Frequently Asked Questions About Iran Sanctions
Q: isn’t Iran’s nuclear program illegal?
A: No. It’s not. Iran is a signatory to the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) that was established through the UN to prevent the proliferation of nuclear weapons by providing a program to the signatory nations that want to develop nuclear technology for things like energy, medicine and research, as long as it’s not for developing nuclear bombs. To ensure compliance, an agency was created called International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to monitor members’ nuclear activities through a program of on-site inspections, testing and review of programs, plans and documents. Iran joined this program voluntarily to avoid being suspected of developing nuclear bombs.
Q: But, isn’t the Iranian regime trying to develop nuclear bombs through this program?
A: There is a difference between wanting something and actually trying to get it. Do they want it? I’d say yes, most probably. Who wouldn’t, especially since Israel has them, not to mention the US and others? So, I don’t believe them when they say they don’t want it. But, are they trying to get it? Both Obama Administration and the CIA, have repeatedly answered that question in the negative and have said that based on their intelligence, Iran’s leaders have not yet decided to develop the bomb.
Q: Have they been cooperating with the IAEA and their inspections?
A: Yes. Not only they have allowed all inspections of all their facilities and equipment asked for by the IAEA, including sensitive military facilities, and not only have they provided all documentation and allowed testing, they have allowed the agency to set up a video camera to monitor their activities 24/7. Not once has the IAEA reported non-cooperation by the regime.
Q: Didn’t IAEA find a military dimension to their nuclear program, though?
A: Most countries that have a military and a military program, do research and development on military technology and weapons. Iran has made no secret of its missile program, for example, and in fact boasts about it. Since the inspections can cover any facility, including military sites and facilities that have nothing to do with the nuclear program, there is always a chance that they may find technology or components that may have both non-nuclear, as well as, nuclear application. If the government is found to be doing research on something that can be used in both missiles, as well as, in a nuclear bomb, but the regime has no missile program, then it’s a good indication it’s trying to develop a bomb, but if it has a missile program as does Iran and inspectors find a dual-use component or research, then not only it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s meant for a nuclear bomb, but on the contrary, it should cause no surprise. All the IAEA reported was that they found such dual-use research and said, without drawing a definitive conclusion, that those dual use components could be used for a nuclear bomb and therefore the regime could be doing research on nuclear weapons. That’s what the media grabbed on; otherwise, repeated, strict and unforgiving inspections have consistently shown no sign of a nuclear program.
What was reported widely in US media was that according to IAEA’s report, Iran might be pursuing nuclear weapons, but that was nothing more than a possibility, not a conclusion. Contrary to the reports in media, IAEA noted that its inspections of Iran’s facilities continue to show no diversion of uranium for military purposes, but that assertion was deliberately dropped from media reports.
University of Southern California chemical engineering professor Muhammad Sahimi wrote (11/9/11) the following about that IAEA report:
“The report discussed in detail the use of fast-functioning detonators, known as ’exploding bridgewire detonators’ (EBWs), which are needed in nuclear weapons but by the IAEA’s own admission, Iran informed the agency in 2008 that it had developed EBWs for use in conventional and civilian applications” which to IAEA’s admission “there exist non-nuclear applications, albeit few, for detonators like EBWs”. As reported by Fairness and Accuracy In Reporting (FAIR), “the IAEA report also focused on design and computer modeling research that Iran may have pursued. There was suspicion that that research had nuclear dimensions, but there was no solid evidence that this was the case”. As Sahimi wrote, “some of the apparently worrisome computer modeling could very well relate to Iran’s conventional warhead missile program that it has never hidden, but has in fact boasted about” – a possibility acknowledged by IAEA. “The agency did not itself allege that those activities were related to a nuclear warhead, but that they were ‘relevant’”.
In other words, Iran COULD be pursuing nuclear weapons, but so far, inspections have NOT shown that and there is no evidence, but only “could”s and “might”s and facts that are “relevant”, but not conclusive. And those areas of suspicion were determined to have non-nuclear uses, as well.
Does this mean the regime isn’t trying to conduct research on nuclear technology for military applications? No, it doesn’t, but it also doesn’t mean that they are.
Q: So, why are the US and its allies trying to stop Iran from enriching uranium if it’s within the allowed parameters provided by the NPT and inspections by IAEA have not shown they are pursuing nuclear weapons and their leaders have not decided to do so?
A: What is true is that the US and its allies don’t want Iran – under the rule of this regime or a future one – to have the nuclear technology and know-how. They don’t want them to be able to one day develop nuclear bombs and jeopardize the monopoly Israel enjoys in the region because then Israel could not do whatever they want and would have to think twice before attacking. Right now, they don’t have that concern; that’s why they can go on with their threats, assassinations, sabotage and even a possible military strike.
But, that’s not the only reason for the sanctions. Many wrongly believe that sanctions are a way of forcing the regime to comply with the demand to stop enriching uranium. That’s just not true. Sanctions are meant to cripple and bankrupt the economy and weaken and even devastate the country to make it easier to attack and topple the regime. Military interventions usually happen in the midst of chaos – economic, social or political. Their hope is that the sanctions will bring about chaos, economic havoc and widespread social unrest and pave the way for military attack and regime change.
But, if you think sanctions mainly hurt the regime, you’re wrong. Sanctions and embargoes kill the most vulnerable: children, elderly and the poor. And their effect and devastation doesn’t stop with the regime’s fall. They are devastating to the entire nation, not just now, but for all time to come.
What we must understand is that sanctions are not so much about nuclear disarmament, as about weakening and setting back the country, including its economy and infrastructure, as well as its conventional military capabilities to render it defenseless. Should there be a military strike, the first sites that will be hit are not the supposed nuclear sites that are nowhere near developing bombs, but the missile and other conventional military sites, not to mention food depots, water treatment facilities, power distribution networks, bridges, airports, communication networks and heavily populated urban areas.
They’re not imposing sanctions because they are worried that Iran will make the bomb and drop it on Israel so it should be stopped. That concern is a fake one manufactured to justify the sanctions and economic and trade embargoes. They know that even if Iran were to acquire the nukes, they’d never use it first since that would be suicidal for them. The regime may be many things, but they’re not stupid or crazy. In fact, despite claims by Israeli leaders that they are crazy, they know they’re not; that’s why the CIA and Israel’s Mossad keep assassinating Iranian scientists and engage in sabotage and cyber attacks without fear of retribution. Even though Iran doesn’t have nukes, they do have missiles that could reach Israel. The reason they don’t retaliate is because they’re not stupid or crazy; they know it would be suicide with or without nukes, not just because Israel has nuclear bombs, but because they know that both Israel and the US and its allies would find the excuse to bombard the country to pieces. They know war with Israel, regardless of the reason and regardless of who starts it, means war with the US. And, this situation wouldn’t change, were Iran to acquire the bomb: they still couldn’t instigate an attack on Israel since they know Israel has hundreds of nukes and the US has tens of thousands. What would be different had Iran possessed the nukes is that they would be able to defend themselves which now they really can’t and that’s what the US and its allies don’t want to see.
This is not new. Despite all the talk of Saddam’s alleged WMD’s, the fact that they invaded the country shows they were lying and knew he didn’t have them; if they thought he did, they wouldn’t invade it. It’s as simple as that.
The nuclear issue is just a pretext, pure and simple. If it weren’t that, it would be something else. In fact, when they thought Iran might be agreeing to all their demands, they brought up “supporting terrorism”. They’ve been wanting to do regime change in Iran ever since the revolution overthrew their puppet dictator, the late Shah, who sold his people out to US corporations and amassed incredible wealth for himself leaving his people in poverty and misery. This is what the US government does routinely on behalf its corporations: it installs and supports dictators who take orders from Washington and maintain conditions that ensure maximum profits for giant US corporations through low wages and absence of workers’ unions and environmental protection and worker safety laws and taxes, as well as military and strategic cooperation such as allowing the establishment of military bases and cooperating when the Empire wants to attack a neighboring country and voting with them at the UN, etc. In exchange the dictator gets to stay in power and accumulate insane wealth for himself, while his people live in poverty and under brutal oppression, as we’ve seen with many dictators around the world. And, if a regime refuses to play along and does what it wants, it will becomes a target for regime change, especially if it’s an oil rich nation such as Iraq, Libya and Iran or if its location or resources are of importance to them such as Afghanistan and Syria.
Now, I will be the first to say that the Islamic Republic is not a democratic state and it does oppress its people, especially women, and it does jail and even execute its opponents every day, etc., but, it’s up to the Iranian people to stand up and change the regime, not for colonial powers, just as it’s up to the American people to change their government, especially considering that what the US and its allies want is not a democratic government that cares for its people, but a puppet dictator taking orders from them and helping with their empire building, selling out its people.
The sanctions and economic, financial and trade embargoes hurt the people the most, as they make the currency crash and cause runaway inflation, putting food and medicine out of reach for millions of working people, resulting in the death of tens of thousands, especially children and elderly. The UN estimated that the sanctions that were imposed on Iraq prior to US invasion resulted in the death of half a million children.
Some wrongly believe that sanctions will make military strike unnecessary. Not only that’s not true – as I said, sanctions do not preclude military attack, but on the contrary, facilitate it; in other words, sanctions are the prelude to military attack – but, is killing hundreds of thousands through sanctions any better than a military attack? The situation has already become extremely difficult and unbearable for people as you read this. People are really hurting and dying. The government is having a hard time keeping up with subsidies they pay to the most needy. It’s already causing malnutrition and starvation among the poor.
The fact that the US and its allies know all this and don’t care says a lot about them, but is hardly surprising. These sanctions are nothing short of collective punishment and crime against humanity and must be stopped, immediately.