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Iran: Is it weapons or oil?

With Iran emerging as a regional power and now the source of 17% of China’s oil is the U.S. really concerned about nuclear weapons or is it more about the geopolitics and oil?

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BABAK YEKTAFAR, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, WASHINGTONPRISM.ORG: The U.S. says they will not allow Iran to have a nuclear bomb. But with Iran’s emergence as a regional power and now the source of 17% of China’s oil, is the U.S. really concerned about nuclear weapons? Or is it more about the geopolitics and oil? I’m Babak Yektafar, reporting from Washington, D.C., for the Real News. I guess the main point that everybody tries to raise is whether or not this confrontation is about the nuclear weapons. I’ve never believed that it is about nuclear weapons. I think if it was strictly the nuclear issue and Iran’s nuclear program, this could have been solved a few years ago. In fact, there were negotiations, and this could have been done behind closed doors, and it could have been done with direct talks between the United States and Iran. In fact, when the Europeans, the EU3, originally had negotiations with Iran in 2003, one of the main stumbling points, what stopped them from reaching a final agreement was the fact that the EU3 was not able to give Iran the kind of guarantees from the United States that Iran needed. Because of the reliance that China has on this energy, and oil in particular, that’s coming from Middle East, they see this confrontation, and the U.S. is involved, and it’s something that’s against them, and the control of oil. A lot of people say that why would U.S. be in the Middle East because of oil? Because the United States has reduced its reliance on oil from the Middle East. But, of course, you have to realize, because of that high percentage of oil coming through China and remembering the fact that one of the main doctrines, the U.S. doctrines, after the Cold War was to never allow the rise of another superpower. This helps them to a great deal by controlling the oil to always threaten China, and probably even prevent it from becoming the kind of superpower or major force that China intends to be. One of the most interesting things about this conflict, the conflict between the United States and Iran, and of course when we talk about conflict about this point, it’s more rhetorical than anything else. But a danger of a possible military action by the United States against Iran is there. Just recently, Vice President Dick Cheney in Australia actually again said that no option is off the table. And a lot of people interpret that as the fact that either the U.S. or possibly even with the blessing, maybe even Israel, would conduct certain limited attacks against Iran. Nonetheless, this has opened up a great deal of debate inside of Iran. For I would say one of the first times in a very long time, we have seen somewhat of an attack, a direct attack against the Iranian President Ahmadinejad. Some of these come from the kind of publications and the media; actually, that’s affiliated, in fact, with the supreme leader. And that in itself is an interesting fact. The fact of the matter is that the dynamics of internal politics [in] Iran is not very well understood outside of Iran. As most people have mentioned, Iran is not that monolith, the power base is not as unified and monolithic as most people think. And there’s a great deal of infighting behind the scenes. But what’s interesting is that because of this nuclear issue, the infighting is now played out outside among various media outlets, and people are getting violent as well. Having said all of that, and having the fact that I traveled to Iran, still to this day the nuclear issue is not necessarily the one top issue that Iranians talk about. It’s still economy. And the fact that President Ahmadinejad has not been able to deliver on his promises, his economical reform and promises of bringing oil money into people’s houses. And that still is the number one topic among the Iranians.

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