Iranian Opportunity 162

Israel has been an apartheid state for a long time, but its cabinet is now promoting legislation that makes it impossible for even its most ardent supporters to deny that fact. With the cumulative effect of continuing land-grab and intermittent horrific attacks on Gaza, the climate of international public opinion has never been so resolutely opposed to Israel’s actions.

Iran had a tremendous opportunity to make a fundamental shift of the political balance in the Middle East through concessions on its nuclear programme. For Iranian sanctions to end just as Israel determinedly outrages the world, could change the geo-political game significantly. On any objective measure, the economic gains from ending sanctions vastly outweigh any possible economic gains from nuclear energy. I have always argued that nuclear power is a ridiculously complex, dangerous, and extravagantly expensive way to boil water. That is all it actually does, boil water to drive a steam turbine. Iran’s pig-headed insistence that its “right” to this crazed technology is much more important than the economic welfare of its people, is gesture politics of the worst kind.

Iran has undoubtedly improved, but remains a theocratic state with an appalling human rights record, where the persecution of gays is particularly horrifying. There are only two countries in the world with systems of government so appalling as to have seats reserved for clerics in the legislature. One is Iran. The other is the United Kingdom.

I can understand why, under continued neo-con and Israeli threat, retaining the option of developing a nuclear weapon has seemed attractive to Iran. It remains a gross hypocrisy that Israel suffers no sanctions for its large nuclear arsenal, while Iran suffers sanctions for the possibility it might one day start to develop one. Nonetheless I oppose the holding of weapons of mass destruction anywhere, including Iran. The unfortunate fact is that President Rouhani remains subservient to Ayotollah Khameini, and thus a golden opportunity for Iran may be missed.

It is also interesting that the latest round of talks in Vienna did not receive the breathless coverage of earlier rounds, despite their critical importance. There is a curious lethargy in the international community’s approach to the talks. That was for two reasons.

Firstly Obama is now a lame duck President. While impending full Republican control of both houses ought to be a reason to push things through quickly, Obama is wary of expending too much of his tiny remaining store of political capital in yet more conflict with Netanyahu.

The second reason is oil. With oil prices already much fallen, many of the participants are wary of releasing a flood of Iranian oil on to the market by ending sanctions. This especially affected the Russian attitude. In past talks, Russia has played a brilliant hand, with their offers to take effective control of Iranian enrichment technology having stymied an earlier Israeli-stoked Western appetite for conflict. A talks insider told me that this time, while previous offers were not withdrawn, Lavrov was far less prominent and active and no new Russian initiatives were forthcoming. Russia really does not need a further drop in the oil price right now.

I remain hopeful that Iran will realise that there is a huge opportunity here. If Iran tactically backs down on its nuclear programme in the current circumstances, that will not be a defeat for Iran but a defeat for the neo-cons.

162 thoughts on “Iranian Opportunity

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  • Brendan

    “If Iran tactically backs down on its nuclear programme in the current circumstances, that will not be a defeat for Iran but a defeat for the neo-cons.”

    True, initially. But thse neocons are completely nuts. In my mind, I am beginning to substitute ‘neocon’ for ‘psychopath’, and think that the two seperate categories overlap enough to be considered much the same thing. So if Iran does back down – the neocons will simply lie and say they’ve done the opposite. Or just invade anyway, because, as above, these neocons seem to have entirely lost their mind.

    Most of us on this thread operate on fundamentally rationalist, post-enlightenment principles. Neocons do not. They have very very serious problems with reality-based principles, and just do what their power allow them. I’m far more scared of the US neocons than I ever have been with the Iranian theocrats – hugely malicious though these theocrats actually are.

  • Ba'al Zevul

    Yes, but…isn’t it illustrative of our destructive subservience to Israeli (alleged) interests that we don’t immediately lift sanctions on the basis of Iran’s assurances (they’re as good/bad as anyone else’s) and watch the oil price crash? Positive benefits: cheap energy and greater damage still to Russia’s economy. Also, Shi’a unambiguously on side against Salafist extremists.

    Interesting that you didn’t mention Saudi Arabia, though, Craig. Whose paranoia re. Iran is at least as great as Israel’s, and whose cosy relationship with the UK and US is rather firmly dependent on oil. To say nothing of the Gulf states. While Israel is, as always, an irritant factor, it’s not the only one.

  • Peacewisher

    @Brendan: The neocons have always been completely nuts. Invading Iraq was completely nuts. Destabilising Libya and Syria… the same. Problem was that no-one had the balls to put them in a straightjacket. Maybe, at last, that is changing…

  • Ba'al Zevul

    The Saker site gives the appearance of being Putin’s personal blog. Still, it does highlight the eagerness of China to buy energy from any available source. Which is another good reason for adding Iran to the list of countries whose bad human-rights record we are prepared to ignore for the sake of our oil companies. Iran is as naturally Chinese sphere-of-influence as you could wish, if you think about it historically…

  • Peacewisher

    @Ba’al: it certainly would do if you are a neocon. I’d have said Putin-centric. But what we read in the mainstream (except some economic media)is of course highly Obama/Merkel-centric. Since the early days of the Afghanistan campaign, we have been conditioned to think that EU/US = The World (i.e. “The International Community”). It has taken a long time, but such a view is increasingly difficult to justify.

  • Ba'al Zevul

    I can do without the sermonising, Peacewisher. However, my interests are not Putin’s, and neither are yours. Whether you accept that or not. I am not a neocon. I have railed against neocons – the worst of whom are ex-Marxists, and whose economic philosophy is surprisingly similar to Putin’s, if less controlled – for many years. And Saker still looks like Putin’s personal blog. If you had listened to the old Soviet Radio Moscow, you would recognise this instantly.

  • guano


    Neo-cons neutralised all countries round Israel for Israel using other people’s money and bombs. Completely nuts, but job still only half done.

  • Rehmat

    Mr. Murray, you’re totally wrong in your views over nuclear energy. As a Canadian nuclear power-generating, who had worked on all country’s 18 nuclear reactors – I can tell your readers that it’s not just “boiling heavy water” but the “most environment safe and cheap electric power energy source.

    Iran need this nuclear electric power to join industrialized nations once it ran out of it oil/gas natural reserves in the near future. This what bothers the western industrialized powers the most. They don’t want any third-world nation to become self-sufficient in civilian or military industrial sanctions. Most of the anti-Nuclear Iran are holding huge stocks of nuclear and biological WMDs – and they including Israel are not afraid of an Iran with a few N. Korean type old-fashioned nukes.

    American political activist, author and a Conservative Christian, said last year that the nuclear Israel poses more serious threat to United States than Iran which has no nuclear weapon.

    American Jewish writer and radio talk-show host, Stephen Lendman, has written several time that America’s whole issue with Iran’s nuclear program revolves around Israel’s military supremacy in the region. The US would never be satisfied less than a western-puppet regime in Tehran.

    Canadian author and war correspondent Eric Margolis in his recent column has claimed that American Jewish lobby groups are deadly against the US-Iran because Iran has become the “only defender of Palestinian rights”.

    Both the US and Israel are not interested in resolving Iran’s nuclear issue. They’re preparing the necessary anti-Iran groundwork for a violent military regime change in Iran, as all their efforts to achieve that goal through propaganda and the “crippling sanctions” have failed to change Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatullah Ali Khamenei’s views about the Zionist regime.

  • YouKnowMyName

    I haven’t been to Iran and I don’t read Saker every-day. The Russian Первый канал (BBC1 equivalent) was however leading this morning with Putin cancelling the entire south-stream Gas project. I guess his KGB had told him that the USA had asked/told the EU to cancel it completely tomorrow, so I’m sure he got in early! Instead he’s going to send the gas that Italy needs to Turkey who will build a regional hub.

    On a personal note, I’m now getting targeted spear-phishing attacks following posting on Craig’s excellent blog, emails apparently coming from my wife’s account – sending to my work account with really bad malware dropper links/zero-day malware documents attached. Well done ‘agencies’ isn’t there a more uptodate way than involving families in this? I thought ‘which agencies are doing this?’

    I did a little research, as well as being a confessedly news-junkie, I’m fairly ICT proficient, so I set-up a honey-trap online social media account last week. I registered a plausible personal webspace at a scientific website, and then waited. I just checked the online visitors/nationality profile who checked-me out, I discounted my local colleagues and that left me with 29 unexplained visitors. 22 of these resolved to the United Kingdom, 6 to the United States and 1 to the People’s Republic of China. One of the UK ‘hits’ was from University of Birmingham, I could ascribe probably one of the US to a uni & maybe the Chinese. so I’m left with my profile – during a week when I’m under heavy personal cyber-attack – being checked by 21 suspicious British and 5 suspicious Americans.

    At least I haven’t upset the Israelis or the Russians , yet! In fact I’m surprised that so few UK spooks are involved in the online attacks of a ‘target’

  • craig Post author


    It doesn’t boil heavy water, it boils perfectly ordinary water, to drive a steam turbine. That is the mundane truth about nuclear energy. And a more extravagant way of boiling water could not be conceived.

  • nevermind

    Rehmat. Iran does not need nuclear power as it has vast amounts of solar power. A few square miles of desert could generate all of Irans energy via a concentrated solar power plant, something so simple, without any heavy water, dangerous uranium legacies or dangers from ‘immigrant spies’ of the IEAE or UN variety.
    If you are really an engineer, please do inform yourself of a multitude of available options.

    before you say ‘what are we going to do at night for energy?’, it is advisable to create extra capacity to pump water up hill, to release it at night, but a couple of modern gas turbines should take the strain overnight and modern forms of energy storage are improving all the time.

    Now these plants cost a fraction of a nuclear reactor and you can build them as fast as you can put up the mirrors.

  • Habbabkuk (la vita è bella)

    “Will be coming from Azerbaijan via the new TAP line. The indignant inhabitants of Puglia, where this will come ashore,”

    Which goes to show that NIMBYism is not a uniquely British phenomenon. It’s rather reassuring.

  • Clark

    Iran wants nuclear power for the same reason many other countries do – power reactors make plutonium. A country doesn’t have to make nuclear weapons from plutonium; it doesn’t even have to separate it out of the spent fuel – just being in possession of it forces more powerful countries to take them seriously.

  • Habbabkuk (la vita è bella)

    “And Saker still looks like Putin’s personal blog. If you had listened to the old Soviet Radio Moscow, you would recognise this instantly.”

    That is spot on.

    This “Saker” is often referenced on here – and his/her/its words taken as gospel – but who is he/she/it exactly? The website or blog or whatever the correct name is is as short on information about the owner, contributors, how it’s paid for, etc, etc, as other frequently referenced “sources like “globalresearch”, “voltairenet” and so on. Unlike Craig Murray’s blog, I might add! 🙂

  • YouKnowMyName

    on the subject of non-radioactive heavy water (Deuterium Oxide) that *isn’t* used in UK power reactors very much, as light water (di-hydrogen Oxide) is better for inefficient boiling as Craig maintains.

    Q.If you are an under-zealous Whitehall organisation & had quite a few (20) tons spare of heavy D2O, who would you sell it to?
    A.Obviously Norway; as these documents unearthed by old-style BBC journo’s show:

    “Robert McNamara, President John F Kennedy’s defence secretary, has told Newsnight he is “astonished” at the revelation that Britain kept this secret from America.[2005]”

    It was a ‘secret’ French supplied reactor at Dimona, supplied with UK heavy water neutron moderator, that was sold to Israel, avoiding all safeguards, for £1 million. UK later provided P239, weapons grade plutonium, in small quantities to Israel in order to accelerate their bomb project. “If we don’t sell it then the French will” was the type of reasoning at the time (1960/2 – 1966) UK actually seeded deGaulle’s “Force de Frappe” with their first small bomb development quantities of P239 also in the late fifties… Surely with this amazing proliferation record we have to ask have we sold anything to the Iranians? – or is that Germany/Putin’s job in these decades?

  • Tony M

    And the angry letters in the most undiplomatic terms between Ben Gurion and JFK, right up until his death, made it quite clear that Kennedy with absolute unshakeable determination would do everything in his power, including military intervention to prevent Israel obtaining nuclear weapons. The most powerful motivation, never voiced for his assassination, amongst all the nonsense, ensuring that the key players in the media fell into line and made possible the success of the subsequent obfuscations and cover-up.

  • passerby

    solar power is a great resource of power especially at nights!

    Reiterating the point that nuclear is bad because nuclear industry also can produce firecrackers. Overlooked are facts; the current battery technology that is driving the satellites is; nuclear. The medicine that diagnoses the heart and brain maladies is nuclear, the various other scanners for broken bones and full body scans are nuclear based. Nuclear is the mother science of it all, it is vital for materials technology, for energy, and for many other industrial process; polonium is used to take away the static electricity from the cling film production line, textile production lines, etc. The very cling film that you all wrap your sandwiches in. Polonium is the Epsom slats left in a nuclear reactor and irradiated.

    To find Iran singled out for wishing to explore the nuclear technologies, and profit form it, based on the old tired arguments forwarded, yet again, is beyond the threshold of boredom. Iran is an energy supplier, ie sells oil, it also sells gas, and electricity! In fact Iran is supplying more than one neighbouring country with electricity and is in the process of planning to export electricity to an even wider customer base.

    The absolute bilge bandied about “free economics”, and “freedom brand” are in fact denoting it is free for those whom have the bigger calibre guns and can drop annihilation bombs at a whim. The rest of the world is subject to financial repression to maintain the status quo.

    To find the ill informed and infantile debate about nuclear versus solar, etc is chaff and mere obfuscation of the facts surrounding the energy markets and how they are structured. If you cannot understand the insurance markets that are ripping everyone of you off to the tune of thousands, how can you begin to understand the energy markets?

    The point about Iran and her nuclear energy is to recalibrate the rules to ensure that no pissant third world daigo can break out of the monopoly prescribed boundaries, and set up a precedence for others to follow.

  • Rehmat


    Ordinary (potable) water boils at 212 degree F – while a nuclear reactor generate over 1300 degree F – at which the heavy water doesn’t boil.

    Nuclear plants uses ordinary water for producing heavy water and cooling the “spent fuel rods” for over 10-year time period before they’re stored for safe-keeping.

    Iran’s nuclear program is not the only victim of Israel Lobby. Both Turkey and Brazil suffered a similar opposition from Washington in the past. I met a delegation from Pakistan in 1990s seeking purchase of Canada’s CANDU nuclear reactor – but Ottawa denied the offer under pressure from the US and local Jewish lobby groups.

  • Herbie

    “This “Saker” is often referenced on here – and his/her/its words taken as gospel – but who is he/she/it exactly? The website or blog or whatever the correct name is is as short on information about the owner, contributors, how it’s paid for, etc, etc, as other frequently referenced “sources like “globalresearch”, “voltairenet” and so on. Unlike Craig Murray’s blog, I might add!”


    Both Globalresearch and Voltairenet are the product of named writers, just like any other media.

    They make arguments which you’re welcome to dispute, though you never do, and much better arguments than the state PR garbage we get from the established press and media.

  • Ba'al Zevul

    Ordinary (potable) water boils at 212 degree F – while a nuclear reactor generate over 1300 degree F – at which the heavy water doesn’t boil.

    Errr….you were a nuclear engineer? Boiling point of heavy water (D2O): 101.4C. Boiling point of ordinary water: 100.0C, both at standard (atmospheric) pressure. And the flame temperature in a conventional coal-fired boiler (in which the water is under pressure, of course) is typically 17-1800C. Go figure. Then re-enrol for Heat Transfer Technology 101.

    IOW bollocks, mate.

  • Ben the Inquisitor

    I agree Herbie. Saker as well as Moon of Alabama are focused like lasers on russia/ukraine, just as Craig is obsessed with Scotland.

  • Squonk


    The boiling water reactor (BWR) is a type of light water nuclear reactor used for the generation of electrical power. It is the second most common type of electricity-generating nuclear reactor after the pressurized water reactor (PWR), also a type of light water nuclear reactor.

    There will be some heavy water contamination but the water boiled is primarily light water. Also the boiling point of heavy water is onlu just above that of ordinary water.

    The Canadian CANDU reactors are not Boiling Water Reactors but pressurized water reactors of an unusual design. They are also very good at releasing tritium contamination and are easily used to make bombs – see India for example.

  • Habbabkuk (la vita è bella)


    ““This “Saker” is often referenced on here – and his/her/its words taken as gospel – but who is he/she/it exactly? The website or blog or whatever the correct name is is as short on information about the owner, contributors, how it’s paid for, etc, etc, as other frequently referenced “sources like “globalresearch”, “voltairenet” and so on. Unlike Craig Murray’s blog, I might add!”


    Both Globalresearch and Voltairenet are the product of named writers, just like any other media.”

    OK, let’s discuss.

    Firstly, I note that you don’t – or can’t – supply any information about the “Saker” – which was the thrust of my post, in the light of the comment Baal made about it. Would you now care to do so?

    Secondly, re my comments about “global research” and “voltairenet:

    you are right to say that there is information about their writers – although not very much as far as “global research” is concerned. “Voltairenet is more explicit about its writers, but who on earth are all those people? What is their status, their expertise, where exactly are they coming from?

    And, of course, there is little – if anything – about the other elements of my enquiry, ie, their financing and their “owner”.


    Now, as far as CM is concerned, we know who Craig is, we know his background (and thus where he’s coming from) and we know how his blog is run and financed.

  • Herbie

    You can hear Saker speak on YouTube. Sounds like a Russian, but then the Poles sound like Russians to me.

    He’s reputed to live in Florida and is a former Intel analyst, hence the anonymity.

    But anyone can dispute anything they want, just so long as they do it in terms, in argument.

    Habby just smears, and that’s not good enough if he wants to be taken seriously.

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