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Page history last edited by Adam 14 years, 7 months ago

What Ever Happened to the Iraqi Islamic Dawa Party? 


- let’s review some of the material we covered when we were discussing the Iran-Contra affair

- the Islamic Dawa Party is founded by Muhammad Baqir al-Sadr and Muhammad Baqir al-Hakim at Najaf in the 1950s - their ideology is similar to Khomeini’s (whom they know because he comes and lives with them at Najaf) in that both are traditionalist and opposed to modernizing tendencies - Khomeini opposes the Shah, Islamic Dawa opposes the Iraqi Baathist Party

- the major difference between al-Sadr and Khomeini is that al-Sadr continues to believe that power should ultimately rest with the people and rejects Khomeini’s idea of clerical guardianship - Muhammad Baqir al-Hakim comes to side with Khomeini in the debate   

- during the period when the Shah and the Baathists are all chummy in the late 1970s, Saddam Hussein expels Khomeini and cracks down on the Islamic Dawa Party in Iraq

- the Islamic Dawa Party is generally very happy to see the Iranian Revolution - Khomeini is, after all, one of their own

- Islamic Dawa also essentially sides with Iran during the Iraq War because they look forward to Shiite Iran liberating Iraq from the Sunni-dominated secular Baath regime

- Islamic Dawa is brutally suppressed by Saddam (of course) during this period - it is also during this period that the Islamic Dawa Party splits - in 1982, Muhammad Baqir al-Hakim organizes the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council - it supports Ruhollah Khomeini’s idea of rule of the ulema - as such, they are even more pro-Iran during the war than al-Dawa was

- both the Islamic Dawa Party and the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council are forced into exile because Saddam’s repression proves successful

- following the first Gulf War, the US government decided that it would attempt to unify Saddam’s Iraqi opponents and oversaw the foundation of the Iraqi National Council in 1992 - both the Islamic Dawa Party and the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council were persuaded to join the INC - the other major players in the coalition were two Kurdish parties - the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) - the INC was organized in Kurdish territory in late 1992, adopting a secular platform with a commitment to human rights and the rule of law - the INC chose as its leader the secular Shiite mathematician Ahmed Chalabi, seen here:

- in 1994, the two Kurdish parties of the INC started fighting each other and as a result, the US began seeking out other allies in the region - most particularly, they turned to the Iraqi National Accord (INA) an umbrella organization (like the INC), founded in 1991, with the express purpose of being a secular group which excluded the pro-Iranian Shia parties - here’s a picture of one of the co-founders of the INA, Iyad Allawi, a secular Shiite:

- is it just me, or do Chalabi and Allawi look incredibly similar?  any chance they’re the same person?

- anyhow, the dissolution of the INC continued in 1995 when the KDP struck a deal with Saddam to support them against the PUK

- by 1996, the INC was basically dead - but then, in 1998, the US Congress passed the Iraq Liberation Act, calling for regime change in Iraq - this act appropriated $97 million for the INC

- the INC used this money to begin an extensive lobbying campaign in Washington in favour of deposing Saddam Hussein - this campaign gained added traction after 9/11, particularly via the INC’s greatest supporters, Paul Wolfowitz and Richard Perle

- it is important to note that both al-Dawa and SCIRI, though members of the INC, were never, properly speaking, clients of the US government - they continued to be Shia parties which naturally looked to Iran for leadership in the Shia world

- in the weeks before the start of the Iraq War, al-Dawa and SCIRI representatives met in London, then in Tehran to discuss their plans for postwar Iraq - why Tehran?  well, as noted before, al-Dawa and SCIRI traditionally had strong ties to Iran - in fact, the leader of SCIRI, Abdul Aziz al-Hakim, seen here, was living in Iran at the time:

- and not just Iraqi Shia leaders were living in Iran - Kurdish leaders too (Iran continued its support of Kurdish separatists in Iraq)- most notably, the head of the PUK, Jalal Talabani:

- so, there was obviously going to be pro-Iranian sentiment in the new Iraqi government

- on July 13, 2003, under the Coalition Provisional Authority headed by Paul Bremer, the government of Iraq passed to the Iraqi Governing Council, which included 13 Shiites, 5 Sunni Arabs, 5 Kurds, 1 Turk, and 1 Assyrian - here’s the Iraqi Governing Council:

- for the reasons mentioned above, we would expect the 13 Shiite members of the Council to have pro-Iranian tendencies (and maybe also the Kurdish members)

- but before we get to what’s going on in Iraq, let’s get back to Iran for the last year of Khatami’s presidency


Iran, 2004


- 2004 was slated for fresh elections to the Majlis

- in January 2004, Khamanei moves against the reformists - the Guardian Council aggressively asserted its constitutional prerogative and struck thousands of candidates from the ballot

- the Islamic Iran Participation Front, the reformist party headed by President Khatami’s brother, was banned outright

- the IIPF announced that it was boycotting the 2004 elections - and Shirin Ebadi similarly encouraged people to boycott the election - on the other hand, President Khatami urged electors to turn up to vote for the 191 (of 285) Association of Combatant Clerics candidates

- two reformist newspapers were banned shortly before the 2004 election

- the reformist members of the Majlis who were prevented from running for re-election by the Guardian Council staged a number of protests in January 2004 - in this picture we see reformist lawmakers praying during a sit-in protest at the Majlis:

- following the initial vote on Feb 20 and the followup vote on May 7, conservatives held 156 seats in the Majlis (54%) as opposed to the 39 seats (13%) held by the reformists

- as a result of the neutering of the reformists by Khamanei and the Guardian Council, Khatami is now basically a lame-duck president

- not that the reform movement is entirely silenced - for example, the film Marmoulak (“The Lizard”), slated to be released in March 2004 is held up for a while but then released after the most offensive scenes were cut - the film is about a convicted thief who disguises  himself as a Muslim cleric in order to avoid prosecution and is basically a critique of the privileged role of clerics in Iranian society - the film thus crossed a taboo in Iranian society about mocking clerics - it was one of the funniest and most commercially successful films ever made in Iran - here’s a poster promoting the film:

- meanwhile, in Iraq: in June 2004, the US formally handed over sovereignty of Iraq to the Iraqi Interim Government - the Iraqi Governing Council chose a Sunni Arab, Ghazi Mashal Ajil al-Yawer as the President of Iraq, and Iyad Allawi, the head of the INA, as prime minister of Iraq


2005 Presidential Election


- the Iranian constitution limited Khatami to two terms in office - as always willing to abide by the terms of the constitution, Khatami did not run for reelection - though the popularity of the reformists had been waning since Bush’s Axis of Evil speech anyway

- as was to be expected, the Guardian Council continued to disqualify hundreds (maybe thousands) of presidential candidates as we move in to the elections

- main candidates:

1) Mostafa Moeen:

- Moeen is the candidate for the Islamic Iran Participation Front and the leading reformist candidate

2) Ayatollah Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani

- he’s baack - this time representing the moderate conservatives

3) Mehdi Karroubi:

- former chairman of the Association of Combatant Clerics - Speaker of the Majlis 2000-204 - critical of the Guardian Council though supportive of Supreme Leader Khamenei

- widely seen as a reformist acceptable to conservatives

4) Mahmoud Ahmadinejad

- conservative, populist mayor of Tehran

- results: 

Round I: June 17, 2005: Rafsanjani 21.0%, Ahmadinejad 19.5% - so, it’s pretty close - leads to run-off election

Round II: June 24, 2005: Rafsanjani 35.9%, Ahmadeinejad 61.7%


Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, President 2005-Present


- Ahmadinejad’s background: born near Tehran in 1956; in 1976, scores extremely high on the entrance exams to Iranian universities (of the 400,000+ Iranians who took the entrance exam in 1976, Ahmadinejad ranks #132); studies civil engineering at the Iran University of Science and Technology (IUST) - here’s a photo of the gate to the university - can you get anything more 1970s than this?:

- becomes engaged in conservative student politics while at university - in 1979, he represents IUST in the Organization for Strengthening Unity Between Universities and Theological Seminaries (the OSU) - the OSU is heavily involved in the Iran hostage crisis (many hostages allege that Ahmadinejad was one of the hostage-takers, though the US government regards this allegation as unproven)       

- 1980: during the Iranian Cultural Revolution, the OSU plays a crucial role in purging modernists from Iran’s universities

- Khatami’s supporters allege that during the early 1980s, Ahmadinejad worked as an executioner at the Evin Prison and killed many opponents of the Iranian regime - this allegation is unsubstantiated

- 1984: Ahmadinejad begins studies to receive his M.Sc. in Civil Engineering

- 1986: becomes a senior commander in the Revolutionary Guards - in this picture, we see him with Ayatollah Fazlollah Mahallati, the Islamic “commissar” to the Revolutionary Guards:

- during the Iran-Iraq War, he commanded troops in the battle around Kirkuk

- following the war, in 1989, he became governor of two cities in the West Azerbaijan province:

- one of the cities was Khoy, and the other was Maku, seen here:

- during this period, he also served as an adviser to the Governor General of the Kurdistan province:

- in 1993, Ahmadinejad was promoted from being a governor of two cities to the position of Governor General of an entire province, Ardabil Province:

- Ardabil is particularly notable for containing the tomb of Sheikh Safi, after whom the Safavid Dynasty (ruled 1501-1722) was named - here it is:

- so, 8 years as in the ethnically non-Persian areas of Iran - he was apparently quite a harsh ruler, and there are some allegations that he engaged in ethnic violence during his period as governor and then Governor General

- while Governor General, he also decides to go back to school, and receives his Ph.D. in transportation engineering and planning from IUST in 1997

- with the election of Khatami in 1997, Ahmadinejad’s time as Governor General of Ardabil Province comes to an end - so, he moves back to Tehran and takes up a post as a professor at IUST

- in 2003, he decides to run for Mayor of Tehran


Background on the Local Politics of Tehran


- Tehran is the capital city of Iran - today its population is approximately 11 million

- location:

- it is also the capital of Tehran Province:

- it has a modern skyline, complete with Milad Tower, the 4th largest tower in the world:

- and a beautiful location, nestled in the mountains:

- the symbol of modern Tehran (and modern Iran) is the Azadi Tower in Azadi Square, built in 1971 to commemorate the 2500th anniversary of the Persian Empire:

- 1970s Tehran also saw the construction of Iran’s largest amusement park, Shahr-e Bazi:

- and of course, 1971 would not have been 1971 if it hadn’t seen the construction of Tehran’s premiere sports complex, the 100,000-seat Azadi Stadium:

- and in the winter, the residents of Tehran can take advantage of the nearby Alborz Mountains - here’s a picture of the world snowboarding championships, being held at the Dizin ski resort, which was founded by the Islamic regime in 1979 shortly after the Revolution:

- in 1988, one of Rafsanjani’s closest associates, Gholamhossein Karbaschi became Mayor of Tehran:

- generally identified as a reformist, he went on to support Khatami in the 1997 presidential campaign

- in 1998, Karbaschi was arrested and tried on corruption charges - his trial was a media circus and was watched by millions of Iranians - here’s a TV image of Karbaschi defending himself at his trial:

- Karbaschi claimed that his prosecution was politically motivated and that conservatives were trying him on trumped-up charges simply because he was a reformist

- reformists rallied to his side:

- but to no avail - verdict: GUILTY - sentence: 5 years in prison - here we see Karbaschi on his way to prison:

- he would not serve his full sentence though - according to reports, former president Rafsanjani intervened with Supreme Leader Khamenei, and in 2000 Khamenei pardoned Karbaschi - here he is meeting with fellow reformer Abdullah Nouri after his release:

- but in the meantime, Tehran got a new mayor, Morteza Alviri:

- Alviri was a close associate with Grand Ayatollah Hossein-Ali Montazeri:

- we probably should have mentioned Montazeri before this - background: he became friends with Ruhollah Khomeini while the two were both students at Qom - with Khomeini, Montazeri was active in his opposition to the White Revolution, and after Khomeini was forced into exile, Montazeri was the head of the clerical opposition to the Shah within Iran - jailed by the Shah’s regime 1974-78; played a major role during the Islamic Revolution, including as an important drafter of the Iranian constitution - by 1980, he was Khomeini’s closest deputy:

- his portrait was routinely displayed alongside Khomeini’s by 1983 and, at Khomeini’s request, the Assembly of Experts named Montazeri as Khomeini’s designated successor as Supreme Leader

- but then he had a falling out with Khomeini caused by: 1) Montazeri’s associates revealing Iran’s role in the Iran-Contra Affair, thus embarrassing then-Speaker of the Majlis Rafsanjani; 2) in November 1987, Montazeri spoke out in favour of legalizing more political parties; 3) in autumn 1988, Montazeri gives a newspaper interview in which he criticizes the regime for denying people human rights and “betraying the Revolution’s values” - he also criticized the Rushdie fatwa

- Khomeini dismissed Montazeri in early 1989 - his portrait was removed from government offices and mosques, his title of “Grand Ayatollah” was withdrawn, and the government press began a smear campaign against him

- following Khomeini’s death, Montazeri’s supporters objected to the selection of Ali Khamenei as new Supreme Leader, on the grounds that he was not even an Ayatollah - in retaliation, the Revolutionary Guards detained Montazeri and humiliated him by forcing him to wear a nightcap instead of his customary white turban - in 1997, Khamanei ordered Montazeri formally placed under house arrest, allegedly for his own protection from radical conservative elements

- so, the Tehran City Council’s decision to back Montazeri’s supporter Morteza Alviri as Mayor in 1998 should be seen as a criticism of Khamenei

- initially a radical political leftist, by 1998, Alviri had transformed himself into a liberal technocrat and a close ally of President Rafsanjani

- the highlight of Alviri’s tenure as mayor was the 2000 opening of the long-delayed Tehran subway system - here we see Alviri and Khatami at the grand opening:

- as noted above, 2000 also sees an assassination attempt on Tehran city councillor Saeed Hajjarian

- in general Alviri was not a good manager and was widely criticized for failing to take steps to deal with local issues such as construction projects, housing production, air pollution, and city planning - he resigns in early 2002 - soon named Iran’s Ambassador to Spain

- Ahmad Malekmadani briefly took over as Mayor before the Tehran City Council chose Ahmadinejad as mayor in early 2003

Back to Ahmadinejad


- Ahmadinejad’s time as Mayor of Tehran was characterized by the rolling back of previous reforms, notably: 1) giving the “cultural centres” founded by his predecessors a more explicitly religious bent; 2) advocating separate elevators for men and women in municipal buildings; 3) suggesting that those killed in the Iran-Iraq War should be reburied in Tehran’s major city squares

- he also expanded charity, most notably instituting a system for giving soup to the poor

- Ahmadinejad was the favoured son of the hardline fundamentalists - the man most widely named as the head of the hardliners is this man, Ayatollah Mohammad-Taqi Mesbah-Yazdi:

- Ayatollah Mesbah-Yazdi studied under Khomeini at Qom (before Khomeini’s exile) and is currently a member of the Assembly of Experts - a rigorous proponent of Iran’s anti-blasphemy laws, he was a major force calling for the laws being enforced against Iranian reformists in the 1990s - he has a strictly literalist interpretation of the Quran - he believes that both slavery and aggression are justifiable under Islam and is a vocal supporter of suicide bombing against Israel

- Ayatollah Mesbah-Yazdi is nicknamed “Professor Crocodile”, a name which was coined because “Mesbah” rhymes with the Persian word for crocodile, “Temsah” - here is the cartoon in which the phrase “Professor Crocodile” was coined - note that the crocodile is strangling a journalist with his tail:

- Mesbah-Yazdi had the cartoonist, Nikahang Kowsar arrested - he spent 7 days in prison - he now lives in Canada - look at how much happier he is as a result:

- Ahmadinejad has described Ayatollah Mesbah-Yazdi as his spiritual advisor

- so, anyhow, in 2005, Ahmadinejad runs for president - he appeals to two distinct groups: 1) religious conservatives, exemplified by Ayatollah Mesbah-Yazdi; and 2) the poor - whom he promises greater social services

- so far, Ahmadinejad has only been in power for two years, so it’s difficult to assess what his presidency will mean for the people of Iran - in general, however, his victory in 2005 was seen as a major victory for the forces of conservative fundamentalism and a major blow for the reformist forces

- he certainly hasn’t been good for the country’s image:

- in October 2005, Ahmadinejad attended the “World Without Zionism” conference:

- note: Iran’s official position has always been that Iran is not antisemitic, it is anti-Zionist - i.e. they don’t have a problem with Jews per se, they have a problem with the State of Israel - at the conference, he stated:

        Our dear Imam (referring to Ayatollah Khomeini) said that the occupying

        regime must be wiped off the map and this was a very wise statement. We

        cannot compromise over the issue of Palestine. Is it possible to create a new

         front in the heart of an old front. This would be a defeat and whoever accepts

        the legitimacy of this regime has in fact, signed the defeat of the Islamic world.

        Our dear Imam targeted the heart of the world oppressor in his struggle, meaning

        the occupying regime. I have no doubt that the new wave that has started in

        Palestine, and we witness it in the Islamic world too, will eliminate this disgraceful

        stain from the Islamic world.           

- the western media widely reported that Ahmadinejad had called for Israel to be wiped off the map and had called Israel a “disgraceful stain”

- some western leaders, including Canadian prime minister Paul Martin and several members of the US House of Representatives interpreted Ahmadinejad’s comments as a call for genocide - Ahmadinejad responded that he wanted to wipe the Israeli regime, not the Jewish people off the map - “Just as the Soviet Union was wiped out and today does not exist, so will the Zionist regime soon be wiped out”

- he reiterated his theme in a speech in the city of Zaheden in December 2005:

        Why have they come to the very heart of the Islamic world and are

        committing crimes against the dear Palestine using their bombs, rockets,

        missiles and sanctions. [...] The same European countries have imposed the        

        illegally-established Zionist regime on the oppressed nation of Palestine. If you

        have committed the crimes so give a piece of your land somewhere in Europe or

        America and Canada or Alaska to them to set up their own state there. Then the

        Iranian nation will have no objections, will stage no rallies on the Qods Day and

        will support your decision.

            They have invented a myth that Jews were massacred and place this above God,

        religions and the prophets. The West has given more significance to the myth of the

        genocide of the Jews, even more significant than God, religion, and the prophets,

        (it) deals very severely with those who deny this myth but does not do anything to

        those who deny God, religion, and the prophet. If you have burned the Jews, why

        don't you give a piece of Europe, the United States, Canada or Alaska to Israel? Our question is, if you have committed this huge crime, why should the innocent nation of Palestine pay for this crime?

- Ahmadinejad’s remarks were widely denounced as antisemitic in the foreign press, but again, Ahmadinejad’s line was that his remarks were anti-Zionist, not antisemitic - many within Iran supported Ahmadinejad, and believed he was being treated unfairly by the world media

- many Iranians felt that the west has double standards when it comes to issues of free speech - this was highlighted during the Danish cartoons crisis, when a conservative Danish newspaper asked cartoonists to submit cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad - here they are:

- these cartoons were deeply offensive to Muslims and set off a massive wave of protests throughout the Islamic world and virtually every Muslim country issued diplomatic protests against the Danish government - Iran was not an early mover in the controversy, but by February, the public groundswell of anti-Danish opinion was such that Ahmadinejad withdrew the Iranian ambassador to Denmark and declared an economic embargo against Denmark (in violation of Iran’s treaty obligations to the EU) - during a massive protest at the Danish embassy in Tehran, Tehran police had to use tear gas to dispel the crowd - here are some anti-Danish protestors:

- Hamshari, a major Iranian newspaper announced that it was holding an International Holocaust Cartoon Competition to retaliate for the Danish cartoons - here are some of the cartoons submitted:

- Iranian conservatives hailed the Holocaust cartoon competition - many repeated their routine claim that Iran’s anti-blasphemy laws were no different than western laws banning Holocaust denial

- this led to the idea to hold an International Conference to Review the Global Vision of the Holocaust - this would give westerners who had been prosecuted for Holocaust denial a forum to discuss their views and point up the West’s hypocrisy about free speech when it comes to this issue - the forum went ahead in December 2006 - in this photo, we see several presenters from the conference, including American David Duke on the left:

- the oddest participants in the conference were the Jewish participants, which included representatives of Neturei Karta (a group of Haredi Jews who are strongly anti-Zionist) and Austrian Jew Moshe Aryeh Friedman, seen here at the conference (he’s the one on the left):

- Ahmadinejad chose his words more carefully at this conference, saying “Just as the Soviet Union was wiped out and today does not exist, so will the Zionist regime soon be wiped out” - however, the event was clearly a public relations disaster for Iran and was widely denounced by world leaders

- this is Maurice Motamed:

- Motamed represents Iran’s Jewish community in the Majlis - he denounced the conference and has also spoken out against antisemitism on Iranian television

- anyhow, when Ahmadinejad isn’t being controversial on the world stage, what else has he been up to as president?

- Iran’s consumption of petroleum is way up, but Iran (which has price controls in this area) has been reluctant to increase the internal price of gas - they’ve had to import gas to keep up with demand

- he formed a $3.5 billion fund, called “Reza’s Compassion Fund” to help young people get jobs and afford marriage, and to help them buy homes

- Ahmadinejad has been criticized by some of his more conservative supporters as being “weak on the hijab” - enforcement of traditional Islamic dress has not been a major concern for Ahmadinejad’s government - Rafsanjani’s supporters were especially critical after he kissed his former schoolteacher’s hand in public, violating the conservative ban on male-female contact - in April 2007, Khamenei ordered a crackdown on improper hijab against Ahmadinejad’s wishes

- the universities have been subjected to a “Second Iranian Cultural Revolution”, with many professors forced to take early retirement - the government has also attempted to limit the number of female university students

- vegetable prices tripled in a matter of months in 2006, leading to widespread protests

- 85-year-old Hossein Ali Montazeri broke his long media silence in 2007 to criticize Ahmadinejad for harming the country

- in December 2006, during a visit to Amir Kabir University, Ahmadinejad faced his first major student protest:

- these protests would continue - here for example, is one from October 2007, protesting a sentence handed out to 3 Amir Kabir students for insulting Islam:

- the 2006 elections for city councils and the Assembly of Experts were widely seen as a blow for Ahmadinejad and Mesbah-Yazdi

- oh, and he sent President Bush a crazy letter on May 9, 2006 - which did mark the first contact between the American and Iranian leaders since 1980

- and he spoke at Columbia University in 2007:


Final Excursus: Iran and Nuclear Weapons


- like virtually every nuclear program in the world, the Iranian nuclear program began in the 1950s thanks to Eisenhower’s Atoms for Peace program - here we see an American postage stamp commemorating Atoms for Peace:

- 1967: founding of the Tehran Nuclear Research Centre, under the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI), a research reactor fueled by enriched uranium provided by the US

- 1968: Iran signs the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, though the most important signatories, were, of course, the US and the USSR, seen here signing the Treaty:

- 3 pillars of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty: 1) non-proliferation (don’t produce new nuclear weapons); 2) disarmament; 3) the right of countries to use nuclear energy peacefully

- the US and the Shah now enter into an agreement that will see Iran build 23 nuclear power plants by 2000

- here’s a 1968 Iranian news story on Iran’s female nuclear scientists:

- 1973: Iran enters into a deal with Eurodif, a joint stock company that would provide Iran with enriched uranium - the Shah lends Eurodif $1 billion to construct an enrichment facility and acquires a 10% share of Eurodif

- of course, in the 1970s, everyone assumed that the world was on the verge of running out of oil, making it urgently necessary to invest in nuclear power - American nuclear energy companies ran ads emphasizing that even oil-rich Iran was investing in nuclear power:

- 1975: a German conglomerate, Kraftwerk Union AG, enters into a contract with Iran to build a pressurized water reactor nuclear power plant for a price of $4-6 billion, to be completed by 1981

- as a signatory to the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty, this entire program was subject to oversight and inspection by the International Atomic Energy Agency (the IAEA) - here’s their flag:

- 1976: Gerald Ford offers to sell a complete nuclear fuel cell to Iran

- there are, however, reports that the Shah initiated a program to develop nuclear weapons

- 1979: following the Revolution, the French government (which was a major shareholder in Eurodif) refused to allow Eurodif to ship enriched uranium to Iran - however, they also refused to repay Iran the $1 billion lent to Eurodif by the Shah

- the US and Germany had also received billions of dollars from the Shah for construction of nuclear facilities - they now refused to build the promised nuclear facilities and also refused to give Iran its money back

- these cancelled contracts were a major anti-western grievance of Iran’s

- following the Iranian Revolution, the Shah’s nuclear weapons program was scrapped by Khomeini, who regarded nuclear weapons as “contrary to Islamic values” - however, during the Iran-Iraq War, Iran learned that Iraq was attempting to make nuclear weapons at the Osirik site, which results in Khomeini reevaluating his position on nuclear weapons

- 1983: Iran informs the IAEA that, since it cannot purchase uranium from Europe or the US, it intends to develop its own enrichment facilities - th IAEA provides Iran with tech

- 1990s: the Russian Federation agrees to help Iran complete construction of Iran’s Bushehr I nuclear reactor

- starting in 1996, China begins selling Iran gas needed for the uranium enrichment process

- this is Alireza Jafarzadeh:

- he is involved with the National Council of Resistance of Iran, the political branch of the People’s Mujahedin of Iran (i.e. the MEK), the most hated foe of the Iranian regime

- in August 2002, Jafarzedah announced that, in addition to the facilities subject to IAEA inspection, Iran was also developing nuclear facilities at Natanz and Arak

- Iran argued that under the terms of the Non-proliferation Treaty it was not required to submit to IAEA inspections until 6 months before a nuclear facility was about to receive fissile material - in 1992, the Board of Governors of the IAEA had determined that countries should report facilities to the IAEA while in the planning stage - Iran rejected the IAEA’s ability to impose requirements on them that went beyond the text of the Non-proliferation Treaty and refused to allow the IAEA inspectors in

- the UK, France, and Germany, known as the “EU Three” now launched a major diplomatic offensive at Iran - here is the EU Three:

- this diplomacy paid off, and in October 2003, Iran agreed to admit inspectors and agreed to work with the IAEA in order to voluntarily sign the Additional Protocol

- Nov.  2003: IAEA issues a report in which it says that Iran has failed in its reporting obligations under the NPT, specifically a failure to report importation of uranium from China and conducting experiments about the separation of plutonium - they concluded that Iran had demonstrated a “pattern of concealment” - however, the report also indicated that there was “no evidence” that any nuclear material had been diverted towards weapons programs

- Iran responded that its reporting failure was really the fault of the US, which had been pressuring the IAEA to cease giving technical assistance to Iran

- in 2004-5, the IAEA board (allegedly under intense American pressure) declared that Iran’s breaches (which had already been corrected by this time and which the IAEA had already certified had not resulted in diversion of fissile material to weapons programs) constituted “noncompliance” with Iran’s Safeguards Agreement with the IAEA

- Iran voluntarily agreed to cease uranium enrichment (which it was allowed to do under the NPT) in November 2004 - but then in August 2005, they removed seals on enrichment facilities, a move that the UK as a violation of the Paris Agreement (although the Paris Agreement had not required Iran to cease uranium enrichment)

- at this point, Ahmadinejad is elected president and he appoints as Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator, this man, Ali Larijani:

- Larijani had ran against Ahmadinejad in the presidential election (he got 5% of the vote) - he was a Revolutionary Guard in the 1980s and has the ear of the Supreme Leader

- February 2006: the EU Three convince the IAEA to refer Iran to the UN Security Council

- Iran continued to maintain that it was allowed to enrich uranium under the terms of the NPT and that the IAEA was unfairly singling Iran out for behaviour that was permitted under the treaty

- April 2006: Ahmadinejad announces that Iran has successfully enriched uranium

- August 2006: Iran again announces that it will voluntarily cease enrichment of uranium and return to negotiations with the IAEA

- polls of Iranians consistently show that approximately 70% of the country believes that Iran should have the right to have peaceful nuclear energy and that the US and the EU Three have been bullying Iran

- officially, the Iranian government continues to maintain that it has no nuclear weapons program and has no plans to develop a nuclear weapons program - the US and other western countries have strong suspicions that Iran secretly has ambitions to develop nuclear weapons, but has never been able to provide proof of this - Iran thus maintains that there was no grounds in international law justifying the IAEA’s referral of Iran to the UN Security Council

- April 2007: Ahmadinejad announces that Iran has resumed uranium enrichment and refuses to discuss ceasing enrichment as a prerequisite to discussions

- is Iran actually seeking nuclear weapons?

- Iran argues that it needs nuclear power in order to meet an energy crunch currently underway in the country - if Iran doesn’t develop alternate sources of energy, it will soon hardly be able to export any oil at all:

- outside sources, including one by the American National Academy of Sciences, confirm that there is a strong economic rationale for Iran’s nuclear power program

- nevertheless the US government continues to maintain that it’s merely a cover for the development of nuclear weapons

- the UN sanctions against Iran for enriching uranium remain in force to this day

- part of the US’s concern relates to statements that former president Rafsanjani (at that point Chairman of the Expediency Council) made in a December 2001 speech - it is worth quoting at length:

        [Israel] is also supported politically in the United Nations and many other

        places. They also contain Islamic and Arab governments. Israel needs all of

        those things and the Americans and Britain are meeting its needs. Therefore,

        we should consider it to be an outgrowth of colonialism and a multi-purpose

        colonial base. That is where we should start discussing the next point. So the

        survival of Israel depends on the interests of imperialists and colonialists. So

        they go together.

        The colonialists will keep this base as long as they need it. Now, whether they

        can do so or not is a separate issue and this is my next point. Any time they find

          a replacement for that particular instrument, they will take it up and this will come

         to an end. This will open a new chapter. Because colonialism and imperialism

        will not easily leave the people of the world alone. Therefore, you can see that they

        have arranged it in a way that the balance of power favours Israel. Well, from a

         numerical point of view, it cannot have as many troops as Muslims and Arabs do.

        So they have improved the quality of what they have. Classical weaponry has its

        own limitations. They have limited use. They have a limited range as well. They

        have supplied vast quantities of weapons of mass destruction and unconventional

        weapons to Israel. They have permitted it to have them and they have shut their

        eyes to what is going on. They have nuclear, chemical and biological weapons and long-range missiles and suchlike.

        If one day ... Of course, that is very important. If one day, the Islamic world is also

        equipped with weapons like those that Israel possesses now, then the imperialists'

        strategy will reach a standstill because the use of even one nuclear bomb inside Israel

        will destroy everything. However, it will only harm the Islamic world. It is not irrational

         to contemplate such an eventuality. Of course, you can see that the Americans have kept their eyes peeled and they are carefully looking for even the slightest hint that technological advances are being made by an independent Islamic country. If an independent Islamic country is thinking about acquiring other kinds of weaponry, then they will do their utmost to prevent it from acquiring them. Well, that is something that almost the entire world is discussing right now.

- certain commentators, notably Alan Dershowitz, have used this speech to argue that, if Iran were to acquire nuclear weapons, Iran would not be subject to deterrence - it would be willing to attack Israel with nuclear weapons and absorb any retaliation on its own citizens - it seems to me that Dersh is reading too much into this speech




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