by Brendan Lalor
As The Telegraph (20 Nov. 2004) and others are reporting, U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell is once again sounding the alarm, this time claiming not only that Iran is producing materials for use in nuclear weapons, but that it “is studying how to equip a missile with a nuclear bomb.” Is this another move to justify an attack on Iran? If you feel a sense of déjà vu, that’s probably because it was Powell who made a presentation before the U.N. in February of 2003 — based on evidence recognized as bogus then — in order to provide a fictional justification for the unjustified war against Iraq.
To add insult to injury, the Washington Post reports Powell’s new “information” about Iran is based on “a single, unvetted source” identified as a “walk-in” who provided more than 1,000 pages of documentation.
The Telegraph points out that
Mr Powell’s comments initially fuelled speculation that Washington was seeking to undercut a tentative deal by three European Union states [Germany, France and Britain] with Teheran for it to freeze its nuclear enrichment programme….
Despite yesterday’s attempts to undermine Mr Powell’s intelligence, the administration appears far more unified in its intention to confront Iran, than it was to face down Saddam Hussein.
Patience in Washington is fast running out. John Bolton, under-secretary of state for arms control, has been pushing for a tougher line and is said to believe that Iran should have been referred to the UN Security Council a year ago.
American officials will be looking for clear means of verifying the Iranian claims that they are freezing their programmes from Monday.
This might be difficult. Remember, while it is easy for the Bush Administration to believe the worst possible intelligence as long as it confirms its beliefs, it is hard to convince the Bush Administration of what conflicts with its pre-existing beliefs. Saddam Hussein’s claim to have been WMD-free is, of course, a case in point.
The claims were being greeted with increasing scepticism in Washington yesterday in the light of reports from Iran that it using its last few days before the deadline to produce a gas that can be used to make nuclear weapons.
Diplomats told the Associated Press that Iran was using its last few days to produce significant quantities of uranium hexafluoride which can be enriched into weapons-grade uranium.