Friday, February 10, 2006

Petrodollars and Nuclear Weapons Proliferation: Understanding the Planned Assault on Iran

by Michael Keefer

February 10, 2006

Iran has been in the gun-sights of George W. Bush and his entourage from the moment that he was parachuted into the presidency in November 2000 by his father’s Supreme Court.

A year ago there were signs, duly reported by Seymour Hersh and others, that the United States and Israel were working out the targeting details of an aerial attack on Iran that it was anticipated would occur in June 2005 (see Hersh, Gush Shalom, Jensen). But as Michel Chossudovsky wrote in May 2005, widespread reports that George W. Bush had “signed off on” an attack on Iran did not signify that the attack would necessarily occur during the summer of 2005: what the ‘signing off’ suggested was rather “that the US and Israel [were] ‘in a state of readiness’ and [were] prepared to launch an attack by June or at a later date. In other words, the decision to launch the attack [had] not been made” (Chossudovsky: May 2005).

Since December 2005, however, there have been much firmer indications both that the planned attack will go ahead in late March 2006, and also that the Cheney-Bush administration intends it to involve the use of nuclear weapons.

It is important to understand the nature and scale of the war crimes that are being planned—and no less important to recognize that, as in the case of the Bush regime’s assault on Iraq, the pretexts being advanced to legitimize this intended aggression are entirely fraudulent. Unless the lurid fantasies of people like former Undersecretary for Arms Control and International Security and now Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton count as evidence—and Bolton’s pronouncements on the weaponry supposedly possessed by Iraq, North Korea, Cuba and Venezuela show him to be less acquainted with truth than Jean Harlow was with chastity—there is no evidence that Iran has or has ever had any nuclear weapons development program. Claims to the contrary, however loudly they may have been trumpeted by Fox News, CNN, or The New York Times, are demonstrably false.

Nor does there appear to be the remotest possibility, whatever desperate measures the Iranian government might be frightened into by American and Israeli threats of pre-emptive attacks, that Iran would be able to produce nuclear weapons in the near future. On August 2, 2005, The Washington Post reported that according to the most recent National Intelligence Estimate (NIE), which represents a consensus arrived at among U.S. intelligence agencies, “Iran is about a decade away from manufacturing the key ingredient for a nuclear weapon, roughly doubling the previous estimate of five years” (Linzer, quoted by Clark, 28 Jan. 2006).

The coming attack on Iran has nothing whatsoever to do with concerns about the proliferation of nuclear weapons. Its primary motive, as oil analyst William Clark has argued, is rather a determination to ensure that the U.S. dollar remains the sole world currency for oil trading. Iran plans in March 2006 to open a Teheran Oil Bourse in which all trading will be carried out in Euros. This poses a direct threat to the status of the U.S. dollar as the principal world reserve currency—and hence also to a trading system in which massive U.S. trade deficits are paid for with paper money whose accepted value resides, as Krassimir Petrov notes, in its being the currency in which international oil trades are denominated. (U.S. dollars are effectively exchangeable for oil in somewhat the same way that, prior to 1971, they were at least in theory exchangeable for gold.)

(If you haven't read William Clark's explanation re the connection between an attack on Iran and the Iranian oil bourse go here: )

But not only is this planned aggression unconnected to any actual concern over Iranian nuclear weapons. There is in fact some reason to think that the preparations for it have involved deliberate violations by the Bush neo-conservatives of anti-proliferation protocols (and also, necessarily, of U.S. law), and that their long-term planning, in which Turkey’s consent to the aggression is a necessary part, has involved a deliberate transfer of nuclear weapons technology to Turkey as a part of the pay-off.

Prior to her public exposure by Karl Rove, Lewis ‘Scooter’ Libby, and other senior administration officials in July 2003, CIA agent Valerie Plame was reportedly involved in undercover anti-proliferation work focused on transfers of nuclear technology to Turkey that were being carried out by a network of crooked businessmen, arms dealers, and ‘rogue’ officials within the U.S. government. The leaking of Plame’s identity as a CIA agent was undoubtedly an act of revenge for her husband Joseph Wilson’s public revelation that one of the key claims used to legitimize the invasion of Iraq, Saddam Hussein’s supposed acquisition of uranium ore from Niger, was known by the Bush regime to be groundless. But Plame’s exposure also conveniently put an end to her investigative work. Some of the senior administration officials responsible for that crime of state have long-term diplomatic and military connections to Turkey, and all of them have been employed in what might be called (with a nod to ex-White House speechwriter David Frum) the Cheney-Bolton Axis of Aggression. Thanks to the courage and integrity of former FBI translator Sibel Edmonds, there is evidence dating from 2002 of high-level involvement in the subversion of FBI investigations into arms trafficking with Turkey. The leaking of Valerie Plame’s identity as a CIA agent may therefore have been not merely an act of revenge for her husband’s contribution to the delegitimizing of one war of aggression, but also a tactical maneuver in preparation for the next one.

George W. Bush made clear his aggressive intentions in relation to Iran in his 2002 State of the Union address; and his regime’s record on issues of nuclear proliferation has been, to put it mildly, equivocal. If, as seems plausible, Bush’s diplomats had been secretly arranging that Turkey’s reward for connivance in an attack on Iran should include its future admission into the charmed circle of nuclear powers, then the meddling interference of servants of the state who, like Plame and Edmonds, were putting themselves or at least their careers at risk in the cause of preventing nuclear weapons proliferation, was not to be tolerated.

The ironies are glaring. The U.S. government is contemplating an unprovoked attack upon Iran that will involve “pre-emptive” use of nuclear weapons against a non-nuclear-weapons-holding state. Although the pretext is that this is necessary to forestall nuclear weapons proliferation, there is evidence to suggest that planning for the attack has involved, very precisely, nuclear weapons proliferation by the United States.

It would appear that this sinister complex of criminality involves one further twist. There have been indications that the planned attack may be immediately preceded (and of course ‘legitimized’) by another 9/11-type event within the U.S.

Let us review these issues in sequence.