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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 5/31/12

Got war if you want it

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Cross-posted from Asia Times

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Pentagon head Leon Panetta told ABC News that the US is "ready" to attack Iran. It depends on US President Barack Obama giving it a go. Will he or won't he?

Nobel Prize winner and Drone Godfather Obama has been busy "justifying the 'just war' theories of Christian philosophers", as Ray McGovern graphically put it -- and as attested by the New York Times orgasmically promoting its piece "Secret 'Kill List' Proves a Test of Obama's Principles and Will."

Apparently there's no Iranian "kill list' so far -- apart from scientists being whacked by the unsavory association of the Israeli Mossad and the Iranian Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK) terrorist outfit. And there's no evidence -- yet -- Obama considers attacking Iran a "just war." On the contrary; Obama might flaunt a nuclear deal with Iran as a major foreign policy victory on the way to re-election. But -- just in case -- the Pentagon is keeping up the pressure.

Enrich, and you're history

Panetta regurgitated the same old fallacy perpetrated ad infinitum, since at least 2006, by the neo-cons, the Israel lobby and US corporate media, according to which Iran is about to build a nuclear bomb like ... tomorrow. "We will do everything we can to prevent Iran from developing a weapon," Panetta said. Once again, it doesn't matter that the International Atomic Energy Agency, the UN's nuclear watchdog, plus 17 US intelligence agencies have stressed this is not the case.

Panetta's move must be seen as the Pentagon pre-emptively bombarding the P5+1 talks about the Iranian nuclear program -- now scheduled for a third round in Moscow on June 18. As Gareth Porter has shown, there can be no deal as long as Washington insists on absolutely ditching the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), to which Iran subscribes (See US hard line in Iran talks driven by Israel, Asia Times Online, May 29, 2012). The US position amounts to never allowing Iran to even enrich uranium for civilian purposes.

Panetta also insists that the "international community's been unified" about it. That's nonsense. Not only the BRICS group of emerging powers but also the whole Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) has insisted Iran has a right, like any other country that subscribes to the NPT, to maintain a civilian nuclear program.

Now let's turn to the Iranian position. Iranian nuclear chief Fereydoon Abbasi said, "We have no reason to retreat from producing the 20% because we need 20% uranium just as much to meet our needs,'' according to Iranian state TV.

Not only that; Iran will start building two new nuclear power plants in 2013, and its sole active nuclear reactor is now close to full production levels.

Under the NPT, a member state with a consistent civilian nuclear program essentially may also acquire a nuclear weapons capability -- what is also defined as a "nuclear option." Japan, Brazil and Argentina, for instance, all NPT member states, have maintained their "nuclear option" for decades. They could ditch the NPT and build a nuclear bomb in a few months if they wanted to. They won't. But Washington, on a mission from God, believes Iran will.

The fact is Tehran is not doing anything illegal in its pursuit of nuclear technology. It has even agreed to talk in Baghdad about suspending its 20% uranium enrichment. But then Iranian negotiators found out in Baghdad that for the US, the red line -- no enrichment at all -- is definitive. At best, in exchange Iran might receive supplies of medical isotopes.

So Tehran won't be moved from its position; it will only consider suspending its 20% enrichment if the ultra-harsh Western oil embargo plus the financial war via banking sanctions is reconsidered.

By the way, Iran's Central Bank Governor Mahmoud Bahmani said that Tehran has already activated an alternative payment clearing system to SWIFT -- thus foiling another vector of Washington's relentless economic war. What this means is that Iran, BRICS members Russia, India and China, plus Iran's trading partners in the developing world are moving one step beyond in their flight from the US dollar as global reserve currency.

Sanction me baby one more time

Even in the -- unlikely -- possibility that the leadership in Tehran suddenly decided to stop all uranium enrichment, and kill the whole nuclear program on the spot, Iran would still be under US sanctions. The sanctions have practically nothing to do with Iran's nuclear program. It's all about regime change.

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Pepe Escobar is an independent geopolitical analyst. He writes for RT, Sputnik and TomDispatch, and is a frequent contributor to websites and radio and TV shows ranging from the US to East Asia. He is the former roving correspondent for Asia (more...)

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