Iran: a quickly evolving geopolitical imbroglio – part III
By End the Lie
Note: the last post was supposed to go up yesterday but for some reason it disappeared (something which has been happening disturbingly often) so it had to be reposted today.
In the past two days the situation with Iran became increasingly more volatile, all while the American establishment media wastes time distracting the people of the United States with the dog and pony show that is the Republican primaries.
Thankfully, there are plenty of people – outside the limelight of broadcast news – who are covering these dire developments in detail.
However, as I always point out, this is often done in bits and pieces without presenting the whole picture to give readers a true sense of what is going on in the world.
Creating a more complete understanding is exactly what I’m attempting to do in this series although I cannot possibly cover it all on my own, so if I miss something, please feel free to send me an email at [email protected] to correct my error.
Despite the constant pressure being put on Iran from the West due to their alleged nuclear weapons program, which the Iranians repeatedly insist is purely peaceful, Iran has announced a new uranium enrichment site.
This site is strategically located underground and has been said to be protected from airstrikes as well as getting the somewhat dubious title of “bomb-proof.”
The Atlantic Wire claimed that this new, supposedly “bomb-proof facility” (which is highly doubtful given that nothing on Earth is truly completely bomb-proof, just as nothing is truly bullet-proof) can not only be used to create enriched uranium for nuclear power generation, “but also as a potential fuel for nuclear weapons.”
This new facility is reportedly called Fordo, near the holy city of Qom and two conflicting reports have already emerged regarding the operational status of the site.
Kayhan daily, the manager of which is reportedly a representative of Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, reported, “Iran has begun uranium enrichment at the Fordo facility amid heightened foreign enemy threats.”
However, the Iranian nuclear chief Fereidoun Abbasi stated that Iran will “soon” begin to enrich uranium at the Fordo facility, completely contradicting the report published by Kayhan in a front-page article.
The Associated Press said, “It was impossible to immediately reconcile the two reports.”
While Iran had begun enriching uranium at the Natanz facility in April of 2006, the centrifuges at Fordo are reportedly more efficient and the plant is better shielded form an aerial assault like that which was launched by Israel against Syria in 2007.
In the face of growing threats from the West as the European Union’s Foreign Ministers plan on meeting on January 30 to discuss possibly increasing sanctions against Iranian oil exports, the Iranian government has renewed its threat to close the Strait of Hormuz.
The Iranian Khorasan daily cited a senior commander in the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) who said that the Iranian leadership has already made the decision to order the closure of the strait if Iranian oil exports are blocked.
The commander, Ali Ashraf Nouri, stated that the decision has been made by the top authorities in Iran, and it is not the first time Iran has threatened to do so.
However, as the Associated Press pointed out, “this is the strongest statement yet that a closure of the strait is official policy.”
While I believe it is highly unlikely that the Strait will be closed by Iran, the United States seems to be taking it quite seriously.
Today the United States Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta stated that a move to close the Strait of Hormuz would cross a “red line” adding, “We made very clear that the United States will not tolerate the blocking of the Strait of Hormuz.”
On the CBS show “Face the Nation” chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey backed up Panetta’s statement in saying, “we would take action and reopen the Strait,” obviously implying military intervention.
To make matters even worse, the British have deployed the HMS Daring, a Type 45 Destroyer which is obviously intended to send a not-so-subtle message to Iran due to their threats to close the strait, not to mention their large-scale naval exercises and announcement of even more drills focusing on the Strait of Hormuz to come in the near future.
Just like his American counterpart, the British Defense Secretary Philip Hammond has warned Iran not to block the strait.
The HMS Daring is reportedly equipped with new missile interception technology allowing it to intercept any Iranian missile along with what Haaretz calls “the world’s most sophisticated naval radar.”
Emphasizing the missile interception capability is likely being done because of the recent Iranian ballistic missile tests which occurred in the final stages of their recent 10-day-long naval exercise.
There is also the matter of the increasingly tight relationship between Russia and Iran, which recently became even closer than it was previously.
The Iranian Fars News Agency (FNA) reported that the Iranian Ambassador to Moscow Seyed Reza Sajjadi stated that during a meeting between Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) summit, Medvedev proposed replacing the US dollar with the ruble and rial in their trade.
It appears that this is already being implemented with Sajjadi stating that “we have acted on this basis and a part of our interactions is done in Ruble now.”
“There is a similar interest in the Russian side,” Sajjadi added, pointing out that the Russians oppose unilateral sanctions on Iran made outside the United Nations Security Council.
He emphasized their distaste with sanctions focused on the Iranian Central Bank (CBI) which is what the latest round of American sanctions targeted.
“The move (imposing sanction on the CBI) is unacceptable. Russians have clearly announced that they will not accept these sanctions and Iran’s nuclear issue is resolvable just through negotiations,” Sajjadi said.
Ahmadinejad has been similarly defiant, stating that the central bank would respond with “force” to new American sanctions, adding that the bank was strong enough to defeat “enemy plans.”
This is part of a larger move to separate Iran from the dollar as much as possible, including eliminating the dollar entirely from Iranian oil trade with China, India and Japan.
The latter two countries are quite surprising when one considers the increasingly close relationship between Japan, India and the United States in the West’s quest to extend hegemony over the entirety of the Asia-Pacific region.
One must wonder if the United States would speak out against Japan and India’s trade ties with Iran or if they will hypocritically remain silent because they are critical allies in the region.
I tend to believe that it would likely be the latter as the United States has a long history of hypocrisy when it comes to foreign policy (and domestic policy for that matter).
We must also consider the fact that Iran is reaching out to form new alliances across the globe, apparently focusing on Latin America and Africa.
Yesterday Ahmadinejad arrived in Venezuela and is now embarking on a tour of four nations during which he will reportedly be pushing for investment projects like a hydro-electric plant in Ecuador, according to Bloomberg.
Bloomberg characterizes this as “taking shots at the U.S. in its own backyard, defying attempts to isolate Iran over its nuclear activities” and the friends he is making are not on the friendliest of terms with the American government.
Of course this includes Hugo Chavez of Venezuela and Raul Castro of Cuba and this will be his fifth trip to the region since 2005.
However, the moves towards Africa will likely make an even greater stir as the Iranian nuclear chief stated that Iran is prepared to assist “friendly” African nations that possess uranium reserves to establish facilities which can process natural uranium into material for nuclear programs.
Fereidoun Abbasi highlighted Iran’s ability to carry out the entire nuclear fuel cycle from extraction of uranium to fuel production and thus is willing and able to share the technology.
Given that the West is pushing incredibly hard for Iran to shut down any and all nuclear programs, it is unlikely to make anyone happy to know that Iran will be expanding their reach into Africa and providing allied nations with the means to produce nuclear fuel.
With the increasingly rapid buildup in the region and the move to arm Western allies that surround Iran, along with the American-Israeli drills which very well might coincide with the upcoming Iranian drills, it all seems like this situation is making an unfortunate turn.
Again, all we can hope is that those in power aren’t insane enough to engage in a conflict they know full well could – and likely would – spark World War III.