Iran: Defying Imperialism

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Over the last few months, Britain, the US and Israel have been intensifying the pressure on Iran. In scenes very similar to the build-up to the invasion of Iraq, they have made much of Iran’s supposed quest for nuclear weapons and the alleged threat it poses to world peace and security. Although Iran is clearly working for a peaceful resolution, the US has already stigmatised it as part of its ‘axis of evil’ and is threatening to use ‘every tool at its disposal’ to prevent Iran from developing its nuclear capabilities. Condoleezza Rice, the US Secretary of State, said recently that Iran was probably the number one challenge for the US:

‘We may face no greater challenge from a single country than from Iran, whose policies are directed at developing a Middle East that would be 180 degrees different than the Middle East we would like to see developed.’

Iran, which is a signatory to the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), has said that it has no plans to build nuclear weapons and that it requires nuclear energy for civilian purposes to meet the energy demands of its increasing population and expanding economy. These claims were substantiated by the International Atomic Energy Agency which after three years of investigation has found ‘no evidence of diversion’.

Imperialism is manipulating international law to help set its own agenda. The hypocrisy is overwhelming. Both Britain and the US have huge stockpiles of nuclear weapons. Both ignore the fact that Israel, which has not signed the NPT, is the only country in the Middle East with such weapons, possessing an estimated 400 nuclear warheads. Both also ignore the support given to Pakistan and India which also have expanding nuclear arsenals. It is clear that imperialism is concerned only to maintain a nuclear weapons monopoly for itself and its allies.

Economic dependence and oil
Imperialist hostilities towards Iran are nothing new. The US and British first conspired against Iran in 1953 when they ousted the democratically elected government of Mohammed Mossadeq, which had plans to nationalise the country’s oil. The result was over 20 years of the brutal Shah dictatorship, which safeguarded imperialist interest in Iran until the 1979 revolution, soon after which oil was nationalised. No formal ties between the US and Iran have existed since.

Iran not only has 10% of the world’s proven oil reserves, but also the second largest natural gas reserves after Russia. Given the fact that US oil reserves at the current level of consumption will run out in 2010, Middle East oil resources are gaining in strategic importance even if, at the moment, the US is only importing 18% of its oil from the Persian Gulf. However, it faces opposition: both Russia and China are refusing to agree to any strong censure of Iran at the UN Security Council.

This story is all about oil – but it’s not just about who gets it, but about who doesn’t. The US seeks to control access to these energy supplies, not only of its imperialist rivals, Europe and Japan, but also of the emerging Chinese economy. By controlling Chinese, Japanese, Russian and European access to the Middle East’s oil, the US along with Britain, seek to maintain their global economic position.

Iran is now scheduled to shift its petrodollars into a euro-based bourse. Should other countries join Iran in taking this step, the effect on the dollar could be significant and potentially, in the long term, disastrous. At present the dollar is bearing the burden of a national debt exceeding $8 trillion and a trade deficit of more than $800 billion. That oil is traded in dollars is critical in maintaining the dollar as the world’s reserve currency.

The need for Iran’s oil and gas reserves, competition with other imperialist nations and the rise of the euro have made Iran a ‘pressing issue’ for the US and Britain. The imperialists, however, have few options at the moment given the resistance in Iraq. Interviewed recently on the BBC, ex-US President Bill Clinton was asked if he could see Iran being invaded by the US. He replied ‘No. I can’t see where we would get the troops from at the moment’. However, the Bush government is in crisis, and it may choose to lash out. Whatever course of action it and its British ally adopts, we stand with the Iranian people in their struggle against imperialism.

Hands off Iran!

Yeyha Ayesh

FRFI 190 April / May 2006

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