Trump Ignores Israeli/Saudi Abuses

By offering a propagandistic tirade on Iran’s role in the Mideast – a classic neocon screed – President Trump has demonstrated his inability to bring any fresh or honest thinking to the regional crises, as Kathy Kelly explains.

By Kathy Kelly

Mordechai Vanunu was imprisoned in Israel for 18 years because he blew the whistle on Israel’s secret nuclear weapons program. He felt he had “an obligation to tell the people of Israel what was going on behind their backs” at a supposed nuclear research facility which was actually producing plutonium for nuclear weapons. His punishment for breaking the silence about Israel’s capacity to manufacture nuclear weapons included 11 years of solitary confinement.

President Donald Trump poses for photos with ceremonial swordsmen on his arrival to Murabba Palace, as the guest of Saudi King Salman, May 20, 2017, in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. (Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead)

On Friday, reading about President Donald Trump’s new strategy on Iran, Vanunu’s long isolation and sacrificial commitment to truth-telling came to mind. Donald Trump promised to “deny the Iranian regime all paths to a nuclear weapon.” But it is Israel, which possesses an estimated 80 nuclear warheads, with fissile material for up to 200, which poses the major nuclear threat in the region. And Israel is allied to the nation with the world’s largest nuclear arsenal: the United States.

Israel doesn’t acknowledge its nuclear arsenal publicly, nor does Israel allow weapons inspectors into its nuclear weapons facilities. Along with India and Pakistan, Israel refuses to sign the nuclear non-proliferation treaty. And it has used conventional weapons in numerous destabilizing wars, which include aerial bombing of Gaza, Lebanon and the West Bank.

Vanunu, designated by Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg as the “the pre-eminent hero of the nuclear era,” helped many people envision nations in the region making progress toward a nuclear weapons-free Middle East.

In fact, Iran’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Jawad Zarif, spoke eloquently about just that possibility, in 2015, holding that “if the Vienna deal is to mean anything, the whole of the Middle East must rid itself of weapons of mass destruction.”

“Iran,” he added, “is prepared to work with the international community to achieve these goals, knowing full well that, along the way, it will probably run into many hurdles raised by the skeptics of peace and diplomacy.”

Significantly, since the “Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action” pact with Iran was concluded in 2015, the International Atomic Energy Association (IAEA) has steadily verified Iran’s compliance with inspections. Iran has accepted around-the-clock supervision by IAEA officials.

What’s more, “Iran has gotten rid of all of its highly enriched uranium,” according to Jessica Matthews, writing for the New York Review of Books. Matthews continues:

“It has also eliminated 98 percent of its stockpile of low-enriched uranium, leaving only three hundred kilograms, less than the amount needed to fuel one weapon if taken to high enrichment. The number of centrifuges maintained for uranium enrichment is down from 19,000 to 6,000. The rest have been dismantled and put into storage under tight international monitoring.

“Continuing enrichment is limited to 3.67 percent, the accepted level for reactor fuel. All enrichment has been shut down at the once-secret, fortified, underground facility at Fordow, south of Tehran. Iran has disabled and poured concrete into the core of its plutonium reactor — thus shutting down the plutonium as well as the uranium route to nuclear weapons. It has provided adequate answers to the IAEA’s long-standing list of questions regarding past weapons-related activities.”

U.S. Government’s Sabotage

What do the Iranians think of the U.S. government? Ordinary Iranians might well think that whatever discontent they have with their own government the U.S. is their most implacable and most immediate enemy. Invective like Trump’s recent words could be a precursor of disastrous invasion. Many Iranians remember the U.S.-backed coup that ended their democracy in 1953, and they remember the fierce U.S. support given to Saddam Hussein in the brutal eight years of the Iran-Iraq war.

At the start of the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003, President George W. Bush ordered the U.S. military to conduct a devastating aerial assault on Baghdad, known as “shock and awe.”

Noam Chomsky rightly names the U.S. “shock and awe” attack against Iraq as the greatest destabilizing force at work in the Middle East. “Thanks to that invasion,” writes Chomsky, “hundreds of thousands were killed and millions of refugees generated, barbarous acts of torture were committed — Iraqis have compared the destruction to the Mongol invasion of the thirteenth century — leaving Iraq the unhappiest country in the world according to WIN/Gallup polls. Meanwhile, sectarian conflict was ignited, tearing the region to shreds and laying the basis for the creation of the monstrosity that is ISIS. And all of that is called ‘stabilization.’”

Trump’s record of statements and of cabinet appointments suggests that regime change in Iran is a long-term goal. Despite his close Saudi ally’s massive involvement in funding and fomenting terrorism, Trump’s evolving strategy for the Middle East strangely emphasizes Iranian impacts on the region, particularly regarding the conflict in Yemen.

Yemen is entering conflict-driven famine, with a correspondingly lethal cholera outbreak, making it the worst of the region’s “Four Famines,” now widely recognized as collectively the worst starvation crisis in the 72-year history of the United Nations.

“In Yemen,” says Trump, “the IRGC, (the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corp), has attempted to use the Houthis as puppets to hide Iran’s role in using sophisticated missiles and explosive boats to attack innocent civilians in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, as well as to restrict freedom of navigation in the Red Sea.”

But it is Saudi Arabia and its UAE ally, with crucial U.S. backing, that have been intensely bombing Yemen since 2015 and maintaining a punishing Red Sea blockade against shipments often vital to famine relief.

“The Saudi-led coalition’s ships are preventing essential supplies from entering Yemen,” according to an Oct. 11, 2017 Reuters report. The report goes on to assess the dire consequences, for Yemen, caused by blocking and delaying ships carrying food and medicine. It documents many cases in which vessels were thoroughly searched, certified not to be carrying weapons, and still not allowed to enter Yemen.

In a time when 20 million people face starvation, it’s particularly obscene for any country to pour resources into nuclear weaponry. Mordechai Vanunu took extraordinary risks and endured incredible suffering to rescue the human species from the foolhardiness of building and maintaining nuclear arsenals.

I wonder if people worldwide can rise to a level of courage and seriousness needed to simply recognize, and then, where possible, act in response to the world’s real threats. Within the U.S., can several decades of U.S. government bipartisan lying about Iran be overcome with saner, more humane narratives?

Can the threat of U.S. invasion be lifted long enough to allow Iran’s people a window for once again considering democratic reforms? Silence about these issues seems ominous. But silence can be broken. We have Vanunu’s courageous example. Let’s not waste the precious time we have in which to follow it.

Kathy Kelly ([email protected]) co-coordinates Voices for Creative Nonviolence, (, a campaign to end U.S. military and economic wars.

15 comments for “Trump Ignores Israeli/Saudi Abuses

  1. Bijan
    October 20, 2017 at 06:20

    “….lifted long enough to allow Iran’s people a window for once again considering democratic reforms?”.

    The article was going well until this inane crescendo. The window has been closed from time immemorial.

  2. Bjorn Jensen
    October 17, 2017 at 06:03

    Thank you for your excellent article.The hypocrisy of Trump’s mind blowing stupid Iran “speech”-
    – had me nearly shouting at the screen. For just a minor point , Iran actually conducts elections and people vote. Americans might not like their choice but they did and do. And because most Americans don’t know of the 1953 coup d’etat of the democratically elected
    – Prime Minister Mohammed Mosaddegh engineered by the U.K. and US over Iranian oil, only to install a very brutal, monarch the Shah of Iran, Mohammed Reza Pahlavi on a sparkly gold throne (Trump would have loved that). Of course the world knows what happened next . The Ayatollah Khomeini overthrew the monarch the west installed and The Islamic Republic of Iran was born. Mordechai Vanunu is a hero. The last I read he was charged again in January of this year.

    – The U.S. has engineered and dabbled far too much in regime change in other countries . It’s time for regime change in the U.S.

  3. October 15, 2017 at 20:46

    The restrictions holding Vanunu in Israel expire [again] this November. Previously they have been renewed every six months but in September, Norway approved Vanunu’s asylum request so he could soon be free to join his wife in Oslo!

    When this American was in east Jerusalem in 2005, Vanunu told me: “In 1955, Perez and Guirion met with the French to agree they would get a nuclear reactor if they fought against Egypt to control the Sinai and Suez Canal. That was the war of 1956. Eisenhower demanded that Israel leave the Sinai, but the reactor plant deal continued on.

    “Did you know that President Kennedy tried to stop Israel from building atomic weapons? In 1963, he forced Prime Minister Ben Guirion to admit the Dimona was not a textile plant, as the sign outside proclaimed, but a nuclear plant. The Prime Minister said, ‘The nuclear reactor is only for peace.’

    “Kennedy insisted on an open internal inspection. He wrote letters demanding that Ben Guirion open up the Dimona for inspection. The French were responsible for the actual building of the Dimona. The Germans gave the money; they were feeling guilty for the Holocaust, and tried to pay their way out. Everything inside was written in French, when I was there, almost twenty years ago. Back then, the Dimona descended seven floors underground.

    “When Johnson became president, he made an agreement with Israel that two senators would come every year to inspect. Before the senators would visit, the Israelis would build a wall to block the underground elevators and stairways. From 1963 to ’69, the senators came, but they never knew about the wall that hid the rest of the Dimona from them. Nixon stopped the inspections and agreed to ignore the situation. As a result, Israel increased production. In 1986, there were over two hundred bombs. Today, they may have enough plutonium for ten bombs a year.”

    Vanunu also told me: “Many journalists come here to the American Colony, from CNN and NY Times. They all want to cover my story, but their EDITORS say no…CNN wants to interview me; but they say they can’t do it because they don’t want problems with the Israeli censor. BBC is doing the same thing. Sixty Minutes from the United States from the beginning they wanted to do a program, but because of the censor situation they decide not to do it. Also big media from Germany, France, Italy, Japan. None of them wants problems with the Israelis.”

    And then we taped “30 Minutes with Vanunu” that did NOT go through the censors, thus it is ‘illegal’:

    Learn more about “This American and Israel’s Nuclear Whistleblower Vanunu Mordechai”

  4. Igor Slamoff
    October 15, 2017 at 18:05

    “It’s particularly obscene for any country to pour resources into nuclear weaponry.” In that case, how come the authoress only criticizes Israel and not Iran, which has been building atom bombs for years?
    Unlike Iran, Israel needs atom bombs to defend itself from its aggressive neghbours.
    Anyway, the Jews invented the atom bomb. How come they need someone else’s say-so to own a few? Hitler called the atom bomb “the Jewish bomb.”

    • Daniel
      October 15, 2017 at 20:39

      Of course, even CIA and Mossad acknowledged that Iran hasn’t even had a nuclear weapons program since at least 2005, let alone actually have any. The Republic of Iran has NEVER invaded another country. It’s only a threat to Israel because it’s helping to defend a couple of Israel’s neighbors from the ongoing Israeli Yinon Plan aggression.

    • Zachary Smith
      October 15, 2017 at 23:37

      The trolls are more interesting when they at least “pretend” to know what they’re talking about. But on the other hand, they may get “gold stars” in the Hasbara boiler room for posts without anybody paying any attention to quality.


    • Paranam Kid
      October 16, 2017 at 08:12

      Please provide us with evidence that Iran built nuclear bombs.

  5. October 15, 2017 at 16:29

    Article of interest below: An excerpt.
    Iran nuclear deal: Donald Trump withdraws support for accord

    US President Trump urged the world to pressure Iran to “end its pursuit of death and destruction.” He said Iran had committed multiple violations of the accord and called for sanctions on the Iranian Revolutionary Guard.


    Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, however, congratulated Trump for refusing to certify the agreement. He called Trump’s speech a “courageous decision” and said the US president had created a chance to combat “Iran’s aggression.” Israel has repeatedly criticized the deal, saying it undermines regional stability and global security….

    “The kingdom (of Saudi Arabia) and welcomes the firm strategy on Iran and its aggressive policy that was announced by US President Donald Trump,” the official Saudi Press Agency said in a statement. Israel and Saudi Arabia have made statements similar to Trump’s allegation that Iran is the “world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism.”…

    [read more at link below]

  6. rosemerry
    October 15, 2017 at 15:38

    Kathy Kelly is a tireless, dedicated, fearless worker for peace, who has spent decades doing all she can to help those most of us just read about. If only our leaders were people like her, there would be no need for the huge waste of resources on “defense”, and diplomacy would be given a chance to solve the disagreements and use human intelligence (brainpower, not spies!) to improve the lives of those not rich and powerful.

  7. Annie
    October 15, 2017 at 14:54

    On a friend’s Facebook page there has been a lot of postings about her distain for Trump which met up with a lot of agreement. Lots of talk about Russia-gate, and lots of insults spewed at Trump for lacking a presidential demeanor, as well as their abhorrence for his braggadocio. However on his anti-Iran tirade almost no one, except myself, and one or two others, attacked his position. I made a significant effort to point out that Iran was in compliance with JCPOA, as confirmed by the IAEA and pointed out that North Korea would become a greater problem when you take diplomacy and agreements off the table. Mostly they were highly suspicious of Iran, and felt that country couldn’t be trusted, and posed a threat to peace in the ME. What is obvious is that Americans, with little background in history, and only desirous of understanding political happenings on the most superficial level are more vulnerable to propaganda then ever before. Ultimately the American people will be totally complicit in their own destruction, and after reading their comments I felt I really don’t care. It was a real downer.

    • rosemerry
      October 15, 2017 at 15:31

      Facebook is a very limiting and self-serving vehicle for some people to remain within their comfort zone.

      • Annie
        October 15, 2017 at 17:08

        I’m new to Facebook, so I’m just noticing that.

  8. Joe Tedesky
    October 15, 2017 at 13:06

    When I read the comment section on presstv I hear in the comments tones that the U.S. is mainly taking it’s instructions from Israel. Although, the Iranian news site has comment posters blaming the U.S., if you read the comments carefully and all the way through, you will see Israel’s name appear more than once. This unholy alliance of Israel, Saudi Arabia, and the U.S. is comprised of all that is greedy, and evil. Sadly, it only looks as though the U.S. is going to drill down even harder onto the Iranians by using the “Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action” as a vehicle to establish more disorder in that neck of the woods, instead of the U.S. sticking to a very successful agreement. The sorry thinnest of diplomatic strength now established by the U.S. in regard to it’s relationship with Iran, could rest on one stupid mishap in the Persian Gulf with each other’s Navies, and that all by itself is scary. I only hope that in the end Trump’s bark is worst than his bite.

  9. mike k
    October 15, 2017 at 13:05

    Kathy Kelly is speaking truth. This is so refreshing in a world awash in lies.

  10. mike k
    October 15, 2017 at 13:02

    This silence about the truth is indeed ominous, as it is usually preparation for war.

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