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The Iran Crisis: Facts vs. Fiction


New York: On June 21st, 2006 Campaign Against Sanctions and Military Intervention in Iran (CASMII) hosted a panel discussion in New York City: The Iran Crisis: Facts vs. Fiction.


The intention of this event was to enable the audience to decipher between the propagandas, rhetoric and misinformation that is being trumpeted by the Bush Administration on a daily basis and the media who unfortunately learned so little from the last major round of warmongering instead of news casting back in 2002-2003, and is again reporting the Iran crisis within the bounds of what the Administration cares to have debated.



The panelists included a number of distinguished professors of Middle Eastern History, scholars, nuclear physicists, nuclear engineers, and peace activists –Dr. Ervand Abrahamian, Professor of Middle East History, at the City University of New York (CUNY), Dr. Behrad Nakhai, a prominent Nuclear Engineer, Dr. Tom O’Donnell, Nuclear Physicist and Professor at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor in the Science, Technology and Science Program (STS) and Ms. Virginia Baron, who was on the first Fellowship of Reconciliation (FOR) peace delegation to Iran.


The event attracted over 150 individuals from all ages and walks of life  .Ms. Virginia Baron from FOR discussed her trip to Iran and her interaction with ordinary people and NGOs as she traveled to many cities .Ms. Baron indicated that she found the Iranians most welcoming and warm, unlike what she was told prior to her arrival. For example when she arrived at the airport her Iranian guides were waiting for the American group and shook hands with their guests. Ms. Baron was surprised, as she was told that Iranians do not shake hands .


She explained that people discussed the political and economic issues of Iran quite openly; their likes and dislikes about the Iranian Regime, much like what we do here in the United States.

Ms. Baron visited synagogues, and churches and spoke to people from different faiths. Her impression was they did not feel as an outcast in a country whose majority is of the Muslim faith. They are allowed to practice their own beliefs, have their own celebrations, and drink alcohol and hold public office.



Dr. Nakhai discussed the hypocrisy and double standards of the Bush Administration.  It was the U.S. Government during President Ford’s Administration who encouraged, assisted, and pushed for the Iranian nuclear program. In fact, the same individuals who under President Ford, namely Mr. Cheney, Mr. Rumsfeld and Mr. Wolfowitz, insisted that Iran needs to have nuclear energy for its growing population are the same individuals who under the Bush Administration are stating that Iran should not even be allowed to obtain the “knowledge”  let alone develop nuclear energy.


, Dr.Nakhai indicated that after 2000 man-hours of inspection by the IAEA, and some with only two hours of advance notice, the IAEA has found absolutely no evidence of diversion of any material towards a nuclear weapons program. Iran has undergone the most intrusive inspections of its program by the IAEA. It has allowed the IAEA to go any where and see anything, including it’s sensitive military facilities, which it had no obligation to do, and in fact no other country will allow site inspections of their military facilities.  Iran has followed through with the Additional Protocol, though it has not yet been ratified by Iran’s Parliament. The IAEA has found nothing! These measures were all intended as confidence building measures by Iran.


Dr .Nakhaii explained that A crucial factor in extracting weapons grade plutonium is the type of reactor and the mode that it operates. The Israeli plant can be refueled on line, without shutting down. Therefore, high-grade plutonium can be obtained covertly and continuously. In the Iranian plant, the entire reactor will have to be shut down – a step, which cannot be concealed from satellites, airplanes and other sources.


With respect to the question that the Islamic Republic has been clandestinely developing its nuclear program for over 18 years without notifying the IAEA. Dr. Nakhai indicated that this is another false statement. As one of the earliest signatories to the NPT, Iran had no obligation to notify the IAEA of any facility until 180 days prior to introducing fissile material into the site. Something, which Iran had not done. This agreement was amended sometimes in the early 1990s for new signatories to the NPT.


Dr. Tom O’Donnell indicated that “Oil hegemony, not nukes, is the real issue.”


Dr. O’Donnell indicated that just as the true reasons for the U.S. – British invasion of Iraq were not “weapons of mass destruction” nor “links to Al Qaeda,” so too, the true reason for the present U.S.- Iran crisis is not about the ostensible “nuclear threat” posted by Iran. Rather the American push against Iran’s nuclear program and for “regime change” is about maintaining American hegemony in the oil-rich Persian Gulf and Caspian Basin .


According to Dr. O’Donnell, the Iranians are nowhere near developing highly enriched uranium for nuclear weapons, in fact, they appear to be far from even producing sufficient low-level enriched uranium to use in fuel rods for their Russian-built nuclear power plants. And even if they were, this is not why Washington wants a regime change in Iran.


Dr. O’Donnell asserted, that according to the IAEA, about 60% of the world’s oil reserves are in essentially five countries. Whoever has predominant influence in this region has their hand on “the global oil spigot” – a prize which brings enormous power and leverage far beyond the region itself, reaching over every country and enterprise that needs the region’s oil. Washington has worked since the Iranian Revolution of 1979 to keep the Islamic Republic from once again becoming the oil-producing powerhouse it was under the Shah. No matter what compromises and “grand bargains” the Islamic Republic has offered the U.S.Washington has rejected these. The Americans have actively blocked Iran from developing its oil and natural gas sector since 1996 by imposing sanctions. These sanctions have preserved U.S. hegemony in the Persian Gulf region and have greatly weakened the Iranian economy and the mullah’s domestic position.



Professor Abrahamian agreed with both Dr. Nakhai and Dr. O’Donnell regarding the fact that this is not about Iran’s nuclear program. The U.S. since the Revolution of 1979 intended to topple the Iranian regime.  He indicated that Iran’s geopolitical position is of great importance to the U.S. Iran lies in the center of the oil-rich Persian Gulf States and the Caspian Basin. Iran has the second largest reserves of oil after Saudi Arabia and the second largest reserves of natural gas after Russia. No other country has the combined benefit of these vital energy resources together. Iran’s control of the Strait of Hormuz places it at a position, where one quarter of the world’s oil passes through on a daily basis. Iran is a bridge between Asia, Russia, and Europe.


Another important factor that must be taken into consideration is the role of Russia and China in this tri-polar game. China needs massive amounts of energy to help develop its economy. The multi-billion dollar agreements for infrastructure building in Iran is going to the Chinese. In return the Chinese get to have access to one of the most energy rich countries in the world. Russia on the other hand has its own oil and gas, but does not want to give up Iran, its stronghold in the region to the U.S. In the meantime the U.S. wants to re-enter Iran as it did under the Shah and as it has currently done in Iraq, in order that the U.S. is the sole country in  control all oil concessions and agreements. The U.S. also aims to make sure that Russia does not create a strong position in the Persian Gulf and the Caspian Basin.  The U.S. agenda cannot be executed under the Islamic Republic. The U.S. needs to bring about a new regime, which is in agreement with the American agenda.


Professor Abrahamian indicated that these reasons together make Iran a vital prize for the U.S., probably greater than any other country.


He indicated that as the saying goes in the White house, “Ordinary men want to go to Baghdad, but real men want to go to Tehran.”

... Payvand News - 6/29/06 ... --

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