From Axis To Nexus

28 November 2013

The obnoxious concept of “axis of evil” was concocted by former US President George W Bush (remember him?) during his 2002 State of the Union address,targetting countries like North Korea, Iraq and Iran. The common denominator of these three countries is that they were seen by Washington as promoting terrorism and that they were pursuing the acquisition of nuclear weapons (or the so-called weapons of mass destruction).

Obviously, when someone uses words like “evil”, you know that they are up to something. It is the good old trick of making someone else look so bad that other people will not condemn you when you maim or kill the person you have painted black, so to speak. I mean, the word “evil” is the same as the word “devil” without the letter “d”! We all know what to do with the devil, don’t we?

Well, you guessed right. Bush used this terminology and then fabricated “evidence” that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction to justify the invasion of Iraq in 2003, thereby removingthe then Iraqi President, Saddam Hussein, from power. That was stage one of the campaign to dismantle the axis of evil. The next stages would mete out similar treatments against Iran and North Korea. However, the Americans knew that Iraq was relatively the weakest link in the axis, and they were thus cognisant of the fact that they would need different strategies for each of the two remaining countries.

North Korea had read this imperialist script and decided to make the first move by publicly announcing its nuclear capabilities and by launching long-range missiles which North Korea claimed could reach the USA. Iran is very stable and it is quite advanced in its nuclear development programme, not to mention that it is very influential in the region through its support for Hezbollah and the Assad government in Syria. Thus, the USA has had a rethink, especially because US President Obama had campaigned on a ticket of diplomacy over military solutions. In his inauguration speech in 2009, Obama said that he was ready to extend a hand of friendship if the other countries were willing to “unclench”their fists.

Iran is an Islamist democracy, and each new leader brings with him a new approach with regard to the USA and other Western countries. We all know that Iran’s former president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, was a hardliner who stood his ground and flashed his middle finger at Obama. In fact, he even quoted the late African American leader, Malcolm X, to call Obama a house nigger! On the other hand, Iran’s new president, Hassan Rouhani, only a few months in office, is moderate and wants to focus on reconstructingthe Iranian economy which has been suffering from Western sanctions.

Rouhani has calculated that one way to get sanctions lifted is for Iran to be seen to co-operate with the UN nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), while still asserting its right to pursue peaceful nuclear programmes.Iran thus argues that as long as it does not produce a nuclear weapon, it is a matter of national dignity to engage in peaceful nuclear initiatives. On the other hand, the West is nervous that Iran may be close to producing a nuclear weapon, yet it cannot prove this, unless it allows IAEA inspectors to confirm the situation on the ground. The West knows it cannot stop Iran’s peaceful nuclear programme, so they had to engineer a deal with Iran.

The deal came last Sunday morning in Geneva,when the USA and five other countries announced the landmark agreement with much fanfare of public hugs and kisses. In simple terms, this is an interim agreement that essentially asks Iran to temporarily freeze Iran’s nuclear programmeas a first step towards a more comprehensive agreement. The interim agreement will last for six months, during which the IAEA inspectors will, through their fact-finding on the ground, and will lay the foundation for a permanent solution.

US Secretary of State, John Kerry, and the Iranian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mohammad Javad Zarif, shook hands and spoke glowingly about this historic achievement. Zarif is convinced that this agreement will restore the trust between Iran and the USA, and he reiterated that the Iranian people deserve to be respected by the West, especially the USA. Iran has agreed to stop enriching uranium beyond 5 percent (sufficient for energy production but not for bomb-making). Iran will thus dismantle the links between networks of centrifuges to avoid further enrichment.

Furthermore, Iran hasstockpiles of uranium enriched to 20 percent, but it has undertaken to dilute this uranium or to convert it to oxide. It has pledged not to install new centrifuges, nor to start up any centrifuges that are currently non-operational, nor to operate or build new enrichment facilities. In its current form, the agreementdoes not prohibit Iran to enrichuranium to a level of 3.5 percent, nor does it compel Iran to dismantle its existing centrifuges. What is in it for Iran? The US pledged to provide sanction relief that will amount to US$7 billion, of which about $4.2 billion will come from the oil revenue that was frozen in foreign banks.

There you have it, dear reader. Iran and the USA are cuddling and kissing for the first time since the Islamic Revolution of 1979. Each country has its own motivation for signing the deal, in fact these reasons could even be contradictory, yet there is still sufficient common ground to warrant the agreement. Israel, on the other hand, has called this agreement “a historic mistake”, as expected.

The interesting fact about this interim agreement is that it has allowed Iran to graduate from the axis of evil to become the nexus for world nuclear peace. That is quite an achievement by any standards, and so it is in order to send some hearty congratulations to Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Hosseini, as well as President Hassan Rouhani, and all the people of the Islamic Republic of Iran. Well done!

Ondjirijo! Hijo!



The Windhoek Observer is an English-language weekly newspaper, published in Namibia by Paragon Investment Holding. It is the country's oldest and largest circulating weekly.

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