Thirty years of fear mongering wilt under scrutiny

This is in response to Richard Lynch’s column (which ran in the March edition of the Monitor) concerning the Middle East. The U.S. has lost thousands of soldiers, wasted trillions of dollars, and killed untold innocents in two unnecessary wars in the last decade. We must not be dragged into a third under similar false pretenses.

Since the mid-1980s, media reports and politicians’ statements in the U.S., United Kingdom and Israel have played up fears of the alleged “Iranian nuclear threat.” The campaign began in 1984 with a “Jane’s Intelligence Defense Weekly” report warning that Iran was moving “very quickly” toward a nuclear weapon. Later that year, Sen. Alan Cranston alleged that Iran was “seven years away” from being able to build a nuclear weapon.

In 1988, Iraq issued warnings that Iran was close to nuclear capability.

In January 1992, Benjamin Netanyahu told the Israeli Knesset that “within three to five years, we can assume that Iran will become autonomous in its ability to develop and produce a nuclear bomb.”

And so on.

For nearly 30 years, we have been inundated on a nearly monthly basis by the same old lie: that Iran was a few months or years away from nuclear capability.

Let’s establish the truth about the situation. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad never said that it was his intent to “wipe Israel off the map.” This was an improper translation; the true translation reads “this regime occupying Jerusalem must vanish from the page of time.”

Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Al Khamenei, has reiterated his fatwa on numerous occasions, declaring the possession of atomic weapons “a major sin.”

Iran has actually been far more accommodating than Israel. Iran has signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty; Israel has not. Iran has repeatedly permitted International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors into its facilities; Israel has refused inspections.

Fortunately, Israel’s defense leadership paints a different picture. In April, both Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Israeli Defense Force chief Lieutenant General Benny Gantz told the Haaretz newspaper that Iranian leaders were “very rational people” who would be making a “huge mistake” if they were to pursue nuclear weapons. This is understandable, since Israel is believed to have an arsenal of atomic bombs.

We should all share Richard Lynch’s desire to avoid a nuclear confrontation. Such confrontations, however, are best avoided with honest conversation rather than fear mongering.

– Charles Held, Mount Holly

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