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The US Tramples on International Law
by Alfred de Zayas, Urs Gasche & F Zollmann
Email: marc1seed (nospam) yahoo.com
01 Nov 2019
The US surprise attack on Iraq in March 2003 was a primal catastrophe. International law was eliminated and replaced by the imperial dictatorship of the US. Those who destroyed a whole people and have over a million casualties on their conscience are not punished in any way.
THE US TRAMPLES ON INTERNATIONAL LAW
Interview with Professor Alfred de Zayas, Geneva
Current Events in Focus
[This interview published on April 17, 2018 is translated from the German on the Internet. Alfred de Zayas is a special UN ambassador.]
Was the US surprise attack on Iraq 15 years ago in violation of international law? How did that attack affect respect for international law?
Prof. de Zayas: It was a primal catastrophe. International law altogether was eliminated and replaced by the imperial dictatorship of the United States. Since 1945, there was never a more wholesale violation of universal international law norms and customs than in March 2003.
How did you arrive at that judgment?
A completely unprovoked violation of a people by the US occurred with the criminal support of a so-called "Coalition of the willing," 43 states that helped the aggression of the United States. A series of European, supposedly "democratic" states, went to war against the will of their people. Millions took to the streets in the European metropolises of Rome, Maitland, Madrid, Barcelona, London, etc. That war happened despite the protests of citizens against the planned murder, against the manipulation of public opinion, and the repeated lies about the stock of weapons of mass destruction.
Was this a clear violation of international law?
Yes. States consciously pushed aside the UN Charter as though it was not relevant. That Article 2 paragraphs 3 and 4 of the Charter were blatantly violated was shocking. At that time, Hans Blix and Mohammed el-Baradei were UN inspectors in Bagdad and testified that no weapons of mass destruction were stockpiled. Both of them were commissioned by the UN Security Council. There was no UN resolution justifying military action. Nevertheless, 44 states supported this primal violation of international law.
Shouldn't these states be called to account?
Yes, the war occurred one year after the Statute of Rome took effect that created the International Criminal Court (ICC). War crimes and crimes against humanity were committed and not only the crime of aggression.
What is the function of the International Criminal Court in the Haag?
The ICC is occupied with the smaller crimes of Africans while the big criminals like George W. Bush, Tony Blair, Dick Cheney, Paul Wolfowitz, Richard Pearl, Donald Rumsfeld, and others run about freely. Those who destroyed a whole people and have over a million casualties on their conscience are not punished in any way. Therefore, this is a primal catastrophe in the sense of the international order. Woe when the organs that should protect humanity betray us and when the instruments of "justice" are incapable of justice!
What does "international order" mean?
The international order must be based on certain principles. In my last report to the UN Human Rights Council, I formulated 23 principles. The principle of preserving peace, the principle of dialogue and solving all differences by peaceful means and negotiations were thrown overboard by the "Coalition of the willing" on March 20, 2003. Suddenly, the UN Charter was not valid anymore and the UN was completely irrelevant. Only the will of the hegemon in Washington counts. There are no foundations for a peaceful international order in Europe anymore.
Weren't there tendencies in the past to eliminate international law, in particular, the UN Charter?
Yes, of course, we had a so-called trial run or test several years ago. In 1999, Yugoslavia was attacked by Nato without a resolution of the UN Security Council and any provocation by Yugoslavia – with absurd pretexts. This was a crime against peace in the sense of Article 62 of the Nurnberg Tribunal statute according to the London treaty of August 8, 1945. This statute was applied consistently in the 1945-46 Nurnberg trials against Joachim von Ribbentrop, Hermann Goring and the big Nazis and their crimes were punished. Nato committed the primal crime of aggression with complete immunity.
The US continued in Afghanistan in 2001 and then massively in Iraq in 2003 what was tested in 1999 by Nato. My article titled "This war is against international law" was published on March 20, 2003, in "Welt."
What did you argue in that article?
Under what circumstances can force be applied according to the international order and the UN Charter? That was my fundamental question. My conclusion was that no force was legitimate in this case. The UN Security Council was already engaged in inspectors in Baghdad investigating whether there were still weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.
What effects will the massive breach of international law have on the further course of history?
This was a very dangerous precedent. We have seen how some powerful states act as though they international law no longer exists.
What is your view on the recent violations?
In 2011, Nato destroyed Libya with massive air attacks. Humanitarian relief was urgently necessary. But a criminal misuse of the Security Council occurred and the ad absurdum expansion of Resolution 1973 that earmarked humanitarian aid for the grieving people in Libya. Massive aggression against the Ghaddafi government came out of a humanitarian resolution. Everywhere in the world, we see the US trampling on international law and acting as though it were a legitimate solution. Up to now, the International Criminal Court has not called anyone to account for the aggressions and war crimes in Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, and Syria. Therefore, I support the abolition of the ICC since this tribunal is only a masquerade. The ICC would only have a legitimation if the big criminals like Bush, Blair and so on were punished.
What is your opinion of the current US president?
He must be punished on account of the illegal US intervention in the Syria war, on account of supporting Saudi Arabia's criminal war against Yemen, supporting and financing the crimes of the state of Israel in Palestine and Gaza – and also for the sanctions against Cuba and Venezuela. Article 7 of the statute of Rome prohibits crimes against humanity. A crime against humanity certainly occurs when unilateral sanctions are imposed for geopolitical and economic reasons and when medical supplies are blocked as a result. People die of malnutrition because of a lack of food.
What should be done?
Sanctions kill people. These sanctions are not harmless political sanctions. The International Criminal Court should condemn them. In the past, Africans above all stood before this tribunal. This is a completely unsatisfactory situation that puts the credibility of the UN in question, not only the credibility of the tribunal.
Let us return to the significance of March 20, 2003. March 20 was an attempt to prove the irrelevance of the UN. A massive violation of international law occurred and the UN did nothing against this. The UN General Secretary at that time, Kofi Annan, said this was incompatible with the UN Charter. When pressed by the media, he said the war was illegal. Still, this happened without consequences for the criminals.
Is there a real danger that the US could act as an "oil robber"?
We have three situations: 2003 in Iraq, 2011 in Libya and today Venezuela is threatened. Rex Tillerson, the former US Secretary of State, said military action against Venezuela was entirely conceivable. That is a clear threat. This action would be illegal but the US hardly cares whether an action is illegal or not.
France and Germany had a different attitude in the 2003 Iraq War.
Yes, what is lacking is a will of resistance against the hegemonic gestures of the US. Nato is a criminal organization in the sense of the Nurnberg statutes. No other description seems possible. Nato exists to threaten and even attack other states under some circumstances. Since the Warsaw Pact dissolved, there is no legitimation for Nato any more. Nato stands in diametrical opposition to the UN since it does not accept either the UN Charter or the prohibition on force emphasized in the UN Charter. We witness an erosion of international law and the destruction of the most important norms of international law. Therefore, we live in a dangerous time.
Why isn't resistance against these developments more visible?
This is connected with our media. More is involved than "Fake news." People make a general picture of what happens on earth and adopt a standpoint. We see this in Syria for example. Syria is a proxy war and an artificial war. There would be no war without the intervention of the US, Saudi Arabia, Israel, and Turkey. Violent demonstrations occurred in 2011 that the Syrians could have easily resolved themselves. But the whole thing escalated into an international war through the interference of other states in violation of international law. Unfortunately, the media report one-sidedly. They lie and suppress important facts. A will of resistance can only be generated through comprehensive information and moral indignation.
How do you judge Russia's role?
Russia is the only state that is acting legally in Syria. Syria officially asked Russia for support. No third state can intervene in a civil war even if requested by the legitimate government. Still, Russia observes the principle of proportionality in its warfare. Russia did no more than what was necessary and militarily acceptable. Proportionality is recognized here.
What role do the media play in this conflict?
We constantly hear about chemical weapons but this not corroborated by orderly arguments or evidence although the Syrian government has repeatedly demanded this. Reproaches and recriminations are hurled. Whatever does not fit the picture is suppressed. For example, when Syrian troops regained a part of east Ghouta on March 16, they found a chemical weapons factory that terrorists had operated. I read this in several alternative reports including an article by an American woman who raised these questions. This explained many things and therefore this information was repressed.
The one-sidedness of the media is blatantly manifest in the reporting on Yemen.
Yes, very little is learned about the daily war crimes and crimes against humanity. A dreadful humanitarian crisis is occurring in Yemen. Under Saudi Arabia's leadership, more than 10,000 civilians were killed and three million are in flight. But the media ignore this. Even the High Commissioner for Human Rights and the UN Human Rights Commission hardly speak about this. Instead, the High Commissioner demands that a commission be set up to investigate the situation in Venezuela.
Venezuela experiences an artificial crisis in the supply of some foods, medicines and medical equipment caused by sanctions, not a humanitarian crisis. In 2018, the High Commissioner published a report on Venezuela at the request of the General Assembly or the Human Rights Council… This turned out to be a one-sided botched job and destroyed the credibility of the office.
What can be done in the case of Venezuela?
Russia and China should bring this before the Security Council under the aspect of the constant threat to Venezuela that is part of a tradition of aggressions since 1999. The General Assembly should also pass a resolution similar to the resolutions condemning the US sanctions against Cuba. The same thing should now happen to Venezuela. There are certainly enough votes for that. If the nonaligned and the group of 77 unite, there would be more than enough states to pass this resolution.
Oil is the reason for the threats and aggressions. In 2003, Iraq was torn apart to steal its oil. Libya was next in line in 2011. What is now happening with the largest oil reserves of the world in Venezuela? Aggression must be prevented through information, outrage and the will of resistance.
What must the resolution contain?
The sanctions should be declared a crime against humanity. The General Assembly resolution should declare: Children dying of malnutrition and people dying for lack of cancer therapies and medicines against malaria and diabetes are killings. The states causing this must be punished, pay reparations and be criminally prosecuted before the International Criminal Court. The General Assembly could order this. It could also demand an expert opinion from an international tribunal on the question: Are sanctions that kill a crime against humanity? I believe this international tribunal would have to conclude sanctions kill if this question were raised by the General Assembly to the level of an international tribunal.
"The US is the gravedigger of international law," http://portland.indymedia.org/en/2019/05/437527.shtml
Prof. Stefan Talmon is the director of the Institute for International Law at the University of Bonn
The US collaboratively built international law and its institutions and had an authoritative influence for more than 100 years. Today, the US is (1) turning away from rule-based international law, (2) violating individual norms of international law, and (3) openly undermining the legal order under international law.
The US under President Trump shows an unparalleled contempt for international law with its recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the Syrian Golan Heights.
VENEZUELA AND INTERNATIONAL LAW
What does International Law Say about Economic Boycotts, Political Interventions, and Threats against Maduro?
By Urs P. Gasche
[This article published on Feb 5, 2019, is translated abridged from the German on the Internet, www.infosperber.ch.]
International law professors explain that a military incursion of the US would violate the UN Charter. Trump's security advisor John R. Bolton is already glad US oil companies could soon invest and produce oil in Venezuela.
Nearly two weeks have passed since the Venezuelan parliament president Juan Guaido declared himself interim president. However, there is little reporting whether the different interventions of foreign countries respect international law.
The media and governments denounce violations of international law very selectively. The same ones who repeatedly accused Russia of "annexing the Crimea against international law and for meddling in east Ukraine" are strikingly silent about international law when Turkey occupies militarily border areas in Syria or when the US builds and maintains military bases in Syria.
Classical international law hardly matters, some say. It is antiquated and not acknowledged by all countries. On account of the veto right, the UN Security Council is often unable to act and did not sanction offenses against the UN Charter.
International norms as formalized in the UN Charter promote peaceful coexistence among states, not the right of the stronger. This is especially important for small states like Switzerland. The prohibition on the use of force anchored in the UN Charter is central. Unilateral economic sanctions should be prohibited like the prohibited use of force. Switzerland as a UN member is obliged to carry out these sanctions resolved by the UN.
The UN Prohibition of War
The UN Charter anchors the prohibition on the use of force in Article 2:
"All nations must desist from any threat or use of force in their international relations.
The Charter only recognizes two exceptions to this war prohibition: 1. The right to self-defense when a country is attacked. 2. When the UN Security Council in a mandate approves war against a country. The Security Council can only do this when a government does not protect its population from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing or grave crimes against humanity ("Responsibility to Protect").
The second fundamental UN principle of non-intervention in the internal affairs of foreign states aims at preventing superpowers from exploiting domestic riots or civil wars in third countries, intervening and enforcing their interests.
Intervention in Venezuela
The anti-capitalist governments of Hugo Chavez and Nicolas Maduro speculated with the falling oil price – 90% of export revenues come from oil exports – and mismanaged the country through clientele policy and enrichment of the power clique. Unilateral US sanctions did the rest to the greatly weakened economy and led the land to dependence on Russia. Large parts of the population suffer under t disastrous hyperinflation. This led to vacant shops, widespread poverty and migration of 10% of the 32 million inhabitants…
A Central Question and Additional Questions
As a central question, when is it legitimate or even demanded by international law that the US (or Russia or China) bleed white a third country with a concrete economic boycott, demand new elections, recognize an oppositional leader as the new head of state and help him to power financially, logistically and even militarily if necessary?
According to the UN Charter, the US, Russia or China can only use economic or military force against a country when the Security Council resolves such an intervention with a majority and without a veto of one of the permanent members – if a government did not protect the population in its country from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing or grave crimes against humanity.
In the case of Venezuela, the Security Council did not give any green light for a foreign intervention because Russia and China would have prevented such a resolution with a veto. Nevertheless, the question is raised whether the economic, social, political and human rights situation could justify such a Security Council resolution.
Was there a genocide, war crime, ethnic cleansing or grave crime against humanity?
The media should give as much fact-based information as possible on whether at least one of these prerequisites for an intervention of the great powers and the UN Security Council is fulfilled.
In a lead article in the New York Times, from February 1, 2019, the self-appointed president Juan Guaido did not appeal to any of these conditions for interventions. Rather, he stressed violations of the Venezuela constitution ("President Maduro's illegal election victory on May 20, 2018"), a humanitarian crisis because of inadequate food and medical care, the exodus of three million inhabitants and 600 political prisoners.
Further Questions Are Raised
Can the US (or Russia or China) put other countries under pressure with economic sanctions? Where can or must they intervene to protect the economic and political fate of the population? In the Congo after the latest crass election fraud, in Rwanda, the Central African republic, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Algeria, Bangladesh, Iran, Saudi Arabia and Egypt (with around 60,000 political prisoners, 30-times more than Venezuela in relation to the population)? Do the interventions of the great powers violate international law and the UN Charter?
Did the enormous oil potential play a role in the interventions in Libya, Iraq, and Venezuela?
With what international law foundations can European Union states demand elections in a foreign country?
Far-reaching Acknowledgment of Juan Guaido as President
The US recognized Juan Guaido as Venezuela's only legitimate president only an hour after the parliament president nominated himself president and urged South American and European states to do the same.
Like many other states, Switzerland according to EDA only recognizes states, not governments. Governments can change; a state remains a state… it is astonishing how many media described Guaido's recognition as president as something normal… Acknowledging or not-acknowledging governments is "very selective," Stephan Oeter, professor of international law at the University of Hamburg, explained to infosperber: "In most cases, questions of legitimation are not raised."
The US seizure of the Venezuelan oil firm and the blockade of oil sales by the US as a pressure tactic against the Maduro government is "an illegitimate intervention according to international law" (Rainer J. Schweizer, professor of international law).
Professor Stefan Oeter agrees: "Economic sanctions in principle are imposed against `illegitimate governments' that come to power through breach of the law. However, the use of military force against such governments is taboo. The UN Security Council can order military measures if necessary."
The prerequisites for such a Security Council resolution were genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing or grave crimes against humanity. Only then can the "Responsibility to Protect" take effect.
"The Cold Warriors Are Back"
In the New York Times, history professor Patrick Iber of the University of Wisconsin, Madison explained: "While Maduro is bad, the US is not a trustworthy partner for forcing a `regime change.' In the course of the 20th century, the US meddled again and again in the internal affairs of South American states because South America was regarded as its geopolitical backyard. He recalled Guatemala, Brazil, and Chile. There the US brought military dictatorships to power and paid no attention to the fate of the populations.
For Iber, the "cold warriors" are back again. John R. Bolton, an ardent advocate of the war in Iraq, holds a key position in US policy toward Venezuela. On television, Bolton urged Maduro "to retire to a peaceful beach far away from Latin America. Otherwise, he will land in Guantanamo." On the TV program "Fox Business," Bolton declared "It would be a great advantage for the US if US oil companies could invest and produce oil in Venezuela. That would be good for the populations in Venezuela and the US."
The White House nominated Elliot Abrams as a special ambassador for the "Reintroduction of Democracy in Venezuela." During the Reagan administration, Abrams justified US human rights violations. He went all out for military aid to the dictator Rios Montt in Guatemala. At the same time, he financed weapons shipments to the Contra rebels in Nicaragua bypassing the White House. He was condemned for lying to Congress. Abrams was also one of the most vehement advocates of the US invasion in Iraq.
Thirdly, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is one of the "cold warriors." He was largely responsible for the Iraq War as a former CIA director. He successfully championed the cancellation of the nuclear treaty with Iran.
SANCTIONS. WAR WITH OTHER MEANS
By Fabian Goldmann
[This article published on 8/28/2019 is translated from the German on the Internet, www.deutschlandfunkkultur.de.] Medicines have become much more expensive since the sanctions against Iran were intensified. Some drugs are not available anymore.]
Sanctions are more popular than ever but their consequences are seldom discussed. Sanctions are war with other means – and not an alternative to war says the Islam researcher Fabian Goldmann. The civilian population pays the price with their bodies and their lives.
No shot was fired. No missiles were launched. No tanks were deployed. Nevertheless, the attack took more human lives than the dropping of atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The economy of a whole country was ruined and the society condemned to being petitioners or supplicants. UNICEF later estimated the number of dead children at a half-million.
Nearly 30 years after the United Nations imposed a total economic blockade of Iraq, sanctions are more popular than ever. The US has imposed 8000 sanctions against states, businesses, and individuals, 2000 in the last four years alone. Over 30 states are on the sanctions list of the European Union (EU). In the last ten years, the UN Security Council agreed on economic restrictions 150 times. In comparison, the UN only resolved economic limitations five times in the 1990s.
Every week, western politicians find supposed reasons for new sanctions: a seized tanker in the Gulf, the trade dispute with China, gas drilling of Turkey, aggressive police in Russia. Sanctions are called "proportionate instruments against human rights offenders," it is said. They serve as "diplomatic pressure" or a "peaceful alternative to war."
The Civilian Population Suffers Most from Sanctions
The consequences are seldom discussed. The civilian population suffers mostly under collective punishment in both bombs and embargos. Where warships earlier blockaded enemy harbors and occupying armies starved hostile cities, decrees, ordinances, and resolutions rob people of their foundations of life. Sanctions are war with other means – and are not an alternative to war.
Advocates claim to have learned something since the Iraq embargo. Many forms of pressure replace total economic blockades today. However, the belief that "smart sanctions" would only strike the elites of a country has hardly proven true like the notion that no civilians die in wars after the inventions of drones and cruise missiles.
Foods and Medicines are Lacking
Unlike the times of the Iraq blockade, foods and medicines hardly appear on the sanctions list. Instead, exclusion from international organizations and export prohibitions on the most important revenues of a country ensure that states cannot provide the necessities of life for their population.
As in Iran, Trump's campaign of "maximum pressure" led to a shortage of cancer medicines and food and not to a better nuclear deal. As in Venezuela, where over 40,000 persons have died on account of blockaded medical supplies since the oil embargo from August 2017. As in North Korea, where famine threatens millions of people. As in Syria, where the EU sanctions policy contributed to the breaking down of the public health system and the food supply and relief organizations had to stop their work because of the sanctions.
Sanctions Often Bring About the Opposite
"We think the price was worth it." With those words, ex-US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright once justified the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi children. Sanctions often have no value even when all the dead are ignored.
Studies show less than five percent of the sanctions attained their desired goal. Much more frequently, they bring about the opposite. Dictators increase their power, repressions increase. Diplomatic channels dry up. As in Iraq, the war of bombs often follows the war of decrees and regulations.
Stefan Talmon, "The US under Trump: Gravedigger of International Law," https://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2019/05/27/18823641.php
DOUBLE STANDARDS IN IRAN REPORTING
By Florian Zollmann
[This interview published in August 2019 is translated from the German on the Internet, www.luz.de.]
Threat scenarios, obscure videos of alleged sabotage acts, tanker seizures and mutual threats fill news reports. No one wants a war in the Persian Gulf but no one seems able to stop it. In the interview, journalism researcher Florian Zollmann criticizes Iran reporting.
With an unclear background, an oil tanker burned in the Gulf of Oman at the beginning of June 2019. New incidents in the region occur almost daily.
The world seems headed for a war in the Persian Gulf since the US canceled the nuclear agreement with Iran. What role does the media play? We spoke with journalism researcher Florian Zollmann (42), program director at Newcastle University in England and director of propaganda studies.
Supposedly no one wants a war in the Persian Gulf but no one seems able to stop it. How do you see and judge the reporting?
The threat scenarios developed by the US government are repeated in the media along with ideological assumptions. Lead media like "Spiegel" speak of a "US-Iran conflict. A world conflict implies two sides. The community of states agreed in principle over the authority of the nuclear agreement with Iran signed in 2015. The Trump administration unilaterally canceled this agreement a year ago. According to the facts, the Trump administration could be described as the aggressor.
Are the historical backgrounds considered?
Hardly. Many Iranians remember how the US and Great Britain carried out a coup in 1953 that overthrew the democratically-elected Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadegh and installed the Shah. Mossadegh had nationalized the Iranian oil industry that was run by the British Anglo-Iranian Oil company. That was an essential reason for the coup. Under the Shah, the Iranian oil industry was controlled by British and US firms. The enormous Iranian oil industry was nationalized again after the 1979 Islamic revolution. Could Iran's refusal to integrate these resources in the global "market system" preferred by Washington and the West have anything to do with the conflict around the nuclear deal? These important facts are hardly considered by the media.
Are there two standards here?
Yes. There are only seldom references to the following aspects. Iran signed the Nuclear Test Ban treaty whose Article IV allows the use of nuclear energy for peaceful objectives. Nevertheless, extensive sanctions were imposed on Iran by the US that inflicts tremendous suffering on the Iranian population. Several states in the region possess nuclear weapons: Israel, India, and Pakistan. Unlike Iran, these countries are not publically condemned even though they refused to sign the Nuclear Test Ban treaty. There are hardly any voices in the media demanding inspections of the International Atomic Energy Organization (IAEO) for the military nuclear programs in Israel, India, and Pakistan or that these countries be subject to sanctions until they open themselves to IAEO inspections.
Many research studies show the media prefer opinions of officeholders to options from civil society. Journalists give a higher news value to politicians from so-called elite nations. Uploading statements in the news from politics and the economy is relatively inexpensive for media organizations. Commercial pressure and the personnel shortages forced by cuts in editorial staff in the last years encourage this process. Studies demonstrate journalists in the lead media interact in networks and in different ways with representatives of power structures through their common work. This leads to nearness between politics, the economy, and journalism that can also influence the reporting. Of course, there are also examples of serious journalism…
Your criticism has at least echoes of the right-wing discourse on the "system media" and the "lying press."
My criticism is based on academic theories that show the media deficiencies in reporting about politics, workers, women, ethnic minorities and migrants. As I describe, the conclusions of many studies indicate how commercial pressure, newsworthiness, editorial cuts, property structures and pressures affect the output of the media.
Let us return to the starting point. Demonizations occur in Iran reporting. In contrast, reporting about human rights in Saudi Arabia is not on the agenda.
German politics and the economy have an interest in trade relations with Iran and their opinions have a deescalating effect… Nevertheless, the reporting in the last years has demonized Iran. George W. Bush saw Iran as part of his "axis of evil." This caricature was adopted in the media. Iran has not attacked one country militarily in the last 100 years is mostly unmentioned in the media. The domestic political repressions should certainly be condemned. However, the situation of human rights in Saudi Arabia, one of the closest allies of the West in the region, is just as bad as Iran.
Militarily, Iran is active abroad – from Hezbollah in Lebanon and Syria and with the militia in Iraq. Leading representatives of the government fantasize about Israel's destruction again and again. Should there be reports about that?
Such statements and Iran's support of militias in other countries should certainly be condemned. The point is not whitewashing Iran. The point is no double standards should be applied.
At the beginning of the month, Great Britain – a country that wants to leave the European Union – seized an Iranian tanker – at US request – because EU sanctions against Syria were violated. Should Iran be subject to EU sanctions? Why was the media excitement over the confiscation of a British tanker by Iran last Friday so much greater?
I am not a legal expert and therefore cannot give any enlightening information about the legal situation. Double standards are applied here. The indignation over the seizure of a British ship by Iran appears far greater. This indignation corresponds to a long history of conscious escalation. People recall the 1964 US entrance in the Vietnam War. At that time, the US government claimed Vietnamese ships attacked the US destroyer in the Gulf of Tonkin. This episode was manufactured by the US as a reason or justification for war. Previously, US Special Forces carried out covert sabotage actions against North Vietnamese installations. North Vietnam's actions served its defense. Hardly any historians today would deny that. At that time, however, the US press supported the US entrance in the war.
IRAN AND WASHINGTON ON ESCALATION COURSE
by Hans Blix
Blaetter, August 2019, https://www.blaetter.de/archiv/jahrgaenge/2019/august/iran-washington-au
At present, there is a risk of a full-scale military attack by the USA on Iran. But the media and the public forget that the US has already launched another attack - on the authority of the UN Security Council and on the Charter of the United Nations. Both the media and governments routinely state that Washington has "bailed out" of Iran's Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). But that is misleading.
The US "withdrew" from the Paris Climate Treaty. This was regretted by the whole world but was still legal. China, France, Germany, Russia, Great Britain, the USA and Iran did not sign an "agreement" with an exit clause. They signed no document at all. Rather, after more than ten years of negotiation, they presented a joint detailed action plan that provided for a substantial reduction in Iran's nuclear program, strict inspection by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), and the lifting of economic sanctions against Iran.
Seven members of the United Nations cannot lift sanctions on their own which were previously decided by the Security Council and which are binding on all UN members. Therefore, these seven states submitted their plan to the Security Council so that it could first advise and support it and then take decisions that were binding on all UN members, including these seven. The binding provisions to lift UN sanctions are like a law. They do not contain passages that would allow anyone to "opt-out", but recommend elaborate procedures for dealing with complaints. However, the US government has not made use of these procedures and has instead unilaterally reintroduced extensive sanctions. In other words, it did not "opt-out" of an agreement but violated a Security Council decision that is legally binding.
The US also urged all other UN members to join her in violating a decision they are obliged to respect (under Article 25 of the UN Charter). The US government also made it clear that it will use its financial system to punish companies that trade with Iran and have so far relied on the lifting of sanctions under the Security Council and JCPOA resolutions. We have witnessed Washington appearing to want to replace the Security Council. And how did the world react?
Given the Russian actions in Ukraine, much has been said in Europe and the USA about the need to respect the "rules-based international order" to which the UN Charter undoubtedly belongs. But the US government is now obviously working directly to undermine this order, which it once helped to shape as the main architect. Most other governments - including those of China, Russia, and the European Union - find this shocking and have not joined the illegal imposition of sanctions. With a financial mechanism, European governments are showing their goodwill to protect a continuation of trade with Iran. However, given the American power in global finance, this is hardly enough to protect companies that want to continue doing business with Iran but are afraid of economic punishment from the US.
European and other governments have diplomatically asked the US to change course - but in vain. They have also approached Iran and urged it to consider possible concessions to the US. They also urged Tehran to continue to fully respect the JCPOA mandated by the Security Council, although the country is denied the intended benefits. Some European governments even appear to threaten Iran with the reintroduction of sanctions if it deviates in the slightest from the JCPOA, which the US has almost destroyed. This could be the case, for example, if Iran were to exceed the maximum stockpile of 300 kilograms of lightly enriched uranium.
The truth is that there is no practical need for Iran to exceed the limits. But one might wonder how meaningful such a threat from the European side is when the US has already imposed sanctions on European companies. This US "realpolitik" is a wicked irony due to Washington's simultaneous insistence that the sanctions imposed on North Korea by the Security Council should be strictly enforced by all.