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Payvand Iran News ...
12/01/11 Bookmark and Share
The west has Iran in its sights

By Abbas Edalat (This is the full version of the article that appeared in the Guardian)

The hasty decision by the British government to expel all Iranian diplomats from the UK is another step to tighten the diplomatic, economic and military noose around the Islamic republic - a tactic that has defined the western attitude to Iran for at least the past six years. In fact, the government of Iran has apologised and condemned the incursion into the British embassy as an unacceptable act. Despite the accusations made in the western media, there is no evidence at all that the supreme leader or the commanders of the Revolutionary Guards had in any way approved the action of the students. All of this makes the expulsion of all Iranian diplomats completely unjustifiable.

William Hague has denounced the action of the students as a violation of international law. But Iran itself has been targeted for many years by a series of western and UK policies that are gross violations of international law. Repeatedly threatening Iran with a military attack, thinly disguised under the phrase "all options are on the table" and publicly announcing that the west must use covert operations to sabotage Iran's nuclear programme (as John Sawers, the head of MI6, demanded two years ago), are only two examples of the UK's disrespect for the UN charter. It is no wonder that many Iranians believe the UK must have been involved in the assassination of two prominent Iranian nuclear physicists in the past two years.

The events in the past two days follow a vote to reduce Iran's diplomatic ties with the UK, which was held in Iran's parliament on Sunday. This, in turn, was a reaction to the UK's decision last week to sanction all banks in Iran, including the Central Bank of Iran, which handles the export of Iran's crude oil. The new sanctions, which were co-ordinated with the US and Canada and use the latest report of the International Atomic Energy Agency as a pretext, amount to economic warfare against the Islamic republic and could have been expected to elicit a strong response among Iranians.

In fact, the IAEA report confirmed once again the non-diversion of all declared nuclear material to any weaponisation programme, which is the only mandate of the agency with respect to its safeguards agreement with Iran. The report also expressed concern, for the first time under the new head of the agency, Yukiya Amano, who has beenexposed in Wikileaks documents as a staunch ally of the US against Iran, that Iran may have experimented with military research before 2004, and that these may have continued since. These allegations are all made on the basis of documents supplied to the agency by Israel (which is known to possess a massive nuclear arsenal and to refuse access by IAEA inspectors to its nuclear sites), and by the US (which is still in gross violation of the nuclear non-proliferation treaty for refusing to eliminate its massive nuclear arsenals).

The supposed evidence for Iran's military nuclear research is essentially old and based on documents from a laptop the US claims it had obtained in Iran in 2004. But even at the time the New York Times reported deep scepticism among western intelligence communities over the provenance of the laptop. Quoting the assessment of western intelligence sources, it suggested that any sophisticated intelligence service could fabricate such a laptop.

The issue of military research and the laptop were only taken seriously by the US and Israel in February 2008, when Iran and the IAEA completed their workplan and resolved all the outstanding problems between them. The new supposed piece of evidence against Iran claimed that a foreign scientist was helping Iran to build an explosion chamber for a nuclear weapon test.

However, it turned out that the alleged scientist, Vyacheslav Danilenko, is a Ukranian expert on nanotechnology. Robert Kelly, the chief IAEA inspector in Iraq for eight years, has since dismissed the claim that the type of explosion chamber in the report can ever be used in a nuclear test.

The hawkish western attitude to Iran, based as it is on unfounded rumours about a nuclear weapons programme, resembles that of the runup to the invasion of Iraq. Unjustified sanctions only pave the road to a military attack on Iran. The west must change course and enter into negotiations in good faith if a catastrophe for the region and the whole world is to be avoided.

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