“We put a lot of energy with France and Germany into agreeing at the end of July strong additional European Union sanctions on Iran which will begin to bite over the coming months…” – UK Foreign Secretary William Hague, 5 October 2010
Getting two devoted fans of Israel like UK Foreign Secretary William Hague and his junior minister Alistair Burt to explain their hostility towards Iran was never going to be easy.
Mr Hague had said the ransacking of the British embassy in Tehran in November 2011 was carried out “with regime consent”. Orchestration by the Iranian authorities is automatically denied but the incident was obviously in retaliation to Britain’s ratcheting up sanctions intended to cripple the Iranian economy, a repetition of our ‘dirty tricks’ of 60 years ago
Why, exactly, were we doing it again, I wanted to know. Had we so quickly forgotten the devastating effect of sanctions on civil society, especially children, not only in Iran in the 1950s but against the Iraqis in the 1990s before the brave “coalition of the willing” reduced their country to rubble and ruination? But never mind, they were just collateral damage in the West’s great scheme of things.
For more than a year I’ve been putting questions like these to the Foreign Secretary through my MP. What proof is there that Iran’s nuclear technology has a military dimension (and please spare us the usual faked intelligence and sexed-up dossiers)? Shouldn’t he be more concerned about Israel’s nuclear arsenal, the deranged leadership in Tel Aviv and the threat the Zionist State poses to the region and beyond?
Doesn’t Israel’s refusal to sign up to the Non-Proliferation Treaty or engage constructively on the issue of its nuclear and other WMD make it a leading candidate for sanctions, quite apart from its brutal oppression and occupation of the Holy Land?
In any case, what threat is Iran to Britain? And who gave Hague permission to wage economic warfare against a friendly people – in our name? We remember only too well how Cameron, Hague and Burt voted enthusiastically for the Iraq war, an appalling lack of judgement based on a pack of lies that anyone exercising average diligence could see through. It should have disqualified them from holding high office ever again. The military adventure cost well over a million lives, caused utter misery, wrecked much of Iraq’s heritage and generated intense hatred worldwide.
Mr Hague’s job, I suggested to my MP Henry Bellingham, is to make friends not enemies.
“It is our Government that has played a decisive role in securing toughest ever EU sanctions on Iran including the embargo on their oil that we called for in opposition and that many said was well nigh impossible.” –UK Foreign Secretary William Hague to the Conservative Friends of Israel, October 2012
Has Iran wronged Britain? Quite the opposite.
It is illuminating to recall the depths to which “the allies” will stoop. The British Government has menaced Iran ever since it took a major shareholding in Anglo-Persian Oil in 1914 and swindled the host country out of its fair share of the profits. In 1951 Anglo-Iranian Oil (as renamed in 1935) declared £40 million profit after tax but gave Iran only £7 million. At the same time Arabian American Oil was sharing profits with the Saudis on a 50/50 basis. Whereupon Iran, after many years of fruitless negotiation for a square deal, nationalised its oil to achieve longed-for economic and political independence and combat poverty.
Britain’s Tory government at the time responded with crippling oil sanctions and froze Iran’s sterling assets in order to bring the democratic administration of Dr Mossadeq to its knees, thus creating the cruel circumstances that eventually led to the Islamic Revolution of 1979.
The CIA, in cahoots with Britain’s MI5, played an ugly game of provocation, mayhem and deception. The Shah was persuaded to sign two decrees, one dismissing Mossadeq and the other nominating the CIA’s choice, General Zahedi, as prime minister. These decrees, in direct violation of the Iranian constitution, were written by the CIA. After the planned coup initially failed the Shah fled to Rome. When it was judged safe to do so he returned in 1953. Mossadeq was arrested, tried, convicted of treason by the Shah’s military court and sentenced to death.
Mossadeq said http://www.mohammadmossadegh.com/biography/ …
“My greatest sin is that I nationalised Iran’s oil industry and discarded the system of political and economic exploitation by the world’s greatest empire… With God’s blessing and the will of the people, I fought this savage and dreadful system of international espionage and colonialism. I am well aware that my fate must serve as an example in the future throughout the Middle East in breaking the chains of slavery and servitude to colonial interests.”
The sentence was later commuted to three years’ solitary in a military prison, followed by house arrest until he died. His supporters were rounded up, imprisoned, tortured or executed.
Foreign oil companies were allowed to form a consortium to restore the flow of Iranian oil, and the US and Britain were rewarded with the lion’s share (40% to Anglo-Iranian). The consortium agreed to share profits on a 50-50 basis with Iran but refused to open its books for inspection by Iranian auditors or allow Iranians to sit on the board. Anglo-Iranian changed its name to British Petroleum in 1954.
A grateful US massively funded the Shah’s government, including his army and secret police force, SAVAK. The whole sordid enterprise came unstuck with the 1979 Revolution. The US is still hated today for reinstating the Shah and his vicious SAVAK, and for snuffing out the Iranians’ democratic system of government, which the Revolution unfortunately didn’t restore. Britain, as instigator and junior partner in the wretched affair is similarly despised.
On top of that, Iran is still resentful at the way the West, especially the US, helped Iraq develop its chemical weapons and armed forces, and how the international community failed to punish Iraq for using those chemical WMD against Iran in the Iran-Iraq war. In that conflict the US, and eventually Britain, were in league with Saddam enabling him to more easily acquire or develop such weapons. At least 100,000 Iranians fell victim.
David Cameron (b. 1966) wasn’t even a twinkle in his father’s eye when Britain last crushed Iran’s economy, and he was probably carousing with his Bullingdon Club pals at Oxford while Iranians were dying in their thousands from Saddam’s poison gases. Hague (b. 1961) seems similarly oblivious to the dirty tricks previous British foreign secretaries pulled on Iran. Obama (b. 1961?) was a community organiser in Chicago while the Iranians were being gassed by chemicals his country supplied to Saddam. Amazing how all three so effortlessly assume the mantle and mindset of their twisted predecessors.
Britain’s present-day Tory dominated Government, instead of straining every sinew to develop trade and co-operation – the civilised way to influence other nations – is spoiling for another fight and seems eager to send our young men (and women) to die in Iran for… well, for what? Israel? America? Another Zionist fantasy?
There is no reason to suppose the evil of the 1950s isn’t still stalking the corridors of power. And just for the record, did Mr Hague make any effort to see Iranian leaders before inflicting his economic terror plan on their people and taking us all a fatal step nearer the war that Washington’s neo-cons have been cooking up for some time?
Questions but few answers
The Foreign Office maintained its silent routine so, in the end, I asked my MP to table written parliamentary questions (which require written answers). These were ’edited’ to conform with parliamentary rules and consequently lost some of their sting…
Mr Bellingham: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what plans he has to re-establish direct diplomatic links with Iran at the highest level.
Alistair Burt: The UK has not broken off diplomatic relations with Iran, but they are at the lowest level. The UK will not establish direct diplomatic links at the highest level until it is satisfied that Iran will guarantee the security of its staff and property in line with Iran’s international obligations.
Mr Bellingham: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what plans he has for the UK to develop trade links with Iran for the purpose of fostering a better relationship between the two countries.
Alistair Burt: The UK believes that the dual track strategy of engagement through negotiations and pressure through sanctions is the best way to resolve the Iranian nuclear issue. Until this happens, the UK has no plans to develop trade with Iran.
Mr Bellingham: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many times Ministers in his Department have made official visits to Iran in the last 30 years.
Alistair Burt: There have been a number of ministerial visits to Iran over the last 30 years including seven from Foreign and Commonwealth Office Ministers. The last visit by a UK Minister was in 2005. There have been no ministerial visits since then because of the state of the bilateral relationship and Iran’s refusal to address the international community’s concerns about its nuclear programme.
I was hoping to hear if any senior British minister has been to Iran since 1979 apart from Jack Straw. Burt doesn’t identify the minister who visited in 2005. The suspicion is that no top level face-to-face contact was made before 2001 or after 2003.
Burt admits that business-hungry Britain has no plans to develop trade with Iran, probably the most important country in the Middle East. Many British businesses that enjoyed good relations there in the past will be annoyed at this idiocy.
UK asked Israel to join the NPT “as a non-nuclear weapons state”?
As International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspectors have yet to produce clear evidence that Iran’s nuclear programme has a military purpose the focus should be on Israel’s undeclared and unsafeguarded nukes. The racist regime demonstrates everyday contempt for its obligations under the UN Charter and other solemn agreements and is happy to launch air strikes and butcher women and children at the drop of a hat.
Henry Bellingham tabled my Israel question in this form:
Mr Bellingham: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps he is taking to encourage Israel to (a) sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and (b) open its nuclear programme to international inspection.
Alistair Burt: The British Government supports fully the universalisation of the Nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty (NPT). We have called on Israel and other non-signatories to join the NPT as non-nuclear weapons states. We have also called on them to agree a full scope Comprehensive Safeguards Agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). In 2009 the IAEA concluded that nuclear material, facilities or other items to which safeguards were applied in Israel remained in use for peaceful activities. The UK accepts these conclusions. We have a regular dialogue with the Israeli Government on civil nuclear and counter proliferation issues.
The answer is telling. Mr Burt includes Israel with the “non-nuclear weapons states” when most observers know it possesses 200 to 400. His pretence that Israel’s nuclear activities are for peaceful purposes, is contradicted by the IAEA’s report ‘Israeli nuclear capabilities’ http://www.iaea.org/About/Policy/GC/GC54/GC54Documents/English/gc54-14_en.pdf. Apparently the safeguards for Israel relate to a 1955 agreement with the USA on the peaceful uses of nuclear energy. Israel has not concluded an Additional Protocol therefore the Agency’s assessment does not include nuclear facilities that would be covered by a comprehensive safeguards regime. In other words the IAEA can only check what Israel chooses to declare for peaceful purposes, and any military applications are unverifiable. This is far from satisfactory and in September 2009 the IAEA adopted a resolution expressing “concern about the Israeli nuclear capabilities” and calling on Israel “to accede to the NPT and place all its nuclear facilities under comprehensive IAEA safeguards”.
Has anyone heard Hague, Cameron or Burt supporting the IAEA’s perfectly reasonable request in the same loud voice as they bully Iran?
Predictably the United States, in the person of Hillary Rodham Clinton, rejected the Agency’s call because it “focused exclusively on Israel while disregarding non-compliance by Iran with its safeguards obligations”.
The EU (via Catherine Ashton) was also dismissive because it would “not be conducive to a good atmosphere” and “could only hamper the ability of the IAEA to contribute positively to the establishment of a WMD-free zone in the Middle East”.
You couldn’t make it up… and Israel’s off the hook again.
Deal with the real threat
The Foreign Office website insists that Iran’s peaceful nuclear programme “may also have a military purpose… We are particularly concerned about the enrichment of uranium to 20% without a credible civilian use for it…” They complain that Iran hasn’t cooperated fully and provided access for IAEA inspections. Iran also signed but then failed to implement an Additional Protocol, which would have given the IAEA authority to properly assess its nuclear activities. And the IAEA says this lack of cooperation means it can’t confirm that all Iran’s nuclear materials are for peaceful activities.
Sounds familiar? No Additional Protocol, no comprehensive safeguards, no proper assessment and no verification that it’s all for peaceful purposes… It’s the same problem the IAEA has with Israel.
At least 90% uranium enrichment is needed for nuclear weapons. 20% is required for research and medical purposes. The fear, of course, is that if Iran stockpiles enough 20% material it could convert this relatively quickly to weapons-grade. The IAEA stresses the need for Iran to restore international confidence in the exclusively peaceful nature of its nuclear programme and admits it is still wrestling with lack of information, lack of clarification, and suspicions about undisclosed nuclear activities that might be linked to military projects. There is considerable speculation, for instance, about Iran’s extensive activities at Parchin over the past year. The IAEA is still denied access.
“It is our assessment and that of our allies that Iran is keeping open the option to develop nuclear weapons…and is steadily developing the capability to produce such weapons should it choose to do so,” Mr Hague told the House of Commons a year ago. “A nuclear-armed Iran would have devastating consequences for the Middle East and could shatter the Non-Proliferation Treaty…”
If the British government truly supported the “universalisation of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty”, as Mr Burt claims, Hague would be just as busy organizing sanctions against the real and present danger posed by Israel, which has already driven a coach and horses through the NPT.
Western leaders believe that the Iranian regime will only satisfy every nuclear ‘obligation’ if it is made to fear for its survival. On the other hand, one can imagine how Iran is far more likely to toe the line if its Number 1 enemy, Israel, is made to do the same. So the ball is really in the West’s court… although that truth isn’t in the script.
The Foreign Office says the UK has held regular talks with Iran since 2012 and these are ongoing. How is this possible? The embassy in Tehran is now closed, all British diplomats have been withdrawn and all Iranian diplomats were expelled from the UK over a year ago. Sweden now represents British interests in Iran while Iran’s interests in the UK are represented by the Sultanate of Oman. Nation speaks unto nation through third parties.
By kicking the Iranian ambassador and his staff out of London Mr Hague slammed the door on diplomacy. His argument that “this does not amount to the severing of diplomatic relations in their entirety” is poppycock. Burt has said that right now there are no direct links at top level. Just how useful is this new-style diplomacy, conducted “at the lowest level” and through intermediaries, when economic war is being waged and we’re nearing the brink of shooting war? And how does he propose to re-build diplomatic trust when the time comes?
It seems unlikely that proper diplomatic relations were established in the first place. In 2001 Jack Straw was the first British foreign secretary to visit Tehran in the 22 years since the Revolution, a deplorable dereliction of duty not only to the British people but all who wished for peace. The Israelis made a big fuss, complaining that his trip was “sticking a knife in Israel’s back”.
So the big questions remain: what exactly is Britain’s quarrel with Iran? That country, like most of its neighbours, is nervous about Israel’s unsafeguarded nukes and other WMD. The international community including Britain has failed to act. Why has Hague taken it upon himself to lead the charge and goad a once-friendly nation into becoming an implacable enemy? And why have our diplomatic efforts in Tehran over the last 33 years been so half-baked?
Are Hague’s actions in defence of our realm? Or is it a private quarrel pursued by Zionists and their stooges?
“Take Iran. All the evidence points in the same direction: that country’s leadership is intent on developing a nuclear weapons capability. There are no ifs, buts, maybes, I’ve read the reports, I have had the briefings: they are stockpiling enough uranium to make a nuclear weapon over time. Of course, that’s a huge threat to the world but it’s a particular threat to Israel. We support tough engagement with Iran, but it is time to ratchet up the pressure. And time is, frankly, short.
“That’s why since we came into power we have wasted no time in securing tougher sanctions. We backed tough sanctions in the United Nations – and we championed and led, at meeting after meeting, even tougher sanctions at the European level. Iran needs to know if they continue on this course they will feel international pressure and international isolation.” – David Cameron, UK prime minister, 2010
The people of the West helped them act out their fantasies in the Holy Land, Iraq and Syria with tragic consequences. Will they help again – i.e. provide more cannon-fodder and treasure – against Iran? I’ll wager that common sense, common decency and weariness with unjust, never-ending wars won’t allow it this time.
Armageddon is cancelled. Sorry.
Stuart Littlewood worked on jet fighters in the RAF then pursued a career in industrial marketing.
More recently he worked as a freelance and with innovation consultancies. Psychology degree Exeter University, Member of the Chartered Institute of Marketing. Served as a Cambridgeshire county councilor 1993-97 and on the Police Authority. Associate of the Royal Photographic Society. Since retiring has been a newspaper columnist and produced two photo-documentary books. He is a regular contributor to a number of internet news magazines.
Stuart’s book Radio Free Palestine, with Foreword by Jeff Halper, tells the plight of the Palestinians under brutal occupation. It can now be read on the internet by visiting RadioFreePalestine.org.uk.