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New sanctions placed on Iran

November 19, 2011

One week after Israel massacred peace activists on the high seas, the United Nations Security Council decided to implement sanctions — not against Israel, but rather Iran. Iran’s nuclear program, which was the reason for the sanctions, doesn’t include nuclear weapons nor the capacity to produce them.

The resolution adopted by the Security Council, with 12 votes for, two votes against and one abstention, imposes new restrictions on trade with Iran, as well as an expanded arms embargo.

Just days earlier the same Security Council refused to pass a motion condemning Israel’s assault on the flotilla seeking to break the blockade on Gaza.

Brazil and Turkey voted against the resolution, while Lebanon abstained. Turkey and Brazil recently entered into a uranium exchange deal with Iran, which will have Iran send 1200kg of low-enriched uranium abroad, in return for fuel for its medical research reactor, which produces isotopes for nuclear medicine.

Brazil’s ambassador to the UN said: “Sanctions will most probably lead to the suffering of the people of Iran and will play in the hands of those, on all sides, that do not want dialogue to prevail. Past experiences in the UN, notably the case of Iraq, show that the spiral of sanctions, threats and isolation can result in tragic consequences.”

Turkey’s stance against the sanctions is particularly important because it has long been a US ally in the region.

The sanctions imposed by the Security Council did not go as far as the US wanted and had to be watered down in order to secure the agreement of Russia and China, who hold veto power.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has described the UN resolution as “a used handkerchief, which should be thrown in the dustbin”.

The sanctions will be counter-productive in trying to monitor Iran’s nuclear program. Iran has co-operated with the International Atomic Energy Agency up until this point. It will assume that there is very little to be gained from such co-operation in the future, as it has already been punished despite the IAEA not having found any nuclear weapons program, or the capacity to develop one.

The deal struck between Brazil, Turkey and Iran, according to the Brazilian ambassador to the UN, “promoted a solution that would ensure the full exercise of Iran’s right to the peaceful use of nuclear energy, while providing full verifiable assurances that Iran’s nuclear program has exclusively peaceful purposes”.

The timing of the vote seems deliberately to try and undermine the agreement between the three nations. The US has consistently sabotaged attempts for a negotiated solution.

Even the United States government’s national intelligence estimate in 2007 stated that work on nuclear weapons research had largely ceased in 2003.

Furthermore, the continual talk of Iran’s supposed nuclear weapons program by the UN Security Council is hypocritical, to say the least, given its silence over Israel, which unlike Iran has nuclear weapons.

According to Jane’s Defence Weekly Israel has between 100 and 300 nuclear warheads. Israel, again unlike Iran, has not signed the nuclear non-proliferation treaty. There has been very little condemnation of Israel’s nuclear arsenal, let alone sanctions.

According to the May 30 Sunday Times, Israel has deployed a nuclear missile-equipped submarine off the Iranian coastline, “to act as deterrent, gather intelligence and potentially to land Mossad agents.”

Those who expose or speak out against Israel’s nuclear program can be subjected to torture and imprisonment, like former nuclear technician Mordechai Vanunu.

In 1986, after he revealed Israel’s nuclear arsenal to the British Sunday Times, he was kidnapped and taken back to Israel and imprisoned for 18 years, 11 of which he spent in solitary confinement.

Since his release in 2004, he has been subject to onerous parole conditions. On May 24, the BBC reported that he was beginning a three-month jail term for talking to a foreigner.

The May 24 Guardian revealed documents showing that Israel offered to sell nuclear weapons to the Apartheid South African government.

Meanwhile, the US and Russia are armed to the teeth with nuclear weapons. US President Barack Obama’s 2010 Nuclear Posture Review stated that the US “is not prepared at the present time to adopt a universal policy that deterring a nuclear attack is the sole purpose of nuclear weapons.”

Obama has also stated that all options are on the table when it comes to Iran, implicitly including the use of nuclear weapons.

The Security Council resolution’s military sanctions attempt to limit Iran’s capability to resist a military attack.

The June 12 Times reported that the brutal Saudi monarchy, a close ally of the US, had “agreed to allow Israel to use a narrow corridor of its airspace in the north of the country to shorten the distance for a bombing run on Iran.”

The US has been hostile to Iran since the 1979 revolution overthrew the Shah, who had been the major US puppet in the region. Iran’s non-existent nuclear weapons program, like Iraq’s non-existent weapons of mass destruction, is a manufactured pretext for aggression.

Ironically, the main political impact will be to strengthen the Iranian theocratic dictatorship and Ahmadinejad in particular. A year ago, millions of pro-democracy protesters took to the streets of Tehran and other Iranian cities shattering the legitimacy of Ahmadinejad and weakening that of the entire regime.

However, Iran is bordered by Afghanistan and Iraq, and has many refugees from both countries. US-imposed “regime change” was a dramatic change for the worse for the people both countries, despite the atrocious nature of the Taliban government of Afghanistan and the Saddam Hussein regime in Iraq.

The very real threat to Iran from the US and Israel is a political asset of the Ahmadinejad regime.

From GLW issue 841

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