On May 10th, 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 program 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 neoconservative misinformation machine in the US is at work creating fear that the US is in danger from Iranian nukes unless, we can infer, America pre-emptively 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 it has the moral right to rubbish the nuclear test-ban treaty so its weapon’s scientists can enhance the US’ new theatre nuclear weapons, like bunker-busting mini-nuclear weaponry and to develop space-based weapons systems capable of annihilating whole armies from space 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 U.S. troops in Afghanistan to the east and Iraq to the west, countries that have been flattened by American bombs in the past four years, not to mention the Fifth Fleet and numerous U.S. 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 U.S. 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?

Well, Tehran is seen as a real threat to the US economy. A year ago this month (June 2004) Iran announced its 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. Oil consuming countries are thus required to keep the Dollar in their central banks as their reserve fund, 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 pay 37 Euros 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 petroeuro as one more global oil-transaction currency, thus ending the petrodollar’s supremacy as the foremost international 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, set up military bases before the onset of peak oil and to convert 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.

We must also look to US geopolitical strategy if we seek a real reason why Iran is seen as a threat to the US. The country, for one thing, is strategically placed, sandwiched between Iraq and Afghanistan, straddling the Middle East and Central Asia and must be subdued 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 and which experts say will come within ten years, the fact that extant reserves will probably be gone within 30 years and that long before that time China will have the same oil demands as the US. 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, steal and coal – is prevented from gaining a tighter stranglehold on world resources. The two counties may appear to be on friendly terms, but both are jockeying for position in expectation of a showdown. For US capitalism, there is simply far too much at stake. Should China grow in economic strength, sell off its dollar holdings, US imperialism will crumble. Therefore, in securing future US global resource flows, Iran has to be taught a lesson by US gangster imperialists – don’t mess with out interests; don’t run a racket on our turf without our permission; don’t deal with another mob.

An attack on Iran may be only weeks, months away. This may sound like speculation, maybe it is, but consider why, 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 U.S. spy drones violating Iranian air space.

As we approach the final year of Bush’s ‘Five-year plan’, expect war 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 a result of a US attack upon Iran – but history shows that where the interests of mega business is threatened, blood has to be spilled..
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