Former Senator says the “illegal” US-led sanctions against Iran have proven counterproductive by making the Islamic Republic “totally independent.”
“I gotta tell you, there’s no question the sanctions are discomfiture, but in the long run it is the best thing that’s ever happened to Iran,” Mike Gravel, a former two-term Alaska Senator, said in an interview with Foreign Policy.
Gravel, who traveled to the Iranian capital Tehran earlier in February to participate in theThird International Conference on Hollywoodism and Cinema, explained that sanctions have made the Iranians “totally independent and forced them to internalize their economic activity, to build machines.”
“We rode for about 10 miles right through the heart of Iran where they’re building an elevated highway. Boy, I’ll tell you, that was an impressive work area. So the city is just like a normal thriving city. It has prosperity. You could tell by the traffic jams. The architecture’s extremely attractive and imposing, and so what’s happened to the country is it’s being forced into independence.”
He added that Iran is on the road to development and progress, saying, “You force domestic wares to be produced and then you turn around and you can export your product very competitively … and so that’s what’s going on in Iran.”
The US, Israel, and some of their allies have repeatedly accused Iran of pursuing non-civilian objectives in its nuclear energy program.
Iran rejects the allegation, arguing that as a committed signatory to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) and a member of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), it is entitled to develop nuclear technology for peaceful purposes.
In addition, the IAEA has conducted numerous inspections of Iran’s nuclear facilities but has never found any evidence showing that the Iranian nuclear program has been diverted toward military objectives.
The former American Senator slammed the US-led sanctions on Iran as Washington has no inkling that “what it’s doing is counterproductive to arriving at a solution.”
He emphasized that Iran has not violated the IAEA regulations, noting that the UN nuclear agency has had investigators all over the place who are going to continue to do that.
Pointing to a fatwa (religious decree) issued by Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei on the prohibition of the production and use of nuclear weapons, Gravel added, “I think there’s a great insincerity on part of the [US President Barack] Obama administration unfortunately. Probably the best approach to this, the Imam has stated very clearly they are not going to pursue the acquisition of the bomb because the Koran dictates that they cannot do that.”
Addressing the opening ceremony of the 16th Summit of the Non-Aligned Movement in Tehran on August 30, 2012, Ayatollah Khamenei said Tehran considers the use of weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear weapons, to be an “unforgivable sin.”
“The Islamic Republic of Iran considers the use of nuclear, chemical, and similar weapons to be a great and unforgivable sin,” the Leader stated.
Gravel added, “There’s no intelligence estimates that indicate they’re pursuing a bomb. None at all.”
Despite allegations by the US and the Israeli regime, a report last year by 16 American intelligence agencies confirmed that Tehran is not seeking to build nuclear weapons. The Israeli intelligence community also agreed with the assessment.
Mike Gravel is a former Democratic United States Senator from Alaska, who served two terms from 1969 to 1981, and a former candidate in the 2008 presidential election. As Senator, Gravel became nationally known for his forceful but unsuccessful attempts to end the draft during the Vietnam War and for putting the Pentagon Papers into the public record in 1971 at risk to himself. He conducted an unusual campaign for the Democratic nomination for Vice President of the United States in 1972, and then played a crucial role in getting Congressional approval for the Trans-Alaska pipeline in 1973. He was re-elected to the Senate in 1974, but gradually alienated most of his Alaskan constituencies and his bid for a third term was defeated in a primary election in 1980.
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