Iran, oil and the March solar eclipse
who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it. - George
A South News commentary February 23
The month of March is shaping up as real crunch time in the
history of the Middle East. Iran is to be taken to the UN Security
Council by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) on its nuclear
program with the possibility of punitive sanctions. Iran plans on its
New Year on March 20 to begin an oil bourse trading in Euros which poses
a direct threat to the monopoly of oil pricing enjoyed by the New York
and London exchanges and hence to the status of the U.S. dollar itself
as the principal world reserve currency. Israel has a general election
scheduled for March 28 which could determine the course of the
Palestinian peace process for years to come.
by Dave Muller
The U.S. and Israel has plans
afoot for a military strike possibly using mini nukes with military
planners paying as much attention to the waxing and waning of the moon
as mythical werewolves. A dark sky with little or no visible crescent is
a premium time to launch an aerial attack continuing a long military
tradition of surprising the enemy in the dead of night.
On Wednesday 29th March not only
will no moon be visible but the Sun will temporarily vanish in the sky
by a total solar eclipse. The 1991 Gulf War was launched Jan 17 a day
after the central solar eclipse the day before.
shadow of the Moon will sweep a band starting from Brazil, through
Atlantic Ocean, Gold Coast of Africa, Saharan Desert, Mediterranean Sea,
Turkey, Black Sea, Georgia, Russian Federation, northern shores of
Caspian Sea, Kazakhstan; ending in Mongolia. The duration of totality
will be less than 2 minutes near the sunrise and sunset limits, but will
be as long as 4 minutes and 7 seconds in Libya, at the moment of
greatest eclipse. The 1991 Gulf War annular eclipse lasted 7 minutes 53
2006 Total Solar
Eclipse Path Animation (by British astronomer Andrew Sinclair)
Is history about to repeat itself?
We are all familiar with the recurrence of natural phenomena such
as the daily sunrise and sunset, the annual cycle of seasons and the
monthly waxing and waning of the moon. Such recurrence in nature gives
us a sense of time and calendars in charting cultural festivals and
birthdays and invoking a sense of history.
While solar and lunar eclipses regularly occur every 6 months
they do so asymmetrically in time and place and do with different
physical characteristics and geometry. But there is a longer eclipse
period of time of natural recurrence. There is the Meton cycle of 19
years, where eclipses occur of the same day of year within hours.
Despite this synchronicity the eclipses have neither the same
physical geometry nor occur in the same region of the Earth. Then there
is the Exeligmos or a triple Saros (54 years and 34 days) when the
shadow of the moon returns to the same place and time on the globe with
the same geometry and characteristics. - 1898, 1952 and 2006, etc.
Thus it useful to examine the total solar eclipse of
February 25 1952 and the political events at that time to see if
human history has learnt anything since then.
'cold war' total solar eclipse
The path of totality eclipse of February 25 1952 passes over some
of the world largest oil fields - Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Iran, and
the former Soviet Union’s oil fields, now Turmenistan, Uzbekistan,
Kazakhstan. The eclipse directly passing over Tehran and Baku as key oil
1952 was also a crunch year for Iran when President Mohammed Mossadaq
nationalised the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company in order to ensure that oil
profits remain in Iran instead of flowing into British and American oil
corporation coffers. British oil professionals left Iran and Britain
ordered a boycott of Iranian oil, effectively shutting down the oil
industry in Iran for the time being. The Iranian economy headed towards
bottom as foreign exchange withered away and oil revenues went to
nil Mossadaq realises that Britain will attempt to overthrow his
government, so he closes the British Embassy and sends all British
civilians, including its intelligence operatives, out of the country.
Britain challenged the legality of Iran’s oil nationalisation.
However the International Court of Justice in The Hague finally ruled in
favor of Iran on July 22nd. (1) Despite appeals Britain finds
itself with no way to stage the coup it desires, so it approaches the
American intelligence community for help. Their first approach results
in abject failure when Harry Truman throws the British representatives
out of his office, stating that "We don’t overthrow governments; the
United States has never done this before, and we’re not going to start
now." After Eisenhower is elected in November 1952, the British have a
much more receptive audience, and plans for overthrowing Mossadaq are
On the day of this 1952 eclipse, Prime Minister Winston
Churchill announces that his nation has an atomic bomb as perhaps a
veiled threat to Tehran but it was only later in the year to 1957 that
Britain actually conducted 12 major nuclear tests in Australia and Monte
Bello islands. Later in 1952, the US successfully detonates the first
hydrogen bomb at Eniwetok island in the Bikini atoll located in the
the US Republican Senator Joseph McCarthy continued his witch
hunt attempting to discredit the Truman administration. A wave of
anti-communism, known as "McCarthyism," swept the country. On April 10,
film director Elia Kazan testified before the House Un-American
Activities Committee, naming 15 of his former colleagues as members of
the Communist Party
With the Korean war not going well on February 25, the day of this eclipse, the US
Joint Chiefs of Staff hand-delivered a secret order JCS directive (JCS
#1837/29) to Gen. Ridgeway to large scale test use of germ warfare
against N Korean and Chinese forces. The American flyers were given
brief lectures on germ warfare. They were told that germ warfare was a
top secret and that disclosing it to anyone would lead to a
court-martial and if convicted, death as the likely penalty.
On March 15, 1952, The People's Daily
in Beijing printed nine photographs it claimed were proof that the
United States was waging germ warfare in China. They showed clumps of
dead flies, close-ups of other insects, microscopic images of bacteria
and smudges identified as bluish impurities, among other things. The
captions described poisonous insects, meningitis double globular
bacteria, ulcerous cylindrical bacteria and flies that could crawl but
A recent publication by two prominent historians, Stephen
Endicott and Edward Hagerman, (3) provided convincing documentary
evidence for America's secret germ warfare in Korea and China during
Eclipses are classified as belonging to a particular genus or family,
known as a Saros series because of their similar geometry and physical
characteristics with a periodicity of 223 new moons. The March 29th
solar eclipse of 2006 is the 29 eclipse of Saros 139. Occurring on the
moon's ascending node the moon shadow of totality moves globally from
the south-west to the north-east from the Gold Coast of Africa,
the Middle East to the Caspian Sea.
Successive eclipses in a Saros (18 years 11 days 8 hours)
series, while similar, the time of maximum totality is shifted by 8
hours so that successive eclipses are about 120º apart in
Thus for the eclipses of February 14 1934 and
March 18 1988 the moon path of totality runs from the Indonesian oil
fields through the Philippines northwards through the pacific to end off
the coast of Alaska, with degrees of partiality occurring in Indo-China
Korea, Japan and China. Whereas for the eclipses of February 3
1916 and March 7 1970 the moon path of totality runs from the Pacific
through Latin America close to New York to the northern Atlantic.
escalates Vietnam war to Cambodia
- March 5 -
The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty goes into effect after ratification
by 43 nations.
- March 17 - My
Lai massacre: The United States Army charges 14 officers with
suppressing information related to the incident.
- March 18 - In a
US instigated coup Lon Nol ousts Prince Norodom Sihanouk of Cambodia.
- April 29 - U.S.
invades Cambodia. Massive protests against the war continue in the U.S.
- May 4 - The Kent
State shootings: Four students at Kent State University in Ohio are
killed and 9 wounded by National Guardsmen at a demonstration protesting
against the incursion into Cambodia
Oil Tanker wars of
The most recent eclipse in Saros 139 occurred 1988 March 18. In the
Persian Gulf, during the Iran-Iraq war, at this time with Iran blocking
the Straits of Hormuz to oil tankers leaving Arab ports.
On April 14, 1988, the frigate USS Samuel B. Roberts was badly damaged
by an Iranian mine. U.S. forces responded with Operation Praying Mantis on April
18, the United States Navy's largest engagement of surface warships
since World War II.
In the course of these escorts
by the U.S. Navy, the cruiser USS Vincennes shot down Iran Air Flight
655 with the loss of all 290 passengers and crew on July 3, 1988. The
American government claimed that the airliner had been mistaken for an
Iranian F-14 Tomcat, and that the Vincennes was operating in
international waters at the time and feared that it was under attack. It
has since emerged, however, that the Vincennes was in fact in Iranian
territorial waters, and that the Iranian passenger jet was turning away
and increasing altitude after take-off. The U.S. paid compensation but
Through all of this, members of the Reagan Administration had at the
same time, also been secretly selling weapons to Iran - first indirectly
( through Israel) and then directly. It claimed that the administration
hoped Iran would, in exchange, persuade several radical groups to
release Western hostages. (for details see the Iran-Contra Affair). The money from the
sales was channeled to equip the Nicaraguan Contras, right-wing rebels.
Oliver North and Vice-Admiral John Poindexter are indicted on charges of
conspiracy on March 16- a day before this eclipse.
Kurds in Halabja
According to several accounts,
on the evening of March 16/17 Iraq uses US-supplied Bell helicopters to
deploy chemical weapons during its campaign to recapture lost
territories in its war with Iran. One of the towns that is within the
conflict zone is the Kurdish village of Halabja, with a population of
about 70,000. Between 3,200 and 5,000 Halabja civilians are reportedly
killed by poison gas. But the story gets murkier: immediately
after the battle the United States Defense Intelligence Agency
investigated and produced a classified report, which it circulated
within the intelligence community on a need-to-know basis. That study
asserted that it was Iranian gas that killed the Kurds, not Iraqi gas.
The agency did find that each side used gas against the other in the
battle around Halabja. The condition of the dead Kurds' bodies, however,
indicated they had been killed with a blood agent — that is, a
cyanide-based gas — which Iran was known to use. The Iraqis, who are
thought to have used mustard gas in the battle, are not known to have
possessed blood agents at the time
[New York Times, 1/31/03; Johnson and Pelletiere, 12/10/1990; International Herald Tribune 1/17/03; Weinstein and Rempel, 2/13/1991 cited in Hurd and
Rangwala, 12/21/2001; Washington Post, 3/11/1991]
path of totality
While the 1991 Gulf War eclipse
of midnight (GMT) Jan 15/16 belonged to Saros series 131 the total
eclipse of 2006 March 29 is the 29th eclipse of 71 members that
belong to Saros series 139.
The eclipse track begins in eastern Brazil, where the Moon's shadow
first touches down on Earth at 08:36 GMT. Traveling over 9 km/s, the
umbra quickly leaves Brazil and races across the Atlantic Ocean for the
next half hour. Sweeping in from the Gulf of Guinea totality encounters
the coast of Ghana at 09:08 GMT. Moving inland totality enters Togo at
09:14 GMT. Continuing northeast, the shadow's axis enters Nigeria at
is the United States' fifth-largest supplier of foreign oil . The
eclipse takes about sixteen minutes to cross western Nigeria before
During the next hour, the shadow traverses some of the most remote and
desolate deserts on the planet. Niger, an impoverished nation on the
western edge of the Sahara desert, is the world's third largest producer
of the chief arguments used by the Bush administration to justify the
invasion of Iraq in March 2003 was that Iraq was "reconstituting its
nuclear weapons programs." Central to this argument was the claim that
Iraq attempted to obtain processed uranium from Niger.
When it reaches northern Niger, it briefly enters
extreme northwestern Chad before crossing into oil rich Libya. Maximum duration of
totality lasts for about 4m07s in southern Libya where the shadow width
is about 184 km wide and travels at about 0.7 km/sec .Here totality will
occur at 10:10 GMT
Totality over the eastern Mediterranean will occur about 40 minutes
later with only a slightly shorter duration .Passing directly between
Crete and Cyprus, the track reaches the southern coast of Turkey at
Crossing mountainous regions of central Turkey, the Moon's shadow
intersects the path of the 1999 Aug 11 total eclipse.
At 11:10 GMT, the shadow axis reaches the Black Sea along the northern
coast of Turkey. Six minutes later, the umbra encounters the western
shore of Georgia, entering once again a sensitive oil region Moving
inland, the track crosses the Caucasus Mountains, which form the highest
mountain chain of Europe. As the shadow proceeds into Russia, it engulfs
the northern end of the Caspian Sea and crosses into Kazakhstan.
In the remaining seventeen minutes, the shadow rapidly accelerates
across central Asia while the duration dwindles. It traverses northern
Kazakhstan and briefly re-enters Russia before lifting off Earth's
surface at sunset along Mongolia's northern border.
The inception of U.S. imperialism is generally traced to 1898, and the
acquisition of an overseas empire (Puerto Rico, the Philippines) as
spoils of the Spanish-American War. This accompanied the rise of the
Rockefeller oil dynastry and its later grab in the Middle East.
Today the U.S. is really bogged down in Iraq and its imperial star in
the Pleiades is fading worldwide. Geo-politically, the 7 sisters no
longer control the world oil as Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez is
demonstrating with his subsidising of heating oil to the U.S. poor.
George W. Bush's popularity is reaching new lows as did those of Nixon
in the 1970 when he escalated the Vietnam war into Cambodia. But given
the US and its media propaganda are set on surgical strikes on Iran all
we can say that the geography is not on its side. The Iranians need only
retaliate against two or three major oil installations, besides sinking
enough tonnage to make the Straits of Hormuz perilous to navigation and
world oil markets.
So - called 'surgical' strikes will transform a nuclear program
that is ambiguous into an unambiguously military program designed to
obtain nuclear weapons at any cost, and will accelerate rather
than prevent, Iran developing nuclear weapons. Even talk of
military action inevitably pushes the Iranian government toward the
Unfortunately, the message is still not sinking in that George W Bush
is not Theodore Roosevelt. It is 2006 not 1898.
and history teach is this -- that people and governments never have
learned anything from history, or acted on
principles. G. W. Hegel
Last updated March 14 2006