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Weissman writes: "The Americans - long portrayed in Iran as the Great Satan - have set the rules by which the Iranians must play, and these rules differ dramatically from those that govern their regional frenemies and rivals."

Iran's president Hassan Rouhani. (photo: Xinhua/Landov/Barcroft Media)
Iran's president Hassan Rouhani. (photo: Xinhua/Landov/Barcroft Media)

Should Iran Trust the Great Satan?

By Steve Weissman, Reader Supported News

10 October 13


he horse trade seemed straightforward from the start. Iran proves to the satisfaction of the U.S. and its European allies that it could not quickly build an atom bomb should Tehran choose to break out of international safeguards. In return, the West turns off the economic sanctions that are crippling Iran's economy. What could be so difficult about that?

The big difficulty is built in. The Americans - long portrayed in Iran as the Great Satan - have set the rules by which the Iranians must play, and these rules differ dramatically from those that govern their regional frenemies and rivals. Pakistan, India, and Israel all have nuclear arsenals, which Washington and its European allies currently accept. India and Israel refuse to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and do not permit regular inspections and continuous monitoring by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). No problem for the allies, who have singled out Iran for crippling economic sanctions and have threatened to go to war to stop it from ever getting the capability to build even a single atomic bomb.

As President Barack Obama told the U.N. General Assembly, the U.S. "is prepared to use all elements of our power, including military force ... to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon."

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran's spiritual leader and top man, appears to have accepted this neo-imperial reality, at least for now. Khamenei calls this "historic flexibility" and sees no better way to remove sanctions and the threat of a costly war his country would lose. To make it more palatable, his salesmen - president Hassan Rouhani and the razor-sharp foreign minister Javed Zarif - talk about Iran's self-interest in giving the world confidence that it will remain free of nuclear weapons. Khamenei also appears to have decided that breaking out of Iran's diplomatic isolation is more in his country's national interest than having the capability to build a nuclear weapon, whose production, stockpiling, and use he has called forbidden by Islam. He has said this many times, most famously in his fatwa of 2005, which he could no doubt find a way to countermand if he wanted to.

One other thing to remember about Khamenei. He knows Western culture, with an understanding that often appears less Islamic than classically anti-imperialist. This comes through when he lets the world know that he doubts that the Great Satan can change sufficiently to make a nuclear deal possible.

Though I abhor the Ayatollah's theocratic politics, I share his doubts. I also have to wonder how long he and his compatriots will allow themselves to accept the devil's dictates. The answer, I suspect, depends on how quickly Iranians see an end to the sanctions and a material improvement in their standard of living. This is why the negotiators have no time to lose.

For the next few weeks, maybe even months, Iranians will hear only an inconsistent mix of words. In his U.N. speech, President Obama apologized for the coup, announced that he was no longer seeking regime change, referred respectfully to Khamenei's anti-nuclear fatwa, and inched away from saying that "all options are on the table." But caught up in their imperial mindset, Obama and members of his team continue to remind the Iranians who's on top, which is stupid and counter-productive at the start of negotiations that could become a smaller replay of Richard Nixon's opening to China.

On the other side, the Iranians themselves have given the world reason to be suspicious of their nuclear program. The suspicions go back to at least 2002, when the Mojahedin-e-Khalq (MEK) - an Iranian opposition group that the U.S. State Department had officially labeled as terrorists - identified two nuclear sites that Tehran had been building in secret. Satellite surveillance confirmed their claims. One site, at Arak, was for a heavy-water reactor that could produce plutonium for nuclear weapons. The other, near Natanz, was an underground plant for enriching uranium. Western intelligence agency then discovered the clandestine construction of another enrichment facility some 70 meters underground in a hardened bunker at Fordo, near the holy city of QOM.

The IAEA accused the Iranians of failing to notify it when they began construction of these facilities. The Iranians insisted - and still do - that under the terms of their safeguards agreement, they did not have to notify the IAEA about any facility until 180 days before it went into production. Legally, the Iranians could well be right. But politically they lost the game, as Europe, the U.S. Congress, the White House, and the U.N. Security Council all imposed economic sanctions.

At the same time, Western spymasters decided that Iran had begun research on how to turn their enriched uranium or plutonium into nuclear weapons. Their findings, right or wrong, directly challenge declarations by both Rouhani and Khamenei that Iran has never pursued nuclear weapons. "If President Rouhani wants the world to believe Iran will not build nuclear weapons in the future," write former weapons inspector David Albright and his colleague Christina Walrond, "the Iranian government should reconsider its blanket denials of ever seeking nuclear weapons in the past."

This is the dominant attitude in Washington, which adds to doubts that Obama can deliver an end to sanctions even if the Iranians prove they have given up any nuclear weapons capability. Only Congress can kill the toughest sanctions, even as they now consider a new round of even harsher sanctions. This is where the neo-cons, the Israeli American Public Affairs Committee, and other friends of Israeli prime minister Bibi Netanyahu will fight hardest to block any détente with Iran, making war all too likely.

Can Obama win this battle? Strangely enough, he can, but - irony of ironies - he can only do it with a massive outpouring of public protest to Congress even larger than the one that stopped him from sending his Tomahawk missiles into Syria. Hopefully, the doubting Ayatollah Khamenei will stay his present course and we can begin to change the Great Satan for good.

A veteran of the Berkeley Free Speech Movement and the New Left monthly Ramparts, Steve Weissman lived for many years in London, working as a magazine writer and television producer. He now lives and works in France, where he is researching a new book, "Big Money: How Global Banks, Corporations, and Speculators Rule and How To Break Their Hold."

Reader Supported News is the Publication of Origin for this work. Permission to republish is freely granted with credit and a link back to Reader Supported News. your social media marketing partner


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+5 # itchyvet 2013-10-10 23:41
Should Iran Trust the Great Satan?
Only if they wish to commit suicide.
+8 # geraldom 2013-10-10 23:51
If I were Iran, I would trust the U.S. as far as I could throw my car, and it wouldn't matter who the president of the United States was.

The real reason why the U.S. and its puppet allies in Europe, and let's not forget Israel, are constantly threatening Iran with a military attack and maintaining an armada of U.S. warships off of Iran's coast, not to mention the crippling sanctions against Iran, has very little to do with Iran's alleged nuclear weapons program which I don't believe exists. It has everything to do with obtaining control of our so-called oil that is unfortunately sitting underneath Iran's soil.

The only real fear that the U.S. and Israel have for Iran obtaining nuclear weapons is that it would make it infinitely more difficult for the U.S. to attack the country to force regime change, to replace Iran's current govt with a U.S puppet govt as we did in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The only thing that will stop America's march for world hegemony and an ultimate attack on Iran is if Russia (and possibly China) were to intercede in the matter by telling the U.S. and Israel to keep their hands off of Iran, that any attack on Iran would be considered an attack on them and would invoke an immediate military response by Russia and China in support of Iran.

I would say that Iran has the righteous justification to develop nuclear weapons strictly for defensive purposes if the U.S., Israel, and our European puppets continue to threaten Iran with destruction.
+3 # Glen 2013-10-11 09:31
Nicely written, Harold. Many U.S. citizens either do not know or have conveniently forgotten how much meddling and killing the U.S. has performed in the Middle East, now once again Iran. Why should any country trust the U.S.?

You can bet even U.S. "allies" don't trust 'em.
+2 # geraldom 2013-10-11 12:54
Quoting Glen:
Nicely written, Harold. Many U.S. citizens either do not know or have conveniently forgotten how much meddling and killing the U.S. has performed in the Middle East, now once again Iran. Why should any country trust the U.S.?

You can bet even U.S. "allies" don't trust 'em.

Hi Glen. Did we email each other some time in the past?

In any case, if you are correct and our so-called puppet allies in Europe and elsewhere don't truly trust the United States, then why do they continue to act like U.S. puppets? Why do they continue to sacrifice their own precious youth in illegal wars of U.S. aggression for U.S. world empire that will ultimately end up destroying this planet? And, finally, why do their own people continue to tolerate govts that seem to be more interested in satisfying the political and military and economic needs of the United States government than that of its own people?

I was extremely and deeply disappointed in the German people for voting Angela Merkel back in as Chancellor of Germany, one of America's biggest supporters, and I'm totally and absolutely shocked that the current president of France, François Hollande, has become such a gung-ho supporter of whatever the United States, under Obama, wants to do. Maybe you can explain all of that to me.

If our European puppets would actually act as what they should be, sovereign nations only answerable to themselves, they would completely render the U.S. toothless.
+2 # Activista 2013-10-11 13:26
U.S. and its puppet allies in Europe, and let's not forget Israel, are constantly threatening Iran with a military attack and maintaining an armada of U.S. warships off of Iran's coast, not to mention the crippling sanctions against Iran, has very little to do with Iran's alleged nuclear weapons program which I don't believe exists ...
Agree - Iran's alleged nuclear weapons program does NOT exists - the same level of Tel Aviv war propaganda as yellow cake from Niger to start Iraq invasion/war.
+2 # Glen 2013-10-11 14:11
Yes, Harold, we exchanged emails in agreement with George W's administration covering the true events of the attack on the world trade center.

U.S. "allies" behave as they do because they are fearful of the U.S. The U.S. has a weight hanging over any who align themselves with them. It's the ole "our way or the highway" threat. The increasing numbers of U.S. military bases in Italy, South America, and Africa, is testament enough that the U.S is a threat to many. And don't forget targeting with drones in countries that have never threatened the U.S.

Citizens in other countries are as susceptible to threats and propaganda as U.S. citizens. Their governments to not necessarily represent them, just as representatives in the U.S. do not.

I'm saying again. The U.S. is setting the world up for world war, one military base at a time, one realigned "ally" at a time. That war will not be waged in traditional methods, but it is coming.
+2 # geraldom 2013-10-11 16:49
I don't know, Glen. I just feel that if these American puppet nations were to tell the U.S. to remove all U.S. bases from their soil that the U.S. would be in a tremendous quandary.

First of all, the UK has nuclear weapons and so does France. I know Germany doesn't have any and I'm not certain about Italy, but I know that as bad as the U.S. is these days, it wouldn't dare attempt to harm, overtly or covertly, these nations if they were to demand that all U.S. military bases be closed and that they will no longer be puppets.

A good example of this is the country of Ecuador where President Rafael Correa told the U.S. to close up its only base in his country and to vacate all U.S. forces from his country.

NATO's justification for being in the early days was the existence and the threat by the Soviet Union which no longer exists, and Russia by itself is no threat to Europe since most of the former members of the old Soviet Union are now members of NATO which happens to be in total violation of the treaty signed between Mikhail Gorbachev of Russia and the G.H.W. Bush as a condition of allowing the breakup of the Soviet Union.

As far as the citizens in these countries being fearful and brainwashed as U.S. citizens seem to be (but not me of course), I believe that the citizenry of Europe and most of the other nations that now make up the U.S. Union are a whole lot smarter than American citizens,, that they are not afraid to vote their conscience.
+2 # Glen 2013-10-11 20:49
Many nations have not told the U.S. to hit the road because of trade agreements, financial and military aid, and the implied threat of the U.S. lurking out there with promises of assistance in case of an attack on those countries by such as Iran. That's bogus, of course, but the U.S. has found ways to keep Europe especially, on a leash.

Old treaties and alliances are falling by the wayside as we write. Organizations such as NATO have broken international laws on many occasions due to the evolution out of original intent.

Nuclear weapons are used regularly by the U.S., just not "the big one". The willingness of U.S. government and military to use them is daunting to all civilized countries. Israel is quite willing to use them also.

Yes, citizens of most of Europe are quite well versed in more than U.S. citizens are, but at the same time, they have their personal concerns with economics, social issues and such, within their own countries, which often compels them to vote or behave contrary to past norms. We are not always privy to the propaganda put forth in these countries, either. And much depends on the generation, just as in Canada.

Increased change didn't originate with globalization, but it certainly pushed it over the line.
-5 # RLF 2013-10-11 05:59
The new president of Iran is the guy that created the delay tactics we have seen Iran use all along. Tell people what they want to hear but don't do anything but develop, develop, develop. All of this new optimism about Iran is foolish.
+2 # Activista 2013-10-11 10:19
Do you have ANY data/proof that Iran is developing nuclear weapons? Is academic research a development?
+3 # Glen 2013-10-11 06:01
The answer to the question introducing the article is a resounding NO.
-1 # arquebus 2013-10-11 10:26
The reason the US and the West doesn't want Iran to have nukes is because their theocratic leadership is fanatically nuts.
+1 # Activista 2013-10-11 13:22
.. because their theocratic leadership is fanatically nuts ..
as times goes by, it seems that USA militarism and its Middle East "friends" do much MORE killing and destruction than Iran does ..
just check latest USA Inc. supported war crime of rebels in Syria now ...

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