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Will Iran 'be next'?

After the ongoing debacle of the Iraqi invasion, many people will be aghast at US threats against Iran. Are they serious?

On 10 May, the Iranian government began what may turn out to be a full-blown global crisis when it announced that it is to continue with its nuclear programme. Although Tehran claims it is intent on forging ahead and enriching uranium for civil purposes, the Bush administration is rehashing one of the lies that it used to invade Iraq: namely, that Iran will be manufacturing nuclear weapons that it may well give to terrorists.

The International Atomic Energy Agency, which carries out regular inspections in Iran, recently issued a report declaring that it has found no proof of a nuclear weapons programme in Iran. Moreover, according to the Nuclear Non- Proliferation Treaty, to which Iran is a signatory and to which the US cocks a snoot, non-nuclear countries do in fact have the right to enrich uranium for peaceful purposes, on  condition they inform the IAEA of their progress.

There is nothing to substantiate Washington's claims that Iran is intent on producing a nuclear arsenal, yet before the Iraqi war is finished, the hawkish neo-conservative misinformation machine is at work creating fear that the US is in danger from Iranian nukes unless, we are supposed to infer, America preemptively attacks Iran. Washington has argued that with all its  oil Iran does not need nuclear energy - a statement that smacks of hypocrisy for many reasons, not least because it was Washington that enthusiastically encouraged the Shah's nuclear programme in the 1970s - and that its desire to continue its nuclear research is clear evidence of its malicious intentions. Again, whilst the US sounds off about other countries having advanced defence systems, we find that the biggest stockpiler of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons is the US itself, and which has a proven track record of having used them.

The world's number one rogue state - the US - furthermore feels free to rubbish the nuclear testban treaty so its weapon scientists can enhance the US's new theatre nuclear weapons and to develop space-based weapons systems capable of annihilating whole armies in an instant.

Iran - not so long ago named by President George W. Bush as one-third of the "axis of evil" - is surrounded by US troops in Afghanistan and Iraq (countries that have been flattened by American bombs in the past four years), not to mention the Fifth Fleet and numerous US bases in the southern Gulf States. Naturally Iran feels a little threatened so it could be that Tehran is working on the assumption that those countries that possess nuclear weapons - Israel, Russia, India, Pakistan, China, and North Korea - generally get treated a lot better by the US than smaller countries that do not.

In the run-up to the invasion of Iraq, Undersecretary of State John Bolton was credited with the words: "real men want to go to Iran". Iraq, it was suggested, was just the first stage of a five-year plan. Iran, with a larger population and better defence

systems would certainly not be as placid a foe as the Iraqi forces were and US casualties would be many times those suffered during the invasion of Iraq were the US to launch an invasion of Iran. So, leaving aside the fallacious argument that Iran is intent on building nuclear weapons it can sell to enemies of the US, what other reasons could there be for these 'real men' to want to attack Iran?

Economic competition

A year ago this month Iran announced plans to set up an international oil exchange (or bourse) denominated in the euro currency and that this would be in operation by 2006. For several years oil-producing and consuming countries have expressed their interest in trading through such an exchange so, logically, such an oil bourse would vie with London's International Petroleum Exchange (IPE) as well as competing with the New York Mercantile Exchange (NYMEX), both of which are owned by US corporations.

Since the US Dollar has been so far the global standard monetary fund for oil exchange, oil consuming countries have had little alternative but use the $US to pay for their oil, forcing them to keep the dollar as their reserve fund in their central banks, thus underpinning the American economy.

But were Iran and other oil producing countries presented with the euro as an alternative choice for oil exchange the American economy would go through a real crisis. It is possible the crisis could come at the end of 2005 and the commencement of 2006 when oil investors would be faced with the option of paying $50+ a barrel of oil at the American (NYMEX) and at London's (IPE), or €37 a barrel at the Iranian oil bourse. Such a choice would reduce trade volumes at the US Dollar dependent (NYMEX) and at the (IPE). A triumphant Iranian bourse would solidify the petro-euro as one more global oil transaction currency, thus ending the petrodollar's supremacy as the foremost nternational oil currency.

The international trade of oil in petrodollars has kept the US dollar artificially strong for 30 years, enabling the US to amass vast foreign-funded government debt and trade deficits. Whatever Tehran's motives, we cannot ignore the fate of neighbouring Iraq, which had already begun to trade in eurodollars before the allied invasion. One of Washington's objectives in Iraq was to install a pro-US stooge government and set up military bases before the onset of peak of world oil production, while at the same time converting Iraq back to the petrodollar, thus frustrating OPEC's desire to begin using the euro as an alternative currency of oil transaction. Indeed, one of the first steps taken by Iraq's provisional government was in returning the country to the $US oil standard.

Geopolitics

We must also look to US geopolitical strategy if we seek the reason why Iran is seen as a threat. The country, for one thing, is strategically placed, straddling the Middle East and Central Asia and must be at least neutralised if the US is to control the region's oil supplies (it's not so much that the US wants all the oil, rather the US wishes to be in control of its distribution, to whom, and on its own terms).

The US is seriously concerned about the onset of peak oil production (which experts say will come within ten years), that extant reserves will probably be gone within thirty years, and that long before that time China will have the same oil demands as the U.S. China is already securing long-term oil contracts with Saudi Arabia, Nigeria and Venezuela, seeking out oil contacts via Canada and has previously, somewhat audaciously, made a bid for the US oil company Unocal. It is thus imperative for US capitalists that a rising competitor - China, itself the world's chief consumer of grain, meat, steel and coal - is prevented from gaining a tighter stranglehold on world resources. The two countries may appear to be on friendly terms, but both are jockeying for position in expectation of a showdown.

For US capitalism, there is much at stake. Should China grow in economic strength, sell off its dollar holdings, US world domination will be threatened. Therefore, to protect future US global resource flows, Iran has to be warned by US gangster imperialists - don't mess with our interests; don't run a racket on our turf without our permission; don't deal with another mob. Preparations to threaten, and if necessary, attack Iran are well under way. In June of last year, Israel took delivery of almost 5,000 "smart bombs" from the United States, bombs capable of penetrating six-foot concrete walls such as those that could well encase Iranian nuclear installations. There have also been numerous reports of clandestine US reconnaissance missions inside of Iran, and of US spy drones violating Iranian air space.

As we approach the final year of Bush's 'Five-year plan', expect war threats in the Middle East to feature prominently in the headlines of the world's press. We hope we are wrong - for the sake of the hundreds of thousands of workers that would die as a result of a US attack upon Iran - about war actually breaking out but history shows that where the interests of mega-business are threatened, spilling blood is of no consideration.  Further info available at: http://www.globalresearch.ca/articles/CLA410A.html http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article8354.htm     http://amin.org/index.html

JOHN BISSETT