The Militant (logo)  

Vol. 75/No. 46      December 19, 2011

Rulers of US, UK tighten
imperialists’ noose on Iran
(lead article)
LONDON—Washington, London and other imperialist powers have seized on the Nov. 29 sacking of the British Embassy by protesters in Tehran to mount unprecedented pressure to force the Iranian government to abandon its nuclear program.

The imperialists’ more than 30-year deep hostility toward Iran is rooted in the overthrow of the U.S.-and British-backed monarchy by a popular revolution in 1979.

The storming of the embassy, providing the imperialists with a pretext for tightening the screws, occurred one day after the Iranian parliament voted to expel the British ambassador and downgrade diplomatic relations between the two countries, in response to coordinated economic sanctions announced Nov. 21 by London, Washington, Ottawa and the European Union.

That earlier round of sanctions followed the release last month of a U.N. report that provided some details backing claims that Tehran has been pursuing nuclear weapons technology. The Iranian government maintains its nuclear program is for energy production and medical research.

All U.K. financial institutions were banned from doing business with Iran, including with the Iranian central bank. Ottawa banned the export of all goods used in Iran’s petrochemical, oil and gas industries, and blocked virtually all transactions with Iran. Washington’s steps were aimed at non-U.S. firms and banks that deal with Iran, especially its energy sector.

On Nov. 28, the same day as the Iranian parliament’s vote on its diplomatic relations with the U.K., Ayatollah Ali Khamenei denounced Britain in a public speech as an “emblem of Western imperial arrogance,” according to the New York Times.

Shouting “Death to England,” hundreds of students described as members of the Basij by the Iranian state media stormed two British diplomatic compounds in Tehran, causing substantial damage. The Basij is a militia force led by the Guards of the Islamic Revolution, the dominant military force in the government.

London immediately withdrew all its diplomatic staff and ordered the expulsion of Iranian Embassy personnel from Britain, downgrading relations to just short of a complete break. At least four other European governments have closed their Tehran embassies.

Reflecting divisions among Iran’s rulers, the Iranian Foreign Ministry expressed regrets over the “unacceptable behavior by a few demonstrators.”  
Oil embargo being considered
EU foreign ministers meeting in Brussels Dec. 1 added 180 names to a list of Iranian officials and companies whose assets have been frozen and are banned from traveling to member states. They also announced they were considering an oil embargo to be decided in January. The EU imports roughly 18 percent of Iranian exports of crude oil.

The same day, the U.S. Senate voted unanimously to freeze the U.S.-based assets of any financial institution, including other countries’ central banks, that does business with Iran’s central bank. According to Agence France-Presse, this step will hit payments to Iran for its oil exports. Not yet law, the Senate measure is opposed by the Barack Obama administration, which is concerned about the effect it would have on oil prices.

On a related front, Iranian media reported Dec. 4 that the Iranian military shot down a U.S. drone in eastern Iran. According to Fox News, U.S. military sources denied the spy plane had been shot, but acknowledged it was in Tehran’s possession.

Meanwhile, in a public speech Dec. 4, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu alluded to launching an air assault on Tehran’s nuclear facilities, a move that has reportedly been discussed in the Israeli cabinet. He made an analogy to the founding of Israel in 1948. The government’s first prime minister, David Ben-Gurion, “understood full well the decision carried a heavy price, but he believed not making that decision had a heavier price,” he said.

Two days earlier, U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta spoke at a pro-Israel meeting in Washington. He cautioned that a strike would only delay Iran’s nuclear program, while setting off “an escalation” that could “consume the Middle East in confrontation and conflict that we would regret.” A military response, he said, is always an option but “must be the last resort.”
Related articles:
Anti-Syria sanctions part of campaign against Iran  
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