Iran: Targeted in Many Ways

Judy Bello

From the February 2012 PNL #811

Image: Judy Bello

Cries for war with Iran are again rising. In November, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), under a new director and heavily pressured by the US State Department, released a report implying that Iran is developing nuclear weapons.  Iran’s civilian nuclear program is heavily monitored by the IAEA, which has repeatedly confirmed that the level of enrichment is consistent with civilian uses and no nuclear materials have been diverted. The information on which this report is based is no different than the last report from Mohammed El Baradei’s IAEA in 2009.

Iran is surrounded by US bases and military forces in Iraq, Kuwait, Afghanistan and Pakistan. It is targeted by US missiles in Europe and Israel. Repeated upgrades of international sanctions have left Iran without parts to repair their aging civilian airlines or high tech medical equipment parts that are readily available in western countries. Despite its vast oil reserves, Iran imports refined petroleum products like gasoline and heating oil, because sanctions have made it impossible to repair the oil refineries destroyed during the Iran-Iraq War.

War Has Begun

The last decade has seen a cyclical escalation of threats and sanctions against Iran by Israel and the United States. The US currently has two aircraft carrier fleets in the Persian Gulf, while Iranian forces conduct defensive military exercises in international waters off their own coast. At the same time, the escalating program of covert sabotage ratchets up pressure inside Iran, and an increasing stream of accusations comes from the US mainstream press and the Israeli and European press.

Numerous instances of sabotage and assassination have occurred inside Iran, all attributed to the Mossad, CIA or M16. On January 11, nuclear scientist Mostafa Ahmadi Roshan was killed by a magnetic bomb attached to his car from a passing motorcycle. He was the fourth Iranian scientist assassinated in the last two years; a fifth scientist survived an attack. Last November, an explosion killed 30 in a Tehran missile base. A couple of weeks later, another explosion occurred in a nuclear storage site in Isfahan, and in December yet another explosion rocked a nuclear site in Yazd.

These attacks were likely perpetrated with the assistance of the Mujahedin-e-Khalk (MEK) a terrorist organization that has lived under US protection on a base in Iraq near the Iranian border since the beginning of the Iraq War. Shortly after the Islamic Revolution, the MEK bombed the offices of Imam Khomeini’s political party, killing more than 30 members of the Iranian Parliament and Cabinet, including senior clerics. The MEK fought with Saddam Hussein against Iran in the Iran-Iraq War, and since 2003 has worked openly with the Mossad and the CIA.

There are also strong indications that the US worked with Israel to unleash the Stuxnet virus on Iran’s nuclear enrichment facilities. Israeli sources have more or less taken credit for many of these operations, while the US consistently denies involvement. But George W. Bush designated millions for covert operations in Iran. One might ask, “Where did it go?” The most recent sanctions against Iran include a prohibition against diplomacy with Iranian officials. This leaves us with a covert war and no mechanism for reconciliation. What could possibly be gained by such a restriction?

No Iranian Retaliation

It is interesting that Iran has not significantly retaliated for these actions. Iran remains active in regional diplomacy, with a history of encouraging regional cooperation through trade and mutual support systems. The hype in the mainstream press over Iranian terrorism and the dreaded Iranian bomb seems oddly disconnected from reality. Even when attacked by Saddam’s chemical weapons during the 80s, Iran did not reciprocate in kind. Oil is often cited as the reason for this campaign of terror against Iran. And, Iran is designated a ‘state sponsor of terrorism’ for actively supporting and advocating the Palestinian right to self-determination and condemning Israel’s ethnic cleansing in Palestine.  

But I believe there is something more going on here. The US is a little over 200 years old. Israel is just over 60. Iran has been around for over 3000 years as a center of culture and civilization. It has a cultural identity deeply rooted in its society.   Over millennia, the Persian Empire has expanded across the Arab world, India and southwest Asia. Iran has a Jewish population that goes back to biblical times, supports Kurdish and Arab populations, and has recently absorbed influxes of Armenian, Azerbaijani and Russian refugees. Iranians know who they are. This kind of integrity is stunning when you first encounter it. I imagine it is terrifying to the contemporary proponents of American hegemony.

Judy Bello, who recently spent 3 days in jail in Syracuse for her role in the Hancock 38 (see article), led a Fellowship of Reconciliation Civilian Peace Delegation to Iran last May, her second to that land.