On January 18, 2011 – Israeli columnist Aluf Benn, wrote in Ha’aretz that one thing which unites both Defense Minister Gen. Ehud (Brog) Barak (Labor Party) and Likud Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, is: “the Iranian nuclear program a major threat to Israel and support a military operation against it”.
Now, since Barak has left the Labor party and may soon be asked to resign from his post – Benji who has not military experience (Barak is the highest decorated Israeli military general), may drail his dream of recovering some of Israel’s military dignity lost in 2006 Lebanon War – by destroying Islamic Republic’s nuclear facilities in case Ben Obama refuses to do Benji’s dirty work.
On January 17, 2011, German weekly Der Spiegel, published a research article, entitled “David’s Avengers: Israel’s secret killer-commandos” in which the writer had claimed that “Sabotage and assassination attempts against Iranian scientists are regarded as standard weapons in the arsenal of the Israeli secret service, Mossad”. The artice asserted that through a coordinated series of operations, from assassinations of nuclear scientists, support for ethnic terrorists, and computer virus attacks (Stuxnet), the Mossad has in fact succeeded in halting progress on Iran’s nuclear program, thus postponing the date when the Mossad and others reckon that Tehran might achieve a military nuclear capability.
Muriel Mirak-Weissbach is an Armenian-American journalist and author, who lives in Germany. She posted a well research article on her blog on January 26, 2011, entitled Revival of a Military Option: Israel’s Covert War Against Iran Is On, in which she wrote:
“Israel is the problem. First, it is the only nuclear military power in the region, yet has neither signed the Non-Proliferation Treaty, nor therefore allowed the International Atomic Energy Agency to pry into its facilities. Yet, the major world powers have tacitly adhered to the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy whereby Israel does not acknowledge its nuclear warheads, but asserts it will never be the first to use them. And whenever anyone raises the issue at the IAEA or UN, it is shot down.
Secondly, Israel has cheerfully ignored any and all international pressure to seriously engage in negotiations towards peace with the Palestinians. The most blatant expression of Tel Aviv’s impudence in this regard has been its categorical refusal to halt settlements on occupied Palestinian land including East Jerusalem. Now, with release of the Palestine Papers by Aljazeera, insult has been added to injury. The leaked papers make two claims: that the Palestinian Authority, desperate to clinch a deal, made wide-ranging concessions on all critical issues (refugees, land, East Jerusalem, settlements) and that the Israelis consistently demanded more. (How the documents were obtained and given to Aljazeera is an important question. And, who filmed the negotiating sessions? Did the participants know they were being filmed? If one asks cui bono? – who benefits? – then Israel would be the likely answer: the leaks have discredited, if not humiliated, the Palestinian leadership, potentially fuelling the conflict between it and Hamas, while the Israelis come across as obstinately committed to keeping the occupied territories and expelling the Palestinians from a purely Jewish state – nothing new. )
“Common knowledge” has it that the conflict revolves around Iran’s insistence on pursuing nuclear technology to complete the entire cycle, while the West, suspicious of Tehran’s ultimate motives, demands that the Islamic Republic give up its enrichment program, if not the nuclear program in toto. As I have argued, this is not an accurate depiction of the dispute; in reality, it is a contest between national sovereignty and independence as opposed to technological apartheid
Although Iran had said it did not want to focus on the nuclear issue, its dialogue partners made sure that that would become the main focus of the multilateral discussions.
The fact that the Istanbul talks yielded no results should come as no surprise to anyone familiar with Iranian politics and mindset. Prior to the meeting, literally all the Iranian politicians had stressed that what they demanded was simply to be treated as equals in an atmosphere of “cooperation, not confrontation,” a phrase repeated ad infinitum. Following the December gathering, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said the talks had been “very good,” and that now it was time for the West to “change the policy of confrontation to engagement.” He went further: “We are in favor of cooperation and they should come and cooperate with us and build us 20 nuclear plants.” He added that the right to enrichment was “not negotiable,” a posture adopted by Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani, negotiator Jalili, and virtually every other official.
The problem was that officials from the 5+1 group continued to insist that Iran’s right to enrichment – or indeed to a nuclear program at all – was a matter for others to decide. US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s earlier pronouncement that Iran may be allowed to resume enrichment “at some future date once they have demonstrated that they can do so in a responsible manner,” was typical, and utterly counterproductive. At the outset of the Istanbul talks Iranian negotiator Saeed Jalili said that Iran would negotiate only if its NPT-guaranteed right to enrich were acknowledged, and if the sanctions against it were lifted. These were “prerequisites,” he said, not “preconditions.” After the collapse of the talks, Lady Ashton said it was such unacceptable “conditions” that had led to the breakdown.
What really happened was something else. Behind the scenes, the 5+1, in the person of Ashton, actually put forward a “proposal” to Iran, which amounted to a demand Tehran could not even consider. As reported by Reuters and mentioned only en passant in very few other media, the new proposal increased the amount of low-enriched uranium that Iran must ship abroad, from the 60% discussed in 2009 to 90% (2,800 kilograms), and called for nearly all its 20% enriched uranium (40 kilograms) to leave the country. As the New York Times put it, the aim was “to leave Iran, again, with less low-enriched uranium than required to build a bomb, and with no uranium enriched to 19.75 percent.” So,“Iran here did not even agree to an expert-level meeting on the proposal, diplomats said.”(6) No wonder.
Despite this affront, Jalili said Iran was open to further talks, and Ahmadinejad delivered a major speech saying the same. Ashton stated the EU’s doors and telephone lines “remain open.” So, formally speaking, contacts still exist.
When asked what Iran wanted the US to say or do, to indicate the kind of change in attitude that Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei had called for in August 2010, the Iranian president answered that if the US wanted to deal with Iran from a position of superiority and if it defined conclusions before negotiations that would not work. If the US treated Iran as its equal, fine.
The double standard applied by the West to Israel vs. everyone else was a major theme. Asked whether Iran, as a participant in a possible conference on a nuclear weapons free zone in the Middle East, would pose preconditions, Ahmadinejad responded with another question: “What country has nuclear weapons in the region?” As the American replied, Israel, he went on to say, ok, fine, the IAEA should disarm Israel, and then there would be no such need for a conference, since no one else in the region possesses these weapons.