The Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadenijad met with Brazilian head of state Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva in Brasilia on Monday as the two leaders were poised to sign new agreements boosting trade and cooperation and securing Iran’s burgeoning status within the region. The two nations are expected to sign accords on biotechnology, farming and energy, and may discuss co-operation on the construction of nuclear power facilities. Tehran hopes these agreements can boost bilateral trade between the two nations from $2 billion to $15 billion annually1.
In addition to signing trade deals with the Iranian head of state, Lula reiterated his support for Iran’s nuclear program, saying, “Brazil has a model of nuclear energy development recognised by the United Nations and we know about the controversy surrounding the same development by Iran. Brazil defends Iran’s right to develop uranium for peaceful purposes, just as Brazil has been doing. It is simple. That which we defend for ourselves, we defend for others.”2
Such reciprocity when it comes to Iran’s nuclear program is unlikely to sit well with Washington or Tel Aviv, both of which have been categorical in their opposition to Tehran’s desire to pursue a policy of uranium enrichment, claiming that Iran intends to develop nuclear weapons. Iran denies outright that it intends to develop nuclear armanents. The United States has the world’s largest nuclear arsenal and Israel is the only country in the Middle East with nuclear weapons, although it allows no international inspection of its nuclear facilities and has never publicly acknowledged possessing such arms.
Israel has repeatedly threatened to attack Iran, citing fears that the Persian state is attempting to acquire nuclear weapons behind closed doors. In early November 2009 Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon stated on Sky News that Israel is “not bluffing” in its threats to “take military action” against what he called “Iran’s contentious nuclear program”3. Ahmadinejad has frequently been misquoted with regards to statements he has made about Israel, with the most notorious example being the wide circulation of reports he had called for the Zionist state to be “wiped off the map” in October 2005. The Iranian President had in fact quoted the late Ayatollah Khomeini, with an accurate translation of his words being, “The Imam said this regime occupying Jerusalem must vanish from the page of time”4. Mainstream news outlets immediately reported a skewed translation of Ahmadinejad’s words which has served as evidence of the Iranian President’s desire to attack Israel ever since, with The New York Times and other sources stating that, “Iran’s conservative new president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, said Wednesday that Israel must be “wiped off the map””.5
In July of 2008, Pullitzer Prize-winning journalist Seymour Hersh reported that at a meeting he attended in then-Vice President Dick Cheney’s office, the use of false flag operations to provoke a war with Iran was discussed in Cheney’s presence. Hersh reported, “There was a dozen ideas proffered about how to trigger a war. The one that interested me the most was why don’t we build — we in our shipyard — build four or five boats that look like Iranian PT boats. Put Navy seals on them with a lot of arms. And next time one of our boats goes to the Straits of Hormuz, start a shoot-up.” Hersh says the idea was eventually rejected “because you can’t have Americans killing Americans”6.
As Mahmoud Ahmadinejad met with Lula in the Brazilian capital, protests were held in Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo in what The Guardian labelled a denunciation of the Iranian President’s “record on human rights, homosexuality and Israel”. The Iranian government severely cracked down on domestic dissent this summer and outlawed protests as riots erupted in Tehran following Ahmadinejad’s disputed election victory. Ahmadinejad, who enjoys widespread support among Iran’s poor, has repeatedly accused the U.S. and Britain of meddling in Iran’s internal affairs.
In October, the head of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard General Mohammad Ali Jafari accused British and American intelligence services of involvement in a suicide bombing targeted against the Revolutionary Guard leadership which killed 42. General Jafari claimed that his security officials had documents linking Britain and the United States to Jundullah, the militant group which claimed responsibility for the suicide bombing on Sunday 18th October7. “Behind this scene are the American and British intelligence apparatus, and there will have to be retaliatory measures to punish them”, said Jafari.
Such suspicions are certainly not without historical precedent. In 1952, following a unanimous vote in the Iranian parliament to nationalise the country’s vast oil reserves under President Mohammed Mossadeq, British intelligence (S.I.S.) launched a covert operation with the C.I.A in order to topple him and protect the interests of the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company – now BP. British and American intelligence services staged bombings in Iran targeted against religious leaders which were then blamed on Iranian agents posing as Communists loyal to Mossadeq in an ultimately successful bid to turn the country’s religious establishment against the government8. Mossadeq was then replaced by the Shah whose brutal regime ruled with an iron fist before being deposed by the Islamic Revolution in 1979.
Despite stating publicly that he wishes to “extend a hand” to Iran, in March U.S. President Barack Obama renewed sanctions against the Persian state which have been in place since 1995, when they were introduced by the administration of Bill Clinton. These sanctions prohibit American companies from investing in or trading with Iran. Obama defended this policy of isolation, stating that, “The actions and policies of the government of Iran are contrary to the interests of the United States in the region and pose a continuing and unusual and extraordinary threat”9.
Ahmadinejad was in Brazil on the first leg of a tour which the Iranian government hopes will strengthen the Persian state’s standing in a continent where it has numerous allies in the form of left-wing governments in Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador and Nicaragua. The Iranian President will subsequently make visits to Caracas and La Paz, where he will meet with Hugo Chávez and Evo Morales respectively, both of whom have also voiced support for Iran’s right to develop nuclear technology for non-military purposes. Iran has been making steady diplomatic inroads into Latin America in recent years, provoking concern in Washington, which has traditionally regarded the region as its “backyard”.
1Brazilian protests greet Ahmadinejad at start of South American tour, http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/nov/23/ahmadinejad-brazil-protests-iran
2Lula destaca apoio ao Irã no desenvolvimento de urânio para fins pacíficos, http://noticias.uol.com.br/ultnot/internacional/2009/11/23/ult1859u1903.jhtm
4“Wiped Off The Map” – The Rumor of the Century, http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=4527
5Wipe Israel ‘off the map’ Iranian says, http://www.nytimes.com/2005/10/26/world/africa/26iht-iran.html
6EXCLUSIVE: To Provoke War, Cheney Considered Proposal To Dress Up Navy Seals As Iranians And Shoot At Them,http://thinkprogress.org/2008/07/31/cheney-proposal-for-iran-war/
7Iran threatens revenge against Britain over bombing, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/6376895/Iran-threatens-revenge-against-Britain-over-bombing.html
8New York Times Special Report: The C.I.A. in Iran, http://www.nytimes.com/library/world/mideast/041600iran-cia-index.html