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CJ Werleman

Netanyahu's Iran gobbledynuke

'The nuclear deal is based on lies and Iranian deception' said Netanyahu [Getty]

Date of publication: 2 May, 2018

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Comment: Netanyahu's claims about Iran were as cartoonish and absurd as the high school level PowerPoint presentation that supported them, writes CJ Werleman.
For decades, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been selling things to Americans that they do not need, do not want, and that are not in the United States' best interests.

Now he's at it again, attempting to sell to the American public that idea the Iran deal is based on "lies" and folly, or rather an existential threat that can only be solved by US military action.

Raised in the suburbs of Philadelphia, and educated in business management at the famed Massachusetts Institute Technology, the American accented Netanyahu rose to political power by portraying himself as someone who best understood the psyche of the typical American voter, and thus best positioned to pitch Israel to its primary benefactor - the government of the United States.

In fact, Netanyahu has been surprisingly forthright about his assumed role as Israel's propagandist-in-chief.

In his 1993 treatise 'A durable peace: Israel and its place among the nations', Netanyahu articulated how important propaganda is to the survival and prosperity of the self-proclaimed Jewish state, writing,

"Contrary to conventional wisdom, the issue here is not what kinds of pictures will flicker across the television screen… I have found over the years that occasionally one word can be worth a thousand pictures, rather than vice versa.

"For example, the word occupation, or the expression homeless people. Or Arab land. Or land of peace. In countless newspaper pieces, journal articles, and books, the Arabs have devoted untold intellectual resources to framing the argument in such a way that it frames Israel. Israel will have to devote an even greater intellectual effort to extricating itself from the trap into which it has so readily entered." 

He even once proclaimed in a speech, "It doesn't matter if justice is on your side. You have to depict your position as just."

There's no evidence whatsoever to support Netanyahu's isolated claims Tehran is not meeting its commitments

On Monday, Netanyahu set out to do exactly that, attempting to depict his stance towards the Iran deal as the just position to the American public.

"The nuclear deal is based on lies and Iranian deception," thundered the Israeli prime minister in a prime time televised address.

"Iran lied about never having a secret nuclear programme. Secondly, even after the deal, it continued to expand its nuclear programme for future use. Thirdly, Iran lied by not coming clean to the
IAEA."

Netanyahu's claims were as cartoonish and absurd as the high school level PowerPoint presentation that supported them, which included a 7-foot high visual banner reading, "Iran lied" - bringing back memories of his equally bizarre presentation at the United Nations in 2012 in which he revealed an actual cartoon illustration of a ticking time bomb to denote the status of Iran's nuclear programme.

While pointing to 55,000 pages of documents and 183 CDs seized by Israeli intelligence agencies, Netanyahu claimed Iran is hiding an "atomic archive" of documents regarding its nuclear programme. "This is an original Iranian presentation from these files," said Netanyahu, emphasising that "the mission statement is to design, produce and test five warheads with 10 kiloton of TNT yield for integration on missiles".

It is no secret Iran intended to build an arsenal of nuclear warheads. This much is known, and was the reason the Obama administration brought Iran and the P5 members of the UN Security Council to the negotiating table. It offered Iran a system of inducements in exchange for giving up its quest to build a nuclear missile programme – and to that end the United Nation's atomic watchdog IAEA says Iran is obeying the terms and conditions of the 2015 deal.

"The IAEA can state that the nuclear-related commitments made by Iran under the JCPOA are being implemented," says IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano.

Since the start of 2016, the IAEA has been verifying and monitoring Iran's implementation of its commitments to the deal made under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), which was endorsed unanimously by the UN Security Council the previous year.

These verification and monitoring activities are rigorous, impartial, and objective, and there's no evidence whatsoever to support Netanyahu's isolated claims Tehran is not meeting its commitments.

"I just saw a lot of pictures I had seen before. Some of the images we saw [in Netanyahu's presentation] I briefed to the [IAEA] board in closed session in February 2008," said Olli Heinonen, a former chief inspector with the IAEA.

Netanyahu, on the other hand, needs a war to stave off the political crisis he finds himself embroiled in at home

Immediately after Netanyahu's presentation, the IAEA issued a statement declaring it has "no credible" evidence Iran has been working towards developing a nuclear "explosive device" since 2009 and that it considered the issue "closed".

This reality, however, has done nothing to dampen Netanyahu's enthusiasm for bombing Iran, or rather his desire for the United States to bomb Iran on Israel's behalf, thus his pitch to the American public via CNN and Fox News. But US audiences would do well to stay clear of anything Israel's very own real life Biff Loman is selling.

Who can forget Netanyahu's 2002 testimony to members of the US congress, in which he pleaded with the Bush administration to invade Iraq?

"There is no question whatsoever that Saddam is seeking, is working, is advancing towards to the development of nuclear weapons," claimed Netanyahu. "Once Saddam has nuclear weapons, the terror network will have nuclear weapons," adding this remarkable promise: "If you take out Saddam, regime, I guarantee you it will have enormous positive reverberations on the region."

Read more: Israeli parliament authorises Netanyahu to 'declare war' without cabinet backing

Well, we all know what happened next: The US invaded Iraq, found no evidence of nuclear weapons, or weapons of mass destruction, and then left behind a security vacuum in the region that is still being contested in a region wide Iran-Saudi proxy war. Not to mention the death and destruction left in the US coalition's wake.

The US doesn't need another war. It's still paying for its wars of choice in Iraq and Afghanistan, and it especially doesn't need another war in place of diplomacy that is successfully working to maintain peace.

Netanyahu, on the other hand, needs a war to stave off the political crisis he finds himself embroiled in at home. Faced with an ongoing corruption scandal, a war with Israel's long time enemy, Iran, would certainly galvanize Netanyahu's weary Israeli public.

But Israel's PM is always selling something the US neither needs or wants, and it would do well to ignore this particular brand of snake oil the Middle East's number one salesmen is pushing once again. 

CJ Werleman is the author of 'Crucifying America', 'God Hates You, Hate Him Back' and 'Koran Curious', and is the host of Foreign Object.

Follow him on Twitter: @cjwerleman


Opinions expressed in this article remain those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The New Arab, its editorial board or staff.

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