Leading up to his White House exit, President Donald Trump has dramatically increased tensions with Iran, possibly making war inevitable.
In mid-November, The New York Times reported that, in an oval office meeting, Trump asked his top aides for options for attacking Iran’s civilian nuclear sites. The main target was the Natanz uranium enrichment facility. Trump’s advisers apparently talked him out of the move, citing the unpredictable and far reaching war such a decision could catalyze. Yet he has been said to have left other options on the table.
Natanz had previously been hit with the Stuxnet virus by the US and Israel. The facility was bombed this summer by Israel as part of a protracted covert campaign of sabotage and terrorism against Iran. After the Natanz bombing, Iran decided to move this main center for enriching uranium and building centrifuges underground.
The US congress has shamelessly decided to join Trump, Mike Pompeo, Benjamin Netanyahu, the UAE, and Bahrain in exploiting the mirage of these recent “historic Middle East peace deals.” There is an effort underway to provide US weaponry to Israel that can destroy the nuclear facility wherever it may be.
As Ted Snider has written at Antiwar.com,
When Israel sabotaged Iran’s Natanz civilian nuclear enrichment facility on July 3, 2020, Iran would respond by renovating the plant underground. Iran has followed this legal nuclear security strategy before. Israel does not need to acquire bunker buster bombs to maintain a military edge over the new UAE, it needs them to restore an edge over Iran.
So, bipartisan legislation in the US congress takes care of that. If passed, new legislation would permit the sale to Israel of 30,000-pound bunker buster bombs, also known as MOPs, or massive ordnance penetrators, that can penetrate even facilities that are deep underground. Representative Josh Gottheimer, one of the authors of the legislation, offers the assurance that the Mops would “shore up Israel’s qualitative military edge.” But not against the UAE, who will be receiving the US weapons as part of their deal with Israel: against Iran.
These signatory countries to the Abraham Accords, such as Bahrain and the UAE, were no enemies of Israel. This is an American corporate welfare scheme and a sham. It is intended to codify the precedent, as Pompeo has made clear, where so called “peace” agreements can be made between Arab countries and Israel without addressing the Palestinians’ plight. The authoritarian, Gulf fiefdoms are once again backstabbing the Palestinians, whom of course live under the boot of the Israelis in what is the longest modern military occupation, as well as a brutal apartheid regime.
The other goal here is to isolate and box Iran in by surrounding her with enemies armed to the teeth with U.S. weaponry.
The sharp uptick in the already highly aggressive US-Iran policy is owed ostensibly to the fact that Iran has been violating the terms of the 2015 nuclear deal, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). However, upon analysis, it becomes obvious that this is a negotiating tactic. Firstly, the US abrogated itself from the deal. Secondly, the Europeans failed to provide sanctions relief to Iran, for fear of secondary sanctions placed on them by the Americans. Third, the deal itself, in Articles 26 and 36, permits Iran to walk back its commitments under the agreement if the other parties have done so and the US, as well as the Europeans, have left their obligations unfulfilled. Iran waited an entire year before they began to increase their stockpiles of low-enriched uranium and then only enriched slightly above the limits set by the JCPOA.
A bill was just approved in the Iranian parliament to increase enrichment up to 20%. Dave Decamp, assistant news editor at Antiwar.com, breaks the details down,
Last month, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) released a report detailing violations of the JCPOA. The IAEA said Iran’s stockpile of low enriched uranium reached 2,442.2 kg, which is 12 times the amount allowed under the deal of 202.8kg. The uranium is only being enriched at 4.5 percent, slightly higher than the 3.67 percent permitted under the JCPOA and vastly lower than the 90 percent needed for weapons-grade.
Before the JCPOA was signed, the highest Iran’s uranium enrichment reached was 20 percent, the same amount the new bill calls for. This is not an arbitrary number. The Tehran Research Reactor, which was built by the US in 1967, requires uranium fuel enriched at 20 percent to run. With the fuel enriched at 20 percent, the Tehran Research Reactor can produce medical isotopes, which can be used for things like radiation therapy and advanced medical imaging.
…if Iran does adopt the strategy, it will likely be hyped by the US as the Islamic Republic racing to develop a nuclear bomb. But in reality, the plan would be another calculated transparent effort by Iran to gain leverage for sanctions relief and boost its domestic industries in the meantime.
For months, Israel has been attempting to provoke Tehran into mis-stepping by defending themselves against incessant Israeli/U.S. aggression, potentially triggering the regional war long desired by Netanyahu, Sheldon Adelson, Pompeo, Dick Cheney, and their fellow travelers. Such a war, pitting the US against Iran, would be catastrophic, especially for the Iranian people. The Iranians are already suffering terribly under the “maximum pressure” campaign unleashed after Trump withdrew the US from the JCPOA. The campaign is designed to suffocate the Iranians and their economy.
In an official statement, Pompeo recently boasted, “[t]oday, Iran’s economy faces a currency crisis, mounting public debt, and rising inflation. Prior to the Maximum Pressure campaign, Iran was exporting nearly 2.5 million barrels of oil per day. Now it struggles to export even a quarter of that volume.”
The sanctions and other measures have designedly crippled Iran’s civilians during the Coronavirus crisis. As Medea Benjamin and Ariel Gold, of Code Pink, have said “[these sanctions] have affected everything from the price of food and housing to Iran’s ability to obtain life-saving medicines during the pandemic. [Trump] has blocked Iran from getting an IMF $5 billion emergency loan to deal with the pandemic.”
Elliot Abrams, the arch neocon and special envoy to Iran, has said that more sanctions will be piled on Iran with each coming week for the duration of the Trump Presidency. He has gloated that he doubts if it will be even possible for Joe Biden to return to the JCPOA. Sanctions are a precursor to war. Israel’s Settlement Minister Tzachi Hanegbi, a member of the Likud party, said Israel would go to war with Iran if Biden wins the election and tries to return to the JCPOA.
The Trump team is reportedly working in concert with Israel and its Gulf state partners in this effort. These allies are determined to prevent, to the furthest extent that they can the likelihood of a return to the JCPOA under the incoming administration. In their efforts to permanently stifle diplomacy, US sanctions have even been imposed on Iran’s ambassadors.
In the last month, military escalations against Iran have significantly increased. Israel has considerably stepped up its bombings of what it usually identifies as Iranian or Iranian linked targets inside Syria, something Tel Aviv has done hundreds of times. It isn’t often though that Israel officially takes credit for its countless bombings of Syria. But after a particular attack on November 18, the IDF took to Twitter to post a video documenting their bombings. Reports show that dozens of people have been killed in these recent weeks’ attacks. It is crucial to note that the Syrian war was fomented from without by aggressors such as Israel, with its American and Gulf allies, through their years of clandestine support for al Qaeda and their fellow travelers against the Bashar al-Assad government. Absurdly, the Israeli ambassador to the UN has demanded the Security Council take action against the invited Iranian presence in Syria. They also dropped leaflets in the south of the country demanding the Syrian Arab Army cut ties with Iran, probably their greatest ally against said terrorists.
In what was seen as a clear message intended for Iran, the US deployed long-range bombers, US Air Force B-52s, to the Middle East. A State Department official, in Abu Dhabi traveling with Pompeo at the time, told the Associated Press “all options are on the table.” Israeli officials told Axios that Israel’s military has recently been ordered to prepare for an impending US strike on Iran during the “sensitive period” before Trump leaves office. The US military ensured tensions simmered further when the USS Nimitz carrier group headed into the Persian Gulf and F-16s were moved from a base in Germany to the UAE.
Here’s Decamp again,
U.S. Central Command said a detachment of U.S. Air Force F-16 fighter jets moved from Germany to the UAE. The base in the UAE the F-16s moved to has been at the center of operations for planes patrolling the Persian Gulf to monitor Iran’s navy. The F-16 movement could be a sign the U.S. is preparing for a wider conflict in the region…
The journalist Elijah Magnier told Joanne Leon, of the Around the Empire podcast, that Iran had noted the above actions as preparations for some future event to anticipate. Thus they applied strategic restraint when Israel, likely with the Marxist-Islamist Mujahideen-e-Khalq (MEK) terrorist group, assassinated their top nuclear scientist, Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, outside of Tehran last week. The Israelis have not officially claimed responsibility, although in the pages of the New York Times and elsewhere, they have unofficially taken credit and even demanded that the hit be celebrated.
In fact, investigative journalist Gareth Porter has reported extensively on how the MEK and Mossad forged documents used to cultivate the propaganda narrative behind the phantom Iranian nuclear weapons program allegedly headed by Fakhrizadeh.
After Fakhrizadeh’s murder, there were subsequent reports out of Iraq, denied by Iran, of possibly another high-profile assassination, a drone strike possibly from the US or Israel, this time of an Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps commander in Syria.
In advance of the Fakhrizadeh killing, a source speaking to the Washington Post who was said to be familiar with the previously mentioned oval office meeting, said Trump was ready to respond immediately to the death of any American which could be attributed to Iran. Iran has no interest in starting the very war its worst enemies want. Nevertheless, this tired “redline” tactic is often used by US administrations wherein the announcement acts as a de facto solicitation for somebody to commit a false flag attack that can be pinned quickly on Iran or one of its allies, providing a casus belli.
This was likely the case late last year in Iraq. A rocket attack in Kirkuk was blamed on Iranian backed militias. But according to Iraqi intelligence the rockets more likely came from ISIS. Although the U.S. ignored their Iraqi counterparts investigating the matter. And before this intelligence was revealed, the death of an American defense contractor was used to justify US bombings that killed dozens of militiamen belonging to the Kataib Hezbollah group, the Islamic State’s enemies. This led to massive protests at the US embassy and Trump’s January drone strike assassination, at the Baghdad International Airport, that killed Qasem Soleimani, the top Iranian General and national figure.
According to a Daily Beast report published soon after Fakhrizadeh’s assassination, Trump has essentially gifted over his Iran policy to his most hawkish aides in these waning weeks of his term. Chiefly Pompeo and Abrams have been handed the reigns by Trump with his only condition being don’t start “World War III.” The former torturer, now CIA director, Gina Haspel is “intimately involved” as well. Based on the article, their policy is to discreetly support, and assist with intelligence, cloak and dagger actions by allies like Israel. The president is content to have Israel bomb and assassinate Iranian targets. He just wishes to avoid a situation where US soldiers might get killed. Yet, if this war starts before he leaves office, American soldiers will certainly die. There will doubtless be asymmetrical retaliations and casualties probably immediately in places like Iraq and Afghanistan, so this policy is contradictory.
This is the usual pattern with Trump. He completely eschews his base and their antiwar desires to please his most hawkish, pro-Israel backers and neoconservative advisers. Worse, his base rarely, if ever, holds him accountable. If Trump wishes to have another shot at the presidency in 2024, he should fire the hawks and stop this war in its tracks. He must lift the sanctions, regain control over his Iran policy, and turn toward peace and diplomacy.
Iran never had a nuclear weapons program. They agreed to and complied, for years, with the most intrusive international inspections ever administered with the International Atomic Energy Agency. In exchange for mere sanctions relief, Iran is willing to return to full compliance with the deal.
The deal itself was to prevent the war the neocons and the Israelis wanted; it was unnecessary from the standpoint of preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. The Ayatollah Khomeini prohibited such weapons during the Iran-Iraq war and Israel is the only country in the Middle East with a clandestine nuclear weapons program. Iran is a signatory to the Non-Proliferation Treaty of which they have never been shown to have violated. Of course, Israel is not a signatory.
But this is the way Israel operates, much like the U.S. hawks, they project their crimes onto their enemies. They lie and say Iran wants to wipe Israel off the map, when their state’s raison d’être is to wipe Palestine and its people off the map. They attempt to deceive the world saying Iran has nukes, when, in the Middle East, only they do. They say Iran is the greatest state sponsor of terror and point to Hezbollah. But Hezbollah was born in resistance to a nearly 20-year Israeli occupation of Southern Lebanon that killed 20,000 people and partly led to the 9/11 attacks. Israeli intelligence even cultivated the creation of Hamas. Tel Aviv is behind the MEK and supported al Qaeda in Syria. And in the occupied territories, the IDF regularly commits acts of terror. Videos flood the internet daily of the IDF in the West Bank kidnapping children, beating civilians, overseeing settler attacks, conducting home demolitions, shooting unarmed protestors, etc.
The Iranians desire independence which used to mean something to Americans too. The Trump base should stand against these provocations most of all, especially those who feel they were robbed in this most recent US election. In 1979, the Iranian Revolution overthrew the Shah, the fascist dictator whom the CIA, with British intelligence, installed in a 1953 coup. To do this, the CIA overthrew the dually elected Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddegh.
Whether their case is sound or not, given the reaction of a great deal of Trump’s base to the outcome of the 2020 Presidential election, they should empathize with the Iranians.
As Ron Paul says. “…on a human level people resent that kind of interference in their affairs.”
Ironically, this would apply as well to all the Democrats who erroneously believed Russia intervened in the 2016 election on behalf of Trump. But again this was pure projection, the same political factions that backed the National Endowment for Democracy’s coup in Ukraine made up this nonsense about Russia.
Unfortunately, as much as those on the side of diplomacy would like to see Biden come through on his promises to return to the JCPOA, there have been indications from his ultra-hawkish soon-to-be cabinet that imply the brinksmanship described above may continue, regardless, with the new administration.
Scott Ritter, the former UN weapons inspector and US intelligence officer, has said,
Biden and his team have been paying lip service to the notion of rejoining the JCPOA. However, the preconditions they have attached to such an action – Iran would have to return to full compliance first, and commit to immediate follow-on negotiations on a deal that would be more restrictive – were widely seen as a deal-breaker. The fact is, many of Biden’s closest advisers – including Secretary of State-designee Antony Blinken and National Security Advisor-designee Jake Sullivan – have indicated that Biden may have no choice but to continue the Trump policy of sanctions-based ‘maximum pressure.’
Such follow on negotiations, will likely be nonstarters for the Iranians who will not jeopardize their independent foreign policy, i.e. backing their allies in the region, and their national self-defense, i.e. their ballistic missile program. Those missiles and alliances are their primary deterrence.
Americans seem to detest coups or imaginary coups when they affect themselves. But they allow their imperialist government to impose sanctions, interfere in democratic elections, wage aggressive wars, and overthrow governments all over the world. American exceptionalism is a hell of a drug but just say no. The American people must rapidly sober up and choose peace.