Posted on 07/16/2013 by Juan Cole
The Iranian electorate did about the most cruel thing possible to uber-hawk Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu. It replaced former Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad with an eminently reasonable and personable successor, Hasan Rouhani.
The Israeli and American politicians who desperately want to fall on Iran the way a hungry lion does on a lamb had made hay with Ahmadinejad’s quirkiness and foot in the mouth disease. They also deliberately mistranslated him to make him seem menacing, even as he kept saying Iran would never launch a first strike.
Here are the reasons not to pay attention to the recent round of saber-rattling by Netanyahu, who never met a war (including the illegal one on Iraq) he didn’t love:
1. Everyone knows that the real reason Netanyahu keeps squawking about Iran is that he is trying to take the focus off the Israel campaign of ethnic cleansing and Apartheid policies toward the Palestinians living under Israeli occupation.
2. Everyone in the international community agrees that the new president of Iran will have to be given at least a year, and maybe more, to prove he is an earnest negotiator for Iran. You can’t just attack a presidential administration that only recently got into office and before taking the measure of it. The European powers and the countries of the global South would never accept it.
3. Iran is not proved to have a nuclear weapons program, as opposed to a civilian nuclear enrichment program aimed at making fuel for nuclear reactors.
4. Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has repeatedly affirmed that Iran’s theocracy cannot accept the production, stockpiling or use of nuclear weapons, since they cannot be deployed without killing hundreds of thousands of innocent non-combatants (e.g. women and children), and killing innocent non-combatants is illegal according to the Qur’an and Islamic law.
5. President Rouhani is proposing increased transparency for its civilian nuclear enrichment program, so as to ease Western fears.
6. Contrary to what Netanyahu says, Iran does not have an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of hitting the United States, and the country is highly unlikely to have one any time soon.
7. The International Atomic Energy Agency does inspections of Iran’s enrichment facilities and [pdf] according to its most recent report, “the Agency continues to verify the non-diversion of declared material at these facilities” That is, the IAEA has visited the sites where Iran does enrichment work, and its inspectors can testify that the enriched uranium is under seal, is all accounted for, and none has been diverted to weapons purposes. The IAEA has other complaints, especially that Iran won’t go beyond its obligations in the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty of the 1960s. But technically Iran is not required to do so by the treaty, and there is no proof that Iran is weaponizing.
8. Iran is actually a small weak country with a defense budget somewhere between that of Singapore and Norway, and isn’t a plausible threat to the United States.
9. Netanyahu keeps threatening to attack Iran himself, if the US Pentagon won’t do it for him, but this bluff is transparent. Israel cannot plausibly conduct a successful military operation so far from its borders (Iran is a long way away). It didn’t even do a good job with a little aid ship, the Mavi Marmara.
10. Iran’s nuclear enrichment program is based on running thousands centrifuges, which don’t all have to be in the same place. An Israeli air strike couldn’t possibly destroy all or most of them, and would only set the Iranian program back a little.