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Noam Chomsky: The Dangerous Rogue States Operating in the Mideast -- U.S. and Israel

"Just how far will [Israel] go to eliminate the feared deterrent on the pretext of an 'existential threat'?"

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An interim agreement on Iran's nuclear policies that will provide a six-month period for substantive negotiations was announced on Nov. 24.

Michael Gordon, a reporter for The New York Times, wrote, "It was the first time in nearly a decade, American officials said, that an international agreement had been reached to halt much of Iran's nuclear program and roll some elements of it back."

The United States moved at once to impose severe penalties on a Swiss firm that had violated U.S.-imposed sanctions. "The timing of the announcement seemed to be partly intended to send a signal that the Obama administration still considers Iran subject to economic isolation," Rick Gladstone explained in The Times.

The "landmark accord" indeed includes significant Iranian concessions - though nothing comparable from the United States, which merely agreed to temporarily limit its punishment of Iran.

It's easy to imagine possible U.S. concessions. To mention just one: The United States is the only country directly violating the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (and more severely, the United Nations Charter) by maintaining its threat of force against Iran. The United States could also insist that its Israeli client refrain from this severe violation of international law - which is just one of many.

In mainstream discourse, it is considered natural that Iran alone should make concessions. After all, the United States is the White Knight, leading the international community in its efforts to contain Iran - which is held to be the gravest threat to world peace - and to compel it to refrain from its aggression, terror and other crimes.

There is a different perspective, little heard, though it might be worth at least a mention. It begins by rejecting the American assertion that the accord breaks 10 years of unwillingness on Iran's part to address this alleged nuclear threat.

Ten years ago Iran offered to resolve its differences with the United States over nuclear programs, along with all other issues. The Bush administration rejected the offer angrily and reprimanded the Swiss diplomat who conveyed it.

The European Union and Iran then sought an arrangement under which Iran would suspend uranium enrichment while the EU would provide assurances that the U.S. would not attack. As Selig Harrison reported in the Financial Times, "the EU, held back by the U.S. ... refused to discuss security issues," and the effort died.

In 2010, Iran accepted a proposal by Turkey and Brazil to ship its enriched uranium to Turkey for storage. In return, the West would provide isotopes for Iran's medical research reactors. President Obama furiously denounced Brazil and Turkey for breaking ranks, and quickly imposed harsher sanctions. Irritated, Brazil released a letter from Obama in which he had proposed this arrangement, presumably assuming that Iran would reject it. The incident quickly disappeared from view.

Also in 2010, the NPT members called for an international conference to carry forward a long-standing Arab initiative to establish a zone free of weapons of mass destruction in the region, to be held in Helsinki in December 2012. Israel refused to attend. Iran agreed to do so, unconditionally.

The U.S. then announced that the conference was canceled, reiterating Israel's objections. The Arab states, the European Parliament and Russia called for a rapid reconvening of the conference, while the U.N. General Assembly voted 174-6 to call on Israel to join the NPT and open its facilities to inspection. Voting "no" were the United States, Israel, Canada, Marshall Islands, Micronesia and Palau - a result that suggests another possible U.S. concession today.

Such isolation of the United States in the international arena is quite normal, on a wide range of issues.

 
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