is still an unanswered question who ginned up the fake Niger “yellow cake”
memorandum that underlay the case for invading Iraq, and who outed Valerie
Plame is still not definitively known. Yet barely three years after
America invaded and occupied Iraq on the false pretense that it was
developing atomic weapons, the Administration, once again, is clanging the
nuclear alarm bells.
Strangelovian-Pavlovian dogs trained to attack at the ringing of that
bell, America's citizens are whipped into a bellicose, salivating,
“preemptive” war frenzy whenever its media and leaders choose. Never mind
that Iraq really had no nuclear or chemical or biological weapons.
Now there is Iran, and if Iraq was liquidated on the mere
suspicion of thinking about the possibility of going nuclear,
America's president cannot resist another war strike against an easily
demonized “enemy”, this time against a land of tawny-skinned, bearded
non-Christian Persians who bluntly state that they distrust America and
its allies, that they intend to develop nuclear power generation,
and whose president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, will not even wear a western
America says that it
is obsessed with preventing the “spread” of nuclear weapons -- as much now
as it was determined to remain the sole nation armed with atomic ordinance
at the end of the Second World War. But it opened Pandora's Box at
Hiroshima, and soon Russia, then Britain and France, then China and
Israel, India, Pakistan and North Korea joined this most dubious boys'
club. More will follow suit. Pandora's Box, once opened, simply cannot be
reconstructed by pounding in nails with a military hammer. If you try, you
only break the box forever.
There are at least
five reasons why the West, and America in particular, fears a nuclear
Iran, even if it is only pursuing nuclear power generation.
First, an empire
cannot abide a rival or a rebel. Like Asimov's galactic empire of the
Foundation Trilogy, the United States will not tolerate any deviation from
subservience, because the successful rebellion of one will invite the
rebellion of all others. Thus do empires disintegrate. There are other
rebels' in the world today -- most notably in South America where
Bolivarian style revolutions are emancipating economies and politics from
a colonial past. But for the insurgent Iraqis, like Lilliputians who have
tied Gulliver down to the ground, the United States would have already
tried harder to stamp out the Bolivarians in South America, and,
undoubtedly, it will try to do so again (if it could ever put the Middle
East to the yoke). Iran, however, lies adjacent to the where the American
soldiers and weapons now are stockpiled. To it, therefore, will Washington
apply the first lash in an effort to frighten all others back into line.
Second, indeed there
is a close correlation between nuclear power generation and the
development of nuclear weapons. The technology to do one naturally feeds
the technology necessary for the other. The more nuclear power plants a
country has, the more nuclear weapons it can produce. America knows this
because its own nuclear power plants fed America's nuclear weapons
build-up, and the Administration's push to build more “civilian” nuclear
reactors will, in turn, feed the next generation of American nuclear
Similarly Japan, which, at America's instigation, is now determined to
amend its pacifist post-war constitution to create an offensive military
capability, can translate its nuclear power generation capacity into
nuclear weaponry in the twinkling of an eye. Japan has the fissionable
material, it has the technical know-how, and, soon, it will also have the
constitutional mandate to build its own nuclear arsenal. Unfortunately,
the United States is egging on a re-militarized Japan as a “bulwark”
against China. In the process, the US is intentionally fomenting an Asian
arms race which can serve only American business interests.
The correlation between atomic power and atomic weapons sends tremors up
the spines of the generals because, as North Korea demonstrated, the best
defense against “Shock and Awe” aggression like that visited upon Iraq is
a the threat of a nuclear counter-strike. However rudimentary the bomb or
the delivery system might be, nuclear arsenals are truly the antidote to
geopolitical domination. You do not mess with a venomous snake, but the
fangless garter snake -- like Saddam Hussein -- ends up as your cowboy
The third reason why America fears Iran's nuclear power ambition is
because of the waste nuclear power produces. Both the Gulf War in 1991 and
the Iraq War in 2003 were “nuclear wars” in which the United States
deployed tons of depleted uranium munitions. DU shells cut through Iraqi
armor like a hot knife through butter. The Pentagon does not care that the
DU dust has sickened, and will sicken, thousands of Iraqi civilians and
thousands of American soldiers and their unborn children. The Pentagon
cares only that depleted uranium weapons significantly shift the military
balance of power to those that have them.
The depleted uranium
used by America's tanks and gunships is a by-product of America's nuclear
power generation. It is the waste that no one knows how to dispose of
safely, the multi-million year contaminant that nobody wants to store.
This radioactive waste that is not suitable for generating power is,
however, plentiful and exceedingly dense; thus, an ideal -- if highly
toxic -- material for building military projectiles.
The last thing the generals want, however, is for another country -- let
alone a country that does not kowtow to Washington -- to develop a source
of DU weaponry. No sane nation would subject its own people or soldiers to
such poisonous weapons, but -- like any other nuclear pox released from
Pandora's Box -- if one country has them and uses them on the field of
battle, then those who do not have them will strive to obtain them.
Likewise, those who do have such weapons, will take extraordinary measures
to prevent anyone else from having them, too.
A fourth reason: ensuring that everyone depends on America for
their energy needs is as much a key to hegemony as is securing America's
own sources of energy. Control of international energy resources also
translates into control of international finance, for the strength of the
dollar now depends on nothing less than its value as the standard exchange
medium for oil. The dollar is not pegged to gold or silver or even the
American economy. Rather, the U.S. currency “floats.” It floats on the oil
that is essential to the world's industrial economies.
Iran, like Russia, also holds large reserves of natural gas in addition to
oil. However, notwithstanding gas liquefaction and its cryogenic
transportation by super-tanker, natural gas is used most economically on
the continent where it is found. In the case of Iran, lying astride Europe
and Asia, its continental markets lie both east toward China and India,
and west toward Europe. The United States is not an optimum consumer of
Iranian energy products. China, India and Europe are. Thus Iran, like its
Russian gas-and-oil-rich neighbor to the north, not only has a domestic
energy resource to fuel its own economy, it also has the ability to
control other countries who will depend on it for their own economic
viability. Therefore, Iran is a two-fold rival to the United States in
that it challenges American dominance of the world's energy resources; and
by being the fuel supplier of first-resort to China, India and Europe,
Iran gives those nations, too, the ability to resist American influence.
The fifth reason why Washington wants to prevent Iran from developing
nuclear power generation, is the most obvious and as important as the
other four: it simply does not want Iran to develop an alternative
to oil and gas for generating power.
Although Iran is one of the biggest exporters of hydrocarbons in the
world, its oil production has peaked and its natural gas production will
eventually peak as well. Just like in the United States, the North Sea,
Saudi Arabia and elsewhere, there are no more large oil fields to find in
Iran. It is not that the oil itself will “run out,” it is that the cheap
fuel, the low-hanging fruit, has been tapped out around the world. As that
happens, nations necessarily will follow one or a combination of three
paths -- they will conserve and reduce, or they will attempt to acquire or
control the available petroleum for themselves, or they will develop
alternative energy sources.
The United States, with Great Britain in its tow, has followed the second
course, because it has the military power to seize and control the oil
belonging to others, because it needs the oil for its own domestic and
military consumption and because it wants to dominate every other
hydrocarbon-dependent nation by controlling their energy sources, too.
Iran now seeks to follow the third course -- developing an alternative to
hydrocarbons -- because it recognizes that when the gas and oil ultimately
become too expensive to extract and refine, it will have to become an
American vassal if it has not developed a viable energy alternative.
In the 21st Century, energy independence is essential for political,
economic and cultural independence. Those that have it can escape the
gravitational pull of America; those that do not will be pulled into and
absorbed by it.
In the case of Iran, it certainly perceives nuclear power as one of its
few options to cushion its petroleum and natural gas descent, to preserve
its independence and to escape the orbit of the United States.
Perhaps those reasons alone -- its presumption that it can be independent
in every sense of the word -- guarantee that the United States and/or its
allies will strike Iran a violent blow.
It is not that nuclear energy is a smart, safe or economical alternative
energy source. Nor is the current Iranian regime any better, or worse,
than governments anywhere else in the world. The point of this analysis is
simply to recognize where events probably lead as an inevitable worldwide
energy and resource crisis escalates into increasingly volatile
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