Russia or the West: Who’s Really Rattling the Nuclear Saber?

Since the sealing of the ‘Iranian nuclear deal’ last month, there have been some dramatic developments in the region, with new alliances being forged and old ones broken.

While the US tries to take credit for ‘removing the Iranian threat’, the credit actually goes to Russia and its patient but dogged foreign emissaries. Their record is admirable – particularly that of Sergei Lavrov, in seeking peaceful resolutions for the conflicts stirred up by the US and its allies in pursuit of their own aggressive agenda.

Although the so-called ‘P5+1’ talks – the US, UK, France, Russia, China + Germany – have been presented to us as a contest between six world powers and Iran, this is as usual only half the story – both Russia and China have significant interests and political sympathies with Iran. Western governments and their media actually avoid the other half of the story, and particularly avoid mentioning Russia’s central role in the construction of Iran’s nuclear power plants. 

Clearly admitting that Iran has only been enriching Uranium to make nuclear fuel doesn’t fit the Western narrative – how could sanctions be justified on that basis? So we may assume that Russia has been a strong voice in the ‘talks’ on getting the sanctions lifted, particularly now that it suffers under similar politically motivated sanctions itself. 

We may also assume that Russia understands quite well that this whole business has nothing to do with Iran getting nuclear weapons – that it is a charade. (And just as the sanctions against Russia have nothing to do with its ‘annexation of Crimea’ or ‘Russian forces in Ukraine’ – this too is a charade.)

We have to assume these things, because neither Russia, China nor even Iran has spoken out and denounced the process, or the endless roadblocks that the US and allies have put in the way of an agreement.

Perhaps they have just decided to play the game, knowing that one day the Western powers will be forced to play by the rules because their own intelligence agencies have told them the truth – that Iran never had any nuclear weapons or any intention to build them, or at least not since 2003.

It’s actually only the poor mal-informed citizens of Western countries, fed an anti-Iranian diet ever since the Iranian revolution kicked out the Shah and his Western entourage, who believe the sanctions and talks have been about Iran’s nuclear weapons program.

All this shouldn’t mislead us into thinking nothing has been gained – quite the contrary – the lifting of sanctions is the only real achievement of these talks, and the hostility with which Israel, Saudi Arabia and the US Republicans have greeted the result shows how significant it is.

There was one aspect of the nuclear part of the negotiations which was especially notable however, and which Iran wasted no time in pointing out – Iran was now declared as ‘nuclear weapon free’ and would lead the way in promoting nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament.

Writing in the Guardian, Iran’s lead negotiator and Foreign Minister Javad Zarif called for a nuclear-weapon free Middle East, pointing out that the only impediment to this was Israel with its arsenal of several hundred nuclear weapons. The cognitive-dissonance-inducing reality of Israel with its undeclared arsenal and history of local and regional aggression, tolerated or overlooked by its Western allies, allowed Zarif’s call to disappear into the ether.

It was certainly invisible only a week later, when discussion about the justification for America’s obliteration of Hiroshima and Nagasaki seventy years ago was mostly relegated to the ‘history channel’. (Though the history revealing that this mega-war-crime was primarily committed for strategic advantage against the Soviet Union was only discussed in alternative media).

If the current situation got a mention however, it was always about ‘the US and Russia’, with talk of Russia’s ‘nuclear threat’ disguising the reality of the US’ continuing development of nuclear capability and refusal to keep to the non-proliferation treaty. 

With snide references to Russia’s ‘unprecedented nuclear sabre-rattling in Ukraine’, the Guardian in typical style bemoaned the nuclear missile MAD-ness, but then remade the case for nuclear deterrence because of the danger other countries may use them first. 

Astonishingly this editorial didn’t think to mention the UK’s US-controlled Trident missile system, currently under review and a very hot topic thanks to solid opposition from the SNP and the aspiring new Labour party leader Jeremy Corbyn.

While it might be starry-eyed to see Russia’s nuclear arsenal purely as justifiable for self-defence, the context of the ‘nuclear sabre-rattling’ claim puts it in that category – Russia’s ‘threat to strike first’ was quite clearly deterrent, and well understood as such by NATO.

And as a last word on Iran, it should be pointed out that of all nations, Iran actually had cause to possess a nuclear deterrent, given constant threats of attack from both Israel and the US.

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