Sunday, 4 October 2009

Iran - Accountable to Whom?

Iran - Accountable to Whom?
by Dominic Kavakeb

Much of the discourse on Iran and its nuclear weaponry has centered around the threat of war and sanctions from The United States. On the other hand, from the left’s perspective, the blatant hypocrisy shown by global powers in condemning Iran’s quest for nuclear power. However, as much as we should dismiss the need for Iran to be accountable to the west, it must be accountable to it’s own people.

During George W. Bush’s eight-year tenure as US President the question of Iran and its nuclear ambitions was flagged up time and time again. The United Nations Conference two weeks ago proved that Barak Obama is certainly not willing to let the issue go away and once again the controversy has re-emerged.

It is easy to draw the parallels between Iraq and Iran. Talk of stopping Iran from gaining WMD’s is of course eerily similar to the ramblings of Bush and Blair in the run up to the 2003 invasion. Therefore many have argued that the nuclear issue is being used as another smokescreen to invade a foreign country. This coupled with the outrageous hypocrisy of western governments who, whilst carrying their own nuclear arsenals, are happy to ignore the fact that Israel has had nuclear weapons for many years leads many to reject the protests of the west. And rightly so.

There is of course no case for attacking Iran or indeed placing sanctions upon the country. Iran is a signatory of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, has allowed outside inspectors and according to Mohamad El Baradei, head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, is complying fully.

There still lies a huge level of ambiguity over whether Iran is even attempting to build nuclear weapons and whether it’s program extends beyond peaceful civilian power. The most likely situation is that this is typical Iranian bravado, playing chicken with the west, as a way of deflecting internal criticism. So we are right to reject the US and others for using Iran’s nuclear program as an excuse for aggression. But for Iranian activists the debate shouldn’t stop at this first conclusion.

The position that some put forward, that the Iranian government has the right to do whatever it likes without any accountable at all, is wrong. If we criticize western governments for their use of nuclear power than we should of course be uniform, even though the question of Iran falls under the context of imperialism. We must be able to make an anti-imperialist argument that is also to the benefit of the Iranian people.

We must understand that imperialism itself feeds on oppressed people, in the sense that it allows governments, such as the Iranian, to use outside threats to stifle it’s own people and at the same time causes internal activists to gravely side with the imperialists.

This is no attempt to highlight the dangers and ills of nuclear power but some points are worth stating. Of course as Socialists we wish to see a world without nuclear weapons and indeed a world without war. However, there can also be a considerable environmental impact of building nuclear technology.

In 2007 an earthquake rocked the west coast of Honshu Island, Japan, causing the shut down of Tokyo Electric Power Co.'s Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear power station. Serious concerns were raised about the potential dangers of radioactive leakage on the local population as a result of the earthquake. Iran is a country that is fairly earthquake prone itself. You have to ask how much thought has gone into the consideration of the effect of an earthquake in a nuclear active country?

This is just one example of the potential problems caused by nuclear power and given this we can begin to see why any government that wishes to claim a ‘right to nuclear power’ must behave in an accountable way. That is not to solely single Iran out, as no doubt all other nuclear powers are no more accountable, but it is none-the-less a point worth considering.

This article does not wish to go into any great depth on the Iranian form of government or indeed how accountable it is to its people, but judging from the tragic events of a few months ago when pro-democracy demonstrations were brutally crushed, we can be fairly sure in ascertaining that Iran is not the pinnacle example of democracy.

Whether or not external inspectors should be going into Iran or that it’s plans should come under international scrutiny should not be the point. What Iran really needs is groups of ordinary citizens and independent scientists as well as direct representatives to be allowed access to the nuclear power sites in order to provide accountability. Not accountability to the US or the western agenda but to the Iranian people. If the Iranian people deem that nuclear power is erroneous to their health then they should have the right to demand its end and nobody else. As it goes we don’t really know how well the Iranian people support the country’s nuclear program although some indicators suggest there is a level of support. No doubt that support increases with every threat made against Iran.

Sadly, as we know all too well, the western governments couldn’t care less about the Iranian people. They are more than happy to hijack their cause but, like Iraq and Afghanistan, would also be equally content with bombing them to death. So of course we should reject all the fuss being made by the west towards Iran. There is no excuse for aggression either militarily or economically. But at the same time we must remember that the Iranian people do have the right, in fact only the Iranian people have the right, to control their government and decide on whether or not Iran goes nuclear.


No comments:

Post a Comment

Site Meter