiting its Caspian energy wealth.
Here it's a matter of Pipelineistan at its peak - since the US, still during the 1990s, decided to hit the Caspian in full force by supporting the Baku-Tblisi-Ceyhan (BTC) oil pipeline and the Baku-Tblisi-Supsa (BTS) gas pipeline.
For Gazprom, Iran is literally a goldmine. In September 2008, the Russian energy giant announced it would explore the huge Azadegan-North oilfield, as well as three others. Russia's Lukoil has increased its prospecting and Tatneft said it would be involved in the north. The George W Bush administration thought it was weakening Russia and isolating Iran in Central Asia. Wrong: it only accelerated their strategic energy cooperation.
Putin power play In February 1995, Moscow committed to finishing construction of a nuclear reactor at Bushehr. This was a project started by that erstwhile, self-proclaimed "gendarme of the Gulf" for the US - the shah of Iran. The shah engaged KWU from Germany in 1974, but the project was halted by the Islamic Revolution in 1979 and hit hard between 1984 and 1988 by Saddam Hussein's bombs. The Russians finally entered the picture proposing to finish the project for $800 million. By December 2001, Moscow also started to sell missiles to Tehran - a surefire way of making extra money offering protection for strategic assets such as Bushehr.
Bushehr is a source of immense controversy in Iran. It should have been finished by 2000. As Iranian officials see it, the Russians seem never to be interested in wrapping it up. There are technical reasons - such as the Russian reactor being too big to fit inside what KWU had already built - as well as a technology deficit on the part of Iranian nuclear engineers.
But most of all there are geopolitical reasons. Former president Vladimir Putin used Bushehr as a key diplomatic peon in his double chessboard match with the West and the Iranians. It was Putin who launched the idea of enriching uranium for Iran in Russia; talk about a strategic asset in terms of managing a global nuclear crisis. Ahmadinejad - and most of all the Supreme Leader - gave him a flat refusal. The Russian response was even more foot-dragging, and even mild support for more US-sponsored sanctions against Tehran.
Tehran got the message - that Putin was not an unconditional ally. Thus, in August 2006, the Russians landed a new deal for the construction and supervision of two new nuclear plants. This all means that the Iranian nuclear dossier simply cannot be solved without Russia. Simultaneously, by Putin's own framework, it's very clear in Moscow that a possible Israeli strike would make it lose a profitable nuclear client on top of a diplomatic debacle. Medvedev for his part is pursuing the same two-pronged strategy; stressing to Americans and Europeans that Russia does not want nuclear proliferation in the Middle East while stressing to Tehran that it needs Russia more than ever.
Another feature of Moscow's chessboard strategy - never spelled out in public - is to keep the cooperation with Tehran to prevent China from taking over the whole project, but without driving the Americans ballistic at the same time. As long as the Iranian nuclear program is not finished, Russia can always play the wise moderating role between Iran and the West.
Building up a civilian nuclear program in Iran is good business for both Iran and Russia for a number of reasons.
First of all, both are military encircled. Iran is strategically encircled by the US in Turkey, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Pakistan and Afghanistan, and by US naval power in the Persian Gulf and the Indian Ocean. Russia has seen the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) gobbling up the Baltic countries and threatening to "annex" Georgia and Ukraine; NATO is at war in Afghanistan; and the US is still present, one way or another, across Central Asia.
Iran and Russia share the same strategy as far as the Caspian Sea is concerned. They are in fact opposed to the new Caspian states - Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan.
Iran and Russia also face the threat of hardcore Sunni Islam. They have a tacit agreement; for instance, Tehran has never done anything to help the Chechens. Then there's the Armenian issue. A de facto Moscow-Tehran-Erevan axis profoundly irks the Americans.
Finally, in this decade, Iran has become the third-largest importer of Russian weapons, after China and India. This includes the anti-missile system Tor M-1, which defends Iran's nuclear installations.
What's your axis? So thanks to Putin, the Iran-Russia alliance is carefully deployed in three fronts - nuclear, energy and weapons.
Are there cracks in this armor? Certainly.
First, Moscow by all means does not want a weaponized Iranian nuclear program. This spells out "regional destabilization". Then, Central Asia is considered by Moscow as its backyard, so for Iran to be ascendant in the region is quite problematic. As far as the Caspian goes, Iran needs Russia for a satisfactory juridical solution (Is it a sea or a lake? How much of it belongs to each border country?)
On other hand, Iran's new military dictatorship of the mullahtariat will react savagely if it ever had Russia fully against it in the UN Security Council. That would spell a rupture in economic relations - very bad for both sides - but also the possibility of Tehran supporting radical Islam everywhere from the southern Caucasus to Central Asia.
Under these complex circumstances, it's not so far-fetched to imagine a sort of polite Cold War going on between Tehran and Moscow.
From Russia's point of view, it all comes back to the "axis" - which would be in fact Moscow-Tehran-Erevan-New Delhi, a counter-power to the US-supported Ankara-Tblisi-Telaviv-Baku axis. But there's ample debate about it even inside the Russian elite. The old guard, like former prime minister Yevgeny Primakov, thinks that Russia is back as a great power by cultivating its former Arab clients as well as Iran; but then the so-called "Westernizers" are convinced that Iran is more of a liability.
They may have a point. The key of this Moscow-Tehran axis is opportunism - opposition to US hegemonic designs. Is Obama - via his "unclenched fist" policy - wily enough to try to turn this all upside down; or will he be forced by the Israel lobby and the industrial-military complex to finally strike a regime now universally despised all over the West?
Russia - and Iran - are fully committed to a multipolar world. The new military dictatorship of the mullahtariat in Tehran knows it cannot afford to be isolated; its road to the limelight may have to go through Moscow. That explains why Iran is making all sorts of diplomatic efforts to join the SCO.
As much as progressives in the West may support Iranian pragmatic conservatives - who are far from reformists - the crucial fact remains that Iran is a key peon for Russia to manage its relationship with the US and Europe. No matter how nasty the overtones, all evidence points to "stability" at this vital artery in the heart of the New Great Game.
Next: Iran, China and the New Silk Road
Pepe Escobar is the author of Globalistan: How the Globalized World is Dissolving into Liquid War (Nimble Books, 2007) and Red Zone Blues: a snapshot of Baghdad during the surge. His new book, just out, is Obama does Globalistan (Nimble Books, 2009).
He may be reached at email@example.com.
"SURRENDER LIFE TO MOTHERLAND, SOUL TO GOD, AND HONOUR TO NOBODY!"
Post by CHORNYVOLK on Jul 24, 2009 23:20:01 GMT -5
Iran, China and the New Silk Road By Pepe Escobar
Part 1: Iran and Russia, scorpions in a bottle
HONG KONG - Does it make sense to talk about a Beijing-Tehran axis? Apparently no, when one learns that Iran's application to become a full member of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) was flatly denied at the 2008 summit in Tajikistan.
Apparently yes, when one sees how the military dictatorship of the mullahtariat in Tehran and the collective leadership in Beijing have dealt with their recent turmoil - the "green revolution" in Tehran and the Uighur riots in Urumqi - reawakening in the West the ghostly mythology of "Asian despotism".
The Iran-China relationship is like a game of Chinese boxes. Amid
the turbulence, glorious or terrifying, of their equally millenarian histories, when one sees an Islamic Republic that now reveals itself as a militarized theocracy and a Popular Republic that is in fact a capitalist oligarchy, things are not what they seem to be.
No matter what recently happened in Iran, consolidating the power the Khamenei-Ahmadinejad-IRGC axis, the relationship will continue to develop within the framework of a clash between US hyperpower - declining as it may be - and the aspiring Chinese big power, allied with the re-emergent Russian big power.
On the road Iran and China are all about the New Silk Road - or routes - in Eurasia. Both are among the most venerable and ancient of (on the road) partners. The first encounter between the Parthian empire and the Han dynasty was in 140 BC, when Zhang Qian was sent to Bactria (in today's Afghanistan) to strike deals with nomad populations. This eventually led to Chinese expansion in Central Asia and interchange with India.
Trading exploded via the fabled Silk Road - silk, porcelain, horses, amber, ivory, incense. As a serial traveler across the Silk Road over the years, I ended up learning on the spot how the Persians controlled the Silk Road by mastering the art of making oases, thus becoming in the process the middlemen between China, India and the West.
Parallel to the land route there was also a naval route - from the Persian Gulf to Canton (today's Guangzhou). And there was of course a religious route - with Persians translating Buddhist texts and with Persian villages in the desert serving as springboards to Chinese pilgrims visiting India. Zoroastrianism - the official religion of the Sassanid empire - was imported to China by Persians at the end of the 6th century, and Manichaeism during the 7th. Diplomacy followed: the son of the last Sassanid emperor - fleeing the Arabs in 670 AD - found refuge in the Tang court. During the Mongol period, Islam spread into China.
Iran has never been colonized. But it was a privileged theater of the original Great Game between the British Empire and Russia in the 19th century and then during the Cold War between the US and the Soviet Union in the 20th. The Islamic Revolution may at first imply Khomeini's official policy of "neither East nor West". In fact, Iran dreams of bridging both.
That brings us to Iran's key, inescapable geopolitical role at the epicenter of Eurasia. The New Silk Road translates into an energy corridor - the Asian Energy Security Grid - in which the Caspian Sea is an essential node, linked to the Persian Gulf, from where oil is to be transported to Asia. And as far as gas is concerned, the name of the game is Pipelineistan - as in the recently agreed Iran-Pakistan (IP) pipeline and the interconnection between Iran and Turkmenistan, whose end result is a direct link between Iran and China.
Then there's the hyper-ambitious, so-called "North-South corridor" - a projected road and rail link between Europe and India, through Russia, Central Asia, Iran and the Persian Gulf. And the ultimate New Silk Road dream - an actual land route between China and the Persian Gulf via Central Asia (Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan).
The width of the circle As the bastion of Shi'ite faith, encircled by Sunnis, Iran under what is now a de facto theocratic dictatorship still desperately needs to break out from its isolation. Talk about a turbulent environment: Iraq still under US occupation to the west, the ultra-unstable Caucasus in the northwest, fragile Central Asian "stans" in the northeast, basket cases Afghanistan and Pakistan to the east, not to mention the nuclear neighborhood -Israel, Russia, China, Pakistan and India.
Technological advancement for Iran means fully mastering a civilian nuclear program - which contains the added benefit of turning it into a sanctuary via the possibility of building a nuclear device. Officially, Tehran has declared ad infinitum it has no intention of possessing an "un-Islamic" bomb. Beijing understands Tehran's delicate position and supports its right to the peaceful use of nuclear energy. Beijing would have loved to see Tehran adopt the plan proposed by Russia, the US, Western Europe and, of course, China. Carefully evaluating its vital energy and national security interests, the last thing Beijing wants is for Washington to clench its fist again.
What happened to the George W Bush-declared, post-9/11 "global war on terror" (GWOT), now remixed by Obama as "overseas contingency operations" (OCO)? GWOT's key, shadowy aim was for Washington to firmly plant the flag in Central Asia. For those sorry neo-cons, China was the ultimate geopolitical enemy, so nothing was more enticing than to try to sway a batch of Asian countries against China. Easier dreamed of than done.
China's counter-power was to turn the whole game around in Central Asia, with Iran as its key peon. Beijing was quick to grasp that Iran is a matter of national security, in terms of assuring its vast energy needs.
Of course China also needs Russia - for energy and technology. This is arguably more of an alliance of circumstance - for all the ambitious targets embodied by the SCO - than a long-term strategic partnership. Russia, invoking a series of geopolitical reasons, considers its relationship with Iran as exclusive. China says slow down, we're also in the picture. And as Iran remains under pressure at different levels from both the US and Russia, what better "savior" than China?
Enter Pipelineistan. At first sight, Iranian energy and Chinese technology is a match made in heaven. But it's more complicated than that.
Still the victim of US sanctions, Iran has turned to China to modernize itself. Once again, the Bush/Dick Cheney years and the invasion of Iraq sent an unmistakable message to the collective leadership in Beijing. A push to control Iraq oil plus troops in Afghanistan, a stone's throw from the Caspian, added to the Pentagon's self-defined "arc of instability" from the Middle East to Central Asia - this was more than enough to imprint the message: the less dependent China is on US-subjugated Arab Middle East energy, the better.
The Arab Middle East used to account for 50% of China's oil imports. Soon China became the second-largest oil importer from Iran, after Japan. And since fateful 2003, China also has mastered the full cycle of prospection/exploitation/refining - thus Chinese companies are investing heavily in Iran's oil sector, whose refining capacity, for instance, is risible. Without urgent investment, some projections point to Iran possibly cutting off oil exports by 2020. Iran also needs everything else China can provide in areas like transportation systems, telecom, electricity and naval construction.
Iran needs China to develop its gas production in the gigantic north Pars and south Pars fields - which it shares with Qatar - in the Persian Gulf. So no wonder a "stable" Iran had to become a matter of Chinese national security.
Multipolar we go So why the stalemate at the SCO? As China is always meticulously seeking to improve its global credibility, it had to be considering the pros and cons of admitting Iran, for which the SCO and its slogan of mutual cooperation for the stability of Central Asia, as well as economic and security benefits, are priceless. The SCO fights against Islamic terrorism and "separatism" in general - but now has also developed as an economic body, with a development fund and a multilateral economic council. The whole idea of it is to curb American influence in Central Asia.
Iran has been an observer since 2005. Next year may be crucial. The race is on to beat the clock, before a desperate Israeli strike, and have Iran accepted by the SCO while negotiating some sort of stability pact with the Barack Obama administration. For all this to happen relatively smoothly, Iran needs China - that is, to sell as much oil and gas as China needs below market prices, while accepting Chinese - and Russian - investment in the exploration and production of Caspian oil.
All this while Iran also courts India. Both Iran and India are focused on Central Asia. In Afghanistan, India is financing the construction of a US$250 million road between Zaranj, at the Iranian border, and Delaram - which is in the Afghan ring road linking Kabul, Kandahar, Herat and Mazar-i-Sharif. New Delhi sees in Iran a very important market. India is actively involved in the construction of a deep water port in Chabahar - that would be a twin for the Gwadar port built in southern Balochistan by China, and would be very helpful to landlocked Afghanistan (freeing it from Pakistani interference).
Iran also needs its doors to the north - the Caucasus and Turkey - to channel its energy production towards Europe. It's an uphill struggle. Iran has to fight fierce regional competition in the Caucasus; the US-Turkey alliance framed by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization; the perpetual US-Russian Cold War in the region; and last but not least Russia's own energy policy, which simply does not contemplate sharing the European energy market with Iran.
But energy agreements with Turkey are now part of the picture - after the moderate Islamists of the AKP took power in Ankara in 2002. Now it's not that far-fetched to imagine the possibility of Iran in the near future supplying much-needed gas for the ultra-expensive, US-supported Turkey-to-Austria Nabucco pipeline.
But the fact remains that for both Tehran and Beijing, the American thrust in the "arc of instability" from the Middle East to Central Asia is anathema. They're both anti-US hegemony and US unilateralism, Bush/Cheney style. As emerging powers, they're both pro multipolar. And as they're not Western-style liberal democracies, the empathy is even stronger. Few failed to notice the stark similarities in the degree of repression of the "green revolution" in Tehran and the Uighurs in Xinjiang. For China, a strategic alliance with Iran is above all about Pipelineistan, the Asian Energy Security Grid and the New Silk Road. For China, a peaceful solution to the Iranian nuclear dossier is imperative. This would lead to Iran being fully opened to (eager) European investment. Washington may be reluctant to admit it, but in the New Great Game in Eurasia, the Tehran-Beijing axis spells out the future: multipolarity.
Pepe Escobar is the author of Globalistan: How the Globalized World is Dissolving into Liquid War (Nimble Books, 2007) and Red Zone Blues: a snapshot of Baghdad during the surge. His new book, just out, is Obama does Globalistan (Nimble Books, 2009).
He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
"SURRENDER LIFE TO MOTHERLAND, SOUL TO GOD, AND HONOUR TO NOBODY!"
The man with loud speaker screams: "death to US, Death to Isreal, Death to the infidels, Death to England" and so on, but the crowd answers "death to Russia"... EVERY time they scream "death to Russia" They say "Marg bar rossee-ye" (Death to Russia).
Moscow, Aug 21 (DPA) A Russian newspaper claimed Friday that suspected pirates who boarded the freighter Arctic Sea were actually agents of the Israeli secret service trying to stop it from smuggling arms into Iran.
According to Russian media, the Arctic Sea may have been carrying illegal X-55 cruise missiles destined for Iran hidden among its cargo of lumber.
Men acting on behalf of the Israeli Mossad secret service commandeered the ship to divert the weapons away from Israel's regional enemy, the daily Novaya Gazeta said.
Citing Moscow publicist Yulia Latynina, the daily pointed to the surprise visit of Israeli President Shimon Peres Aug 18, a day after the Arctic Sea, which had been missing for three weeks, had been tracked down and liberated by Russian forces off West Africa.
During his visit, Peres, who according to Latynina had no other business in Russia, requested Moscow refrain from supplying weapons or missile defence systems to Iran.
Russian authorities denied that the Arctic Sea had been smuggling weapons.
Russian ambassador to the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, Dmitri Rogozin, said earlier Friday that such allegations were a 'fantasy' and 'ridiculous'.
The deployment at great expense of Russian Black Sea fleet to liberate the hijacked ship was undertaken for the sake of the 15 Russian seamen on board and not supposed weapons, Rogozin said.
Russian authorities in Moscow late Friday formally charged the eight alleged hijackers with kidnapping and piracy, the Interfax news agency reported.
The suspects include a Lithuanian, a Russian, three stateless people, and a Spaniard, the report said, adding that the citizenship of the two remaining suspects had yet to be clarified.
According to official reports, the Arctic Sea was liberated from pirates Monday off the coast of West Africa. According to the Russian sources, pirates seized the freighter July 24 off the coast of Sweden.
Victor Matveev, director of Solchart Management, the shipping company that owns the Arctic Sea freighter stated Friday that his company 'still has not received any official information' about the ship or its crew.
Post by CHORNYVOLK on Sept 25, 2009 17:07:08 GMT -5
Moscow holds the line on Iran sanctions By M K Bhadrakumar
Following an hour-long meeting in New York on Wednesday with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, United States President Barack Obama said the two leaders "spent the bulk of our time talking about Iran". Indeed, this was exactly what White House spokesman Robert Gibbs had anticipated.
On the other hand, Medvedev said the leaders "discussed a range of issues" and "devoted lots of our time to the Iranian problem". This was also the advance projection given by the Kremlin press secretary Natalya Timakova, who said the Russian side viewed the New York meeting as "an important 'checkpoint' after the July summit in Moscow" and the talks would "most likely promote the settlement of disputed issues" regarding a new arms reduction agreement.
The shift in emphasis conveys much. Clearly, the American
objective when the US administration initiated the request for Wednesday's meeting was that Obama would make a last-ditch attempt to persuade his Russian counterpart to agree to a harder line on Iran. The "Iran-Six" engages Tehran's chief nuclear negotiator at Geneva on October 1. The six are the five permanent members of the UN Security Council - the US, Russia, China, France, Britain - plus Germany.
The Russian side saw Obama's demarche coming but viewed it as a useful opportunity to push the agenda of the drafting of a new arms reduction treaty by the December 5 deadline. As a Moscow commentator put it, "It is a complex foreign policy formula with a large number of variables." Moscow pitched high by proposing that Russia and the US should agree to cut their nuclear weapons to 1,500-1,675 charges and 500 delivery vehicles. But the Pentagon has been resisting Obama's plans to reduce nuclear weapons. The US is estimated to have at present 2,600 strategic nuclear warheads on combat duty, another 2,500 in reserve, and 4,000 more waiting to be dismantled.
For the Russians, the issue was how Medvedev could help the US president carry forward his disarmament and nuclear non-proliferation agenda. Equally, pressure was on the Russian side to reciprocate Obama's recent decision to drop the deployment of anti-missile systems in Central Europe.
Russian opinion-makers generally kept their fingers crossed, skeptical whether Medvedev would compromise on any US move to tighten sanctions against Iran at this juncture. An influential voice in the Russian strategic community, Sergei Karaganov, head of the Council on Foreign and Defense Policy, forewarned not to expect anything very much. "The US, of course, has a right to hope for various compromises on this issue, but I do not think Russia will make them. We are not interested in spoiling relations with the rising power of the region [meaning Iran]. Breakthroughs cannot be expected yet," he said.
In the event, following Wednesday's talks, Medvedev said, "Sanctions rarely lead to productive results. But in some cases sanctions are inevitable." Interestingly, he added, "Finally, it is a matter of choice. We're prepared to continue and to work together with the US administration both on an Iranian peaceful program and on other matters." (Emphasis added.)
Medvedev underscored his satisfaction over witnessing "very positive changes in our relations, with established, constructive, friendly working relations" that allow Russia and America to tackle difficult global issues. The Russian expectations indeed are very high. Obama, on the other hand, cherry-picked the Iran problem.
Medvedev bends a little ... The talks did result in an agreement to meet the deadline to get a new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty agreement that "substantially reduces" nuclear missiles and launchers by the end of the year. That is a net gain for Medvedev as he returns to Moscow. But Moscow needs to weigh in that Obama is a beleaguered president. He reportedly had to send back the Pentagon's first draft of the Nuclear Posture Review as being too timid and demand a range of more far-reaching options that enabled him to move forward with Moscow on his agenda of nuclear arms cuts, the non-proliferation regime and normalization of relations with Russia.
For Russia, the bottom line is that the arms reduction process is an "essential element of the 'restart' in our relations with the United States", as Medvedev said. There is a linkage with the Iran problem insofar as the journey involves proceeding from a radical disarmament by the two nuclear superpowers toward wider global efforts to prevent further nuclear proliferation. (A nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty review conference is due on May 4-15 and the clock is ticking.)
Taking into account Obama's growing difficulties with his overall strategy, Moscow will be inclined to help the US president who is increasingly in a corner in domestic politics, to undertake the disarmament policy. It is in Moscow's interests to do so, too. Quite clearly, despite the range of reservations regarding Obama's proposals on the European anti-ballistic missile system that have been voiced by Russian commentators in the past week, Moscow has not only not rejected them but Medvedev conspicuously hailed Obama's decision.
Following the New York meeting, Obama highlighted that the common ground with Medvedev with regard to Iran would have the following elements:
Iran's right to pursue peaceful energy sources cannot be questioned but it should not pursue nuclear weapons.
The Iran problem should be resolved diplomatically.
The US is committed to negotiating with Iran in a "serious fashion".
If Iran does not respond to serious negotiations to resolve the issue of meeting its commitment not to develop nuclear weapons, additional sanctions remain a possibility.
Medvedev approached the issue from a different angle, while in agreement with what the US president outlined:
The endeavor should be to create such a system of "incentives" that allows Iran to resolve its fissile nuclear program and prevents Iran from making nuclear weapons.
Russia and the US should, therefore, as two nuclear superpowers send "great signals" (meaning set an example on the disarmament front).
The approach should be to "help Iran to take a right decision".
In principle, sanctions rarely need to productive results but may become unavoidable in some cases.
Russia hopes to work with the US on the Iran issue within an overall framework of bilateral relationship.
... and Beijing steadies him It will be helpful to recall that 10 days ago, during an interview with the CNN, Medvedev fleshed out the Russian thinking. First, he said "Iran needs a set of motives to behave appropriately" on the nuclear program. Second, the objective should be to ensure that Iran cooperated with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) for developing its nuclear energy program. Third, the international community should create a "system of positive motives" for Iran to cooperate with the IAEA, and "Iran should be pushed to cooperate".
Fourth, contrary to what Washington might feel, the Iranian package of September 9 indeed offered a basis to negotiate. Fifth, any additional sanctions should be the last resort. "Yes, of course, we should encourage Iran, but before taking any action we should be absolutely confident that we have no other options and that our Iranian colleagues do not hear us for some reason," said Medvedev.
Significantly, Medvedev also assertively defended Russia's military sales to Iran, including the agreement to supply S-300 missiles, and stated that even though Russia didn't have any agreement with Iran that obliges it to come to the latter's help in the event of a military attack "that does not mean that we would like to be or will be impassive before such developments".
The big question, therefore, is whether Medvedev's remark that "in some cases sanctions are inevitable" represents a policy shift by Moscow. Has Obama "wrung a concession" from Medvedev to consider tough new sanctions against Iran - to use the words of New York Times' Helene Cooper? Did Obama score a "key victory", as the Washington Times wrote?
A delighted Michael McFaul, the White House's senior advisor on Russia, trumpeted, "We're at a different place in US-Russia relations." On a bleak political landscape with the US administration groping for a way on the Iran problem, any straw seems sufficient to clutch and the Russians may not begrudge the American side doing that. The Soviet-American diplomatic history is not without such moments.
Surely, there is no tectonic shift in the Russian position on Iran. Arguably, there is nothing new in what Medvedev said in New York. He said much the same in a meeting with the West's Russia experts a month ago; he then explained it at some length in the CNN interview. But no one can deny that there is nonetheless just about enough in it for the White House to claim - uncontested - that Russia bent, finally, a little toward tougher Iran sanctions.
However, even as the White House began savoring success with Medvedev's six little words spoken in his Waldorf Astoria suite on Wednesday afternoon, Jiang Yu, the Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson, soured the moment for the Americans. "We always believe that sanctions and pressure are not the way out. At present, it is not conducive to diplomatic efforts," Jiang said at a briefing in Beijing on Thursday.
Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi also repeated Beijing's stance that the issue of Iran's nuclear program was best resolved peacefully through dialogue. Given the close coordination by Moscow and Beijing on major international issues, China wouldn't have spoken out of turn.
In the final analysis, the new UN Security Council resolution passed on Thursday calling for an end to nuclear proliferation did not name Iran - despite robust canvassing by the US and Britain - and that was because Russia and China wouldn't allow that to happen. Also, the resolution stopped well short of authorizing forced inspections of countries believed to be developing weapons.
Ambassador M K Bhadrakumar was a career diplomat in the Indian Foreign Service. His assignments included the Soviet Union, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Germany, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Uzbekistan, Kuwait and Turkey. www.atimes.com/atimes/Middle_East/KI26Ak04.html
"SURRENDER LIFE TO MOTHERLAND, SOUL TO GOD, AND HONOUR TO NOBODY!"
Post by CHORNYVOLK on Oct 26, 2009 18:36:38 GMT -5
Russia, Iran and the Biden Speech
By George Friedman and Peter Zeihan
U.S. Vice President Joe Biden toured several countries in Central Europe last week, including the Czech Republic and Poland. The trip comes just a few weeks after the United States reversed course and decided not to construct a ballistic missile defense (BMD) system in those two countries. While the system would have had little effect on the national security of either Poland or the Czech Republic, it was taken as a symbol of U.S. commitment to these two countries and to former Soviet satellites generally. The BMD cancellation accordingly caused intense concern in both countries and the rest of the region.
While the Obama administration strongly denied that the decision to halt the BMD deployment and opt for a different BMD system had anything to do with the Russians, the timing raised some questions. Formal talks with Iran on nuclear weapons were a few weeks away, and the only leverage the United States had in those talks aside from war was sanctions. The core of any effective sanctions against Iran would be placing limits on Iran's gasoline imports. By dint of proximity to Iran and massive spare refining capability, the Russians were essential to this effort -- and they were indicating that they wouldn't participate. Coincidence or not, the decision to pull BMD from Poland and the Czech Republic did give the Russians something they had been demanding at a time when they clearly needed to be brought on board.
The Biden Challenge That's what made Biden's trip interesting. First, just a few weeks after the reversal, he revisited these countries. He reasserted American commitment to their security and promised the delivery of other weapons such as Patriot missile batteries, an impressive piece of hardware that really does enhance regional security (unlike BMD, which would grant only an indirect boost). Then, Biden went even further in Romania, not only extending his guarantees to the rest of Central Europe, but also challenging the Russians directly. He said that the United States regarded spheres of influence as 19th century thinking, thereby driving home that Washington is not prepared to accept Russian hegemony in the former Soviet Union (FSU). Most important, he called on the former satellites of the Soviet Union to assist republics in the FSU that are not part of the Russian Federation to overthrow authoritarian systems and preserve their independence.
This was a carefully written and vetted speech: It was not Biden going off on a tangent, but rather an expression of Obama administration policy. And it taps into the prime Russian fear, namely, that the West will eat away at Russia's western periphery -- and at Russia itself -- with color revolutions that result in the installation of pro-Western governments, just as happened in Georgia in 2003 and Ukraine in 2004-2005. The United States essentially now has pledged itself to do just that, and has asked the rest of Central Europe to join it in creating and strengthening pro-Western governments in the FSU. After doing something Russia wanted the United States to do, Washington now has turned around and announced a policy that directly challenges Russia, and which in some ways represents Russia's worst-case scenario.
What happened between the decision to pull BMD and Biden's Romania speech remains unclear, but there are three possibilities. The first possibility is that the Obama administration decided to shift policy on Russia in disappointment over Moscow's lack of response to the BMD overture. The second possibility is that the Obama administration didn't consider the effects of the BMD reversal. U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said the one had nothing to do with the other, and it is possible that the Obama administration simply failed to anticipate the firestorm the course reversal would kick off in Central Europe and to anticipate that it would be seen as a conciliatory gesture to the Russians, and then had to scramble to calm the waters and reassert the basic American position on Russia, perhaps more harshly than before. The third possibility, a variation on the second scenario, is that the administration might not yet have a coordinated policy on Russia. Instead, it responds to whatever the most recent pressure happens to be, giving the appearance of lurching policy shifts.
The why of Washington decision-making is always interesting, but the fact of what has now happened is more pertinent. And that is that Washington now has challenged Moscow on the latter's core issues. However things got to that point, they are now there -- and the Russian issue now fully intersects with the Iranian issue. On a deeper level, Russia once again is shaping up to be a major challenge to U.S. national interests. Russia fears (accurately) that a leading goal of American foreign policy is to prevent the return of Russia as a major power. At present, however, the Americans lack the free hand needed to halt Russia's return to prominence as a result of commitments in Afghanistan and Iraq. The Kremlin inner circle understands this divergence between goal and capacity all too well, and has been working to keep the Americans as busy as possible elsewhere.
Distracting Washington While Shoring Up Security The core of this effort is Russian support for Iran. Moscow has long collaborated with Tehran on Iran's nuclear power generation efforts. Conventional Russian weapon systems are quite popular with the Iranian military. And Iran often makes use of Russian international diplomatic cover, especially at the U.N. Security Council, where Russia wields the all-important veto.
Russian support confounds Washington's ability to counter more direct Iranian action, whether that Iranian action be in Lebanon, Afghanistan, Iraq or the Persian Gulf. The Obama administration would prefer to avoid war with Iran, and instead build an international coalition against Iran to force it to back down on any number of issues of which a potential nuclear weapons program is only the most public and obvious. But building that coalition is impossible with a Russia-sized hole right in the center of the system.
The end result is that the Americans have been occupied with the Islamic world for some time now, something that secretly delights the Russians. The Iranian distraction policy has worked fiendishly well: It has allowed the Russians to reshape their own neighborhood in ways that simply would not be possible if the Americans had more diplomatic and military freedom of action. At the beginning of 2009, the Russians saw three potential challenges to their long-term security that they sought to mitigate. As of this writing, they have not only succeeded, they have managed partially to co-opt all three threats.
First, there is Ukraine, which is tightly integrated into the Russian industrial and agricultural heartland. A strong Ukrainian-Russian partnership (if not outright control of Ukraine by Russia) is required to maintain even a sliver of Russian security. Five years ago, Western forces managed to short-circuit a Kremlin effort to firm up Russian control of the Ukrainian political system, resulting in the Orange Revolution that saw pro-Western President Viktor Yushchenko take office. After five years of serious Russian diplomatic and intelligence work, Moscow has since managed not just to discredit Yushchenko -- he is now less popular in most opinion polls than the margin of error -- but to command the informal loyalty of every other candidate for president in the upcoming January 2010 election. Very soon, Ukraine's Western moment will formally be over.
Russia is also sewing up the Caucasus. The only country that could challenge Russia's southern flank is Turkey, and until now, the best Russian hedge against Turkish power has been an independent (although certainly still a Russian client) Armenia. (Turkish-Armenian relations have been frozen in the post-Cold War era over the contentious issue of the Armenian genocide.) A few months ago, Russia offered the Turks the opportunity to improve relations with Armenia. The Turks are emerging from 90 years of near-comatose international relations, and they jumped at the chance to strengthen their position in the Caucasus. But in the process, Turkey's relationship with its heretofore regional ally, Azerbaijan (Armenia's archfoe), has soured. Terrified that they are about to lose their regional sponsor, the Azerbaijanis have turned to the Russians to counterbalance Armenia, while the Russians still pull all Armenia's strings. The end result is that Turkey's position in the Caucasus is now far weaker than it was a few months ago, and Russia still retains the ability to easily sabotage any Turkish-Armenian rapprochement.
Even on the North European Plain, Russia has made great strides. The main power on that plain is the recently reunified Germany. Historically, Germany and Russia have been at each other's throats, but only when they have shared a direct border. When an independent Poland separates them, they have a number of opportunities for partnership, and 2009 has seen such opportunities seized. The Russians initially faced a challenge regarding German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Merkel is from the former East Germany, giving her personal reasons to see the Russians as occupiers. Cracking this nut was never going to be easy for Moscow, yet it succeeded. During the 2009 financial crisis, when Russian firms were snapping like twigs, the Russian government still provided bailout money and merger financing to troubled German companies, with a rescue plan for Opel even helping Merkel clinch re-election. With the Kremlin now offering to midwife -- and in many cases directly subsidize -- investment efforts in Russia by German firms such as E.On, Wintershall, Siemens, Volkswagen and ThyssenKrupp, the Kremlin has quite literally purchased German goodwill.
Washington Seeks a Game Changer With Russia making great strides in Eurasia while simultaneously sabotaging U.S. efforts in the Middle East, the Americans desperately need to change the game. Despite its fiery tone, this desperation was on full display in Biden's speech. Flat-out challenging the Central Europeans to help other FSU countries recreate the revolutions they launched when they broke with the Soviet empire in 1989, specifically calling for such efforts in Belarus, Moldova, Georgia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan and Armenia, is as bald-faced a challenge as the Americans are currently capable of delivering. And to ensure there was no confusion on the point, Biden also promised -- publicly -- whatever support the Central Europeans might ask for. The Americans have a serious need for the Russians to be on the defensive. Washington wants to force the Russians to focus on their own neighborhood, ideally forgetting about the Iranians in the process. Better yet, Washington would like to force the Russians into a long slog of defensive actions to protect their clients hard up on their own border. The Russians did not repair the damage of the Orange Revolution overnight, so imagine how much time Washington would have if all of the former Soviet satellites started stirring up trouble across Russia's western and southern periphery.
The Central Europeans do not require a great deal of motivation. If the Americans are concerned about a resurgent Russia, then the Central Europeans are absolutely terrified -- and that was before the Russians started courting Germany, the only regional state that could stand up to Russia by itself. Things are even worse for the Central Europeans than they seem, as much of their history has consisted of vainly attempting to outmaneuver Germany and Russia's alternating periods of war and partnership.
The question of why the United States is pushing this hard at the present time remains. Talks with the Iranians are under way; it is difficult to gauge how they are going. The conventional wisdom holds that the Iranians are simply playing for time before allowing the talks to sink. This would mean the Iranians don't feel terribly pressured by the threat of sanctions and don't take threats of attack very seriously. At least with regard to the sanctions, the Russians have everything to do with Iran's blase attitude. The American decision to threaten Russia might simply have been a last-ditch attempt to force Tehran's hand now that conciliation seems to have failed. It isn't likely to work, because for the time being Russia has the upper hand in the former Soviet Union, and the Americans and their allies -- motivated as they may be -- do not have the best cards to play.
The other explanation might be that the White House wanted to let Iran know that the Americans don't need Russia to deal with Iran. The threats to Russia might infuriate it, but the Kremlin is unlikely to feel much in the form of clear and present dangers. On the other hand, blasting the Russians the way Biden did might force the Iranians to reconsider their hand. After all, if the Americans are no longer thinking of the Russians as part of the solution, this indicates that the Americans are about to give up on diplomacy and sanctions. And that means the United States must choose between accepting an Iranian bomb or employing the military option.
And this leaves the international system with two outcomes. First, by publicly ending attempts to secure Russian help, Biden might be trying to get the Iranians to take American threats seriously. And second, by directly challenging the Russians on their home turf, the United States will be making the borderlands between Western Europe and Russia a very exciting place.
Post by TsarSamuil on Jan 14, 2010 11:02:54 GMT -5
Iran speaker accuses Obama of state terrorism.
by Aresu Eqbali – Wed Jan 13, 2:25 pm ET
AFP/File – Parliament speaker Ali Larijani, pictured in 2009, Iran's former chief nuclear negotiator, accused …
TEHRAN (AFP) – Parliament speaker Ali Larijani, Iran's former chief nuclear negotiator, on Wednesday accused US President Barack Obama of state terrorism over the killing in Tehran of a leading atomic scientist.
In an angry address to Iran's conservative-dominated parliament, Larijani reiterated Iranian charges that the US Central Intelligence Agency and Israel's Mossad were behind the scientist's death in a bombing on Tuesday.
"Such filthy actions are easy to carry out but such adventurism will do you no good," the ISNA news agency quoted Larijani as saying in reference to Obama.
"You have practically promoted acts of terrorism," he said.
Massoud Ali Mohammadi, a particle physics professor at prestigious Tehran University, was killed by a bomb strapped to a motorcycle in the capital's well-to-do northern suburbs on Tuesday.
"The action taken yesterday by the enemies of logic, justice, humanity and the Iranian people is being investigated by relevant authorities," Mottaki told reporters when asked about accusations of US and Israeli involvement.
Larijani, however, was explicit in pointing the finger of blame at the CIA and Israel's Mossad.
Similar allegations by other Iranian officials of US involvement in the attack have been dismissed out of hand by Washington.
Former Iranian presidents Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani and Mohammad Khatami on Wednesday condemned the killing.
But the two politicians, who backed defeated opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi in the disputed June presidential election which saw hardline President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad re-elected, did not blame the CIA and Israel.
Islamist students and the volunteer Basij militia also condemned the killing of Ali Mohammadi, whom they described as "a Basiji professor." Murdered Iran atomic scientist mired in mystery
In an open letter members of the victim's his family called Ali Mohammadi a man who followed the path of the supreme leader.
"We, as children and wife of the martyr Ali Mohammadi, give condolences to the caring officials of the regime, the noble people of iran, and especially the nation's academia over the martyrdom of a dedicated husband, a kind father and a Valai (supporter of the supreme leader)," the letter said.
But Ali Mohammadi's name was also reported as appearing on a list of pro-Mousavi academics.
However, according to Ali Moghara, who heads the physics faculty at Tehran University, Ali Mohammadi was just a "world famous" physicist who engaged in "no political activity."
Tuesday's rare assassination came as the government of the Islamic republic faced the most sustained period of protest since the revolution of 1979, with hundreds of thousands taking to the streets of Tehran after the election.
The opposition charges that the vote was massively rigged in Ahmadinejad's favour.
For the past seven months, the opposition has mounted anti-government protests at every opportunity, many of which have been broken up by police who have arrested hundreds of demonstrators.
The killing in broad daylight also came amid an increasingly bitter standoff between Iran and world powers over Tehran's controversial nuclear programme, which the West suspects is cover for an atomic weapons drive.
Tehran officials have repeatedly accused the United States and Israel, neither of which has ruled out a military strike to thwart Iran's nuclear programme, of seeking to foment unrest inside the country.
Larijani insisted on Wednesday that the scientist's murder would have no impact on Iran's programme.
"Now they seek to eliminate nuclear scientists. You will see that these terrorist actions will achieve nothing and the Iranian nation will safeguard its nuclear success," he said.
Last month, Iran accused the United States of seizing an Iranian scientist while he was on pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia, a claim Washington refused to comment on and that Riyadh denied.
Iran has ignored repeated UN Security Council ultimatums to suspend uranium enrichment, the sensitive process which makes nuclear fuel but in highly extended form can also produce the fissile core of an atomic bomb.
It is already under three sets of UN sanctions, and major powers are to meet in New York on Saturday to discuss proposals for a fourth.
US envoy advises sanctions boost against Iran.
Last Edit: Jan 14, 2010 11:32:05 GMT -5 by TsarSamuil
Timesofindia.indiatimes.com PTI, Mar 18, 2010, 02.09am IST
LONDON: Stepping up its preparations for a possible strike on Iran's nuclear facilities, the United States is transporting hundreds of 387 'bunker-buster' bombs to its air base on the British island of Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean, a media report claimed on Wednesday.
The US government signed a contract in January with Superior Maritime Services to transport 10 ammunition containers to Diego Garcia from Concord, California, the Sunday Herald reported.
The shipment includes 195 smart, guided Blu-110 bombs and 192 Blu-117 900kg bombs. The key Iranian nuclear facilities are underground and both these type of bombs are effective against reinforced or underground facilities.
The US and Israel have repeatedly asserted that they do not rule out a military action to stop Iran's nuclear ambitions and that they are keeping all the options on the table.
Contract details for the shipment were posted on an international tenders' website by the US navy. "They are gearing up totally for the destruction of Iran," Dan Plesch, director of the Centre for International Studies and Diplomacy at the University of London, said.
"US bombers are ready today to destroy 10,000 targets in Iran in a few hours," Plesch, who is the co-author of a recent study on the US preparations for an attack on Iran, stressed.
The final decision on whether to launch an attack would be in the hands of US president Barack Obama. He may decide that it would be better for the US to act instead of Israel, Plesch argued.
"The US is not publicising the scale of these preparations to deter Iran, tending to make confrontation more likely,"Plesch said, adding, "The US is using its forces as part of an overall strategy of shaping Iran's actions."
Diego Garcia is a British territory about 1,000 miles south of India and Sri Lanka but is used as a US military base as part of an agreement reached in 1971.
The British ministry of defence has said in the past that the United States government would need permission to use Diego Garcia for offensive action. It has already been used for strikes against Iraq during the 1991 and 2003 Gulf wars.
About 50 British military staff are stationed on the island, with more than 3,200 US personnel. Part of the Chagos Archipelago, it lies about 1,000 miles from the southern coasts of India and Sri Lanka, well placed for missions to Iran.
The US department of defence did not respond to a request for a comment, the report carried by the Sunday Herald said.
In an interview with the German publication, Freitag, Noam Chomsky talks about U.S. pressure on Israel and Iran and its geopolitical significance. "Iran is perceived as a threat because they did not obey the orders of the United States. Militarily this threat is irrelevant. This country has not behaved aggressively beyond its borders for centuries. Israel invaded Lebanon with the blessing and help of the U.S. five times in thirty years. Iran has not done anything like this," he says.´
Barak Obama won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2009 while sending more troops to Afghanistan. What happened to the "change" that was promised?
Chomsky: I am one of the few who is not disappointed with Obama because I placed no expectations on him. I wrote about Obama's positions and prospects of success before the start of his campaign. Saw your website and it was clear to me that this was a moderate Democrat in the style of Bill Clinton. There is of course a lot of rhetoric about hope and change. But this is like a blank sheet where you can write anything. Those who despaired at the recent moves of Bush sought hope. But there is no basis to expect any one time to examine properly the substance of Obama's speech.
His government has treated Iran as a threat due to its uranium enrichment program, while countries that possess nuclear weapons such as India, Pakistan and Israel did not suffer the same pressure. How do you evaluate this way of proceeding?
Chomsky: Iran is perceived as a threat because they did not obey the orders of the United States. Militarily this threat is irrelevant. This country did not act aggressively beyond its borders for centuries. The only aggressive act occurred in the '70s under the Shah's government, when, with U.S. backing, they invaded two Arab islands. Of course nobody wants Iran or any other country to have nuclear weapons. It is known that this state is governed today by a loathsome regime. But apply the same labels that are applied to Iran to partners of the U.S. such as Saudi Arabia or Egypt, and it will only be lost to Iran on human rights. Israel invaded Lebanon with the blessing and help from the U.S., five times in thirty years. Iran has not done anything like that.
In spite of that, the country is considered as a threat...
Chomsky: Because Iran has followed an independent path and not subordinate to any order of international authorities. They behaved in a manner similar to what Chile did in the seventies. When this country was ruled by the socialist Salvador Allende, it was destabilized by the U.S. to produce "stability." It was not a question of any contradiction. It was necessary to overthrow the Allende government - forcible "destabilizing" - to maintain "stability" to restore the authority of the U.S. The same phenomenon is occurring now in the Gulf region. Teheran objects to the authority of the USA.
How do you value the goal of the international community to impose severe sanctions on Tehran?
Chomsky: The international community: a curious expression. Most of the countries in the world belong to the non-aligned bloc and strongly support Iran's right to enrich uranium for peaceful purposes. It has repeated often and openly that it is not considered part of the so called "international community." Obviously only those countries that follow U.S. orders belong to it. It is the U.S. and Israel threatening Iran and this threat must be taken seriously.
For what reasons?
Chomsky: Israel now has hundreds of nuclear weapons and delivery systems. Of the latter, the most dangerous comes from Germany. This country provides Dolphin nuclear submarines that are virtually invisible. They can be equipped with nuclear missiles, and Israel is prepared to move these submarines to the Gulf. Thanks to the Egyptian dictatorship, Israeli submarines may pass through the Suez Canal.
I do not know if this was reported in Germany, but about two weeks ago the U.S. Navy said it built a base for nuclear weapons on Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean. There submarines equipped with nuclear missiles would be stationed, including the so-called "bunker buster." These are projectiles that can penetrate concrete walls several feet thick. They were designed exclusively for an intervention in Iran. Prominent Israeli military historian, Martin van Creveld Levi, a man clearly conservative, wrote in 2003, immediately after the invasion of Iraq, that "after the invasion the Iranians went crazy for not having developed any atomic weapon." In practical terms: is there any other way to stop an invasion? Why has the U.S. has not occupied North Korea? Because there is a deterrent. I repeat: nobody wants Iran to have nuclear weapons, but the likelihood that Iran would use nuclear weapons is minimal. This can be proved in the testing of U.S. intelligence. If Iran wanted to equip themselves with a single nuclear warhead, probably the country would be devastated. Such a fate is not to the liking of Islamic clerics in the government: until now they have not shown any suicidal impulse.
What can the European Union do to resolve the tension of this so explosive situation ?
Chomsky: It could reduce the danger of war. The EU could put pressure on India, Pakistan and Israel, the most prominent non-subscribers to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, so that they finally sign it. In October 2009, when they protested against Iran's atomic program, the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) adopted a resolution that Israel defied, that this country sign the Treaty of Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons and allow access for international inspectors to its nuclear systems. Europe and the U.S. negotiated to block this resolution. Obama made Israel know immediately that it should pay no attention to this resolution.
It's interesting what has happened in Europe since the Cold War ended. Those who believed in the propaganda of the previous decades had to expect that NATO would dissolve in 1990. After all, the organization was created to protect Europe from "Russian hordes." Now they are not "Russian hordes," but the organization expands and violates all the promises it made to Gorbachev, who was naive enough to believe what President Bush and Chancellor Kohl said, namely that NATO would not move a centimeter in the direction of Eastern Europe. In the assessment of international analysts, Gorbachev believed in everything they said. It was not very wise. Today NATO has expanded to large areas of the East and follows its strategy of controlling the world's energy system, the pipelines and trade routes. Today it is a display of the power for intervention of the U.S.A. in the world. Why does Europe accept that? Because it does not put its foot down and looks facing the U.S.A.?
Although the U.S.A. intends to keep on being a military superpower, its economy virtually collapsed in 2008. Billions of dollars were lacking to rescue Wall Street. Without the money from China, the U.S. might have entered into bankruptcy.
Chomsky: There is much talk of Chinese money and it is speculated much from this fact about a power shift in the world. China could overtake the U.S.? I consider that question an expression of ideological extremism. The States are not the only actors on the world stage. To a certain extent they are important, but not absolutely. The actors, who dominate their respective States, are primarily economic: the banks and corporations. If we examine who controls the world and determines policy, we will refrain from stating a shift of world power and global workforce. China is the extreme example. These interactions occur between transnational corporations, financial institutions and the State insofar as it serves their interests. This is the only power shift, but it provides no headline.
TsarSamuil: Medicines aren't allowed to be sold on the market without a 15 year trial period, to determine short n long term effects. Sputnik just turned 1 year, others not even that, just months, how can we determine long term effects without the data from long term
Aug 24, 2021 11:22:20 GMT -5
TsarSamuil: exposure? Does anyone have a time machine to go 14 years or so into the future n come back n say whether we have good vaccines? Fear makes world abandon its own standards..Besides, vaccines for other illnesses that have been developed for YEARS actually
Aug 24, 2021 11:23:40 GMT -5
TsarSamuil: help. These covid vaccines are literally SHIT, why else do they demand you take 1, 2 n now 3 shots? The problem is also a disease becomes resilient if u administer a weak vaccine that doesn't do the job proper. Allow illness to survive just makes it strong
Aug 24, 2021 11:25:04 GMT -5
TsarSamuil: instead if we go by the book, we should all wait for a really good vaccine to take out the illness for good. Now...we may never get rid of it..but understandably the world economy has a hard time dealing with lock downs, but that is just needless panic
Aug 24, 2021 11:27:06 GMT -5
TsarSamuil: why Swe had fared well with country not being locked down? Because they are cold people, keeping distance was the thing before covid-19 was ever heard of, I hope world doesn't become like that, but some could use a little common sense n change in behavior.
Aug 24, 2021 11:29:12 GMT -5
TsarSamuil: It's no wonder covid hits so many Arabs in the country, stupid bastards..
Aug 24, 2021 11:29:38 GMT -5
TsarSamuil: If I go to H&M a new shirt, if an Arab wants to buy a pair of pants, not only is his whole family along, his friends, even his freaking grandmother is along n all chattering along in a big dumb group of ignorance..
Aug 24, 2021 11:33:05 GMT -5
Boro: Thx for the response. I'm not sure... It seems the vaccines work, at least people aren't dying of Covid. Those who get ill have a problem, it's not "just a flu". Maybe it's from a chinese laboratory, who knows...
Aug 24, 2021 13:46:55 GMT -5
Boro: I agree regarding Arabs..
Aug 24, 2021 13:50:39 GMT -5
Boro: Be glad, Sweden isn't overpopulated.
Aug 24, 2021 14:11:49 GMT -5
TsarSamuil: true, vaccines do help somewhat, maybe better than nothing..I hope in 2022 we can come out of this nightmare..
Aug 24, 2021 15:38:24 GMT -5
Boro: Horrible times, indeed.
Aug 24, 2021 15:47:41 GMT -5