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WHAT WE THINK
Giving nuclear technology to India while threatening Iran
Bush's nuclear double standard

March 10, 2006 | Page 3

HAND OVER advanced nuclear technology to India, then threaten Iran with harsh measures--including a possible military strike--for pursuing its own nuclear program.

Washington's double standard on nuclear issues from one week to the next was downplayed by the pliant U.S. mainstream media. Just days after Bush promised India more nuclear technology despite its refusal to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), the U.S. demanded that the United Nations (UN) Security Council impose sanctions on Iran for violating that same treaty.

If Washington has its way, the Security Council will pass a resolution giving Iran 30 days to cease its uranium enrichment program, or face unspecified penalties. The move increases the chance that the U.S. will try to break its impasse in Iraq by widening the war to Iran--possibly with the blessing of the so-called "international community."

For the most part, the media glossed over the fact that handing advanced nuclear technology to India will escalate an arms race with Pakistan, adding to tensions that nearly led to all-out war in 2002. "The nuclear agreement creates a major exception to the U.S. prohibition of nuclear assistance to any country that does not accept international monitoring of all its nuclear facilities," the Power and Interest News Report noted.

Instead of exploring the implications of all this, the U.S. media dutifully repeated White House allegations that Iran's recent moves to enrich uranium are intended to create a nuclear bomb. Time magazine reported that the U.S. is preparing to show the Security Council a computer diagram purporting to show Iranian plans for nuclear weapons--echoing the 2003 presentation on Iraqi weapons of mass destruction that turned out to be fake.

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton pointedly chose an American-Israel Political Action Committee conference to rattle sabers at Iran. Claiming that Iran is making a "clear and unrelenting drive" toward producing nuclear weapons, Bolton declared that Iran "must be made aware that if it continues down the path of international isolation, there will be tangible and painful consequences."

Just what those consequences might be was the topic of a recent discussion between Bolton and a group of British members of parliament. According to the Times of London, Bolton told the British delegation that the U.S. would seek a Security Council resolution authorizing military strikes against Iran.

The British quoted Bolton as saying, "They must know everything is on the table, and they must understand what that means. We can hit different points along the line. You only have to take out one part of their nuclear operation to take the whole thing down."

While there was still talk of a possible compromise around Russia's offer to handle the majority of Iran's uranium enrichment on its territory, the U.S. made it clear that even a modest enrichment program in Iran--which is permitted under the NPT--was intolerable. "You can't be just a little pregnant," commented State Department spokesperson Tom Casey.

Washington has another, more urgent, objective in squeezing Iran: breaking its influence over the ruling Shiite parties of Iraq. That could mean widening the war to include a blockade of or military strikes against Iran.

In the meantime, the U.S. is pressuring the Iranian-backed Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI) to abandon its control of the powerful Interior and Defense ministries.

The U.S. plan is to place one of the "power ministries" in the hands of the CIA's man, former Prime Minister Iyad Allawi, as part of a "national unity" government that would include Sunni Muslim parties as well as the two main Kurdish parties.

To that end, the U.S. wants to oust Iraqi Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari and replace him with SCIRI's Adel Abdul al-Mahdi, an ex-Maoist turned Islamist and free-market economist. While serving as finance minister in the Iraqi interim government, Mahdi collaborated closely with the U.S. while Western corporations looted the country and corrupt officials stole $1 billion in government funds. Washington is therefore confident that Mahdi will follow a U.S. line, not an Iranian one.

If some Shiite parties refuse to go along--such as those loyal to the militant cleric Moktada al-Sadr, who is backing Jaafri--the U.S. will try to portray them as agents of Iran.

And if Iraq continues to slide into ethnic and sectarian civil war, Washington will try to manipulate the Sunni-Shia divide to suit its own aims--much as it did during the Balkan wars of the 1990s.

Faced with losing control in Iraq, Washington is responding by trying to sink its claws in even deeper--and will continue to do so until the U.S. troops are forced to withdraw not only from Iraq, but the entire Middle East.

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