In response to a recent posting titled “Nuclear IQ” where I attempted to expose the myth crafted by the Western media that Iran by continuing to enrich Uranium is in breach of the Non-Proliferation Treaty, I was accused by Mr. Rahmanian of “whitewashing the threats of a nuclear Iran” and promoting the idea that their program is aimed at developing peaceful nuclear technology [See “Do we really need nuclear technology?“]. What has led this reader to reach such conclusion is beyond this writer's comprehension.
He then cavalierly questions whether I'm “an insider”? Well let's see; if digging up a little history and actually reading the articles of the NPT makes me an insider then yes by all means– guilty as charged. But most confounding was the statement that “it is not always the reporting that is to blame [for us being misinformed] but it is the way we tend to perceive things that determines our reactions to any kind of reporting”. Huh?
The way we perceive things is directly determined by the manner it is packaged and then repeated over and over until we accept them as truth both at cognizant and unconscious level. I sighted the following familiar example often in the news:
“Iran refuses to suspend its uranium enrichment activity, which can produce among other things, the material for atomic bombs. Tehran insists that its nuclear program is for generating electricity but the West believes Iran wants to make nuclear weapons.”
This should've been self evident but apparently our friend did not find anything wrong with the way it is worded which intentionally manipulates the mind and creates an impression on the part of the unsuspecting public that Uranium enrichment is an unlawful act associated only with producing atomic bombs. He then asks how else the above piece of news could be worded so it would not “offend” any side. Never mind offending, just spare us the misinformation, fear-mongering and the dramatic and stick with the facts:
“Iran refuses to give up its right to uranium enrichment; the process allowed by the NPT and by which necessary fuel to power nuclear reactors is produced. Tehran insists that its nuclear program is for generating electricity but the West accuses Iran of intending to produce nuclear weapons, a charge not confirmed by the UN nuclear watch dog agency”.
Now isn't that much more informative and far less frightening? Perhaps Mr. Rahmanian would also be relived to find that the IAEA and the UN inspectors investigating Iran's nuclear program did lodge a formal complaint in a letter dated September 12, 2006 to the Bush administration about a recent House committee report on Iran's capabilities, calling parts of the document “outrageous and dishonest” and offering evidence to disprove all its central claims and particularly refute the report's assertion that Iran is producing “weapons-grade” enriched uranium.
As to Mr. Rahmanian's indictment that “Iran's nuclear activities were kept secret for years and neither the people of Iran nor other signatories to NPT knew anything about it” until they were exposed by the reputable MEK terrorist organization, the IAEA letter also charges that the report's description of those activities — in particular, the so called “covert” production of polonium-210 — is misleading since Iran was under no obligation under its Safeguards Agreement to report such activities.
The agreement in force at the time with the IAEA read that “Iran is not required to allow IAEA inspections of a new nuclear facility until six months before nuclear material is introduced into it”. That means they were not even required to inform the IAEA of their existence until then, a point conceded by Britain at the March 2003 Board of Governors meeting. The 'six months' clause was a standard part of all IAEA safeguards agreements. Nonetheless, Iran did allow intrusive inspections of their facilities by the IAEA pursuant to the Additional Protocol, and the Agency concluded that none were related to any secret nuclear weapons program.
The other main theme of my commentary was to expose the Western and United States in particular lack of moral authority to accuse Iran of pursuing nuclear weapons when the U.S. remains to be the only nation that has actually used such weapons and continues to maintain and modernize those weapons in clear violation of the NPT. I did not get into any arguments on whether or not that horrendous act of genocide on civilians was somehow justified. But since Mr. Rahmanian demanded that I provide some historical background then let us examine some of the utterly discredited but immortal claims that millions of lives would have been lost in an invasion, and that the Japanese would not have surrendered without either an invasion or the atomic bombing of their country.
Neither claim withstands an honest examination of the evidence. First the estimate of possible casualties is a gross exaggeration, and secondly the Japanese war machine was already broken by 1945, and its leaders were ready to surrender only if the US would agree not to try their Emperor for war crimes and allow him to keep his seat, which it did anyway. US leaders knew this because Japanese codes had already been broken at the time.
In the book “Fathering the Unthinkable: Masculinity, Scientists and the Nuclear Arms Race” Brian Easley describes the relevant events and views of key participants. One especially telling point he brings up is the omission of any mention of weapons of mass destruction or nuclear weapons in particular, in the Potsdam Declaration issued on July 26, 1945 by Harry S. Truman, Winston Churchill, and Chiang Kai-Shek, because “Stalin would have wanted details” about the bomb, and “Japan might possibly have surrendered before the bombs could have been dropped thus not allowing [the US] to demonstrate to Stalin the power of its new ultimate weapon and the willingness of the American administration to use them.”
Howard Zinn, in his “People's History of the United States“, gives an account that belies the purity of U.S. motives. For one thing, “Japan, by August 1945, was in desperate shape and ready to surrender” (pg. 413). He quotes New York Times military analyst Hanson Baldwin, who says we almost certainly did not need to nuke the two cities. Zinn describes how the Japanese code had been broken at the time and American intelligence was relaying messages to the effect that the Japanese were ready to surrender if only the US agreed not to try the Emperor for war crimes and allow him to keep his seat.
Zinn suggests that perhaps the money and effort invested in developing the Bomb influenced the decision to go ahead and use it. The military's desire to see the effects of nuclear weapons, one uranium-fueled, the other plutonium-fueled, on populated areas was another probable contributing motive. This is supported by the scheduling of the two bombings two days apart, so that there would be no time for Japan to surrender before the second bomb was dropped. Zinn cites P.M.S. Blackett (Fear, War, and the Bomb) and Gar Alperovitz (Atomic Diplomacy), who separately argue that political considerations with regard to the Soviet Union definitely played a major role in the decision. Alperovitz quotes Navy Secretary James Forrestal “describing Secretary of State James F. Byrnes as “most anxious to get the Japanese affair over with before the Russians got in” (Zinn, pg. 415).
In “Bombs for Beginners”, John Stockwell, the highest-ranking former CIA officer ever to resign in protest over US foreign policy, writes:
“Knowing that Japan was facing imminent defeat, Russia declared war in early August. American leaders were desperate to cut Stalin and his cohorts out of the victory. General Eisenhower was among those who opposed the bombs' use. A demonstration bomb, dropped near Tokyo, would have conveyed the relevant message [to Japan] … [But some US leaders] were obsessed with the fervor of war. They were determined to punish the Japanese and show the world how powerful the United States was and how tough-minded its leaders were” (pgs. 6-7). “Unless Japan surrendered immediately to the US, the United States would have faced a Berlin-type solution, i.e., joint occupation of Japan with the Soviets” (pgs. 22-23)
Sociologist Lester Kurtz of the University of Texas at Austin writes that public statements by Truman and others that avoiding an invasion saved 500,000 to a million American lives “were a deliberate lie,” and concludes that “the real target of the bombing was the Soviet Union.” He refers to the same briefing paper as Stockwell and Alperovitz, saying the U.S. soldier death estimate given to Truman was about 40,000. He quotes Admiral William D. Leahy, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff: “The use of this barbarous weapon at Hiroshima and Nagasaki was of no material assistance in our war against Japan.
The Japanese were already defeated and ready to surrender” (Alperovitz, in Kurtz, “The Nuclear Cage: A Sociology of the Arms Race”; Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1988, pg. 22). Kurtz quotes Thomas Powers, who says General Leslie Groves was convinced within a few weeks of becoming director of the Manhattan Project that “Russia was our enemy and the project was conducted on that basis” (Powers, “Thinking about the Next War”, New York: Mentor Books, 1984, p 138, in Kurtz, pg. 22).
Mr. Rahmanian, the sad and inescapable truth about the tragic atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki is that it served two primary purposes ˆTesting the effectiveness of this new barbaric weapon; and scaring the Soviets and the rest of the world into accepting the U.S. as the new supreme world power.
Having built and used that ultimate weapon, the US adopted a failed policy of monopoly and exclusion by refusing to cooperate even with its closest wartime ally Britain. But by 1964, both Britain and France were declared nuclear weapon states along with Soviet Union and China that posed the very first proliferation fear for the West which desperately looked for a way to stop it. In 1965, the Geneva disarmament conference began considering a draft non proliferation treaty which led to the introduction of the formal treaty which was then opened for signature on July 1, 1968 and entered into force on March 5, 1970 and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) was charged with the primary task of verifying that parties to the NPT are complying with its terms.
The strategy of the Western countries vis-à-vis Iran is nothing short of nuclear apartheid and is precisely the very same failed policy of monopoly and exclusion adopted by the United States at onset of the nuclear age which actually led to nuclear proliferation before ratification of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. This time around the treaty itself will be the first casualty of that unwise policy.
Daniel M Pourkesali is a member of the Campaign Against Sanctions and Military Intervention in Iran. This article was originally published in CampaignIran.org.