Agreement with Iran: new sanctions and threats

This article is a translation of "Akkoord met Iran: nieuwe sancties en dreigementen"

The provisional agreement about the Iranian nuclear energy programme reached in Geneva, which is supposed to lead to a definitive agreement on 30 June, has been responded to with far reaching threats by Israel and the US. The EU, so including the Netherlands, has imposed new sanctions after the publication of the new agreement—it is not to be believed but this is what happened.


The agreement as it stands now is already a formidable victory for the West. After all, Iran signed the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and hence is entitled to develop a peaceful nuclear energy programme under supervision of the International Atomic Energy Agency. Yet Tehran has agreed to downgrade that programme to a much lower level. 

The NPT dates from the 1950s and has its origins in the fact that the US wanted to capitalise on its advantage in the domain of nuclear energy. Washington wanted to export nuclear plants and asked the recipient state to sign for not making bombs with them. Israel, Pakistan and India never signed the NPT, so they have no right to anything, but in the meantime have become nuclear powers because they are our friends, although this holds for India only since 1991 whilst Pakistan can still capsize in the wrong direction.

North Korea has a small nuclear capacity and will not regret it, because Gaddafi, who terminated the modest Libyan programme to get the Western sanctions lifted, no longer is around to explain that in hindsight this may not have been the best idea. The same holds for Saddam Hussein, whose nuclear power plant was bombed by Israel in 1981 (and for which Dutch Naval Intelligence at the time supplied supporting information).

That is how we deal with countries that we don’t like—and Iran is one of them. Because even apart from UN sanctions, American and EU sanctions, which hit the Iranian economy hard and deprived thousands of people of the medicines on which their survival depended, the agreement does not mention anywhere the assassination of atomic scientists in Iran by Israeli and Western agents. That was done by murderers on motorbikes, but also indirectly, by launching the malicious computer virus Stuxnet into the research programme, as a result of which a number of collaborators in the nuclear programme came into view as saboteurs and were given the death penalty.

The Mujahedeen-Khalq, MEK, an émigré organisation headquartered in Iraq, was even remove from the list of terror organisations to facilitate its operations in Iran.

Meanwhile the race is on for new propaganda. On 28 March last the the New York Times published an article by John Bolton, former UN ambassador under Bush Jr. and now parked in the ultra-right American Enterprise Institute (where our Ayaan Hirsi Ali too was welcomed after her departure from the Netherlands). In this piece Bolton calls for a sustained bombing campaign of Iran. That would be the only way to prevent that the country gets the bomb. Two weeks before the Washington Post carried an article with a similar message, by another neoconservative hardliner. 

For a change (usually this is not mentioned of even denied) Bolton states that Israel has nuclear weapons too. But the neighbouring countries accept that because they understand that Tel Aviv has those weapons as a deterrent, not to provide cover for a war of aggression or even a first strike. In contrast to Iran that for many centuries has not conducted any offensive war, Israel is of course in a permanent state of war with a number of neighbours and it persists in an illegal occupation of the areas it conquered in the war of 1967. 

That does not prevent Bolton from giving Israel a crucial role in a possible attack on Iran. The US task would be to eliminate a number of links in the atomic programme in a targeted campaign; Israel would have to do the heavy lifting; and then Washington must help the Iranian opposition to power in Tehran. 

For the time being, the plans of Bolton c.s. stand little chance of being realised. However they do help to create a climate in which the abrogation of the definitive agreement at the end of Junbe becomes possible. And also to allow other ‘opinion makers’ like the New York Times columnist, Thomas Friedman, to float even wilder plans, such as the arming of…. ISIS (to bring down Assad after all). 

The question that arises wit hall of this is when and if voices in Europe will be heard to take their distance from raising tension in the world. 

Kees van der Pijl

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