In the midst of the muddy controversies surrounding the U.S.-Iran nuclear crisis lies a larger struggle for control of the greater Middle East and Central Asian region.

The possibility of a U.S. nuclear or other strike on Iran was exposed by Seymour Hersh in a recent New Yorker article. Despite immediate denials by the Bush administration, it became clear that the U.S. military had drawn up a number of military scenarios regarding a possible attack on Iran.

Some of these plans included the use of nuclear “bunker busters,” officially known as the Robust Nuclear Earth Penetrator, at alleged clandestine nuclear facilities buried deep within the ground at various sites in Iran. Other plans included the possibility that Israel may unilaterally attack Iranian nuclear facilities in a manner similar to its illegal attack on Iran in the early 1980s.

Iran has insisted on its right to enrich uranium and continue other aspects of its nuclear program “for peaceful purposes” in accordance with its treaty rights and obligations under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) recently determined that there is no evidence that Iran has developed a clandestine nuclear weapons program.

The United States has demanded that Iran, regardless of its compliance with the NPT, immediately suspend its uranium enrichment activities and open up its entire nuclear program for unrestricted, intrusive access by the IAEA. The Bush administration has made it clear during these past few months that “all options,” including sanctions and unilateral military assaults, “remain on the table” in its dealings with Iran.

Iran, for its part, has threatened retaliation for any military attack, including the withholding of oil supplies from the international market.

The aims of current U.S. policy in the Middle East and beyond can be deciphered from the Bush administration’s National Security Strategy, which, in turn, is based on the much-publicized report of the Project for the New American Century. Its elements include (1) prevention of the rise of any power in the world that can challenge the military and economic might of

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the U.S. and threaten its global interests, and (2) elimination or transformation of existing treaties and laws that bind the actions of the U.S. within globally accepted restrictions. One can see the fingerprints of this policy all over the current crisis over Iran.

One of the consequences, unintended or otherwise, of the U.S. bombing campaign in Afghanistan and its occupation of Iraq has been the rise of Iranian influence in the region. The fall of the Taliban immediately cemented Iranian influence in western Afghanistan, and the dominance of Shiite factions in Iraq has solidified Iran’s role in the future of that occupied state. The Bush regime sees the growing influence of Iran in the region, coupled with its oil reserves and civilian nuclear program, as a threat to its interests in the Middle East and Central Asia.

The nuclear standoff has also provided the Bush regime with an excellent opportunity to dismantle the NPT in favor of a more unilateral approach that promotes its interests. The recent U.S.-India deal, which provides for the sharing of nuclear technology and allows India to step up its nuclear weapons development, is a gross violation of the Non-Proliferation Treaty, which prohibits the spread of nuclear weapons.

India’s refusal to sign onto the NPT and its open development of nuclear weapons has been ignored by the Bush administration in its attempts to promote India as a strategic ally against the growing dominance of China in the region. In contrast, Iran has been portrayed as a “rogue state” that cannot be trusted despite its compliance with the NPT thus far. Overall, the U.S. seeks to divert attention away from its own treaty obligations, which call for complete disarmament by the declared nuclear states, focusing instead on using its existing arsenal and newly developed weaponry, such as the bunker buster, to threaten countries that it views as challenging its global hegemony.

Given the grave and dangerous context of the current nuclear flashpoint in U.S.-Iran relations, it is essential that the peace movement call upon Congress, in the words of United for Peace and Justice, to “oppose military action against Iran, uphold the law, support diplomatic solutions to any crisis and put an end to U.S. nuclear hypocrisy.”

UFPJ continues: “The United States should also demonstrate leadership by fulfilling its own disarmament obligation under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. This will require the U.S. to stop blocking negotiations on abolition and to take meaningful steps towards the elimination of its vast and sophisticated nuclear arsenal.”

Call your senators and representatives today at (202) 225-3121 to let them know your opinion. And call the United Nations at (212) 963-4475 to demand that it not cave in to threats of unilateral military action from the United States.

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