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Commentary Last Updated: Dec 12th, 2007 - 01:41:12

Iran is no threat and that�s official
By Linda S. Heard
Online Journal Contributing Writer

Dec 12, 2007, 01:39

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�They stole our threat� goes a headline in the Israeli daily, Haaretz. The author is, of course, referring to the recently published US National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) composed by 16 American intelligence agencies. It counters US and Israeli assertions that Iran is developing nuclear weapons. There�s been no such program since 2003, it states.

For those of us in the neighborhood, this is good news but the powers that be in Washington and Tel Aviv are seething. With plans to squeeze the Iranian leadership with further UN sanctions and a military option on the table, this was not what either country wanted to hear.

George W. Bush says the report doesn�t change anything. On the contrary, he says, it shows that Tehran was working toward the manufacture of nuclear weapons in the past and could reconstitute the program again.

When challenged by reporters over his �World War III� speech, he said nobody told him that Iran didn�t have a current weapons program. This assertion has gone down like a lead brick with skeptical administration�s critics.

Investigate reporter Seymour Hersh says it has been an open secret in Washington since last year. In any event, whatever remnants of credibility Bush still possessed after the Iraq fiasco have been shot.

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert says he is determined to work with the nuclear watchdog, the IAEA, to prove that Iran is developing nukes. If that�s so, he�s got a difficult task ahead because the head of the IAE, Mohammed El-Baradei, has consistently discounted such claims and been vilified by the US State Department for his stance.

The hawkish US vice president, Dick Cheney, is accused of trying to bury the intelligence estimate but he encountered opposition from Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who either wanted to put a brake on the warmongers or feared inopportune leaks. Moreover, US law mandates that intelligence estimates must be put before Congress. Whatever the real reason it�s been published, there is no doubt it has undercut the Bush administration�s military option rationale as well as its efforts to persuade Russia and China to sign up to further anti-Iranian sanctions.

China�s ambassador to the UN said, �We will assess the situation on proposals for a new resolution in the UN Security Council on the basis of several factors including the publication by the US of data showing that Iran does not have a military nuclear program.�

Russia�s foreign minister has trumpeted Iran�s willingness to adhere to the principles of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

For its part, Israel feels betrayed by the report�s authors. Zvi Ba�rel writing in Haaretz says �The anger against the American intelligence report is understandable. After all, the threat remains. Even if Iran is not nuclear at the moment, it is still a state with a proven arsenal of ballistic missiles that threatens Israel and the entire region.�

�This explains the profound disappointment, the feeling of betrayal and, especially, the panic over the American intelligence services� decision to peek under the Iranian cloak and suggest that there are significant holes in the �theory of the Iranian enemy,�� he writes.

Actually, Ba�rel, all the countries in our neck of the woods believe that Israel, which does possess a nuclear arsenal, is currently occupying Arab land and just last year launched a war against Lebanon, to be the greatest threat to this region.

Former US ambassador to the United Nations and arch neoconservative John Bolton is outraged over the estimate and angry with the intelligence community, which he claims has launched a �quasi-putsch� against the government position. �This is politics disguised as intelligence,� he said.

There is one question that leaps out. Why on earth are Washington and Tel Aviv so disappointed to hear good news and so eager to shovel for bad? Isn�t it odd, too, that the governments of both countries are so determined not to give Iran a clean bill of health that they would even discredit their own intelligence sources?

For me, the message is crystal clear. Iran hasn�t done anything wrong with the exception of its refusal to kowtow to Western interests, and it�s being targeted purely because it isn�t led by pro-Western marionettes. The US and Israel aren�t really concerned about a nuke threat. There isn�t one and they know it. Instead, they are worried that their obvious joint agenda to overthrow the Iranian regime has been derailed.

We shouldn�t be surprised. We�ve seen it all before. They hyped the so-called Iraqi threat by stressing on fictional weapons of mass destruction and the result is 4 millions Iraqis displaced and over 1 million civilians erased from the planet. I�m only surprised at the fact there isn�t more public anger when it�s plain we were duped once and, if the US and Israel had their way, we�d be duped again.

It looks as though the GCC countries have had enough of Washington crying wolf. During a regional security summit, held last weekend in Bahrain, they signaled their opposition to military strikes against Iran and called for roundtable dialogue -- a position that was also supported by Iraqi leaders attending the conference.

Whether anyone likes it or not, Iran is part of the neighborhood and it has signaled it wants closer ties with its neighbors. Surely it�s time for the nations of this region to band together and stand against further foreign adventurism, which costs so much in terms of lives, treasure and destroyed economies.

Just ask yourselves this. In the now unlikely event of a US/Israel strike on Iran, which people would end up as the biggest losers apart from the Iranians? The Americans are too far away and would, no doubt, lap up the action on their screens. The Israelis would move to their bunkers and rely on US-made anti-missile missiles for protection.

Iran has stated that in the event of an attack, it would retaliate against US interests in the Gulf and seek to close the Strait of Hormuz. The biggest losers by far would be the people here, who would also have nothing at all to gain. Such military aggression would also negatively impact the future. It would split nations in this region who must in the end share the same space and potentially lead to decades of mutual hostility.

There is only one way forward that will produce stability and peace -- unity. If only the GCC, Iraq and Iran can, for once, put up a firm united front, the sick neocon hegemonic dream would shrivel and eventually die.

Linda S. Heard is a British specialist writer on Middle East affairs. She welcomes feedback and can be contacted by email at

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