Iran, the last remnant of the Persian Empire, is presently threatened by the greatest super power in history - the Unites States of America. The conclusion of this article is that, instead of attacking Iran, the United States should immediately reestablish diplomatic relations, negotiate unconditionally, and ensure Iran's protection from armed attack by Israel or any other nation under a comprehensive policy that seeks to avoid the expansion of nuclear weapons to Iran and all other nations and to disarm all nations within ten years. To arrive at this solution, we and those who purport to lead us must appreciate the history of the Iranian people and have a clear understanding of the facts leading to this crisis.
A BRIEF BUT ESSENTIAL HISTORY
In October 539 BC, Cyrus the Great conquered Babylon, freed the exiled Jews, and established the Persian Empire. In 499 BC, the rule of his great grandson, Darius, extended from India in the east to Asia Minor and Egypt in the west. After Athens aided some of the Greek Ionian cities to revolt, Darius crushed the rebellion and became determined to subject all of the Greek city states to his rule. He dispatched 600 ships across the Hellespont in 492 BC; however half were destroyed in a sudden storm. Two years later, Darius landed on the plain of Marathon near Athens. In a brilliant maneuver, the outnumbered Athenians fell back in the center allowing their stronger wings to tightly surround the Persians, depriving them of the use of their bows and arrows. 6,400 Persians fell to the long Greek spears, while only 192 Greeks died.
Following the assassination of Darius in 480 BC, his son King Xerxes attacked the Greeks, and he sacked Athens and burned the Acropolis. It appeared that the war was won since Xerxes' navy outnumbered the Athenian ships three to one and had them contained between the island of Salamis and the coast of Attica. In yet another brilliant maneuver, the Persians were lured into the narrow straits by a false report that the Greeks were retreating. The lighter Greek ships rammed the heavier and clumsy Persian ships, sinking more than 200 and capturing others.
The power of the Persian Empire was broken. It was ultimately conquered by Alexander the Great in a series of battles commencing in 334 BC ushering in the Hellenistic Age, followed in time by the Christian Byzantine Empire. Remnants of Persian power continued under the Susanids, who lost a series of battles with Byzantine in the early Seventh Century AD.
Following the death of Muhammad on June 8, 632, a dispute over succession left the Caliphs (deputies of the Prophet) in control of the political and military authority of Islam. They were opposed by those who believed in the tribal tradition known as Ridda in which the contract of allegiance was terminated by the death of Muhammad. Following consolidation under the Caliphs, the Arab armies defeated the Byzantines in July 636. The Persian army was defeated the following year, and the entire area of Iraq was occupied; however, resistance continued on the Persian plateau of Iran for many years.
The dispute over succession continued. In 656, the Caliph Uthman was murdered by Egyptian mutineers in Medina, and for the first time a descendant of Muhammad, Ali, was appointed Caliph. An internal war within Islam ensued; however, Ali was betrayed and assassinated by a supporter, and a non-descendant again became Caliph. Ali's son, Hussein and 72 believers were slaughtered in 680 at Karbala (in modern Iraq) to prevent his challenging the caliphate; however, Hussein's son, Ali, survived. Followers continue to commemorate the killing of Imam Hussein each year in March by a period of mourning and pilgrimages to Karbala.
The traditional, or Sunni, branch became the dominate force in Islam; however, the majority of Muslims in southern Iraq remained true to Ali and established the Shiite branch of Islam. They expect the imminent return of the "Mahdi," the hidden imam, who will save the world in the end of days.
With the invasion of Genghis Khan's Mongolian army in 1219, all that remained of Persia was destroyed, along with its irrigation works. There was a brief economic revival in the later part of the century; however, it wasn't until the rule of Tamerlane in 1381 that Persia was united into the area of modern Iran. Tamerlane sponsored poetry and architecture and included Iranians in his administration. His empire disintegrated following his death and the area was ruled by various Mongol tribes including the Uzbeks and Tukomans.
Commencing in 1501, the Safavid dynasty established the first native Iranian rule in almost 1,000 years. Tracing their descent from one of Shia Islam's Imams, the Safavids established Iran as a geographic entity under the leadership of a "Shah," and they declared Shiite Islam as the state religion and used force and proselytization to convert most Muslims in Iran to their sect. Iran became a theocracy in which the Shah exercised both religious and governing authority.
The Safavids were confronted with border challenges from the Uzbeks in the north and from invasion by the Sunni Ottomans in the west, who had secured control over southern Iraq. In the early 17th Century, Iran managed to defeat the Uzbeks and the Ottomans, extending its borders to include Iraq, Georgia and Bahrain. Although there were some reverses, the Safavid Empire ultimately included Armenia, the Iranian coast on the Caspian Sea and control over Afghanistan. In 1739, a military campaign against India resulted in the pillage of Delhi. The Safavids established commercial ties with English, Dutch and other Western traders to export fine silks, carpets, porcelain and other artistic products.
In the early 19th Century, Iran lost two wars with Russia and had to give up much of its Caucasus and Central Asia territory. Iran turned to England for protection against Russia and paid the price by having to surrender its claim to Afghanistan. Although England pushed Iran into making some economic concessions and government reforms, corruption and disorder ultimately resulted in the establishment of a constitutional monarchy in 1906 with an elected parliament. After an attempt to bomb the parliament and arrest the deputies, the Shah went into exile, and England and Russia divided Iran into spheres of influence in 1907. Thereafter, England and Russia prevented Iran from developing basic industry and technology, such as railroads, in order to protect their expanding frontiers.
THE PAHLAVI DYNASTY
Iran sought to avoid involvement in World War I by declaring its neutrality; however, it quickly became a battleground for German, English, Russian and Turkish interests. Following the end of the war and the Russian revolution, England attempted to impose a defacto protectorate over Iran with the Anglo-Persian Agreement of 1919. However, the Iranian parliament refused to ratify the agreement and in 1921, Reza Khan, an Iranian military officer, seized power in Tehran. In 1926 he was crowned as the new Shah.
Reza Shah Pahlavi took effective control of the country by relying on young European-trained administrators and military officers. He instituted the draft, created a modern army, and brought the independent tribes under government authority. Reza Shah established an extensive system of public schools and universities, expanded the economy, and corralled the power of the Shiite Imams by establishing secular law and courts. He opened schools and employment to women and abolished the veil. To accomplish these goals, he reduced the role of parliament and increased the power of the bureaucracy. Taxes were increased, the Shah became wealthy, and the poor suffered. Reza Shah ended the economic favoritism of England, including its oil concession, and increasingly viewed the Soviet Union with suspicion. German commercial enterprise was encouraged, and Germany became Iran's largest trading partner.
Iran again declared its neutrality in World War II; however England and the Soviet Union simultaneously invaded on August 26, 1941 and each carved out spheres of interest. The Shah abdicated in favor of his son, Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi, who signed an agreement with England and the Soviet Union to provide nonmilitary assistance and to allow the shipment of war supplies across its borders. The two countries agreed to remove their troops within six months of the War's end.
Iran declared war on Germany in 1943 and became a founding member of the United Nations. At the end of the war, the Soviet Union carved out two autonomous republics in northern Iran. Soviet troops remained in Iran and prevented government forces from restoring control, even as English and American troops evacuated as agreed. As a result of American and English pressure, the Soviet Union finally evacuated, and in 1947, the United States and Iran signed military agreements.
Following the war, Iran began to develop its agriculture and manufacturing resources and increasingly looked to the sale of its oil reserves for finance. In 1951, the Iranian parliament voted to nationalize the oil industry and England imposed an embargo on the purchase of Iranian oil in retaliation. Friction arose between the Shah and his popular and nationalistic prime minister, Mohammed Mossadeq, who demanded more control over the government. Urged on by British intelligence, the CIA arranged strategic bombings and political harassments of religious leaders leading to the overthrow of Mossadeq. A new oil agreement was concluded in 1953, followed by mutual defense agreements between the U.S. and Iran.
The Shah's plans for internal development paid for by oil revenues resulted in economic inflation and widespread discontent; however, a series of prime ministers and renewed development plans failed to satisfy the needs of the people. In 1963, a national referendum approved the Shah's "White Revolution," which nationalized forests and pastures, imposed profit sharing in private enterprise, the establishment of a Literacy Corps, women voting, and increased political opposition. However, clerical leaders, including Ayatollah Khomeini, opposed land reform and female suffrage, and his arrest sparked violent riots. Protests to the passage of a law granting diplomatic immunity to U.S. military personnel, and their staff and families, resulted in the exile of Khomeini. The prime minister was assassinated by members of a radical Islamic group associated with Khomeini.
The Shah appointed Amir Hoveyda as prime minister, who presided over a 12-year period of economic growth and political stability. He revised the tax law, created a new civil service code and appointed highly qualified civil administrators. Hoveyda created a new Ministry of Higher Education and greatly increased the number of colleges and universities. The Shah improved relations with the Soviet Union and the surrounding countries. With the support of the Nixon Administration, the Shah used oil revenues to vastly improve his military in order to police the Persian Gulf. President Nixon allowed Iran to purchase any conventional weapon in the United States arsenal.
Commencing in 1957, Iran signed a series of agreements with the United States to provide uranium and technical assistance in the development of an Iranian nuclear power program, and in 1967 Iran received both weapons grade uranium and plutonium. Iran signed the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty on the first day it was opened for signature on July 1, 1968. Scientists were trained in the United States, and Iranians developed the ability to extract plutonium from spent uranium fuel using chemicals.
In 1975, the United States and Iran signed an agreement in which the U.S. was to build eight nuclear power plants and to provide the fuel. It was subsequently agreed that Iran would be permitted to reprocess the spent fuels into plutonium and to invest in the U.S. enrichment facilities. Iran also signed contracts with France and Germany for the construction of nuclear power plants, as the Shah was planning to construct as many as 23 plants by 1994.
Although political parties had been allowed to develop, the Shah relied upon his secret police, SAVAK, to dampen political opposition. The secular Iran Freedom Movement joined with moderate clerics in using Islam for political mobilization. Ayatollah Khomeini went further in writing that a monarchy was abhorrent to Islam in proposing a theocracy in which the leadership belonged to the Islamic jurists. More younger Iranians joined underground groups committed to violent revolution.
The military buildup and ambitious development programs began to cause severe economic and social disruption, and by the mid-to-late 70s there was growing public disorder. In an attempt to quell dissent, the government nationalized private schools and committed to providing free secondary education and health care. However, the presence of large numbers of foreigners, primarily Americans involved in military training and advice, combined with the Westernization of society led many to believe that the Shah's programs were threatening Islam and causing deterioration in Iranian cultural values.
After the Shah established a one-party state in 1975, concern over the suppression of basic freedoms attracted international attention, including that of the Carter Administration, which brought pressure. The Shah began to release political prisoners and appointed a new prime minister, who quickly became unpopular as he attempted to slow down the economy. After the government planted a newspaper article accusing Khomeini of being an English spy, widespread riots swept the country led by religious leaders.
The Shah replaced the prime minister and attempted to conciliate the clerics; however the riots continued to grow until the Shah imposed marital law in Tehran and other cities in 1978, and Khomeini was exiled to France. The strikes and riots continued and Khomeini called for the removal of the Shah and the establishment of a democratic and Islamic government. The Shah again replaced the prime minister, this time with the commander of the Imperial Guard. He promised to correct past mistakes, released political prisoners and arrested many former leaders and government officers.
THE ISLAMIC REVOLUTION
Strikes continued across the country virtually shutting down the government, and the leader of the National Front, Shapour Bakhtiar, agreed to form a new government if the Shah left the country. On January 16, 1979, the Shah left on a "holiday" from which he never returned. Bakhtiar released political prisoners, moved to disband SAVAK, lifted press restrictions and promised free elections; however, Ayatollah Khomeini denounced Bakhtiar's administration as being illegal and strikes continued.
Khomeini returned to Iran on January 26, 1979 and established an alternative provisional government with power shared between revolutionary committees and religious authorities. With the encouragement of the United States, the military ceased all movement against the revolution and pledged its support.
Khomeini became the "supreme leader" of Iran; however, there was no central government. Semi-independent revolutionary committees were formed in the towns and cities and various religious clerics formed competing political parties. Revolutionary courts condemned hundreds to death, including Hoveyda who had presided over 12 years of progress. The interim government failed, a cleric was appointed to head the Revolutionary Council which supervised the various revolutionary committees, and Khomeini authorized formation of an Islamic Revolutionary Guard force.
Resistance against the revolutionary government came from the Khuzestan, Turkoman and Kurdish indigenous tribal areas, and Khomeini deployed the army in putting down the resistance. The religious clerics began to deploy armed groups of hezbollahis (partisans of the party of God) against moderate and secular political opponents. The Revolutionary Council nationalized and appropriated much of the private sector, including insurance companies, major industries, banks and urban land.
A national referendum approved a new government in which the only choice was an Islamic Republic, which was established on April 1, 1979. A new constitution replaced the monarchy with a president; however, it ensured religious control of the government and was approved by another national referendum. Khomeini's appointed prime minister met with President Carter's national security advisor, Zbigniew Brzezinski, in November; however with the admission of the seriously ill Shah into the United States for medical treatment, all hope of restoring friendly relations with the United States dissolved.
On November 4, 1979, thousands marched in Tehran demanding the Shah's extradition, and students occupied the United States embassy and detained the diplomats and employees. Carter authorized Brzezinski to use Jordan's King Hussein as an intermediary to encourage Saddam Hussein to invade Iran in response to a purported call for assistance from rebelling officers of the Iranian army; however Khomeini was informed of the conspiracy by the Russians and the officers were arrested. Authorized by the United States, Saddam invaded Iran on September 22, 1980, claiming that Iran had attempted to assassinate his foreign minister.
Carter's failure to end the student occupation contributed to his defeat by Ronald Reagan during the 1980 election. However, acting behind Carter's back, vice presidential candidate George H. W. Bush secretly agreed with Iranian agents to delay the release of the hostages until after the election when Bush and Reagan were sworn into office. In return, Reagan agreed to pay $52 million, unfroze Iranian bank accounts and allowed Iran to secretly obtain U.S. military supplies through Israel.
THE IRAQ - IRAN WAR
Saddam started the war believing that the Sunnis of Iran would join with his forces; however, in a display of nationalistic fervor, most of the Iranian Sunnis fought against Iraq. Although Iraq possessed superior military equipment, Iran sent thousands of volunteers to the front to stop the invasion and ultimately to push the Iraqi army back across the border. By 1982, the war had been won by Iran; however, it formally dragged on for six more years due to Iran's insistence upon the elimination of Saddam and the destruction of his Ba'athist government.
Iraq repeatedly bombed Iranian cities and attacked civilian passenger trains and aircraft. Iran retaliated by launching missiles against Baghdad. Iraq deployed chemical weapons, some of which had been supplied by the United States, against Iranian forces, and in 1987 against the city of Sardacht. Unconcerned by these violations of the Geneva Protocol, the Reagan administration provided intelligence used by Iraq to calibrate its attacks. More than 100,000 Iranians died as a result of Iraq's use of chemical weapons. The United States also secretly allowed other countries to transfer United States heavy weapons to Iraq in violation of the Arms Export Control Act, and in December 1983, Donald Rumsfeld met with Saddam Hussein to reassure him of U.S. friendship and materials support.
Both Iran and Iraq began to attack oil tankers in the Persian Gulf, including those of neutral nations. More than 500 commercial vessels were damaged in what became known as the "Tanker War," with Iran directing most of the attacks against Kuwaiti vessels. Many of these tankers were reflagged as American ships, including those calling on Iraqi ports, and the U.S. Navy began to provide protection.
In 1982, Reagan made a finding that the United States "could not afford to allow Iraq to lose the war" and that he would do "whatever was necessary and legal" to prevent the loss. After one of its frigates was damaged by an Iranian mine and a tanker was stuck by an Iranian Silkworm missile, the U.S. retaliated by destroying two Iranian ships and by attacking Iranian oil platforms. On July 3, 1988, the U.S. Navy shot down a civilian Iranian airliner killing all 290 people on board, including 66 children.
Iran finally agreed to a ceasefire on August 20, 1988, having suffered more than 1,000,000 casualties.
THE CURRENT CRISIS
Khomeini died in 1989 and was replaced by Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who had served as the president of Iraq.
In early 1996, Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, Newt Gingrich publicly demanded the overthrow of the Iranian government, and the C.I.A. established an $18 million program to accomplish that objective. After Iran responded with its own intelligence effort and likely arranged for the bombing which killed 19 American Air Force personnel in Khobar, Saudi Arabia in June 1996, the Clinton administration considered bombing Iran; however, the Pentagon concluded there were no successful options. Instead, President Clinton secretly warned Iran and took effective covert action against its intelligence operatives.
The Iranian intelligence offensive ended, and a moderate president, Mohammad Khatami was elected in 1997. His election created tensions between his reform government and the conservative clergy resulting in massive protests in 1999. Khatami was reelected in 2001; however, his reforms were blocked by the religious authorities. Liberal candidates were disqualified for election and newspapers were banned. An ultraconservative who fought in the Iran-Iraq War, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, was elected in 2005.
As president, Ahmadinejad has very limited powers. The government places the "Supreme Leader of the Revolution in control of foreign policy, and a "Council of Guardians," consisting of six clerics and six judges has a veto over any secular law that violates Islamic Law. A 31-member "Expediency Council" advises the Leader on national policy and mediates disputes between the Guardians and the elected Parliament, which has the freedom to debate government policy. The president's influence was reduced even further in the December 2006 local elections in which voters overwhelmingly chose reform candidates over those supported by Ahmadinejad.
As a signatory to the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty in 1968, Iran is entitled to develop nuclear power for peaceful purposes; however, it renounced its right to develop nuclear weapons and agreed to inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
Iran began to operate a nuclear research reactor provided by the United States in 1967, and in 1974, the Shah stated that Iran had "no intention of acquiring nuclear weapons, but if small states began building them, then Iran might have to reconsider its policy."
Construction also went forward on two nuclear power stations by a German company and both were more than half completed in 1979 when, following the revolution, a decision was made to terminate the nuclear power program. During the war, Iraq bombed both locations repeatedly destroying the core areas. Following the war, Iran decided to complete the reactors; however, under pressure from the United States, Germany refused to complete the project or even to ship the equipment that had been paid for. Subsequently, a consortium of companies from Argentina, Germany and Spain proposed to complete one of the reactors; however, the United States again blocked the agreement.
In 1990 and 1995, Russia signed agreements to complete the reactor and to construct two additional nuclear power stations. Russia also agreed to discuss construction of a gas centrifuge uranium enrichment facility in Iran, and China began to provide uranium hexafluoride gas which is used for enriching uranium. All of this was done under IAEA safeguards.
The Clinton administration tried to convince Russia to back out of the agreement, and when it refused, fears were raised that the plutonium residue could be used for nuclear weapons. However, Iran and Russia were also negotiating for the storage of the nuclear waste in Siberia. Nonetheless, under pressure from Israel, the U.S. began to allege that, even if the nuclear power plants could not be used for the production of nuclear materials, they would result in trained engineers and scientists who could help develop nuclear weapons in the future.
Parallel to these efforts which were done openly, Iran also began a secret program in 1985 to enrich uranium, relying upon plans for the construction of centrifuges obtained on the black market from Dr. Abdul Khan, the developer of Pakistan's nuclear weapons. However, the program was exposed in 2002 when it was revealed that Iran was converting yellowcake to uranium gas at a facility in Isfahan and was constructing an uranium enrichment plant at Natanz.
Commencing in October 2003, Iran allowed inspectors from IAEA to inspect the enrichment project, including Natanz and dozens of other atomic sites. Inspectors were even allowed to visit military sites and to take environmental samples. No unusual activities were observed and the detection of traces of highly enriched uranium contamination was satisfactorily explained to the IAEA, which concluded they were of foreign origin. Moreover, the IAEA could find no evidence of an Iranian nuclear weapons program.
In February 2006, following threats of sanctions and pressure from the United States and Europe to curtail its program, Iran drastically reduced access of inspectors to Natanz and dozens of other atomic sites to the minimum required by its agreements and refused to answer questions.
Pressured by the United States, the United Nations Security Council voted in December 2006 that Iran should suspend "all enrichment-related and reprocessing activities, including research and development; and work on all heavy-water related projects, including the construction of a research reactor moderated by heavy water." The Council decided that "all States should prevent the supply, sale or transfer for the use by or benefit of Iran, of related equipment and technology." In addition, certain funds associated with or providing support for Iran's proliferation sensitive nuclear activities or the development of nuclear weapon delivery systems" were ordered frozen. The Security Council is presently working on a draft resolution imposing additional sanctions, including travel bans, inasmuch as Iran has not suspended its enrichment processing.
Iran has made repeated proposals to resolve the issues including: allowing intrusive inspections; allowing continuous on-site presence of inspectors at conversion and enrichment facilities; introducing legislation to permanently ban the development, stockpiling and use of nuclear weapons; refraining from reprocessing or producing plutonium; limiting enrichment below weapons grade; immediately converting all enriched uranium into fuel rods and limiting production to actual needs; and accepting foreign partners in its enrichment program.
Iran is believed to be currently operating approximately 362 centrifuges and may have as many as 1,000 ready to run. Iran proposes to have 3,000 machines operating by May 2007, of a planned total of 54,000. Iran acknowledges having achieved an enrichment level of 3.6 percent, which is all that is needed to make electricity. However, thousands of centrifuges are required to enrich enough uranium to the 80-90 percent purity necessary for nuclear weapons, and the construction of a workable warhead is an entirely different matter.
The National Intelligence Estimate issued in 2005 concluded that Iran would not be able to produce enough highly enriched nuclear material to produce a nuclear weapon until "early to mid-next decade," conveying a consensus that 2015 would probably be the earliest.
On February 2, 2006, John Negroponte, then Director of National Intelligence, testified that Iran probably does not have a nuclear weapon nor the necessary fissile material for a weapon. He stated that if Iran continued on its current path it "will likely have the capability to produce a nuclear weapon within the next decade."
In May 2006, Mohamed ElBaradei, director general of IAEA stated, "Our assessment is that there is no immediate threat." He went on to say, "We should not jump the gun. We should be very careful about assessing the information available to us." He believes that a majority of the Iranian leadership was still interested in a negotiated solution and normal relations with the world.
On September 30, 2006, President Bush signed the Iran Freedom Support Act which imposed sanctions against any country aiding Iran's nuclear programs, including those to which Iran is legally entitled under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. The act openly proclaims the goal of effecting regime change and directs Bush to spend $10 million in support of groups opposed to the Iranian government.
Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has issued a fatwa forbidding the production, stockpiling and use of nuclear weapons and Iran has repeatedly offered to reinstate full inspections, if the United Nations will drop the sanctions and return the matter to the IAEA. Moreover, Khamenei's chief foreign policy advisor recently stated that suspending uranium enrichment is not a "red line" and that the religious leaders might be ready to agree to some kind of suspension.
There are indications that Bush's recent decision to "surge" the military in Iraq by at least 22,000 troops is intended to increase pressure on Iran as much as to stabilize Baghdad. The deployment is also planned to improve the U.S.'s ability to respond to retaliatory Shiite attacks on its troops following a military strike against Iran. Bush has stated that the United States will not sit down with Iran until after the U.S. had gained "leverage."
THE THREAT OF WAR
Bush has had Iran in his sights since at least January 2002 when he included it as one of the "Axis of Evil" during his State of the Union speech. By the time he failed in his mission in Afghanistan by allowing Osama bin Laden and other top al Qaeda members to escape and as he was withdrawing troops to support his illegal attack on Iraq, plans were already being made to engineer a regime change in Iran.
As early as February 2003, the Pentagon was circulating a draft of a top secret Presidential Directive regarding Iran, calling it "a house of cards ready to be pushed over the precipice." The plan called for "using all available points of pressure on the Iranian regime, including backing armed Iranian dissidents and employing the services of the Mujahideen-e Kalq," a terrorist gang operating out of Iraq against Iran. The Army began to conduct an analysis for a full-scale war with Iran called TIRANNT (theater Iran near term), and the U.S. joined with British planners to conduct war games in the Caspian Sea.
In November 2003, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld signed off on CONPLAN 8022-02 approving a preemptive strike strategy against Iran, and a top secret "Interim Global Strike Alert Order" was issued in 2004 establishing the military's readiness to attack Iran using aircraft and missiles. In May 2004, Bush also issued National Security Presidential Directive NSPD 35 authorizing the deployment of nuclear weapons.
In January 2005, Vice President Dick Cheney said that Iran was at the top of the administrations trouble spots and that Israel "might well decide to act first" by attacking Iran, letting "the rest of the world worry about cleaning up the diplomatic mess afterward."
The State Department is presently spending $66 million to encourage regime change in Iran, and in March 2006, the Bush administration declared that Iran was the number one security threat to the United States.
America has already deployed "force protection" military teams into Iran to gather targeting data and to establish contact with local anti-government groups. It is also arming and supplying the Mujahideen-e Khalq terrorists and Kurdish resistance groups, such as the Party For Free Life in Kurdistan, to conduct clandestine operations within Iran.
It appears that the United States has been secretly flying surveillance drones over Iran for years and Iran probably shot one down last year. Moreover, Iran's defense minister accused the U.S. of having electronically jamming an Iranian plane causing it to crash inside Iran with a number of senior military leaders aboard. The Iranian Minister of Interior believes that the U.S., Britain, and Israel are "seeking to destabilize Iran through a coordinated plan."
In fact, Bush did establish the highly secret Iran Syria Policy and Operations Group last year to coordinate efforts to "contain" Iran and to project strength, rather than to seek compromise or dialogue. Led by deputy national security advisor Elliott Abrams and assisted by the Vice President's daughter, Elizabeth Cheney, the Group's mission includes the demonization and isolation of Iran, providing funds to groups seeking the overthrow of its government, and transferring military hardware to surrounding countries, including advance missile defense systems.
Much like a bully with a chip on his shoulder, it appears that Bush is looking for any excuse to attack Iran, either as a diversion for his failures in Afghanistan and Iraq or in deference to the wishes of Israel and Saudi Arabia. Bush's own National Security Council Director for Iranian and Persian Gulf affairs from 2001 to 2004, Hillary Mann Leverett, recently accused Bush of "trying to push a provocative, accidental conflict" with Iran as a pretext to justify "limited strikes" against its nuclear and military infrastructures, rather than "an all-out invasion like what happened in Iraq."
Rather than admit his failures in Iraq, Bush is now seeking to blame the Iranians for the continued rebellion against his occupation, the civil war engendered by his invasion, and the ineptitude of the government he put in place in Iraq. Even though the vast majorities of the "insurgents" are Sunni and are supported by the Saudis, Bush is now blaming Shiite Iran for training attackers and supplying "explosively formed penetrators" used in roadside attacks.
Although Secretary of State Rice and Secretary of Defense Gates have stated that the U.S. has proof of Iranian government responsibility for the supply of such weapons, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Pace stated that he "would not say by what I know that the Iranian government clearly knows or is complicit."
Bush has authorized the arrest and killing of Iranians found in Iraq and has stated, "If Iran escalates its military action in Iraq to the detriment of our troops and/or innocent Iraqi people, we will respond firmly." More than 500 Iranians have been arrested in Iraq in recent months, many of them humanitarian and aid workers, and U.S. soldiers attacked an Iranian liaison office in Kurdistan and arrested five men claimed to have diplomatic immunity by Iran.
The battle group led by the aircraft carrier USS John Stennis, including additional minesweepers, recently joined the USS Eisenhower battle group on patrol in the Persian Gulf. In addition the large number of submarines operating in the Gulf has increased the number of accidents involving civilian ships. Most telling is Bush's recent appointment of Vice Admiral William J. "Fox" Fallon as the replacement of General John Abizaid as the head of Central Command. Fallon is a pilot specially trained in naval and air operations.
The very presence of so many warships in the narrow Persian Gulf is cause for concern. Senator Jim Webb, who formerly served as the Secretary of the Navy, worries that the carrier's "turning radius is pretty close, and ... the chance of accidentally bumping into something that would start a diplomatic situation was pretty high..., and with the tensions as high as they are, I'm very worried that we might accidentally set something off in there." The simplest provocation would result from a naval vessel striking an unidentified floating mine, which could then be blamed on Iran as an aggressive act of war.
It is unlikely that the war against Iran will be limited to a "surgical strike" against Iran's 18 to 30 nuclear facilities. The misguided plan developed by the Pentagon envisions a sustained bombing campaign to humiliate the religious leadership and lead the public to rise up and overthrow the government. Hundreds of targets will be bombed, including 99 percent having nothing to do with nuclear proliferation. Plans include the destruction of the Iranian Air Force, more than 14 air bases, Kilo submarines, fast torpedo boats, anti-ship missiles, the newly deployed Russian TOR-M1 anti-missile defense systems, command and control centers, and any ballistic missile capability. As many as 2,300 high-value targets have been identified.
Consideration has been given to the use of "bunker-buster" tactical nuclear weapons against Iran's underground nuclear sites, and F-16s capable of carrying these B61-11 atomic mini-bombs are being redeployed at the Incirlik American Air Force base in Turkey. The United States is also bringing its new Air Force bases in Bulgaria and Romania on line to serve as refueling stations for Stealth and B-2 bombers.
Israel has its own plans to destroy Iran's nuclear facilities and is training two squadrons to use low-yield nuclear "bunker-busters." The strategy is to use conventional laser-guided bombs to open tunnels followed by "mini-nukes" to explode deep underground. The plan is to destroy Natanz with one attack. Other targets are the uranium conversion facility at Isfahan and a heavy water reactor at Arak. Israel, which may possess as many as 200 nuclear weapons, has warned repeatedly that it will never allow nuclear weapons in Iran.
Israel also has two German diesel-powered Dolphin-class submarines that have been equipped with U.S. supplied Harpoon missiles with nuclear warheads. These boats, each carrying 24 missiles, are reported to be patrolling in the Gulf of Oman well within the range of Iranian targets. Most recently, Israel has been negotiating with the United States for permission to fly over Iraq en route to attack the Iranian facilities. The plan is for the United States to provide an "air corridor" should Israel decide to take unilateral action.
In preparation for attacks on Iran by either Israel or the United States, or both, the United States has begun to develop a containment strategy with its Persian Gulf allies to deploy sophisticated missile defense systems to protect against anticipated Iranian retaliation. Both Kuwait and Saudi Arabia already have Patriot antimissile batteries; however, the United States is encouraging other Gulf countries to deploy them in light of Iran's ballistic missile capability.
Although Bush's top military officers are strongly opposed to an attack on Iran, as their "Commander in Chief," Bush believes he can order an attack on a moment's notice, including the use of nuclear weapons, without any declaration of war or any other Congressional approval. Bush has established a special group in the Joint Chiefs of Staff that can implement a bombing campaign within 48 hours of his command. Using the justification that Iran is responsible for the violence and civil war in Iraq, Bush may rely upon Congress's September 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force (against the war on terrorism) to attack Iran, although a resolution is being drafted in Congress to prohibit him from doing so. Or, he may simply attack and rely upon the War Powers Resolution of 1973, which gives a president up to 90 days to commit forces to combat without the consent of Congress. What if he does?
FOR THEY SOW THE WIND, AND THEY REAP THE WHIRLWIND
No matter the severity of the naval and air attack, the U.S. will never be able to occupy Iran, and no matter Bush's wishful thinking, the people of Iran will not turn against their elected government and welcome deliverance by the United States. Not only should Bush have learned this lesson from his own invasion of Iraq, it appears that Bush is unaware of Saddam Hussein's experience in his own invasion of Iran.
Even if the United States destroys its military infrastructure, Iran with 70 million people will not surrender. Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has warned, "U.S. policy makers and analysts know that the Iranian nation would not let an invasion go without a response. Enemies of the Islamic system fabricated various rumors about death and health to demoralize the Iranian nation, but they did not know that they are not dealing with only one person in Iran. They are facing a nation."
In the fog of war it is never possible to predict what will happen from day to day or even moment to moment, and it has been said that no plan lasts longer than the first encounter with the enemy; however, it strongly behooves commanders to attempt to the greatest extent possible to envision the logical consequences of tactical and strategic decisions. Bush's top military leaders oppose an attack against Iran for good reason. Given what we know about the Iranians, what will they do if Bush orders an attack on their country by American forces? Will they be "shocked and awed" into submission?
Undoubtedly, the bombing attack will be resisted by all available means. Unlike Iraq, where anti-aircraft sites had been systematically destroyed during the Gulf War and by subsequent "No Fly" raids, Iran's defenses are intact, and attack planes will be shot down and their air crews and pilots will be killed and captured. What will we do or say as our fighters and bombers are being downed by missiles supplied by Russia?
The naval attack will be opposed by anti-ship missiles, fast missile craft and suicide bombers in small boats. Thousands and thousands of Iranian youths died a martyr's death resisting Saddam's invasion; can we expect any less of a commitment to an attack by the "Great Satan?" In a replay of the Battle of Salamis, the American Battle Groups could be sitting ducks in the narrow Persian Gulf.
American has little or no strategic reserve in combat troops and there are no plans to occupy Iran on the ground. What will Bush do when the Iranian army invades southern Iraq? Iran's army has 345,000 soldiers, a reserve of 350,000, and a Revolutionary Guard force of 120,000. Iran has a military draft, and there are almost 900,000 eligible males coming of age every year. The U.S. military does not even have the present reserve capacity to overcome the ever-strengthening insurgencies in Iraq and Afghanistan.
What will Bush do when the tiny British garrison at Basra is attacked and overrun by hoards of Iranian zealots, and land access to Iraq's Persian Gulf harbors is shut off? Does Bush intend to supply U.S. troops in Baghdad, Anbar Province and Mosul by air, or will he contract the job out to Haliburton? What will he do when the Iraqi Shiites join in the fighting? One retired U.S. general said that "the Iranians could take Basra with ten mullahs and one sound truck."
How secure will the Americans be in the "Green Zone" in Baghdad when the Iraqi army and police forces, primarily composed of Shiites, turn on the occupiers? What will the Americans do when the civilian workers at their military bases become the enemy? Thus far, the majority of suicide bombers have been Sunnis from other countries, but what if the millions of Shiites are suddenly motivated to become martyrs and their targets are Americans?
Saudi Arabia, Iraq, and Iran have the first, second, and third largest oil and natural gas reserves in the world, and every day 40 percent of the world production passes through the Strait of Hormuz, the 20-mile-wide bottleneck at the mouth of the Persian Gulf. We saw during the "Tanker War" how vulnerable shipping is in this area. Imagine the result if Iran was attacked? Although the U.S. Navy has increased its deployment of minesweepers in the Gulf, the oil supply is vulnerable to more than floating mines. What if a couple of tankers are fortuitously sunk at the entrance?
Or, what if Shiite zealots attacked production sites in Saudi Arabia and other oil producing countries, and Iran turned off its own production and quickly shut down the flow of Iraqi oil? Or, what if our own bombs accidentally destroy Iran's oil production? America's strategic oil reserves would be depleted in 60 days, the price of crude oil could quickly exceed $100 a barrel, and the U.S. could not depend upon alternative suppliers, such as Venezuela. Is America ready for $10 a gallon gasoline?
Iran could do more than organize increased attacks on Americans in Iraq. Bush's decision to reduce forces in Afghanistan has left the troops there vulnerable to an Iranian alliance with warlords in western Afghanistan, where Iranian support could empower the Taliban resistance and endanger U.S. troops.
America has been supplying and encouraging Kurdish resistance in northern and western Iran, and has allowed the Iraqi Kurds to establish their own independence in northern Iraq. What will Bush do when these Kurds increase their support of Turkish Kurds, and Turkey, which has 290,000 troops on the border, cracks down? Will the U.S. stand by and allow Turkey to occupy northern Iraq?
Through Hezbollah, Iran has the global ability to strike back, including against targets within the United States. As was just seen during the failed Israeli attempt to destroy it in Lebanon, Hezbollah is a far superior fighting force than al Qaeda. Hezbollah is more than a political organization; it has an ideological base that can motivate its martyrs to strike at Americans anywhere in the world.
There is a substantial risk that another attack on an Islamic country will act as a rallying cry for all Muslims, both Sunnis and Shiites, and engender even greater hatred of America. Since the United States invaded Iraq, terrorist attacks have increased sevenfold worldwide. Given the successful al Qaeda attacks in Spain and England, it is highly unlikely that the United States will escape devastating retaliation.
Even if the war is not brought to its homeland, it is certain that the United States will suffer severe and bloody losses, and Bush will probably respond with intensified bombing to degrade the will of the Iranian people to fight. Civilian infrastructure targets, such as electricity, water and sanitation, could be wiped out, along with bridges, roads and government buildings.
It is not unforeseeable that Bush would consider the deployment of nuclear weapons against Iranian cities if the United States was directly attacked. Thousands and thousands of noncombatants, including women, children, and the elderly, would die and America would loose all respect and credibility forever.
Three high ranking retired military officers, Army Lt. General Robert Gard, Marine Corps General Joseph Hoar, and Navy Vice Admiral Jack Shanahan, recently issued a public statement urging President Bush to open talks with the Iranian government "without preconditions" in a bid to find a diplomatic solution. They warned that an attack on Iran "would have disastrous consequences for security in the region, coalition forces in Iraq and would further exacerbate regional and global tensions."
Bush, Cheney and the other neocon draft dodgers believe that they can play with the mighty military power of the United States like a toy in the world sandbox without having to ever suffer any consequences. As leaders of the only superpower, they believe they can act alone without any consideration of world opinion, that they can shock and awe lesser nations into submission and establish an "American Empire" that controls the rest of the world. They have no empathy for the hundreds of thousands who could fall victim to their ambitions, not even including the sons and daughters of their own countrymen, and certainly not the children of their "enemy," or anyone else who stands in their way.
An attack against Iran could morph into a regional geopolitical confrontation that could spin out of control. Iran has been invited to full membership in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) consisting of China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgystan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. The organization denied observer status to the United States and rejected its democratization agenda in calling for a reduction of its military presence in Central Asia. SCO has hinted it would consider a concerted effort to reduce the geopolitical presence of the U.S. in Central Asia.
Iran has substantially increased its commercial ties with these potential allies. Last year, it signed a $100 billion deal with China to develop the huge Yadavaran oilfield and will sell 250 million tons of liquefied natural gas to China over the next 25 years. Iran is also working on delivering natural gas through a pipeline to Pakistan and India.
It is not inconceivable that Russia and China might not just veto any Security Council military action against Iran, they might consider uniting in its defense. Or, what if these nations agreed to abandon the dollar and to create a euro-denominated exchange in oil, as has been proposed by Iran? Such an exchange could quickly dry up the demand for dollars and create havoc in the U.S. economy. What if China began to dump its billions of reserve dollars?
What would it take to start another world war? An ignorant and mentally deranged president with more power than good sense, one who will never admit he is wrong and who refuses to negotiate.
A TIME FOR NEGOTIATION
Even though the United States had done everything in its power to isolate Iran after breaking diplomatic relations in 1979, the Iranians immediately rallied to the support of America following the 9-11attacks. Iran was already supporting Afghan guerrillas who were fighting against the Taliban in western Afghanistan, and the Iranians were critically important to the stabilization of Afghanistan after the Taliban were defeated.
As one of the 18 coalition countries, Iran participated in the talks in Bonn which planned the interim Afghan government. The role of the Iranian representative, Javad Zarif, a graduate of the University of Denver, was pivotal in obtaining the agreement of the Northern Alliance to allow Hamid Karzai, a southern Pashtun tribal leader, to head the new government.
In December 2001, Iran pledged $500 million toward the reconstruction of Afghanistan, which at the time was twice that being offered by the United States. For all of these efforts on behalf of the United States, Iran was rewarded one month later by being labeled as a member of the "Axis of Evil" by Bush during his State of the Union address.
In early 2003, as the United States prepared to invade Iraq, it again sought the assistance of Iran should pilots from damaged U.S. aircraft end up in Iran and to help with the anticipated flood of refugees who would cross the border. After the invasion, the Iranians suggested trading some of the al Queda operatives it had in custody for some of the Mujahedin-e Khalq terrorists detained by the U.S. in Iraq. The United States declined the bilateral extradition, partially because the terrorists might be useful against Iran in the future.
At about the same time, the Iranians transmitted a two-page proposal for negotiations with the United States through the Swiss ambassador in Tehran who represented the U.S. interests there. The proposal, which had been cleared at the highest levels of the Iranian government, was sent by fax to the State Department and another copy was directly delivered to Karl Rove at the White House.
The Iranians offered to negotiate compromises on its nuclear program, to suspend its support of Hamas and Islamic Jihad, to convert Hezbollah into a purely socio-political organization, and to support a Palestinian peace agreement with Israel - all part of a comprehensive resolution of its relations with the United States.
Official consideration of the proposal was blocked by a "secret cabal" of neocons led by Cheney, with the blessing of Bush. Former Secretary of State Powell says, "My position ... was that we ought to find ways to restart talks with Iran, but there was a reluctance on the part of the president to do so." The present Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, denies having ever seen the proposal even though she was Bush's National Security Advisor at the time.
In November 2005, Iraqi President Jalal Talabani visited Iran with a proposal for the United States to participate in bilateral talks about Iraq. Iran agreed to talk on the conditions that the discussions be private and that they involve all outstanding issues between the two countries.
Iran conducted a quiet diplomatic campaign to communicate its readiness to negotiate with the United States on broad security issues, and in April 2006, Iranian President Ahmadinejad publicly offered to negotiate.
In May 2006, Ahmadinejad sent a public letter to Bush in which he proposed "new solutions for getting out of international problems and the current fragile situation of the world." He asked, "How much longer can the world tolerate this situation? Where will this trend lead the world to? How long must the people of the world pay for the incorrect decisions of some rulers? How much longer will the specter of insecurity - raised from the stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction - hunt the people of the world? How much longer will the blood of the innocent men, women and children be spilled on the streets, and people's houses destroyed over their heads? Are you pleased with the current condition of the world? Do you think present policies can continue?" U.S. intelligence analysts decided that the letter was an important diplomatic opening; however the Bush administration dismissed it.
Iran followed the letter with explicit requests for direct talks on its nuclear program made through a number of intermediaries, including Mohamed ElBaradei, Indonesia, Kuwait, and U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan. Administration neocons continued to reject talks; however, other government experts thought that America should at least respond. The United States refused requests from other powers to give explicit security guarantees to Iran that it would not intervene politically or militarily in its internal affairs, and it refused to rule out military action.
In June 2006, the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council, plus Germany, proposed: to allow Iran to upgrade its civilian air fleet through purchases from Boeing; to waive trade sanctions; to allow Iran to join the World Trade Organization; and to commit to the building of light-water reactors through joint projects with other countries, if Iran returned to a freeze on its enrichment of nuclear fuel.
The Iranians sought clarification over terms, timing and duration of the suspension; however, the offering countries placed a three-week deadline on a decision and demanded that Iran immediately suspend its uranium-enrichment activities before formal negotiations began. Ahmadinejad stated, "My colleagues are carefully considering the package of proposals of the six countries, and in due time they will give a response."
On May 14, 2006, Bush dismissed calls for direct talks with Iran, saying the United Nations was the better forum. Secretary-General Annan urged the United States to enter into direct talks with Iran. Ahmadinejad said he was ready to talk to any country, except Israel, but not under the threat of force.
Bush continued to harden his position by revoking instructions to his ambassador in Baghdad to talk with Iran, just as the other five nations were meeting again to discuss a new offer. A National Security Council spokesman stated, "We will assess the situation and see when talks with the Iranians about the situation might be useful." Bush began to push for sanctions instead of negotiations.
Under pressure from its allies and many past and present officials in its own government, the United States agreed at the end of May 2006 to conduct direct talks with Iran if it first agreed to suspend its programs to enrich uranium and reprocess spent nuclear fuel. Asked if Bush was willing to forego the military option temporarily if Iran accepted negotiations, Rice answered, "The president is not going to take any of his options off the table, temporarily or otherwise."
Not unforeseeably, Iran dismissed Bush's offer saying it would not bow to pressure, and limited sanctions were imposed by the United Nations Security Council in December 2006. Differences quickly developed between European governments and the United States, which is demanding quick action curtailing exports to Iran and freezing its assets.
Mohamed Elbaradei, the winner of the 2005 Nobel Peace Prize for having been right about the nonexistence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, has called for the resumption of negotiations: "My priority is to keep Iran inside the system. ... My worry right now is that each side is sticking to its guns. The international community is saying 'sanctions or bust.' Iran is saying 'nuclear enrichment capacity or bust' and we need somebody to reach out and be able to find a solution."
Thus, the impasse: The United States refuses to negotiate with Iran until it suspends its nuclear fuel enrichment and reprocessing programs, and Iran is unwilling to give up the only bargaining chip it has without some showing of reciprocity. Rebuffed in its repeated attempt to resolve all outstanding issues, the Iranian government decided that it needed some leverage, and one was to increase its negotiating strength by going forward with its nuclear program.
Unfortunately, the possibility of Iran becoming a regional power, particularly one with nuclear know-how, will interfere with the U.S. neocons' scheme to transform the Middle East and Central Asia into an outpost of American power, and an empowered Iran sitting at the geo-political center of things cannot be allowed to exist.
Bush and Cheney have accumulated dictatorial power. They have no sense of history or the ability to comprehend a global policy which recognizes the rights and concerns of other people. They have no empathy for the lives or well being of those they govern or threaten. They are deceiving the people of the United States into starting a war which cannot be won by the United States, or by Iran. Every conceivable result is a failure - a disaster for everyone!
There is an urgent need to negotiate, but even more important, it is essential that the United States formulates a policy that is designed to succeed, one that resolves the global problem of nuclear weapons and not just its immediate concerns about Iran's nuclear enrichment program.
A COMPREHENSIVE NUCLEAR WEAPONS POLICY
The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) was opened for signature on July 1, 1968 and entered into force on March 5, 1970, after ratification by the United Kingdom, the Soviet Union, the United States and 40 other signatory states, including Iran. The treaty has now been ratified by 188 sovereign states, including the other two Security Council members, China and France.
Three nations which currently possess nuclear weapons, India, Pakistan, and Israel, have never signed the treaty, and one nation, North Korea, has withdrawn from the treaty and developed nuclear weapons. India and Pakistan developed the ability to enrich uranium to weapons grade; however, Israel and North Korea have apparently relied upon the refinement of energy-grade uranium into plutonium for their weapons.
South Africa developed nuclear weapons in collaboration with Israel and then destroyed them, and several of the former nations of the Soviet Union destroyed or transferred to Russia those nuclear weapons they inherited upon the dissolution of the U.S.S.R.
Libya was found to be in violation of the NPT in October 2003. It has since admitted that it possessed an illegal nuclear weapons program and has committed itself to ending the program and destroying all existing weapons of mass destruction, subject to verification by unconditional inspections.
According to the treaty, only the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council, currently the U.S., Russia, England, France, and China, are permitted to own nuclear weapons. These nations pledge themselves to not transfer nuclear weapons or the technology to other states, and they have agreed to pursue plans to reduce and liquidate their stockpiles in pursuance of a treaty "on general and complete disarmament under strict and effective international control."
The non-nuclear nations pledge that they will not seek or develop nuclear weapons. All states have the inalienable right to use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes, which allows them to either refine nuclear fuel for use in nuclear reactors for energy generation or to purchase it on the international market.
The treaty has been supplemented by the IAEA Statute, which includes a NPT Safeguards agreement requiring signatories to disclose civilian uranium enrichment programs and to accept IAEA inspections.
All signatory nations are guaranteed the right to withdraw from the treaty after giving three-months notice of good cause, if they feel that "extraordinary events, related to the subject matter of this Treaty, have jeopardized the supreme interests of its country."
Although the NPT prohibits the nuclear weapons powers from using nuclear weapons on nations which do not have them, the United States, England and France have all publicly indicated that they would use nuclear weapons in violation of the treaty to respond to a non-conventional attack by "rogue states." In addition, the United States has designed and deployed nuclear "bunker busting" bombs for use on non-nuclear states such as Iran.
Although the United States and the former Soviet Union signed Strategic Arms Reduction Treaties in 1991 and 1993, and the United States signed the Strategic Offensive Reduction Treaty with Russia in 2002, there has been little progress by the five nuclear weapons powers to implement that portion of the NPT which called for a treaty "on general and complete disarmament under strict and effective international control."
In 2002, contrary to treaty obligations, Bush called for a "revitalized nuclear weapons complex ... to design, develop, manufacture, and certify new warheads in response to new national requirements; and maintain readiness to resume underground testing." The U.S. spent (in today's dollars) an average of $4.2 billion per year for nuclear weapons during the Cold War. The proposed U.S. budget for 2008 requests $6.4 billion for nuclear weapons, including the "design concept testing" of two new nuclear warhead designs for deployment on submarine-launched ICBMs.
Also in violation of the spirit, if not the letter, of the treaty, the National Nuclear Security Administration has articulated an "infrastructure planning scenario for a nuclear weapons complex able to meet the threats of the 21st century," which is estimated to cost a minimum of $150 billion.
In 2003, Iran was found to have violated the NPT Safeguards agreement by having failed to disclose its civilian uranium enrichment program. Iran's claim that it has no intention of developing nuclear weapons is met with some skepticism because of its secret activities and because of the ease of refining energy-grade fuel into weapons-grade material.
However, one has to wonder if Iran would be justified in lawfully withdrawing from the treaty and openly developing nuclear weapons. Are there "extraordinary events" which have "jeopardized" its "supreme interests?" Iran is surrounded by nuclear weapons states: India, Pakistan, China, Russia, and Israel. In addition, the United States is currently targeting hundreds of ship-based nuclear missiles on Iran and is seriously considering using tactical nuclear weapons in a "surgical strike" to destroy a program that Iran is currently entitled to pursue.
If we have an appreciation of the history and culture of the people of Iran, if we accept and respect the rights and obligations of all parties to the dispute, and if we recognize the threat to the safety of all nations and their c