Beckett defends her position on Iran 4


Craig Murray, the former ambassador to Uzbekistan and critic of the government’s foreign policy, said that no-one should underestimate the possibility of military strikes against Iran.

“Margaret Beckett was basically saying: ‘We don’t have any intentions to invade Iran at this present moment but we might change our intentions tomorrow,'” Mr Murray said. If he were the Iranian ambassador to London he would be “very worried” by the phraseology.

From The Scotsman

MARGARET Beckett, the new Foreign Secretary, has defended her decision not to rule out military action against Iran.

While her predecessor, Jack Straw, had said an invasion of the country was “inconceivable”, Mrs Beckett has refused to go as far.

Instead, she has used the non-committal phrase that there was “no intention” to mount an attack on the Tehran regime over its nuclear programme.

Her remarks came as western diplomats reported that international weapons inspectors had discovered new traces of highly enriched uranium on nuclear equipment in Iran.

The Foreign Secretary had insisted that her semantics did not represent any shift in policy, even though it was not as unequivocal as the language used by Mr Straw.

“It is quite deliberately different,” she told The World at One on BBC Radio 4.

She said she had decided within hours of her appointment last week that she would avoid the terms used by Mr Straw to avoid being the subject of “nit-picking analysis”.


“So I decided to find a new form of words which is mine which I shall stick to. It is not the same form of words, but the intention behind each of those sets of phraseology – what the Prime Minister said, what Jack Straw said, what I’ve said – we are all saying the same thing.

“We are all saying there is no intention on anyone’s part to take military action. That is my phraseology. There is no nuance of difference between us,” she said.

Her assurances are unlikely to allay fears in Tehran where her appointment was sharply criticised in the press.

Tony Blair has already had to deny reports that he removed Mr Straw from the Foreign Office in response to complaints from the White House that he was insufficiently hawkish over Iran.

Craig Murray, the former ambassador to Uzbekistan and critic of the government’s foreign policy, said that no-one should underestimate the possibility of military strikes against Iran.

“Margaret Beckett was basically saying: ‘We don’t have any intentions to invade Iran at this present moment but we might change our intentions tomorrow,'” Mr Murray said. If he were the Iranian ambassador to London he would be “very worried” by the phraseology.

Suspicions deepened among western leaders yesterday that Tehran may be concealing the full extent of its atomic enrichment programme after traces of enriched uranium were found.

The International Atomic Energy Agency said it took samples from equipment that had been acquired by a former research centre at Lavizan-Shiyan, which is linked to Iran’s defence ministry. The centre was destroyed in 2004 before inspectors could examine it.

Samples of the uranium showed a “very high level of enrichment, close to weapons-grade”, diplomats said.

However, another diplomat warned against rushing to judgment. “It’s not a smoking gun. There could be many explanations. But it increases pressure on Iran to come clean.”

Earlier, Kofi Annan, the secretary-general of the United Nations, had urged all sides to lower the temperature in the dispute and get round the negotiating table.

Speaking at the EU-Latin America summit in Vienna, Mr Annan appealed to Washington to negotiate directly with the Iranian government.

“I have asked all sides to lower the rhetoric and intensify diplomatic efforts to find a solution,” he said.


4 thoughts on “Beckett defends her position on Iran

  • Richard II

    "She said she had decided within hours of her appointment last week that she would avoid the terms used by Mr Straw to avoid being the subject of 'nit-picking analysis'".

    As I wrote before, we allow these imbeciles to wage wars on our behalf – it's mind blowing!

    Margaret Beckett can play games with us, but she can't play games with the Iranians.

    America's "war on terror" is being used merely as a pretext to invade other nations, whether they are guilty of international terrorism or not.

    If Iran cannot be assured of its security, that if it does this, this, and this, it won't be attacked, then it has no choice but to acquire a nuclear deterrent.

    If Iran has no nuclear weapons programme, it's being given every reason to start one. Recall that America has drawn up plans to attack Iran reflexively if the U.S. is subjected to another 9/11-style atrocity.

    A nuclear Iran, I believe, thwarts America's ambitions in the region; regime change would no longer be an option, as it was in Iraq. That's where the real threat lies, not in the nukes themselves.

    As for the "poor" Iranians being oppressed by a terrible regime, America does not intervene in other countries for altruistic reasons:

    "The Bush Agenda: Invading the World, One Economy at a Time"
    http://www.democracynow.org/article.pl?sid=06/04/

    Excerpt:

    "Then, one of his managing directors, L. Paul Bremer, left Kissinger and Associates and went to found his own crisis management company, which essentially advised multinational corporations on how to operate under the horrible consequences of corporate globalization policies. He wrote a wonderful paper where he said, you know, the policies of corporate globalization create inequality, increase the cost of services, creates hostilities, so corporations, you really need to buy my insurance, because that's the only way to protect yourself against these policies. And then he went on and implemented those policies in Iraq.

    "[Iraq's] new economy was put into place systematically by L. Paul Bremer, the head of the occupation government of Iraq for 14 months, who implemented exactly one hundred orders, basically all of which are still in place today. And everyone who is watching who is familiar with the policies of the World Trade Organization, the North American Free Trade Agreement, the World Bank, the I.M.F., will understand the orders.

    "They implement some of the most radical corporate globalization ideas, such as free investment rules for multinational corporations. That means corporations can enter Iraq, and they essentially don't have to contribute at all to the economy of Iraq.

    "The most harmful provision thus far has been the national treatment provision, which meant that the Iraqis could not give preference to Iraqi companies or workers in the reconstruction, and therefore, U.S. companies received preference in the reconstruction. They hired workers who weren't even from Iraq, in most cases, and utterly bungled the reconstruction.

    "And the most important company, in my mind, to receive blame is the Bechtel Corporation of San Francisco. They have received $2.8 billion to rebuild water, electricity and sewage systems, the most important systems in the life of an Iraqi. After the first Gulf War, the Iraqis rebuilt these systems in three months' time. It's been three years, and, as you said, those services are still below pre-war levels.

    "Now, probably the most important thing to know is that that was completely illegal under international law. The Geneva Conventions are very specific about what an occupying power should do. It must provide basic security and services. It cannot change the laws or the political structure of the country it occupies. The Bush administration did exactly the opposite — changed all the fundamental economic and political laws and utterly failed to provide for the security and the basic needs of the Iraqi people. What you hear most often in Iraq today is people saying, 'Please just put us back where we were before you came.'"

    Many Iraqi businesses have gone under as a result of these policies. This, in a country with sky high unemployment and widespread discontent.

    The lie you'll hear is that Iraq needs foreign corporations to help rebuild its economy. An utter falsehood!

  • Chuck Unsworth

    I'm not sure that we have seen a definitive statement of policy towards Iran from Beckett, her predecessor, Blair or anyone else in Government. What is happening is that individual responses to individual questions are being described as 'policy'.

    The reality is that there is no policy, merely a slavish following of Washington and Blair's personal ambitions. None of which should bear any relationship at all to the policy of Her Majesty's (i.e. our) Government. That should derive from a careful consideration of our long-term national interests, but not much chance of that with the current bunch of cowboys.

  • Richard II

    Chuck wrote: "The reality is that there is no policy, merely a slavish following of Washington and Blair's personal ambitions."

    Blair's political ambitions are coming to an end. He'll be gone in a year or two. His main concern now is his legacy – how the elite will remember him.

    I don't know what drives a man like Blair – insanity, most likely.

  • Richard II

    "America's 'war on terror' is being used merely as a pretext to invade other nations, whether they are guilty of international terrorism or not."

    When I think of Iraq and Iran, international terrorism doesn't spring to mind. Iraq, at one point, "harbored" a handful of terrorists, but they were tied to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, a perennial source of regional tension <a href="http://(http://www.ifamericansknew.org)” target=”_blank”>(http://www.ifamericansknew.org).

    When I think of a country that supports INTERNATIONAL, as opposed to regional or national, terrorism, the U.S. tops my extremely short list.

    I won't cite all of America's crimes; I'll just give a link to one article:

    "Bush Family's Terrorism Test":
    http://www.consortiumnews.com/2005/083105.html

    Chile is another country I associate – or associated! – with international terrorism:

    "The Chile Coup – The U.S. Hand":
    http://www.consortiumnews.com/1990s/consor33.html

    "In 1976, U.S.-Chilean relations received another jolt when DINA [Chile's intelligence service] agents traveled to Washington and exploded a bomb under a car carrying former Chilean diplomat Orlando Letelier and two Americans.

    "Letelier and one of the Americans, Ronni Moffitt, died.

    "A federal investigation traced the bombing back to DINA and some Cuban-American accomplices.

    "A Senate investigation linked the Letelier bombing to a program of cross-border assassinations known as Operation Condor. That operation had attacked Pinochet critics in Spain, Italy and Argentina as well as the United States."

    "…to protect these U.S. allies from exposure as international terrorists – and to spare the Ford administration political embarrassment during the 1976 presidential campaign – Bush's CIA dragged its heels on turning over evidence that might have quickly broken the case.

    "Instead, Bush's CIA leaked false stories to the U.S. media, exonerating Pinochet's regime of responsibility for the Letelier-Moffitt murders."

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