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9/26/2009
HOW SERIOUS IS THE WORLD IN STOPPING AN IRANIAN BOMB?

My latest at Pajamas Media is up and it’s on the revelation that Iran has constructed another enrichment facility despite their protestations to the contrary.

A sample:

The question asks itself: why would a nation that claims to be interested only in the nuclear fuel cycle hide a facility capable of secretly enriching uranium to the 85-90% level necessary to construct a bomb?

Nothing Iran has ever publicly said about the extent of its nuclear program has ever proven to be true. The have brazenly and repeatedly lied about matters vital to the peace and security of the world.

What’s the “world” going to do about it?

Why should anyone believe the Iranians when they claim they have no interest in constructing a bomb? And if no one believes them, then the world has two choices: try and prevent Iran from developing a bomb or learn to live with them possessing it.

Obviously, the milquetoast Security Council sanctions we have applied to Iran previously have failed to convince them to stop their drive to build nuclear weapons — or at least develop the capability to build them in a matter of months. Searching for a solution short of war, Western nations will now seek much tougher sanctions against the regime in hopes that it will bring concessions by Iran at the bargaining table in Geneva, where talks are scheduled to begin on October 1.

The major element of any new sanctions will almost certainly be a cutoff by the world to Iran of refined gasoline. Despite sitting on a sea of oil, the Iranians import about 40% of their fuel needs from abroad. Such a cutoff would not only bring the Iranian economy to a standstill; it would more than likely feed the discontent already boiling over in the streets as a result of the stolen election last summer.

I believe President Obama has handled this the correct way, although I think some hard questions should be asked of our intel people whose National Intelligence Estimates appear to be quaintly naive about Iranian intentions to build a bomb.

The fact that the Iranians have lied, and lied some more, and lied again about the extent of their enrichment program is pretty damning evidence that they are trying to hide something. There really is only one logical - and safe - conclusion to reach; the regime is trying to surreptitiously develop the capability to construct a nuclear weapon.

I hasten to add that this does not mean they are close to possessing a nuclear weapon. As I have pointed out previously, many experts believe a likely scenario is for Iran to enrich enough uranium for several bombs at the 5% level suitable for commercial reactors while secretly developing the infrastructure (a secret “pilot enrichment plant?”) to have the capability of enriching that uranium to the 85-90% bomb-grade level so that they could rapidly construct a bomb in a crisis. It is thought that Japan and perhaps other nations have this capability but for obvious reasons, haven’t advertised it.

The non-enrichment activities relating to bomb infrastructure could be conducted without western knowledge. Bomb and warhead design, missile development, and assembling other parts of the bomb would only be discovered by luck - as it happened two years ago when we penetrated the Iranian computer network (thanks to a lost laptop) and discovered that until 2003, this other activity was going on and no one was any the wiser.

But the president did well to keep this information secret. As did Bush before him. It was a nice little tidbit that would have proven invaluable either as a stick to beat the Iranians with if nuclear talks were ever to materialize, or as an inducement for additional sanctions against Iran if the need arose.

Now, apparently, we are going to use this information in both scenarios. Russia is appears ready to support more serious sanctions while the talks that start next week with Iran just got a lot more interesting thanks to this revelation.

But my question in the title stands; is the world about to get serious about denying Iran nuclear weapons?

Perhaps. It all depends on how far Russia will go with sanctions, and how far Obama is willing to push the Iranians. Would the Russians join a general boycott of supplying gasoline to the regime? Iran imports 40% of its gas so such a sanction would be stiff indeed. There is already legislation in Congress that would make such an action American policy with the added stinger of preventing the US government from doing any business with any nation that supplied the Iranians with refined gas.

But both Russia and China could easily circumvent such a sanction which is why if there is an attempt to impose this on the Security Council, the Russians will probably refuse to go so far. They might support restrictions on refined gasoline but not a total ban.

In this sense, the world is not going to get serious about stopping the Iranians which brings us to what Israel is going to do about it.

Netanyahu’s instinct is to bomb. But he just as clearly is willing to give the international community a chance to see if their negotiations/sanctions strategy can do the trick. I think a ban on refined gas could result in regime change in Iran. But since that is not likely to happen (and even if there was regime change, the chances are good that a government just as hostile to Israel as this one would emerge), the only hope to avoid a catastrophe for us and for the world that would result from an Iran-Israel war is for a solid phalanx of big powers to make it clear to Iran that their enrichment program is unacceptable and that a strict, draconian inspection and verification regime must be put in place and enforced by the Security Council.

How strict?

Now that we know about at least this one covert facility, it is the time to reach a deal with Iran about placing a multinational enrichment facility on Iranian soil. This may seem paradoxical, but such a facility is the best way of ensuring that Iran cannot set up other secret enrichment facilities later. We obviously now know that “suspension” is not the answer; they can use the freedom such inactivity gives their workers to setup new plants outside the prying IAEA inspectors’ view. We need to be with the Iranian scientists and engineers 24 hours a day, seven days a week to understand what they are doing. Of course, the first step will be to require lists of workers at both the covert and overt enrichment plants as well as enough supporting documentation (shift schedules, pay stubs, payroll accounts come immediately to mind) to instill confidence in the West that we know everyone who has worked there. Of course, while we are checking those documents, Westerners can be working in the plants; keeping an eye on those already there. They could start that tomorrow.

This revelation of a covert facility might be just the bargaining chip the West needs to force the measures necessary to build up confidence Iran is not establishing other secret plants.

Would anything be worse than war with Iran? John McCain and others believe that the only thing more dire than war would be Iran actually possessing nuclear weapons. I agree - in theory. But in an imperfect world, it is perhaps inevitable that imperfect solutions to problems present themselves. The world can’t operate in the theoretical. And any open causus belli by Iran is not likely; no nuke tests, no parading nuclear tipped Shahab missiles down the streets of Tehran. For that reason, the world will never believe that Israel - or the US - would be justified in bombing Iranian nuclear facilities.

So we are left with trying to stop the Iranians through negotiations and sanctions. They might work. More probably not. But let’s deal with failure if and when it occurs, planning for any eventuality while keeping in mind Iranian past duplicity when sitting down with their representatives next week.

By: Rick Moran at 8:16 am
13 Responses to “HOW SERIOUS IS THE WORLD IN STOPPING AN IRANIAN BOMB?”
  1. 1
    obamathered Said:
    10:47 am 

    Israel unilaterally will deal with Iran regardless of what the United States and the rest of the West does. Why was a dime dropped on Iran now? It is quite likely there are two clocks ticking, and the one in Tel Aviv is closer to midnight than the one in Teheran. It also is likely Washington has been informed it has a disappearing window in which to act. So keep those cars tanked up, boys and girls.

  2. 2
    Mannning Said:
    11:13 am 

    The world can’t operate in the theoretical. And any open causus belli by Iran is not likely; no nuke tests, no parading nuclear tipped Shahab missiles down the streets of Tehran. For that reason, the world will never believe that Israel - or the US - would be justified in bombing Iranian nuclear facilities.

    I suggest that Israel is not concerned with “world opinion” or with possible “world actions.” They are concerned with the practical considerations of what if Iran gains nuclear weapon capability and when. They are in survival mode.

    I suggest that Israel has already made a decision to attack Iran regardless of UN, US or other world opinions, and is pacing themselves to see if anything at all comes of this latest set of revelations and discussions, so long as their intelligence tells them that they have time.

    Time is running out for them, however, and the go-ahead for attack is near, I believe–nearer than ever.

    If Israel does attack Iranian facilities, the extent of the follow-on conflict depends heavily upon Iran’s earlier threat to include US facilities in their responses, as well as whether the US would support Israel once they are under counterattack.

    With a nutcase running our foreign relations and involvements, who knows? Would Obama order the USAF to prevent the IAF from overflying Iraq? would our AF obey?

  3. 3
    Richard bottoms Said:
    12:08 pm 

    No comments on the fact that George Bush allowed the Iranians to build and operate the facility?

    Was he a wuss for failing to act, sitting on the knowledge for months (maybe years)?

    I expect of course to hear how Obama is a fool for not having blown Iran to hell after eight months in office from the let’s have it both ways crowd.

  4. 4
    Mannning Said:
    12:27 pm 

    who gives a da*m whether Bush did the right thing or not? We are in the Obama Presidency now, and it really sucks on foreign policy and apologetic speeches, not to mention spending us into poverty. Obama owns the problem now.

    Iran represents a real test of Obama’s single term of disaster, quite similar to that of Jimmy Carter, and probably with identical results–zip.

    I pity Israel facing the hostile Islamic nations around them alone, thanks to the idiot in the White House.

  5. 5
    Richard bottoms Said:
    3:07 pm 

    I pity Israel facing the hostile Islamic nations around them alone, thanks to the idiot in the White House.

    Again, if they have the bomb now it isn’t because they built it in the eight months Obama has been president.

    Israel is much better served having France in the tent pissing out instead of outside pissing in.

    Why can’t you admit Iran is exactly in it’s current position because of what George Bush did or did not do for eight years. Invading Iraq was supposed to provide a bullwark against Iran, free oil production, and cause democracy to flower in the Middle East.

    Wrong. Wrong. Wrong.

    It’s satisfying I guess to you to blame Democrats all the way back to Jimmy Carter, but the fact is Obama inherited the problem and the situation and has had less than a year to craft a solution against GW’s eight full ones.

    President Obama owns Iran now and unlike his predecessor I have no doubt he will do something more than glare at the Ayatollah. I also have no doubt he will try honest, tough diplomacy before plunging the United States into yet a third war to add to the two that we already have.

    If the balloon does go up I also have no doubt that the 101st Chairborne will be safely back home talking tough.

  6. 6
    Moltenorb Said:
    3:08 pm 

    Manning says:

    “I pity Israel facing the hostile Islamic nations around them alone, thanks to the idiot in the White House.”

    This is the kind of statement that proves undoubtedly that you have no clue what you’re talking about..

    The population of Israel stands at 7,411,000, according to figures released by the Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS)…Some 5,593,000 of the population (75.5 percent) are Jewish Israelis, 1,498,000 (20.2%) are Israeli Arabs and the remaining 320,000 (4.3%) are immigrants, their offspring, and foriegn workers..

    Of that 20% Arab population, 85% are Muslim, particularly of the Sunni branch of Islam..

    Islam Mannning…BOO!

    Israel is now a wealthy industrial state with a per capita income roughly equal to South Korea or Spain..

    Israel has been the largest annual recipient of direct U.S. economic and military assistance since 1976, and the largest total recipient since World War ll..

    The U.S. is providing Israel with at least $7.0 million each day in military aid, and is giving the Palestinians $0 in military aid during Fiscal Year 2009..

    Poor, poor Israel…we should pity them!

    Israel receives about $3 billion in direct U.S. foreign assistance each year, which is roughly one-fifth of America’s entire foreign aid budget..

    That’s American taxpayer money Mannning…Do I have your attention now?

    Where’s the Teabaggers when you really need them…huh?

    Over the last 20 years, as the Israeli economy has grown, the U.S. has been slowly phasing out some economic aid to Israel, and gradually replacing it with increased military aid..

    Beginning in 2007, the U.S. has been increasing military aid to Israel by $150 million each year..

    Taxpayer money..

    by early February 2009, the US had already given Israel at least $2.55 billion in military aid for Fiscal Year 2009..

    Taxpayer money…

    By the way Mannning, did you know that homosexuals have served openly in the Israeli Defense Forces since 1933…gross huh?

    Contrary to ordinary U.S. policy, Israel has been and continues to be allowed to use over 26% of this military aid to purchase equipment from Israeli manufacturers instead of American defense contractors. According to Congressional Research Service (CRS), no other recipient of U.S. military assistance has been granted this benefit. Thanks in part to this indirect U.S. subsidy, Israel’s arms industry has become one of the strongest in the world. In 2007, it was the 8th largest arms supplier to the developing world..

    The Congressional Research Service’s conservative estimate of total cumulative U.S.
    aid to Israel (not adjusted for inflation) from 1949 through 2009 is $106 billion and change..

    Taxpayer money..

    U.S. tax dollars are subsidizing what is already one of the most powerful, well armed, and technologically superior foreign militaries on earth..

    But it doesn’t stop there..

    The “indirect” costs to the American taxpayer as a result of Washington’s support for Israel exceed by many times the amount of “direct” U.S. aid to Israel..

    Some of these “indirect” costs would include the costs to U.S. manufacturers of the Arab boycott, the costs to U.S. companies and consumers of the Arab oil embargo, and consequent soaring oil prices as a result of U.S. support for Israel in the 1973 war, and the costs of U.S. unilateral economic sanctions on Iran, Iraq, Libya and Syria..

    More taxpayer money Mannning…estimated in the trillions..

    So excuuuuuse me if I don’t “pity” poor poor “all alone” Israel for having all those “hostile Islamic nations around them,” because Israel has enough nukes to turn whole region into glass if it needs to, and they haven’t been left “alone” by America…ever.

    I should know, because I’ve been helping to pay their way my entire working career…as I imagine you have too..

    Enjoy your pity party..

  7. 7
    Mark Said:
    5:09 pm 

    who cares? They wont have any for 10 year despite what the media tells us
    Israel has such a huge stockpile of NUKEs that IRAN-right next door would be stupid NOT to build them-they have the right to defend themselves from attacks by sweet, little innocent, wouldnt harm a fly ISRAEL.
    Beside the same liberal media idiots who SWORE TO US that IRAQ had WMDs are the same ones swearing that IRAN has nukes;
    Dont believe a word of it-
    Just another way to waste billions of our tax dollars borrowed from the FED to supply this war
    and another way to waste another 10,000 men for nothing
    Ever since Cheney has said publicly, WITHOUT SHAME that “We never said Iraq had WMDs” My thoughts are that he should go to the gallows for the murder of these 10,000 odd soldiers-who were decieved to their deaths on a whim by the snarly one; Ive lost ALL respect for the two clowns who occupied the WH before Oblama-who is as bad if not worse;
    So far he has the blood of a few hundred on his hands so the oil and herion can flow from Iraq and Afghanistan-and lets face it-we are their to protect that heroin trade

  8. 8
    Mannning Said:
    8:10 pm 

    Ever think that what you have said is totally off the mark?

    The money the US has given Israel is beside the point.

    The population of Israel is beside the point, except as targets for Iranian rockets.

    The industrial strength of Israel is beside the point.

    All are pointless in the face of a situation that is not under our control.

    We cannot stop Israel from attacking Iran.

    We cannot stop Iran from retaliating. We cannot stop Iran from retaliating against the US population and facilities if they elect to do so.

    If they do attack us we will be at war with Iran.

    Moaning about what we have spent on their behalf is simply stupid. But then there are such people as Jew-haters, too, that don’t give a da*n what happens to Israel. I might have provoked one here to try to argue about money the US spent!

    The Islamic states that surround Israel are professional Jew-haters, and they have significant armed forces, and lots of “irregulars” to wreck havoc, and plenty of Iranian rockets to rain down on Israel.

    Yes, poor Israel, when it is becoming clear that Obama and other clowns are in the process of backing away from them.

    This is his test. I believe he will fail it.

  9. 9
    Mannning Said:
    8:18 pm 

    I will add that nukes are not the weapons of first choice for Israel. Their attack will be conventional to begin with…

  10. 10
    funny man Said:
    12:31 am 

    Folks,
    why is it always Obama this, Bush that? The world is not only about America. The problem is obviously that they are no easy solutions. There are a couple of different issues that are not necessarily tied together. What do you do with nations who don’t want to adhere to the non-proliferation treaty. Is bombing Iran really going to solve the problem. The weapons factories in Germany in WWII were still working to some degree despite massive bombings. So you could have a massive destabilization of the region which could be positive or negative. However, nobody really knows. Whatever Israel will do she will do. Fine. However, that is not necessarily in the American interests. A further antagonizing the Islamic world is not in our interests. How should it be? I think the United States has an obligation to protect Israel. However, it has to be understood there is a junior and a senior partner here. I mean, Israel is how big? New Jersey?

  11. 11
    Mannning Said:
    7:05 am 

    Talks with Iran have been ongoing for close to 6 or 8 years now over their nuclear program. Talking has achieved quite a lot, principally the time for Iran to build a network of nuclear facilities, to process weapon grade uranium, to build medium range rockets able to carry the nukes, and to build an air defense network to protect their facilities.

    You want yet another round of the same? In another 6 to 8 years we could talk our way into Iran building long-range missiles and multiple-target warheads. Quite a success story for a nation that defies the West and threatens Israel with total destruction.

    It is beginning to seem like the West is not able to muster the courage of their convictions regarding Iran, and is resigning itself that Iran will obtain nuclear weapons.

    One exception is Israel, whose very existence is at stake if Iran succeeds. There is a distinct possibility that Israel wants to attack Iran to force them into a response that would drag the US into the fight, thereby insuring far greater destruction of Iran’s warmaking capability and nuclear facilities than Israel could achieve alone.

    Consider that to do a thorough job on Iran, many dispersed sites must be hit, each of which is defended against air attack. To roam all over Iran finding and hitting nuclear-related sites, air superiority and suppression of air defenses must be achieved. This in turn means that central command and control sites and communications facilities must be taken out, as well as any number of radar sites and missile or gun installations. If the US joins the fight, all of these goals become feasible.

    Having achieved this superiority, then, larger aircraft can be sent into Iraq carrying the huge bombs needed to penetrate deeply buried facilities. Some of these weapons weigh 20,000lb or more, and can be launched out of C-130s rear ramps, or from large bombers like the B-52 and B-2 that only we have.

  12. 12
    JustIce Said:
    11:39 pm 

    Folks, there is a World War heading our way. You can dance and nuance around the issues, but Isreal is not going to let Iran have nukes without a premptive strike. It wouldn’t surprise me if the Israeli’s use nukes on Iran. That would absolutly stop the progress Iran is making towards getting nuclear weapons itself. From an Israeli point of view it would also prevent any Iranian counterstrike. The world opinion will be damned, just as it was with many other issues.

    I’m not advocating such a thing. I’m only suggesting that to think the Israeli’s haven’t thought of it, is to believe I am smarter than they are…LOL.

    Don’t believe that Israel will not act, and don’t think they will not act decisively…history has shown otherwise.

    Be prepared for World War. Unfortunately, I believe it is in our future.

  13. 13
    DoorHold Said:
    6:18 pm 

    Holy crap! The Iranians lied? How on Earth were we to know THAT might happen? :/

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