Here we go again. We’re being told yet again – as well as several times over the last few years – that Iran is about to produce a nuclear weapon and must be stopped at all costs by bombing their nuclear facilities. What is asserted to be new this time is that, firstly, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has allegedly found new evidence of a possible nuclear weapons programme in Iran, secondly that Iran has allegedly been behind some recent assassination attempts abroad against Saudi officials, and thirdly that Iran has allegedly installed a set of centrifuges to a heavily fortified site dug beneath a mountain at Fordow near Qom which may be impregnable to a missile strike. There are good reasons for doubting each of these claims; and after we were given absolute assurances that Saddam’s weapons of mass destruction, which turned out to be non-existent, justified a war in Iraq, we should now treat these latest allegations about Iran with extreme scepticism.
On the first point, neither international law nor the NPT prohibits uranium enrichment, and there is nothing to prevent Iran seeking the technical capacity to manufacture nuclear weapons without actually doing so. On the second, the three recent assassination plots attributed to Iran have not been proved and look more like a convenient trumped-up casus belli. On the third, whether or not the Fordow site is impregnable is not a reason under international law for it to be attacked in a pre-emptive strike.
It is disturbing that we are now seeing the same obfuscations and misleading so-called intelligence reports as we saw in the build-up to the invasion of Iraq, and again we are seeing Britain tamely falling into line behind a hatched US-Israeli neocon adventure. This attack on Iran is now the greatest threat to world peace today. Nobody should be naive about an Iranian nuclear weapon, but it is true that Iran, unlike Israel, has never invaded other countries and Israel remains a far more aggressive and dangerous source of instability in the Middle East than Iran. And it might be questioned, if Iran is not allowed to have nuclear weapons, on what grounds is a much more assertive and threatening power like Israel allowed to retain them?
A US-Israeli attack on Iran would be extremely dangerous, it would be clearly illegal, it is wholly unjustified on the evidence available, and would almost certainly be utterly counter-productive. Britain should be strongly deploring and resisting this, and telling the US that we will do nothing to support this, and certainly not allow our Diego Garcia base to be used for this purpose.