The interview on video can be seen here
Israel and the U.S. keep threatening Iran with a military attack although Iran doesn't have any facilities to even start building a nuclear weapon or is following up on a nuclear program according to American intelligence documents. "So, when the United States threaten Iran with war, it is like confirming the right of Israel to have a nuclear monopoly in the region. And this is the best way to avoid any peaceful solution. The United States could have a very different policy, which is to put pressure on Israel for de-nuclearisation, for an agreement, which Iran would definitely sign, as all the states of the region, for a nuclear free Middle East". The U.S. also keeps building the tension with Iran to create a climate for lucrative arms deals with the neighboring oil monarchies, says Achcar.
Gilbert Achcar: Political Scientist and Sociologist at the "School of Oriental and African Studies", University of London, Peace Activist, Author of "The Arabs and the Holocaust" and together with Noam Chomsky "Perilous Power"
The New York Times quotes American and Israeli officials saying the military attack on Gaza was a practice run for any future armed confrontation with Iran. Israel keeps threatening Iran with a military attack. U.S. president Barack Obama has repeatedly declared that in case of Iran “all options are on the table” while the sanctions against Iran deteriorate the economy and even strengthen President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. At this point there is no indication and evidence that Iran has even facilities to start building a nuclear bomb. What is your assessment of the U.S.-Israeli policy, supported by European countries, in regard to Iran and the probability of a military escalation?
Gilbert Achcar: Yes. When you look at this problem the only sensible, peaceful policy in the region, the only sensible alternative to this escalation that exists, would be a nuclear free Middle East. And this is a perspective for which many people have been fighting and actually it's even the official position of Arab states to call for a nuclear free Middle East.
There are UN resolutions for that.
Gilbert Achcar: Of course. You have a Helsinki conference about it and all that. But who is rejecting that? Not Iran because, as you just said, the Iranians keep saying "We are not building a nuclear bomb. We do not even want to build one, because we believe this is a non-muslim weapon" as Chamenei and even Ahmadinejad said. Because it kills indiscriminately and that's against our religion. They have made statements of this kind. And yet, Iran is signatory to the NPT, the nuclear anti-proliferation treaty. Israel is not. And everyone knows that Israel is nuclear state. Everyone knows that Israel has at least 200 nuclear warheads. It's a major nuclear power, it's not even a small nuclear power, it's a major nuclear power. So, when the United States threaten Iran with war, it is like confirming the right of Israel to have a nuclear monopoly in the region. And this is the best way to avoid any peaceful solution. Because the United States could have a very different policy, which is to put pressure on Israel for de-nuclearisation, for an agreement, which Iran would definitely sign, as all the states of the region, for a nuclear free Middle East. Washington is the only power capable of imposing that on Israel. For two reasons: Because on the one hand Israel depends on the United States to a great extent. Secondly, because the United States can offer their nuclear guarantee to Israel. And Israel knows anyhow that is has a de-facto guarantee for its existence from the United States. So it doesn't accumulate nuclear weapons on its soil. This is a sensible policy to do. But this is not, of course, what Netanjahu and other Israeli governments have been doing. What they are doing is just, you know, trying to – on the one hand assert their right to a nuclear monopoly and the willingness to strike. You know, we have already strikes in Iraq in 1981, the Israeli aviation destroyed the nuclear reactor in Iraq. Recently in Syria, because they said there is some kind of nuclear activity there, and the threat to do that in Iran. Each time, this is creating huge dangers, because when you bomb a nuclear reactor, like the one Israel bomb in Iraq in 1981, what guarantee you don't have is that this won't lead to a catastrophe. At least the recent Japanese type of catastrophe, or the Chernobyl kind of catastrophe. So, when you say you want to bomb nuclear facilities or whatever in Iran, the very thought of that is just criminal. It's just criminal. This shows that there is no rational pro-peace perspective. The only rationality at all is a warmongering rationality, which is a danger for not only the region. I would say for humanity. Because this just feeds into some kind of crazy cycle of race to weapons of mass destruction and the rest. Who knows what can happen? It's all the more irrational from a peaceful perspective for a state like Israel to do that, that is such a small state, and, as you know, a nuclear cloud does not stop at the border. And an army, even the strongest army on earth can not stop a nuclear cloud, if ever you have one. This is really playing with fire and it's extremely dangerous what is happening.
And such a Nuclear Free Zone would also include – along with Israel and Iran – U.S. forces deployed in the region. So the U.S. is not really in favor of such a Zone?
Gilbert Achcar: No, but you know the United States doesn't need to deploy nuclear forces in the region. They don't need to, because they have all the means, even from the United States, to strike anywhere. They have intercontinental missiles, they have anything you want. So, this really not their problem. The issue is that … I can tell you that one aspect of this tension with Iran, because this tension has been nurtured to a great extent artificially at the beginnning. Before Ahmadinejad you had Khatami in Iran. Khatami was even in the western place defined as a moderate, a reformist, ok? And Khatami had quite a peaceful kind of approach to all these problems. And he was really trying to, you know, promote dialogue and all that. What happened is that the reward he got from Washington was famous speech by George W. Bush – The axis of evil. And what is the axis of evil: Iraq, North Korea and Iran. Despite the Khatami government you had at that time. That is the time George Bush chose to designate Iran as a target. And of course this one key reason in the victory of Ahmadinejad in 2005, the next election, the defeat of Khatami. It appeared that his policy is going nowhere, it's leading to, to nowhere. And the United States has a major interest in keeping this tension in the region, i can tell you. Because this is the main argument, if you want, or the main rationale for all these gulf oil-monarchies to keep the US in. They need the United States, because they are afraid of Iran. But they are afraid of Iran because of these tensions that the United States keeps ventilating. This also serves the purpose of selling weapons. I mean, this region, these few monarchies are the major buyers of US also other western weapons. When you look at the Saudi kingdom, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar, these states are buying a major chunk of world's arms trade. And who is selling them weapons ? The United States, first of all, followed by the UK and France. So, these are people selling weapons which is what they need to subsidise their own arms industries. Because governments, because of the crisis and all that, can not afford to buy more planes and all that, so they have to reduce military expenditure, they compensate that by having these oil-states use their oil-money to buy all these weapons. And one, again, major factor in creating the conditions for that is the tension with Iran.