- Created: Tuesday, 06 March 2012 11:31
- Written by Trevor Rayne
Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! 225 February/March 2012
The covert military war waged by US and European imperialism with Israel against Iran threatens to become open war. Five Iranian nuclear scientists have been assassinated since 2007; Iran’s nuclear programme was subject to cyber attack in 2010; US drones violate Iranian air space and a military base was blown up. Now the US and European Union are imposing economic sanctions on Iran that amount to a declaration of war. The imperialists and Zionists intend not just to maintain their nuclear monopoly in the region, but to effect regime change.
Imperialist politicians and bourgeois media repeat that if Iran develops a nuclear weapon it will threaten the world. The imperialists have been increasing their military presence in the Persian Gulf. They intend to provoke Iran into a retaliatory act which will serve as the excuse for a military strike. This has a precedent: in August 1964 the US used the Gulf of Tonkin incident to begin open war, including bombing raids, against North Vietnam. North Vietnamese torpedo boats were falsely accused of attacking a US naval vessel.
The scenario of provocation, retaliation and escalation is menacing. US and British troops could be killed; Saudi Arabia, other Gulf states and Israel may be drawn into the battle. Nuclear weapons would then be an option for imperialism and Israel.
Iran has the right to produce nuclear energy for peaceful purposes and denies it is building a nuclear bomb. US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta said that while Iran was setting up facilities that could make weapons, it was not yet making a bomb. Nevertheless, the US and EU are imposing draconian sanctions.
US sanctions prohibiting access to US markets for any third country’s firms and institutions that buy oil through the Central Bank of Iran will be enforced from the end of June 2012. The EU will introduce a complete ban on Iranian oil imports from 1 July 2012. EU refineries are seeking alternative suppliers to Iran. The EU also banned the transfer from Iran to the EU of gold and precious metals, which it uses to buy foreign currencies for purchasing imports.
Oil accounts for 80% of Iran’s export earnings; it is the world’s third biggest oil exporter. The EU buys 20% of Iran’s oil exports, China 22%, Japan 13%, India 12% and South Korea 9%. Japan and South Korea say they are looking for alternative suppliers.
In a year the Iranian rial has lost over 40% of its exchange rate against the US dollar. Denying Iran oil revenues, driving down its currency and denying it access to foreign currencies will push import prices and inflation up. Iran imports a third of its rice and has been the world’s biggest wheat importer. Imperialism will try to starve Iran to heel, but China’s and India’s rejection of sanctions may weaken their impact.
On 27 December 2011 Iran’s first vice president warned, ‘If [the US] impose sanctions on Iran’s oil exports, then even one drop of oil cannot flow from the Strait of Hormuz.’ 35% of all seaborne traded oil passes through the Strait. At its narrowest point the Strait is 21 miles wide; the route for supertankers passes through Iranian territorial waters. The US government sent a message to Iran that it would have crossed ‘a red line’ if the Strait is shut or if it produces a nuclear weapon. This threatens war.
On 13 January British Prime Minister Cameron visited Saudi Arabia and asked them to increase oil output to compensate for reduced Iranian supplies to the world. Imperialism must guarantee oil supplies and prevent a steep rise in prices if it attacks Iran, or risk plunging capitalism into deeper crisis.
The chair of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff arrived in Israel on 19 January to coordinate US and Israeli moves against Iran. Scheduled US/Israeli joint military exercises testing air defence systems have been postponed until the second half of 2012.
The International Atomic Energy Agency will visit Iran at the end of January. Tensions may be increased. A contrived incident, an accidental clash or Iranian retaliation could be imminent. We must oppose this drive to war.
Hands off Iran!