Provocative rhetoric followed release of the IAEA report on Iran's nuclear program, despite baseless allegations in it.
In October 2009, the Agency leaked a document titled "Possible Dimensions of Iran's Nuclear Program" to the New York Times. At issue was circumventing then IAEA head Mohamed ElBaradei. Allegations in it were spurious. As a result, he wouldn't touch it.
Two months later Yukiuya Amano replaced him. IAEA was politicized. In December 2010, the London Guardian published a leaked US embassy cable saying he's "director general of all states, but in agreement with us." Its title was: "Amano ready for prime time."
A November 2010 Guardian article headlined, "Nuclear Wikileaks: Cables show cosy US relationship with (new) IAEA chief." State Department official Geoffrey Pyatt was quoted, saying:
Amano will "overcome bureaucratic inertia (and) modernize Agency operations...." He's "solidly in the US court on every key strategic decision, from high-level personnel appointments to the handling of Iran's alleged nuclear weapons program."
In other words, he's there to salute and obey orders, not be nonpolitical and impartial. He hasn't disappointed.
America's media jumped on his new report, again suggesting "possible military dimensions to Iran's nuclear program" with no evidence whatever proving it. Nonetheless, US, Israeli and UK belligerents bellowed it. So far, nothing's gone beyond rhetorical saber rattling.
Whether or not war's planned isn't known. Cooler heads in high places know the risk. Minimally it could engulf the entire region disastrously. Worse would be general war, possibly involving Russia and China.
Once something starts, anything's possible, even unthinkably using of nuclear weapons to destroy underground facilities. Doing so would risk many thousands of lives and widespread radiation contamination.
Guardian writer Julian Borger headlined, "The IAEA report: what does it mean and will it lead to war with Iran?" saying:
"There is nothing in the report that was not previously known by the major powers. The West and Israel (supplied information on alleged) weapons development...."
"Furthermore, the bulk of the report is historical," pre-2003. Clearly it shows Iran's not "rac(ing) to a bomb."
"Obama....has no stomach nor money for another war, and (Pentagon) generals insist that every way they game the scenarios, America comes out the loser."
Former IAEA inspector/later department director Robert Kelly called Amano's report "very thin," a "real mish-mash," including "amateurish analysis...I thought there would be a lot more there....It's certainly old news. It's really quite stunning how little new information is in there."
In 2005, Kelly examined Amano's original documents. Gotten from a mysterious laptop, they alleged a so-called "green salt project" to provide clandestine uranium, high-explosives testing, and reengineering a Shahab-3 missile to carry a nuclear warhead.
From them, Kelly discounted possible Iranian military applications, suggesting documents were forged, saying:
"There is nothing to tell that those documents are real. My sense when I went through (them) years ago was that there was possibly a lot of stuff in there that was genuine, (but) it was a kind of junk."
The little high quality material in them amounted to "two or three pages that wasn't related to anything else in the package. It was on a different topic, and you just wondered" whether fake evidence was planted.
He recalled 1993 and 1994 when the IAEA got "very complex forgeries" on an alleged Iraq nuclear weapons program.
"Those documents had markings on them (to) resemble Iraqi (ones), but when we dug into them they were clearly forgeries."
In 2002, Kelly said the IAEA got "pretty bad" Italian forgeries on Iraq's alleged Niger nuclear links. That was then. War resulted. Now perhaps Iran's targeted unjustifiably.
Shannon Kile, Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) Nuclear Weapons Project head, said:
Iran "doesn't seem to have the same North Korea-like obsession with developing nuclear weapons. That's nowhere to be found in the (IAEA) evidence."
"Yes, Iran is making progress. They've covered the waterfront in terms of the main technical areas that you need to develop a nuclear weapon. But there is no evidence they have a dedicated program under way."
Nonetheless, investigative journalist Wayne Madsen sees "War Clouds Form(ing) over Iran," saying:
"Israel's strategy is to make certain that its plans to attack Iran's nuclear facilities and, perhaps other targets, meet no opposition from (US) diplomatic circles...."
As a result, "Asian nations want to freeze the United States out of interference in Asia." Worrisome signs include Israel's "open secret ally, Saudi Arabia," appointing former Egyptian intelligence head Omar Suleiman advisor to Crown Prince Nayef bin Abdul Aziz al-Saud.
Washington's increasing its presence in Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, UAE, Oman and perhaps elsewhere in the region. New CIA and Pentagon Predator drone bases were established in Djibouti, Seychelles, Ethiopia, and reportedly Saudi Arabia. More are planned.
Obama's "under tremendous (Israeli Lobby) pressure (to) support an Israeli military strike on Iran...." Doing so would involve Washington and perhaps other NATO partners. To assure pro-Israeli voter support, Obama would have to go along.
Given the potential for war, Russia, China, their Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) member states, India, Turkey, and other regional nations show justifiable alarm.
On November 10, Israel National News headlined, "Report: Israel Preparing 'Christmas Surprise' for Iran," saying:
Britain's Daily Mail said Israel may attack "Iran's nuclear facilities....as soon as December 25...." An unnamed senior Foreign Office official said, "We're expecting something as early as Christmas," or very early in the new year."
Foreign Secretary William Hague said the IAEA report "completely discredits" Iran's nonmilitary dimension claim.
Israel Defense Minister Ehud Barak told Israeli Radio, "We continue to recommend to our friends in the world and to ourselves, not to take any option off the table," suggesting a possible attack.
Haaretz reported that Amir Kahanovich, chief economist at Israel's Clal Finance saying attacking Iran would exact far too high an economic price for the world to accept.
He cited sharply higher oil prices, disrupted global trade, and more affecting Israel and other nations.
Israel's Institute for National Security Studies Ephraim Kam doubt stiff sanctions are coming. Russia and China won't tolerate them. They'd also risk greater economic fallout. At most, he says "another round of light sanctions."
US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said attacking Iran should be a "last resort." Doing so would have serious regional repercussions, he believes. Potentially they could be much worse.
Interviewed on Press TV, historian Peter Rushton accused Israel of escalating anti-Iran hysteria, adding:
"I think voters in Britain and America would do well to take a long hard look at those politicians who are prepared to give limitless trust to Israel at the expense of their own people" and regional peace.
Hezbollah leader Seyyed Hassan Nasrallah expects regional war to erupt from attacking Iran.
Also interviewed on Press TV, independent journalist Nader Mokhtari said:
"The United Nations has lost its basic functions for a very long time. (It) has not been able to intervene effectively in matters that it should have been able (to), according to its charter...."
Its structure prevents "99% of the world (from having) a say in running world affairs, and a select few" decide everything, including on those issues most important.
America has virtual veto power on all issues. With Israel, it threatens attacking Tehran unjustifiably. Its allegations are baseless. Regional war may follow with unpredictable consequences. The danger is real and frightening.
A Final Comment
Last May, George Mitchell left his White House Middle East envoy post. Rumor at the time suggested it was because of his deputy Dennis Ross' extreme bias.
Anti-Defamation League head Abe Foxman calls him Israel's "advocate." Middle East analyst Aaron David Miller calls him "Israel's lawyer." Others call him a Zionist hardliner up to no good for Palestine or Israel's regional rivals.
Some say he was forced out. Now he's stepping down. On November 10, The New York Times headlined, "Obama's Influential Mideast Envoy to Resign," saying:
He's stepping down "at a time when Israeli-Palestinian peace talks are frozen and tensions over Iran are flaring anew."
Ross gave the usual reason about wanting to spend more time with his family. Others cite his duplicity, extreme bias, and failure to accomplish anything beyond representing Israel at a time its influence is waning.
Earlier he served as GHW Bush administration's State Department Policy and Planning director, after which he became Clinton's Special Middle East Coordinator.
He's also co-founder of the AIPAC-backed Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP). It's an extremist pro-Israeli front group. Ross will return after leaving his present post.
WINEP's Board of Advisors includes a rogue's gallery of figures like Richard Perle, George Shultz, Robert McFarlane, James Woolsey, and former US Israeli ambassador Samuel Lewis.
James Petras once called Ross "a virulent Zionist advocate of Israel's ultra-militaristic policies, including an armed preemptive attack on Iranian nuclear and military installations."
"Ross is an unconditional supporter of the Israeli starvation siege of (Gaza), and fully backed Israel's savage (2006) air attacks against civilian targets in Lebanon."
No friend of Palestine, he one-sidedly backs Israel's worst lawlessness. He won't be missed.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.