CRIMINALS AT LARGE: Nikki Haley, J. Bolton, M. Pompeo—not just above the law, well outside it. And with impunity.
Iran’s retention of archives related to its past covert nuclear weapons program (the Amad Plan), as well as its efforts to keep many scientists and technicians from that former weapons program working together under the continued leadership of the former head of that program, raise serious questions regarding whether Iran intended to preserve the option to resume elements of a nuclear weapons program in the future….
—US Department of State report, “Adherence to and compliance with Arms Control, Nonproliferation, and Disarmament Agreements and Commitments,” April 2019
With absolutely zero good reasons for waging war on Iran, the Trump administration goes on making stuff up to lie the country into yet another war. The template looks like the Bush administration’s successful effort to lie the US into the Iraq War, the catastrophic effects of which keep unfolding.
The State Department report quoted above garnered some anti-Iran media headlines, but the total fact content is slim. The reports states as facts that Iran has an archive and that it has kept some of a scientific team working together. That’s it. There are no other alleged facts, damaging or otherwise.
There is a lot of speculation in service to fearmongering (nothing yet as egregious as then National Security Advisor Condoleeza Rice saying – with no basis in fact – “We don’t want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud.”
The Trump people are working on it, but some are apparently dragging their heels for the sake of some sort of integrity. The State Department first posted its report online on April 15, then pulled it down, then re-posted it April 17 (the quote above is from that version), without yet explaining what was going on.
According to Reuters, the report “provoked a dispute with U.S. intelligence agencies and some State Department officials concerned that the document politicizes and slants assessments about Iran, five sources with knowledge of the matter said.” Reuters did not report any details of the supposed dispute. As a factual matter, the politicized and slanted assessments of Iran are confirmed by a straightforward reading of the text.
The larger issue in the report is international compliance with the 1968 Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), to which there are 190 parties. Among the non-parties are nuclear-armed states India and Pakistan, as well as South Sudan. The report does not mention them, but has some sharp words for North Korea, Syria, and Russia.
The State Department also omitted Israel, another nuclear-armed state that is not a party to the treaty. Besides being non-compliant, Israel is allied with the US in obdurate opposition to the NPT’s primary purpose of nuclear disarmament.
And in a bookend hypocrisy, the report omitted Saudi Arabia and the US suggestion to give them nuclear technology, which would surely be an NPT violation.
The release of the report follows Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s April 10 appearance before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in support of State’s $40 billion budget request. In his written statement, with no supporting evidence, Pompeo submitted an article of faith that is at least partly false:
We know that the Islamic Republic of Iran’s authoritarian regime will continue to use their nation’s resources to proliferate conflict in Iraq, Yemen, Syria, and beyond. It will continue to bankroll terrorist groups like Hamas and Hezbollah. The United States will therefore work together with our allies and partners to counter Tehran’s aggressive actions to undermine peace and security in the Middle East and beyond.
Last time anyone checked, it was the US that invaded Iraq in a war of aggression that violated international law. It was Saudi Arabia, with US support, that attacked Yemen in a war of aggression that violates international law. In Syria, the country came apart because of multiple factors including a record drought, popular resistance to a dictator, and broad international interference of which Iran was not a major factor. Or, to put it another way, Pompeo lied, in service to his self-proclaimed Christo-fascist ideology.
Republican senator Rand Paul of Kentucky challenged Pompeo on the administration’s apparent march to war on Iran. After trying to sidestep the questioning, Pompeo asserted that the US could attack Iran based on the Authorization to Use Military Force (AUMF) passed overwhelmingly in 2001 after the 9/11 attacks. The only member of Congress to vote against this blank war-making check was Representative Barbara Lee of Oakland.
The AUMF requires some connection to the 9/11 attackers to be invoked. There has never been any credible evidence connecting Iran even indirectly to 9/11, which was carried out by mostly Saudi nationals. Nevertheless Pompeo deceitfully asserted: “There is a connection between the Islamic Republic of Iran and al-Qaeda. Period, full stop.”
“You do not have our permission to go to war in Iran,” Senator Paul rejoined, ignoring Pompeo’s assertion that the administration didn’t need anyone’s permission.
Two days earlier, on April 8, the Trump administration had advanced its economic war on Iran by designating a part of Iran’s government, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), as a foreign terrorist organization. The deliberate provocation was based on little credible evidence. Pompeo cited alleged IRGC involvement in an earlier 1996 attack and a foiled plot in 2011, both of which involved Saudi targets. Another State Department official blamed Iran for American deaths in the Iraq War. The official party line demonizing Iran was parroted nicely in President Trump’s official announcement:
Today, I am formally announcing my Administration’s plan to designate Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), including its Qods Force, as a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) under Section 219 of the Immigration and Nationality Act. This unprecedented step, led by the Department of State, recognizes the reality that Iran is not only a State Sponsor of Terrorism, but that the IRGC actively participates in, finances, and promotes terrorism as a tool of statecraft. The IRGC is the Iranian government’s primary means of directing and implementing its global terrorist campaign.
This designation will be the first time that the United States has ever named a part of another government as a FTO. It underscores the fact that Iran’s actions are fundamentally different from those of other governments….
Actually, Iran’s actions are not fundamentally different from those of other governments, starting with the US, which carries out continuing terrorist attacks in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia, Yemen, Libya, and places we have yet to learn about. On April 16, Iran responded to the US terrorist designation by making one of its own against the region’s US Central Command, CENTCOM, whose favored terrorist tactics include death squads and drone strikes.
It gets worse for the US. According to Francis Boyle, professor of international law at the University of Illinois College of Law, the designation of the IRGC is:
… a complete negation and violation of the Third Geneva Convention of 1949 and thus a war crime. It opens us up to reprisals against our own military forces. Under the laws of war, reprisals against military personnel are permissible. This is continuing down the path of Bush Jr. determining that the Taliban and al Qaida are not protected by the Geneva Conventions, which was rejected by the US Supreme Court in the Hamden decision…. Iran could now determine that US Special Forces, Seals, Green Berets, Rangers, etc., are terrorists and thus do not benefit from the Third Geneva Convention. Apparently, for that reason, the Pentagon was against it. [emphasis added]
CENTCOM’s own official description of Iran is free of Trumpish hysteria, while paying lip service to terrorist activities of more than 20 years ago. The detached CENTCOM summary concludes on a somewhat optimistic note:
The UN Security Council has passed a number of resolutions calling for Iran to suspend its uranium enrichment and reprocessing activities and comply with its IAEA obligations and responsibilities, and in July 2015 Iran and the five permanent members, plus Germany (P5+1) signed the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) under which Iran agreed to restrictions on its nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief.
This possibility of re-establishing regional peace and normalization was one of the first things the Trump administration needed no permission to try to destroy. The Trump administration violated international law with its action, since the Iran agreement is part of a UN Security Council resolution (that the US approved). The other members of the Iran agreement continue to try to hold it together, since Iran has met all its obligations under the agreement. The Trump administration falsely claims otherwise. Judged by its actions to date, the Trump administration will be satisfied with nothing less than Iranian capitulation, and if that requires genocide, so be it – all part of God’s plan.
Those persuaded that God is on the side of the US may be getting some perverse satisfaction from the brutal weather visited on Iran (also Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria) since the last week of March. Record rains have covered the region. Flooding has killed an estimated 80 Iranians while threatening and disrupting the lives of ten million. In an inhumanitarian triumph, US sanctions on Iran have blocked humanitarian aid to the flood victims. US sanctions are blocking cash support to the Iranian Red Crescent, the equivalent of the Red Cross. Iranian president Hasan Rouhani has called on the US to lift sanctions for a year to help Iran cope with its humanitarian crisis.
This natural disaster of climate change dimensions has been little reported in American media, a Swedish report in CounterPunch being an exception. In Iran, serious flooding has hit 28 of the country’s 31 provinces. The UN has been responding to the need, and as of April 13 reported that “Armenia, Azerbaijan, France, Germany, Japan, Kuwait, Oman, Pakistan, Russia, Switzerland, Turkey, Vatican have provided relief items to the Government of Iran in support of the response.” The US response has been limited to attacks and threats. Most US allies in NATO or the European Union remain AWOL, perhaps cowed by American threats to enforce US law in their home countries (that’s the way sanctions work). Last fall, the International Court of Justice (IJC) at the UN ruled that the US had to remove sanctions that target humanitarian trade, food, medicine, and civil aviation. The ruling enforced the terms of the 1955 Treaty of Amity between the US and Iran.
Secretary of State Pompeo promptly responded that the international court couldn’t tell the US what to do and, anyway, the US was quitting that treaty, “a decision, frankly, that is 39 years overdue.” Pompeo accused Iran of bringing a “meritless case” (that Iran won) and of “attempting to interfere with the sovereign rights of the United States.” The Christo-fascist sore loser added that “Iran is abusing the IJC for political and propaganda purposes.”
So it’s no wonder the North Koreans requested that the US remove Pompeo from further negotiations on denuclearization. They blame Pompeo’s “talking nonsense” and being “reckless” and “gangster-like” behavior for the failure of talks in February. The Koreans are looking for someone who is “more careful and mature in communicating with us.”
Surely Iranians would agree with that, and so should Americans.