Thank you very much for your typically robust performance on BBC TV’s Question Time last night. However I wish to counsel you against using the prospect of war with Iran as a vehicle to demonstrate your resolve, and the Party’s new-found ‘establishment’ credentials. Your political future, and maybe even your personal freedom, are at stake here….
In the debate you not only expressed your support for blockade-type unilateral sanctions, that do not have UN support, but also you gave the distinct impression that you were in favour of the UK joining a major war against Iran.
The recent rise in tensions arises from the latest IAEA report (Nov 8 2011) which has been successfully spun by parts of the US government as providing new evidence of Iran’s intentions to weaponsise its civilian nuclear capability. This is a disingenuous untruth. The report says nothing of the sort and I invite you to read it. All of it.
This report states clearly that Iran abandoned its fledgling nuclear weaponsisation programme in 2003, and that there is no evidence of the diversion of enriched nuclear material. In this it agrees with the US ‘NIE’ of 2007, and other formal US government analyses. It states that Iran may have continued some aspects of this pre-2003 programme, and calls for further inspections.
You should avail yourself of the context: first, that there have been credible expert criticisms in the US, of new accusations of Iranian weaponsisation activity passed to the IAEA by the US, and second, that the Iran issue is being used in a cat-and-mouse game between political factions in the US and between the US and Israel, over Obama’s re-election. Indeed the threat of unilateral Israeli action was a key factor in the UK persuading the rest of the EU to agree to new sanctions on Iran – which could easily lead to war by themselves.
Even US Defense Secretary Panetta is against the war, and clearly the White House is trying to avoid it. Last Monday when Panetta was asked on TV if Iran was actually developing a nuclear weapon he said ‘no‘, referring to ‘potential capability’ intentions in an obvious attempt to guard his political flank.
So where does your FCO ‘briefing’ material come from, and whom in the US is instructing whom in the UK, as part of the game to outflank Panetta (and Obama) ?
The massive UK and US military build up required is now underway. It would be a devastating war with hundreds of thousands of deaths, involving Gulf States, and maybe even Russia and China. UK ministers who supported another illegal war would be at best vilified and at worse convicted in the international courts. Are you really sure you wish to stick to the apparent comfort of your FCO briefings ?
* Paul Reynolds is an independent foreign policy & international economics adviser, who has had senior political roles in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Pakistan, among other countries across the globe.