Iran war graphic
Former United States president George W Bush issued an ultimatum to Saddam Hussein before bombing and invading Iraq.

Nine years later, US President Barack Obama has issued an ultimatum to the leadership in Tehran before ... setting optimal conditions for an "all options on the table" exercise.

Obama has made an offer to Tehran to "negotiate" its nuclear program - ahead of long-delayed talks between the "Iran Six" (P5+1 - the five permanent members of the UN Security Council - the US, the United Kingdom, China, Russia and France - plus Germany) and Iran scheduled for Istanbul on Saturday.

For starters, it's not an offer; it's a list of demands - even before any negotiation takes place. And these "near term" concessions are packaged - according to the president's own rhetoric - as a "last chance".

In modern times, this used to be known as an ultimatum. In the post-everything era, it passes for "international diplomacy".

Obama wants Tehran to shut down and in fact destroy the Fordow enrichment plant, built under a mountain outside the holy city of Qom; he wants Tehran to definitely renounce and "surrender" its entire stockpile of uranium enriched to 20%; to stop any sort of enrichment, even to harmless 5% (which means Iran renouncing its whole civilian nuclear program, to which it has a right according to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty ); to allow International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspectors full access to all Iranian nuclear sites (they already have it); and to let the inspectors talk to all top Iranian nuclear scientists (that's not exactly possible; quite a few have been assassinated by Israel's Mossad).

So welcome to the "roll over and die" school of diplomacy - as perfected by the Obama administration, with vital input from the Israel lobby in Washington. It's our way of the highway. And the highway is to hell - to the sound of "Bomb Bomb Iran".

Another war for the 1%

No wonder the proverbial "Israeli officials" are delighted that Iran - via its Foreign Ministry - has rejected all these demands as "irrational"; for Tel Aviv, the Iranian response is "good".

"Good" means the list of demands spells out the inevitable failure of the talks - which is the core of the Israeli strategy. Afterwards Obama may (will) use the failure as the perfect excuse to apply even harsher sanctions - and who knows what else.

The whole Israeli official apparatus for months have been brainwashing Israeli, American and European public opinion for war on Iran by all means necessary - manipulating everything from a nonsensical "existential threat" to the coming of a "second Holocaust".

Now the whole Fordow controversy is linked to the Israeli spin of another shady concept - known as "sphere of immunity". Tel Aviv insists Fordow will allow Tehran to protect the more sensitive elements of its nuclear program literally inside a mountain - immune from the most powerful GBU-28 bunker buster bombs (which Obama, by the way, agreed to sell to Israel).

This is absolutely nonsense. Tel Aviv invented this "sphere of immunity" smokescreen after civilian nuclear activity was already taking place in Fordow, under IAEA supervision.

Yet the tail once again wags the dog. Washington once again is remote-controlled by Tel Aviv.

Polls have shown that a majority of Israelis - in a fabulous display of ... altruism? - only want a war on Iran if the American Big Brother leads (and faces the direst consequences). And it doesn't matter that the nebula of Israeli intel is itself divided.

Context is key. The wealthiest 500 Israelis are worth roughly $75 billion. That in a country with a gross domestic product of only $205 billion.

The wealthiest 20 Israeli families control almost half of the stock market. Their collective wealth is 25% bigger than Israel's budget for 2011. And guess who these people are? The top supporters of the Likud-Ysrael Beitenu coalition in power, with Prime Minister Benjamin "Bibi" Netanyahu at the helm (Ysrael Beitenu is led by former Moldova bouncer turned Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman).

So it's the cream of the 1% in Israel that want war on Iran - as much as quite a few scoops of the cream of the 1% in the US.

The point in this whole nuclear "negotiation" shadow play is to sell to American - and world - public opinion the notion that Iran once again is stalling; has a lot to hide; and simply cannot be trusted to be engaged in any "serious" negotiations.

US corporate media has already pre-empted the negotiations with the usual rhetorical missiles - to the delight of armchair warmongers in the US Congress and vast sectors of the industrial-military complex. The "Bomb Iran" crowd will do everything in its power to merge Obama's "last chance" into the deafening drums of war.

Pepe Escobar is the author of Globalistan: How the Globalized World is Dissolving into Liquid War (Nimble Books, 2007) and Red Zone Blues: a snapshot of Baghdad during the surge. His most recent book, just out, is Obama does Globalistan (Nimble Books, 2009).