GEORGE W Bush’s plans to attack Iran are in disarray following
an American intelligence report that says Iran shut down its nuclear
weapons programme more than four years ago. A new consensus assessment
from all 16 US intelligence agencies has concluded Iran shut down its
nuclear weapons programme in 2003.
The National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) starkly contradicts the Bush
administration’s claims that Iran is actively pursuing a nuclear bomb.
The National Intelligence Estimate states that while Tehran is likely
to keep its options open, they “do not know whether it currently
intends to develop nuclear weapons”.
It adds that they believe Iran is still a decade away from
manufacturing highly enriched uranium, the key ingredient for a nuclear
weapon, and that the Iranians will not be technically capable of
producing and reprocessing enough plutonium for a weapon before about
The NIE concludes that if Iran were to end the freeze of its weapons
programme, it would still be at least two years before Tehran would
have enough highly enriched uranium to produce a nuclear bomb. But it
says it is still “very unlikely” Iran could produce enough of the
material by then. Iran insists that its nuclear programme is only
designed to produce energy and that it has the sovereign right to
develop nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.
A few weeks ago Mohamed El Baradei, director general of the
International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), reported that Iran was
operating 3,000 uranium-enriching centrifuges, capable of producing
fissile material for nuclear weapons. But his report also said that the
IAEA inspectors had been unable to determine whether the Iranian
programme sought only to generate electricity or also to build weapons.
Last October Bush raved on about “World War III” if the Islamic
Republic continued with its alleged nuclear weapons activities, which
the Washington hawks claimed was based on reliable intelligence.
The war lobby within the British and American ruling class stepped up
their propaganda war against the Iranians to justify a sanctions regime
against Iran and openly talked about American and Israeli air-strikes
that would take out all the Islamic Republic’s nuclear research
complexes. This was resisted by People’s China and Russia. The
Russians said their own intelligence had produced no evidence that
could back up Bush’s claims. Now they’ve been proved right.
At the United Nations China said that proposed new sanctions against
Iran could be called into question by the latest US intelligence
assessment. UN Ambassador Wang Guangya called it “an important report”.
America, Britain and France are still pushing for more UN sanctions
against Iran but these would need Chinese and Russian support to get
through the UN Security Council.
The fact that America’s intelligence chiefs have gone public on what
the White House must have known for months reflects the deep divisions
within the American ruling class and the mounting opposition to Bush’s
sinister neo-con war lobby that was responsible for the disastrous war
in Iraq. This was conceded by leading neo-con war-monger, Norman
Podhoretz, a Zionist Republican aide and an architect of the plan for
American world domination called the “Project for the New American
Podhoretz admitted that the intelligence report had “just dealt a
serious blow to the argument some of us have been making that Iran is
intent on building nuclear weapons and that neither diplomacy nor
sanctions can prevent it from succeeding…” but added “...I entertain an
even darker suspicion. It is that the intelligence community, which has
for some years now been leaking material calculated to undermine George
W Bush, is doing it again. This time the purpose is to head off the
possibility that the President may order air strikes on the Iranian
Fake intelligence reports about Saddam Hussein’s alleged weapons of
mass destruction like Blair’s “dodgy dossier” were used to justify
Anglo-American imperialism’s invasion of Iraq in 2003. The
imperialists’ lust for oil has plunged Iraq into chaos and sectarian
Over a million Iraqis have died over the past four years. Now they have
their greedy eyes on Iran. The labour and anti-war movement must
mobilise to ensure that Britain plays no part in any attack on Iran and
that all British troops are immediately and unconditionally withdrawn
from Iraq and Afghanistan.
Paying for the Party
THE NEW SCANDAL about
unregistered donations from rich businessmen to the Labour Party seems
to be unfolding new dramas everyday – the latest being some dodgy
donations to Peter Hain. Predictably the spectre of Government funding
for political parties has been hoisted again, with encouraging noises
from both front benches. This would, after all, see all of them well
set up for life.
But it would undermine what remains of bourgeois democracy in
this country. For a start, the plans being mooted would cut or severely
curtail trade union donations to Labour. No union has indulged in
illegal or dodgy practices in this respect but it seems they must pay
the price for the bad behaviour of self-seeking millionaires.
Trade union funding of the Labour Party is completely different
to the big donations from rich individuals. In reality it represents
thousands of small donations from trade union members who have all,
individually opted to pay the political levy. The way the unions use
the sum of these thousands of donations is democratically decided at
union conferences. And it is the only way – who pays the piper calls
the tune – that ordinary working people can have any real impact on a
party that is capable of being a government in Britain.
Furthermore if political parties were funded from taxes by the
state, we would all be paying for the propagation of views we do not
hold. Parties would no longer be accountable to their members. There
would be little point in being a member of most political parties.
Those that do get state funding could and would ignore the views of
members and there would be a mighty gulf in the viability and impact of
those that did get funding compared to the fringe parties that didn’t.
Membership of a political party would be even rarer than now,
political activism would be seen as eccentricity, if not a form of
mental illness – and the ruling class would have the passive,
submissive, uneducated, unorganised proletariat it seeks.
But we’re not going to let that happen, are we!
Storm in a teacup?
GIBBONS, the teacher who was imprisoned briefly in Sudan for
allowing her class of children to call a teddy bear Mohammed and
thereby insulting Islam, is home now safe and well. But what was really
happening with her early release? The woman clearly made a genuine
mistake and should have known better; you wouldn’t go to teach in a
fundamentally Catholic country and call a toy camel Jesus Christ.
But when one of her Sudanese colleagues complained it presented the
Sudanese government with a problem. British imperialism has, over the
last 150 years or so, abused, humiliated and oppressed the Sudanese
people and made fun of their government. That government now had to
tread a fine line between not incurring the wrath of the imperialist
powers without incurring the anger of their own people for appearing to
appease the British government.
A 15-day sentence, of which half had already passed, seemed to
them a tactful compromise. Fifteen days in a not-too-awful jail was
small beer compared to the total sum of human suffering going on in
that country. But the British government and the western media reacted
with exaggerated horror and anger, as though Gibbons was facing
Two Muslim members of the House of Lords were despatched to
negotiate her immediate release and succeeded to great acclaim in
bringing her home about four days before she would have come anyway.
Why so much effort and expense – when other British residents have been
left to rot without charge or trial for up to six years in
Guantánamo Bay and the Foreign Office won’t lift a finger?
A BBC Foreign Office “expert” put it all into perspective on
Monday morning when he explained that the whole thing had been good for
the British government because it gave an opportunity to establish a
new kind of relationship with the Sudanese government. “Now if
something else happens down the line, for example human rights abuses
or the Sudanese making agreements with the Chinese to exploit their oil
and other mineral reserves, we can just pick up the phone and call
them,” he said. In other words the FO thinks it has succeeded in
browbeating the Sudanese government and re-established the old colonial
relations – the more trivial the issue, the more it emphasises British
control. Let’s hope the Sudanese government – and the Chinese – soon
prove them wrong.