You know sometimes it drives me absolutely bonkers when so-called "journalists" fail to report on obvious, easily-discoverable and CRITICAL facts about current events.
The looming war or strike or conflict with Iran is clearly something that affects the entire globe. Yet journalists consistently forget to mention something absolutely critical about Iran's potential to acquire/develop/build nuclear weapons.
The ultra-short version:
The SUPREME LEADER of Iran (yes that's his title) is the guy with all the power NOT the president. And the Supreme Leader has issued a fatwa which SPECIFICALLY forbids Iran (and Iranian scientists) from ever building, acquiring or using a nuclear weapon. Ever. (Another link here).
It is against the law to even criticize the Supreme Leader in Iran. People have gone to jail for making even oblique remarks that seem critical of him. It is pure lunacy to think that the Revolutionary Guards, the regular Iranian military or any other government agency is going to contradict one of his fatwas.
Is this ever mentioned in the western press? Almost never.
Iran is a kind of a democracy but it is set up on theological lines and therefore the religious leaders have the ultimate power in the country. Every Friday in the capital of Tehran a sermon is given which is essentially the "baseline" for which all Iranian religious/political doctrine is established. In other words, this sermon is always the de facto official government policy.
The official position of the guy who GIVES the Friday sermon is extremely prestigious. Last Friday (November 9) one of the higher-ranking clerics who run the country gave the sermon, excerpted below:
The very idea of an atom bomb is forbidden, the very deed is a sin.
I don't know how much clearly the religious rulers of Iran need to make it that they have zero freaking interest in owning, building or using a nuclear weapon.
It's a little difficult to understand the force of law that a fatwa from the Supreme Leader of Iran conveys but you'd think even an ignorant martini-guzzling journalist could figure out by the title that it carries a little more weight than the office of (just the) president of Iran.
Let's put it this way. The current president of Iran and every other president since the 1979 revolution can't even run for office without first being approved by the Supreme Leader - he can't even get on the ballot.
Other related forgotten points:
- Iran is/was a signatory to the NPT. Again you don't have to be a lawyer to read that it clearly states the development of nuclear energy for civilian, non-military purposes is EXPRESSLY and CLEARLY permitted.
Only four countries in the world are NOT signatories: North Korea, Pakistan, India and Israel. Wow exactly the nations we would want to be running around with unsupervised and unmonitored nuclear weapons!
- The IAEA has said about 5 bajillion times that Iran is not developing a nuclear weapon. Because of this (and a couple of other reasons including this fun nugget), the Peace Prize winning director of the IAEA, Mohammed ElBaradei has been the victim of many "dirty tricks" campaigns by the United States to try to get him out of the position.
- The question of why exactly Iran needs nuclear power plants since it is sitting on a gigantic amount of petroleum and natural gas.
Couple of relevant facts:
A) Iran imports gasoline, about 4 billion dollars' worth in 2005 alone. Rising oil prices affect Iranians just like it does Americans, so much so that the Iranian parliament just passed a bill to get people to drive less:
The plan would commit the government to expand railways and public transportation, take ageing cars off the road, and convert gasoline-powered cars to dual-use vehicles that can run on gasoline and liquefied gas (LPG). It also calls for improved highways, more stations to sell liquefied gas, the manufacture of cars that run on LPG and support for the production of hybrid and electric cars, and greater fuel efficiency in general, "Etemad-i Melli" reported.
The framework bill urges the government to help create conditions that will dramatically reduce the flow of private vehicles on city streets. It advocates a goal of making buses and other public transport responsible for 75 percent of all city traffic.
Wow what an insane world when the Iranian parliament has a rational approach to rising fuel costs! If the American Congress tried to encourage the "expansion of railways" or getting 75% of people in cities to use buses they would be laughed at on every talk show.
So why does Iran need to import gasoline at all? Because it can't refine the petroleum it has into gasoline. As mind-boggling as it sounds, Iran actually sells crude oil to other nations who refine it and then re-imports it back as gasoline (as well as kerosene, diesel, jet fuel, etc).
Why doesn't it build more refineries? Well for one thing building a refinery is incredibly expensive. And all the (ludicrous) sanctions against Iran make this an even more difficult task.
Last summer when the Iranian government raised the price of gasoline from (approximately) 12 cents a gallon to 40 cents, there were riots in the street.
And as a corollary to the non-stop fun parade going on next door in Iraq, there is a thriving black market where Iranians are smuggling a lot of that domestically-refined Iranian gasoline into Iraq to be sold for a mega-profit.
- The neocons and others who openly want to overthrow the Iranian government know and have been planning on squeezing Iran's gasoline shortage crisis to foment civil unrest for years:
According to him, if and when imposed economic sanctions hit Iran, gasoline imports could halt and the result would definitely be civil unrest.
Amir Mohebian, a conservative analyst criticizes the Ministry of Oil's officials and their approach towards gasoline crisis and believes that gasoline is Iran's weak point that United States is using to put more pressure on Iran and the impact of the sanctions over the country's possible social unrest.
Got it? First you deny them the ability to build refineries, then you deny them nuclear energy, then you squeeze their ability to import gasoline, then there are riots and civil unrest and magic, presto the evil Iranian government is overthrown (or at least seriously weakened).
That isn't just a neocon fantasy, members of the American Congress have openly advocated such a course of action:
Under the proposed legislation, any company that provides Iran with gasoline or helps it import gasoline after the end of the year could lose its access to U.S. customers.
"This is becoming the critical weakness of the Iranian government, meaning its dependence on gasoline," Kirk said in a telephone interview. "The riots show the gasoline shortage is a growing danger to the Iranian regime and a diplomatic opportunity for Western countries to force Iran to adhere to international nuclear rules."
Yes force it to adhere to the "rules" which is the NPT which says it can legally develop nuclear energy for civilian use.
How ludicrous is it that the American government is officially trying to punish companies from selling GASOLINE so that the average Joe in Iran can get to work?
As far as I can tell thank goodness this bill never passed into law.
You may be wondering how nuclear energy would reduce refined petroleum product usage in Iran. That's because a good portion of its power plants are powered by refined petroleum products. For a look see here.
Bonus "fun fact": The current Supreme Leader of Iran was nearly killed and is permanently disabled after an assassination attempt in 1981 by the MEK. As such he is even MORE revered and often referred to as a "living martyr".
You might remember the MEK as the terrorist organization which is sheltered and funded inside of Iraq by the United States government despite the Iraqi government's efforts to prosecute them for human rights crimes. More Bush terrorist-loving-if-they-are-against-Iran facts can be found here.
And now you know what the western press will rarely tell you.