GAINS AND DANGERS IN THE IRAN NUCLEAR DEAL

Issued by Office of the Chairperson
International League of People’s Struggles
July 31, 2015

Iran signed and approved on July 14 the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) with the United States, United Kingdom, Russia, France and China as the five permanent members of the UN Security Council, plus Germany (the so-called “5+1”) after 20 months of negotiations. The Iranian authorities themselves have described the agreement as a package of some major gains for Iran and persistent dangers that require continuing vigilance and struggle.

The 159-page agreement, which Iran is confident of implementing to its own advantage, contains provisions that define the restrictions on its nuclear program (including accepted levels of uranium enrichment, inspections and other conditions) in exchange for having the long-standing sanctions and arms embargo being lifted step-by-step. Just as important are the historical and current geopolitical factors that make this nuclear deal all the more significant.

The struggle between Iran in trying to develop its own nuclear capability, on one hand, and the major nuclear powers that want to limit such capability, is best understood in the context of the long-standing ambition of US imperialism to control Iran, a large and strategically located country in the Middle East with vast human and energy resources. In this light, the US instigated a coup d’etat in 1953 jointly with the UK to overthrow Iran’s duly elected Mossadegh government, which had earlier moved to nationalize Western oil interests. The US installed Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi as its puppet monarch, allowing him to run a brutal and hated dictatorship for the next 26 years.

A broad alliance of forces led a popular uprising to overthrow the US-Shah Pahlavi regime in 1979. But an Islamic republic prevailed over secular democratic forces and social revolutionaries. In any case, Iran has been compelled to assert its national independence and face up to aggressive acts, grave threats, provocations and sanctions by US imperialism, which has not forgiven the Iranian people for seizing the US embassy and subsequently nationalizing Iran’s vast oil and gas reserves and removing them from the control of Exxon, Mobil and Shell. The sovereign anti-imperialist defiance of Iran and the Iranian people has shamed US and British imperialism for decades.

Hostile imperialist acts against Iran have included harsh economic sanctions by the US and its European allies, individually or as the UN Security Council. More than USD 100 billion in Iranian funds were seized and frozen in overseas accounts, on top of hundreds of billions of dollars more in oil and gas revenue lost due to the blockade. Other anti-Iran actions included military encirclement, sabotage, political subversion and assassinations, and demonization in Western media branding the country as part of the so-called Axis of Evil.

For decades, nuclear-armed imperialist powers have bullied weaker but assertive countries, such as Iran, to prevent them from developing their own nuclear capability even if only for peaceful or defensive purposes. When Iran started its nuclear program during the Shah Pahlavi regime, its imperialist masters kept quiet. But when the post-1979 revolutionary regime resumed the same program, the US quickly imposed economic sanctions and enjoined the UN Security Council and EU to do the same, on the claim that Iran was developing nuclear weapons. The US even demanded that other countries join the anti-Iran economic blockade or else suffer the same fate.

In fact, the Western powers have merely used the nuclear issue to justify their relentless drive to recover their stranglehold on Iran, a most important pillar of imperialist rule in the Middle East until they lost it in the 1979 Revolution. The ultimate imperialist aim remains as before: to overthrow the Islamic Republic, restore a pro-US regime similar to that before 1979, and use this as a regional client state to maintain US-Zionist-NATO dominance and impunity in Middle East.

Despite decades-long efforts, however, the US strategy has failed to produce the conditions for regime change in Iran. The US could not even fully agree with its European allies on how to play their sanctions cards. When Iran entered into talks with the Big Three (UK, France and Germany) in 2003-2004, for example, the effort was sabotaged by the US, which did not want a deal.

In the recent talks, the US had difficulty bringing about a solid position among the 5+1. The Big Three had wanted regime change in Iran but had to keep other options open according to their own long-term imperialist interests, while Russia and China wanted to end the sanctions outright. Thus, due to cracks in the imperialist front, and also as the fruit of firm and successful anti-imperialist struggles, Iran was able to cadge a relatively better deal than what it could have achieved in 2003-2004.

Under the Islamic Republic from the 1980s onwards, Iran regained control of its own resources and nursed a fairly independent economy back to health. Thus, it was able to ride out the economic hardships resulting from the US-led sanctions. Iran brought down its annual inflation rate from a high 45% to 15%, and achieved a high level of social services including a modern infrastructure, housing with full electrification, free medical care, and free education up to university—with women now enjoying 98% literacy rate and comprising over 60% of university students.

Iran’s public sector has also felt the negative impacts of privatization at the hands of its own ambitious capitalist class. But the Iranian state has been able to manage the economy through direct ownership of certain enterprises and other forms of control, and thus cope with the worst possible consequences of the neoliberal offensives of imperialism. It has also improved ties with a wide range of countries, including non-Western, smaller, or neighboring countries such as Russia, China, India, Turkey, and the Central Asian republics.

The lifting of the sanctions under the agreement means that Iran can now regain control over billions of dollars of its seized frozen assets abroad in foreign banks. This gives the Iranian state, economy and people some substantial breathing space. On the other hand, Western powers and their corporate agents will surely try to woo the Iranian officials and businessmen with sugar-coated pills of neocolonialism and neoliberalism, undermine Iran’s political and economic sovereignty and social stability and ultimately regain control over the country. At the same time, the nuclear deal provides no solid guarantees for Iran against imperialist trouble-making.

Dangers to Iran will persist for as long as US imperialist aggression in the region persists. Even with sanctions being lifted gradually, the US has a proven practice of invoking an agreement such as the JCPOA to again falsely accuse Iran of violations (as it did with Iraq, Libya and others) as basis for relentless demands on the International Atomic Energy Agency to inspect and surveil everything that happens on Iranian ground. At any anytime, the US and Zionist Israel can generate lies that Iran is engaged in violations and in secretly developing nuclear weapons.

On such basis, the US can have the sanctions reimposed and selective air strikes or an all-out war eventually unleashed against Iran—directly or through its attack dog Israel, unilaterally or in combination with bellicose NATO countries, and with or without UN or UN Security Council approval. Even now, the US military encirclement of Iran, through land-based forces in neighboring countries and carrier-based naval forces throughout the Gulf, shows no sign of abating.

Contrary to the narrow pacifist line that the July 14 agreement is welcome because it defuses the threat of a nuclear Iran, the biggest war threats on the global and regional scale come from US militarism, which is driven by the US military-industrial complex and other right-wing corporate interests, and which supports bellicose proxy states in the Middle East (Israel, Saudi Arabia, and other Gulf monarchies) with their common lust for profit in oil and military industries.

Western corporate giants are lusting to break down Iran’s economic walls, whether by military, diplomatic, or other political and ideological means, to gain full access to its immense markets (including a USD 100 billion stock market) and resources (especially a vast energy sector, one of the largest in the world). The lifting of sanctions will allow foreign investors to rush in and scramble for windfall profits. Some US policy makers, wary of declining US power and worried about the deepening foothold of Russia and China in the region, are also toying with the idea of enticing Iran away from its anti-US alignments and alliances.

However, the stronger trend is for the US militarist factions to continue pushing for war with Iran. They are determined to shoot down the nuclear deal in the US Congress, or at least punch big holes in its public acceptability, through a multimillion-dollar media and lobby campaign led by right-wing think thanks. Ominously, Israel has categorically rejected the nuclear deal.

The ILPS views the nuclear agreement as fraught with grave dangers, despite the calibrated lifting of sanctions. The license for inspecting every inch of Iran is immediately an attack on the national sovereignty of Iran and is the same license for the US and Zionist Israel to unleash aggression against Iran and the Iranian people. The very certainty that Iran has no nuclear weapons is an invitation to imperialist aggression. Saddam of Iraq and Qaddafi of Libya did not save themselves from aggression by opening their countries to UN inspection and proclaiming their lack of nuclear weapons.

The US and Zionist Israel make no secret of their strategic objective of destroying or crippling any state in the Middle East that opposes Zionist rule over Palestine, whether the anti-Zionist and anti-imperialist state has or does not have nuclear weapons. The US and its Western imperialist allies and agents in the Middle East, especially Israel and Saudi Arabia, are hell-bent on using the nuclear agreement to discourage Iran from supporting Syria and the Shia-dominated regime in Iraq. The nuclear agreement is apparently a complement of such violent enterprises as the Islamic state or Daesh. At the same, it implies a certain measure of US wishing to stabilize its puppet regimes in Iraq, Libya and Afghanistan.

In any case, the premise of the agreement is that the imperialist powers must retain their monopoly of nuclear weapons so that they can continue plundering other countries and unleashing wars of aggression without fear of being counteracted by the mere possibility of nuclear weapons in the hands of any of their prey. The US openly admits through its longstanding strategy that it will never give up its nuclear weapons and its ability to use nuclear blackmail. The current US neoconservative policy to use the full spectrum of power to aggrandize its global hegemony includes the possession of and ability to use nuclear weapons and other hightech weapons.

The ILPS condemns the malice and hypocrisy of the US and nuclear-armed powers that want to preserve their nuclear oligopoly. We call on the Iranian people to fight for their national sovereignty and democratic rights and stay ever vigilant and militant against the chicanery of the imperialist powers and their lackeys within Iran. We reiterate our call for complete and immediate nuclear disarmament. At the same time, we respect and uphold the right of countries to engage in nuclear research and development for peaceful purposes and self-defense, especially in the face of the nuclear oligopoly of imperialist powers.###