US officials confess to targeting Iran’s civilian population
by: Franklin Lamb
Tehran — Azadeh, a graduate law student from Tehran University, on the
sidelines of Iran’s Third Annual Hollywoodis (www.hollywoodism.orghttp) reminded
her interlocutors, of the obvious damming admissions last week by two
“It would be a defense lawyer’s worst nightmare wouldn’t it?
I mean to have one’s clients, in this case the Vice-President of the
United States and the outgoing Secretary of state confess so publicly
to serial international crimes against a civilian population?”
The confessions and the crimes, she correctly enumerated to her audience,
were those admitted to by US Vice-President Joe Biden and outgoing
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton this past week.
Both of the US officials, in discussing US relations with the Islamic
Republic, openly admitted that the US-led sanctions against Iran (and Syria)
are politically motivated and constitute a “soft-war” against the nearly 80
million people of Iran (23 million people in Syria) in order to achieve regime
Mrs. Clinton, was the first of the dynamic duo to be heard from. She
acknowledged that the harsh US sanctions were intended to target and
send the people of Iran a message. “So we hope that the Iranian people will
make known their concerns… so my message to Iranians is do something
Some listening concluded she meant food riots and inflation riots to
overthrow the Iranian government. An Australian Broadcasting Company
interviewer asked Clinton on January 31 of last year: “If you have issues
with the government of Iran, why destroy the Iranian people with the current
sanctions in place? It’s very difficult to find certain medicines in Iran. Where
is your sense of humanity?”
What the Clinton interrogator had in mind, she explained later, were the
US-led sanctions reducing Iran’s GDP growth (-1.1% GDP) resulting in an
inflation of 21.0% that is being felt mostly by the civilian population. As well
as periodic food shortages in the supermarkets of such staples such as rice,
there are price rises on everything. For example, per page printing for
students is up as much as 400% and the cost of a used car up 300%. In
general, supermarket items have risen 100 to 300 percent or higher over
the past twenty-four months and, devastating for many, certain lifesaving
medicines are no longer available.
Clinton: “Well, first, let me say on the medicine and on food and other
necessities, there are no sanctions.” This statement is utter nonsense and
Mrs. Clinton knows it.
The targeting process by the US Treasury Department is well entrenched in
Washington. When dear reader is next in Washington, DC, perhaps on a tour
bus riding down NW Pennsylvania Avenue following a visit to the US Capitol,
consider getting off the bus at 15th and Pennsylvania at the US Department
of the Treasury. Walk around the main building and you will see an Annex
building. This building, as Clinton knows well, and like Biden, has visited
more than once, houses the Office of Financial Assets Control (OFAC).
The well-funded agency’s work includes precisely targeting “food and
medicines and other necessities” in order to force the civilian population of
Iran to achieve regime change.
For more than two hundred years, since the War of 1812, when OFAC was
founded to sanction the British, the office has become expert at imposing
sanctions and it has done so more than 2000 times. OFAC currently uses a
large team of specialists and computers to think-up, design, test, and send to
AIPAC and certain pro-Zionist officials and members of congress their
work-product topped off by recommendations.
OFAC and its Treasury Department associates have had a hand in virtually
every US sanction applied to Iran since President Jimmy Carter issued
Executive Order 12170 in November 1979 freezing about $12 billion in Iranian
assets, including bank deposits, gold and other properties. From the State
Sponsor of Terrorism Designation Act in 1979 to the Syria Accountability Act
of 2004, more than a dozen Presidential Executive Orders including the
2011-2012 Executive orders which froze the US property of high-rankling
Syrian and Iranian officials and more broadly E.O. 13582 which froze all
governmental assets of the Syrian government and prohibited Americans
from doing business with the Syrian government and banned all US import
of Syrian petroleum products.
What OFAC does with its data base is science not art. It can calculate quite
precisely the economic effect on the civilian population of a single action
designating one company, bank, government entity or infrastructure system
of a country. OFAC, on behalf of its government, electronically wages a
cold war against its civilian targets.
This week OFAC and the Treasury Department blacklisted Iran’s state
broadcasting authority, Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting, responsible for
broadcast policy in Iran and overseas production at Iranian television and
radio channels, potentially limiting viewing and listening opportunities for
Iran’s civilian population. Its director, Ezzatollah Zarghami, was included
in the action. Additionally sanctioned are Iran’s Internet-policing agencies
and a major electronics producer. David S. Cohen, the pro-Zionist Treasury
undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, who oversees the
OFAC sanctions effort, reportedly following meetings with Israeli officials,
said last week’s actions were meant to “tighten the screws and intensify the
economic pressure against the Iranian regime.”
In reality, the sanctions target the civilian population and the “Iranian
regime” won’t be much affected. The same applies to Syria. Despite the
public relations language that “food and medicine are exempted form the
brutal US-led sancitons, as OFAC well knows, the reality is something else.
They know well the chilling effects of the sanctions on international
suppliers of medicines and food stuffs with respect to a targeted country.
The US Treasury department has thousands of gigabytes of data confirming
that the boards of directors of international business do not, and will not
allow their companies to risk millions of dollars in profits by technically
violating any of the thousands of details in the sanctions — many of which
are subject to interpretation — for the sake of doing business with Iran
or Syria. This is why there are severe shortages of medicines and certain
foodstuffs in these sanctioned countries and to state otherwise is Orwellian
OFAC does not operate in a vacuum. It works closely with other US agencies
including the 16 intelligence agencies that together make up the UN
Intelligence Community. Together they have applied sanctions of great
breadth and severity against the civilian populations of Syria and Iran.
These sanctions have been bolstered on occasion by several direct and/or
green-lighted Israeli assassinations and cyber-assaults, hoping to foment
civil unrest to achieve regime change and other political goals.
A few days after Mrs. Clinton’s somewhat inadvertent confession that the
US government intentionally targets the civilian population of Iran, Vice
President Joe Biden chimed in on the 4th of February that the US was ready
to hold direct negotiations with Iran but added the caveat, “We have also
made clear that Iran’s leaders need not sentence their people to economic
deprivation,” acknowledging as did Hillary that the US sanctions are
intended to target and harm the Iranian and Syrian people. A senior Obama
administration official described the latest step as “a significant turning
of the screw,” meaning that the people of Iran face a “stark choice” between
bowing to US demands and reviving their oil revenue, the country’s
economic lifeblood or more and more sanctions will follow until they do.
This targeting of Iran’s and Syria’s civilian population by US-led sanctions
is a massive violation of the principles, standards and rules of international
law and their most fundamental underpinnings which is the protection of
The 1977 Additional Protocols to the 1949 Geneva Conventions prohibit any
measure that has the effect of depriving a civilian population of objects
indispensable to its survival. Article 70 of Protocol I mandates relief
operations to aid a civilian population that is “not adequately provided”
with supplies and Article 18 of Protocol II requires relief operations for a
civilian population that suffers “undue hardship owing to a lack of supplies
essential for its survival, such as foodstuffs and medical supplies.”
Prohibition on Starvation as a Method of Warfare
• Under international humanitarian law, civilians enjoy a right to
humanitarian assistance during armed conflicts.
• Art. 23 of the Fourth Geneva Convention obligates states to facilitate the
free passage and distribution of relief goods including medicines, foodstuffs,
clothing and tonics intended for children under 15, expectant mothers, and
• Art. 70 of Additional Protocol I prohibits interfering with delivery of relief
goods to all members of the civilian population.
• US-led sanctions are prohibited by the principle of proportionality found in
Arts. 51 and 57 of Additional Protocol I.
• Under the terms of Art. 3 common to the 1949 Geneva Conventions,
humanitarian and relief actions must be taken. Pursuant to Art. 18(2) of
Additional Protocol II, relief societies must be allowed to offer their services
to provide humanitarian relief
• The US-led sanctions violate the Rule of Distinction between civilians and
The Right to life
The US-led sanctions violate the right to life incorporated in numerous
international human rights instruments including Art. 6 of the International
Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, 1966; Art. 2 of the European
Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms,
1950; and Art. 4 of the African Charter of Human Rights, 1981.
The Rights of the Child
One of the groups most vulnerable to US-led sanctions in Syria and Iran are
children. The rights of children are laid down in the United Nations
Convention on the Rights of the Child, 1989, which currently stands as the
most widely ratified international agreement. Most relevant in the context of
the US-led sanctions are Arts. 6 and 24 of the Convention, according to
which every child has the inherent right to life and the right to the highest
attainable standard of health and access to medical services.
If “terrorism” means, as the United States government defines it as the
targeting of civilians in order to induce political change from their
government, what is it called when the American government itself applies
intense economic suffering on a civilian population, causing malnutrition,
illnesses, starvation and death in order to induce regime change?
The US-led sanctions against Iran and Syria are illegal, inhumane, ineffective,
immoral and outrageous. They must be resisted every day by every person
of good will, everywhere, until they are withdrawn.
Franklin Lamb is doing research in the Islamic Republic of Iran and is reachable c/o firstname.lastname@example.org