'I'm off to Iran before Israel bombs it'

George Galloway MP

By the time you read this, I will be in Iran. I've never been there before, never met an Iranian leader - I don't even like the present Iranian leadership - so remember all that, because it might become important.

I'm determined to do my bit for the anti-war effort. We need another war like Gordon Brown needs another by-election.

But the Sunday papers were again full of Israeli war games and threats as speculation mounts of a massive bombardment of yet another Muslim country.

I'm going for the first anniversary of Press TV, on which I present two programmes - Comment at 10.30pm on Thursdays and The Real Deal at 10.30pm on Sundays.

This week I hope to meet Ali Larijani, formerly Iran's nuclear negotiator, now speaker of the Iranian parliament and, I hope, the next president.

Larijani proved beyond even the CIA's attempt at contradiction that Iran is acting entirely within her legal rights to develop nuclear power.

As a signatory to the treaty governing the development of nuclear weapons, Iran has done nothing wrong under it either, at least according to the watchdog maintained by the international community, the IAEA.

Israel, on the other hand, refuses to sign the nuclear weapons treaty and thus, with a chutzpah which takes the breath away, claims it's not in breach of it.

Yet last week, it acknowledged the truth first revealed by the Israeli hero Mordechai Vannunu, who spent nearly 20 years in solitary for telling us that they possess nuclear weapons in abundance.

Their brazenness about this reached its apogee when they publicly thanked France, in the diminutive form of Nicolas Sarkozy, for the decisive help they had given them (we ourselves gave them the heavy water technology) to enable them to build their nuclear arsenal.

So let me run that past you. Israel, which has hundreds of nuclear weapons, seems to be planning to attack a country with none with the support of France, Britain and the US and all in the name of, er, checking the spread of nuclear weapons in that region.

You couldn't make it up, but alas you don't have to. The Dr Strangeloves who've taken over the bunker have already done so.

Next week's column, should I survive, will no doubt tell you about the great civilisation that is Persia, which hasn't attacked another country for more than 300 years, not a boast we can make ourselves.

Iran is no broken-backed land enfeebled by decades of war and sanctions. If attacked, she most certainly will defend herself and by all means necessary.

Fasten your seatbelts.

* George Galloway is the Respect Party member of the British parliament for Bethnal Green and Bow in east London. He is also a writer and broadcaster.

* America's top military officer has publicly opposed the opening up of a new front in the Middle East through a strike on Iran. Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, speaking at a US defence department news conference, commented on the likelihood of US or Israeli military action over Iran's nuclear programme.
Tensions have risen amid reports Israel could be planning a possible strike against Iran's nuclear facilities.

Mullen warned that opening up a third front, after Iraq and Afghanistan, would be "extremely stressful, very challenging, with consequences that would be difficult to predict".

Iran denies its nuclear programme is anything other than peaceful.