Naz Massoumi / 28th Sept 2009

Anticipation in the upcoming Geneva talks on Oct 1st (where Iran will meet the six world powers) turned slightly sour last week when Iran was found to have been in breach of its nuclear obligations by the building of a new “secret” nuclear facility in Qom. Out came the headlines: Obama declared; Brown grunted; Sarkozy fumed; Millaband squealed. Iran, they all said, is again “failing to comply”.

It doesn’t matter of course that under the Non-Proliferation Treaty Safeguards agreement Iran is required to report the building of a new nuclear facility to the IAEA only 6 months before it is to become operational and that by doing this 18 months in advance Iran had in fact done so one year earlier than required.  Or that, despite what we are told, Iran continues to be fully compliant with the NPT unlike the US and Britain (whose massive arsenals are the ones in breach) or Israel, the only atomic state in the region, who is not even a signatory.  Sadly we’re used to this outright hypocrisy – highlighted by the anti-war movement and Campaign Iran from day 1 – being happily ignored by the Western media.

What’s really behind all this is the US attempt, with British support, to put pressure on Iran in the run-up to the Geneva meeting. By continuing Bush’s imperial project in the Middle East, Obama has also adopted its problems. Iran extended its influence in the region as a consequence of the catastrophic US wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The head ache for Washington was that  Iran acted in its own national interests and not necessarily in the interests of the US. But with US imperialism in such a mess, even the Bush administration was forced to rule out a military attack on Iran to wrestle control.  Now Obama wants to bring Iran into line but he will first attempt to do so through US global political and economic power (of course he is not ruling out military intervention down the line). That means tougher sanctions on Iran though bringing them will be difficult for the US as Simon Tisdall has shown. The media  irresponsibly has confused the Iranian missile tests, a bit of muscle-flexing in response, with Iran’s nuclear programme knowing full well that even the CIA has ruled out an Iranian nuclear weapons programme.

Nevertheless it must be said any further sanctions will still have an impact – not on the Iranian government’s decision to continue its nuclear programme because this is supported nationally. Instead, it will more than likely increase the economic hardship of ordinary Iranians and put renewed pressure on the civil society opposition movement which demonstrated its huge potential in Iran’s cities this summer.

That is why leading activists of this movement have been, and continue to be, strongly opposed to economic sanctions. And that is also why we must support them by continuing our campaign to lift sanctions and against our governments complicity in imposing them.