Eamonn McCann - Let’s not be spooked

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
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It was a remarkable aspect of the appalling case of Michael Pedersen in Andover in Hampshire, believed to have killed his two children, Ben and Freya, before committing suicide himself nine days ago, that it was assumed in virtually all coverage that there was no need to explain the ubiquitous references to Sefton.

The Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has told the UN General Assembly that Iran is on the brink of producing a nuclear bomb and must be stopped before it’s too late - a juncture which he said will be reached by the end of this year. He used a cartoon drawing of a fizzing bomb to illustrate his point. This at least was something new.

Twenty years ago, as member of the Knesset, Netanyahu warned that Iran would have the bomb within “three to five years”: by 1997 at the latest. The allegation wasn’t new even then.

In 1984, the specialist defence magazine “Janes’s Defence Weekly” had declared that Iran “is engaged in the production of an atomic bomb, likely to be ready within two years.” Pressed to produce evidence, the magazine withdrew the claim and confessed that its only source was a German engineer who had visited an unfinished nuclear reactor at Bushehr “and became curious.”

In 1986, pro-Zionist US Senator Alan Cranston picked up on the same discredited source and declared that Iran would have the bomb by 1991.

In 1992, the current Israeli Prime Minister, Shimon Peres, forecast that Iran would become a nuclear power by 1999.

In 1998, US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld told Congress that by 2003 Iran would have the capacity to build an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of delivering a nuclear or biological payload to hit America.

In 2004, Secretary of State Colin Powell announced that Iran had reached the stage of working out ways to fit nuclear warheads onto the missile.

Last month, Netanyahu was reported telling the New York Times that he was “at his wit’s end” because Iran was “only four to six weeks away from a nuclear bomb.” He seems since to have extended his estimate by five weeks.

This sabre-rattling began shortly after 1979 when the US proxy, the Shah, was overthrown by a popular rising: the fact that the rising was taken over within a year by Islamic followers of the Ayatollah Kholmeni who had sat out the tumult on the streets of Teheran in Paris mansion doesn’t alter the essential facts of the period.

Two other relevant facts. One, the Iranian Prime Minister Ahmedinejad has repeatedly explained that when he referred to “the end” of the Israeli state he had in mind a process along the lines of the dismemberment of the Stalinist dictatorships of the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia. Maybe he’s just acting the innocent - but the fact that this has been his explanation is certainly relevant but rarely mentioned in reports on Iran.

Two, Kholmeni’s successor, the Ayatollah Khameni, had declared a “fatwa” against possession, much less use, of nuclear weapons, which he agues are contrary to the teachings of the Koran. He has promised eternal damnation on anyone seeking to make Iran a nuclear-armed State. Maybe that’s a mere smokescreen, too. But again, the fact that the “spiritual leader” of the country has taken this line deserves more attention than it has been given, which is next to none.

The folks behind the relentless propaganda against Iran are the same folks who told us hand on heart that Saddam Hussein had a stockpile of chemical and biological and possibly nuclear weapons which he could launch against British bases in Cyprus at 15 minutes notice.

What they were out to do then was to spook the people into supporting a war. Now they are at it again.

ILEX - time to go

So Ilex no longer has a chair nor a chief executive…

Regular readers of this column won’t be even slightly surprised. We repeat the point made here on at least a dozen occasions: the only sensible thing to do with Ilex is what should have been done long ago - wind it up without further ado. It has been an expensive drain on public finances, thoroughly undemocratic in its structure and altogether useless

Maybe it will be gone by the time this piece appears. If it hasn’t, there’ll be more next week. This is a farce which has run for far too long.