Sunday, 15 January 2012

Response to Jim Rickards commentry on KWN 14 Janurary

I’d like to start by thanking Jim Rickards for sharing his immense experience and expertise of capital markets with the public at large and to acknowledge the personal debt I have to him and the sound advice he freely departs to his many listeners.

As an influential commentator on Global Markets and their cross section with Geo Politics I felt compelled to respond to your recent comments in King World News (14th January 2012) which I believe where a naïve characterisation of Iran’s domestic nuclear policy and it’s foreign policy goals. I am very familiar with these characterisations are as they are constantly repeated in western corporate media and frankly in my opinion constitute little more than anti Iranian propaganda.

I’d like to take each of these characterisations to task and put forward the Iranian position as I understand it to be. I hope that even if you do not agree with my rebuttals you will at least take the time to consult experts in Iranian politics that are independent of any western corporate media or lobbying organisation and ideally from the academic institutions of the Islamic Republic.
“Iran will not be allowed to have a nuclear weapon”

Iran does not want a nuclear weapon rather it seeks the deterrent associated with a known capability for assembling and delivering such a device at short notice. The Iranian government wants to remain within the NPT and it estimates that simply possessing and advertising its nuclear capability will be as good as having a ready weapon.
Furthermore they estimate achieving this goal will be enough to neutralize Israel’s strategic military advantage, again without contravening the NPT. Iran considers the NPT to be an important lever in ultimately disarming Israel (not a member of the NPT) and the nuclear states which are NPT members but which to date have failed to take seriously their responsibilities to disarm as per the mandates of the NPT.

This fact is extremely important as within it lays the potential for serious peaceful negotiations without the preconditions which Iran, rightly in my opinion, finds insulting. Iran will never compromise its right to nuclear technology and its peaceful nuclear programme. The Iranians do not consider building a nuclear weapon capability as equivalent to building a nuclear weapon. This nuance is always overlooked in west’s reporting of Iran.
“Iran has said that they will burn Israel to the ground”

This phrase was rather reckless in my opinion, the official Iranian position on Israel to accept whatever agreements the Palestinian people reach with Israel.  “Iranians will not more Palestinian than Palestinians” was a comment make by the supreme leader some years ago.  Of course you will find Iranian law makers that will make all sorts of claims about Israel, and I can find just as many European and US law makers that espouse similar views toward Israel and Iran. What is important is to understand and use the official line in analysis not the rhetoric of law makers that are responding to US and Israeli threats to bomb Iran into the stone age with nuclear weapons.

As to the claims that Iranian government is anti-Semitic I would point to the fact that Iran has the largest population of Jews in the Middle East outside of Israel. Many of these Jews refuse to move from Iran to Israel because they are anti-Zionist (and they are generally well treated and happy at home in Iran). It is true that Iran is anti-Zionist, as are many Jews, this is not the same as anti-Semitism.          

“China and Russia will not intervene”

The reason why Syria has not yet fallen to western backed militias (yet) is primarily down to Russia and China. Yes they are mercenary but just as Russia brutally ended NATO expansion in Georgia it would be unwise to expect Russia to sit back while Iran is attacked by the US. I think we can be sure that key military planners in the US who understand the folly of war with Iran are taking seriously the possibility of Russian assistance to Iran.

As for China accepting a deal whereby the US ensures Saudi oil supplies reach China during the ‘temporary’ disruption caused by a US attack on Iran. I think the Chinese have made their feeling toward US unilateralism very clear. The Chinese understand the Saudi regime is not a stable regime, in the event of a US attack on Iran we can expect Saudi oil supplies to be among the first to be taken offline.

“What of the effect of sanctions”

Rather than seeing the effects of slowly boiled water on a frog I would suggest the sanctions on Iran over the past thirty years have been a failure.  Iran is now one of the few countries in the world with its own defense industry. It is among the largest economies in the world and in the Middle East one of the few with sizable economic sectors outside of petrochemicals. One way I use to measure the effects of sanctions is to look at the scientific output of a country. In 2011 Iran was the second largest publisher of scientific papers in the Middle East just before Turkey at 17598 (source Nature  vol 480 No. 7378) but perhaps more importantly was the rate of growth of scientific output. In 2011 Iran published 20% more than in 2010. That put Iran in the top 5 countries in the world w.r.t scientific growth. The latest round of unilateral sanctions by the US is being perceived as an economic measure against US’s competitors by them and by and large is being ignored by them. The US is simply isolating itself by following Israel First policies.
I hope these arguments give you some pause for thought  and I’d delighted to engage further on these matters.

Once again I deeply respect your expertise and experience and it is for these reasons that I felt compelled to engage you.

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