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Dr Musa A Keilani: Propaganda is in full swing
February 28, 2012
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Exclusive to The Gulf Today

Iran has stepped up its rhetoric even as speculation grows over a possible strike against it to cripple its nuclear facilities. Iranian leaders, both civilian and military, are daring Israel to stage such an attack. “Any act by the Zionist regime against Iran will bring about its destruction,” says Iranian Deputy Defence Minister Ahmad Vahidi. “Iran’s warriors are ready and willing to wipe Israel off the map,” he has declared.

The whole uproar over Iran’s nuclear activities reflects the decades-old animosity between Washington and Tehran. Israel has done well to fuel it and exploit it. Israeli leaders describe Iran as posing an existential threat to the Jewish state and that it should not be allowed to develop a nuclear weapon.

A recent report by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has stated that Iran has speeded up production of higher-grade enriched uranium over the last four months.

The latest US intelligence report showed that Iran is pursuing research that could enable it to build a nuclear weapon, but that it has not sought to do so.

According to the Los Angeles Times, the highly classified US intelligence assessment circulated to policymakers early last year largely affirms that view, originally made in 2007. Both reports, known as national intelligence estimates, conclude that Tehran halted efforts to develop and build a nuclear warhead in 2003.

The most recent report, which represents the consensus of 16 US intelligence agencies, indicates that Iran is pursuing research that could put it in a position to build a weapon, but that it has not sought to do so, according to the Times.

Israel insists that Tehran has already built or is on the verge of building an atomic bomb. However, that is not the way the Americans see it, according to a CNN/Opinion Research Corporation opinion poll.

The poll, conducted between Feb.12 and 15 targeting 1,023 adult Americans questioned by telephone, has a sampling error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.

The survey found that seven in 10 Americans are convinced that Iran currently has nuclear weapons and about eight in 10 believe that Iran either has atomic bombs or is on the verge of producing one. Some 60 per cent think the US should press ahead with economic and diplomatic efforts to force Iran to dismantle its nuclear programme and only 25 per cent support immediate military action against that country if it refuses to halt its nuclear enrichment activities.

Well, such is the propaganda reaching the American people. It is along the same lines that led to nearly two-thirds of Americans believing that Saddam Hussein was behind the Sept.11, 2011 attacks in New York and Washington.

It is also clear that the administration of US President Barack Obama is aware that Iran has not developed nuclear weapons but, as the rest of the world knows, that Tehran will turn in the direction of nuclear arms at the first given opportunity. The Iranians have seen how carefully the US is dealing with North Korea, which is believed to have nuclear weapons, and want to arrive at a position where atomic bombs will be a deterrent against military action against them.

Senior Obama administration officials, including Defence Secretary Leon Panetta, have said that the US believes that Iran has not decided yet whether to begin a nuclear weapons programme. The question that comes up is how could Iran have nuclear weapons if it does not have such a programme.

At this point in time, Iran is enriching uranium to 3.5 per cent for its reactors that generate electricity and to 20 per cent for use at a medical reactor that produces isotopes for use in chemotherapy. It requires more than 90 per cent enriched uranium to produce a nuclear weapon and there is no indication yet that Iran is engaged in such an activity.

The question many ask is why should Iran, one of the leading producers and exporters of oil, need nuclear energy for electricity. The answer is simple, as Iran itself explains, the country is largely dependent on imported fuel to produce electricity and wants to achieve self-sufficiency in power generation through nuclear power.

Iran’s nuclear programme is at the centre of ongoing debates among presidential hopefuls among the Republicans in the US. Almost everyone staunchly backs Israel’s theory that Iran poses an existential threat to it and therefore Tehran should be prevented from developing nuclear weapons. None of the candidates, who want to challenge Obama in November, seems to know where exactly Iran has reached in its nuclear programme.

As far as they are concerned, Israel wants military action against Iran and therefore they also want the US to bombard Iran. In the bargain, they are bending so backwards that they are falling over themselves in their frenzy to please Israel. Israeli leaders should be having the laugh of their life seeing American politicians seeking the highest office in the country scrambling around to appease Jews in the US and Israel.

If we were to believe Israel, then we would have it that Iran will be in possession of nuclear weapons by April this year and therefore if no military action is taken before that then the region will have to deal with a nuclear-armed Iran.

Iran is maintaining its defiance of tough international sanctions and ahead of international nuclear talks. There is little hope of the talks producing any breakthrough.

Iran’s armed forces deputy chief, General Mohammed Hejazi, has warned of a pre-emptive strike against the country’s “enemies.” Tehran last week refused to allow inspectors from the UN nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), to visit the Parchin nuclear facility. Israel contends that Parchin is the site where Iran conducts experiments in nuclear “explosives and triggers.”

The latest Israeli claim is that Iran has completed the transfer of 20 per cent uranium enrichment to the underground Fordo site near Qom and this move has shortened the country’s storage for the 90 per cent (weapons) grade uranium to six weeks. That, according to Israel, makes Iran capable of building a nuclear bomb in the space of few weeks after a decision is made by the Iranian leadership.

“The failure of the IAEA mission and the threat of pre-emptive action from Tehran present the double threat of Iran’s earlier nuclear armament coupled with military action to sabotage Israel’s preparations for a strike on its nuclear facilities,” says an Israeli report.

The release of the CNN/Opinion Research Corporation opinion poll’s finding last week followed a declaration by Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, that his country is not seeking nuclear weapons and it does not believe in possessing atomic bombs.

Khamenei has already issued a fatwa, based on the injunction in Islamic law against killing innocent people.

As the poll found, a majority of American people believe that Iran does have nuclear weapons and therefore they do not want their country to launch military action against that country.

That is an interesting development since it is an indication that the propaganda machinery functioned too well and prompted the American public to believe that Iran has atomic bombs. They do not want their military to be exposed to a nuclear threat from Iran and do not want their government to launch military action against that country. It is indeed an issue of too much propaganda backfiring against is own perpetrators.
The author a former jordanian ambassador, is the chief editor of  Al Urdun weekly in Amman

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