This is a re-post of my writing on this subject from 2015, but it is still relevant today.
July 29, 2015 (Revised August 5, 2015).
The US-Iran nuclear agreement is a victory for US imperialism and a danger to the Iranian nation and people.
This agreement affords the US its demand of limiting Iran’s nuclear-energy program and imposing draconian restrictions on Iran’s independence and territorial integrity. The only apparent advantage to Iran from the agreement would be the lifting of the sanctions; however, such lifting only figures in the agreement as a promise to be implemented in the future. Moreover, according to the US administration, removal of any sanctions is accompanied by a provision that will allow the sanctions to snap back into place as soon as a problem is perceived with Iran’s compliance with any of the many intricate requirements.
The requirements detailed in this agreement go way above and beyond the regular and additional protocols of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), taking away Iran’s international rights afforded to all NPT signatory countries. In addition, Iran has agreed to the inspection of any site including its military sites. Since the agreement contains no sunset, Iran has committed itself to this intervention in its sovereignty forever.
Prior to this agreement, even during the additional-protocol inspections, the IAEA reported no material evidence of cheating by Iran. Nevertheless, the US expressed suspicions that Iran was cheating in order to sell the public on measures and threats against Iran. This new agreement makes a whole new category of obligations that the ruling class can accuse Iran of violating. Consequently we have every reason to expect them to use such pretexts for more serious threats and possibly actual military attack.
This agreement began covertly in March of 2013 with Nicholas Burns, former Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs, acting as the undercover negotiator, with the Party of Moderation and Development ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moderation_and_Development_Party ), whose leader, Rouhani, was expected to be the incoming president. Consequently upon the beginning of his presidency, his government, unilaterally suspended uranium enrichment, as the Khatami government had done for two years. In addition, Rouhani’s government began implementing many neoliberal policies by reducing or eliminating many welfare programs, such as bread subsidies, to the lower-income families, and reducing free services, such as daycare centers for children with disabilities such as Down syndrome.
Rouhani represents the pro-global-capital, neoliberal class in Iran. From the beginning of the victory of the 1979 revolution, while the US used every tool, including the Saddam Hussein war on Iran, for regime change from without, it tried to find allies in the class struggle in Iran. The 1979 revolution was an anti-US-imperialism revolution that included the Islamists, the nationalists, and the socialist/communists. The Islamist forces, who had been the majority, eventually eliminated the others from the power structure. But within the Islamist forces, the class struggle has continued between the revolutionary, anti-imperialist, pro-working class forces (who wanted a welfare state independent of imperialist forces), and the wealthy classes (who preferred a more western type capitalist economy). Via the victory of Khatami in 1997, the pro-western, anti-welfare, neoliberal forces came to power. The Khatami government began the appeasement of the US, and in order to attract more investment, it forgave the monarchists, many of whom had fled Iran, and invited them to come back. Many went back and reclaimed lands that had been confiscated in the revolution. Despite all the overture, the US continued its sanctions and hostile rhetoric against Iran. This was due to the fact that the revolutionary forces were quite strong and required US confirmation of the Algiers agreement signed by the Carter Administration as part of any negotiation. The first provision of the Algiers agreement is, “The United States pledges that it is and from now on will be the policy of the United States not to intervene, directly or indirectly, politically or militarily, in Iran’s internal affairs.” The US would not agree to that because its strategic goal is the control of Iran for its geopolitical importance and oil and gas resources.
In furtherance of that goal, in 2002 the US began a new attack on Iran by accusing it of trying to develop nuclear weapons. Iran had signed the NPT in the 1970’s and had begun building a nuclear-energy program. It was in 2002 that the Iranian government decided to restart that program according to NPT regulations. However, the US said that Iran was cheating, and their first source of the information of this alleged cheating was reported to be the Mojahedin Khalgh Organization of Iran (MKO). Somehow, the IAEA had not found any problem, but an exiled organization living in an enclosed camp in Iraq was successful in discovering problems with Iran’s nuclear program. This lie was accepted in the west even after the US lie about chemical weapons in Iraq had been exposed.
Again, to appease the US, the Khatami government unilaterally suspended uranium enrichment in 2003, hoping for an agreement with the US for lifting of sanctions. However, in any preliminary discussions conducted by other nations as intermediaries, Iran demanded the non-intervention condition, and the US refused to begin direct discussions with Iran.
With the US increasing its sanctions despite Iran’s suspension of enrichment, the revolutionary forces won the election in 2005, electing Ahmadinejad as president. His government expanded many existing welfare programs and implemented new ones, such as massive affordable housing for the poor. This government also raised the slogan of nuclear energy as an international right and restarted the enrichment program. He also expanded international relations with independent and/or socialist countries, especially Cuba and Venezuela. His government reaffirmed Iran’s commitment to support liberation struggles in the Mideast, especially Hamas and Hezbollah in Lebanon. All of these domestic and international actions were considered hostile by the US, which increased sanctions and anti-Iran propaganda. The US also increased its support for the neoliberal forces in Iran and attracted many of the educated upper-middle-class youth through”pro-democracy” slogans and financial and training support. These people were in the same class as the ones recruited in color revolutions in various countries. So, in the 2009 election, the class struggle was represented as between, on the one hand, a pro-Ahmadinejad faction (mostly poor working-class from outside Tehran), and on the other hand, a pro-Mousavi faction or the Greens, mostly urban upper-class youth and the neoliberal capitalists (the symbolism of the green color being interpreted in this social context as the color of Islam, not the environment).
This movement was clearly pro-Imperialist, since the slogans included death to China and death to Russia and no more money for Palestine. This was the first time in Iranian history where anti-Palestine slogans had appeared. While Russia and China had nothing to do with the Iranian elections, the US was extremely involved in promoting the Greens and condemning Ahmadinejad’s government. The US was hoping for a win by Moussavi, and Obama promised to begin talks with Iran after elections. When the Greens lost, the US attacks on Iran increased and the elections were called invalid.
The US kept increasing sanctions on Iran and threatening Iran with military attack while expanding its support for the neoliberal forces in Iran. During the eight years of Ahmadinejad’s government, the class struggle in Iran had intensified. The majority of the members of the parliament were anti-Ahmadinejad forces, especially the neoliberals. With the increasing US sanctions and financial attacks on Iran and embargo of Iranian oil, and the US covert support for the neoliberals, the anti-imperialist and populist government of Ahmadinejad came under political attack. The neoliberals, who wanted appeasement of the US in order to attract international investment to Iran, had gained such power that no presidential candidate from the anti-imperialist and populist forces was certified to run.
This is the context in which ambassador Burns was sent to begin talks with the almost assured incoming president, and the US was assured of suspension of uranium enrichment, giving up of the previous Iranian demands, and implementation of neoliberal policies.
This is that reason that Obama decided to have a direct talk with Iran for the first time. It was not a talk between equals, but the master and the servant.
The agreement creates many detailed obligations on Iran. The perceived failing of Iran in any detail will provide the US with a pretext to snap back the sanctions and attack Iran. During the whole process of these talks and subsequent to the signing of the agreement, the US government has maintained that the military option is on the table. So, Iran is still considered by US as “a supporter of terrorism”, and Iran is still under threat of military attack by the US. This agreement provides extended opportunities, excuses and pretexts for the US to attack Iran militarily without resort to any new UN resolutions where the US might face opposition by Russia and China. Now, Iran has agreed to be directly responsible to the US under the draconian measures of this agreement.
What is the basis of US hostility to Iran? It stems from Iran’s nationalization of its oil. The US responded with the infamous CIA coup of 1953, which brought Iran under US influence. The 1979 revolution overthrew the Shah and the US influence and interference in Iran. Ever since 1979, the US has used every excuse and attempted every trick to change the regime in Iran either through revolt, threat of military attack or subversion of the current system to the will of the US and its supporters in Iran (the pro-globalization, capitalist class).
Iran has never threatened to attack the US or its “interest”. In fact, during the war on Afghanistan, Iran declared neutrality. Al-Qaida and the Taliban were and are determined enemies of Iran. Although Iran was opposed to US military occupation of Iraq, it has supported the government established by the US in Iraq. On the other hand, the most important ally of the US in the Middle East (after Israel) is Saudi Arabia, the founder and supporter of Al-Qaida, ISIS, and the Taliban.
So, considering that this agreement does not change any US policies or strategic goals toward Iran, what are the possible outcomes for the Iranian people?
1- Increased probability of various degrees of military intervention by the US for the reasons explained above. This is coupled with increased vulnerability of Iran’s defense due to the compromise of its military secrets via IAEA inspections.
This increase in the probability of war is against the interests of the American and Iranian people.
2- Increased probability of covert US operations in Iran resulting in revolts and chaos as is happening in many Arab and/or Islamic countries where the US has had access to do so. The opening of Iran to the US as a result of this agreement will make it easier for the US to support “pro-democracy” (neoliberal and pro-US) factions.
3- Decrease in actual support by Iran for liberation movements in Palestine, Lebanon, Yemen, and military and political support for the governments of Syria and Iraq. Under the current political atmosphere where the power struggle between revolutionary forces and the pro-west neoliberals has not ended in complete victory for the latter, this outcome, which is one of the main objectives of the US, cannot be easily and openly implemented. The possibility of this outcome increases gradually as the revolutionary, nationalist and anti-Imperialist forces in Iran lose power.
4- Weakening of Iran’s trade and political alliances with the ALBA countries (Bolivarian Alliance for Latin America, including Venezuela, Cuba, Bolivia, Nicaragua and other Latin and Caribbean countries), Russia, and other non-aligned countries in the world. This outcome will become more probable as Iran expands its relations with the West.
5- More reduction in welfare and social programs for the poor and working people to attract global capital. The neoliberal forces in Iran, who are in control of the Administration, the Parliament and the Judiciary at this time, have already begun the process to achieve this outcome as a prerequisite for the Agreement.