Nuke-liar Netanyahu setting stage for a war party

By Ameen Izzadeen
Israel’s hardline Prime Minister, known for his theatrical stunts that have now become a kind of cliché, was at it again on Monday. Showing slide after slide and removing black cloths covering a cabinet of files and a panel of CDs, Netanyahu walked the stage, like a wannabe David Copperfield, to accuse Iran of misleading the international community and secretly developing nuclear weapons.
With many experts not convinced about the media stunts at the Defence Ministry in Tel Aviv, the Israeli Prime Minister stands exposed as a nuke-liar. Apart from United States President Donald Trump, there was little international support for his claim made through a giant slideshow titled “Atomic Archive: Iran’s Secret Nuclear Files”. To give his exercise some special effects, on one slide, Netanyahu had just two words — “Iran lied” – in huge lettering. It reminded one of Netnayahu’s 2012 United Nations address during which he, in yet another attention-grabbing exercise, displayed a diagram claiming to be Iran’s nuclear bomb. Some 15 years ago, US President George W. Bush also misled the international community and the American people into believing that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction – a lie which the Bush administration kept saying to justify its invasion of Iraq.
Experts say that Netanyahu’s so-called revelation was a load of old bollocks. They say the Israeli Prime Minister had provided no evidence that Iran contravened the terms of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) – the agreement Iran signed in 2015 with the US, Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany.
Nonproliferation expert Mark Fitzpatrick, executive director of the International Institute for Strategic Studies, told CNN, “There’s nothing new in the material that Netanyahu revealed. All of it was information that the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) already had and has already commented on.”
Another nonproliferation expert Jeffrey Lewis from the Middlebury Institute of International Studies said everything Netanyahu presented from the name of Iran’s secret programme – Project Amad — down to the fine details was found in the IAEA’s final report.
Rob Malley, senior foreign policy advisor to President Barack Obama, said that for those who followed the Iran nuclear file, there was nothing new in Netanyahu’s presentation.
Also not convinced was the IAEA which has released eight statements since Iran signed the JCPOA in 2015, confirming that Tehran has been meeting its nuclear commitments fully.
In terms of the agreement, Iran has restricted the enrichment of uranium to less than 20 percent, transferred the uranium that had been enriched beyond 20 percent to Russia, reduced the number of centrifuges in its reactors, slashed its uranium stockpiles and allows regular visits by IAEA inspectors. Iran described Netanyahu’s presentation as a childish and ridiculous show and warned of dire consequences if the JCPOA was allowed to collapse.
While Iran’s compliance with the JCPOA has been endorsed by the IAEA and other signatories to the agreement, the Trump administration has been critical of the deal. Trump has threatened to pull out of the JCPOA which he has called the “worst deal ever”. When Obama okayed the deal in 2015, the Congress gave its approval, subject to a yearly endorsement by the President. Last year Trump reluctantly gave his approval. Indications are that on May 12, when the agreement comes up for his signature, he will not sign it. This will signal the United States’ formal withdrawal from the JCPOA.
Yet, the agreement will survive. Both Russia and China – Iran’s two biggest trading partners – are standing by Iran and would not let the agreement collapse. Germany and the European Union have said that the deal stands. France, though President Emmanuel Macron during his US visit appeared to share some of Trump’s concerns over Iran, will also not withdraw from the agreement. Neither will Britain.
With the rest of the big powers backing the deal, the US has been isolated. The underlying message that world affairs can move on without US involvement is, indeed, a slap in the face for the Trump administration.
Netanyahu’s stage show and Trump’s anti-Iran outbursts have not taken place in a vacuum. They are inter-related and were well timed to set in motion an agenda authored by the anti-Iran axis that brings together the US, Israel, Saudi Arabia and a couple of Arab nations. They want Iran brought to its knees. The 2015 nuclear deal has provided sanctions-crippled Iran a way out of its economic crisis. Iran is on a major drive to rebuild the economy. It has signed multibillion dollar deals with China to build new railroads, highways and oil and gas fields. With Russia, Iran has signed an oil-for-goods deal – a move that enables both Russia and Iran to bypass the petrodollar.
Of course, Iran also signed a US$ 16.6 billion deal with US aircraft maker Boeing for the supply of new aircraft. If the US withdrawal from the JPOC takes place on May 12, Trump, in a bid to cripple Iran’s economic revival and appease Saudi Arabia and Israel, may impose fresh sanctions on Teheran. That will be the end of the Boeing deal. But this is no major loss for the US, because Iran’s US$ 16.6 billion is just a fraction of the mega deals Trump signed with Saudi Arabia during his May 2017 visit to the kingdom, his first overseas visit as President. Of the Saudi deals worth US$ 450 billion, US$ 110 billion are for arms purchases. But these deals come with a Saudi ‘request’ to crush Iran.
Judging by the statements and the actions of the US, Israel and Saudi Arabia after President Trump’s Middle East visit, it appears that Saudi Arabia’s request has been met by a US request for the kingdom to normalise relations with Israel and give approval for Israel’s annexation of Jerusalem. This week al-Jazeera published remarks said to be made by Saudi Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Salman during his US visit in March. He is reported to have told heads of US-based Jewish groups that the Palestinian leadership must accept conditions for peace put forward by the Trump administration, agree to come to the negotiation table or “shut up and stop complaining.” Of course, Trump’s peace plan does not recognise the Palestinians’ aspirations of making East Jerusalem the capital of their future state.
Saudi Arabia is yet to deny the report, which is yet another indication that Saudi Arabia is working in tandem with Israel and the Trump administration to destabilise Iran even if it means abandoning the Palestinian cause the kingdom was, in the past, known to have championed.
Iran and Saudi Arabia are at loggerheads in Syria where Israel, acting like the air force of ISIS, regularly attacks military bases from where Syrian and Iranian soldiers operate. The Saudis are seething with anger and jealousy that the Syrian regime, with help from Russia and Iran, is nearing victory. In the Yemen conflict, too, Saudi Arabia and Iran are on opposing sides.
The American people need to be aware of moves by Israel and Saudi Arabia to drag their country into a war with Iran. Given the domestic political exigencies linked to the Russian probe and other issues, Trump, who is now being advised by neocons such as John Bolton, may go along with the war party.
(This article first appeared in the Daily Mirror, Sri Lanka)

About ameenizzadeen

journalist and global justice activist
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