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A neutral bystander might question why Iran is not permitted to explore nuclear capabilities, especially as it has long been under threat from a possible attack.
One need only examine the fate of past US victims such as Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya, none of which had nuclear weapons as a deterrent against aggression.
Such is the lesson invoked by US foreign policy. This has been heeded by North Korean leaders who, looking on at one US intervention after another the world over, fearfully armed themselves to the teeth.
On the other side, the US and its regional ally Israel possess a vast array of nuclear weapons and, unlike Iran, have decades of bloodshed and destruction under their belt.
Yet it is Iran that is the “destabilising force” in the region according to the New York Times.
US President Donald Trump insists that Iran is stoking the “fires of sectarian conflict and terror” while being “responsible for so much instability.”
No such accusations are directed at major US ally Saudi Arabia which funds a range of terrorist groups in the region. The US itself has been the greatest proponent of “sectarian conflict and terror” in the Middle East starting with the 1990s Gulf War.
A rational observer might question why Israel and its US sponsor are not being pressed into reviewing their own nuclear arsenals.
Unlike Iran, Israel refuses to sign up to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), nor does it allow any inspections of its nuclear sites and it has thwarted calls for a nuclear weapons-free zone in this volatile region.
Following the 1979 Islamic revolution, Iran has remained under significant outside pressure, in violation of the United Nations Charter. Only recently, Trump threatened: “If Iran threatens us in any way, they will pay a price like few countries have ever paid.”
But it is the West that has a long history of intervention in Iranian affairs, starting in 1953, when the US and Britain overthrew the country’s elected government of Mohammad Mossadegh because he had the temerity to nationalise Iran’s oil reserves, putting them out of foreign reach — an unacceptable prospect.
Mossadegh was replaced by the subservient Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, who, according to Amnesty International, would compile one of the worst human rights violations on record. None of that mattered so long as the US and its new junior partner Britain had control over Iran’s oil supplies.
In August 1962, president John F Kennedy wrote to the Shah: “The United States greatly appreciates the highly important strategic location of Iran” advising him to be “vigilant against the pressures of international communism.”
Despite the shah’s grisly human rights record, he visited the West regularly, meeting Queen Elizabeth II at Buckingham Palace in 1959.
In April 1978, the shah also saw new prime minister Margaret Thatcher in Tehran. Later, following his ousting, Thatcher said she was “deeply unhappy” in being unable to offer the shah refuge in the UK.
Perhaps such meetings are not all that surprising. For example, Indonesian dictator General Haji Suharto, who oversaw the mass murder of over a million people suspected of left-wing sympathies, was also invited to Buckingham Palace in 1979.
In April 1985, prime minister Thatcher saw Suharto during a state visit to Indonesia, saying that she and the dictator “have a close identity of view on so many things,” and describing him elsewhere as “one of our very best and most valuable friends.”
Thatcher’s government was supporting the Suharto regime with weapons sales.
Suharto also made repeated trips to the White House, being warmly hosted by a number of US presidents from Richard Nixon to Bill Clinton.
The shah, while in power, was known as “a protector of Middle East stability,” which meant allowing US companies and banks to access Iran’s vast riches.
In the background, his notorious secret police Savak was killing, maiming and torturing by the thousands.
It was created in 1957 with CIA assistance and backed by Mossad, Israel’s intelligence agency. Savak is referred to today as “the most feared and hated institution” in Iranian history.
In early 1979, the shah was at last overthrown by popular resistance, despite president Jimmy Carter saying just months before that his was “a progressive administration.”
Following the shah’s expulsion, invitations from Washington and London to Iran’s new leader Ruhollah Khomeini were mysteriously not forthcoming.
This was despite the fact that Khomeini, in comparison to his predecessor, was something of a saintly figure.
One can assume that US and British elites are concerned solely with gaining control over natural resources, while ignoring the enormous human suffering that supporting such dictatorships entails.
Indeed, Iran has never been forgiven for liberating itself from Western-backed tyranny and has since endured US-sponsored invasion, political and economic sanctions and endless threats.
Tony Blair, for example, has gone so far as to blame Iran for the many problems in Iraq and the entire region, following the 2003 US/UK invasion, and openly called for “regime change in Tehran.”
Once Iran slipped from US influence it became “evil,” just like North Korea and Iraq, according to US president George W Bush. Tellingly, in 1982, president Ronald Reagan took Saddam Hussein off the list of states sponsoring terrorism so he could supply the Iraqi dictator with extensive military aid in his 1980-88 war against Iran.
The conflict’s longevity, which killed hundreds of thousands on both sides, would not have been possible without US backing for Saddam.
For imperialism, Iran is an even greater prize than its neighbour Iraq. It is almost four times larger, with a population at 80 million twice that of Iraq.
Iran possesses far greater strength and international clout, with the world’s fourth largest oil reserves, along with rich deposits of iron ore, copper, lead, zinc, chromium, uranium, gold and magnesium.
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