Jesus, the Radical Economist

If the teachings of Jesus were really taken seriously, the Christian Right wouldn’t be devoting so much time to protecting the wealth of the wealthiest. True Christians would be demanding redistribution of the world’s riches in ways far more radical than modern politicians would dare propose, as Rev. Howard Bess explains.

By the Rev. Howard Bess

Jesus made his reputation as a Jewish economist, one with very strong opinions about wealth and property, about the relationship between the rich and the poor.

He also was intensely religious and loved nothing more than debating the meaning of the law of God or Torah. For instance, he is presented in the Gospel of Luke as being a precocious 12-year-old boy absorbed in debating religious leaders about the meaning of Torah.

From early childhood he must have understood that he was seen as a brash, pushy kid from a small town in Northern Palestine, an area without religious leadership and an unemployment rate well over 50 percent.

Whether by divine wisdom or genius insight, Jesus figured out what wealthy and powerful people were doing to the poor, illiterate people with whom he lived. Primarily through his teaching and storytelling, he became identified as a populist teacher with a good deal of influence. He was good news to the poor and bad news for those who clung to their riches.

Clearly Jesus was fascinated by Torah and its application to everyday life. Luke’s gospel reports that a lettered leader of the religious community approached Jesus and asked how to attain eternal life. Jesus responded with two questions of his own: What does Torah say? How do you read it? The first question is easy to answer. The second question is the real test.

Jesus knew what Torah said, and he had strong opinions about how Torah should be read. Jesus had come to his own understanding of the property codes in the book of Leviticus. These codes are credited to Moses, but more probably come from the massive rewrite of Israelite traditions during the years of Babylonian exile in the sixth century BCE.

Torah is very straightforward. Land and ultimately all wealth belong to God, who places property in the control of human beings, not as owners but as stewards who must share it and return it to God every 49 years for redistribution.

For Israelites, time was divided into blocks of seven years. Land was not tilled in the seventh year. After a series of seven, seven-year blocks of time, a Year of Jubilee was declared. During the Year of Jubilee, all land was to be returned to the control of the priests, who, in the name of God, were to make a new and fresh distribution of all land.

In other words, the wealthy were supposed to surrender their stewardship and the poorest of the poor were given land with the encouragement to be productive for God and their fellow Israelites. All slaves were set free and all debts were canceled.

At the time when the Israelite system of Sabbaths and a Jubilee was codified, the economic and political structures may have accommodated such radical economic and social changes in a one-year observance of Jubilee.

Hundreds of years later, however, when Jesus lived and taught, the combination of Roman rule, compliant fat-cats and religious elites made the observance of Jubilee impossible. So, almost every Israelite knew what Torah said, but the prescription had not been followed in anyone’s memory. The poor had given up on the idea of a Year of Jubilee, but apparently not Jesus.

According to Luke’s gospel, early in the public ministry of Jesus, he went to a synagogue gathering and read a passage from Isaiah:

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me. God has sent me to bring good news to the poor. God has sent me to proclaim release of captives and liberty to the oppressed. This is the acceptable year of the Lord.”

Everyone in his hearing understood what he was saying. Israelites had gone too long without a Year of Jubilee. It was time for the wealthy to turn loose what they had accumulated. It was time for the poor to receive their full stewardship.

But most poor people had taken on the understanding of life that their oppressors presented and taught. It was true then; it is still true today. So, the Year of Jubilee code was regarded as impractical. However, the principles of the ownership of God, the end of slavery, and economic justice still were possible.

The Israelites who held wealth and power knew what was in Torah, but they were not interested in reading it with new eyes of compassion and justice. (When Jesus finally took his message to Jerusalem riding in on a donkey to mock the rich who favored horses and turning over the money tables at the Temple to protest religious corruption he was deemed an insurrectionist and was executed.)

Jesus died almost 2,000 years ago, but the laws of Sabbaths and Jubilees are still on the books today. Torah still has a powerful message, especially since the evils of greed and mindless ownership are with us in ever growing magnitude. Resulting inequities and injustices surround us.

We Americans live in a secular society, but Christians have a responsibility to influence and to train the conscience of our fellow citizens. Here in election season, Jesus appears on the scene and asks the same two questions: “What does Torah say? How do you read it?”

The Rev. Howard Bess is a retired American Baptist minister, who lives in Palmer, Alaska.  His email address is hdbss@mtaonline.net




Madness of Late-Stage Capitalism

Late-stage capitalism has similarities to an aging billionaire terrified of microscopic germs imagine Howard Hughes at the end of his days trying to extend life by frenetically worrying about invisible dangers, writes Phil Rockstroh in this reflection on his father’s death.

By Phil Rockstroh

My parents modest, single-level, brick home stands on property that was once part of a sprawling estate owned by the Candler family, Atlanta’s Coca-Cola patricians. Built during the post-World War II, 1950s building boom, the small house is situated in a deep ravine that once served as the grounds of the Candler’s private zoo. On the hilltop above, the point of highest elevation in the Atlanta metro area, the Candler family, in the tradition of the powerful and elite, laid claim to the highest ground.

In the 1960s, and apropos to the era, in an odd twist of historical circumstance, the grounds of the estate — earlier endowed to the state of Georgia by the heirs of the Candler fortune — were appropriated for development as a state mental health institution, a sprawling complex of modernist structures, housing those committed for treatment for issues related to psychological disorders.

Emblematic of the decade of the 1960s, the highest ground in the city became the site of a madhouse. Aptly, as opposed to emanating from its traditional source i.e., insular precincts of privilege and power, in the 1960s, spontaneous upwellings of cultural madness were more egalitarian in nature seemingly, a development that the corporate and governmental elite found so troubling that they swore that they would never again abide similar types of cultural phenomenon — instigated by underling upstarts who (apparently) forgot their social station — to rise unfettered.

Consequently, the swift and brutal repression that the Occupy Wall Street movement has endured in its struggle against the present structures of calcified psychopathology known as the corporate state.

Yet, cultures must allow for creative chaos. Otherwise, stultifying social structures tend to engender a sense of powerlessness among the populace, creating a pervasive sense of nebulous unease. Repression creates outbreaks of hysteria, because the source of demeaning power cannot be confronted directly without prohibitive consequences.

From witch burnings, to public lynching, to xenophobic fears of immigrants, to the bullying of homosexuals and social outcasts — depression-mitigating misapplication of misdirected, public rage has been inflicted on unpopular groups and social outcasts. The larger the degree of social stratification and economic inequality in a given society the more noxious the displaced anger becomes, as economic-engendered resentments and group rivalries provide the fuel for flames of pent-up aggression.

Often, the animus is internalized within the psyches of the official operatives of the state (e.g., police and soldiers) who are given carte blanche to harass and oppress minority groups, political dissidents, and enemies of the state, real and imagined. Thus the state, acting through its anonymous operatives, becomes a force of lawlessness abducting, torturing and killing sans sound reasoning and remorse for all intents and purposes evincing the modus operandi of the criminally insane.

A lone, psychopathic killer views himself as a self-contained society of one; therefore, he feels accountable to no one outside of himself. He is a freelancer (a mirror image of the lawless state itself) who has assumed the murderous agency of state power.

No wonder, we, as a people, so greatly exaggerate the danger these extreme cases pose to us on a collective basis — no wonder we insist that the most punitive forms of punishment be inflicted upon individuals afflicted with these rare afflictions that they be locked away in the most secure prisons and executed with utmost expediency for if we gazed upon them for any length of time, we would notice affinities of mind and action — their violent, reprehensible deeds are microcosmic representations of official state policy and cultural norms.

Therefore, we clear these overt monsters from sight, lest we awaken to ourselves — to the casual and mundane monstrosities required to adapt to this prison of the criminally insane we know as daily existence within late capitalist empire.

Here howls the chasm: Between the apparatus of the privileged and powerful, in place, to create false fears and those things that should be rightly feared. For example: being in possession a healthy fear of the damage wrought by the corporate media by their incessant promulgation of manufactured fears.

Conversely, one should fear the harm resultant from the contrived fears perpetrated by ruthless political leaders and mercenary media figures committed in the name of protecting the public at large from imaginary enemies.

This is not so much a problem of: fearing fear itself; rather, it is a matter of gaining a healthy fear of the overkill exacted when self-serving institutions use counterfeit fear as a means of preserving their power — standard modus operandi when institutions, public and private, have lost legitimacy.

The overreactions and overkill of the national security police state are similar to that of a germaphobe (a sufferer of mysophobia) e.g., the forces of state power marshal overwhelming numbers of militarized riot police and recruit entrapment-happy undercover provocateurs against peaceful political dissenters.

Yet: Obsessive hand-washing deployed against imagined microscopic invaders will not serve to sooth the tormented mind of an individual seized with mysophobia, because, in reality, the problem is rooted in the psyche of the sufferer. The further one afflicted withdraws from the world the larger his fears will loom. Isolation causes the mind to become a self-resonating feedback loop of self-referential fear (e.g., an encampment of peace resisters must be met with violent force to preserve the health of the state’s social order).

Providentially, the most propitious treatment for OCD (of both the personal or institutional variety) is exposure to the very things the suffer fears most, i.e., being induced to touch the surfaces that he imagines seethe with vile contagion. Conversely, an army of riot police and billions upon billions of dollar squandered on military hardware and state surveillance can never quell the terror within the isolated elite of a decaying culture.

The neoliberal state resembles Howard Hughes in his final days shuffling the penthouse floors of a succession of resort area hotels muttering about microbes his vast riches and security details offering no balm; his fear of human touch served as a self-issued death warrant. In a nondenominational Pentecost of redemptive paradox, the very thing that evoked such overwhelming fear in him might have served as the very agency of his salvation.

My family’s death vigil has come to an end. My father passed from this world early in the morning of May 21. In the last few days of his life, he drifted between unconsciousness and excruciating pain. When he would rise to awareness, he would quake in agony, his bone-thin arms raised, grasping into empty air, imploring, “Help! Help” futile pleas that proved to be the last words he uttered in this life.

He died as he lived a vivid presence, although inconsolable regarding what he deemed the implacably cruel nature of human life. At last, his pain has ceased. His flesh and bones will soon be rendered ash almost weightless, his remains will be free to drift in air released from his imprisoning pain.

I shuffle through memory; itself a dimension of imprisonment — its confines circumscribed by fate and limited apprehension. I festoon the walls of my individual cell with fragments of imperfect remembrance. What was once flesh has been transmuted by time into shards and vapor.

You are now free, my father but for the solitary confinement of my memory.

Not too long ago, I had a dream wherein I stood gazing over the atrium of a large complex of multi-story structures. Inadvertently, I dropped my “special” writing pen. It glinted silver as it spiraled down into the lobby, below the atrium, where it came to rest on the carpeted floor. I searched for a down stairway or an elevator in order to retrieve it, but discovered the only means of descent would entail having to make my way down the floors of a public hospital adjoining my present location.

The dream communicated to me — as occurs, at times, in the lingua franca of the soul — the tacit understanding that in order to regain possession of my writing instrument I would be required to view and chronicle much suffering (as well as healing) in the wards of the hospital that I would be shirking my duty as a writer (I would lose the instrument of my art) if I avoided the task of looking upon affliction, recovery, madness, birth, and death.

This spring, upon my journey south, I have gazed upon suffering and death, as my father made his agonized exit from this keening sphere. My father — who was a man of half Native America ancestry, brought by tragic circumstance to the Deep South of the U.S., to later marry a woman, my mother, a survivor of the blood-besotted madness of 20th Century Europe — carried the wounds and evinced much of the madness of his times.

He imparted his wounds to me. I carry them with my own wounds — those incurred by unavoidable circumstance and those that are self-inflicted.

As I trudge through the wards of the wounded and the restored, I will do my utmost to send out dispatches bearing my observations. From maternity ward to madhouse to morgue and all the precincts in between, I will attempt to chronicle what I witness for to ignore the admonitions of one’s soul and its dialog and dance with the Anima Mundi of one’s time is to drift toward the tragic fate of a life deferred.

I close this essay seated on an Amtrak train, trundling through the June night. … Sleepless.  … A full moon skirts through ink-black clouds … the landscape visible in snatches of sheeted light and silhouette. Towns and cities drift past. Northward bound, Georgia recedes behind me but memory holds fast.

At hospice, my father succumbed to death in a morphine-induced coma. Too heavily medicated to desire drink, he died of thirst his face and body as gray as granite when the attendant from the mortuary service arrived to transport his corpse for rendering by the Cremation Society.

When my father was seized with rage — a frequent occurrence throughout his life, and only diminished in the last stages of his protracted illness — his blood would rise, in an instant, from his chest to his face; his anger-contorted countenance would flush a deep, reddish brown … the color of steak gravy broiled out of raw beef when cooked at a high temperature.

Seemingly, the veritable thunder of an outraged god, his outbursts terrified me. Shortly after my fifth birthday, after being witness to a fit of my father’s temper, I have a memory of slipping out the back door and coming upon a bed of fire ants that had erected an outpost of their larger colony against the concrete foundation of our small, brick apartment building in Birmingham, Alabama.

The insects seemed to me to be a seething mass of coruscating rage — and I answered their animus by kicking at their ranks with the tips of my high top Keds. The sight of their crushed bodies, frozen in death, affixed to the side of the wall, held me enthralled. The illusion of control seized me momentarily mitigating the terror that my father’s rage had instilled in me. Is this the mental architecture of sudden violence murder war?

In the seats around my own on this train, African-American grandmothers are holding an impromptu confab on the subject of the sins of our age. … The topic: A generation has been lost because the art of dispensing regular beatings for infractions, large and small, is in the process of being discarded by hapless parents. One proclaims, through a wizened grimace, “My father … took to hitting me all the time, and it never did me one bit of harm.”

Sure thing, Granny … each blow served to move you closer to God in his Heaven.

I, myself, in a fit of righteous fury, sent a troop of fire ants his way when I was five.

Phil Rockstroh is a poet, lyricist and philosopher bard living in New York City. He may be contacted at: phil@philrockstroh.com . Visit Phil’s website http://philrockstroh.com / And at FaceBook: http://www.facebook.com/phil.rockstroh




Defense Bill Legalizes US Propaganda

A new feature in the latest version of the National Defense Authorization Act would legalize U.S. government propaganda directed at the American people, with the belief that successful wars require domestic acceptance, writes Lawrence Davidson.

By Lawrence Davidson

The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) is misnamed, since it has less to do with defense than offense. The offensive it wages is not just against a growing list of alleged enemies of the United States but also, from a constitutional perspective, against the rights of American citizens and residents.

Major parts of the legislation are based on the assumption that key legal protections for individuals are incompatible with the requirements of national security. The result is that Americans are now caught between “the terrorists” and the authoritarian propensities of their own government.

The NDAA specifically Section 1021(b)(2) has already institutionalized the U.S. military’s ability to indefinitely detain, without charge or trial, citizens and non-citizens alike. This is a serious abuse of power. The monarchical authority our Founders sought to escape practiced such a “disappearance” of people. So have the contemporary dictatorships that Washington has so consistently supported.

Now Americans, apparently having no patience or imagination to seek routes to security compatible with our own legal principles, are ready to illegally imprison without recourse those whom we (rightly or wrongly) fear.

A recent decision by New York Appellate Court Judge Katherine Forrest suspended this part of the NDAA, after a lawsuit brought against the Act by seven journalists and anti-war activists. The ruling came as an embarrassing surprise to “Justice” Department lawyers defending indefinite detention.

What will now follow will be an effort to overturn or minimize Judge Forrest’s ruling because it “restrains future military operations” that might be ordered by the commander in chief during wartime. At first the government asserted the judge’s ruling applied only to the seven plaintiffs, but she quickly clarified her ruling to make it plain that her ruling “enjoined enforcement of Section 1021(b)(2) against anyone.”

The government lawyers will certainly appeal Forrest’s decision. If necessary, they will declare to the Supreme Court the necessity of eroding the very Constitution they are sworn to uphold, and so presently myopic is that court of last resort, that it will almost certainly agree.

However, the negative potential of the NDAA does not stop with the issue of indefinite detention. It has now come to light that the 2013 version of the Act (passed by the House but yet to be taken up by the Senate) allows the State Department and Defense Department to direct the same kind of massive propaganda campaigns here in the U.S. that are presently waged as part of American war efforts in foreign lands.

This latest maneuver is the bipartisan work of two congressmen: Mac Thornberry (Republican) of Texas and Adam Smith (Democrat) of Washington State. Both claim that current law, which prohibits these government agencies from propagandizing within the U.S., “ties the hands of America’s diplomatic officials, military and others by inhibiting our ability to effectively communicate in a credible way.”

What of Public Discourse?

Thornberry and Smith’s action raises the question of the role of public discourse. Of course, the discourse coming from government has always been skewed. Yet up to this point there has been legislative recognition that the government should not lie to or manipulate its own people the way it does with foreign audiences.

It is this distinction that Thornberry and Smith would eliminate by writing into the institutional job-descriptions of the State and Defense Departments the mission of selling U.S. government foreign policy and its accompanying wars to Americans through massive advertising campaigns.

Of course Thornberry and Smith do not see their effort as sponsoring ever more sophisticated efforts at misinformation. These two congressmen have obviously swallowed whole the official patriotic storyline and now have concluded that everyone else must do likewise.

This is what happens when elected officials fail to distinguish between propaganda and “communicating in a credible way.” Their gullibility is not a good sign. It suggests that what often does not work in foreign lands is quite likely to work well here at home.

People in places like Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan know that the U.S. is or was in their countries as a military conqueror. A few might approve of that position, but we can safely say that most do not. The mayhem that surrounds conquest and occupation is so immediate, so close to home, that the millions of American dollars spent for planted news stories and other forms of misrepresentation are not going to counter that reality and thus improve the U.S. image and win wars.

However, when and if the State and Defense Departments launch professional misinformation campaigns here in the U.S., success is all but guaranteed. That is because there is no countervailing context in which most Americans, including most in Congress, can judge the psychological warfare message.

The violence and brutality of invasion, occupation and resistance do not impact the local lives of Americans (except the families of U.S. soldiers who are always considered heroes), and so you are left with a relentlessly repeated patriotic message from sources you have been taught to trust.

It is an interesting and certainly significant fact that although the propaganda campaigns of the State and Defense Departments are presently prohibited by law in the homeland, a comparable process of government misinformation takes place nonetheless. [For a historical perspective on this kind of domestic propaganda, see Robert Parry’s Lost History.]

Neither the State nor the Defense Departments could have done better than the administration of George W. Bush in the lead-up to the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Washington’s consistent lying, abetted by compliant media allies, paved the way for a popularly supported bloody debacle. In Iraq, the same propaganda, contextualized as it was by widespread violence, brought forth skepticism and disgust.

Whatever the record of such efforts abroad, there seems little doubt that Bush’s success in 2003 now inspires the governments “information operatives” to seek legal authority to wage professionally designed “giant marketing campaigns” to effectively sell the nation’s foreign policy and wars to its own citizens. Hence the bipartisan efforts of Thornberry and Smith.

It should be kept in mind that government bureaucracies, be they civilian or military, are not places of free discourse. They are “get with the mission and follow orders” environments. While their representatives, drawn as they are from the American public, might give lip service to democracy, honesty and meaningful discussion, they really do not practice these tenets and probably do not believe in them either.

That is why, in an era when money stands for free speech and bellicose conservatives own more and more of the media, Thornberry and Smith’s legislation appears obvious and logical. If passed into law, it will become the capstone of an ongoing process that is turning public discourse into a poisoned well of indoctrination.

Lawrence Davidson is a history professor at West Chester University in Pennsylvania. He is the author of Foreign Policy Inc.: Privatizing America’s National Interest; America’s Palestine: Popular and Offical Perceptions from Balfour to Israeli Statehood; and Islamic Fundamentalism.




Iran Boosts Interest in Suspect Site

The U.S. press is playing up claims that Iran is “sanitizing” evidence of nuclear experiments at a military site, but experts say Iran knows nuclear residue can’t be erased, suggesting the Iranians may be engaged in a negotiating ploy to boost the trade-off value of the site, reports Gareth Porter for Inter Press Service.

By Gareth Porter

The International Atomic Energy Agency and Western governments acted this week to escalate their accusations that Iran has “sanitized” a site at its Parchin military complex to hide evidence of nuclear weapons work, showing satellite images of physical changes at the site to IAEA member delegations.

The nature of the changes depicted in the images and the circumstances surrounding them suggest, however, that Iran made them to gain leverage in its negotiations with the IAEA rather than to hide past nuclear experiments.

The satellite images displayed to IAEA member delegations last week by Deputy Director General Herman Nackaerts, head of the agency’s Safeguards Department, showed a series of changes that have been the subject of leaks to the news media: a stream of water coming out of building at a site at Parchin, the demolition of two small buildings nearby the larger building said by the IAEA to have housed a bomb containment chamber, and earth moved from locations north and south of the site to be dumped further north.

After seeing the pictures, U.S. Permanent Representative to the IAEA Robert Wood declared, “It was clear from some of the images that were presented to us that further sanitization efforts are ongoing at the site.”

But the activities shown in those satellite images show activities appear to be aimed at prompting the IAEA, the United States and Israel to give greater urgency and importance to a request for an IAEA inspection visit to Parchin in the context of negotiations between Iran and the IAEA. The latest round in those negotiations, on a framework for Iran’s cooperation with the IAEA in clearing up allegations of Iranian covert nuclear weapons work, failed to reach agreement on Friday.

Greg Thielmann, former director of Strategic, Proliferation and Military Affairs Office of the State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research, said in an interview with IPS that he didn’t know whether the changes shown in satellite images were part of a conscious Iranian negotiating strategy. But Thielmann, now a senior fellow at the Arms Control Association, said the effect of the changes is to “increase the interest of the IAEA in an inspection at Parchin as soon as possible and to give Iran more leverage in the negotiations”.

Nuclear scientist Dr. Behrad Nakhai, who has worked at Oak Ridge National Laboratory and has closely followed the Iranian nuclear program, suggested that Iran’s overt moves on the ground in Parchin were a way of ensuring that “the IAEA will be enticed to give more value to an inspection of Parchin.”

Muhammad Sahimi, who tracks news coverage and comments on Iran’s nuclear program for the PBS Frontline website “Tehran Bureau,” agrees that Iranians have made physical changes at Parchin “so that when they allow the IAEA in, it will be at a higher price.”

Access to Parchin has been recognized implicitly by both sides as Iran’s primary leverage in those negotiations. The IAEA has insisted in the past that a Parchin visit must come before reaching the broader agreement on Iran’s cooperation, while Iran has refused to permit a visit to the site until after the agreement is completed.

The primary issue in the wider negotiations has been whether the IAEA inquiry would end if and when Iran answered all the questions that have been raised by the IAEA or whether the agency could go back to issues as often and whenever it wishes.

The charge that Iran is “sanitizing” the site assumes that Iran believes that the activities depicted would actually eliminate traces of radioactivity left by past testing at the site. The IAEA’s November 2011 report said a bomb containment chamber at the site in Parchin was used for “hydrodynamic tests,” which utilize natural or depleted uranium as a substitute for fissile materials.

David Albright, director of the Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS), suggested in a May 11 commentary on the organization’s website that if Iran were to grind down the surfaces inside the building, collect the dust, wash, repair and repaint the building, and remove dirt around the building, it “could be effective in defeating environmental sampling.” But nuclear experts have contradicted that statement. [For more on Albright, see Consortiumnews.com’s “An Iraq-WMD Replay on Iran.”]

Pierre Goldschmidt, IAEA deputy director general for safeguards from 1999 to 2005, responding to an e-mail query from IPS, said, “Of course there would be no way to remove the traces of a nuclear test.”

Robert Kelley, who has also managed the U.S. Department of Energy’s Remote Sensing Laboratory, which specializes in high-tech detection of nuclear activities, and was twice head of the IAEA’s Iraq inspection group, has pointed out that Syria was sent to the U.N. Security Council over a site that had been bulldozed a year earlier, because of the discovery of tiny microscopic particles of radioactive material found at the site. Nuclear scientist Nakhi told IPS, “It’s virtually impossible to clean up radiation from a nuclear test completely.”

Referring to the charges of “sanitization” of evidence of nuclear device testing at the Parchin site, Seyed Hossein Mousavian, Iran’s lead nuclear negotiator with the European states in 2005, told IPS, “Iranians know very well they couldn’t eliminate traces of such activities even after 10 years.” Mousavian, now a visiting scholar at Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School, added, “I personally cannot imagine there were such activities (at Parchin).”

Nakhai told IPS in an interview that Iranian officials are also acutely aware of the fact that everything they are doing at the site is being tracked by Western intelligence agencies through spy satellites. The physical changes that have been carried out at Parchin, he suggests, have been deliberately staged for IAEA and Western governments. “The only thing missing is somebody waving to the satellite,” Nakhai said.

Former nuclear negotiator Mousavian would not comment directly on whether Iran is making changes at Parchin to increase the negotiating value of permitting an IAEA inspection. But he told IPS that, in the end, “Iran will be able to prove to international opinion that this accusation is false.”

The satellite images shown to the IAEA member states were published May 8 and May 30 by ISIS. The earlier picture, dated April 9, showed the stream of water emanating from the building. The later images, dated May 25, showed the demolished buildings and evidence of earth having been moved.

The changes at the site shown on the satellite images appear to have one thing in common: they all lead the IAEA directly to places on or near the site where environmental sampling can be done easily by an IAEA team. The water shown in the April 9 image appears to collect in a ditch a short distance away from the building.

Former IAEA senior inspector Kelley observed in a May 23 article on the website of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute that the IAEA team would have an “enhanced opportunity” to find uranium particles if they were present.

The May 25 image appears to show soil that was moved from two areas roughly 200-300 feet north of the building and 100-200 feet south of it. But the soil appears to have been carried only a few hundred feet further north of the former area where it is shown to have been dumped, offering another inviting target for environmental sampling.

The fragments of the two small buildings demolished at the site appear in the May 25 image to have been left intact on the ground, offering yet another easy objective for a visit. Meanwhile, the building in which the IAEA reported last November that a bomb containment chamber had been used for hydrodynamic testing and the soil south and east of it remain undisturbed.

The claim that such a chamber was installed at a site in Parchin in 2000 to carry out hydrodynamic testing appears to depend entirely on unspecified information from unidentified countries. The claim has been challenged by Kelley, making no sense on the basis of technical inconsistencies.

Gareth Porter is an investigative historian and journalist specialising in U.S. national security policy. The paperback edition of his latest book, Perils of Dominance: Imbalance of Power and the Road to War in Vietnam, was published in 2006. [This article originally appeared at Inter Press Service.]