In his first visit to the United States as Prime Minister of Israel, Ehud Olmert told a joint meeting of the United States Houses of Congress on Wednesday, May 24, that a "nuclear armed Iran is an intolerable threat to the peace and security of the world," which "cannot be permitted to materialize."
Despite Olmert's claim that Teheran is developing nuclear bombs, it is unclear whether this is the case. What is clear is that Iran is now enriching home processed uranium, whereas initially it used enriched uranium from China.
According to a Reuters report it "is now using domestically processed uranium in its nuclear program, an Iranian diplomat said on Friday after some doubts were cast on his country's recent enrichment claims." (Reuters, May 19) However, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) stated on May 18, that the processed uranium, uranium hexafluoride (UF6) that Iran has purified was almost certainly Chinese UF6 and not Iranian.
The same Iranian diplomat addressing this issue replied that "the first tests were made using UF6 bought from China but one week after that, we started to use the UF6 that we have produced in Isfahan and now the UF6 that is being used in Natanz facility for enrichment is our own product." He may be bluffing of course. However one thing is clear Iran has the capacity to enrich Uranium?
Enrichment is a process of purifying uranium for use in nuclear power plants or, when very highly enriched, in bombs. While the European Union and United States claim Iran is secretly developing atomic weapons under cover of a civilian nuclear energy programme, Iran denies that its programme is for military use.
"The IAEA" - whose inspectors routinely visit Iran to monitor nuclear facilities - "has found no hard proof of any project to make atomic bombs but says that, after more than three years of probing, it still cannot confirm that Iran's intentions are entirely peaceful."(Reuters, May 19, 2006).
There is no simple answer to the question of who we should believe. For why should we believe the US or Israel? Bush lied about the Iraqi Weapons of Mass Destruction and everyone is fully aware of that now. As to the danger of nuclear weapons being used, so far US imperialism is the only state that has actually used Atomic bombs - on Japanese civilians - so they have no right to give lessons to anyone.
Furthermore, the United States is not doing anything itself to avert the danger of a nuclear conflagration. According to The Independent (Wednesday, May 24, 2006), the US is proposing to install a "Star wars" anti-missile defence system in central Europe "to counter any future attack from a nuclear-armed Iran".
The plan, for which the Pentagon has requested $56m (£30m) of initial exploratory funding from Congress, would cost $1.6bn and involve 10 interceptor units. Just imagine what could be done with this huge amount of money if it were used for the welfare of the ordinary people, so many of whom do not have medical insurance, pensions or even enough daily calories to survive.
The most likely country where the base would be situated is Poland, (the Czech Republic being another possible option). For the moment, the scheme would be the same as the anti-missile shield presently under construction in Alaska and California "against attacks from... North Korea".
The new shield would bring a direct US military presence deeper into the heart of Europe. Not surprisingly, the Kremlin in Russia sees this is a direct threat. The project is clearly an American encroachment into what used to be a Russian sphere of influence and would have "a negative impact on the whole Euro-Atlantic security system", Sergei Ivanov, the Russian Defense Minister, stated to a Belarus newspaper, adding that this would further strain the already delicate relations between Russia and NATO. In 2002, President Bush had already upset Moscow by unilaterally pulling out of the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty that Moscow viewed as nuclear arms control.
According to reports in The New York Times, the Defense Secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, is expected to receive a recommendation on where the European site is to be situated by the summer. If the planned system in Poland goes ahead, it would establish the first permanent American military presence in the country.
As for Israel, it already possesses hundreds of tactical nuclear weapons, chemical and biological weapons and its rulers have made it abundantly clear they are prepared to use them. Most experts on this question admit that Israel possesses a substantial arsenal of nuclear weapons and intermediate-range ballistic missiles to deliver them. There is also speculation that it may have chemical and biological weapons programmes.
On October 5, 1986, the British newspaper The Sunday Times ran Mordechai Vanunu's story on its front page under the headline: "Revealed - the secrets of Israel's nuclear arsenal." But the Israeli government refuses to officially confirm or deny whether it has a nuclear weapons programme, but it has repeatedly announced that it would not be the first to "introduce nuclear weapons in the Middle East." However, we also have to note that Israel is one of three states that has not signed or ratified the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), the other two being India and Pakistan.
Following the Suez imperialist adventure in 1956, France agreed to help Israel build a nuclear reactor and processing plant near Dimona that used natural uranium moderated by heavy water. Plutonium production started in about 1964. Top secret British documents obtained by the BBC Newsnight programme show that Britain made hundreds of secret shipments of restricted materials to Israel in the 1950s and 1960s, including Lithium 6 which is used to boost atom bombs and fuel hydrogen bombs.
The investigation also showed that Britain shipped 20 tons of heavy water directly to Israel in 1959 and 1960 to start up the Dimona reactor. It was shipped through a fake Norwegian company under the name of Noratom. This was revealed on the Newsnight programme in 2005. British Foreign Minister Kim Howells hid behind the Noratom contract and claimed this was a sale to Norway. But a former British intelligence officer who investigated the deal at the time confirmed that this was really a sale to Israel.
Israel has also had German-built "Dolphin" submarines since 1999. Various reports seem to indicate that these submarines are fitted with American-made Harpoon missiles that have been modified to carry small nuclear warheads. While Israel has not directly tested these weapons it seems likely that they were tested by France in the 1960s. In September 1979, a Vela satellite most probably detected what was a 3 kiloton offshore nuclear explosion close to South Africa that was, according to some reports, a joint nuclear test between Israel and South Africa.
Similarly there are many indications that chemical and biological weapons have been developed by the Institute for Biological Research (IIBR) in Ness Ziona. Professor Marcus Klingberg, deputy director of the institute, was sentenced in 1983 to 18 years in prison accused of being a Soviet spy and passing information on this issue.
Considering the type of people who rule Israel today, there is no reason to assume that they would never use these weapons under certain conditions when they might feel their vital interests would be at risk. If this ever happened, the entire Middle East would be turned into a toxic uninhabited desert.
In his speech that brings to mind the speeches prior to the 1967 war Olmert said:
"For us this is an existential threat. A threat to which we cannot consent. But it is not Israel's threat alone. It is a threat to all those committed to stability in the Middle East...If we do not take Iran's bellicose rhetoric seriously now, we will be forced to take its nuclear aggression seriously later... Israel is grateful for American support and would not let the United States down... Your continued support... which transcends partisan affiliations is of paramount importance to us."
Olmert who himself engages in state terrorism against the Palestinians, also added that he commended "this Congress for initiating the Palestinian anti-terrorism act, which sends the firm and clear message that the United States of America will not tolerate terrorism in any form." What is most ironic is that the author and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Elie Wiesel helped to write this "very peaceful" speech, which just goes to show the real value of this imperialist prize.
U.S. President George W. Bush praised Prime Minister Ehud Olmert for his plan to unilaterally redraw the West Bank borders, namely to annexe the blocks of settlements. It was clearly stated in his meeting with Rice, to whom he stated that, "If there proved to be no partner on the Palestinian side," he would implement "a unilateral solution at the end of a transition period of six to eight months" Furthermore, Bush promised that if Israel were attacked by Iran the US would back Israel.
At the Pentagon, Olmert met with Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld a few hours prior to his meeting with Bush at the White House. Olmert and Rumsfeld discussed the renewal of military cooperation between the two countries following the crisis resulting from Israel's sale of weapons to China.
Bush who has lost the support of most American people is eager to show a result and if Israel attacks the Iranian nuclear site it will be presented as a great victory for his failing policy in the Middle East. Olmert wants to maintain Israeli military superiority but can see that the Israeli people are tired of the daily exposure to the high levels of corruption and the growing disparity between the rich and the workers and poor in Israel. He sees that this may lead to social explosions and is thus seeking a similar easy victory. However, an attack on Iran - even a limited missile strike - is not likely to be a picnic. It is easy to start wars as Bush knows but the results may be the opposite of what was planned.
Unfortunately the right-wing populist reactionary regime in Teheran, with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's reactionary and racist speeches against the whole of the Israeli population, is only achieving one thing: to assist the rulers of Israel and the US in portraying the Arab and Muslim world as one reactionary bloc.
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said on Friday, April 14, at the International Conference of Holy Qods and Support for the Rights of the Palestinian Nation: "The Zionist regime is a dried up and rotten tree which will be annihilated with one storm." Back in December he said Israel had to be "wiped off the map."
These wild statements on the part of Ahmadinejad in reality do not express any immediate intention to go to war. They reflect the crisis of the regime in Iran. It is facing a working class that is becoming increasingly restless and dissatisfied. So he is using the old well-known trick of turning the class struggle towards racist and nationalist frenzy. He is trying to distract the attention of the masses in Iran away from the real issues, pretending to be anti-imperialist, when in actual fact he defends clear class interests in Iran, which are not those of the workers.
The history of the Middle East has thrown up regimes such as the Iranian regime and other reactionary dictatorships. The present Iranian regime is the result of the derailment and defeat of the genuine workers' revolution that overthrew the Shah at the end of the 1970s. It is the prices the workers of Iran have had to pay for the lack of a genuine revolutionary leadership.
The reactionary rants of the leaders of this regime, however, are very useful to the imperialists, the US imperialists, the Zionists in Israel, and so on. They use them to justify their own build up of nuclear weapons, in this case in Central and Eastern Europe. But these would not be aimed primarily at Iran, but at Russia, a far more formidable opponent of US interests in the region.
In the same way they use the "rogue" North Korean regime as an excuse for strengthening their nuclear capability across the Pacific. Again, these would not be aimed at North Korea, but at China that has become a major competitor of the US.
For now, there is no immediate danger of a nuclear conflagration. But capitalism is in deep crisis. Everywhere it is on the offensive against the workers of all countries. It is pushing down living standards and increasing the pressures on the masses. On this basis the class struggle is erupting everywhere. Yes, they try to divert it with nationalism and racism, but it keeps re-emerging. This is because the workers have no choice but to struggle.
In the coming period mighty class battles will unfold in which the workers will have a new historical opportunity to overthrow this rotten class society called capitalism. But history also shows that when the working class is decisively defeated, as was the case in Germany in the 1930s, brutal regimes can come to power. Imagine today's nuclear weapons in the hands of Hitler. He would not have hesitated to use them. Thus the class struggle over the coming historical period can determine the very future, the very survival of the human species.
The present manoeuvres of imperialism in the Middle East raise the spectre of nuclear weapons being used at some point. That is why the workers of the world must oppose US and Israeli military plans, without however falling into the trap of supporting the politics of Ahmadinejad. Bush, Olmert and Ahmadinejad are not friends of the working people of any country. In the last analysis, they all defend capitalism.
Thus the best way to defend Iran is not with nuclear weapons, but through a working class revolution led by a Marxist leadership that would know how to appeal to the Israeli and the American workers against the common class enemy.
And the best way to defend the ordinary people living in Israel likewise is not through a build up of nuclear missiles. The countries that might be involved in any nuclear war in the region are so close to each other that launching the nuclear weapons would have a devastating effect not just on the targets but also on the country where the missiles are launched from. The workers in Israel must also realise that their future depends on putting an end to the rule of the Zionist bourgeoisie and joining hands with their Arab brothers and sisters, the workers of all of the Middle East.
- Who is behind the Fatah-Hamas clashes? by Yossi Schwartz in Israel (May 24, 2006)
- Israel: Instability, polarisation, protest and centre-left government by Yossi Schwartz in Israel (March 29, 2006)
- Jericho and beyond by Yossi Schwartz in Israel (March 20, 2006)
- Hamas wins Palestinian elections: the early stages of the class struggle and the hypocrisy of imperialist democrats by Alon Lessel and Yossi Schwartz in Israel (February 1, 2006)
- "The Writing was on the Wall"- Hamas in power, what next? by Nadim al-Mahjoub (February 1, 2006)