Two days ago, Israeli president Netanyahu has claimed that the only way to stop Iran from getting a nuclear weapon is U.S. threats of military action against Iran:
“There has only been one time that Iran actually stopped the program,” Netanyahu told Fox News’ Chris Wallace Sunday. “That was when it feared US military action.”
Netanyahu is, in short, encouraging the U.S. to threaten Iran with military action, in response to unproven allegations that Iran is developing nuclear weapons. The threat of force against an independant nation is a contravention of the Charter of the United Nations – article 2, paragraph 4:
All Members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state, or in any other manner inconsistent with the Purposes of the United Nations.
Israel has also independently threatened Iran with military force to stop its development of a nuclear program – peaceful or otherwise. As reported in the BBC on July 6th:
“If Iran continues with its programme for developing nuclear weapons, we will attack it. The sanctions are ineffective,” Mr Mofaz told Yediot Ahronot.
Threats of war are a serious problem. If we look at article one, chapter one of the UN charter, we find that the declared first principle of the United Nations is:
To maintain international peace and security, to take effective collective measures for the prevention and removal of threats to the peace, and for the suppression of acts of aggression or other breaches of the peace, and to bring about by peaceful means, and in conformity with the principles of justice and international law, adjustment or settlement of international disputes or situations which might lead to a breach of the peace;
It’s a nice idea, no doubt. And if Obama and Netanyahu were to act on the simple principle that one should hold oneself to the same standards that expect others to meet, then there would be no impending war with Iran. But, there still could be the secret development of nuclear arms in Iran. It’s actually possible to say something relatively intelligent about this – Israeli historian Martin Levi van Creveld described Iran’s position in the region in a 2004 opinion piece in the New York Times:
Even if the Iranians are working on a bomb, Israel may not be their real concern. Iran is now surrounded by American forces on all sides — in the Central Asian republics to the north, Afghanistan to the east, the Gulf to the South and Iraq to the west. Shamkhani expressed Tehran’s unease at the American presence in an Al Jazeera interview broadcast late Wednesday, in which he hinted that some Iranian commanders believe they should strike first if they sense an imminent threat from the United States.
Wherever U.S forces go, nuclear weapons go with them or can be made to follow in short order. The world has witnessed how the United States attacked Iraq for, as it turned out, no reason at all. Had the Iranians not tried to build nuclear weapons, they would be crazy.
Though Iran is ruled by Islamic fundamentalists, most commentators who are familiar with the country do not regard its government as irrational. The only figure capable of inspiring Iranians to extraordinary sacrifices, Ayatollah Khomeini, died more than a decade ago. Even before then, it was Saddam Hussein who attacked Iran, not the other way around; since then Iran has been no more aggressive than most countries are.
In short, Iran is effectively being encouraged to develop Nuclear weapons by American imperialist foreign policy in the region. If we were to find that Iran was developing a bomb, we should not be in the least surprised – and we should not interpret it as an aggressive act at all but as self-defence.
But it’s worse, if Iran’s building of a nuclear bomb is interpreted as a rationally required response to American imperialism, then America could actually be considered responsible for a potential Iranian breech of the non proliferation treaty. This is because of how “aggression” was defined at the Nuremburg trials, (citing from the UN website on war crimes):
The Nürnberg Tribunal condemned a war of aggression in the strongest terms: “To initiate a war of aggression . . . is not only an international crime; it is the supreme international crime differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole.”
Now, I’ll admit this is a bit of a stretch because the US have not engaged in a war of agression against Iran – but they have committed the crime of aggression insofar as Obama has continued to threaten Iran with nuclear war:
the U.S. will not launch a nuclear attack against any country that signs the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and abides by it, a loophole leaving both North Korea and Iran on any potential target list.
Obama should rescind this threat of first strike nuclear war, and change US middle east foreign policy to tolerate dissent. Supporting democracy means not supporting or enacting the overthrow of democratically elected governments.