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Iran Super Thread- Merged

Iran's defence industry at work:

Iran launches production lines for unmanned planes

By NASSER KARIMI, Associated Press Writer Nasser Karimi, Associated Press Writer – 2 hrs 2 mins ago

TEHRAN, Iran – Iran has launched two production lines to build unmanned aircraft with surveillance and attack capabilities, the defense minister announced Monday.

It also announced that Iran would soon deploy a missile air defense system more powerful than the advanced Russian S-300 system Tehran has ordered from Moscow in 2007 but has yet to receive.

The state television quoted Defense Minister Gen. Ahmad Vahidi as saying the unmanned aircraft would be able to carry out surveillance as well as offensive tasks with high precision and a long range.

The two types of aircraft, or drones, are named Ra'd (thunder) and Nazir (herald), with the former possessing offensive capabilities.
Iran announced two years ago it had built an unmanned aircraft, but details were only revealed last year when Vahidi said it has a range of more than 600 miles (1,000 kilometers), long enough to reach Israel. It was not clear whether Ra'd or Nazir has such a range.

Iran frequently makes announcements about the strides being made by its military industries, however, it is virtually impossible to independently determine the actual capabilities or combat worthiness of the weapons Iran is producing.

Iran began a military self-sufficiency program in 1992, under which it produces a large range of weapons, including tanks, medium range missiles, jet fighters and torpedoes.

Meanwhile, a senior air force commander, Gen. Heshmatollah Kasiri, told the official IRNA news agency Monday that Iran would "soon" deploy an air defense system with capabilities matching, or superior to, those of the Russian S-300 system.

He did not elaborate, but the S-300 missiles are capable of shooting down aircraft, cruise missiles and ballistic missile warheads at ranges of over 90 miles (145 kilometers) and at altitudes of about 90,000 feet.

Gen. Kasiri said Iran produces its entire air defense needs domestically, but still criticized Russia for not delivering the S-300 missiles for "unacceptable reasons."

Russia signed a 2007 contract to sell the S-300 missile system to Iran, but they have not been delivered yet. The delay has not been explained, but Israel and the United States have strongly objected to the deal.

The S-300 missiles would significantly boost Iran's air defense capability at a time when Israel says it will not rule out taking military action against Iran's nuclear sites. Israel and the West believe that Iran's nuclear program is geared toward acquiring nuclear weapons. Iran denies the charge.

Iran reportedly gets closer to having nuke warhead capability.

From the Associated Press

Iran moves closer to nuke warhead capacity
By GEORGE JAHN, Associated Press Writer – 2 hrs 13 mins ago
VIENNA – Iran pressed ahead Monday with plans that will increase its ability to make nuclear weapons as it formally informed the U.N. nuclear agency of its intention to enrich uranium to higher levels.

Alarmed world powers questioned the rationale behind the move and warned the country it could face more U.N. sanctions if it made good on its intentions.

Iran maintains its nuclear activities are peaceful, and an envoy insisted the move was meant only to provide fuel for Tehran's research reactor. But world powers fearing that Iran's enrichment program might be a cover for a weapons program were critical.

Britain said the Islamic Republic's reason for further enrichment made no sense because it is not technically advanced enough to turn the resulting material into the fuel rods needed for the reactor.

France and the U.S. said the latest Iranian move left no choice but to push harder for a fourth set of U.N. Security Council sanctions to punish Iran's nuclear defiance.

Even a senior parliamentarian from Russia, which traditionally opposes Western ambitions for new U.N. sanctions, suggested the time had now come for such additional punishment

Konstantin Kosachev, head of the international affairs committee of the State Duma — the lower house of parliament — told the Interfax news agency that the international community should "react to this step with serious measures, including making the regime of economic sanctions more severe."

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad had already announced Sunday that his country would significantly enrich at least some of the country's stockpile of uranium to 20 percent. Still, Monday's formal notification was significant, particularly because of Iran's waffling in recent months on the issue.

Western powers blame Iran for rejecting an internationally endorsed plan to take Iranian low enriched uranium, further enriching it and return it in the form of fuel rods for the reactor — and in broader terms for turning down other overtures meant to diminish concerns about its nuclear agenda.

Telling The Associated Press that his country now had formally told the International Atomic Energy Agency of its intentions, Iranian envoy Ali Asghar Soltanieh said that IAEA inspectors now overseeing enrichment to low levels would be able to stay on site to monitor the process.

He suggested world powers had pushed Iran into the decision, asserting that it was their fault that the plan that foresaw Russian and French involvement in supplying fuel from enriched uranium for the Tehran research reactor had failed.

"Until now, we have not received any response to our positive logical and technical proposal," he said. "We cannot leave hospitals and patients desperately waiting for radio isotopes" being produced at the Tehran reactor and used in cancer treatment, he added.

The IAEA confirmed receiving formal notification in a restricted note to the agency's 35-nation board made available to The Associated Press.

Iran's atomic energy organization informed the agency that "production of less than 20 percent enriched uranium is being foreseen," said the note.

"Less than 20 percent" means enrichment to a tiny fraction below that level — in effect 20 percent but formally just below threshold for high enriched uranium.

At the same time, the note indicated that Iran was keeping the agency in the dark about specifics, saying the IAEA "is in the process of seeking clarifications from Iran regarding the starting date of the process for the production of such material and other technical details."

On Sunday, Iranian officials said higher enrichment would start on Tuesday.

At a news conference with French Defense Minister Herve Morin, U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates praised President Barack Obama's attempts to engage the Islamic Republic diplomatically and chided Tehran for not reciprocating.

"No U.S. president has reached out more sincerely, and frankly taken more political risk, in an effort to try to create an opening for engagement for Iran," he said. "All these initiatives have been rejected."

Morin said France and the U.S. agreed that there was no choice but "to work for new measures within the framework of the Security Council" — a stance echoed by Israel, Iran's most implacable foe.

Tehran's enrichment plans are "additional proof of the fact that Iran is ridiculing the entire world," said Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak. "The right response is to impose decisive and permanent sanctions on Iran."

Although material for the fissile core of a nuclear warhead must be enriched to a level of 90 percent or more, just getting its stockpile to the 20 percent mark would be a major step for Iran's nuclear program. While enriching to 20 percent would take about one year, using up to 2,000 centrifuges at Tehran's underground Natanz facility, any next step — moving from 20 to 90 percent — would take only half a year and between 500-1,000 centrifuges.

Achieving the 20-percent level "would be going most of the rest of the way to weapon-grade uranium," said David Albright, whose Washington-based Institute for Science and International Security tracks suspected proliferators.

Soltanieh declined to say how much of Iran's stockpile — now estimated at 1.8 tons — would be enriched. Nor did he say when the process would begin. Albright said enriching to higher levels could begin within a day — or only in several months, depending on how far technical preparations had progressed.

Apparent technical problems could also slow the process, he said.

Iran's enrichment program "should be like a Christmas tree in full light," he said. "In fact, the lights are flickering."

While Iran would be able to enrich up to 20 percent, a senior U.S official told the AP that the research reactor would run out of fuel before enough material was produced. He asked for anonymity because he was not authorized to speak on the issue.

Britain's Foreign Office said the "enriched uranium could not be used for the Tehran Research Reactor as Iran does not have the technology to manufacture it into fuel rods."

Legal constraints could tie Iran's hands as well. A senior official from one of the IAEA's 35 board member nations senior official said he believed Tehran was obligated to notify the agency 60 days in advance of starting to enrich to higher levels.

The official asked for anonymity because he was not authorized to comment on the issue.

The Iranian move came just days after Ahmadinejad appeared to move close to endorsing the original deal, which foresaw Tehran exporting the bulk of its low-enriched uranium to Russia for further enrichment and then conversion for fuel rods for the research reactor.

That plan was welcomed internationally because it would have delayed Iran's ability to make a nuclear weapons by shipping out about 70 percent of its low-enriched uranium stockpile, thereby leaving it with not enough to make a bomb. Tehran denies nuclear weapons ambitions, insisting it needs to enrich to create fuel for an envisioned nuclear reactor network.

The proposal was endorsed by the U.S., Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany — the six powers that originally elicited a tentative approval from Iran in landmark talks last fall. Since then, however, mixed messages from Tehran have infuriated the U.S. and its European allies, who claim Iran is only stalling for time as it attempts to build a nuclear weapon.

Iran has defied five U.N. Security Council resolutions — and three sets of U.N. sanctions — aimed at pressuring it to freeze enrichment, and has instead steadily expanded its program.


Associated Press writers Danica Kirka and David Stringer in London, Anne Flaherty in Paris, Matthew Lee in Washington, James Heintz in Moscow and Geir Moulson in Berlin contributed to this report.
What could they be planning to do on the 11th?  Preparing to test a new weapon perhaps? :eek:

Breitbart news link

Bolton: Even Severe Sanctions Wont Dissuade Iran From Pursuing Nuclear Weapons

Supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said on Monday that Iran is set to deliver a "punch" that will stun world powers during this week's 31st anniversary of the Islamic revolution.
"The Iranian nation, with its unity and God's grace, will punch the arrogance (Western powers) on the 22nd of Bahman (February 11) in a way that will leave them stunned," Khamenei, who is also Iran's commander-in-chief, told a gathering of air force personnel.

The country's top cleric was marking the occasion when Iran's air force gave its support to revolutionary leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, a key event which led to the toppling of the US-backed shah on February 11, 1979.

His comments came as Iran said it would begin to produce higher enriched uranium from Tuesday, in defiance of Western powers trying to ensure the country's nuclear drive is peaceful.

This year's anniversary is expected to become a flashpoint between security forces and supporters of opposition leaders Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi, who charge that the June re-election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was rigged.

Opposition supporters are expected to stage anti-government protests on Thursday when the traditional regime-sponsored marches to mark the revolution take place across the country.

Mousavi renewed his call for demonstrations on the February 11 anniversary.

Just over a week ago, he and Karroubi had implicitly called for a gathering of their supporters.

"The 22nd of Bahman is upon us, truly it should be called the day of gathering," Mousavi said on his Kaleme.org website Monday.

"I feel we have to participate while maintaining the collective spirit as well as our identity and leave an impression," Mousavi said.

"Anger and bitterness should not take our control away.

"The clerics should know that since imprisonment, beatings, and other confrontational methods are done in the name of Islam and the Islamic regime, it is hurting Islam and we all should try to stop," he added.

Anti-government protests were first triggered after the June 12 presidential election won by Ahmadinejad.


Some have speculated though that the "punch" may just be the ff. coming announcements about its space programs:

Space Daily link

Moscow, Russia (RIA Novosti) Feb 09, 2010
Iran will unveil five space projects at ceremonies starting on Monday to celebrate the victory of the Islamic Revolution of 1979, Fars news agency said.
On the third day of the festivities, known as the "Ten Days of Dawn", Iranian authorities will hold on Wednesday a presentation of the Tolou (Rise) satellite, the Mesbah-2 and Mehdi research satellites, and the engine for the Simurgh booster rocket, all of which were domestically built.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and the country's defense officials will also attend the opening of a mission control designed to process data from the satellites.

Wow, Nothing like holding a grudge. What does the Koran say about the statute of limitations?
This new development below should really make Ahmadinejad tone down his "smash Zion/Israel" rhetoric though I doubt it, given how stubborn that Iranian president seems to be.  ::)

TEL NOF AIR FORCE BASE, Israel (AP) - Israel's air force on Sunday introduced a fleet of huge pilotless planes that can remain in the air for a full day and could fly as far as the Persian Gulf, putting rival Iran within its range."

The Heron TP drones have a wingspan of 86 feet (26 meters), making them the size of Boeing 737 passenger jets and the largest unmanned aircraft in Israel's military. The planes can fly at least 20 consecutive hours and are primarily used for surveillance and carrying diverse payloads.

At the fleet's inauguration ceremony at a sprawling air base in central Israel, the drone dwarfed an F-15 fighter jet parked beside it. The unmanned plane resembles its predecessor, the Heron, but can fly higher, reaching an altitude of more than 40,000 feet (12,000 meters), and remain in the air longer.

"With the inauguration of the Heron TP, we are realizing the air force's dream," said Brig. Gen. Amikam Norkin, commander of the base that will operate the drones. "The Heron TP is a technological and operational breakthrough."

Associated Press link


An Israeli soldiers smiles as she stands next to an Israeli air force unmanned plane in the Tel Nof base, central Israel, Sunday, Feb. 21, 2010. Israel's air force has introduced a fleet of large unmanned planes that it says can fly as far as Iran. Air force officials say the Heron TP drones have a wingspan of 86 feet (26 meters), making them the size of passenger jets. They say the planes can fly 20 consecutive hours, and are primarily used for surveillance and carrying payloads. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)
More on the new drone. While the plane is capable of carrying bombs, it is a low performance platform and would be at a great disadvantage against modern AA systems. I don't think Isreal is fielding 1000+ of these in order to saturate the air defenses.

I suspect its real role would be along the lines of a pathfinder and AWACS platform to guide waves of jets and missiles to their targets:


Israel Long Range UAV Suitable for Bombing Missions

Weighing over four tons, Heron TP - also dubbed Heron 2 or “Eitan”, by its Israeli Air Force (IAF) designation - is designed to fly at high altitude on missions spanning over several days.

    With maximum takeoff weight of 4650 kg, the 14 meter long aircraft can carry over 1,000 kg of sensors in its forward section, main payload bay, and the two bulges located at the end of each tail boom, offering optimal separation for specific systems.

The UAVs are far cheaper and more expendable than fighter-bomber planes. If a hundred (or few hundred) UAVs were targeted at a site with a substantial anti-air craft defence some could break through and destroy the defences and clear the way for manned fighter bombers. The UAVs can also be used to increase the number of bombing runs that are possible against known targets and to loiter over areas to attack targets of opportunity.

The Heron TP drones have a wingspan of 86 feet (26 meters), making them the size of Boeing 737 passenger jets and the largest unmanned aircraft in Israel's military. Israel's air force on Sunday introduced a fleet of the huge pilotless planes and each is capable of carrying two thousand pound bombs on each mission.

Russia intends to fulfill a contract to supply S-300 air defense missile systems to Iran.
An assessment:


Preparing for the WorstThe United States won't bomb Iran, but another country might.
By Anne Applebaum
Posted Monday, Feb. 22, 2010, at 8:03 PM ET

Let's be serious for a moment. President Barack Obama will not bomb Iran. This is not because he is a liberal, or because he is a peacenik, or because he doesn't have the guts to try and "save" his presidency in this time-honored manner, as Sarah Palin said she would like him to do.

The president will not bomb Iran's nuclear installations for precisely the same reasons that George W. Bush did not bomb Iran's nuclear installations: because we don't know exactly where they all are, because we don't know whether such a raid could stop the Iranian nuclear program for more than a few months, and because Iran's threatened response—against Israelis and U.S. troops, via Iran's allies in Iraq, Afghanistan, Palestine, and Lebanon—isn't one we want to cope with at this precise moment. Nor do we want the higher oil prices that would instantly follow. No U.S. president doing a sober calculation would want to start a new war of choice while U.S. troops are still actively engaged on two other fronts, and no U.S. president could expect public support for more than a nanosecond.

But even if Obama does not bomb Iran, that doesn't mean that no one else will. At the moment, when Washington is consumed by health care and the implications of the Massachusetts Senate special election, it may seem as if Obama's most important legacy, positive or negative, will be domestic. In the future, we may not consider any of this at all important. The defining moment of his presidency may well come at 2 a.m. some day, when he picks up the phone and is told that the Israeli prime minister is on the line: Israel has just carried out a raid on Iranian nuclear sites. What then?

This is hardly an inevitable scenario: If the Israelis were as enthusiastic about bombing raids as some believe, they would have carried them out already. They had no qualms about sending eight jets to take out Saddam Hussein's nuclear reactor in Iraq in 1981 or about bombing a purported Syrian facility in 2007. Both are now considered model operations. They were brief and successful, they provoked no serious retaliation, and they even won de facto acceptance from the outside world as legitimate defensive measures.

The Iranian context is different, as Zeev Raz, the squadron leader of the 1981 raid, readily concedes. "There is no single target that you could bomb with eight aircraft," he told the Economist (in a strangely tragic article that says Raz "exudes gloom" while his children apply for foreign passports). The Israelis have the same doubts as everyone else about the efficacy of raids, which is why they have focused on covert sabotage and even off-the-record diplomacy, despite having no diplomatic relations with Iran, in the hopes of slowing down the nuclear development process. They have also quietly studied the ways in which Iran could be deterred, knowing that they will have the advantage in nuclear technology for the next couple of decades. Though they keep all options on the table, they have so far concluded that bombing raids aren't worth the consequences.

At some point in the future, that calculation could change. Since Americans often assume that everyone else perceives the world the same way we do, it is worth repeating the obvious here: Many Israelis regard the Iranian nuclear program as a matter of life and death. The prospect of a nuclear Iran isn't an irritant or a distant threat. It is understood directly in the context of the Iranian president's provocative attacks on Israel's right to exist and of his public support for historians who deny the Holocaust. If you want to make Israelis paranoid, hint that they might be the target of an attempted mass murder. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad does exactly that.

If that ever happened, the 2 a.m. phone call would be followed by retaliation, some of which would be directed at us, our troops in Iraq, our ships at sea. I don't want this to happen, but I do want us to be prepared if it does. Contrary to Palin, I do not think Obama would restore the fortunes of his presidency by bombing Iran, like a character out of the movie Wag the Dog. But I do hope that this administration is ready, militarily and psychologically, not for a war of choice but for an unwanted war of necessity. This is real life, after all, not Hollywood.
Part 1 of 3

Here, reproduced under the Fair Dealing provisions (§29) of the Copyright Act from the Foreign Affairs website is a thoughtful article on a nuclear armed Iran:

After Iran Gets the Bomb

Containment and Its Complications

March/April 2010

James M. Lindsay and Ray Takeyh

JAMES M. LINDSAY is Senior Vice President, Director of Studies, and Maurice R. Greenberg Chair at the Council on Foreign Relations. RAY TAKEYH is a Senior Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations and the author of Guardians of the Revolution: Iran and the World in the Age of the Ayatollahs.

The Islamic Republic of Iran is determined to become the world's tenth nuclear power. It is defying its international obligations and resisting concerted diplomatic pressure to stop it from enriching uranium. It has flouted several UN Security Council resolutions directing it to suspend enrichment and has refused to fully explain its nuclear activities to the International Atomic Energy Agency. Even a successful military strike against Iran's nuclear facilities would delay Iran's program by only a few years, and it would almost certainly harden Tehran's determination to go nuclear. The ongoing political unrest in Iran could topple the regime, leading to fundamental changes in Tehran's foreign policy and ending its pursuit of nuclear weapons. But that is an outcome that cannot be assumed. If Iran's nuclear program continues to progress at its current rate, Tehran could have the nuclear material needed to build a bomb before U.S. President Barack Obama's current term in office expires.

The dangers of Iran's entry into the nuclear club are well known: emboldened by this development, Tehran might multiply its attempts at subverting its neighbors and encouraging terrorism against the United States and Israel; the risk of both conventional and nuclear war in the Middle East would escalate; more states in the region might also want to become nuclear powers; the geopolitical balance in the Middle East would be reordered; and broader efforts to stop the spread of nuclear weapons would be undermined. The advent of a nuclear Iran -- even one that is satisfied with having only the materials and infrastructure necessary to assemble a bomb on short notice rather than a nuclear arsenal -- would be seen as a major diplomatic defeat for the United States. Friends and foes would openly question the U.S. government's power and resolve to shape events in the Middle East. Friends would respond by distancing themselves from Washington; foes would challenge U.S. policies more aggressively.

Such a scenario can be avoided, however. Even if Washington fails to prevent Iran from going nuclear, it can contain and mitigate the consequences of Iran's nuclear defiance. It should make clear to Tehran that acquiring the bomb will not produce the benefits it anticipates but isolate and weaken the regime. Washington will need to lay down clear "redlines" defining what it considers to be unacceptable behavior -- and be willing to use military force if Tehran crosses them. It will also need to reassure its friends and allies in the Middle East that it remains firmly committed to preserving the balance of power in the region.

Containing a nuclear Iran would not be easy. It would require considerable diplomatic skill and political will on the part of the United States. And it could fail. A nuclear Iran may choose to flex its muscles and test U.S. resolve. Even under the best circumstances, the opaque nature of decision-making in Tehran could complicate Washington's efforts to deter it. Thus, it would be far preferable if Iran stopped -- or were stopped -- before it became a nuclear power. Current efforts to limit Iran's nuclear program must be pursued with vigor. Economic pressure on Tehran must be maintained. Military options to prevent Iran from going nuclear must not be taken off the table.

But these steps may not be enough. If Iran's recalcitrant mullahs cross the nuclear threshold, the challenge for the United States will be to make sure that an abhorrent outcome does not become a catastrophic one. This will require understanding how a nuclear Iran is likely to behave, how its neighbors are likely to respond, and what Washington can do to shape the perceptions and actions of all these players.


Iran is a peculiarity: it is a modern-day theocracy that pursues revolutionary ideals while safeguarding its practical interests. After three decades of experimentation, Iran has not outgrown its ideological compunctions. The founder of the Islamic Republic, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, bequeathed to his successors a clerical cosmology that divides the world between oppressors and oppressed and invests Iran with the mission of redeeming the Middle East for the forces of righteousness. But the political imperative of staying in power has pulled Iran's leaders in a different direction, too: they have had to manage Iran's economy, meet the demands of the country's growing population, and advance Iran's interests in a turbulent region. The clerical rulers have been forced to strike agreements with their rivals and their enemies, occasionally softening the hard edges of their creed. The task of governing has required them to make concessions to often unpalatable realities and has sapped their revolutionary energies. Often, the clash of ideology and pragmatism has put Iran in the paradoxical position of having to secure its objectives within a regional order that it has pledged to undermine.

To satisfy their revolutionary impulses, Iran's leaders have turned anti-Americanism and a strident opposition to Israel into pillars of the state. Tehran supports extremist groups, such as Hamas, Hezbollah, and the Islamist militias opposing U.S. forces in Iraq. The mullahs have sporadically attempted to subvert the U.S.-allied sheikdoms of the Persian Gulf. But the regime has survived because its rulers have recognized the limits of their power and have thus mixed revolutionary agitation with pragmatic adjustment. Although it has denounced the United States as the Great Satan and called for Israel's obliteration, Iran has avoided direct military confrontation with either state. It has vociferously defended the Palestinians, but it has stood by as the Russians have slaughtered Chechens and the Chinese have suppressed Muslim Uighurs. Ideological purity, it seems, has been less important than seeking diplomatic cover from Russia and commercial activity with China. Despite their Islamist compulsions, the mullahs like power too much to be martyrs.

Iran's nuclear program has emerged not just as an important aspect of the country's foreign relations but increasingly as a defining element of its national identity. And the reasons for pursuing the program have changed as it has matured. During the presidencies of Hashemi Rafsanjani and Muhammad Khatami, nuclear weapons were seen as tools of deterrence against the United States and Saddam Hussein's regime, among others. The more conservative current ruling elite, including President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and the Revolutionary Guards, sees them as a critical means of ensuring Iran's preeminence in the region. A powerful Iran, in other words, requires a robust and extensive nuclear infrastructure. And this may be all the more the case now that Iran is engulfed in the worst domestic turmoil it has known in years: these days, the regime seems to be viewing its quest for nuclear self-sufficiency as a way to revive its own political fortunes.

Going nuclear would empower Iran, but far less than Tehran hopes. Iran's entry into the nuclear club would initially put Tehran in a euphoric mood and likely encourage it to be more aggressive. The mullahs would feel themselves to be in possession of a strategic weapon that would enhance Iran's clout in the region. They might feel less restrained in instigating Shiite uprisings against the Arab sheikdoms in the Persian Gulf. But any efforts to destabilize their Sunni neighbors would meet the same unsuccessful fate as have similar campaigns in the past. Iran's revolutionary message has traditionally appealed to only a narrow segment of Shiites in the Persian Gulf. Sporadic demonstrations in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia have not sought to emulate Iran's revolution; rather, they have been an outlet for Shiites to express their economic and political disenfranchisement.

A nuclear Iran might also be tempted to challenge its neighbors in the Persian Gulf to reduce their oil production and limit the presence of U.S. troops on their territories. However, obtaining nuclear weapons is unlikely to help Iran achieve these aims, because nuclear weapons, by definition, are such a narrow category of arms that they can accomplish only a limited set of objectives. They do offer a deterrent capability: unlike Saddam's Iraq, a nuclear Iran would not be invaded, and its leaders would not be deposed. But regime security and power projection are two very different propositions. It is difficult to imagine Sunni regimes yielding to a resurgent Shiite state, nuclear or not; more likely, the Persian Gulf states would take even more refuge under the U.S. security umbrella. Paradoxically, a weapon that was designed to ensure Iran's regional preeminence could further alienate it from its neighbors and prolong indefinitely the presence of U.S. troops on its periphery. In other words, nuclear empowerment could well thwart Iran's hegemonic ambitions. Like other nuclear aspirants before them, the guardians of the theocracy might discover that nuclear bombs are simply not good for diplomatic leverage or strategic aggrandizement.

Likewise, although the protection of a nuclear Iran might allow Hamas, Hezbollah, and other militant groups in the Middle East to become both more strident in their demands and bolder in their actions, Israel's nuclear arsenal and considerable conventional military power, as well as the United States' support for Israel, would keep those actors in check. To be sure, Tehran will rattle its sabers and pledge its solidarity with Hamas and Hezbollah, but it will not risk a nuclear confrontation with Israel to assist these groups' activities. Hamas and Hezbollah learned from their recent confrontations with Israel that waging war against the Jewish state is a lonely struggle.

The prospect that Iran might transfer a crude nuclear device to its terrorist protégés is another danger, but it, too, is unlikely. Such a move would place Tehran squarely in the cross hairs of the United States and Israel. Despite its messianic pretensions, Iran has observed clear limits when supporting militias and terrorist organizations in the Middle East. Iran has not provided Hezbollah with chemical or biological weapons or Iraqi militias with the means to shoot down U.S. aircraft. Iran's rulers understand that such provocative actions could imperil their rule by inviting retaliation. On the other hand, by coupling strident rhetoric with only limited support in practice, the clerical establishment is able to at once garner popular acclaim for defying the West and oppose the United States and Israel without exposing itself to severe retribution. A nuclear Iran would likely act no differently, at least given the possibility of robust U.S. retaliation. Nor is it likely that Iran would become the new Pakistan, selling nuclear fuel and materials to other states. The prospects of additional sanctions and a military confrontation with the United States are likely to deter Iran from acting impetuously.

A nuclear Iran would undeniably pose new dangers in the Middle East, especially at first, when it would likely be at its most reckless. It might thrash about the Middle East, as it tried to press the presumed advantages of its newfound capability, and it might test the United States' limits. But the mullahs will find it difficult to translate Iran's nuclear status into a tangible political advantage. And if Washington makes clear that rash actions on their part will come at a high cost, they will be far less likely to take any.
Part 2 of 3


In assessing the consequences of Iran's nuclearization, it is important to consider not only how Iran is likely to act but also how other states will react to this outcome -- and what the United States could do to influence their responses. Iran's nuclearization would not reduce Washington to passively observing events in the region. Washington would retain considerable ability to shape what Iran's neighbors do and do not do.

The nightmare scenario that could be unleashed by Iran's nuclearization is easy to sketch. Israel would go on a hair-trigger alert -- ready to launch a nuclear weapon at a moment's notice -- putting both countries minutes away from annihilation. Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey would scramble to join the nuclear club. The Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) would collapse, unleashing a wave of nuclear proliferation around the globe.

Such a doomsday scenario could pan out. Whether it did would depend greatly on how the United States and others, starting with Israel, responded to Iran's nuclearization. Whether Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu forgoes a preventive strike against Iran's nuclear facilities or opts for launching an attack and it fails, the Israeli government will continue to regard the Iranian regime as an existential threat to Israel that must be countered by any means possible, including the use of nuclear weapons. Given Israel's unique history and Ahmadinejad's contemptible denials of the Holocaust, no Israeli prime minister can afford to think otherwise.

The riskiness of a nuclear standoff between Israel and Iran would vary with the nature and size of Tehran's nuclear arsenal. An Iran with only the capability to build a nuclear weapon would pose a far less immediate threat to Israel than an Iran that possessed an actual weapon. Iran's possession of a bomb would create an inherently unstable situation, in which both parties would have an incentive to strike first: Iran, to avoid losing its arsenal, and Israel, to keep Tehran from using it. The Israeli government's calculations about Iran would depend on its assessment of the United States' willingness and ability to deter Iran. Israel's decision-making would be shaped by a number of factors: the United States' long-standing support for Israel, Israel's doubts about U.S. leadership after Washington's failure to stop Iran from going nuclear, and Washington's response to Iran's nuclearization.

Another danger that would have to be countered would be nuclear proliferation in the Middle East. Iran's regional rivals might try to catch up with it. History suggests, however, that states go nuclear for reasons beyond tit for tat; many hold back even when their enemies get nuclear weapons. China's pursuit of the bomb in the 1960s prompted fears that Japan would follow, but nearly half a century later, Japan remains nonnuclear. Although Israel has more than 200 nuclear weapons, neither its neighbors -- not even Egypt, which fought and lost four wars with Israel -- nor regional powers, such as Saudi Arabia or Turkey, have followed its lead.

An Iranian nuclear bomb could change these calculations. The U.S. National Intelligence Council concluded in a 2008 report that "Iran's growing nuclear capabilities are already partly responsible for the surge of interest in nuclear energy in the Middle East." And nuclear energy programs can serve as the foundation for drives for nuclear weapons. But it would not be easy for countries in the region to get nuclear weapons. Many lack the infrastructure to develop their own weapons and the missiles needed to deliver them. Egypt and Turkey might blanch at the expense of building a nuclear arsenal. The Pakistanis were willing to "eat grass" for the privilege of joining the nuclear club, as the Pakistani leader Zulfikar Ali Bhutto once famously put it, but not everyone is.

Cost considerations aside, it would take years for nuclear aspirants to develop indigenous nuclear capabilities. They would need to build nuclear reactors, acquire nuclear fuel, master enrichment or reprocessing technologies, and build weapons and the means to deliver them. While they tried, the United States and other states would have ample opportunity to increase the costs of proliferation. Indeed, the economic and security interests of Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey, unlike those of Iran, are tied to the United States and the broader global economy, and developing nuclear weapons would put those interests at risk. Egypt would jeopardize the $1.5 billion in economic and military aid that it receives from Washington each year; Saudi Arabia, its implicit U.S. security guarantee; and Turkey, its place in NATO. Given their extensive investments in and business ties to the United States and Europe, all three countries would be far more vulnerable than Iran is to any economic sanctions that U.S. law imposed, or could impose, on nuclear proliferators.

States seeking nuclear weapons might try to sidestep these technological and political hurdles by buying, rather than making, the weapons. Saudi Arabia's clandestine acquisition of medium-range ballistic missiles from China in the 1980s suggests that even countries that depend on U.S. security guarantees might be tempted to buy their way into the nuclear club. Although neither the five acknowledged nuclear powers nor India would be likely to sell nuclear weapons to another state, Pakistan and North Korea could be another matter. Both countries have a history of abetting proliferation, and Pakistan has warm ties with its fellow Muslim-majority countries. But selling complete nuclear weapons would come at great political cost. Pakistan might forfeit U.S. foreign assistance and drive the United States into closer cooperation with India, Pakistan's mortal enemy. North Korea would endanger the economic aid it gets from China, which the regime needs to stay in power.

If a buyer did manage to find a seller, it would have to avoid a preventive strike by Israel -- which would be likely if the sale became known before the weapon was activated -- and then handle the inevitable international political and economic fallout. (In 1988, Saudi Arabia avoided a major rift with Washington over its missile deal with China only by finally agreeing to sign and abide by the NPT.) Furthermore, any country that bought a nuclear weapon would have to worry about whether it would actually work; in global politics, as in everyday life, swindles are possible. Obtaining a nuclear weapon could thus put a country in the worst of all worlds: owning a worthless weapon that is a magnet for an attack.

If Iran's neighbors decided against trying to get nuclear weapons, they could pursue the opposite approach and try to appease Tehran. The temptation would be greatest for small Persian Gulf states, such as Bahrain and Kuwait, which sit uncomfortably close to Iran and have large Shiite populations. Such a tilt toward Iran would damage U.S. interests in the region. The U.S. Fifth Fleet is based in Bahrain, and U.S. military bases in Bahrain, Kuwait, and the United Arab Emirates are crucial to projecting U.S. power and reassuring U.S. allies in the region. But as long as these governments believe that Washington is committed to their security, appeasement will be unappealing. Pursuing that strategy would mean casting aside U.S. help and betting on the mercy of Tehran. In the absence of a U.S. security guarantee, however, Iran would be free to conduct in those countries the very subversive activities that their governments' appeasement was intended to prevent.

Although Iran's nuclearization would probably not spell the end of efforts to halt proliferation in other parts of the world, it would undeniably deal the nonproliferation regime a setback, by demonstrating that the great powers are unable or unwilling to act collectively to stop proliferators. On the other hand, most states adhere to the NPT because they have compelling national reasons to do so. They may not feel threatened by a nuclear power; they may be covered by the nuclear umbrella of another state; they may lack the financial or technological wherewithal to build a bomb. Iran's success in developing a nuclear weapon would not change these calculations. Nor would it prevent Washington from pushing ahead with its efforts to strengthen the Proliferation Security Initiative (a U.S.-led multinational effort launched by the Bush administration that seeks to stop trafficking in weapons of mass destruction), impose a cutoff on the further production of fissile material, tighten global rules on trade in nuclear materials, and otherwise make it more difficult for nuclear technologies to spread.

Iran's acquisition of a nuclear bomb could have disastrous consequences in the Middle East. But Washington would have considerable opportunities to influence, and constrain, how Iran's neighbors reacted to its new status. It would matter whether Washington reassured Israel or fueled its fears. It would matter whether Washington confronted regional proliferation efforts or turned a blind eye, as it did with Pakistan in the 1980s. It would matter whether Washington pushed ahead with efforts to strengthen the NPT regime or threw in the towel. To keep the nightmare scenario at bay, the United States will need to think carefully about how to maximize its leverage in the region.


Tehran is an adversary that speaks in ideological terms, wants to become a dominant regional power, and is capable of acting recklessly. But it is also an adversary that recognizes its limitations, wants to preserve its hold on power, and operates among wary neighbors. Its acquiring a nuclear bomb, or the capacity to make a nuclear bomb, need not remake the Middle East -- at least not if the United States acts confidently and wisely to exploit Iran's weaknesses.

Any strategy to contain Iran must begin with the recognition that this effort will have to be different from that to contain the Soviet Union. Iran poses a different threat. During the early years of the Cold War, U.S. policymakers tried to protect like-minded countries against a Soviet invasion that would have imposed communist rule, or against widespread economic dislocation, which could have produced a communist takeover from within. Their strategy was to turn to the NATO alliance and launch the Marshall Plan. The United States' containment strategy toward Iran must reflect different realities today. Iran does not seek to invade its neighbors, and its ideological appeal does not rest on promises of economic justice. It seeks to establish itself as the dominant power in the region while preserving political control at home.

Deterrence would by necessity be the cornerstone of a U.S. strategy to contain a nuclear Iran. Success is by no means guaranteed. Deterrence can fail: it nearly did during the Cuban missile crisis, in 1962, and at several other critical junctures of the Cold War. Iran's revisionist aims and paranoia about U.S. power may appear to make the country uniquely difficult to deter. But that conclusion conveniently -- and mistakenly -- recasts the history of U.S. confrontations with emerging nuclear powers in a gentler light than is deserved. At the start of the Cold War, U.S. officials hardly saw the Soviet Union as a status quo power. In the 1960s, China looked like the ultimate rogue regime: it had intervened in Korea and gone to war with India, and it repressed its own people. Mao boasted that although nuclear war might kill half the world's population, it would also mean that "imperialism would be razed to the ground and the whole world would become socialist."

Today, the challenge for U.S. policymakers devising a deterrence strategy toward Iran will be to unambiguously identify what behavior they seek to deter -- and what they are willing to do about it. When Washington publicly presents its policy on how to contain a nuclear Iran, it should be explicit: no initiation of conventional warfare against other countries; no use or transfer of nuclear weapons, materials, or technologies; and no stepped-up support for terrorist or subversive activities. It should also make clear that the price of Iran's violating these three prohibitions could be U.S. military retaliation by any and all means necessary, up to and including nuclear weapons.

The pledge to deter a conventional attack would be the easiest of the three prohibitions to enforce. Iran's ability to project sustained military power outside its borders is limited. And it is unlikely to grow substantially anytime soon: even more arms embargoes would likely be imposed on Iran if it crossed the nuclear threshold. At their current level, U.S. troops in the region are more than sufficient to deter Iran from undertaking incursions into Iraq or amphibious operations across the Persian Gulf -- or to stop them if they occurred.

Deterring Iran from using or threatening to use nuclear weapons would present a different set of challenges. So long as Iran lacks the ability to strike the United States with a nuclear-tipped missile, the United States can credibly threaten to retaliate militarily if Iran uses or threatens to use a nuclear bomb against anyone. But that could change if Iran developed long-range missiles. Tehran might also try to deter the United States by threatening to attack Europe, which would raise well-known concerns about the viability of so-called extended deterrence, the ability of one state to deter an attack on another. These possibilities highlight the importance of developing robust, multilayered ballistic missile defenses. The Obama administration's decision to reorient U.S. missile defenses in Europe to protect against shorter-range missiles while continuing to develop defenses against longer-range missiles is just the right approach.

A tougher challenge would be to ensure stable deterrence between Iran and Israel. With regard to this issue, too, the Iranian nuclear program's ultimate degree of development would be pivotal: an Iran armed with nuclear weapons would present a significantly more dangerous threat than one that merely had the capacity to build them. It is thus essential that Washington continue to apply diplomatic and economic pressure to keep Tehran, should it manage to complete the nuclear fuel cycle, from taking the final step. The United States should also publicly pledge to retaliate by any means it chooses if Iran uses nuclear weapons against Israel; this would in effect supplement whatever second-strike capability Israel has. If the Israelis need a formal commitment to be more reassured, this pledge could be made in an executive agreement or a treaty. As a tangible expression of its commitment, Washington should also be prepared to deploy U.S. troops on Israeli soil as a tripwire, which would show that the United States would be inextricably bound to Israel in the event of any Iranian attack.

Washington should also inform Tehran that it would strike preemptively, with whatever means it deemed necessary, if Iran ever placed its nuclear forces on alert. And it should bring both Israel and Israel's Arab neighbors fully under its missile defense umbrella. The more aggressive Iran is, the more inclined its neighbors will be to work with Washington to construct missile defenses on their territories.

Deterring Iran from transferring nuclear weapons, materials, and technologies to state and nonstate actors would require another set of measures. For the most part, Iran has reasons not to pursue such perilous activities, but it could be tempted to exploit the difficulty of tracking the clandestine trade in nuclear materials. The United States and its allies would need to act decisively to prevent Tehran from seeking to profit in the international nuclear bazaar, for example, through the Proliferation Security Initiative and through UN resolutions that imposed additional sanctions on Iran and its potential business partners. To impress on Iran's ruling mullahs that it is singularly important for them to control whatever nuclear arsenal they may develop or obtain, Washington should hold Tehran responsible for any nuclear transfer, whether authorized or not; Tehran cannot be allowed to escape punishment or retaliation by pleading loss of control. Increased investments in monitoring and spying on Iran would be critical. The United States must improve its ability to track nuclear weapons, materials, and debris and prove and publicize whether they came from Iran (or any other country, for that matter). Such nuclear forensics is crucial to determining who is responsible for nuclear transfers and would be crucial to building support for any U.S. retaliation against Iran, if it were the culprit.

Deterring Iranian support for terrorist and subversive groups -- the third redline prohibition that the United States should impose -- would be difficult. Such activities take place secretly, making it hard to establish precisely who is complicit. That complication places a premium on improving the ability of the U.S. intelligence community, acting alone and in concert with its counterparts abroad, to track Iran's clandestine activities.
Part 3 of 3


In addition to holding Iran accountable for violating any of the three noes, the United States' containment strategy should seek to influence and, where necessary, constrain Iran's friends in the Middle East. An energetic diplomacy that softened the disagreements between Israel and its neighbors would undermine Iran's efforts to exploit anger in the region. A concerted push, diplomatic and economic, to improve the lives of the Palestinians would limit Iran's appeal among them. Drawing Syria into a comprehensive Israeli-Palestinian peace process could not only attenuate Tehran's links with Damascus but also stem Iran's ability to supply weapons to Hezbollah. Washington should seek to further limit Iran's strategic reach by strengthening the institutional and military capabilities of Afghanistan and Iraq. It should reassure the Persian Gulf states that it is committed to preserving the existing balance of power, which would require expanding trade agreements, enhancing their security and intelligence apparatuses, and developing a more integrated approach to defense planning in the region. At the same time, the United States will need to dissuade these governments from further suppressing their Shiite minorities, a practice that inadvertently aids Tehran. And it should work assiduously to prevent more countries in the Middle East from going nuclear; the United States cannot look the other way again, as it did with Pakistan during the 1980s.

Tone and conviction will matter. Washington must keep in mind that Iran's entry into the nuclear club would be read by Israel and Arab states as a failure of the United States' political will and a demonstration of the limits of U.S. power. Washington cannot afford to compound its credibility problem by hesitating or vacillating. An indecisive U.S. response would undermine the efforts both to deter Iran and to reassure U.S. friends and allies in the region.

Washington should also push other major powers to contain the Iranian threat. The five permanent members of the UN Security Council have sponsored numerous resolutions demanding that Iran cease its nuclear activities and cooperate with the International Atomic Energy Agency. They should have a vested interest in punishing Iran, an original signatory to the NPT, if it reneges on its decades-old pledge to remain a nonnuclear power. Doing nothing would substantially undermine the UN Security Council's authority and with it their status as permanent members of the council. Europe should be pressed to commit troops and naval vessels to preserve the free flow of traffic through the Persian Gulf. Russia should cease its nuclear cooperation with and its conventional arms sales to Iran. China should be pressed to curtail its investment in Iran's energy sector, which does so much to fuel Iran's belligerence. The United States would have to do much of the heavy lifting in containing a nuclear Iran, but any concerted containment strategy must have not just regional support but also an international complexion.

Just as important as what Washington should do to contain Iran is what it should not do. If Iran gets a nuclear bomb, the United States might be tempted to respond by substantially expanding the presence of U.S. troops in the Middle East. But this would not appreciably increase Washington's ability to deter Iran from launching a nuclear or conventional attack; there are already enough U.S. forces in the region for that. It could, however, play into the hands of Tehran's proxies by inflaming anti-American sentiment and fanning civil unrest in the Persian Gulf.

Washington might also be tempted to seek to further undermine Iran's economy by imposing broad-based economic sanctions, an idea that enjoys considerable support on Capitol Hill. But such measures would wind up punishing only Iran's disenfranchised citizenry (which is why Iranian opposition leaders have strenuously opposed them). The wiser course of action would be to strengthen and better monitor existing export controls, in order to make certain that Iran's nuclear and defense industries do not have access to dual-use technologies, and to reinforce targeted sanctions against the Iranian leadership and the business enterprises controlled by the Revolutionary Guards. Washington should push, both inside and outside the UN, for travel bans on Iranian leaders and measures denying Iran access to capital markets, for example. It should also find ways to penalize foreign businesses that invest in Iran's dilapidated oil industry. Smart sanctions of this kind would punish Iran's leaders but spare ordinary Iranians, who have no say over the regime's actions.

The United States should refrain from greatly expanding the range of weaponry it sells to the Persian Gulf states, which see the United States as a military guarantor and their chief arms supplier. To some extent, increasing arms sales will be necessary: the Arab governments of the region would regard such sales as a tangible sign of the strength of Washington's commitment to their defense, and if Washington holds back, these governments will look for weapons elsewhere. On the other hand, throwing the doors of the armory wide open would do little to secure the buyers and might even increase instability in the region. A smart U.S. arms sales policy would focus on offering weapons systems that are designed to deter or help counter an Iranian attack, such as missile defense systems and command-and-control systems, which would provide advance notice of Iranian actions.

Finally, Washington should resist any urge to sign mutual security treaties with Arab countries in the Middle East. (Israel, whose relations with Iran are fundamentally different from those of every other power in the region, is a special case.) Such efforts would do little to enhance deterrence and could do a lot to undermine it. Many members of the U.S. Senate, which would have to vote on any alliance treaty, would question whether the United States should further tie itself to authoritarian regimes that many Americans find odious. The spectacle of that debate would exacerbate doubts in the Middle East about the depth of the United States' commitment. Efforts to construct formal alliances might also lead Iran to believe that any country left out of these agreements is fair game for intimidation or attack. Washington should be mindful not to invite a replay of North Korea's calculation in 1950 that South Korea lay outside the U.S. defense perimeter.

Instead, the U.S. government should encourage the formation of a regional alliance network that would marshal Arab states into a more cohesive defense grouping. The network could be organized along the lines of the Middle East Treaty Organization (then the Central Treaty Organization), a security arrangement among Iran, Pakistan, Turkey, the United Kingdom, and, for a time, Iraq (with the United States participating in the organization's military and security committees) that existed from 1955 to 1979. An alliance of this kind would secure all the benefits of a regionwide commitment to deterrence without exposing the United States and its allies to the complexities of formal bilateral or multilateral security treaties.


Iran's nuclearization would make the Middle East a more dangerous place: it would heighten tensions, reduce the margin for error, and raise the prospect of mass catastrophe. The international community should not let up on its efforts to stop Iran's progress. But given the mullahs' seeming indifference to the benefits of engagement, U.S. policymakers must consider now what to do if Iran does get the bomb.

Containment would be neither a perfect nor a foolproof policy. The task of foiling Iran's support for Hamas and Hezbollah would be difficult, as would countering Iran's support for terrorist and subversive groups in the region. The need to gain favor with Arab dictatorships would likely tempt Washington to shelve its calls for domestic political reforms in those countries -- even though such reforms could diminish Iran's ability to meddle there by improving the lot of local minority Shiites who might otherwise be susceptible to Tehran's influence. Maintaining great-power support for pressure on Iran could require overlooking objectionable Chinese and Russian behavior on other matters. Containment would not be a substitute for the use of force. To the contrary, its very success would depend on the willingness of the United States to use force against Iran or threaten to do so should Tehran cross Washington's redlines. Applying pressure without a commitment to punishing infractions is a recipe for failure -- and for a more violent and dangerous Middle East.

Containment could buy Washington time to persuade the Iranian ruling class that the revisionist game it has been playing is simply not worth the candle. Thus, even as Washington pushes to counter Iran, it should be open to the possibility that Tehran's calculations might change. To press Tehran in the right direction, Washington should signal that it seeks to create an order in the Middle East that is peaceful and self-sustaining. The United States will remain part of the region's security architecture for the foreseeable future, but it need not maintain an antagonistic posture toward Iran. An Islamic Republic that abandoned its nuclear ambitions, accepted prevailing international norms, and respected the sovereignty of its neighbors would discover that the United States is willing to work with, rather than against, Iran's legitimate national aspirations.

Copyright © 2002-2010 by the Council on Foreign Relations, Inc.
All rights reserved.

A nuclear armed Iran seems nearly inevitable, to me. Israel might delay or derail the process by a pre-emptive attack with very limited aims but it seems to me that Israel can, credibly, and with US support, deter Iran from using its nuclear weapons with a threat of massive, indeed total destruction. I am not so persuaded that Iran, as a modern, revolutionary, theocracy will be so easily deterred from its other, perhaps even more important aim of establishing a Persian/Shia hegemony in the region. The country most threatened by Iran is Saudi Arabia – and, in my opinion, ir couldn’t happen to a nicer bunch.
Interesting speech given by Ron Paul 4 years ago. It gives another perspective as to why we view Iran as such a threat. Note, I only included parts of the speech relevant to this thread (due to length).

The End of Dollar Hegemony


(...)the dollar/oil relationship has to be maintained to keep the dollar as a preeminent currency. Any attack on this relationship will be forcefully challenged – as it already has been.

In November 2000 Saddam Hussein demanded Euros for his oil. His arrogance was a threat to the dollar; his lack of any military might was never a threat. At the first cabinet meeting with the new administration in 2001, as reported by Treasury Secretary Paul O’Neill, the major topic was how we would get rid of Saddam Hussein – though there was no evidence whatsoever he posed a threat to us. This deep concern for Saddam Hussein surprised and shocked O’Neill.

It now is common knowledge that the immediate reaction of the administration after 9/11 revolved around how they could connect Saddam Hussein to the attacks, to justify an invasion and overthrow of his government. Even with no evidence of any connection to 9/11, or evidence of weapons of mass destruction, public and congressional support was generated through distortions and flat out misrepresentation of the facts to justify overthrowing Saddam Hussein.

There was no public talk of removing Saddam Hussein because of his attack on the integrity of the dollar as a reserve currency by selling oil in Euros. Many believe this was the real reason for our obsession with Iraq. I doubt it was the only reason, but it may well have played a significant role in our motivation to wage war. Within a very short period after the military victory, all Iraqi oil sales were carried out in dollars. The Euro was abandoned.

In 2001, Venezuela’s ambassador to Russia spoke of Venezuela switching to the Euro for all their oil sales. Within a year there was a coup attempt against Chavez, reportedly with assistance from our CIA.

After these attempts to nudge the Euro toward replacing the dollar as the world’s reserve currency were met with resistance, the sharp fall of the dollar against the Euro was reversed. These events may well have played a significant role in maintaining dollar dominance.

It’s become clear the U.S. administration was sympathetic to those who plotted the overthrow of Chavez, and was embarrassed by its failure. The fact that Chavez was democratically elected had little influence on which side we supported.

Now, a new attempt is being made against the petrodollar system. Iran, another member of the “axis of evil,” has announced her plans to initiate an oil bourse in March of this year. Guess what, the oil sales will be priced Euros, not dollars.

Most Americans forget how our policies have systematically and needlessly antagonized the Iranians over the years. In 1953 the CIA helped overthrow a democratically elected president, Mohammed Mossadeqh, and install the authoritarian Shah, who was friendly to the U.S. The Iranians were still fuming over this when the hostages were seized in 1979. Our alliance with Saddam Hussein in his invasion of Iran in the early 1980s did not help matters, and obviously did not do much for our relationship with Saddam Hussein. The administration announcement in 2001 that Iran was part of the axis of evil didn’t do much to improve the diplomatic relationship between our two countries. Recent threats over nuclear power, while ignoring the fact that they are surrounded by countries with nuclear weapons, doesn’t seem to register with those who continue to provoke Iran. With what most Muslims perceive as our war against Islam, and this recent history, there’s little wonder why Iran might choose to harm America by undermining the dollar. Iran, like Iraq, has zero capability to attack us. But that didn’t stop us from turning Saddam Hussein into a modern day Hitler ready to take over the world. Now Iran, especially since she’s made plans for pricing oil in Euros, has been on the receiving end of a propaganda war not unlike that waged against Iraq before our invasion.

It’s not likely that maintaining dollar supremacy was the only motivating factor for the war against Iraq, nor for agitating against Iran. Though the real reasons for going to war are complex, we now know the reasons given before the war started, like the presence of weapons of mass destruction and Saddam Hussein’s connection to 9/11, were false. The dollar’s importance is obvious, but this does not diminish the influence of the distinct plans laid out years ago by the neo-conservatives to remake the Middle East. Israel’s influence, as well as that of the Christian Zionists, likewise played a role in prosecuting this war. Protecting “our” oil supplies has influenced our Middle East policy for decades.

It is an unbelievable benefit to us to import valuable goods and export depreciating dollars. The exporting countries have become addicted to our purchases for their economic growth. This dependency makes them allies in continuing the fraud, and their participation keeps the dollar’s value artificially high. If this system were workable long term, American citizens would never have to work again. We too could enjoy “bread and circuses” just as the Romans did, but their gold finally ran out and the inability of Rome to continue to plunder conquered nations brought an end to her empire.

The same thing will happen to us if we don’t change our ways. Though we don’t occupy foreign countries to directly plunder, we nevertheless have spread our troops across 130 nations of the world. Our intense effort to spread our power in the oil-rich Middle East is not a coincidence. But unlike the old days, we don’t declare direct ownership of the natural resources – we just insist that we can buy what we want and pay for it with our paper money. Any country that challenges our authority does so at great risk.

Once again Congress has bought into the war propaganda against Iran, just as it did against Iraq. Arguments are now made for attacking Iran economically, and militarily if necessary. These arguments are all based on the same false reasons given for the ill-fated and costly occupation of Iraq.

Our whole economic system depends on continuing the current monetary arrangement, which means recycling the dollar is crucial. Currently, we borrow over $700 billion every year from our gracious benefactors, who work hard and take our paper for their goods. Then we borrow all the money we need to secure the empire (DOD budget $450 billion) plus more. The military might we enjoy becomes the “backing” of our currency. There are no other countries that can challenge our military superiority, and therefore they have little choice but to accept the dollars we declare are today’s “gold.” This is why countries that challenge the system – like Iraq, Iran and Venezuela – become targets of our plans for regime change.

Ironically, dollar superiority depends on our strong military, and our strong military depends on the dollar. As long as foreign recipients take our dollars for real goods and are willing to finance our extravagant consumption and militarism, the status quo will continue regardless of how huge our foreign debt and current account deficit become.

But real threats come from our political adversaries who are incapable of confronting us militarily, yet are not bashful about confronting us economically. That’s why we see the new challenge from Iran being taken so seriously. The urgent arguments about Iran posing a military threat to the security of the United States are no more plausible than the false charges levied against Iraq. Yet there is no effort to resist this march to confrontation by those who grandstand for political reasons against the Iraq war.

It seems that the people and Congress are easily persuaded by the jingoism of the preemptive war promoters. It’s only after the cost in human life and dollars are tallied up that the people object to unwise militarism.

The strange thing is that the failure in Iraq is now apparent to a large majority of American people, yet they and Congress are acquiescing to the call for a needless and dangerous confrontation with Iran.

But then again, our failure to find Osama bin Laden and destroy his network did not dissuade us from taking on the Iraqis in a war totally unrelated to 9/11.

Concern for pricing oil only in dollars helps explain our willingness to drop everything and teach Saddam Hussein a lesson for his defiance in demanding Euros for oil.

And once again there’s this urgent call for sanctions and threats of force against Iran at the precise time Iran is opening a new oil exchange with all transactions in Euros.

Using force to compel people to accept money without real value can only work in the short run. It ultimately leads to economic dislocation, both domestic and international, and always ends with a price to be paid.

The economic law that honest exchange demands only things of real value as currency cannot be repealed. The chaos that one day will ensue from our 35-year experiment with worldwide fiat money will require a return to money of real value. We will know that day is approaching when oil-producing countries demand gold, or its equivalent, for their oil rather than dollars or Euros. The sooner the better.

February 17, 2006

Very interesting if true:


Iran tried to buy nuclear bomb from Pakistan as early as 1987
By Yossi Melman, Haaretz Correspondent
Tags: Israel news, Iran nuclear

New documents reveal how a close ally of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei bid $10bn for ready-made weapons.

Iran attempted to buy a nuclear bomb from Pakistan as early as 1987, a leading Middle East analyst has told Haaretz.

Documents obtained by Simon Henderson, a research fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy and a former journalist, offer crucial evidence that Iran's nuclear program is not wholly for civilian purposes as it claims - but aimed at developing an atomic bomb.

Henderson told Haaretz he has acquired material written by the scientist Abdul Qadeer Khan - popularly known as the father of Pakistan's bomb program - while under house arrest between 2005 and 2009.

Khan was arrested by Pakistani authorities after it emerged he had for years been operating an 'atomic supermarket', touring the Middle East to peddle nuclear know-how to the highest bidder.

During his detention, Khan provided Pakistani security services with a wealth of detail on his sale of nuclear secrets to Iran and Libya in the late 1980s and 1990s, much of which is now in the hands of British and American intelligence.

But according to Henderson, Pakistan omitted to pass to its Western allies a sensitive report detailing visits to Pakistan in the late 80s by two Iranian officials, who Khan said offered $10 billion in exchange ready-made atomic bombs.

While Libya in 2003 publicly declared its nuclear program at and end, Western powers still suspect Iran of seeking a bomb, a charge it denies.

The report, obtained by Henderson, reveals that in 1987 or 1988 Admiral Ali Shamkhani, a former senior commander in Iran's Revolutionary Guard and minister of defense from 1997 until 2005, arrived in Pakistan with an entourage of officials.

Shamkhani offered to buy the nuclear devices on the spot and came prepared to take them home with him, Khan said.

The newly revealed material appears to confirm speculation that Khan, who despite his arrest remains a popular hero in his home country, did not act alone in selling Pakistani nuclear expertise to Iran and Libya, as Pakistan has claimed. Shamkhani's meetings suggest that Pakistani intelligence was aware of Khan's activities, as may have been the prime minister at the time, Benazir Bhutto.

Pakistan apparently refused Iran's offer - but Khan later traveled to the Middle East, where he auctioned his services as a private adviser. It was Khan who first provided Iran with designs for the centrifuges with which it continues to enrich uranium at its plant in Natanz.

Khan's other customer, Libya, eventually agreed to wind up its nuclear program and passed the CIA details of its transactions with the scientist. American intelligence was able to trace an elaborate smuggling operation in which the Pakistani had transferred bomb technology using front companies in Dubai.

In the Gulf emirate, Khan opened bank accounts under a variety of false names, including 'Khaidar Zaman', through which Iran paid him $5 million for his assistance.

As well as providing technical aid, Khan also gave the Iranians a list of Western suppliers of high-tech components vital to the enrichment process, who had helped Pakistan with its own bomb program.

As well as casting doubt on Iran's claims about the purpose of its nuclear research, Henderson's material could shed light on the thinking of Iran's Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Khamenei is believed initially to have opposed plans to acquire a bomb ? only to become convinced of its necessity in the early 1980s during a bloody war with Iraq, in which Saddam Hussein unleashed chemical weapons on Iranian troops.

Shamkhani, who now heads the Center for Strategic Research in Tehran and has been touted as a candidate for the presidency, is thought to be a close confidant of the Supreme Leader. His role at the center of Iran's attempts to gain a bomb may point to Khamenei's personal role in an Iranian bomb program.
Iran Nuclear Scientist Defects to U.S. In CIA 'Intelligence Coup'
An award-winning Iranian nuclear scientist, who disappeared last year under mysterious circumstances, has defected to the CIA and been resettled in the United States, according to people briefed on the operation by intelligence officials.

The officials were said to have termed the defection of the scientist, Shahram Amiri, "an intelligence coup" in the continuing CIA operation to spy on and undermine Iran's nuclear program.

A spokesperson for the CIA declined to comment. In its declassified annual report to Congress, the CIA said, "Iran is keeping open the option to develop nuclear weapons though we do not know whether Tehran eventually will decide to produce nuclear weapons."

Amiri, a nuclear physicist in his early 30s, went missing last June three days after arriving in Saudi Arabia on a pilgrimage, according to the Iranian government. He worked at Tehran's Malek Ashtar University, which is closely connected to Iran's Revolutionary Guard, according to the Associated Press.

"The significance of the coup will depend on how much the scientist knew in the compartmentalized Iranian nuclear program," said former White House counter-terrorism official Richard Clarke, an ABC News consultant. "Just taking one scientist out of the program will not really disrupt it."

Iran's Foreign Minister, Manouchehr Mottaki, and other Iranian officials last year blamed the U.S. for "kidnapping" Amiri, but his whereabouts had remained a mystery until now.

According to the people briefed on the intelligence operation, Amiri's disappearance was part of a long-planned CIA operation to get him to defect. The CIA reportedly approached the scientist in Iran through an intermediary who made an offer of resettlement on behalf of the United States.

Since the late 1990s, the CIA has attempted to recruit Iranian scientists and officials through contacts made with relatives living in the United States, according to former U.S. intelligence officials. Case officers have been assigned to conduct hundreds of interviews with Iranian-Americans in the Los Angeles area in particular, the former officials said.

ABC link
Here, reproduced under the fair Dealing provisions (§29) of the Copyright Act from the CBC, is an interesting article by veteran CBC newsman Henry Chanp:

Henry Champ

The relationship changes when the Pentagon weighs in

April 1, 2010

By Henry Champ, special to CBC News

By all accounts, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu returned to Israel miffed.

On his recent trip to Washington, there were none of the normal White House rituals — the official greeting, the photo op in the Rose Garden, the private dinner with Barack Obama, the two men at a press conference.

Indeed, there were no photographs of their Oval Office meetings, no interviews for the visiting press and almost nothing in the way of official comments afterward.

For his part, President Barack Obama didn't make any progress towards halting Israel's construction plans in the disputed areas.

And he didn't receive much of an apology for the insult handed Vice-President Joe Biden during his recent trip to Israel, when the visit was upstaged by the announcement of a new 1,600-unit Israeli housing complex in what has traditionally been seen as Arab East Jerusalem.

These little spats have happened before, many people said. Everyone will get over it.

I'm not so sure. There is a new element at play this time around.

Back home, right-wing members of Netanyahu's government noted that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and other high-profile members of the Obama government had all pledged their continued support of Israel's security.

Those being quoted also pointed to the warm welcome that Netanyahu received on Capitol Hill and from the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, the fervently pro-Israel lobby.

All that is true.

But that same AIPAC meeting also heard Clinton warn them that, whether the Israelis like it or not, the status quo is not sustainable.

And while AIPAC is a strong and well-heard voice here in the American capital, it has nowhere near the strength of Washington's most powerful lobby — the U.S. military.

That's where this current rupture between Tel Aviv and Washington started, at the Pentagon. And that is why this current deep freeze in U.S.-Israeli relations may be more serious than anyone thought.

American lives

In January, the American military's central commander, Gen. David Petraeus, gave a 33-slide, 45-minute presentation to the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Its central theme stunned the Pentagon's leaders as it did the White House when the presentation was sent up the line a few days later.

Patraeus said there was a growing perception in the Arab world that the U.S. was incapable of standing up to Israel and that, as a result, America's support within the moderate Arab leadership was falling and American troops in Iraq and Afghanistan were bearing the consequences.

In short, Petraeus was saying, the U.S. relationship with Israel was important but not as important as the lives of America's soldiers.

Patraeus' view is not unique in the U.S. military. In fact you can go back to the very formation of Israel in 1948 when then secretary of state, Gen. George C. Marshall warned Harry Truman that even-handedness in the region would be difficult to manage.

Since then, the Pentagon has bridled on occasion at what it believes is an uneven relationship in the Middle East.

But today's situation has taken on new meaning. American troops are fighting two wars in the Muslim world and U.S. leaders, whether political or military, read the daily casualty reports.

At the Pentagon, the feeling was such that the decision was made to go public with elements of the Petraeus briefing, which were leaked to Mark Perry, a leading foreign affairs analyst, who published the dissent.

Then Patraeus went before Congress, with White House approval, to make the case that finding solutions to the Mideast peace process is a core U.S. national security issue.

He told senators that "the conflict foments anti-American sentiment due to a perception of U.S. favouritism toward Israel."

The message was clear. American military lives were at risk.

'That's your problem'

What followed was astounding.

When Vice-President Biden went to Jerusalem earlier last month, the Petraeus report was to be part of his discussion there. That is what the now-famous 1,600-unit settlement project helped scuttle.

Of all the impediments to Middle East peace, the settlements issue is the most visible and perhaps the most emotional. Particularly this announcement of construction in East Jerusalem, one of the most sensitive places to Arabs and Israelis alike.

You can see now why American anger was on such exhibit when Netanyahu arrived in Washington near the end of March.

If you believe what is now being leaked about the Netanyahu-Obama meeting, Netanyahu defended his government's actions by saying that if he did not go forward with the settlements his government would fall. Obama's reply: That's your problem.

At odds

It's also clear the settlements are not the only cause for division.

Netanyahu wants the U.S. to pursue an Iran-first foreign policy, arguing that if Washington were to solve the Iran nuclear threat that would make Mideast peace efforts simpler.

Washington takes a different tack and is arguing that Israeli intransigence in the region is making U.S. efforts to line up international support against Iran much harder than it should be.

Britain is already angry that its passports were used in the recent mysterious assassination of a Hamas leader in Abu Dhabi and took the highly unusual step of expelling an Israeli diplomat in protest.

What's more, during his visit last week to Washington, French President Nicolas Sarkozy strongly supported Washington's stand against Israel's settlement policies.

Everyone, in seems, is taking a deep breath now, waiting for the next move.

But this rupture is not going to fade away quickly.

As Robert Malley a peace negotiator in the Clinton White House told the Washington Post: "U.S. pressure can work, but it needs to be at the right time, on the right issue and in the right political context.

"The latest episode was an apt illustration. The administration is ready for a fight, but it realized the issue, the timing and context were wrong."

This crisis, he said, has just been deferred for a time. It has nowhere near been resolved.

First: Champ has his history right. The creation of Israel was done despite some serious reservations in the US administration. Israel’s sponsor in the 1940s was Russia, then in the ‘50s Britain and France were Israel’s main allies, it was not until after the 1967 Sex Six  Day War that the US became Israel’s champion. The special relationship has never been as solid as many Americans, Arabs and Israelis believe.

Second; Champ is right about the Pentagon’s major voice in national strategy. In many cases the Pentagon is superior to the State Department in foreign relations.

All that to say that American support for Israel is not as deep as many think – especially not now when the very, very pro-Israel voices of the fundamentalist white Christians are unheard in the White House.

Israel’s strategic interests and those of the USA are not the same. America cannot be trusted to defend Israel at some substantial costs to its own vital interests.

I remain convinced that a nuclear armed Iran is inevitable. I am equally convinced that America's response to a nuclear armed Iran will be the same as it is towards a nuclear armed North Korea. Israel may decide, without consulting the USA, that a nuclear armed Iran is intolerable and that its (Israel's) strategic security requirements far outweigh the political calculus of Israel's alliance with the USA. If the Israelis can, once again, prevail, in a nice short, sharp campaign, then America is faced with a fair accompli. If Israel cannot prevail, quickly, then its fate is cast in stone ...

Edit: typo  :-[  - there was a sex day war, back in the '60s with 'free love' and all that, I was in it, I think ... now what was her name?
More Iranian sabre rattling. I think they have assessed the Administration and are confident there will be no effective opposition to their nuclear program from Washington.  Since oil is a fungible commodity, there is no direct threat to US oil supplies from Iran (most American imports are from Canada, Mexico and Venezuela rather than the Middle East), but a sudden reduction in supply will push up the price for everyone and massively effect the economies of Japan, India and China, as well as Europe and North America. A spike in prices will delight Russia, and China will have to assess the effects of a price spike against the ability to humble the White House yet again.


Iran will not beg to avoid sanctions: Ahmadinejad
Hashem Kalantari
Thu Apr 8, 2010 9:24am EDT

Soldiers from Iran's army fire an anti-aircraft gun during the Defenders of Velayat (Pontificate) Sky Manoeuvre 2 near Arak, 290 km (180 miles) southwest of Tehran in this November 23, 2009 picture. REUTERS/FARS NEWS/Ali Shayegan

TEHRAN (Reuters) - Iran's president said on Thursday he would not plead with opponents of Tehran's nuclear program in order to avoid sanctions as Russia and the United States said new measures might be necessary.

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who Wednesday called President Barack Obama a nuclear-armed "cowboy", said Iran would "try to make an opportunity out of sanctions" rather than change its stance to avoid them.

"We do not welcome the idea of threat or sanctions, but we would never implore those who threaten us with sanctions to reverse their sanctions against us," he was quoted as saying by the official news agency IRNA.

Ahmadinejad was speaking as Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev signed a nuclear arms reduction treaty in Prague. The two were "working together at the United Nations Security Council to pass strong sanctions on Iran," Obama said.

Medvedev said he was unhappy with Iran's stance over its nuclear program which the West believes is aimed at developing atomic weapons.

"Tehran is not reacting to a range of suggested constructive compromise agreements. We can't close our eyes to this. That is why I do not exclude that Security Council will have to examine this question again," Medvedev told reporters.

Obama is hoping to persuade Russia and China -- both Security Council veto holders -- to drop their traditional reluctance to the new sanctions.

His campaign is likely to continue next week when both Medvedev and Chinese President Hu Jintao attend a summit on nuclear security in Washington.


While dismissing the sanctions threat, Iran has also warned against any military steps against its nuclear program.

After several warnings that it would hit back at Israel if attacked from there, Iran's military chief said Thursday he would target U.S. forces stationed in the Middle East if Washington attacked.

"If America presents Iran with a serious threat and undertakes any measure against Iran, none of the American soldiers who are currently in the region would go back to America alive," Major General Hassan Firouzabadi, was quoted as saying by the semi-official Fars news agency.

U.S. troops are engaged in Iraq and Afghanistan, both of which border Iran.

Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of a military ceremony, Firouzabadi said a strike on Iran would also put oil supplies at risk.

"If America wants to have the region's oil and its markets then the region's markets would be taken away from America and the Muslims' control over oil would increase," he said, according to state broadcaster IRIB.
Speaking of Iranian sabre rattling:


An Iranian boat fires a missile as it takes part in a naval war game in the Persian Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz, southern Iran April 22, 2010. Iran's Revolutionary Guards successfully deployed a new speed boat capable of destroying enemy ships as war games began on Thursday in a waterway crucial for global oil supplies, Iranian media reported. REUTERS/Fars News


Iran's elite Revolutionary Guard on Thursday started large-scale war games in the Persian Gulf and the strategic Strait of Hormuz, state television reported. Iran has been holding military maneuvers in the gulf and the Strait of Hormuz annually since 2006 to show off its military capabilities. (AP Photo/Fars News Agency,Mehdi Marizad)

Iran to hold war games in Strait of Hormuz

1 hr 7 mins ago

TEHRAN, Iran – Iran's state TV says the country's elite Revolutionary Guard will begin large scale military maneuvers in the strategic Strait of Hormuz, a move likely to heighten tension at a time when the West is at a deepening standoff with Iran over its nuclear program.

The Wednesday TV report quoted the Guard's deputy chief Hossein Salami as saying the war games in the Persian Gulf and Hormuz were designed to "safeguard security" in the region. It did not elaborate.

Salami said the three-day war games due to start Thursday will also seek to demonstrate Iran's role in a waterway through which some 40 percent of the world oil and energy supply passes.

Iran had in the past threatened to close the strait if attacked.

Associated Press link


A member of Iran's Revolutionary Guards stands next to a long-range Shahab-3 ballistic missile on a launcher truck during the Army Day parade in Tehran on April 18. Iran could develop a ballistic missile capable of striking the United States by 2015, a senior US official told lawmakers(AFP/File/Behrouz Mehri)


Iran's Defense Minister Ahmad Vahidi (2nd L) speaks with President Ahmadinejad (3rd L) as a vehicle carrying Nasr-1 missile drives past in Tehran April 18, 2010. REUTERS/Morteza Nikoubazl


A military vehicle carrying the Shaheen missile, part of Iran's medium range anti-aircraft air defence system Mersad (Ambush), drives past a picture of Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei during a parade to commemorate the anniversary of army day in Tehran April 18, 2010. REUTERS/Morteza Nikoubazl


Iran's Ghadr-1 missile, which has a range of up to 1,240 miles (2,000 kilometers), and capable of putting Israeli and US bases in the region within Iran's reach, is paraded during a ceremony marking National Army Day, in front of mausoleum of the late Iranian revolutionary founder Ayatollah Khomeini, just outside Tehran, Iran, Sunday, April 18, 2010. A portrait of Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei is seen at left.  (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi)


Iranian soldiers in full camouflage march during the Army Day parade in Tehran on April 18. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has approved the sites for new uranium enrichment plants in Iran, a close aide said on Monday, but the United States cast doubt on the claim. (AFP/File/Behrouz Mehri)
Associated Press link

WASHINGTON – A U.S. military official says the Navy had a close encounter with an Iranian surveillance jet last week in the Gulf of Oman.

The official says the jet buzzed a Navy aircraft carrier, the USS Eisenhower, coming within about 1,000 yards of the ship.
The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly on the matter, said the April 21 incident occurred in international waters.

The jet was described as a maritime patrol aircraft generally used for surveillance.

The official says "there was nothing threatening about the aircraft itself or how it presented itself."

The official could not confirm reports by NBC and CBS that the jet made three passes over the Navy ship.
No proof' of Iran nuclear arms

Iran insists its nuclear programme is for peaceful purposes
The US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) has not found conclusive evidence that Iran is developing nuclear weapons, a US magazine has reported.


U.S. Says Iran Ended Atomic Arms Work

Published: December 3, 2007
WASHINGTON, Dec. 3 — A new assessment by American intelligence agencies concludes that Iran halted its nuclear weapons program in 2003 and that the program remains frozen, contradicting judgment two years ago that Tehran was working relentlessly toward building a nuclear bomb.


Russia's Lavrov says no proof Iran working on nuclear weapons


There is no hard proof that Iran is working on nuclear weapons, but Tehran has to clarify several key issues on its nuclear program to avoid fresh international action, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Thursday.


Who's Telling the Truth About Iran's Nuclear Program?

by Muhammad Sahimi
Since February 2003, Iran's nuclear program has undergone what the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) itself admits to be the most intrusive inspection in its entire history. After thousands of hours of inspections by some of the most experienced IAEA experts, the Agency has verified time and again that (1) there is no evidence of a nuclear weapons program in Iran, and (2) all the declared nuclear materials have been accounted for; there has been no diversion of such materials to non-peaceful purposes. Iran has a clean bill of health, as far as its nuclear program is concerned.


War games, close encounters, nuclear scientists defecting, ....these will always grab the headlines. But the fact remains, Iran is not a military threat to anyone.

Though, by selling oil in a basket of currencies as opposed to the USD, Iran has become an economic threat to the US.
If you read back a few posts, you will see Iran is a very creditable threat against Iraq, Saudi Arabia, and (via proxy for now) Israel. Iranian proxies like Hamas and Hezbollah have also destabilized large parts of Lebanon and prevented or delayed the establishment of effective Palestinian governing institutions (although the Palestinians are already good at infighting and kleptomania, foreign actors just keep the pot boiling).

Becoming the regional hegemon is their long term goal, and the opposition is quite fractured: Ba'athist secular dictatorship (the model of Syria), Wahabi theocracy (Saudi Arabia) and secular democracy (Israel and to a lesser extent Iraq), followed by feudal kingdoms and clan and tribal structures.

Their access to the Persian Gulf and the ability to manipulate the flow of oil to the global market gives them much greater leverage, and they have learned to court the Russians and Chinese (Russia because rising oil prices benefit Russia, and China to secure another source of oil for her economy, and both to try and counter American military, economic and political power) to provide political, military and technical backing to support Persia's long term goals. Having their own nuclear weapons added to their own long range rockets and terrorist proxies gives them the ability to deny entrance to the Gulf, and make threats to all the Middle East, parts of Europe, North Africa and even Russia.

Oil is a fungible commodity, so it actually doesn't matter so much in what currency payment is denominated, although given the structural difficulties of EU economies (the debt crisis of the PIIGS is the first symptom) , maybe asking for Euros isn't such a smart idea after all...

Update to add:


Ahmadinejad Calling Obama’s Bluff

Today at the UN, Iran's president showed why he's a better strategist than his American counterpart. (Also read Claudia Rosett: "Why Does Anyone Care What Ahmadinejad Says at the UN?")

May 3, 2010- by Barry RubinShare | Whatever you think of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, he is not a stupid man. On the contrary, and shocking as you might find this idea, he is a better strategist than his American counterpart, Barack Obama. Of course, Ahmadinejad has fewer issues to deal with than the U.S. president, but on the ones that count for him he’s capable of running rings around Obama.

The main theme of Ahmadinejad’s speech at the 2010 Review Conference by countries which have signed the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) is to outflank Obama’s calls for getting rid of nuclear weapons, trying to repeat the success Iran had last September in getting sanctions postponed. At the time, Iran proposed a plan for giving up nuclear materials for reprocessing elsewhere. Once the sanctions’ momentum had been derailed, however, Iran made it clear that it had no intention of agreeing to anything like that.

Now Ahmadinejad has held his own international nuclear summit under the slogan, “Nuclear Power for All, Nuclear Weapons for None.” His speech sounded word for word like what an idealistic pacifist would say: nuclear weapons are bad; ban them now.

Nuclear weapons, Ahmadinejad explained, don’t bring real security and producing or possessing them, “under whatever pretext” it is done, “is a very dangerous act which first and foremost makes the country” having them exposed to threats or attacks. He even stated:

“The possession of nuclear bombs is not a source of pride; it is rather disgusting and shameful. And even more shameful is the threat to use or to use such weapons” which is a great crime. He accused the United States, an unnamed European country (France), and Israel of having done so.

The entire system of non-proliferation as it currently exists, said Ahmadinejad, is just an oppressive sham in which those who possess these weapons try to keep others from getting them in order to maintain their own supremacy. Those in control of the international system also, he continued, want to use nuclear arms as an excuse to get others from obtaining nuclear energy, “the cleanest and cheapest” source of power.

Indeed, the U.S. government “has always tried to divert the public opinion’s attention from its noncompliance [with international law] and unlawful actions by bringing into focus some misleading issues,” such as Iran getting nuclear weapons or giving them to terrorists.

Ahmadinejad’s solution is a new international group to police nuclear weapons. This would include “immediate termination of all types of research, development, or improvement of nuclear weapons and their related facilities” and dismantling all U.S. nuclear weapons everywhere.

Oh, yes, and he calls for reforming the UN Security Council to get rid of a veto or permanent membership for the United States and others.

At the end, Ahmadinejad invited Obama “to join this humane movement, if he is still committed to his motto of `change.’”

What is all this about?

First, Ahmadinejad is offering to agree to Obama’s basic proposal of eliminating nuclear weapons, in effect, calling the president’s bluff. Obviously, this isn’t going to work at this stage on Obama. But Ahmadinejad is not trying to persuade the United States, but rather a range of Third World countries that might well oppose sanctions, including Lebanon, which is on the Security Council, Turkey, and Brazil.

He is also trying to buy even more time for Iran to obtain nuclear weapons.

There is also, and this is extraordinarily important, a longer-term aspect of Iranian strategy which I call creating a defensive umbrella for aggression. This might become the most vital gambit of the new era coming to the Middle East when Iran gets nuclear weapons.

Most discussion in the West has focused on Iran using nuclear weapons or threatening to do so. Yet that is not the main issue. Instead, Iran could genuinely be developing these arms in order to defend itself. The problem is that this defense is coupled with an aggressive policy.

In this framework, Iran would continue and escalate its subversive efforts against its neighbors; consolidate and increase its influence in Lebanon and Iraq; support Hamas and client forces in Afghanistan; press regional states toward appeasement; recruit many more people to revolutionary Islamist groups; and try to make Iran the hegemonic power in the region.

But when anyone thinks about opposing Iran, all Tehran need do is make a gentle reminder that it has nuclear arms and so they better be careful. Arabs in the region, especially the Gulf, don’t have to believe that Iran would win a nuclear exchange with the United States. After all, even if Tehran lost they know their own countries would be devastated. Better to avoid any chance of a nuclear war than to offend Iran.

The other element — as so often in the Middle East — is who the local rulers would most fear. How can the Obama administration, which has criticized past U.S. use of force and decisive leadership, persuade Iran to tremble in fear and Arabs to stand tall feeling securely protected? Of course, the Arabs will accept American security guarantees but they would then be far more likely to bow to Iranian demands than to U.S. requests.

Moreover, in the current administration concept of containing Iran, the United States would have to do precisely what Ahmadinejad wants to outlaw: threaten Iran with nuclear retaliation.

So this apparently pacifist-style, peacenik stance fits into Ahmadinejad’s strategy. In opening his speech, Ahmadinejad called upon the deity to “hasten the arrival” of the Shia Muslim messiah. For Iran, nuclear weapons may well provide the umbrella for them to seek the regime’s strategy of regional rule by merely existing as a threat.

Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal. His latest books are The Israel-Arab Reader (seventh edition, Viking-Penguin), the paperback edition of The Truth about Syria (Palgrave-Macmillan), and The Long War for Freedom: The Arab Struggle for Democracy in the Middle East (Wiley).