Q&A: Iran nuclear stand-off
The UN Security Council has issued a statement calling on Iran to suspend its nuclear fuel enrichment in accordance with the demands of the UN nuclear watchdog the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)
The BBC News website looks at the issues involved.
Why has the Security Council made this statement?
The IAEA reported Iran to the Security Council because Iran has resumed its work on enriching uranium. The idea is to bring the weight of the Security Council to bear on Iran.
Tehran insists it wants only nuclear power - not weapons - but this is not seen as credible by the US and many other Western nations.
What does the statement say?
The statement does not threaten Iran with sanctions. It says there is "serious concern" over Iran's resumption of work on enrichment and asks the IAEA Director General Mohamed ElBaradei to report back on Iranian actions within 30 days.
Why not sanctions at once?
Because too many countries on the Security Council oppose them. China and Russia, both veto holders, are against at the moment. China buys a lot of oil and gas from Iran.
What is Iran's position?
Even before the IAEA vote to report Iran to the Security Council, Tehran had said it was resuming its research, which it insists it has every right to do. Under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), a country has the right to enrich its own fuel for civil nuclear power, under IAEA inspection.
After the IAEA vote, Iran said it would also resume uranium enrichment and would end snap inspections by the UN watchdog.
Could Iran leave the NPT?
Yes. Article X gives a member state the right to declare that "extraordinary events" have "jeopardised the supreme interests of the State." It can then give three months notice to quit.
Why is the West so worried?
Western powers fear Iran secretly wants to develop either a nuclear bomb or the ability to make one, even if it has not decided to build one right now. So they want Iran to stop any enrichment. The same technology used for producing fuel for nuclear power can be used for producing fuel for a nuclear explosion.
The West says that Iran cannot be trusted. An admission by Iran recently that it had received a black-market document on the construction of a nuclear device from the Pakistani scientist AQ Khan has increased those concerns. Iran says it was given the document unasked.
What is the background to this?
The IAEA reported in 2003 that Iran had hidden a uranium enrichment programme for 18 years, and the current dispute dates back to then.
Western members of the IAEA called on Iran to commit itself to stopping all enrichment activities permanently, but it has refused to do so and now says it has abandoned a temporary ban as well. So these countries want Iran reported to the Security Council under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) on the grounds that its past behaviour broke the treaty and it cannot now be trusted.
Iran says it is now in compliance with the treaty and that it should be allowed, under inspection, to enrich uranium for peaceful purposes since the treaty allows countries to do this.
Iran says it is allowed to enrich. So why the crisis?
Iran is allowed to develop a fuel cycle for nuclear power, under IAEA inspection. However because it hid its enrichment programme before, there is an issue of trust for the future. It could in theory learn how to make fuel for nuclear power, then enrich it further for a bomb and leave the NPT.
What about Russia's offer to enrich fuel for Iran?
The Russians proposed that Iran be allowed to engage in a joint venture to convert uranium ore into the gas which is then spun to produce the enriched uranium needed for nuclear fuel. However, the enrichment would be done in Russia. This would enable Iran to save face, in that it would not be stopped from the conversion procedure which it can do at present, but would also satisfy the West, as Iran would not learn the technology of enrichment.
There have been negotiations between Russia and Iran but no detailed agreement so far.
Why does Iran want to enrich uranium itself?
Enriched uranium (basically the higher-grade material extracted from the original ore) provides fuel for a nuclear power station. Iran says it needs to be able to develop this process itself, under inspection, because it cannot trust outside suppliers. It says they might be subject to American influence.
Despite its huge oil and gas reserves, Iran says it wants diversity of energy supply. It points out that its original nuclear programme was started under the Shah.
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad emphasised to the UN that his country had an inalienable right to produce nuclear energy like any other signatory to the NPT.
Does Iran intend to build nuclear weapons?
Iran says its policy is yes to enrichment but no to nuclear weapons. A fatwa against nuclear weapons has been issued by the Supreme leader Ayatollah Khamenei. The sceptics argue that Iran has no need to make its own nuclear fuel as this can be provided by others, so they conclude that Iran must be intending one day to make a bomb.
One other possibility is that Iran wants to develop the capability but has left a decision on whether actually to build a nuclear weapon for the future.
How long would it take Iran to make a bomb?
Several years, according to the experts. First, Iran would have to master the enrichment process. This involves engineering thousands of centrifuges which spin a gas made from uranium ore, a difficult operation. Then it has to learn how to trigger a nuclear explosion and make a device small enough to be carried by an aircraft or missile.
However, Israel is worried that Iran could learn the enrichment technology sufficiently within a year or so and that achievement, Israel believes, would be the point of no return.
What about fears for regional conflict?
There are fears of a broader, possibly military, crisis. The US has said publicly that it will not permit Iran to develop nuclear weapons. President Bush has said that he wants diplomacy to solve this, but that nothing is ruled out.
There have been press reports that Israel, which bombed an Iraqi reactor in 1981, has begun the planning for a possible raid. But like the US, Israel says that diplomacy is the priority.
Do not existing nuclear powers have obligations to get rid of their weapons under the NPT?
Article VI commits them to "pursue negotiations in good faith on effective measures relating to cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date and to nuclear disarmament." The nuclear powers claim they have done this by reducing their warheads but critics say they have not really moved towards nuclear disarmament.
Critics also argue that the US and UK have broken the treaty by transferring nuclear weapons from one to another. The US and UK say that this is not covered by the NPT.
Does not Israel have a nuclear bomb?
Yes. Israel however is not a party to the NPT, so is not obliged to report to it. Neither are India or Pakistan, both of which have developed nuclear weapons. North Korea has left the treaty and has announced that it has acquired a nuclear weapon capacity.
Story from BBC NEWS:Published: 2006/03/30 07:46:41 GMT
....primamo slijedeca pitanja....
Charlie Sheen's Statement to the London Guardian
Challenges Press to Stop Slinging Mud, Confront The Science
Prison Planet.com | March 27 2006
Charlie Sheen felt compelled to respond to one of many hit-pieces against him, a column written for the London Guardian and carried by British commonwealth newspapers worldwide.
Sheen sent his statement to The Australian newspaper.
This is his full statement minus a phone number to his manager so that the paper could confirm its authenticity.
This is a direct challenge for them to debate the facts.
Sheen Challenge to Media
I dare you to print this email in it's entirety ...
The mere fact that you did a cut and paste job of the slanderous and idiotic Marine Hyde London Journal piece, speaks volumes about your credibility as a major media entity.
Like so many other mainstream outlets, domestically and abroad, no attention whatsoever is given to the questions I raise or the evidence that stimulated those very questions.
Instead, low-brow idiotic hit pieces are spewed forth in an effort to sway the readers' opinion of the messenger while blatantly disregarding any of the potentially valuable content of the story. It's transparent sandbox propaganda as dated and cheap as the paper it's printed on.
Do a little research on Building Seven.
Building Seven lives at the epicenter of my entire debate.
Prove yourself worthy of genuine investigative journalism.
Look at the video evidence.
Observe the same data I have. Submit a formal request to the Pentagon or the DOD to release video PROOF that flight 77 did exactly as they claim.
You will be stonewalled.
You will be dismissed unconditionally.
If there is nothing to hide - why are they hiding it?
To avoid any confusion - I reiterate:
Building Seven - Pentagon video documentation.
If any portion, or portions of this text is any way deleted or manipulated, you will only confirm what myself and countless others have suspected all along: Media complicity with no interest in the truth.
A CNN poll at the time of this writing currently sits at 84 percent IN SUPPORT of my views.
Say what you must about me - it means nothing.
Yet, if you continue to overlook the hard questions and physical evidence regarding 9/11 - you only confirm what so many of us "Conspiracy Idiots" have suspected all along - The Official Report is, at best, an insulting work of FICTION.
This is Major Tom to Ground Control.....Charlie to Earth....kshshsh...shksskhs...kshkshks...Charlie to Earth....
Putin visits China to open the Year of Russia
Russian President Vladimir Putin is now in China for a two day visit. The official purpose of his visit is the official opening of the Year of Russia in Chin, a year-long festival promoting cultural links between the two countries. The event sested by China was agreed upon 2004. The Chinese have planned over 260 events for the year-long festival. More than a thousand Russian guests will be at the ceremony.
The festival will develop cultural ties between Russia and China. First Deputy Prime Minster Dmitry Medvedev was head of the organizing committee which planned the events. A new Russian information centre will be opened in Peking today. An official ceremony will take place in the evening to mark the opening of the Year of Russia in China and amongst the guest will be Chinese President Hu Jintao.
Today Vladimir Putin will hold talks with the Chinese president. The main focus of the talks will be ob building political, trade and economic ties. Russians have seen that China’s influence on world affairs is greatly increasing. China has a marked role in the energy Markey, and the metal and chemical industries. Russia and China are today competing against one another in ventures in Venezuela, Colombia and Kazakhstan.
Russia keeps China energy options open
Russia and China are engaged in a complicated dance over energy - complicated enough to baffle many observers.
At the head of a Russian delegation to Beijing, President Vladimir Putin has signed a number of energy deals which - had the signatories been different - might have changed the shape of the global oil and gas market.
Moscow promised - among other deals - to build two gas pipelines from Eastern and Western Siberia to China, and to join forces with Chinese state energy company CNPC in developing gas offshore of Sakhalin, an island east of the Russia's mainland.
Energy-hungry China is obviously interested in Russia's vast oil and gas reserves.
But despite several high-profile promises, 'Moscow has dragged its feet implementing joint projects such as a planned eastern oil pipeline', says Alice Lagnado of Argus Media, an energy publisher.
In a world where the stakes for energy supplies are sky-high, China is not the only game in town. Although Russia's oil and gas reserves are huge, they are not bottomless.
And there are other buyers - notably Japan and Europe.
Till now, Japan has been Russia's main energy partner in the east. Tokyo has promised to invest several billions of dollars in Russia's dilapidated Far East, if Russia will build its far eastern oil pipeline to the port of Nakhodka - closer to Japan than to China.
Despite Mr Putin's backing, the pipeline's construction has been delayed, partly due to environmental concerns.
So Russia still has not made it clear who will be the beneficiary of its oil: China, Japan, or both.
Read more at BBC News
Japan delays China loans decision
Japan is to delay a decision on paying further yen loans to China because of the two countries' worsening relations.
Chief government spokesman Shinzo Abe said Japan would not give any more loans during the current fiscal year.
Ties between China and Japan have deteriorated due to rows over energy reserves and World War II history.
Japan's aid to China is no longer significant financially but delaying further payments will be viewed as highly symbolic, a BBC reporter says.
Mr Abe said the decision did not mean the government was cutting off or freezing aid to China but Tokyo needed more time to work on what it called the "various situations" in Sino-Japanese affairs.
All this posturing makes it difficult for the two countries to make progress on other disputes, like their overlapping claims to territory and oil and gas reserves in the East China Sea, he says.
The two sides have failed to reach agreement on the East China Sea issue despite a fourth round of talks earlier this month.
Meanwhile on Wednesday Russian President Vladimir Putin hinted that a pipeline carrying Russian oil could be built through China, a likely disappointment to Tokyo, which has been lobbying for greater access to Russia's energy supplies.
Both Japan and China also compete for attention in Washington. The United States, which remains the major military power in Asia, is a long-standing ally of Japan and has an ambivalent attitude towards China - eager both to encourage and contain it.
Story from BBC NEWS:
The origins of the Great War of 2007 - and how it could have been prevented
By Niall Ferguson
Are we living through the origins of the next world war?
Certainly, it is easy to imagine how a future historian might deal with the next phase of events in the Middle East:
With every passing year after the turn of the century, the instability of the Gulf region grew. By the beginning of 2006, nearly all the combustible ingredients for a conflict - far bigger in its scale and scope than the wars of 1991 or 2003 - were in place.• Niall Ferguson is Laurence A. Tisch Professor of History at Harvard University www.niallferguson.org- © Niall Ferguson, 2006
The first underlying cause of the war was the increase in the region's relative importance as a source of petroleum.
On the one hand, the rest of the world's oil reserves were being rapidly exhausted. On the other, the breakneck growth of the Asian economies had caused a huge surge in global demand for energy. It is hard to believe today, but for most of the 1990s the price of oil had averaged less than $20 a barrel.
A second precondition of war was demographic. While European fertility had fallen below the natural replacement rate in the 1970s, the decline in the Islamic world had been much slower. By the late 1990s the fertility rate in the eight Muslim countries to the south and east of the European Union was two and half times higher than the European figure. This tendency was especially pronounced in Iran, where the social conservatism of the 1979 Revolution - which had lowered the age of marriage and prohibited contraception - combined with the high mortality of the Iran-Iraq War and the subsequent baby boom to produce, by the first decade of the new century, a quite extraordinary surplus of young men. More than two fifths of the population of Iran in 1995 had been aged 14 or younger. This was the generation that was ready to fight in 2007. This not only gave Islamic societies a youthful energy that contrasted markedly with the slothful senescence of Europe. It also signified a profound shift in the balance of world population. In 1950, there had three times as many people in Britain as in Iran. By 1995, the population of Iran had overtaken that of Britain and was forecast to be 50 per cent higher by 2050. Yet people in the West strled to grasp the implications of this shift. Subliminally, they still thought of the Middle East as a region they could lord it over, as they had in the mid-20th century.
The third and perhaps most important precondition for war was cultural. Since 1979, not just Iran but the greater part of the Muslim world had been swept by a wave of religious fervour, the very opposite of the process of secularisation that was emptying Europe's churches.
Although few countries followed Iran down the road to full-blown theocracy, there was a transformation in politics everywhere. From Morocco to Pakistan, the feudal dynasties or military strongmen who had dominated Islamic politics since the 1950s came under intense pressure from religious radicals. The ideological cocktail that produced 'Islamism' was as potent as either of the extreme ideologies the West had produced in the previous century, communism and fascism. Islamism was anti-Western, anti-capitalist and anti-Semitic. A seminal moment was the Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's intemperate attack on Israel in December 2005, when he called the Holocaust a 'myth'. The state of Israel was a 'disgraceful blot', he had previously declared, to be wiped 'off the map'.
Prior to 2007, the Islamists had seen no alternative but to wage war against their enemies by means of terrorism. From the Gaza to Manhattan, the hero of 2001 was the suicide bomber. Yet Ahmadinejad, a veteran of the Iran-Iraq War, craved a more serious weapon than strapped-on explosives. His decision to accelerate Iran's nuclear weapons programme was intended to give Iran the kind of power North Korea already wielded in East Asia: the power to defy the United States; the power to obliterate America's closest regional ally.
Under different circumstances, it would not have been difficult to thwart Ahmadinejad's ambitions. The Israelis had shown themselves capable of pre-emptive air strikes against Iraq's nuclear facilities in 1981. Similar strikes against Iran's were urged on President Bush by neo-conservative commentators throughout 2006. The United States, they argued, was perfectly placed to carry out such strikes. It had the bases in neighbouring Iraq and Afghanistan. It had the intelligence proving Iran's contravention of the Non-Proliferation Treaty.
But the President was advised by his Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, to opt instead for diplomacy. Not just European opinion but American opinion was strongly opposed to an attack on Iran. The invasion of Iraq in 2003 had been discredited by the failure to find the weapons of mass destruction Saddam Hussein had supposedly possessed and by the failure of the US-led coalition to quell a bloody insurgency. Americans did not want to increase their military commitments overseas; they wanted to reduce them. Europeans did not want to hear that Iran was about to build its own WMD. Even if Ahmadinejad had broadcast a nuclear test live on CNN, liberals would have said it was a CIA con-trick.
So history repeated itself. As in the 1930s, an anti-Semitic demagogue broke his country's treaty obligations and armed for war. Having first tried appeasement, offering the Iranians economic incentives to desist, the West appealed to international agencies - the International Atomic Energy Agency and the United Nations Security Council.
Thanks to China's veto, however, the UN produced nothing but empty resolutions and ineffectual sanctions, like the exclusion of Iran from the 2006 World Cup finals.
Only one man might have stiffened President Bush's resolve in the crisis: not Tony Blair, he had wrecked his domestic credibility over Iraq and was in any case on the point of retirement - Ariel Sharon. Yet he had been struck down by a stroke as the Iranian crisis came to a head. With Israel leaderless, Ahmadinejad had a free hand.
As in the 1930s, too, the West fell back on wishful thinking. Perhaps, some said, Ahmadinejad was only sabre-rattling because his domestic position was so weak. Perhaps his political rivals in the Iranian clergy were on the point of getting rid of him. In that case, the last thing the West should do was to take a tough line; that would only bolster Ahmadinejad by inflaming Iranian popular feeling.
So in Washington and in London people crossed their fingers, hoping for the deus ex machina of a home-grown regime change in Teheran.
This gave the Iranians all the time they needed to produce weapons-grade enriched uranium at Natanz. The dream of nuclear non-proliferation, already interrupted by Israel, Pakistan and India, was definitively shattered.
Now Teheran had a nuclear missile pointed at Tel-Aviv.
And the new Israeli government of Benjamin Netanyahu had a missile pointed right back at Teheran.
The optimists argued that the Cuban Missile Crisis would replay itself in the Middle East. Both sides would threaten war - and then both sides would blink. That was Secretary Rice's hope - indeed, her prayer - as she shuttled between the capitals.
But it was not to be. The devastating nuclear exchange of August 2007 represented not only the failure of diplomacy, it marked the end of the oil age. Some even said it marked the twilight of the West. Certainly, that was one way of interpreting the subsequent spread of the conflict as Iraq's Shi'ite population overran the remaining American bases in their country and the Chinese threatened to intervene on the side of Teheran.
Yet the historian is bound to ask whether or not the true significance of the 2007-2011 war was to vindicate the Bush administration's original principle of pre-emption. For, if that principle had been adhered to in 2006, Iran's nuclear bid might have been thwarted at minimal cost.
And the Great Gulf War might never have happened.
Mračno predvidjanje povjesničara...ali opet: povijest je učiteljica života...
No, the Iran Oil Bourse is not a casus belli…
By F. William Engdahl: March 10, 2006
A number of writings have recently appeared with the thesis that the announced plans of the Teheran government to institute a Teheran Oil Bourse, perhaps as early as this month, is the real hidden reason behind the evident march to war on Iran from the Anglo-American powers. The thesis is in our opinion mistaken for many reasons, not the least, that war on Iran has been in planning since the 1990’s, as an integral part of the US Greater Middle East strategy.
More significantly, the Oil Bourse argument is a Red Herring that diverts attention from the real geopolitical grounds behind the march towards war which have been detailed on this website, including my piece, ‘Calculating the Risk of War in Iran’ which was posted on GlobalResearch.ca on January 29, 2006
In 1996, Richard Perle and Douglas Feith, two neo-conservatives later to play an important role in formulation of Bush Administration Pentagon policy in the Middle East, authored a paper for then-newly-elected Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu.
That advisory paper, ‘A Clean Break: a New Strategy for Securing the Realm,’ called on Netanyahu to make a ‘clean break from the peace process.’ They also called on Netanyahu to strengthen Israel’s defenses to better confront Syria and Iraq, and to go after Iran as the prop of Syria.
More than a year before President Bush declared Operation Shock and Awe against Iraq, he made his now infamous January 2002 State of the Union address to Congress in which he labelled Iran, along with Iraq and North Korea, as the ‘Axis of Evil’ trio.
This was well before anyone in Teheran was even considering establishing an oil bourse to trade oil in various currencies.
The argument by those who believe that the Teheran Oil Bourse would be the casus belli, the trigger pushing Washington down the road to potential thermonuclear annihilation of Iran, seems to rest on the claim that by openly trading oil to other nations or buyers in Euros, Teheran would set into motion a chain of events in which nation after nation, buyer after buyer, would line up to buy oil no longer in US dollars but in Euros. That in turn, so goes the argument, would lead to a panic selling of dollars on world foreign exchange markets and a collapse of the role of the dollar as reserve currency, one of the ‘pillars of Empire.’ Basta! There goes the American Century down the tubes with the onset of the Teheran Oil Bourse…Reality is a little different.
Some background considerations
That argument fails to convince for a number of reasons. First, in the case of at least one of the Oil Bourse theory writers, their argument is based on a misunderstanding of the process which I described in my book, A Century of War, regarding the creation in 1974 of ‘petrodollar recycling’ in the wake of the orchestrated 400% OPEC oil price hike, a process with which then-US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger was deeply involved. The dollar then did not become a ‘petrodollar’ although Kissinger spoke about the process of ‘recycling petrodollars.’ Instead what he referred to was the initiation of a new phase of US global hegemony in which the ‘petrodollar’ export earnings of OPEC oil lands would be recycled into the hands of the major New York and London banks and re-lent in form of dollar loans to oil deficit countries like Brazil or Argentina, creating what soon came to be known as he Latin American Debt Crisis.
The dollar at that time had been a fiat currency since August 1971 when President Richard Nixon first abrogated the Bretton Woods Treaty and refused to redeem US dollars held by foreign central banks for gold bullion. The dollar floated against other major currencies, falling more or less until it was revived by the turbo change of the 1973-4 oil price shock. What the 1973 oil shock achieved for the sagging dollar was a sudden injection of global demand from nations confronted with 400% higher oil import bills. At that time, by postwar convention and convenience, as the dollar was the only reserve currency held around the world other than gold, oil was priced by all OPEC members in dollars as a practical exigency.
With the 400% price rise, nations such as France, Germany, Japan and other importers suddenly found reason to try to buy their oil directly in their own currencies—French Franc, German Deutschemarks or Japanese Yen—in order to lessen the pressure on their rapidly declining reserves of trade dollars. The US Treasury and Pentagon made certain that did not happen, partly with some Kissinger secret diplomacy, bullying threats, and a whopping big US military agreement with the key OPEC producer, Saudi Arabia.
At that time it helped that the late Shah of Iran was seen in Washington to be a vassal of Kissinger.
The point was not that the dollar became a ‘petro’ currency. The point was that the reserve status of the dollar, now a paper currency, was bolstered by the 400% increase in world demand for dollars to buy oil. But that was only a part of the dollar story. In 1979, following the accession to power of the Ayatollah Khomeini in Iran, oil prices shot through the roof for the second time in six years. Yet, paradoxically, later that year the dollar began a precipitous free-fall, not rise. It was no ‘petrodollar.’
Foreign dollar holders began dumping their dollars as a protest to the foreign policies of the Jimmy Carter Administration. It was to deal with that dollar crisis that Carter was forced to bring in Paul Volcker to head the Federal Reserve in 1979. In October 1979 Volcker gave the dollar another turbo-charge by allowing interest rates in the US to rise some 300% in weeks, to well over 20%. That in turn forced global interest rates through the roof, triggered a global recession, mass unemployment and misery. It also ‘saved’ the dollar as sole reserve currency. The dollar was not a ‘petrodollar.’ It was the currency of issue of the greatest Superpower, a superpower determined to do what it needed to keep it that way.
The F-16 dollar backing
Since 1979 the US power establishment from Wall Street to Washington has maintained the status of the dollar as unchallenged global reserve currency. The role, however, is not a purely economic one. Reserve currency status is an adjunct of global power, of the US determination to dominate other nations and the global economic process. The US didn’t get reserve currency status by a democratic vote of world central banks, nor did the British Empire in the 19th Century. They fought wars for it.
For that reason, the status of the dollar as reserve currency depends on the status of the United States as the world’s unchallenged military superpower. In a sense, since August 1971 the dollar is no longer backed by gold. Instead, it is backed by F-16’s and MI Abrams battle tanks, operating in some 130 US bases around the world, defending liberty and the dollar.
A Euro challenge?
In order for the Euro to begin to challenge the reserve role of the US dollar a virtual revolution in policy would have to take place in Euroland. First the European Central Bank, the institutionalized, undemocratic institution created by the Maastricht Treaty in order to maintain the power of creditor banks in collecting their debts, would have to surrender power to elected legislators. It would then have to turn on the Euro printing presses and print Euros like there was no tomorrow. That is because the current size of the publicly-traded Euroland government bond market is still tiny in comparison with the huge US Treasury market.
As Michael Hudson explains in his brilliant and too-little studied work, ‘Super Imperialism,’ the peverse genius of the US global dollar hegemony was the realization, in the months after August 1971, that US power under a fiat dollar system was directly tied to the creation of dollar debt.
The debt and US trade deficit was not the ‘problem,’ they realized. It was the ‘solution.’
The US could print endless quantities of dollars to pay for foreign imports of Toyotas, Hondas, BMW’s or other goods in a system in which the trading partners of the USA, holding paper dollars for their exports feared for a dollar collapse enough to continue to support the dollar by buying US Treasury bonds and bills. In fact in the thirty years since abandoning gold exchange for paper dollars, the US dollars in reserve have risen by a whopping 2,500% and grows at double-digit rates today.
This system continued into the 1980’s and 1990’s unchallenged. US policy was one of crisis management coupled with skilful and coordinated projection of US military power. Japan in the 1980’s, fearful of antagonizing its US nuclear umbrella provider, bought endless volumes of US Treasury debt even though they lost a King’s ransom in the process. It was a political, not an investment decision.
The only potential challenge to the reserve role of the dollar came in the late 1990’s with the European Union decision to create a single currency, the Euro, to be administered by single central bank, the ECB. Europe appeared to be emerging as a unified, independent policy voice of what Chirac then called a multi-polar world. Those multi-polar illusions vanished with the unpublicized decision of the ECB and national central banks not to pool their gold reserves as backing for the new Euro. That decision not to use gold as backing came amid a heated controversy over Nazi gold and alleged wartime abuses by Germany, Switzerland, France and other European countries.
Since the shocks of September 11, 2001 and the ensuing declaration of a US global War on Terror, including a unilateral decision to ignore the United Nations and the community of nations and go to war against a defenceless Iraq, few countries have even dared to challenge the dollar hegemony. The combined defense spending of all nations of the EU today pales by comparison to the total of current US budgeted and unbudgeted defense spending. US defense outlays will reach an official, staggering level of $663 billion in the current Fiscal 2007 year. The combined EU spending amounts to a mere $75 billion, with tendency declining, in part owing to ECB Maastricht deficit pressures on its governments.
So today, at least for the present, there are no signs of Japanese, EU or other dollar holders engaging in dollar asset liquidation.
Even China, unhappy as she is with Washington bully politics, seems reluctant to rouse the American dragon to fury.
The Origins of the Oil Bourse
The idea of creating a new trading platform in Iran to trade oil and to create a new oil benchmark crude apparently originated with the former Director of the London International Petroleum Exchange, Chris Cook. In a January 21 article in the Asia Times, Cook explained the background.
Describing a letter he had written in 2001 to the Governor of the Iranian Central Bank, Dr Mohsen Nourbakhsh, Cook explained what he advised then:
‘In this letter I pointed out that the structure of global oil markets massively favors intermediary traders and particularly investment banks, and that both consumers and producers such as Iran are adversely affected by this. I recommended that Iran consider as a matter of urgency the creation of a Middle Eastern energy exchange, and particularly a new Persian Gulf benchmark oil price.
’It is therefore with wry amusement that I have seen a myth being widely propagated on the Internet that the genesis of this "Iran bourse" project is a wish to subvert the US dollar by denominating oil pricing in euros.
’As anyone familiar with the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries will know, the denomination of oil sales in currencies other than the dollar is not a new subject, and as anyone familiar with economics will tell you, the denomination of oil sales is merely a transactional issue: what matters is in what assets (or, in the case of the United States, liabilities ) these proceeds are then invested.’
A full challenge to the domination of the dollar as world central bank reserve currency entails a de facto declaration of war on the ‘full spectrum dominance’ of the United States today.
The mighty members of the European Central Bank Council well know this.
The heads of state of every EU country know that.
The Chinese leadership as well as Japanese and Indian know that.
So does Vladimir Putin.
Until some combination of those Eurasian powers congeal in a cohesive challenge to the unbridled domination of the USA as sole superpower, there will be no Euro or Yen or even Chinese Yuan challenging the role of the dollar. The issue is of enormous importance, as it is vital to understand the true dynamics bringing the world to the brink of possible nuclear catastrophe today.
As a small ending note, a good friend in Oslo recently forwarded me an article from the Norwegian press.
At the end of December, Sven Arild Andersen, Director of the Oslo Bourse, announced he was fed up with depending on the London oil bourse trading oil in dollars. Norway, a major oil producer, selling most of its oil into Euro countries in the EU, he said, should set up its own oil bourse and trade its oil in Euros.
Will NATO member Norway become the next target for the wrath of the Pentagon?
* F. William Engdahl is author of the book, ‘A Century of War: Anglo-American Oil Politics and the New World Order,’ Pluto Press Ltd. He may be contacted through his website.
Dakle, nije sve u sirovoj nafti, nesto je i u sirovoj snazi...
Back to reality with reality check, of course! No, idemo dalje....
Nastavno na izvjestaje o svrljanju svakakvih agenata po Iranu kao pripreme za 'uvodjenje demokracije' evo iranskog odgovora:
Iran arrests 50 suspected insurgents in oil province (9th March 2006)
Iran’s Minister of Intelligence and Security said on Thursday that authorities had identified and apprehended more than 50 people in connection with the recent spate of bombings in the oil-rich province of Khuzestan in south-western Iran.
“Unfortunately, these individuals had ties to the enemies of the Islamic Republic of Iran abroad”, Hojjatoleslam Gholam-Hossein Mohseni-Ezhei told the official state news agency during a visit to the south-western city of Khorramshahr in Khuzestan Province.
“These individuals are currently in detention and will soon be handed over to the judicial officials”, Mohseni-Ezhei said.
There were several spates of bombings in the troubled region earlier this year and in 2005. Ahwaz, the capital of the Arab-dominated province, has been the scene of unremitting anti-government protests since early 2005.
“Our enemies are trying to strike a blow at the Islamic Republic and these disturbances are influenced by the efforts of the enemies of the sacred Islamic Republic”, he added.
Last week, the radical Shiite cleric who heads the Islamic Republic’s dreaded secret police repeated the charge that the attackers were guided from abroad.
A string of top Iranian officials including hard-line President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad accused Britain of being behind the bombings.
London has repeatedly denied any involvement in the attacks.
Tko se nije skrio, magarac je bio....