September ‘Surprise’

What did the U.S. government know about the "secret" Iranian nuclear research facility at Qom and when did it know it? That’s the question that isn’t on everyone’s lips, as the chatter about Iranian "intransigence" on nuclear issues reaches a crescendo in the run-up to Oct. 1, the date negotiations with Tehran are scheduled to start. Practically no one wants to ask let alone answer this question, because it torpedoes the American narrative that is being carefully constructed by the Obama administration and its media fan club, which runs something like this: the Iranians have been actively deceiving us all along and simply can’t be trusted – the only solution, therefore, is to initiate a series of escalating sanctions, up to and including military action.

The Obama-worshippers in the punditocracy are telling us that this is an example of the Dear Leader’s genius: unlike George W. Bush and the neocons, whose crude unilateralism and unmitigated arrogance was a turnoff to our allies and a boon to our enemies, Obama wisely held back and waited until he had the Iranians just where he wanted them, and then, as one of the more unhinged Obama maniacs put it, "Ka-pow!"

"And so you see the Obama mojo again. Look at the moves of the last month. He scraps the missile defense in Eastern Europe, pleasing Russia, and moves the focus of defense to the Mediterranean, pleasing Israel.

"He pwns [sic] Ahmadinejad at the UN by being the first president of the U.S. to preside over the resolution to enforce nuclear non-proliferation.

"He corrals the rhetorical support of the developing world, isolating Tehran still further. He hangs back a little and allows Brown and Sarkozy to do the heavy hitting on NoKo and Iran this past week, again revealing that the desire to curtail Ahmadinejad’s nukes is not only an American project.

"And then, this morning… kapow!"

This tale of heroic cunning and diplomatic derring-do is largely a product of Sullivan’s hero-worshipping imagination – the same tendency to idolatry that moved him to praise George W. Bush as little short of the second coming of Winston Churchill back in the day. It is, however, based on even less substance this time around, for it turns out that the U.S. has known about this "secret" facility for years, as CNN reports:

"The United States was aware of Iran’s unfinished uranium enrichment site for several years, senior U.S. officials told CNN on Friday. U.S. officials have known about the facility since President George W. Bush’s administration, according to the officials who declined to be identified because of the sensitive nature of the negotiations."

Yes, the Bushies knew about it, too, and said nothing – but why not? After all, George W. was not exactly known as an apologist for the Iranian regime, and he was no less eager than his successor to tag Tehran as a serial deceiver. The CIA knew about it when they issued that now inconvenient National Intelligence Estimate [.pdf] averring that Iran had abandoned all efforts to militarize its nuclear research in 2003. Were they trying to protect the Iranians, too? And, of course, Obama knew all about it – and decided to make use of it, in spite of the fact that (a) the Qom facility is not operational and (b) there is no evidence it is being used to create a nuclear weapon.

We are told the Iranians only recently discovered that we knew about Qom, which is why they chose to reveal its existence in a letter to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) – but, really, since the Iranians had a direct line to our most closely guarded secrets, via Ahmed Chalabi, in the days of the Bush administration, it’s hard to make that case with absolute assurance. In any case, they did admit the existence of the Qom facility and have now invited in the inspectors – and all of Obama’s stern admonitions to the Iranians to "come clean" cannot obfuscate Tehran’s transparency in this matter.

In his UN oration, Obama declared “Iran is breaking rules that all nations must follow," a manifestly untrue statement that nonetheless went largely unchallenged. Because "all nations" apparently doesn’t include the state of Israel, which has as many as 200 nuclear weapons and is no doubt developing more.

Obama hailed efforts to strengthen the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) and singled out Iran and North Korea as two examples of nations that "choose to ignore international standards" and "put the pursuit of nuclear weapons ahead of regional stability and the security and opportunity of their own people." These two miscreants, he intoned, "must be held accountable."

There is one other miscreant, however, that is never to be held accountable, either by the president of the United States or by anyone who works in "mainstream" journalism, on pain of being charged with a hate crime. Israel’s nukes are common knowledge. Yet the Jewish state not only refuses to acknowledge its possession of weapons of mass destruction, it also disdains efforts by the international community to monitor their development and placement.

Israel has always steadfastly refused to join the NPT, and when the possibility that they could be pressured to do so was raised as the Obamaites were flocking to Washington to take power, the idea was quickly shot down. That a U.S. government official had even mentioned Israel in relation to its well-known possession of nukes was denounced by the Israelis and their American amen corner as a "violation" of a supposedly 40-year agreement between the U.S. and Israel that Washington would not only give the Israelis a pass, but would refrain from even referring to the existence of Israel’s nuclear arsenal.

Which means: quite apart from evidence – or the absence of it – that the Iranians are actively trying to acquire nuclear weapons, we aren’t allowed to even talk about why they would possibly want them.

Israel has been threatening Iran with military action for quite some time, and, armed as the former is with a formidable nuclear arsenal, the Iranians would be foolish not to take the Israelis seriously. However, the biggest weapon in the Israeli quiver isn’t nukes, it’s their "special relationship" with the U.S., and the Iranians know it.

The devastation and occupation of Iraq had barely begun when Ariel Sharon publicly stated that America’s next target must be Iran, and the U.S. has dutifully taken up this charge, in spite of Obama’s guff about engaging in "dialogue" with Tehran. That’s just window-dressing for the liberals who supported him on account of his antiwar credentials.

And so it begins: phase two of the American project for the transformation of the Middle East into an environment that guarantees "security" for Israel as she represses her Palestinian helots [.pdf], expands her borders willy-nilly, and defies the standards and benchmarks that all civilized nations are expected to adhere to.

Change? You’ve got to be kidding! What we’re getting from this administration in the foreign policy department is an uncanny repetition of the same folly engaged in by the Bush administration, complete with "weapons of mass destruction" and the hosannas of the Establishment pundits as they march in lockstep to war. The only difference is that many of these very same pundits were singing a far different tune when it was Republicans doing the warmongering.

We are told by the pro-Obama foreign policy analysts that the president’s efforts to negotiate with Tehran have put the military option "on the back burner." Really? What’s on the front burner is a proposal – guaranteed to sail through the U.S. Congress – to impose draconian sanctions on Iran, including petroleum products. What this would amount to is a blockade of Iranian ports, i.e., an act of war.

Iran has the right to the production of peaceful nuclear power under the terms of the NPT, a treaty the Israelis refuse to sign. Why are they being held "accountable," and not the Israelis? Everybody in the Middle East knows the answer to this question – as they do in Washington, although the rules of political correctness won’t permit them to utter it.

This whole campaign against Iran for supposedly harboring a desire to nuke Israel is absurd from beginning to end. A nuclear attack on Israel would not only annihilate the Israelis, but also the Palestinians – which one has to assume the Iranians have no desire to do. It would also invite massive retaliation from the U.S. and universal condemnation. The myth that Israel is going to be the site of a second Holocaust if we don’t stop the Iranians first is one that is being energetically pushed by Israel and her American lobby – and it is a very crude and easily refutable lie. Which doesn’t mean they won’t try to pull it off. After all, the idea that Saddam Hussein was behind the 9/11 terrorist attacks, although absurd on its face, was relentlessly repeated by the Bushies during the run-up to the Iraq war, and there’s no reason, at this point, to suspect that the new guys in charge are above such tactics.

Indeed, we are fast learning that they aren’t – that’s what the Qom kerfuffle shows us, and we ought to be prepared for more, and much worse, in the coming months. The Obamaites are going into the October talks guns blazing, and you can be sure that, although this process of baiting Iran is going to go on for many months, if not years, this first phase will be relatively short-lived: the War Party is hoping for an Iranian walkout, and I suspect they’ll get their wish.

Author: Justin Raimondo

Justin Raimondo passed away on June 27, 2019. He was the co-founder and editorial director of, and was a senior fellow at the Randolph Bourne Institute. He was a contributing editor at The American Conservative, and wrote a monthly column for Chronicles. He was the author of Reclaiming the American Right: The Lost Legacy of the Conservative Movement [Center for Libertarian Studies, 1993; Intercollegiate Studies Institute, 2000], and An Enemy of the State: The Life of Murray N. Rothbard [Prometheus Books, 2000].