What can the experience of the Iraq war teach us about the Iranian nuclear program? We talk with former Iraqi nuclear scientist Imad Khadduri
National news is increasingly covering the deaths of people, many/most of them minorities, while in police custody. The case of Sandra Bland in Texas is only one such case. Increasingly, these cases are gaining exposure because of citizen video documentation. We talk with Miami multimedia journalist Carlos Miller, the founder of Photography is Not a Crime
More about this week s guests
Imad Khadduri has an MSc in Physics from the University of Michigan (United States) and a PhD in Nuclear Reactor Technology from the University of Birmingham (United Kingdom). Khadduri worked with the Iraqi Atomic Energy Commission from 1968 until 1998. He was able to leave Iraq in late 1998 with his family. He now teaches and works as a network administrator in Toronto, Canada. He has been interviewed by the International Atomic Energy Agency, CBC, FOX, ABC, MSNBC, BBC, CTV, the Toronto Star, Reuters, Democracy Now, Dubai Business TV Channel, al-Jazeera satellite channel and various other news agencies in regards to his knowledge of the Iraqi nuclear program. Khadduri is author of the books Iraq s Nuclear Mirage: Memoirs and Delusions and Unrevealed Milestones in the Iraqi National Nuclear Program 1981-1991. He now runs the Free Iraq blog.
Prior to the invasion of Iraq, Khadduri argued that, contrary to what the Bush administration was claiming, the Iraqi nuclear weapons program had been dismantled since the 1991 attack on Iraq. In a November 21, 2002 article, a few months before the occupation, Iraq s nuclear non-capability, he wrote: Bush and Blair are pulling their public by the nose, covering their hollow patriotic egging on with once again shoddy intelligence. But the two parading emperors have no clothes.
Max Fisher claimed in Vox recently that if Iran tried to block inspectors that would blow up the deal. This was something that so infuriated the world when Iraq s Saddam Hussein tried it in 1998 that it ended with his country getting bombed shortly thereafter. Khadduri s response: This doesn t reflect what actually happened. The U.S. used inspectors as a method of espionage, not for legitimate arms inspections purposes. Scott Ritter notes in a recent article titled We ain t found shit why the Iranians shouldn t accept no notice inspections of its nuclear sites. The no notice inspection on Iraq didn t help with the disarmament process, but they were a gold mine for illegitimate espionage. The Iranians learned from our mistakes and they were much better negotiators. The New York Times earlier this year published a piece by John Bolton, former U.S. ambassador to the UN from 2005 to 2006 and now with the American Enterprise Institute. In the piece, To Stop Iran s Bomb, Bomb Iran, he claims: The inconvenient truth is that only military action like Israel s 1981 attack on Saddam Hussein s Osirak reactor in Iraq. It s a claim that s long been made by war hawks, for example, Jeffrey Goldberg in the Atlantic has claimed: In 1981, Israeli warplanes bombed the Iraqi reactor at Osirak, halting ” forever, as it turned out ” Saddam Hussein s nuclear ambitions. Again Khadduri responds: This is nonsense. I worked on the pre-1981 nuclear program and I was certain it would not be used for military purposes. But after the 1981 bombing, we were so angry that we were ready to work on a military program. The Israeli attack didn t end the nuclear weapons program, it began it. Khadduri added: The Iranian nuclear program is peaceful. Their nuclear program started in the 1950s under the U.S. government s Atoms for Peace project, which sent Iraq, Iran and other counties nuclear plans. In the case of Iraq, it was a gift from the U.S. for joining the Baghdad Pact. After the revolution in Iraq ended the monarchy, the U.S. built for Iran the plant they were going to build for us. The Iranian nuclear program really took off in the 1970s after the U.S. convinced the Shah that he could be a regional power only if he embraced the atom. But the U.S. was trying to gouge the Shah, so he had the Germans build his reactors. A main component of the Iranian program is a research reactor used for medical purposes ” even Iranian Americans frequently go back to Tehran for chemo because it s provided for free. When Ayatollah Khomeini came to power, he stopped work on Iranian nuclear facilities. He had already come to the position that having nuclear weapons was religiously prohibited and the financial costs were enormous. But he eventually allowed it to be restarted for peaceful purposes since the costs of cancelling the contracts were high. During the war with Iran, Iraq attacked the Iranian nuclear facilities more than 12 times, but they were minor attacks. But after the Iranians bombed Iraqi oil refineries, Saddam ordered the destruction of two Iranian reactors in 1987, killing 14 people including one German and the Germans withdrew. Since then, the Iranians have been struggling to have a serious nuclear program for civilian purposes, and the U.S. has continuously put up road blocks. The recent deal compromises Iran s notion of nuclear sovereignty, but gets the Iranians what they really wanted.
Carlos Miller was arrested for taking photos of Miami police during a journalistic assignment in order to document his trial in 2007. Shortly afterwards he founded Photography is Not a Crime. He quickly learned that citizens from all over the country were being harassed, threatened and arrested for recording in public, so he began documenting these incidents on his blog as he waited for his trial to begin.
By the time he went to trial more than a year later, the blog had developed a significant following who not only began learning about their rights, but also exercising those rights, many of them equipped with newly introduced smartphones which allowed them to record and upload videos instantly, something that had never been possible before.
Photography is Not a Crime, which became known as PINAC, inspired many new blogs, Youtube channels and Facebook pages that became dedicated to documenting police abuses throughout the country, sparking the movement that continues to grow today that is holding police accountable better than the mainstream media, politicians or the police themselves.
Today, PINAC is an evolving multi-staffed news site of writers, researchers and correspondents in almost every state.
For more background on the growth of PINAC, click on this story by the Columbia Journalism Review. Also, check out the above video by We Are Change where Miller talks about the birth of the blog. And here is a nice piece from the Florida Times-Union that provides good background.