• 12 hours Thanksgiving Gas Prices At 3-Year High
  • 16 hours Iraq’s Giant Majnoon Oilfield Attracts Attention Of Supermajors
  • 18 hours South Iraq Oil Exports Close To Record High To Offset Kirkuk Drop
  • 21 hours Iraqi Forces Find Mass Graves In Oil Wells Near Kirkuk
  • 21 hours Chevron Joint Venture Signs $1.7B Oil, Gas Deal In Nigeria
  • 22 hours Iraq Steps In To Offset Falling Venezuela Oil Production
  • 1 day ConocoPhillips Sets Price Ceiling For New Projects
  • 3 days Shell Oil Trading Head Steps Down After 29 Years
  • 4 days Higher Oil Prices Reduce North American Oil Bankruptcies
  • 4 days Statoil To Boost Exploration Drilling Offshore Norway In 2018
  • 4 days $1.6 Billion Canadian-US Hydropower Project Approved
  • 4 days Venezuela Officially In Default
  • 4 days Iran Prepares To Export LNG To Boost Trade Relations
  • 4 days Keystone Pipeline Leaks 5,000 Barrels Into Farmland
  • 4 days Saudi Oil Minister: Markets Will Not Rebalance By March
  • 4 days Obscure Dutch Firm Wins Venezuelan Oil Block As Debt Tensions Mount
  • 5 days Rosneft Announces Completion Of World’s Longest Well
  • 5 days Ecuador Won’t Ask Exemption From OPEC Oil Production Cuts
  • 5 days Norway’s $1 Trillion Wealth Fund Proposes To Ditch Oil Stocks
  • 5 days Ecuador Seeks To Clear Schlumberger Debt By End-November
  • 5 days Santos Admits It Rejected $7.2B Takeover Bid
  • 5 days U.S. Senate Panel Votes To Open Alaskan Refuge To Drilling
  • 5 days Africa’s Richest Woman Fired From Sonangol
  • 6 days Oil And Gas M&A Deal Appetite Highest Since 2013
  • 6 days Russian Hackers Target British Energy Industry
  • 6 days Venezuela Signs $3.15B Debt Restructuring Deal With Russia
  • 6 days DOJ: Protestors Interfering With Pipeline Construction Will Be Prosecuted
  • 6 days Lower Oil Prices Benefit European Refiners
  • 6 days World’s Biggest Private Equity Firm Raises $1 Billion To Invest In Oil
  • 7 days Oil Prices Tank After API Reports Strong Build In Crude Inventories
  • 7 days Iraq Oil Revenue Not Enough For Sustainable Development
  • 7 days Sudan In Talks With Foreign Oil Firms To Boost Crude Production
  • 7 days Shell: Four Oil Platforms Shut In Gulf Of Mexico After Fire
  • 7 days OPEC To Recruit New Members To Fight Market Imbalance
  • 7 days Green Groups Want Norway’s Arctic Oil Drilling Licenses Canceled
  • 7 days Venezuelan Oil Output Drops To Lowest In 28 Years
  • 7 days Shale Production Rises By 80,000 BPD In Latest EIA Forecasts
  • 8 days GE Considers Selling Baker Hughes Assets
  • 8 days Eni To Address Barents Sea Regulatory Breaches By Dec 11
  • 8 days Saudi Aramco To Invest $300 Billion In Upstream Projects

Breaking News:

Thanksgiving Gas Prices At 3-Year High

US Sanctions Against Iran Undermined by New Government Admissions

US Sanctions Against Iran Undermined by New Government Admissions

The announcement of the Iranian government that it will activate its Fordow nuclear enrichment site has predictably drawn forth a new round of war propaganda from the Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. In contrast, the Chinese media accurately report Iran’s affirmation that the new site will be subject to UN inspections and so is perfectly legal.

Ironically, what Clinton says is diametrically opposite from the repeated assurances given by Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, that Iran is not trying to construct a nuclear warhead. True, he put it in a misleading way, saying that Iran “is not yet building a bomb,” as though it is only a matter of time. But in order to build a bomb, Iran would have to deny access to UN inspectors and, well, initiate a program to build a bomb. That it has not done so is covered up in mainstream US political and journalistic discourse, to the point where the NYT had to apologize for stating (contrary to Panetta) that Iran has a nuclear weapons program (it does not, as far as anyone can tell).

And now, it turns out, the Obama administration is even willing to admit the truth. The sanctions regime on Iran is not even primarily about the civilian nuclear enrichment program (to which Iran has a right under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty), but about causing the regime to collapse. (Apparently the appearance in print with its admission of illegal motives provoked a sharp set of phone calls and a revision of the statement to merely a collapse of the nuclear program. I believe WaPo got it right the first time.)

I think blockading a civilian population for the purpose of instituting regime change in a state toward which no authorization of force has been issued by the UN Security Council may well be a war crime. Even advocating a war crime can under some circumstances be punishable, as happened at the Nuremberg trials.

Unlike Israel (Egypt 1956, 1967; Lebanon 1982, 2006) or the US (Iraq 2003), Iran has not unilaterally attacked a nation that had not attacked it, and Iran has not occupied other states’ territory. Both Israel and the US have stockpiles of nuclear warheads. Iran doesn’t have a single one and doesn’t even have a nuclear weapons program. Since Iran has not attacked anyone (and hasn’t done so for over a century), and since the UNSC has not authorized the use of force against Tehran, it would be illegal under the UN Charter for the US or Israel to attack Iran.

Moreover, the toxic and radioactive materials released on civilians in Isfahan as a result of an attack on the Natanz facilities would pose a significant hazard to civilian life in that city– another war crime.

It will not be remembered by most Americans that the Truman and Eisenhower administrations imposed a boycott on the sale of Iranian petroleum in 1951-1953, at the end of which Eisenhower sent in the CIA to overthrow the elected Iranian government. The US, having “caused the regime to collapse,” turned Iran into an absolute monarchy under Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, who instituted an authoritarian, crony-capitalist state that mainly benefited a few billionaires at the top. In 1978-79 an enraged Iranian public overthrew the US-installed Shah and established a government that is zealously independent of Washington.

So if the US does cause the regime to collapse, as it did in 1953, can’t we just expect another round of pro-American dictatorship and then anti-American revolution?

Clinton says that the Fordow enrichment facility near Qom was not declared as it should have been, but rather was revealed by US satellite surveillance. But after it was declared, the then head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Mohammed ElBaradei, was allowed to inspect it and found nothing there, just “a hole in the mountain.” This finding suggests that Iran was within its rights not to declare it was opening a new enrichment site, since it had not done so, just dug a hole in a mountain. There was no nuclear material there when Elbaradei visited in fall, 2009.

The Iranians say that they will try to enrich to 19.75% at the Fordow site. This enrichment level is still that of low enriched uranium, and is the level of enrichment necessary for fuel for Iran’s medical reactor, which produces isotopes for treating cancer. Iran had acquired fuel for the medical reactor, which was given to it by the United States, from Argentina. But it has run out, and Argentina got out of that business. It is not clear why the West wants Iranian cancer victims not to have access to isotopes for radiation treatment.

While enriching to 19.75% LEU is an increase in Iran’s enrichment capabilities, it is nowhere near the 95% generally needed to make a bomb. Moreover, Iran says it is not trying to get a bomb, and the IAEA has acknowledged repeatedly that no nuclear material has been diverted from the civilian program.

If Iran does not permit inspections of Fordow, now that would be suspicious and really would be a violation of NPT obligations. But they seem perfectly willing to let inspectors in.

Clinton said, “There is no plausible justification for this production. Such enrichment brings Iran a significant step closer to having the capability to produce weapons-grade highly enriched uranium.”

But every clause of this statement is false, and it is contradicted by Secretary of Defense Panetta. There is a perfectly legitimate reason for Iran to enrich to 19.75% for fuel for the medical reactor. That level of enrichment is notcategorized as “high enriched uranium” (it is still LEU). And enriching to that level has nothing to do with making weapons. A) You can’t make weapons with LEU and b) Iran intends to use up this fuel in the medical reactor. Not sure how that could turn into a warhead.

By. Juan Cole

Juan runs the popular geopolitics blog Informed Comment where he provides an independent and informed perspective on Middle Eastern and American politics.




Back to homepage


Leave a comment
  • Fred Banks on January 12 2012 said:
    Juan, the war in Iraq was about oil, and so was the war in Libya, abd so where the Middle East is concerned, lies are the standard way of taking care of business. I've always respected Hilary Clinton, but she seems to have gone off the deep end, as has her employer. Although I am a Democrat, I think that it is time to get a few people in Washington with functioning brainpower giving the orders.
  • Philip on January 12 2012 said:
    It must be becoming so clear and evident that it is Israel that is driving this desire to strike at Iran. Israelis are increasingly paranoid that Iran has them in a vice and is squeezing that vice tighter. Whatever happens in Syria Iran is likely to come out in charge, as in Egypt with the MB in power. Israel can no longer manage this situation by purely military means and is at a loss to understand any other means. So they are panicing, exisentially panicing. And a strike against Iran is a way to express that - regardless of the consequences of such an act on the world economy etc. So Washington is split between those supporting Israel, those supporting a neutral stance, those supporting a US approch and anything in between. No wonder Western reaction to Iran is so confudsed. Problem is out of such confusion can come mistakes with huge consequences... Someone needs to get a grip.
  • Philip on January 13 2012 said:
    Its amazing, but I think I would dare to suggest that our very own wonderful Fred Banks and I might actually be (almost) in agreement on this one. :lol: ;-) !!!

Leave a comment




Oilprice - The No. 1 Source for Oil & Energy News