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Can You Pass The Iran Quiz*

By Jeffrey Rudolph

What can possibly justify the relentless U.S. diplomatic (and mainstream
media) assault on Iran?

It cannot be argued that Iran is an aggressive state that is dangerous to
its neighbors, as facts do not support this claim. It cannot be relevant
that Iran adheres to Islamic fundamentalism, has a flawed democracy and
denies women full western-style civil rights, as Saudi Arabia is more
fundamentalist, far less democratic and more oppressive of women, yet it is
a U.S. ally. It cannot be relevant that Iran has, over the years, had a
nuclear research program, and is most likely pursuing the capacity to
develop nuclear weapons, as Pakistan, India, Israel and other states are
nuclear powers yet remain U.S. allies?indeed, Israel deceived the U.S. while
developing its nuclear program.

The answer to the above-posed question is fairly obvious: Iran must be
punished for leaving the orbit of U.S. control. Since the Islamic Revolution
in 1979, when the Shah was removed, Iran, unlike, say, Saudi Arabia, acts
independently and thus compromises U.S. power in two ways: i) Defiance of
U.S. dictates affects the U.S.'s attainment of goals linked to Iran; and,
ii) Defiance of U.S. dictates establishes a ?bad? example for other
countries that may wish to pursue an independent course. The Shah could
commit any number of abuses?widespread torture, for example?yet his loyalty
to the U.S. exempted him from American condemnation?yet not from the
condemnation of the bulk of Iranians who brought him down.

The following quiz is an attempt to introduce more balance into the
mainstream discussion of Iran.

Iran Quiz Questions :

1. Is Iran an Arab country?

2. Has Iran launched an aggressive war of conquest against another country
since 1900?

3. How many known cases of an Iranian suicide-bomber have there been from
1989 to 2007?

4. What was Iran's defense spending in 2008?

5. What was the U.S.'s defense spending in 2008?

6. What is the Jewish population of Iran ?

7. Which Iranian leader said the following? ?This [ Israel 's] Occupation
regime over Jerusalem must vanish from the page of time.?

8. True of False: Iranian television presented a serial sympathetic to Jews
during the Holocaust that coincided with President Ahmadinejad's first term.

9. What percentage of students entering university in Iran is female?

10. What percentage of the Iranian population attends Friday prayers?

11. True or False: Iran has formally consented to the Arab League's 2002
peace initiative with Israel.

12. Which two countries were responsible for orchestrating the 1953
overthrow of Iran's populist government of democratically elected prime
minister Mohammad Mossadegh, primarily because he introduced legislation
that led to the nationalization of Iranian oil?

13. Who made the following address on March 17, 2000? ?In 1953 the United
States played a significant role in orchestrating the overthrow of Iran's
popular prime minister, Mohammad Mossadegh. The Eisenhower administration
believed its actions were justified for strategic reasons. But the coup was
clearly a setback for Iran's political development. And it is easy to see
now why many Iranians continue to resent this intervention by America in
their internal affairs.?

14. Which countries trained the Shah's brutal internal security service,

15. Does Iran have nuclear weapons?

16. Is Iran a signatory of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT)?

17. Is Israel a signatory of the NPT?

18. Does the NPT permit a signatory to pursue a nuclear program?

19. Who wrote the following in 2004? "Wherever U.S forces go, nuclear
weapons go with them or can be made to follow in short order. The world has
witnessed how the United States attacked Iraq for, as it turned out, no
reason at all. Had the Iranians not tried to build nuclear weapons, they
would be crazy. Though Iran is ruled by Islamic fundamentalists, most
commentators who are familiar with the country do not regard its government
as irrational. ... [I]t was Saddam Hussein who attacked Iran, not the other
way around; since then Iran has been no more aggressive than most countries
are. For all their talk of opposition to Israel, Iran 's rulers are very
unlikely to mount a nuclear attack on a country that is widely believed to
have what it takes to wipe them off the map. Chemical or other attacks are
also unlikely, given the meager results that may be expected and the
retaliation that would almost certainly follow.?

20. What percentage of Iranians in 2008 said they had an unfavorable view of
the American people?

21. What percentage of Iranians in 2008 expressed negative sentiments toward
the Bush administration?

22. What were the main elements of Iran's 2003 Proposal to the U.S.,
communicated during the build-up to the Iraq invasion, and how did the U.S.
respond to Iran's Proposal?

23. True or False: Iran and the U.S. both considered the Taliban to be an
enemy after the 9/11 attacks.

24. Did the U.S. work with the Tehran-based Supreme Council of the Islamic
Revolution in Iraq both before and after the 2003 invasion and occupation of

25. In the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, who said the following? "The
Iranians had real contacts with important players in Afghanistan and were
prepared to use their influence in constructive ways in coordination with
the United States."

26. Who wrote the following in 2004? ?It is in the interests of the United
States to engage selectively with Iran to promote regional stability,
dissuade Iran from pursuing nuclear weapons, preserve reliable energy
supplies, reduce the threat of terror, and address the ?democracy deficit'
that pervades the Middle East ??

Iran Quiz Answers :

1. No. Alone among the Middle Eastern peoples conquered by the Arabs, the
Iranians did not lose their language or their identity. Ethnic Persians make
up 60 percent of modern Iran, modern Persian (not Arabic) is the official
language, Iran is not a member of the Arab League, and the majority of
Iranians are Shiite Muslims while most Arabs are Sunni Muslims. Accordingly,
based on language, ancestry and religion, Iran is not an Arab country. ( )

2. No.

-According to Juan Cole, the Richard P. Mitchell Collegiate Professor of
History at the University of Michigan, Iran has not launched such a war for
at least 150 years. ( Juan Cole; Engaging the Muslim World; Palgrave
Macmillan; New York: 2009; p.199.)

-It should be appreciated that Iran did not start the Iran-Iraq War of the
1980s: ? The war began when Iraq invaded Iran, launching a simultaneous
invasion by air and land into Iranian territory on 22 September 1980
following a long history of border disputes, and fears of Shia insurgency
among Iraq's long-suppressed Shia majority influenced by the Iranian
Revolution. Iraq was also aiming to replace Iran as the dominant Persian
Gulf state.? (

3. Zero. There is not a single known instance of an Iranian suicide-bomber
since the end of the Iran-Iraq War in 1988. ( Robert Baer; The Devil We
Know: Dealing with the New Iranian Superpower; Crown Publishers; New York:

-According to Baer, an American author and a former CIA field officer
assigned to the Middle East, it is i mportant to understand that Iran has
used suicide bombers as the ultimate ?smart bomb.? In fact there is little
difference between a suicide-bomber and a marine who rushes a machine-gun
nest to meet his certain death. Therefore, while Iran had used suicide
bombers for tactical military purposes, Sunni extremists use suicide bombing
for vague objectives such as to weaken the enemy or purify the state.

4. $9.6 billion. (

5. $692 billion. (

-There is also little doubt that Israel could defeat Iran in a conventional
war in mere hours. ( Juan Cole; Engaging the Muslim World; Palgrave
Macmillan; New York: 2009; p p.206-7.)

6. 25,000. It is one of the many paradoxes of the Islamic Republic of Iran
that this anti-Israeli country supports by far the largest Jewish population
of any Muslim country. After the 1979 Islamic revolution, thousands of Jews
left for Israel, Western Europe or the U.S., fearing persecution. But
Ayatollah Khomeini, Iran's first post-revolutionary supreme leader, issued a
fatwa, upon his return from exile in Paris, decreeing that the Jews and
other religious minorities were to be protected, thus reducing the outflow
of Iran's Jews to a trickle. ( )

7. Ruhollah Khomeini. ( Juan Cole; Engaging the Muslim World; Palgrave
Macmillan; New York : 2009; p.201.)

-This wasn't a surprising statement to come from the leader of the 1979
Revolution as Israel had been a firm ally of both the U.S. and the Shah.

-According to Cole, Ahmadinejad quoted this statement in 2005 yet wire
service translators rendered Khomeini's statement into English as ?Israel
must be wiped off the face of the map.? Yet, Khomeini had referred to the
occupation regime not Israel , and while he expressed a wish for the regime
to go away he didn't threaten to go after Israel . In fact, a regime can
vanish without any outside attacks, as happened to the Shah's regime in Iran
and to the USSR. It is notable that when Khomeini made the statement in the
1980s, there was no international outcry. In fact, in the early 1980s,
Khomeini supplied Israel with petroleum in return for American spare parts
for the American-supplied Iranian arsenal. As both Israel and Iran
considered Saddam's Iraq a serious enemy, they had a tacit alliance against
Iraq during the first phase of the Iran-Iraq War of the 1980s. It should
also be noted that Ahmadinejad subsequently stated he didn't want to kill
any Jews but rather he wants a one-state solution to the Israel-Palestinian
conflict. While Ahmadinejad's preferred solution is a non-starter, Israel 's
refusal to pursue a comprehensive peace creates space for Arab hardliners
whose agendas do not include a realistic peace with Israel .

8. True. Iranian television ran a widely watched serial on the Holocaust,
Zero Degree Turn , based on true accounts of the role Iranian diplomats in
Europe played in rescuing thousands of Jews in WWII.

( )

9. Over 60%. ( M. Axworthy; A History of Iran : Empire of the Mind; Basic
Books; New York : 2008.)

-In fact, many women?even married women?have professional jobs.

10. 1.4%. ( M. Axworthy; A History of Iran : Empire of the Mind; Basic
Books; New York : 2008.)

11. True. In March 2002, the Arab League summit in Beirut unanimously put
forth a peace initiative that commits it not just to recognize Israel but
also to establish normal relations once Israel implements the international
consensus for a comprehensive peace?which includes Israel withdrawing from
the occupied territories and a just settlement of the Palestinian refugee
crisis. (This peace initiative has been subsequently reaffirmed including at
the March 2009 Arab League summit at Doha.) All 57 members of the
Organization of the Islamic Conference, including Iran , "adopted the Arab
peace initiative to resolve the issue of Palestine and the Middle East ...
and decided to use all possible means in order to explain and clarify the
full implications of this initiative and win international support for its
implementation." ( Norman G. Finkelstein; This Time We Went Too Far: Truth
and Consequences of the Gaza Invasion; OR Books; New York : 2010; p. 42.)

12. The U.S. and Britain . ( Stephen Kinzer; All The Shah's Men: An American
Coup and the Roots of Middle East Terror; John Wiley & Sons, Inc.; New
Jersey: 2008.)

-According to Kinzer, Iranians had been complaining that the British-owned
Anglo-Iranian Oil Company (AIOC) had not been sharing profits on Iranian
petroleum with Iran fairly; and Iran's parliament (Majles) had tried to
renegotiate with the AIOC. When the AIOC rejected renegotiation, Mossadegh
introduced the nationalization act in 1951. In response, Britain and the
U.S. organized a global boycott of Iran which sent the Iranian economy into
a tailspin. Later, the military coup was orchestrated that reinstalled the
shah. (One irony is that Britain itself had nationalized several industries
in the 1940s and 1950s.)

13. Madeleine Albright: U.S. Secretary of State , 1997 -2001. ( Stephen
Kinzer; All The Shah's Men: An American Coup and the Roots of Middle East
Terror; John Wiley & Sons, Inc.; New Jersey : 2008; p.212.)

14. According to William Blum, a highly respected author and journalist,
"The notorious Iranian security service, SAVAK, which employed torture
routinely, was created under the guidance of the CIA and Israel in the
1950s. According to a former CIA analyst on Iran, Jesse J. Leaf, SAVAK was
instructed in torture techniques by the Agency. After the 1979 revolution,
the Iranians found CIA film made for SAVAK on how to torture women." (

-According to Reed College Professor Darius Rejali, one of the world's
leading writers on the subject of torture and the consequences of its use
for modern society, ?[T]he Iranian revolution of 1978-1979 was the
revolution against torture. When the Shah criticized Khomayni as a
blackrobed Islamic medieval throwback, Khomayni replied, look who is
talking, the man who tortures. This was powerful rhetoric for recruiting
people, then as it is now. People joined the revolutionary opposition
because of the Shah's brutality, and they remembered who installed him. If
anyone wants to know why Iranians hated the U.S. so, all they have to do is
ask what America 's role was in promoting torture in Iran . Torture not only
shaped the revolution, it was the factor that has deeply poisoned the
relationship of Iran with the West. So why trust the West again? And the
Iranian leadership doesn't.? ( )

15. No.

-"We judge with high confidence that in fall 2003, Tehran halted its nuclear
program ?? ? We judge with high confidence that Iran will not be technically
capable of producing and reprocessing enough plutonium for a weapon before
about 2015.? ( U.S. National Intelligence Estimate Iran: Nuclear Intentions
and Capabilities November 2007 )

-According to U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency Chief Lt. Gen. Ronald
Burgess, "The bottom line assessments of the [National Intelligence
Estimate] still hold true, " ? We have not seen indication that the
government has made the decision to move ahead with the [nuclear weapons]
program." (

16. Yes. (

17. No. ( )

18. Yes.

-According to Juan Cole, The NPT specifies that ?Nothing in this Treaty
shall be interpreted as affecting the inalienable right of all the Parties
to the Treaty to develop research, production and use of nuclear energy for
peaceful purposes without discrimination.? Therefore, as long as Iran meets
its responsibilities under the NPT and continues to allow inspections by the
IAEA, it is acting within its rights. The sorts of research facilities
maintained by Iran are common in industrialized countries. The real issue is
trust and transparency rather than purely one of technology. Yet, Iran has
not always been forthcoming in fulfilling its obligations under the NPT.

The Ford administration of the mid-1970s produced a memo saying that the
shah's regime must ?prepare against the time ? when Iranian oil production
is expected to decline sharply.? Iran 's energy reserves are extensive, so
that fear was misplaced. But Iran already uses domestically 2 million of the
4 million barrels a day it produces, and it could well cease being an
exporter and even become a net importer in the relatively near future. (This
helps explain Iran's focus on nuclear energy. Yet, the desire for nuclear
weapons isn't irrational either.) Ford authorized a plutonium reprocessing
plant for Iran , which could have allowed it to close the fuel cycle, a step
toward producing a bomb.

In the 1970s, GE and Westinghouse won contracts to build eight nuclear
reactors in Iran . The shah intimated that Iran would seek nuclear weapons,
without facing any adverse consequences beyond some reprimands from the U.S.
or Western Europe . In contrast, Khomeini was horrified by the idea of using
weapons of mass destruction, and he declined to deploy chemical weapons at
the front in the Iran-Iraq War, even though Saddam had no such compunctions
and extensively used mustard gas and sarin on Iranian troops. ( Juan Cole;
Engaging the Muslim World; Palgrave Macmillan; New York: 2009)

19. Martin van Creveld: Distinguished professor of military history and
strategy at Hebrew University in Jerusalem . ( )
-It should not be surprising that Creveld would deem it rational for Iran to
want nuclear weapons. "For more than half a century, Britain and the US have
menaced Iran . In 1953, the CIA and MI6 overthrew the democratic government
of Mohammed Mossadegh, an inspired nationalist who believed that Iranian oil
belonged to Iran . They installed the venal shah and, through a monstrous
creation called SAVAK, built one of the most vicious police states of the
modern era. The Islamic revolution in 1979 was inevitable and very nasty,
yet it was not monolithic and, through popular pressure and movement from
within the elite, Iran has begun to open to the outside world ? in spite of
having sustained an invasion by Saddam Hussein, who was encouraged and
backed by the US and Britain.
At the same time, Iran has lived with the real threat of an Israeli attack,
possibly with nuclear weapons, about which the ?international community' has
remained silent.? ( )

20. 20%. ( Juan Cole; Engaging The Muslim World; Palgrave Macmillan; New
York : 2009; p.197.)

21. 75%. ( Juan Cole; Engaging the Muslim World; Palgrave Macmillan; ( New
York : 2009); p.197.)

-One wonders what the percentage of Canadians?or Americans?held the same

22. According to the Washington Post, ?Just after the lightning takeover of
Baghdad by U.S. forces ? an unusual two-page document spewed out of a fax
machine at the Near East bureau of the State Department. It was a proposal
from Iran for a broad dialogue with the United States , and the fax
suggested everything was on the table -- including full cooperation on
nuclear programs, acceptance of Israel and the termination of Iranian
support for Palestinian militant groups. But top Bush administration
officials, convinced the Iranian government was on the verge of collapse,
belittled the initiative. Instead, they formally complained to the Swiss
ambassador who had sent the fax with a cover letter certifying it as a
genuine proposal supported by key power centers in Iran ?? (

23. True. According to Ali M. Ansari, Professor of Iranian history at the
University of St. Andrews, ?[K]hatami, moved quickly to offer his
condolences to the US President [after the 9/11 attacks]. ? [T]he Iranians
soon recognized the opportunity that now confronted them. The United States
was determined to dismantle Al Qaeda, and in the face of Taleban obstinacy
decided on the removal of the Taleban. Nothing could be more amenable to the
Iranians, who had been waging a proxy war against the Taleban for the better
part of five years. ? The collaboration which took place both during and
after the war against the Taleban seemed to inaugurate a period of d?tente
between Iran and the United States ? It came as something of a shock
therefore to discover that President Bush had decided to label Iran part of
the ?Axis of Evil' ? Now it appeared that the [Iranian] hardliners within
the regime had been correct after all; the United States could not be
trusted ?? ( Ali M. Ansari; Modern Iran: The Pahlavis and After Second
Edition; Pearson Education; Great Britain: 2007; pp. 331-332.)

24. Yes. ( )

-One wonders what the Bush administration thought the party name entailed?
Would it have been unreasonable to assume it had good relations with Iran
and might support an Islamic Revolution?

-In 2007, the party, showing good public relations, changed its name to the
Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq .

25. Flynt Leverett: Senior director for Middle East affairs in the U.S.
National Security Council from March 2002 to March 2003. He left the George
W. Bush Administration and government service in 2003 because of
disagreements about Middle East policy and the conduct of the war on terror.
( )

26. A task force sponsored by the Council on Foreign Relations and chaired
by two prominent members of the American foreign policy establishment,
former CIA director Robert Gates and former national security adviser
Zbigniew Brzezinski, recommended ?a revised strategic approach to Iran.?
Their report included the above statement. (

Jeffrey Rudolph, a college professor in Montreal, was the Quebec
representative of the East Timor Alert Network, and presented a paper on its
behalf at the United Nations. He prepared the widely-distributed, ?Can You
Pass the Israel-Palestine Quiz,? which can be found at,