By Lucas Leiroz
American officials are starting to admit Washington’s lies about Iran. William Burns, director of the CIA, said on Wednesday, July 20, that Iran has never resumed its nuclear weapons production program since it was interrupted, in 2004. The statement only confirms the suspicion of several analysts around the world, but it is truly impressive that it came from the head of American intelligence. Indeed, it reveals that Washington really bases its interventionist foreign policy on lies and distortions.
During his speech at the Aspen Security Forum in Colorado, Director Burns stated:
“Our best intelligence judgment is that the Iranians have not resumed the weaponization effort that they had underway up until 2004 and then suspended, so that’s something, obviously we at CIA and across the US intelligence community keep a very, very sharp focus on”.
Earlier, in December of last year, the Director had already stated something similar to these lines, indicating that there were insufficient reasons for the US to believe that Iran planned to produce nuclear weapons. However, on neither occasion did Burns clarify why the US government had repeatedly mentioned this hypothesis of resuming the program in recent years, even without any scientific basis to justify the narrative.
Interestingly, it was not just Burns who recently commented on this topic. Tamir Hayman, director of Israeli intelligence, has already stated that Tel Aviv has not found evidence that Tehran plans to develop nuclear weapons, despite the fact that there is a large process of uranium enrichment.
“To the best of our knowledge, the directive has not changed, and they are not heading toward a breakout. They are not heading toward a bomb right now: It may be in the distant future. (…) There is an enriched amount [of uranium] in volumes that we have not seen before and it is disturbing (…) At the same time, in all other aspects of the Iranian nuclear project, we see no progress – not in the weapons project, in the financial area, not in any other sector”, he said.
According to the official speech of the Iranian State, any research related to the nuclear weapons program was stopped in 2004, with no interest in converting the current nuclear program into an atomic weapons platform. More than a mere political attitude to avoid sanctions, the Iranian government has also stated on several occasions that the decision to abstain from producing nuclear weapons is a consequence of the Shiite religion itself, which has an official role in the country’s theocratic regime. For Shia Islam, producing and using weapons of mass destruction is considered a sin – and it would be unethical on the part of the Shia government to disobey the principles of its own religion.
However, the mere act of not possessing nuclear weapons is not exactly what interests the US in the Iranian case. The peaceful use of nuclear technology could also become “dangerous” to American interests. Peaceful and clean nuclear technology allows, for example, high levels of industrial and scientific development, in addition to boosting military power, even without the possession of warheads – as, for example, through the manufacture of propulsion submarines. Obviously, any form of material development of its geopolitical enemies is seen by the US as a “problem”, which is why Washington tries to completely neutralize the Iranian nuclear program.
However, the main point is that the narrative around the Iranian nuclear program has become a kind of “rhetorical weapon” for the US. With this speech, it became possible to mobilize the entire international society against the “nuclearization”, justifying sanctions, military operations and even terrorist-like attacks with the objective of assassinating Iranian officials. In fact, the Iranian nuclear program has functioned in terms of US-Iran tensions in a way similar to the narrative around the “invasion against Ukraine”, in terms of tensions with Russia. They are mere baseless narratives that serve as a basis for maneuvers on the international arena.
It remains to be seen what the practical result of all this scenario will be from now on. Burns did not comment on the case for nothing. He has tried to take a more pragmatic line with Iran, given his experience in the negotiations of the 2015 deal – later unilaterally abandoned by the US. The Director does not see the possibility of a conflict with the Persian country as positive and bets on some level of diplomacy to guarantee American interests, even if concessions have to be made.
But in order for diplomacy to really advance and to materialize in agreements, it is not enough to admit that the nuclear weapons narrative is false, it is necessary that all sanctions be banned, and that Washington removes the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) from its list of terrorist organizations, in addition to establishing a truly neutral and impartial nuclear monitoring mechanism that does not act in an interventionist manner or violate Iranian sovereignty. Until this is achieved, there will be no concrete possibility of agreement.
Lucas Leiroz is a researcher in Social Sciences at the Rural Federal University of Rio de Janeiro; geopolitical consultant. You can follow Lucas on Twitter.
Jonas E. Alexis has degrees in mathematics and philosophy. He studied education at the graduate level. His main interests include U.S. foreign policy, the history of the Israel/Palestine conflict, and the history of ideas. He is the author of the new book, Kevin MacDonald’s Metaphysical Failure: A Philosophical, Historical, and Moral Critique of Evolutionary Psychology, Sociobiology, and Identity Politics. He teaches mathematics in South Korea.