Washington, DC – “Iran is at war with the United States, and we are not responding,” declared Michael Ledeen at the February 8th screening of a new film, Iranium, on Capitol Hill. The film, which is also being screened across the country, including at AMC Theatres, calls for “crippling sanctions” against Iran and asserts that “if economic pressure is not successful then military force may be utilized.” The Capitol Hill event was sponsored by Endowment for Middle East Truth and the Republican Jewish Coalition, in association with House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA).
The film urges viewers to join “Iran’s new revolution,” yet members of Iran’s Green Movement have expressed strong opposition to the movie, as reported by BBC Persian. A Facebook page established by Green Movement activists reads: “In one of the grandest acts of moral corruption and political thievery, a recent “documentary“ called “Iranium” (2011) seeks to steal the struggles and sacrifices of the Iranian people’s Green Movement to make a deceitful case for yet another WAR.” Iranian actress Shohreh Aghdashloo, who narrated the film, has also faced criticism for her participation in the effort because of its apparent advocacy for war with Iran.
Iranium utilizes many of the same tactics that were utilized by neoconservatives to build the case for a US war with Iraq. The film claims Iran directly supported the 9/11 attacks, depicts countless images of mushroom clouds and even simulated attacks by Iran on the American homeland, and encourages that military action be utilized to topple Iran’s government on behalf of the Iranian people.
The movie relies heavily on speculation from a network of neoconservatives like Kenneth Timmerman and Frank Gaffney, and on commentary from lawmakers like Senator Jon Kyl (R-AZ). Other contributors include prominent supporters of military action against Iran like former CIA agent Reuel Marc Gerecht, and former Bush Administration officials like John Bolton and Harold Rhode, who worked in the Office of Special Plans to help build the case for war with Iraq. At an early screening of the film on February 1st at the Heritage Foundation, Richard Perle, who has been called the “architect” of the Iraq invasion, endorsed Iranium and echoed strong support for the films agenda.
Where the film defers from previous efforts to build support for war with Iraq is that it does not explicitly call for war with Iran. Instead, the film focuses heavily on the notion that Iran is a dire threat and that the US must support the people of Iran. It leads viewers to the conclusion that military action is the only available option to address these issues.
Footage from the Neda Soltan’s death is used to make the film’s case. Other footage from Iran includes a scene in which two young Iranian boys are playing a videogame system at a Tehran mall, while former CIA Director James Woolsey argues that Iran sanctions should be “crippling” in order to cut off such goods and only allow the import of “food, pharmaceuticals, and bare necessities.” The film also features images from the September 11th attacks and a simulation depicting Iranian naval vessels approaching the East coast of the United States and launching missiles at multiple cities.
At the February screening on Capitol Hill, several Members of Congress were in attendance. “It is time that we recognize our enemies, and it is time that we confront them,” said Allen West (R-FL) in remarks at the event. “In that part of the world, they only understand one word, and that is ‘strength’.”