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News number: 9106061602

16:24 | 2012-09-03

Politics

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Interview:

US Radio Host: Iran's International Profile Raised through Hosting NAM Summit

TEHRAN (FNA)- American writer and radio host Stephen Lendman believes that the successful arrangement and hosting of the 16th heads-of-state Summit of the Non-Aligned Movement in Tehran was diplomatically a triumph for the Islamic Republic, which disappointed Israel and the United States and helped Iran improve its political profile on the international scene.



Lendman believes that despite the US and Israeli propaganda, the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) summit in Tehran which wrapped up on Friday was a great diplomatic victory for Iran and meant a great defeat and failure for the US and the Zionist regime of Israel.

What follows is the full text of Fars News Agency's interview with Stephen Lendman in which a number of issues pertaining to the Non-Aligned Movement summit in Tehran, the frustration of Western powers at the successful summit in Tehran, the attendance of Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi at the summit, the prospects of the movement under Iran's presidency and the role it can play in fostering global peace and stability were discussed.

Q: The United States and Israel had made rigorous efforts to make sure that the Tehran Non-Aligned Movement summit will be boycotted by the member states so that Iran fails to raise its international profile during the important event, but delegations from 120 world countries attended the summit in defiance of calls by the US and Israel. What's your take on that?

A: Washington and Israel both put heavy pressure on NAM countries not to attend. Israel ordered its ambassadors in all NAM states to apply heavy pressure. Likely Washington did the same thing.

The effort failed dismally. The summit was a huge success. Iran's prestige is enhanced. Participating nations support its peaceful nuclear program and oppose its isolation. These are major accomplishments.

They don't immunize Iran from a joint US-Israeli attack. I expect one eventually but not until after US November elections and likely 2013 at the earliest.

Syria's conflict is far from over. Even hegemons worry about biting off more than they can chew. Full blown war against Syria and/or Iran comes with great risks. The entire region could be embroiled. Russia and China may get involved. Israel and US regional facilities will be hammered.

Israel's multiple nuclear sites will be prime targets. Hezbollah alone can inflict serious damage if it supports either or both countries.

I believe taking these risks is insane. I think high level political and military officials in Israel and Washington know it and oppose war. It doesn't mean it won't happen. I think odds are it will against both countries.

For now, US electoral considerations are prioritized. After November 6, anything is possible.

Q: What has been the most important achievement of the Non-Aligned Movement summit in Tehran? Will the movement, under Iran's presidency, succeed in retrieving its prominent position in the international developments and influence the global equations in an effective manner?

A: NAM gave Iran multiple achievements: added prestige, perhaps stronger economic and political ties, a big first step toward ending Washington's attempt to impose isolation, and a black eye for America, Israel and their rogue partners.

Not bad for a six day event. Hopefully, they'll be effective follow through. I think Iranian leaders understand and will press their advantage diplomatically.

Right now, Iran came out a winner. Odds are it will pay dividends ahead.

Q: While the NAM summit was underway in Tehran, IAEA published a new report on Iran's nuclear program, leveling new accusations against Iran and casting doubt over Iran's nuclear intentions. Was this report aimed at distracting the public opinion from the successful hosting of the NAM summit by Iran?

A: The new IAEA report was strategically to downplay the summit. It's old wine in new bottles. It's wearing thin. It lacks credibility, and deep within the report was information about most uranium fuel wasn't weapons grade and much of it either difficult or impossible to convert. Our (American) media said little or nothing.

The IAEA under Amano keeps crying wolf. Amano is an imperial tool. Washington installed him. His credibility keeps sinking lower.

Q: How effective can the non-aligned nations be in solving the regional and international problems, including the crisis in Syria, the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict, violence in Bahrain and the restructuring of the United Nations? Do they have the power to change the international equations practically?

A: For NAM nations to be effective requires they turn rhetoric into policies. It's not easy, especially as most of them have close Western ties and vote with America often at the General Assembly.

At the same time, Washington and Israel are slowly losing influence. It takes time, but at some point I think it will reach a point where more nations defy them both. Iran and Syria would be a wonderful way to begin.

On Syria, it's not likely. I fear full blown intervention without world opposition. It's very disturbing, and it could happen soon or right after our elections.

Solving the Palestinian issue is many years away. Palestinians on their own have to do more. They have to get rid of Fatah leadership under Assad and Fayyad. They're Israeli and pro-Western stooges. We need a real Palestinian spring. The so-called Arab spring is fake. It's a Western term and manipulated policy.

Q: What do you think about the Western mainstream media's coverage of the NAM summit in Tehran? Has it been a fair and balanced coverage? Have they reacted to the summit in an objective and impartial manner?

A: Western media coverage has been abominable. I've written many critiques. I call them all scoundrel media for good reason. They're pro-imperial, pro-war, and anti-populist. They lie for power. They're not journalists. They're propagandists, including the New York Times and Washington Post. At times, they make earlier yellow journalism look good.

They gave rotten coverage to NAM but mostly ignored it.

Q: During the past years, Israel and the United States have been constantly directing war threats against Iran, warning Tehran of a possible military strike on its nuclear facilities. Was the NAM summit in Tehran in which many countries threw weight behind Iran's nuclear program a deterrent for a possible U.S./Israeli war against Iran?

A: U.S. and Israeli war threats against Iran continue. Both nations have longstanding plans. Nothing changed except maybe the timing. It would be stupid to attack Iran now. Israel absolutely won't go it alone. Netanyahu is a hothead loudmouth, but he's not crazy. He'll do nothing without Washington's OK.

Q: How do you see President Mohamed Mursi's trip to Iran to attend the 16th Non-Aligned Movement summit? It seems that Israelis and the US officials are really angry at President Mursi's decision to approach Iran with a policy of reconciliation. He called Iran a "strategic ally" and called for the expansion of the bilateral ties. What's your take on that?

A: Mursi tried having it both ways. Showing up was significant. His anti-Syrian position shows his pro-Western position.

It's interesting that he called Iran a strategic ally. I'm sure Washington and Israel aren't pleased. I hope he means it.

Q: What's your idea about the economic sanctions imposed by the United States and its European allies against Iran? Of course the IAEA and US intelligence agencies have so far failed to put forward compelling evidence, confirming that Iran possesses nuclear weapons or intends to build one. So, all of the sanctions are based on mere speculations. What's your idea about these sanctions, their effect on Iran's political stature and the role the non-aligned nations can play in helping Iran circumvent the sanctions?

A: The sanctions are illegal. They're also illegal against Syria. Neither country threatens anyone. Iran's nuclear program is peaceful. Annual US intelligence assessments say so. So do high level leaders in Washington, Israel, and Europe.

The so-called threat is red herring cover for Washington's longstanding regime change plans. A pretext is needed. If not Iran's nuclear program something else would be invented. Iran poses no threat whatever.

Q: One of the proposals which Iran put forward in the 16th NAM summit was a nuclear-free Middle East. The fulfillment of this objective demands that Israel should dismantle its nuclear weapons. Are the NAM member states capable of disarming Israel and realizing a real nuclear-free Middle East?

A: The nuclear free Middle East proposal was wonderful. It has impact. It shows Iran deplores these weapons and doesn't want its own. It also shows Tehran is being wrongly accused. Every NAM nation knows Washington and Israel are the real threats. They just don't say so.

Q: And finally, do you think that major members of the NAM, including Iran, India, South Africa, Malaysia, Indonesia, Cuba, Venezuela, Egypt, Sudan and Zimbabwe can lead an international anti-war, anti-imperialism and anti-colonialism alliance? Can they succeed in upholding the primary objectives of the movement and resist the pressures of the world major powers?

A: It's hard to know if a coalition of anti-war nations will emerge. Indeed it would be wonderful. If I was a NAM leader, I'd urge it and participate. Everyone gains from peace, mutual cooperation, and multi-lateral economic relations.

Resisting Western pressures isn't easy. The threats now are so great, perhaps greater efforts will be made to do it. I sure hope so. It's a win-win. Otherwise, everyone loses and who knows what nation or nations Washington will target next! It's time now to put a stop to belligerence.

Stephen Lendman is an American writer and radio host. He was born in 1934 in Boston. He hosts the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network. He received a BA from the Harvard University. After spending two years at the US Army, he got an MBA from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. Lendman writes on a variety of issues including the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the continued occupation of Palestinian territories by the Israeli regime, U.S. military expeditions, Middle East affairs and Latin American issues.

Lendman is a strong opponent of the US war threats against Iran and has written many articles in this regard for the Canadian Center for Research on Globalization and Press TV.


Interview by Kourosh Ziabari