The dispute over Iran’s nuclear programme has been dragging on for more than a decade. Several opportunities to resolve have been squandered. Instead it has been manipulated into a wider political issue at a time that US-led wars have wreaked havoc in other Muslim neighbouring countries. It is in this light that the article by Liberal Democrat peer Kishwer Falkner, calling for a normalisation of US-Iran relations is to be welcomed (see page ).
A whole industry of myths has been engineered over Iran’s nuclear file, which has been based upon the impossible task of proving the negative that the programme is not seeking to build nuclear weapons rather than producing a shred of evidence in support of the claim. Neither has Iran broken any rules of the Non-Proliferation Treaty to enrich uranium, as claimed. Rather it was connived by the US and its allies to the case away from its rightful watchdog, the IAEA, on a split vote for the first time in its history, to the UN Security Council dominated by Washington.
In the background, Iran has been repeatedly threatened by Israel military strikes and has neither been criticised nor condemned by western nations. Very little is said about the only country in the Middle East, Israel’s arsenal of nuclear weapons.
Endless rounds of sanctions have also been imposed on Iran including trade, banks which targets ordinary Iranians. It has become a virtual one-sided war by proxy, falsely presenting Iran as an aggressor, when it has never threatened let alone invaded another country, while there has been little mention of Iran’s rights and medical needs to treat its cancer patients.
Amid all the hypocrisy, US President Barack Obama offered talks with Iran during his first term, but with conditions. Vice President Joseph Biden made headlines again this month saying the Obama Administration would be willing to engage in high-level talks but this was immediately followed up by yet another round of sanctions. It is hardly a gesture to bridge the lack of trust, but it remains to be seen if any bilateral discussion are held when Iran holds its latest discussions with the E3+3 on February 26 in Almaty, Kazakhstan.
Falkner says it is “in all our interests” that the talks happen. No one would disagree. But she falls into the trap of pointing a smoking gun at Iran, instead of Israel’s capability to destabilise the Middle East and failure to secure a nuclear-free Middle East. Obama has the power to alleviate all these issues should he be prepared to bite the bullet instead of remaining reluctant to even end Israel’s incessant building of illegal settlements, illegal occupation of Palestinian lands, let alone raising the spectre of its clandestine nuclear arsenal.