Iran's Rafsanjani accuses US of acting with impunity in Iraq
Press Trust of India
Tehran, October 24
Iran's powerful former president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani on Friday accused the United States of acting with impunity in Iraq, saying its wave of arrests in the country was a "humiliation for mankind".
"The US is now arresting anyone it likes, and nobody has the courage to ask the US why it is arresting all these people," the head of the Islamic republic's top political arbitration body told weekly Muslim prayers in Tehran.
Rafsanjani emphasised the case of two Iranian journalists working for state television, detained in July by US troops who said they were spotted filming a military base in Baghdad.
The charismatic former president protested that Iran's envoy in Baghdad had only this week finally been allowed to visit the pair, Said Abou Taleb and Sohail Karimi.
"When other countries arrest (US) elements for spying, the US says that person is a political prisoner and puts pressure on that government," Rafsanjani said. http://www.hindustantimes.com/news/181_432009,00050004.htm
Put your nukes where your mouth is
For well over a year, the world has been so preoccupied by the argument over the micro picture, whether or not Iraq, North Korea and Iran were building nuclear weapons, that the big picture that this is the right time to take a big step forward on worldwide nuclear disarmament has been all but overlooked. Indeed, one can argue that the small picture worries are not that important, but the big picture worry that Russia, the USA, Britain, France and China still have missiles ready to point at each other is the one to lay awake at night about.
Certainly with Iraq there can now be little debate about its supposed nuclear weapons programme. The UN disarmament process following the 1991 Gulf war did its job better than Washington ever imagined. Whether Iran is or is not building nuclear weapons is an ongoing discussion among experts. It has every reason to, if one accepts the argument than an underdog who wants to challenge US interests or defend itself against its aggressive neighbour, Iraq, can easily persuade itself that nuclear weapons are the only thing that could dissuade outsiders from trying an attack. Yet, now that Iraq is disarmed, the question is who on earth would Iran need to use them against?
Probably we have to worry about North Korea even less. For all its isolationism, North Korea has no real active enemies it would use its supposed nuclear arsenal against. It has Washington on its back, but it is not actually militarily threatened. Indeed, it is the other way round, if anything. The US soldiers embedded close to its border are, in fact, hostages to be quickly killed in any military blow up.
As for India and Pakistan, from time to time they teeter irresponsibly on the brink of nuclear war, but horrific though it would be for those two countries if there were war, it would cause little danger to the outside world.
And even Israel, with its eye for eye culture, the only scenario the military planners have ever foreseen is to retaliate against a chemical Scud attack. Yet, if Israel unleashed its nuclear arsenal, it would lose all legitimacy as a nation. It would become a pariah that no one, not even the USA, would extend a helping hand to.
Does this mean we should relax about proliferation? Not at all. For the history of the Cold War teaches us how close we came to accidental war on a number of occasions and how, in a crisis, politicians can be tempted at least to threaten to use them, which convinces others that they are the currency of power. The more fingers there are on the nuclear button around the world, the more likely, by intent, malevolence, accident or insubordination, that they could be used with all the devastation they involve. Most of the arguments given above depend on rational decision making. But the Cuban Missile Crisis told us that human beings can get close to becoming irrational and irresponsible.
This is why we have the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. In May 1995, the treaty, signed by 185 nations, was renewed indefinitely. But what should have been a landmark in arms control was more a mark of failure, of promises made and broken by the big nuclear powers, who solemnly undertook to move rapidly towards nuclear disarmament if the treaty were renewed. The recent disarmament treaty negotiated by presidents George Bush and Vladimir Putin is riddled with holes. It lacks a schedule of phased reductions, allowing both sides to defer the promised cuts until 2012, when the treaty expires. The treaty does not require the elimination of a single missile site, submarine, warhead, bomber or bomb.
Nuclear disarmament seems an idealistic, even utopian goal. Richard Perle talks of the generals who advocate rapid nuclear disarmament like George Lee Butler, the former head of US Strategic Command as men whose stars are not on their uniforms but on their eyes. But then to see an end to the Cold War was regarded as utopian by an overwhelming majority of experts and politicians until the moment it happened.
In the 1960s, the late Herman Kahn, arguably the greatest nuclear strategist of all times, pondered pessimistically on the conditions necessary for returning to a nuclear-free world. He thought it would take a US-Soviet nuclear war followed by an immediate pact never to use them again. But Kahn said they must not have time to bury the dead, otherwise the old mistrust and enmity will quickly return.
But I think Kahn would be amazed to see how little enmity there is today between the old nuclear superpower rivals and indeed between both of them and the rising superpower, China. Not since 1871-1914 has there been so little active hostility between the big powers. This must be the time to get our grip on the issue of big power nuclear disarmament, for without that there is simply no credibility when dealing with would-be nuclear proliferators in the Third World. http://www.thestatesman.net/page.news.php?clid=4&theme=&usrsess=1&id=25903