Iran ‘The prize’

With the 14 July 2015 agreement between Iran and the P5 + 1 group (the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany) on Iran’s nuclear energy programme, enormous investment opportunities for multinational corporations open up in Iran and significant strategic changes in the Middle East may be in the offing. The deal should lead to the removal of US and European Union sanctions on Iran in early 2016 and give Iran access to over $100bn frozen in overseas banks. Sanctions have cost Iran $160bn in oil sales in three years. The US has imposed sanctions on Iran since 1979; these may be removed. Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu was furious at the deal, calling it a ‘stunning, historical mistake’ that will make the world a ‘more dangerous place’. Saudi Arabia threatened to develop its own nuclear industry. Saudi Arabia and Israel fear an economically strong Iran which the removal of sanctions could bring. They also fear that their strategic significance to imperialism will be downgraded and that the advantages that have come with it will be reduced.

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Iran: A change in tactics

The interim agreement on Iran’s nuclear industry announced on 24 November 2013 indicates a change in US tactics towards Iran and the Middle East. If the Iranian government believes that by making concessions to the P5 plus one (the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany), imperialism will accept an independent Iran, this would be a mistake. The US, Britain and France will continue to try to force Iran into becoming a client state that accepts US hegemony in the Middle East.

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Iran under pressure

During October 2012 the US and Israel held a three week joint missile and air defence exercise with 4,500 soldiers, making it the largest joint military exercise between the two nations. On 2 November The Independent reported the British government to be considering stationing warplanes adjacent to the Persian Gulf to prevent Iran from blocking the Strait of Hormuz, through which passes 35% of the world’s seaborne oil. British Defence Secretary Philip Hammond said that European countries must be ‘prepared, if necessary, to take a bigger role in relation to North Africa and the Middle East...Europe, as a whole, needs to do more.’ The Royal Navy maintains ten ships, including a nuclear submarine, in the Persian Gulf region. Hammond was issuing a threat to the peoples of the Middle East, North Africa and Iran, in particular, not to challenge imperialist domination of the region.

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Iran: a dangerous game

A leading correspondent for Israel’s Ha’aretz newspaper said, ‘[Israeli Prime Minister] Netanyahu is playing poker for all of us. We shouldn’t call out his cards.’ He proceeded to say that Israel’s threat of a military strike on Iran was a ‘loaded gun that the made the international community impose a diplomatic and economic siege on Iran’.

The correspondent was responding to criticisms of the Israeli government from senior Israeli military figures. The former heads of Mossad (foreign secret service), the Israeli military intelligence and the internal intelligence agency, Shin Bet, have all condemned the Israeli threat to attack Iran. Contradicting his Prime Minister, who portrays the Iranian leadership as fanatical, the current head of Israel’s armed forces said that he did not believe that Iran would build a nuclear weapon and described the Iranian leadership as ‘very rational’.

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Iran: threat after threat

Israel says it will not notify the US before striking Iran’s nuclear facilities. Rival US Republican Party presidential candidates vie to utter the most bellicose statements. President Obama says the US will ‘use all elements of American power’ to prevent Iran developing a nuclear weapon and British Foreign Secretary Hague said ruling out military force against Iran would be ‘irresponsible’. The air is thick with threats; danger is at hand.

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