Archive for December 10th, 2009

US-Iran relations and neocons

The Lobby Versus Science

By Soraya Sepahpour-Ulrich

10 December, 2009

Tragic as war is, it has often led to scientific and medical discoveries. Today in Washington, the pro-Israeli Lobby is using science as a pretext for war — scientific and medical discoveries that may help not only developing nations, but advance healthcare in America and elsewhere.

Included in Article 25 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights clearly includes the right of every one to medical care [i]– yet it appears that the pro-Israel lobbyists in Washington have persuaded policy makers that the developing world is excluded from this right, and Iran’s significant scientific achievements are a global threat designed to do ill and not the means to heal. Dissemination of such misinformation is akin to the very cancer that the Iranian scientists have been attempting to cure and stem out.

In 1972, a joint research project (French-Iranian scholars) on esophageal cancer in the Caspian Littoral of Iran was released. The findings indicated that the region had among the highest recorded incidences of esophageal cancer[1] in the world. The utility of the research was that given its location, it was not unique to Iran and represented the Middle East, China, Afghanistan, and former Soviet central Asia, parts of Siberia, Mongolia, and northern and western China [ii].

Perhaps it is with this in mind that almost four decades later, in 2007-2009, US National Institute of Cancer sponsored the study of Esophageal Cancer in Iran[iii]. Later, with “health diplomacy” in mind, Iran and the United States, with foresight and fortitude by the National Institute of Health’s mission of Science for Health launched on three areas of cooperation: 1) Esophageal Cancer; 2) Mustard Gas Exposure and Lung Carcinogenesis; 3) HIV and drug use.[iv] It is not without irony that Iran’s research and expertise in mustard gas illnesses and injuries should be the direct result of America’s policies during the 8-year Iran-Iraq war when the U.S. decided to arm Saddam Hossein with CBTW (chemical, biological, toxin warfare)[v] material.

Today, in order to wage another war against Iranians and to ensure that Iran shares Iraq’s fate, the argument presented by the Lobby and trumpeted by the neoconservative-dominated media is why does Iran not need to enrich uranium. Before one responds that it is Iran’s right under the NPT, it would be more simple to demand of the neoconservatives to explain why America and her allies should place such a high demand on readioisotopes?

In 1959, Science reported that radioisotopes have always been a source for “scientific research, and their application to such activities as agriculture, industry, and medicine is now steadily increasing”[vi] Today, there is a dire shortage . On July 26, 2009, The Houston Chronicle reported that a drug crucial to medical tests was in short supply. This was due to the loss of the 51-year-old reactor in Ontario, Canada that produces much of this drug, a radioisotope. In the same issue, Dr. Einstein mentions the numerous uses of radioisotopes.

In “Blood Weekly”, (July 2, 2009, p603), Cotara R, a radioisotope being developed as a potential new treatment for glioblastoma multiforme (GBM), a deadly form of brain cancer. In October, Iran announced it had produced two new radio medicines called “Samarion 153” and “Renium 186” which were able to reduce pains of cancer patients. Furthermore, these medicines could be used for defining of cancer and reducing bone disease. Iran also informed that the results of a new anti-cancer medicine would be publicly announced in 2010[vii].

However, the Iranian-derived radio medicine differs vastly from the Canadian product.

The U.S. supplies weapon-grade uranium (HEU, 90-percent 235U) to the Canadian radioisotope producers. HEU is capable of making a bomb which is why the 1992 Schumer Amendment to the U.S. Atomic Energy Act requires that a foreign producer cooperate with the United States in converting to LEU. In 2005, a lobbying campaign sponsored by MDS-Nordion and Mallinckrodt resulted in the Burr Amendment in the National Energy Policy Act of 2005. This amendment exempts target HEU used by medical radioisotope producers in Canada, Belgium, France, Germany, and the Netherlands from the Schumer Amendment’s requirements[viii].

Iran uses LEU (containing less than 20 percent 235U). Not only is this the standard permissible under the NNPT, but it is the standard that the United States is pushing its allies to strive for. There are currently some challenges in converting from HEU to LEU. While there are two major plants which supply much of the required isotopes, the main technical issue that has been raised by current producers is increased waste generation when LEU is used.

The Department of Energy’s findings indicate not only a coming shortage in medical isotopes, but a promise of new treatments such as ‘ isotopes for cancer therapy and pain control'[ix] . Given this view, Iran’s extraordinary achievement is to be commended, not blasted – literally. Even in isolation Iran’s remarkable strides in medicine can serve as a bridge, not as a crevice. Medicine is not the only common threat between the two nations. Science and engineering has always bonded the two nations (2007[x]). Seismic Science has its unique and special place in research.

It is incomprehensible that even though Washington has full knowledge that Iran’s pursuit of nuclear program is for civilian purposes, and the two countries have cooperated in medical research, the lobby had demanded that Iran be hauled to the UNSC, and it is now calling for further sanctions to be imposed on Iran. Is there any doubt that they are pushing for an eventual war? The Scientist confirms that there will be an oil crisis by 2030[xi]. It is tragic that a nuclear program intended for civilian use, and research programs with the potential to cure and alleviate human suffering should be the lobby’s weapon for destruction – at home and abroad. Perhaps the real tragedy is the realization that Americans are sovereign no more.

Soraya Sepahpour-Ulrich has Master’s in Public Diplomacy from USC Annenberg for Communication and USC School of International Relations. She is an independent researcher and focuses on U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East and the influence of lobby groups.

[1] Cancer that occurs in the esophagus — a long hollow tube that runs from the throat to the stomach. The esophagus carries food to the stomach to be digested


[ii] Science, New Series, Vol. 175, No. 4024 (Feb. 25, 1972), pp. 846-853




[vi] Science, New Series, Vol. 130, No. 3384 (Nov. 6, 1959), p. 1247

[vii] Mehr news agency, Tehran, October 16, 2009

[viii] Frank N. von Hippel and Laura H. Kahn, Science and Global Security, 14:151–162, 2006






Five Good Reasons to Avoid a War with Iran

Five Good Reasons to Avoid a War with Iran

By Philip Giraldi 12/07/2009

Philip M. Giraldi, Ph.D. is the Francis Walsingham Fellow at The American
Conservative Defense Alliance ( and a former CIA
counter-terrorism specialist and military intelligence officer.

As America’s founding fathers clearly understood war is a serious business and should only be
engaged in when there is a threat to vital national interests. The US Constitution stipulates that
there must be a declaration of war from congress, a safeguard inserted in the document to prevent
presidents from going to war without a clear national consensus behind them. Nevertheless, even
though the federal government has fought many wars in the past hundred years only two were
preceded by an actual declaration by Congress, World War I and World War II. Every other war has
been both illegal and unconstitutional, including the current involvement in Iraq, Afghanistan, and on
various fronts in the so-called global war on terror. Given this legacy of nearly constant and
unconstitutional conflict, another Middle Eastern war would only confirm in the minds of many that
the United States has become a rogue nation, continuously at war as if it were a natural state. It
would also increase concerns that Washington is committed to an expanding confrontation with the
Muslim world, a perception, true or false, that can only have bad consequences for the American
It is likely that the United States will eventually go to war with Iran. I say this with some confidence.
First, both the Obama Administration and Congress are moving rapidly towards harsh sanctions,
reflected in the public utterances of Obama and Hillary Clinton and in Congress through HR 2194,
which will embargo all refined petroleum imports into Iran, a blockade that will have to be enforced
by the US Navy and will be equivalent to an act of war. Second, the United Nations’ International
Atomic Energy Agency, under pressure from the US and the Europeans to act, has passed a highly
critical resolution relating to the Iranian nuclear energy program. Together the maneuverings in
Vienna and Washington provide a legal framework for international action directed against Tehran,
not unlike Washington’s UN engagement that preceded the Iraq invasion. Pressure from both
directions means that talks to resolve the issue of Iranian nuclear plans will end and it is only a
matter of time before an incident between US and Iranian armed forces leads to a shooting war. It
will be yet another conflict in the Middle East that could easily have been avoided, fought without
any congressional declaration of war and most likely financed on borrowed money.
Critics of Iran note that the country has a repressive government, that it may have held elections
during the summer that were fraudulent, and that it has sometimes problematical relationships with a
number of its neighbors. But even conceding that all of that might be true the United States is not
directly endangered and it is not the business of Washington to intervene in another country to bring
about change. The complaint that Iran might be developing nuclear weapons is more serious
because such devices are potentially a threat to everyone, but it must be viewed in context. Iran is

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confronted by a nuclear armed United States and Israel, both of which have frequently asserted
their right to use military force against it. If the Iranian leadership has responded by using the
possibility of its developing a nuclear weapon as a bargaining chip no one should be terribly
I believe there are five good reasons why the United States should do everything possible to avoid
a war with Iran. First and foremost is the fact that Iran does not and realistically speaking cannot
pose a threat against the United States. Iran is a developing country with a stagnating oil based
economy one seventeenth as large as that of the US and a military budget just 1% of Washington’s.
As Congressman Ron Paul has noted, Iran cannot even refine its own oil, requiring it to buy on the
international market, suggesting that it will face insurmountable technical problems if it even tries to
develop a nuclear weapon. Iran is not Nazi Germany, with which it is often inaccurately compared,
and has virtually no domestic armaments industry. The best available intelligence indicates that Iran
currently is not developing a nuclear weapon, though it also suggests that it might move in that
direction if attempts to isolate it are intensified, ironically leading to a weapons program where none
Second, the United States can’t afford another war, most particularly a “war of choice.” Iraq and
Afghanistan have already cost nearly $1 trillion and will add more than $130 billion over the next
year even without President Obama’s escalation in forces, which will total another $34 billion.
Those who support America’s wars claim that the cost of war is small relative to the size of the US
economy, but that kind of thinking is based on a false premise, i.e. that conflict somehow benefits
the United States. America does not have to be fighting in the Middle East and Central Asia and it is
far more reasonable to argue that any money being spent in support of such an effort is essentially
wasted. It should be used in the United States to make the lives of Americans better or it should be
given back to the taxpayers.
Third, no war goes according to plan and there are always unintended consequences. The same
voices in Washington that promised a cakewalk in Iraq are promising more of the same against Iran
yet they ignore the fact that 120,000 American soldiers remain in Iraq after the military triumph
nearly seven years ago. More than four thousand American soldiers are dead and hundreds of
thousands of Iraqis and Afghans. And Iran would be an infinitely tougher nut to crack than either
Afghanistan or Iraq. It is larger, more populous, and has had more than six years to prepare for an
attack. It can wreak havoc in neighboring Iraq and Afghanistan and can reduce the oil flow through
the Persian Gulf to a trickle. It might even get lucky and use its Chinese silkworm missiles to sink a
US Navy ship or two. Bombing Iran’s so-called nuclear sites would kill many civilians and produce
negative blowback. Following the example of North Korea, it would likely convince the Iranian
government that developing a nuclear weapon is the only real way to protect against attack from
Washington and Israel.
Fourth, attacking Iran after invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq would send the message that the
United States is pursuing a policy of incremental regime change for the entire Muslim world.
Washington should not be in the business of the currently fashionable bipartisan euphemism
“democracy promotion” first and foremost because it is none of our business how other people
govern themselves. On a practical level such efforts have proven to be ineffective at best and
frequently even succeed in creating a worse situation. One only has to cite the evidence of
America’s proxy regimes in Iraq and Afghanistan, both of which are at the bottom of Transparency
International’s corruption scale, just above Somalia. In Iran, US support for democracy as espoused
by the so-called reformers will only strengthen the hand of conservatives who will be able to claim
with some plausibility that the opposition is controlled by foreign interests and is disloyal.
Fifth, war against Iran would complete the transformation of America into a nation dominated by
war. It would be the final blow against those who believe in small government and individual

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liberties. War with Iran will inevitably lead to an increase in the size of federal bureaucracies, most
particularly the Defense Department, the Department of Homeland Security and the intelligence
services and will lead to calls for greater government intrusion in the lives of all Americans “to make
us safe.” As James Madison put it, “If Tyranny and Oppression come to this land, it will be in the
guise of fighting a foreign enemy. . . Of all the enemies to public liberty, war is, perhaps, the most to
be dreaded because it comprises and develops the germ of every other. No nation could preserve
its freedom in the midst of continual warfare.”
So there is no upside to starting a war with Iran, which makes one wonder why so many in
Congress and the media appear to favor it. Even the proponents of war concede that a bombing
campaign would only delay, not eliminate, any Iranian nuclear weapons program. In the aftermath
of the attack, Iran would certainly seek a nuclear weapon to defend itself from further attacks,
making the reasoning behind the original bombing somewhat difficult to fathom. Those who seek
regime change are also delusional if they think a military assault will change the country’s politics.
Quite the contrary. In all likelihood, an attack by Israel or the US would only strengthen the regime.
It is quite simply not in America’s national interest to continue down the road to war.


Same Song, Different Verse:

Obama’s foolish and unjust policy on Iran and nuclear weapons

No-sama bin Laden

No-sama bin Laden

Posted By Philip Giraldi On December 9, 2009 @ 11:00 pm In Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Monday’s revelation from Defense Secretary Robert Gates that “I think it has been years” since the US government has had any solid information about Osama bin Laden should come as no surprise to readers of, which has been questioning the rationale for the global war on terrorism ever since it was a twinkle in Dick Cheney’s eye.  Gates also commented that US intelligence believes that the fugitive terrorists might well be moving about in the border area between Afghanistan and Pakistan.  The “where’s Waldo” narrative provided by Gates is somewhat shocking in light of the billions of dollars that have been spent in the search for the slippery Saudi, but it is even more significant in that it completely undercuts the Barack Obama Administration’s case for increasing the number of American troops in Afghanistan.

Many analysts both inside and outside of the government have become convinced that Osama bin Laden is dead and has been so for quite some time.  They base this perception on the same non-evidence that Gates cites, i.e. that there has been no solid information on bin Laden or his whereabouts since late 2001.  The absence of any intelligence could be due to the likelihood that a top terrorist on the run would be extremely careful about how he moves about and how he communicates, which is what many have believed up until recently, but at a certain point it becomes too much of a stretch to believe that a man heading a major terror organization has successfully become invisible.  It is widely believed that videos and recordings featuring his image and voice could well be clever composites. 

The dead bin Laden school of thought also points to the impotence of al-Qaeda in events unfolding in Pakistan and Afghanistan.  Even the redoubtable General Stanley McChrystal, relying on the paucity of al-Qaeda sightings and the intelligence void, has estimated that there are likely fewer than 100 al-Qaeda in Afghanistan.  His estimate is undoubtedly fairly rough as the CIA has no idea what is going on, but the comment itself implies that the formerly scary terrorist group is not up to much.  Pakistani intelligence sources, who are almost certainly better informed than their American counterparts, believe that there is only a tiny al-Qaeda presence inside their own country.  Prime Minister Sayed Yusuf Raza Gilani recently declared flatly that bin Laden is not inside Pakistan.

If bin Laden is dead and al-Qaeda is shadow of what it once was then the whole justification for maintaining 100,000 soldiers and a nearly equal number of contractors in Afghanistan at ruinous expense becomes a fiction.  President Obama based his call for an escalation on the terrorist threat in the region, but it can be plausibly argued based on available evidence that al-Qaeda has essentially faded away.  If that is so, and Obama almost certainly knows that to be a distinct possibility, the American soldiers are essentially being sent to prop up two extremely corrupt American allies, President Asif  Zardari in Pakistan and President Hamid Karzai in Afghanistan.  A prolonged bout of nation building is not exactly the snake oil that was sold to the American people in Obama’s speech on December 1st and it calls into question the integrity of a president whose majority over John McCain certainly consisted of voters who believed that would end ongoing wars and bring about change in the way America conducts its foreign policy.

Most intelligence analysts who follow terrorism issues seriously would admit that the terrorism issue has been consistently overhyped and that it is also receding due to concerted action by a number of governments since 2001 combined with diminishing appeal among young Muslims.  They would also likely agree that the international brand of al-Qaeda-like Salafist-style terrorism, albeit diminished, continues to be a serious problem for much of the world.  But its epicenter is almost certainly not where President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton appear to think it is located, somewhere north of the Khyber Pass. 

There is only one part of the world where the Salafists continue to be strong. It is North Africa, in the arc of countries running from Mauretania in the West to Libya in the east, a region plagued by a loosely collected group of terrorists who call themselves al-Qaeda in the Maghreb.  Because several of the countries – Algeria, Morocco, and Tunisia – have large diaspora populations in Western Europe, al-Qaeda in the Maghreb has genuine international reach.  It has been able to exploit its European presence to carry out terrorist acts in France, Spain, and the Netherlands. 

When considering the capabilities of al-Qaeda in the Maghreb, most intelligence analysts would also note that all of the countries in North Africa with the sole exception of Mauretania have strong governments that control effective intelligence and police services.  If Barack Obama were truly serious about attacking the remaining terrorist problem, he would focus the limited available resources on helping the North African countries improve their own capabilities rather than sending 100,000 soldiers to Afghanistan.  That he is not doing so demonstrates that the possible disintegration of nuclear armed Pakistan, not terrorism, is really his driving concern.

That Pakistan is politically wobbling is clear to everyone and the possibility that it could become an Islamist dominated state, once remote, is increasing due to widespread corruption and the Islamabad’s government’s inability to curtail US drone strikes along its borders.  There has been some serious consideration in Washington of what might happen if the current government were to fall, including suggestions that the US and Pakistani military would intervene to remove the country’s nuclear arsenal and take it to some place for safe keeping.  That such an idea might even be seriously floated calls into question the sanity level of Obama Administration policy makers.  Pakistan would never agree to such a scheme and the US does not have either the resources or the information needed to enable it to go around to the numerous dispersal sites where Pakistan keeps its weapons to scoop them up.  So that leaves the Pakistan conundrum unresolved and 100,000 American soldiers sitting next door as some sort of guarantor of stability waiting to close the barn door after the horse escapes into the night.

So Secretary Gates has inadvertently let the cat out of the bag even though the mainstream media apparently has not yet figured it out.  He has revealed that the war on terror is dead, or at least it should be.  But rather than breathe a sigh of relief, rest assured that the word “terrorism” will be trotted out periodically to scare the public and keep the long war going.  Nobody is coming home.  America is in for a prolonged, bloody, and expensive experience in AfPak in spite of Obama Administration insistence that there is some kind of end game.  America under President Barack Obama will be nation-building big time and for years to come, until the supply of money and soldiers run out.

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