Iran’s Intentions


"Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps tested the Shahab-3 and Sejil missiles in the third phase of a two-day exercise called The Great Prophet IV, state-run news media reported. The missiles are believed to be capable of striking Israel, U.S. military targets in the Middle East and parts of southeastern Europe.

But Gen. Hossein Salami, commander of the Revolutionary Guard Air Force said the test-firings were part of exercises to practice "preventive and defensive operations." They are "in no way a threat to neighboring countries," Iranian news media quoted him as saying. Rather, the tests send "a message for certain greedy nations that seek to create fear, to show that we are able to give a swift and suitable answer to our enemies." "  Washpost


Some will say that justice demands that Iran have the same right to ballistic missiles of various ranges and to nuclear weapons as anyone else.  They would be right but that would be irrelevant and dangerous thinking.  As I have tried to point out, justice has nothing to do with outcomes in international relations. Only perceived interests and brute strength, whether economic or military matter in the end, perhaps literally the end for someone.

The Iranians are clearly intent on achieving the possession of a variety of ballistic missiles.  Such weapons are inherently inaccurate to within a few hundred yards at range.  Because of this, they are of no real military value with other than nuclear warheads.  The Israelis were afraid of Iraqi SCUDS.  Well, I guess that is understandable if one might land in your courtyard, but I was in Baghdad during the "War of the Cities" and I will say again that such weapons have no real military value  (other than to frighten civilians) without nuclear warheads.

At the same time, it is now revealed that the Iranians are building a second uranium enrichment plant, one that could be used to further enrich the product of the Natanz plant to a level usable in a fission weapon.  They claim that it, too, is to support their nuclear electric program.

How gullible do they think we are?

This place, near Qom, was concealed, is hardened, not reported to the IAEA, is built within an IRGC base, and is too small to be useful for producing fuel for an electric program. 

Following "Lang's Rules of Analysis," – The Duck Rule, – The Sherlock Rule or – Occam's Razor one must be led to the conclusion that the Iranians intend to produce nuclear warheads and probably for their missiles.

How long will that take?  It will take quite a long time.  The engineering and industrial obstacles to be overcome are considerable, but the evidence points to an intention to achieve a "force de frappe" capability that will change the strategic balance by holding foreign cities at risk.

Do the Iranians not understand that they are creating a situation in which it is likely that they will be attacked before they achieve that capability?  Do they really not understand that bellicose statements like the one attributed to Salami above only hasten the day?  pl

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98 Responses to Iran’s Intentions

  1. Lysander says:

    Col Lang,
    It may be the Iranian have “gamed it out” and figured that eventually the U.S. will leave Iraq and Afghanistan and they will never have that kind of leverage again. Therefore, perhaps they figure they can ‘pull it off’ before anyone attacks.
    Perhaps they are totally mistaken. Perhaps the west will unleash a terrible destruction upon them. But given what happened to Iraq, which DID cooperate as much as possible and still got destroyed, I can’t blame them for trying.
    That said, I agree that loud bluster may not be as effective as polite refusal.
    P.S. do China and Russia have a vote on the matter?

  2. jr786 says:

    I’ve long believed that a US attack is exactly what the Iranians want, for several reasons.
    The first is it will give them enormous prestige in the Muslim world which, despite the nonsense people are subjected to in the West, despises American puppet regimes like those in Egypt, Jordan and Saudia. An attack on what may very well be a Potemkin plant would also be just cause under Islamic law for the Iranians to make serious hell for Americans all over the world, let alone in Iraq and Af. All those Hazara pilgrims returning through Herat, Iranians on the way to Karbala…
    Secondly, it’s not as if we are going to bomb those plants knowing there are women and children there – yes, Iranian women work and they have day care. Knowingly attacking sites with civilians is a war crime, no? How will we explain dead children – that we warned them? I think the world is a bit sick of that zionist tactics, maybe we should let them do their own goddamned dirty work – then occupy Iran.
    Qum is quite the holy place, too, although I reckon it is outside the precincts of the principal mosques.
    Justice may not matter much here, but as Col. Lang knows it is a big deal to Muslims. Being right may cost the Iranians a hole in the ground and some mashed up plywood – they will gain plenty in exchange.

  3. YT says:

    “Every ten years or so, the United States needs to pick up some small crappy little country and throw it against the wall, just to show the world we mean business.”
    — attributed to Defense Department consultant and National Security Consultant Michael Ledeen by Jonah Goldberg in the 2002 National Review column “Baghdad Delenda Est, Part Two.”, 23 April 2002.
    Iran’s next in line?

  4. YT says:

    Guess that comment by salami gives israel & the U.S. of A the jus ad bellum along with the rationale above.

  5. otiwa ogede says:

    I really don’t think the Iranians believe in Justice as a determining force in international relations. The IRGC can be accused of many things, but they cannot be accused of being Political scientists. If they want nukes they will have nukes, time and technology is on their side, and an attack will only hasten the day.
    War or sanctions? Either way Iranian hardliners win, time to get used to that.

  6. Bill Wade, NH says:

    So, the Iranian leadership keeps taunting us, kind of dumb really. Perhaps they are frustrated because we’ve yet to attack them? One has to wonder just what they have up their sleeves.

  7. N. M. Salamon says:

    Of course, China has input, not directly, as they are the bankers [so has Japan, another creditor and oil importer]. Russia has input also, not directly, for they are the hydrocarbon source for large part of Europe.
    It is therefore possible that this project will have two sole participants, the USA and the boss, Israel.
    There is no question that the USA Air force and NAvy can cause serious damage [and probably kill lot of Iranians], the problem is what could Iran achieve in revenge? if Revenge is successful, that is the end of USA Empire and USA economy, for major fires in 2 ports are fatal! This aside form the targets in Afganistan, Iraq, and all over the Gulf.
    Recent citation form Iraq indicates that they do not permit attack from their soil [we know that the USA may disregard such policies] and further stated that there is no possibility of any major NEW sanction, for Iraq will cooperate with Iranis.
    IMO it would behoove the USA political elites to realize that Iran China and Russia will never be part of the HEGEMONY, where two are strong enough to withstand USA pressure – though they WILL suffer due to unfoseen effects of war.
    Aside form the above the whole world made up of oil/gqas importers have a stake in the security of the Gulf states, not necessarily in the security notion of Israel and USA.
    BEST TO TALK and disregard the noe-con AIPAC cohort for the good of the USA!
    In the past you asked me if I considered Vietnam as being colonized/colonial war [as is Iraq and Afganistan] — my answer is NO, for it was a proxy war between different world views; though I think that it was foolish of Uncle Sam to do the Tolkin incident.

  8. Bill says:

    Fundamental flaw. You said:
    “Such weapons are inherently inaccurate to within a few hundred yards at range. Because of this, they are of no real military value with other than nuclear warheads.”
    That point is simply not true. Such weapons have no military value in a war GAME (where the parties fight on to victory no matter what), but they have significant value in an actual war (which is, of course, very much a mental contest and ends when two groups/nations reach the same mindset).
    The ability to launch missiles at the cities of a hostile nation is a powerful deterrence (Hezbollah uses this deterrence to protect its headquarters), and if deterrence fails, such missile attacks can pressure a hostile government to wind up a war quickly in order to limit civilian casualties and chaos.
    To say that such weapons have little “military” use is to vastly overstate the importance of simple fighting-power in war.

  9. “Sunday September 27,2009
    By Gordon Thomas and Camilla Tominey INTELLIGENCE chief Sir John Scarlett has been told that Saudi Arabia is ready to allow Israel to bomb Iran’s new nuclear site.
    “The head of MI6 discussed the issue in London with Mossad chief Meir Dagan and Saudi officials after British intelligence officers helped to uncover the plant, in the side of a mountain near the ancient city of Qom….”
    Seems to me the “information war” is mounting thus setting the stage for a potential Israeli attack should the pro-Israel Lobby fail to get the US to do it for them first.
    Captured documents from the Iraq war are said to indicate that Saddam did not believe the US would actually attack. Whether this is true or not the same may apply to the present Iranian leadership.
    A Suez-like situation seems under way. For example, one scenario could be the Israelis strike first, then the US follows up. I imagine some creativity will be used with regard to the target set. Being so close to Qom, would some be tempted to add a few mosques and madrassas to the target set?
    Although unlikely as it may seem at this point, I hope a diplomatic dialogue can result in a resolution of the matter. Economic sanctions hurt the public more than the elites as one might conclude from same anent Iraq.

  10. eakens says:

    Pat, I agree with your analysis. The Iranians are really going forward very carefully ensuring that they legally work within the framework of the IAEA.
    That may be good if you want to duke it out in some courthouse in Europe, but I don’t think they fully grasp that the powers that be could care less about the legalities. In addition, most of the legal issues tend to come up after they’ve hobbled the infrastructure and military through extensive bombing and missile strikes anyways.

  11. It is interesting to look at Iran with some historical perspective and admittedly I am largely ignorant of that nation’s history and culture and language. That said, they have lasted in an organized fashion over 4000 years and perhaps their cycles between a secular world and a religious world are somewhat understandable and perhaps not. But it does appear that the possession of nuclear arms has two important incentives for such a nation. First, no nuclear armed state with actual weapons and delivery system has been invaded since 1945. Second, possession does appear to be a wonderful bargaining chip with those who believe that the proliferation of nuclear weapons has predictable consequences and must be opposed because of those consequences. Let’s review the real history of non-proliferation. US felt relatively safe as long as it could argue the technology stolen but its possession was by a so-called “Great Power.” Also allowed proliferation to occur by theft not of technology but of special nuclear materials (i.e. Israel)assuming it was theft and not something else. So where does Iran fit the scheme of things. Since Darius I, II, and III has/have been a threat to first Greek civilization and then others. But in last century largely a backwards under-educated nation used to authoritarian leadership whether secular or religious. Two of the world’s leading powers and economies, both defeated in WWII, seem to have done pretty well without nukes. So what is the real intention and should Iran be believed in its published and public statements whether holocaust denial or threats to others. My belief is that threats and loose language do reflect on the country involved or non-state actor involved and must be taken seriously. Iran is a huge country both by geography and demography and located in a strategic crossroads of both history and current events. Personally, I think this leaves the US, Israel, the UN and others no choice. Each statement, bluff, announcement must be met by treatment with the utmost seriousness. It is really time for China and Russia and others to step up on Iran because there are NO winners in warfare despite what some believe. Nukes are militarily useless weapons but given warfare as a continution of politics by other means not useless. The US failed to realize even up to signing of the NPT that each nuclear power plant could be of assistance in weapons development so in fact proliferation not world wide from that source, in reality. Given professed irresponsibility in their dealings with multilateral and unilateral relationships, I agree that IRAN is NOT responsible. What decisions must be taken in light of that fact! Some are very hard but must they be unilateral ones by US or something else? Why and will the NIE on Iran be updated? Hoping so even though INTEL can only measure capability not will or intent or motivations! Let’s take Iran at their word and do what is necessary. There are likely to be more irresponsible proliferation efforts, and now even Venzuela and Brazil are making noises. This is not an issue of technological capability but something else and I argue that Iran’s bluff must be called but called so there can be no doubt and called by the world’s leadership not just the US. So time to get to the hard work of forging a coalition and making whatever tradeoffs are necessary to box Iran into whatever it takes. Perhaps move all our forces in Iraq to the Iranian border. Perhaps doing the same from the AF-PAK theatre. After all if Predator strikes against terrorists are US policy (a policy with which I strongly disagree for reasons of law not effectiveness) then perhaps predator strikes in Iran and listing as a terrorist state. Hope better brains than mine have a receipe for success here because taken Professor Paul Bracken’s analysis in his 1989 book “Fire In the East” to heart Iran could effectively veto with nukes a spectrum of US and UN choices in the near future. ianBsuiep

  12. Curious says:

    Is not like Iran doesn’t know how to do centrifuge line if they push it.
    Next Iran target would be : plutonium production, tritium, trigger devices, MIRV, more accurate solid fuel missile.
    Anybody has a date estimate for all that?
    It’s possible to predict when israel is going to attack Iran that way.

  13. JohnH says:

    Before buying into all the hype, I would read a sober analysis by someone who actually knows what he’s talking about when it comes to nuclear inspections:

  14. Patrick Lang says:

    I am wounded. I had hoped that it would be
    David Albright who would explode my hype. pl

  15. Thomas says:

    Well, Gen Salami words are hype at this time as he is a member of a group in power that has lost its legitmacy.There is already a factional split between the Rev Guards and the Supreme Leader Khamenei. Internal pressures are going to bring them down. Overall, the nuclear program is their ace in the hole. Iran needs to exchange intensive monitoring for security guarntees and lifting of sanctions. How serious the current regime we will see on Thurs. If bellicose or dissembling they are not serious, but it will cost them internally as they could not even start the university school year today without Green protests. As for an Israeli “surprise attack”, Zbig Brezinski gave them an unofficial warning.

  16. matter says:

    I think your article rests on a number of simplifications and incorrect assumptions. The article referenced by JohnH, above, is a good reality check.
    To quote: “the 3,000 centrifuges at the Qom facility, even when starting with 5% enriched uranium stocks, would have to operate for months before being able to produce enough highly enriched uranium for a single nuclear device. Frankly speaking, this does not constitute a viable “breakout” capability.”
    Furthermore, surely you know that even if the Iranians managed to come up with enough HEU for a bomb, it would be an “assembly” type of weapon, which tends to weigh a lot, eg, in excess of 1,000 lbs., and likely more.
    Last time I checked, the Iranian missiles had a maximum warhead capacity of a few hundred pounds. So even if we were to assume that this new facility exists solely for making a bomb, (and that’s not proven either) it’s more than a little disingenuous to claim the Iranians are moments away from a weapons capability.
    Such a claim ignores the difficulties of actually fabricating a weapon; and the substantial additional problem of obtaining a suitable delivery vehicle.
    Then of course there is the matter of testing: it doesn’t do you much good to have a weapon if you don’t know whether it will work or not.
    Overriding all of this is the missing context of Israel’s nuclear weapons. These real weapons are a prime motivation for Iran. Any discussion of a rational and non-military solution has to take Israel’s nuclear weapons into account. Anyone who fails to put Israel’s nuclear weapons into the equation (yes, Obama, this includes you) can’t be taken seriously.

  17. JohnH says:

    Touche. I don’t even know who Scott Horton is. I meant to say Scott Ritter, the former UN weapons inspector.
    He is someone who actually knows what he’s talking about when it comes to nuclear inspections.

  18. Andy says:

    Oh my, Ritter believes that subsidiary arrangements are the same thing as the Additional Protocol to the NPT, and the Guardian failed to fact-check this before publishing. This mistake makes most of the rest of his arguments simply wrong.
    Discovery of this facility does make one thing pretty clear – an attack on Iran’s nuclear program would be largely pointless. The “critical nodes” in Iran’s nuclear enterprise are Iran’s engineers, scientists and centrifuge production facilities, not structures that hold nuclear infrastructure or might one day. The US and/or Israel might know where the production facilities are, but destroying knowledge is not something even an extensive US bombing campaign could accomplish.
    The reality is that centrifuges can be operated almost anywhere since they don’t require much space or electricity to operate. Iran has demonstrated the capability to manufacture its simplest designs, so bombing existing cascades will only delay Iran’s program.

  19. J says:

    What about ‘Dimona’ that produces weapons grade uranium, plutonium, and tritium, and nuke warheads? What about ‘Dimona’?
    I prefer going after the real threats like Israel’s Dimona instead of Iranian ‘construction sites’.

  20. Andy says:

    I forgot to include the link in my last comment, so here is a cogent explanation of subsidiary arrangements, why they have nothing to do with the Additional Protocol, and why Iran’s new facility violates its comprehensive safeguards agreement.

  21. It will be interesting down the road for historians to compare the Iraqi regime and its perspectives with the Iranian. Should war break out with Iran, the technical aspects of the military campaigns could also be compared.
    The US is positioned from a global public relations point of view as having attempted to have a “meaningful engagement” for some time now; since Obama’s campaign promise days.
    The Iranian leadership can easily be portrayed as not having been responsive enough in a timely manner and so forth. US allies such as Britain and France, the Suez Crisis veterans, are revving up the information war as is Israel.
    The old Suez propaganda line of Nasser as “Hitler” has been repackaged and the “existential threat” thing has been refloated.
    I am wondering now whether Medvedev’s comment the other day about “inevitable” sanctions arose because he believes that a military attack against Iran is inevitable. Russia does not agree with this approach but may perhaps be resigned that it could occur. Both Russia and China can complain at the UN for appearances sake but in the present situation the UN appears irrelevant particularly to Israel as usual.
    To the degree that a US attack on Iran would further significantly degrade the US international position, Moscow and Beijing may calculate that they can take a pass. The US has
    blown a trillion or so in Iraq and is poised to plunge into a quagmire in the Hindu Kush. If Moscow and Beijing are patient and play their cards right, the delusional US leadership will hang the US itself. So more rope to Washington…
    The project to analyze captured Iraqi documents to which I referred above and in an earlier comment is the “Iraqi Perspectives Project”, US Joint Forces Command. For which see Wiki at:
    The interesting book by Kevin M. Woods etal emerging from the project is:
    Woods, Kevin M., et al., The Iraqi Perspectives Report: Saddam’s Senior Leadership on Operation Iraqi Freedom From the Official U.S. Joint Forces Command Report, Naval Institute Press, 2006 ISBN 978-1591144571

  22. Sidney O. Smith III says:

    I respect the defensive realism of General James Longstreet…opps…Professor Stephen Walt. Professor Veritas (fight fiercely, Cantab realists, fight fiercely) makes many worthwhile insights at his Foreign Policy blog re: Iran and the Middle East.

  23. graywolf says:

    “How gullible do they think we are?”
    Pretty damned gullible – as we’ve repeatedly shown ourselves to be.
    As far as attacking them:
    Not us – that’s for sure.
    Not as long as Obama – President of the UN – is conducting foreign policy by bending over.
    Not if you and the other “realists” have your way.
    TOUCHDOWN: Iran.

  24. Abu Sinan says:

    As long as Israel has nukes, Iran will seek them and eventually get them.
    The only real hope to keep Iran from wanting/getting nukes would be to get Israel to get rid of theirs.
    It isnt going to happen so Iran will get the bomb eventually, with or without US/Israeli attacks.

  25. EL says:

    Col. Lang:
    I keep thinking that for Iranians who lived through and fought in the Iraq-Iran war that a bombing by Israel with maybe 50,000 dead would be no big deal. And then the Iranian leadership with the strong support of their public could unleash attacks on the Saudi oil fields, particularly if the Saudis were thought to support an attack on Iran, and on other sources of oil in the Gulf. Where would the price of oil head and what effect would that have our fragile economy? And who might be elected US president in 2012 in the ensuing chaos? And what sort of revenge could the American public demand? I think I’ll go to bed.

  26. china_hand says:

    ~ Two of the world’s leading powers and economies, both defeated in WWII, seem to have done pretty well without nukes. ~
    Because they had the US protecting them under its MADly motivated nuclear umbrella.
    ~ It is really time for China and Russia and others to step up on Iran because there are NO winners in warfare despite what some believe. ~
    Contrary to what some believe, China and Russia are “stepping up” on Iran:
    They are protecting it, both because it’s in their interest and because a US/Israeli attack on Iran would be fundamentally wrong.
    If Iran gets nuclear weapons, we’ll see peace in the Middle East within two generations.
    If it doesn’t, we’ll simply continue to see Israel, the US, and Saudi Arabia tear the entire region to shreds.

  27. Patrick Lang says:

    ok. What’s your preferred course of action? serve it up and we will discuss it. pl

  28. Babak Makkinejad says:

    I agree with the thrust of your argument regarding the Qom facility.
    The late Lt. General William Odom observed as much: “The only we can make sure Iran doesn’t build nuclear weapons is to occupy her.” Which is not in the cards.
    I think the more important things is the contents of the two letters that Mr. Obama has sent to Mr. Khamenei and any replies thereto.

  29. Kafka says:

    I don’t see the payoff of US or Israel bombing this or that facility in Iran– a short term threat diminished somewhat, against the uncertainty of what could unfold. Consequences could be a bear for both US and Israel. I assume the deals being worked out with Russia, China and who knows who else (India, Pakistan?) aren’t agreements of cooperation as much as looking for assurances that WWIII won’t break out. One sure consequence is a spike in oil prices. That alone may be reason enough not to do it. Just not sure this is the time to play 11-dimensional hyper chess because of a ‘possible’ threat and some bellicose talk.

  30. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Col. Lang:
    What are US intentions?
    Do you know?

  31. curious says:

    Contrary to what some believe, China and Russia are “stepping up” on Iran:
    Posted by: china_hand | 29 September 2009 at 03:14 AM
    Ding, ding ding…. correct.
    1. What Russia wants: Geographical buffer from US/NATO expansion and political bargaining chip. Iran fit the bill perfectly.
    2. China needs Oil (and possibly future bargaining chip in the event of Taiwan war.)
    3. US drive is Israel/zionists operators in legislation and think-tank, Oil access, Cold war era project.
    These are the fundamental drive of the interaction.
    Anybody who thinks there will be genuine Israel/Palestinian peace, or stopping NATO expansion or the big power quit fighting for oil is either delusional or naive.
    There maybe temporary detour, high horse talk about peace, etc. but in the end it’s back to basic fight.
    so my prediction:
    knowing how little the G20 announcement on Iran (It’s not even in main forum, with Only sarkozy and Brown. There wasn’t even any milly mouth announcement from G20 as I expected.
    – Russia has a game plan.
    – Since Iran plays along and doesn’t look antsy, they already have their bet hedged. (eg. either owning complete section of S-300 class defense or complete set of tested technology for small nuclear warhead.) Next panic will be: Iran show it can do MIRV (India and Pakistan can do it) Starting their own plutonium and tritium production plan without Obvious Russia help. And show it has functional advance air defense.
    Beyond that, Iran obvious task would be establishing its own Banking, Insurance and shipping network. (They can win this because they have giant cost advantage. Can’t beat Free money, free oil, central location and a lot of unemployed) Do price war on chemical industrial feed. And basic weapon/weapon technology exports. Africa, Asia and eastern europe are open season for everybody.
    Nuclear technology worth a lot of money too. Brazil, Malaysia, Indonesia, Algeria, Egypt, Burma, Taiwan, Korea, Argentina, Chile …etc all have active nuke program one way or another.
    Any of them can ditch NPT when push come to shove. (NPT or WTO? Good luck sorting that one out.)
    Afghanistan? It’s free for all arena, a bullet over karzai head and bunch of low cost explosive will turn that place upside down in a jiffy and pinned 20% of US military asset down when there is major middle east conflict.
    I think now, if any player decide to connect with taliban al qaeda and supply them for attack against US interest. Things will get very nasty.
    It wont be shoe bomb/acetone peroxide amateur hour. It’ll be more like updated PLO stuff.

  32. Andy says:

    I think there are several problems with your analysis:
    First, Iran’s longer-range missiles (Shahab 3) have throw weights of around 2000 pounds, not a few hundred.
    Secondly, HEU can be used for both implosion and assembly weapons.
    Third, yes, fabricating a weapon and mating it to a delivery vehicle are difficult engineering problems. Difficult is not the same thing as impossible or even improbable and all Iran requires is time, resources and the will.
    Fourth, testing is nice if one can do it, but it is not an impediment to a credible nuclear deterrent. Israel, after all, has never tested its designs, yet few doubt Israel’s weapons would fail, nor is there much doubt that they have not overcome the engineering challenges related to weaponization and delivery vehicle integration. This is why nonproliferation efforts (and the IAEA mandate) focus so heavily on fissile material. Without fissile material, nuclear weapons are impossible. With fissile material, nuclear weapons are simply a difficult engineering problem. The problem with Iran is that the standard safeguards under which the IAEA monitors Iran’s program are not adequate to provide credible assurances that Iran cannot acquire fissile material undetected.
    Additionally, Israel’s weapons are not as relevant as they’re so often made out to be. The impetus for Iran’s program back when it began in the 1980’s and through the 1990’s was not Israel – it was Iraq. Your assertion that Israel’s weapons are a “prime motivation” for Iran is inconsistent with the historical record. It is also discordant with the rest of your arguments – If Israeli nukes are really a “prime motivator” then Iran is not going to allow a few engineering challenges get in the way of acquiring its own capability.
    With the end of Iraq as any kind of threat to Iran, Iran’s strategic justification obviously changed. It may be that the Iranians now see Israel as a primary strategic competitor but then one gets into a chicken-and-egg argument: Iran needs weapons to counter Israeli threats of attack, yet Iran’s perceived efforts to acquire such weapons are what is precipitating those threats to begin with.
    This new facility in Qom, by itself, is relatively unimportant. It represents, however, the reality that Iran could setup a centrifuge shop almost anywhere it pleases and, under the current safeguards agreement, the IAEA has no independent ability to discover such facilities. I continue to believe the Iranians must be bribed/compelled to fully adopt the additional protocol on a permanent basis. We should also look at Iran’s previous offer of an international enrichment facility on Iranian soil, provided Iran’s own enrichment efforts are verifiably ended. The Iranians claim they only want reactor fuel and engagement on an international facility is one way to call their bluff.

  33. turcopolier says:

    The US has no intentions. It only has process. Are you suggesting that the
    same is true for Iran? Pl

  34. Larry Kart says:

    J wants the U.S. to bomb or take over Dimona? How’s that going to work?
    I agree that Iran almost certainly is going to get nuclear weapons, for the reasons that many have stated here (in particular, that one can’t destroy the knowledge of how to make them, only in the short run damage the capacity to make and deliver them). Isn’t the question, what will Iran do with those weapons, or be able to do because it has those weapons, that will be uniquely threatening/dangerous to whomever down the road?
    We know, of course, that no nuclear weapon has been used in war since Nagasaki, which may or may not make anyone sleep better. What leads me to think that one warily has to accept Iran’s eventual nuclear capacity is that every remedy/response that I’m aware of almost certainly would make things much worse, probably in ways that we can’t adequately imagine.

  35. frank durkee says:

    If we, the US. has no intentions, only process, how do we ever make a decision?

  36. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Col. Lang:
    No idea what you mean.

  37. Pirouz says:

    The USG Open Source Center translated remarks to Iranian television of General Hoseyn Salami, commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Air Force concerning Iran’s Monday missile tests (Islamic Republic of Iran News Network Television (IRINN), Monday, September 28, 2009):
    Gen. Salami said, “as long as our enemies act within a political domain, our behavior will be completely political. However, if they want to leave the domain of political action and enter the domain of military threat, then our action will be exactly and completely military.” . . .
    ‘Salami said the strategic objective in staging the war game was “to demonstrate the Iranian nation’s resolution in defending revolutionary and national values and ideals as well as to make a new attempt to upgrade the level and quality of the Islamic Republic’s deterrence against any probable threat given the current political and international atmosphere.
    –Sounds perfectly rational, doesn’t it?

  38. blowback says:

    Andy – James Acton is wrong according to the Legal Adviser to the IAEA (pdf):
    While Iran’s actions are inconsistent with its obligations under the Subsidiary Arrangements to its Safeguards Agreement, this should be seen in proper context. Given the fact that Article 42 [of Iran’s Safeguards Agreement] is broadly phrased and that the old version of Code 3.1 had been accepted as complying with the requirements of this Article for some 22 years prior to the Board’s decision in 1992 to modify it as indicated above, it is difficult to conclude that providing information in accordance with the earlier formulation in itself constitutes non-compliance with, or a breach of, the [NPT-related] Safeguards Agreement as such.
    So it looks like the legal adviser to the IAEA would accept, maybe unwillingly, that Iran’s notification of this new enrichment plant is not non-compliant with Iran’s obligations. I use this terminology because the IAEA is almost certainly not happy with Iran’s behavior but what can they do if it is still legal.
    *** The following is highly speculative but is supported by some evidence. ***
    Now that more details are coming out about the location of this new enrichment plant, it looks like David Albright might have got the location wrong. Both sites he suggested are north of Qum, while the Iranians are saying it is south of Qum at a place called Fordo (it might be Fardu on Google Maps), so the site that is in an advance state of construction in the press is not the real site and maybe the Iranians have done everything by the book and told the IAEA as soon as they decided on the site and before they started construction rather than 180 days before the introduction of nuclear material. If they have only just decided on the location how could US/French/British intelligence have “known about it for years”? Perhaps the Iranians set a trap for the Western IC and the Western IC jumped straight in without looking. Oops!

  39. hass says:

    Sorry but many countries use inaccurate missiles in their inventory. The Argentinians have them, and the Saudis bought them off the Chinese. Are you suggesting that every ballistic missile is necessarily intended for nuclear warheads? Remember, Iran suffered through a war of missiles during the Iraq war. It would make sense for Iran to develop missiles as a substitute for air superiority.

  40. Walter says:

    Iranians would be idiots to NOT arm themselves against the West…..after US coup in 1953 and US-backed Iraqi invasion in 1980’s and then US Iraq invasion 2002 … our inability to empathize with others is breathtaking.

  41. turcopolier says:

    BALLISTIC missiles are good for nothing but the deliver y of nuclear
    weapons. They are a prestige item for people who know no better like the
    Saudis. Good for frightening people who are easily frightened. The
    maximum effect with HE warheads is something like the German V-2 attacks on
    London. I was in Baghdad when it was under Iranian ballistic missile
    attack. The Iraqis were not impressed. Pl

  42. J says:

    Who has been the belligerent party in the Mideast for the oh say past 50 plus years? Who has been the party in the Mideast who has been intent on bullying others at every given opportunity? Who has been the threatening party to those around them that if they do not get their way they puff up their faces and turn blue akin to a spoiled child throwing a tantrum? Who had murdered, lied, cheated, and stolen their way in their land acquisitions at every given opportunity?
    The answer is that party in question’s name starts with an ‘I’, BUT doesn’t end with a ‘n’, in short that party is Israel which has madhatters at their helm with a thumb on a nuclear cache of 400 plus nuclear weapons.
    Why shouldn’t the U.S. either bury or take over such a threatening nuclear cache? The world would be better served with such nuclear arsenal put under ‘adult supervision’.

  43. VietnamVet says:

    The Iranian Nuclear issue has nothing to do with the USA other than that the Iranian State does not kowtow in a western direction towards D.C. It has everything to do with Iranian support of Hezbollah and being in missile range of Israel.
    The experts here will correct me but Pakistan has nuclear armed missiles. India and Pakistan fought in 1965 and 1971. Both states are fighting an internal civil religious wars in the Hindu Kush; yet, there is no talk in the US media of a joint Indian American bombing campaign. Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD) works.
    President Obama’s talk of nuclear disarmament is claptrap just as much as the Kagan Family’s never ending Surge. The continuing Neocon propaganda promoting a bombing campaign against the Iranian nuclear sites comes from the simple fact that once the Iranians have nuclear tipped missiles; MAD will be a fact and Israel to reach accommodation with its neighbors will have to limit itself to being a Jewish ghetto within the 1967 borders.
    As long as Israel is the sole Middle East nuclear power it can continue its aggressive occupation of Palestine. But once it obtains nuclear missiles, Iran will no more attack Israel than Indian will attack Pakistan or the USA will attack China. To do so assures their destruction. But nuclear weapons, will allow them to aggressively pursue their goals without a “total war”.

  44. Nancy K says:

    J and Greywolf are like like opposites ends of a pole. J is Israel wrong, all the time and Graywolf is Obama wrong and Israel right all the time. I find it very sad when people are such concrete thinkers. Little in politics or world affairs is so black and white.
    It is quite possible that Israel will attack Iran soon and it is quite probable that we will do nothing to stop them and may even unofficially encourage them. The real question is not what the US or Israel will do, but what will China and Russia do. Yes, we live in interesting times indeed.

  45. Cloned Poster says:

    To all the posters who quote international law, IAEA dictats, UN agreements, Geneva Accords, etc etc.
    It means Jack Shit.
    Ask Iraqi citizens and Afghan tribes.
    The only possible military solution to Iran is nuclear.
    That is why the West is so depraved in the line they are taking.

  46. Andy says:

    The best that could probably be said is that the IAEA is not of one voice on the issue, even though in the majority of statements and official reports the IAEA claims Iran cannot unilaterally abrogate the newer version of code 3.1 – indeed, even Laura Rockwood’s analysis, which you link to, says that much. It’s ultimately a minor legal point unless construction on the facility began before Iran abrogated the newer code (ie. before December 2007) – if that is the case then it is a clear violation of Iran’s CSA. Once the precise location is pinned down and historical imagery is looked at, that question will become clearer. Of course, Iran can always claim (and probably will if there was construction pre 12/2007) that the facility wasn’t intended to be a nuclear facility until after that date. Such lawyering of its obligations is something Iran has a lot of experience with.
    But that really wasn’t my point in addressing the Ritter article – instead it was Ritter’s confusion of the additional protocol and Code 3.1.

  47. JTCornpone says:

    A few unrelated comments:
    1. Ballistic missiles are not half bad at delivering chemical weapons too. I can’t see Iran doing that unless Israel gives them the full Lebanon treatment but they do have experience with the technology.
    2. Several commenters have mentioned going after the Saudi oil fields but Iran has a better option. A couple of silkworms from their batteries in tunnels along the straits of Hormuz could take down a supertanker and the companies that insure the shipping would do the rest. The subsequent oil shock would very likely make our last little economic difficulties look like a mere warmup to the economic disaster which would follow. Our host’s prediction of lower future oil prices would severely impacted.
    3. I recall reading a long time ago of a flash and seismic profile resembling a nuclear explosion being detected somewhere in the southern hemisphere around South Africa during the late 70’s. The speculation at the time was that it could have been an Israeli atomic test with the South Africans somehow in cahoots. All discussion subsequently died out USS Liberty style.
    I would prefer that we do our utmost to prevent an Israeli attack. I value a viable world economy more highly than a nuclear free Iran.

  48. N. M. Salamon says:

    Juan Cole has a translation of General Salami’s remarks at:
    on today’s blog

  49. Patrick Lang says:

    You are right about the chemical weapons, but, so what. This is like using a shotgun to kill a bumble bee. pl

  50. turcopolier says:

    Your comment seems irrelevant to my post. I don’t doubt that they can
    eventually build a deliverable weapon given enough time. That is not the
    question. The issue is whether or not the US will tolerate the possession
    of such a power balance altering weapon in the hands of a government that
    behaves the way the Iranian government does.
    The throw weight? 2,000 lbs. a mighty expensive and inaccurate way to
    deliver the ordnance load on one or two aircraft.
    Any of You. Don’t bother to send me anything about the justice of this
    question. Pl

  51. Patrick Lang says:

    “Our host’s prediction of lower future oil prices would severely impacted.”
    No, I haven’t. pl

  52. optimax says:

    Here’s an article from 1948 dealing with Russia and its nuclear capabilities that sounds much like today’s discussion on Iran.
    The main differences between our thinking 60 years ago and today are we have already attacked a country because we were afraid (Iraq) and the Israeli influence as to whether we should strike Iran or back up Israel if they do.

  53. Cieran says:

    I’m still busily wrapping my already-stretched mind around the latest revelations, but my initial take on these events is one I’ve long suspected, namely that the Iranian government is pursuing a much more ambitious goal than a mere weapons program.
    One side-effect of these various announcements is that the question of non-proliferation is back front and center on the world’s stage. That’s a very good thing, because while we have an international framework for dealing with this topic, we clearly need a lot better one, e.g., we seem blissfully content to advocate severe punishments for NPT signatories who commit relatively esoteric infractions, while we ignore the nuclear arsenals of non-NPT nations.
    That’s a mighty poor way to effect a reduction in risk of a nuclear exchange, and it appears that the Iranians are happy to point this out (repeatedly) via their recent actions. There are plenty of nuclear have-not nations in the world, and Iran could become their de facto leader with this strategy. That could get interesting.
    The military risk to Iran is real, as our host points out, but there are serious risks to other nations as well. The U.S. has lost a lot of its international credibility in the last decade, and we could lose the rest of it pretty quickly by supporting military action against an NPT signatory by a non-NPT nation, all in the name of preventing proliferation. Do people in the current administration consider what the “NP” stands for?
    Add in the possibility that such military action could involve nuclear weapons and the hypocrisy becomes impossible to miss — and that’s the kind of hypocrisy that could bring down the current system of controlling the spread of nuclear weapons technology. That outcome would be disastrous for the industrialized world.
    Any attack on Iran over this issue could lead to a wave-the-bloody-shirt response from the Iranian government, and that would confer considerable legitimacy for them both internally and on the world stage. This might be one of those cases where attacking one’s enemy carries the risk of making them stronger! So while there’s plenty of near-term risk to Iran, there’s also plenty of longer-term risk to the U.S., and especially to Israel.
    I think it’s too soon to judge the motives and strategies of the Iranian government. But if they are indeed crazy, then I suspect that they might be crazy like a fox. And I keep getting the feeling that one side in this dispute is playing chess while the other is playing checkers.
    If so, I wish I could figure out for certain which is which…

  54. curious says:

    Just a note.
    Israel nuclear weapon most likely has been tested a few times.
    1. Vela incident
    2. South Africa shaft test in kalahari
    3. The multiple detonation in india recently (plus ever wonder why Israel and India are so cozy lately? Read Jinsa diplomatic goal.)
    But the Vela incident is the most obvious one, specially with everybody playing dumb about it. (tho’ really, everybody has been playing dumb about Israel nuke, on top of it’s hyper aggressive military posture.)

  55. One might posit that if Iran wanted to use something less complicated than nukes against the Israelis, then chemical weapons would be a reasonable choice.
    Nukes would take out a fair number of Arab/Muslim Palestinians I should think, and the radiation would drift over into Jordan and elsewhere including the precious and holy sands of Arabia (oh my) depending on which way the wind blows.
    Despite bluster and posturing, the Israelis IMO cannot defend against chemical weapons. Start laying down 20,000 square foot or whatever patterns and…I don’t envision Israelis reaching for gas masks quickly enough to prevent major attrition.
    Of course, the winds can always take the chemicals into Palestinian areas too. And just how accurate are Iranian weapons these days? And so on…
    Perhaps all the nuke hysteria is just a cover for the underlying strategic idea of knocking the Persians back in general a few decades…what would the target set REALLY be????

  56. J says:

    Nancy K.,
    So kind of you to refer to me as a block-head. LOL LOL, I do have a humorous side at times.
    My ‘view’ is based on a adult life-time of interactions with the different cultures and populations that comprise the Mideast. What I have found is that the Israelis tend to be too self-absorbed to show empathy with anybody else around them, much less try to deal amicably with others in a humane way.
    The Arabs and those who are adherents of Islam, I have found to be very warm, excellent hosts, and very sensitive to the plight of others around them.
    I have found the Israelis to be great lip-sinkers in that they ‘say’ great and grand words and extol grand Biblical thought processes, but for some reason cannot walk the walk in sync with their words.
    Until the Israelis decide to grow-up and act like responsible adults and caring members of the Mideast community, they are going to continue to have problems that are of their own making. And their infantile self-centered mindset mixed with a cache of 400 plus nuclear weapons does not make for a good day for the Mideast as a whole. That is why I recommend that we the U.S. either bury Israel’s nuclear cache or take possession of it. There needs to be some ‘adult supervision’ exercised before somebody gets hurt in a bad way.
    Have a pleasant evening.

  57. Mark Logan says:

    I can’t fathom why Iran, if their goal is to build a
    bomb, would be publicly spraying missles around long, long before any warhead could possibly be
    ready. That could only increase the odds of Isreal
    acting. Either that is what they want to happen to quell
    their internal political troubles or they are simply
    acting without consideration. Are those the only two possibilities?

  58. Mark Pyruz says:

    Colonel, you’re looking at the use and effects of ballistic missiles from an American (with combat experience) perspective.
    “The War of the Cities” experience from the Iranian perspective is much different than yours (even while in Iraq). Hundreds of Iraqi MRBMs falling on Iranian population centers caused hundreds of thousands of ordinary Iranians to flee the cities, particularly in Tehran where 160 fell in a campaign of short duration.
    The IRIAF cannot compete with the IASF, and does not have the means to deliver an effective response to an Israeli strike. The Iranians are smart enough to realize that buying inferior Russian or Chinese warplanes is an expensive waste of money. So a much cheaper alternative, with a far more certain means of delivering an effective strike, has been hit upon by the Iranians- conventional MRBMs. Iranian conventional MRBMs are far more likely to hit their target than anything capable from a non-Western air force against a Western one- particularly an American equipped one.
    Consider for a moment the effectiveness of comparatively small Katyusha missiles (BM-21 and BM-27 types) during the 2nd Lebanon War. The psychological effect created a virtual siege mentality upon northern Israel, particularly the port city of Haifa, crippling its economy. That’s what really put an end to that war.
    So while the conventional MRBM might not be considered a logical choice from a Western perspective, with all its many sophisticated and expensive military options, it can certainly be considered quite logical from an Iranian perspective.

  59. optimax says:

    Here’s a John L. Perry quote–after saying Bush must stop Iran from developing the hydrogen bomb he states:
    “There is only one entity that can either prevent, or defeat, the Islamic fascist master plan to convert or destroy Western Civilization. That is the United States, with its overwhelming nuclear arsenal.
    That’s a hideous thing to contemplate. The alternative is many, many times more horrendous.”
    He’s saying we should nuke Iran. The guys nuts.

  60. Stormcrow says:

    I have failed to understand Iranian motivations for several years now. Its always seemed to me as if they’ve gone out of their way to antagonize absolutely everyone they can. And the way they’ve managed their nuclear installations has never been exactly low-profile, has it? Ahmadinejad seems to take every opportunity he possibly can to have his photo taken in places like Natanz, while engaging in the most ridiculous displays of public rhetoric since Nikita Khrushchev mistook his shoe for a hammer at the UN.
    But everybody was fairly clear that we could not afford to level Moscow, because DC would likely suffer the same fate. Even as early as 1960.
    But most people perceive Tehran as a different matter. So whether it really is or not, is irrelevant to the risk these publicly broadcast spectacles help to incubate.

  61. Cynthia says:

    Let’s hope to God that Obama doesn’t do to Iran what Bush did to Iraq. For us to launch a preemptive strike against another Muslim country in the Middle East will cause whatever remains of our power and respectability in the world to go spirally down the drain.

  62. The continuing information war and the Suez Crisis partners (Israel and UK)…shades of 1956?
    So just where did the “intelligence” per Iran come from? Israel and the UK?
    The obvious policy choice for the US is to let Israel, Britain, and France attack Iran over the nukes. Washington can take a pass and indicate we are rather busy in Iraq and Afghanistan.
    Per The Telegraph (London):
    “The Financial Times and New York Times have separately reported that Western and Israeli intelligence agencies are in the throes of a dispute over the exact nature of Iran’s work to build a functioning atom bomb.
    “Following the discovery of a secret plant outside the holy city of Qom, US intelligence hopes that it has made a breakthrough in finding out how much covert work Iran is undertaking.
    “The New York Times quoted a US official claiming Qom “was the big one” but he added Iran was a big country.
    “British officials told the Financial Times that Iran resumed work on a nuclear warhead design in “late 2004 or early 2005.” The US assessment is that worked stopped after an order was handed down by Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in 2003 and there is no conclusive evidence that it has restarted.
    One former US official acknowledged there were deep differences between international intelligence agencies. “It’s often the tradecraft that gets us bollixed up,” said Rolf Mowatt-Larssen. “It comes down to interpreting the same data in different ways.”
    The shadow of faulty assessments used to pave the way to the Iraq war hangs over intelligence agencies attempts to reach conclusions about Iran.
    “We’d let the country down, and we wanted to make sure it would never happen again,” said Thomas Fingar, who led the State Department’s intelligence bureau, which disputed the weapons of mass distruction assessment before the Iraq war. “Now, it’s much more of a transparent tussle of ideas.”
    “While the American view is that the design work has still not resumed but Germany, Israel and Britain are more hawkish.”

  63. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Dr. Cordesman, in the Wall Street Journal artcile on 09/26/2009, alluded to therom-nuclear weapons in the hands of Israel.
    Is this a verified fact?
    If true, what state gave Israelis the design of thermo-nuclear weapons?
    Only 3 suspects: US, UK, France.
    Does any one know anything about this matter?

  64. WILL says:

    the flow of new-clear knowledge can be convoluted. The brits gained their missing thermo clues by monitoring chicom nuke test air data.
    the first plutonium israeli reactors were supplied by the french pissed off at pan-arab support for the algerian muqwamma. after that w/ the great participation of zionists in western and soviet science, it was inevitable that israel wouuld gain thermo knowledge.

  65. Babak,
    As I recall there was a very large transfer of weapons to Israel during the Bush Administration. I believe this was prior to the 2004 election so that if by chance Bush lost, Israel would still get some goodies.
    I think “bunker busters” etc. were reported in the press at that time as part of the shipment. So there might be something in the press of the day detailing this.
    Didn’t Israel already test some of their more exotic weapons in the Gaza campaign??? I recall something in the press about unusual wounds etc. I think I recall seeing that the Israelis developed some of these on their own but who knows.

  66. Cieran says:

    Virtually nothing is a verified fact regarding Israel’s nuclear weapons program. As far as who gave them their original designs, that is generally accepted to be the French.
    Lots of folks presume that the U.S. supplied both the special nuclear materials and the know-how, but the provenance of that information appears to be from a Tom Clancy novel, not from actual history.
    For any U.S. citizen to provide such information to a foreign government such as Israel could be a hanging offense under the provisions of the Atomic Energy Act, and that tends to clarify the minds of those who possess such secrets.
    There are a lot of designs available between the “nuclear” and “staged thermonuclear” regime, and if Israel’s weapons are more powerful than your garden-variety atomic weapon, then there’s a good possibility that these “boosted” designs are the ones that Dr. Cordesman is takling about.
    And I’ll note one more time that if Israel does indeed possess nuclear weapons, then our foreign aid to that country is, and has long been, potentially illegal under U.S. law. Thus there is a strong incentive for both the U.S. and Israel not to provide definitive evidence about any Israeli nuclear weapons programs, and certainly the use of such weapons would demonstrate their existence quite convincingly.
    I have a sneaking suspicion that one of the goals of current Iranian strategies is to force the explicit admission that Israel has nuclear weapons. It’s hard for the U.S. to argue with any degree of credibility for sanctions against Iran if similar sanctions ought to be applied to Israel, and that may be part of what the Iranian government is currently up to.

  67. Lysander says:

    Nukes against Iran? Maybe the Israelis are evil enough to do it. But I doubt it.
    Why did Truman use nukes against Japan, a defeated country looking for a face saving way to end the war, but NOT use it against China when an entire American army was at risk of destruction?
    It’s a different world where lots of countries have nukes or the means to make them.

  68. Bill Wade, NH says:

    Is Israel starting to think this all through rationally?
    last paragraph of a long article that explains Dr. Cordesman’s analysis of an Israeli – Iran attack:
    “The time has come to adopt new ways of thinking. No more fiery declarations and empty threats, but rather a carefully weighed policy grounded in sound strategy. Ultimately, in an era of a multi-nuclear Middle East, all sides will have a clear interest to lower tension and not to increase it. ”

  69. rjj says:

    A google news search shows 12 stories on John Perry: the original Newsmax*** article, one citing the withdrawal of the article, and the rest lefty bloggers amplifying the incident by indulging their fantods.
    The Perry story is humbug – trog bait.
    *** known to all as a bullhorn for right-wing radical cranks and operators.

  70. curious says:

    Dr. Cordesman, in the Wall Street Journal artcile on 09/26/2009, alluded to therom-nuclear weapons in the hands of Israel.
    Posted by: Babak Makkinejad | 30 September 2009 at 08:45 AM
    Who cares. (I mean it in more than tongue in cheek way) Wall st. journal opinion page quality has been going down after Murdoch bought it. It’s pretty much Murdoch inc./ NYDaily/Fox News. Their line is predictable. Attack Iran. Yay, Israel. Nobody takes them seriously anymore, not even wall street.
    About Israel nuclear weapon. It involves Nixon-Reagan secret deal. Nobody knows. ‘Polite’ people don’t talk about Israel nuke.
    Bottom line, it’s self censor. It was sustainable in the 80’s because truly nobody knows. But now, It’s just another casual lies. (like spreading democracy, we don’t torture, there is WMD in Iraq, we need to bail out banks to save the economy, etc.)
    If Iran want to play the bluffing game, just say ” We don’t have nuclear weapon program, just like Israel don’t have nuclear. That would be the biggest comedy punch line ever. I would pay good money to see the red faces. Of course Iran has zero access to international media, so that is pretty hard comedy to execute.
    just a note. After the first 5 nuclear power. The next 5 are all non NPT. (Israel, South Africa, Pakistan, India, NK) There was Belarus, Ukraine, but they are more about Soviet breakaway.
    A large number of western analysts see the culture of opacity is rooted in the fundamental Israeli perceptions that developed over decades of the Arab-Israeli conflict. This culture is based on the following:
    – Nuclear weapons are vital to Israel’s security.
    – Arabs should not be allowed to obtain these weapons.
    – Israel should be allowed to keep a nuclear monopoly.
    – Nuclear issues must be kept out of normal discourse and the whole issue should be left to nuclear professionals.
    – The opacity policy has served Israel and Israel has no alternative.
    However, some credible Israeli analysts have expressed concerns that under the culture of opacity, hawkish Israeli leadership might be tempted to developed a different attitude regarding nuclear weapons, namely their use in situations less than an existential threat to the state. Such leadership might see them for example as an “appropriate” Israeli response to an Iraqi chemical or biological attack. Such concerns led Israeli analyst Ze’ev Schiff to propose a law “The Red Button Law” that would place checks and balances on Israel’s decision-making system in this most sensitive field.18
    My personal take on all these,
    Only Iran internal security calculation determines if they should cross the nuke line or not. As of now, I don’t see how that will enhance their need. Plus, once out, Iran has to make sure it reaches minimum deterrence capability. (not there yet)
    My favorite scenario: If Israel outs their nuke, all bets are off. There is no NPT, IAEA, etc. Free nuke for all. The rules are for saps.
    As of right now, conventional attack between Israel-Iran that involves US will be major land war. I don’t see any side can win a 10-20 months war decisively.
    .. beyond that, it’s discussion of various battle scenarios vs. effect on global financial condition. It’s too ugly to imagine, We are talking about 30-40% Iranian cities destroyed, $200+ oil, permanent damage to US economy, 10-20K people die, etc

  71. Arun says:

    Question: what is the real import of Ayatollah Khamenei’s 2005 fatwa stating that the production, stockpiling and use of nuclear weapons is against Islam?
    Seems to me that is a stronger statement than, e.g., the US President stating something like that.
    Is that fatwa a fig-leaf? Is it conditional, e.g., predicated on the “enemies of Islam” not producing nuclear weapons?
    Why does that fatwa play so little into deducing Iran’s intentions?

  72. LeaNder says:

    “While the American view is that the design work has still not resumed but Germany, Israel and Britain are more hawkish.”
    Had Merkel already been Germany’s chancellor in 2003, Germany would have joined the coalition of the willing. Absolutely no doubt.
    Yesterday I received the following link under the header:
    A brief film well worth seeing often

  73. J says:

    Tip-o-the-hat to ya, you have hit the nail on the head — “to force the explicit admission that Israel has nuclear weapons.”–

  74. zanzibar says:

    “I have a sneaking suspicion that one of the goals of current Iranian strategies is to force the explicit admission that Israel has nuclear weapons.”
    Cieran – My layman perspective is that your suspicion is spot on as it would bring about the discussion point of equivalence. The question is how can Iran precipitate such an explicit admission when those that have been instrumental in enabling the Israeli nuclear program are the key western powers that today control public perceptions and international institutions? Wouldn’t such an explicit admission unmask culpability of France, Germany, UK & US with respect to nuclear weapons proliferation?

  75. Desaix says:

    “Such weapons are inherently inaccurate to within a few hundred yards at range. Because of this, they are of no real military value with other than nuclear warheads.”
    Over how wide an area is the Saudi oil infrastructure spread? Wouldn’t lobbing them at Gawar, even if a miss cause a spike in prices? How long would the spike last?
    “The US has experienced six recessions since 1972. At least five of these were associated with oil prices. In every case, when oil consumption in the US reached 4% percent of GDP, the U.S. went into recession. Right now, 4% of GDP is US$80 a barrel oil. So my current view is that if the oil price exceeds US$80, then expect the U.S. to fall back into recession,” wrote Steven Kopits, managing director for U.K.-based energy-consulting and -research firm Douglas-Westwood LLC in New York.

  76. optimax says:

    Lysander, rjj,
    A google search of John L. Perry brings up his archived columns here:
    I should have been clearer that the quote I posted before is from a column entitled “History Not Polls to Judge Bush” July 5, 2007. His piece on a military coup may be trog-bait, but he has been publishing his propaganda for at least a couple of years and either has a loyal following or a wealthy patron or a nom de plume of Dick Cheney.

  77. turcopolier says:

    I have heard his rationalizations in every country I ever served in that had experienced a military coup. Pl
    Sent wirelessly via BlackBerry from T-Mobile.

  78. optimax says:

    Sorry, the John L. Perry quote is from his Sept 4, 2006 column “Truth out of Tehran.” I need to clear my head after reading a few of his columns.

  79. Andy says:

    Col. Lang,
    My comment on “throw weight” was a response to another commenter – I agree with you completely that ballistic missiles without nuclear warheads are primarily psychological weapons of limited military utility.

    The issue is whether or not the US will tolerate the possession
    of such a power balance altering weapon in the hands of a government that
    behaves the way the Iranian government does.

    That is certainly the question and one that I certainly can’t answer definitively. I think unless some kind of “smoking gun” is found soon (ie. definitive and incontrovertable evidence of an active weapons program) my sense is that the US will most likely adopt a policy of containment and limited engagement and not a military option. Some factors I think are relevant, at least for the near-term:
    1. I believe, for a number of reasons, the tolerance of the American people for another war is very low. The economy, war fatigue and the legacy of the Iraqi WMD debacle all conspire to greatly increase public skepticism of another military confrontation.
    2. A regime-change ground invasion of Iran is not possible, so military action would be either a short series of air raids or possibly a longer air campaign. The risk-reward for either option is relatively low and it would be difficult to mitigate the full range of probable Iranian responses. It seems that President Bush listened to such counsel over the objections of the VP and I think President Obama is even less inclined than Bush to pursue a military option.
    3. An effective air campaign would be very difficult without regional allies providing approval to use our airbases on their territory, particularly those in Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, the UAE and possibly Iraq. I think it’s unlikely these countries would grant approval without incontrovertable evidence of an active Iranian weapons program. Loss of those bases limits any strike to naval air and bombers based at Diego Garcia which would limit both the scope, duration and effectiveness of any air campaign, pushing the risk/reward calculus lower.

  80. rjj says:

    but he has been publishing his propaganda for at least a couple of years and either has a loyal following or a wealthy patron or a nom de plume of Dick Cheney. (optimax @ 6:36 PM 9-30)

    I think you are getting warm with the last mentioned. Dick Cheney drag is the hot new fashion statement with certain geriatrics. It is easy to see how and to whom it might appeal.

  81. J says:

    Some see it as — Sanctions or Bust –. “If Obama must castigate Iran for “breaking rules that all nations must follow … and threatening the stability and security of the region and the world”, why does he protect Israel from sanctions and subsidize its military machine?”

  82. From Ha’aretz reporting a poll by the hardline Zionist organization “American Jewish Committee”:
    “Poll: 56% of American Jews think U.S. should strike Iran
    By Natasha Mozgovaya, Haaretz Correspondent
    “One day ahead of talks in Geneva between Iran and six major powers – the United States, Britain, France, Russia, China and Germany – on Tehran’s controversial nuclear program, a national poll finds that 56 percent of American Jews support a U.S. military strike against Iran.
    “The annual Survey of American Jewish Opinion, commissioned by the American Jewish Committee, revealed a 14 percent rise in the number of U.S. Jews in support of such a military strike, whose aim would be to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons. 36 percent of those polled – self-described adult Jews ? were against such an attack.
    “Asked whether Israel should attack Iran, 66 percent of those polled said they would support such a move.
    “At this time, 49 percent of those polled said that they support the policy of U.S. President Barack Obama toward Iran. Obama has expressed desire to resolve the standoff with Iran with diplomatic measures, recently adding that should the diplomacy fail, steps would have to be taken. 35% of those polled said they oppose Obama’s policy. …

  83. Cieran says:

    You ask a very good question:
    The question is how can Iran precipitate such an explicit admission when those that have been instrumental in enabling the Israeli nuclear program are the key western powers that today control public perceptions and international institutions?
    I find myself wondering about the term “public perceptions” here. In particular, what public do we mean? In the U.S., public perceptions are indeed being managed, but the U.S. is a very small portion of the world’s population. And the “key western powers” you mention are exactly those countries that have the most to lose if current non-proliferation arrangements break down.
    This current arrangement is based on the general notion that the nuclear have-not nations will forgo development of WMD while those nations that possess such weapons will behave themselves. But these nations are increasingly not behaving themselves, e.g., threatening sanctions against an NPT signatory at the behest of a nation with a rogue WMD program.
    So why would the vast majority of the world’s citizens continue to buy into such an apparently lopsided compromise?
    My guess is that the Iranians are trying to position themselves for a leadership role in the emerging multipolar world by repeatedly pointing out the hypocrisy in the current non-proliferation environment. If this is the case, then time is on their side, and the public they are playing to is not merely the citizens of the west: it’s the citizens of the world.
    As far as the possibility of Israel attacking Iranian facilities in the near term, the elephant in the room that few yet notice is that if that event occurs, then Iran could immediately become the leader of the nuclear have-not nations, including many such nations in the west.
    In other words, if Israel attacks Iran with nuclear weapons, then it could become quite apparent that the real problem was not that Iran provided an existential threat to Israel: the problem would suddenly become that Israel had demonstrated that it can act as an existential threat to much of the world, including those “key western powers” you mention.
    That’s the real “game-changer” here.
    If this is indeed the strategy of the Iranian leadership, then the silver lining is that they are putting the topic of nuclear non-proliferation back on the world stage, where it belongs… because it’s arguably the most important problem of our time.
    And it clearly needs a lot of work.

  84. optimax says:

    I suppose there’s always some talk from small groups on the right about a military coup, just as the the extreme left is always dreaming of revolution. As JLP’s memes work their way down into the sewers, I’m afraid it may excite some rat down there to do something extreme to “save this country from a socialist takeover.” Then both extremes could get what they want.
    It reminds me of the Kennedy “Wanted: Dead or Alive” posters in Texas, though I don’t think an amateur has much of a chance these days.
    rjj, That guy could win a Dick Cheney look-a-like contest, like the Hemingway ones in Key West.

  85. YT says:

    Re:”The Arabs and those who are adherents of Islam, I have found to be very warm, excellent hosts, and very sensitive to the plight of others around them.”
    LOL! You MUST be jokin’. I dunno ’bout the former but I sure am skeptical ’bout ALL the adherents of that faith to be warm or sensitive to the plight of others…’Specially those muthaf****s in the region I’m stayin’.

  86. Babak Makkinejad says:

    I am not aware of any condemnation of the gassing of the Kurds by the Ba’athist government of Iraq from any Arab public intellectual.
    Likewise for the use of gas against Iranian troops.
    Is anyone aware of any public condemnations emanating from the Arabs intellectuals? Religious leaders?
    I would like to know.

  87. Ali says:

    i can say the same about many other nationalities/faiths.
    You seem to be judging the faith on the basis of the ppl. Specious at best.
    Where r u posted?

  88. YT says:

    My apologies if I’ve hurt your feelings. True, the same can be said for those pricks of my ethnicity. Perhaps I’ve had many foul encounters with peoples of your faith. I’m currently based in a south-east asian state whose name starts with the initial ‘m’.

  89. J says:

    Guess you have never had the opportunity to don a Thobe and a Gutra and mix with the locals, which I had the pleasure and opportunity to do. By not doing so, IMO one misses out on golden opportunities for interaction and insights that cannot be gained any other way. A lot can be learned over a glass of hot tea, some roasted goat, and a Shisha. But, that’s just my experience and personal opinion.
    And I stand by what I previously said — “The Arabs and those who are adherents of Islam, I have found to be very warm, excellent hosts, and very sensitive to the plight of others around them.” –!

  90. J says:

    There were some condemnations that were confined to local areas, but I don’t recall any that reached the international plateau.

  91. zanzibar says:

    I meant western public perceptions since they have to be bamboozled to create the environment for an attack on Iran ostensibly to prevent nuclear weapons proliferation. My question really was a bit tongue in cheek since its going to be really difficult for the Iranians to get any kind of admission regarding Israel’s nuclear weapons program despite the near universal belief in such a program. It also seems that the Iranians may garner increasing sympathies from the people in the Middle East but they also scare many of the Arab ruling dynasties. Consequently, do you think Iran can get out of the current tightening vise or will they capitulate?
    You are correct that the western powers have a lot to lose with nuclear proliferation but it seems that they remain confident in their ability to get away with their own “proliferation” – which of course would never be labeled as such.
    I have read that AQ Khan and the Pakistani program were aided substantially by access to Dutch nuclear related technology and access to Chinese designs. My worry is that the big nuclear powers aid further nuclear proliferation as part of their own strategy to gain short term geopolitical advantage but many times regret such moves later. In that context I wonder how nuclear cooperation with India will work out in the future?
    I concur with your assessment that if anyone uses nuclear weapons in a pre-emptive strike in todays climate they will not be forgiven easily. I don’t think the Israeli’s are that crazy. But, they surely are using their incredible influence in the west and the fear of the Arab ruling dynasties to put the squeeze on Iran. I am sure they are trying to build their version of the “coalition of the willing”. I have read that India’s foremost weapons supplier is Israel. Russia I believe for the right inducements could be made to acquiesce. And probably the Chinese too? Realistically what can the Iranians do when they seem so much more isolated? And how can a more robust non-proliferation regime be established until the hypocrisy of the current system is removed?

  92. J says:

    Well it appears that the Obama administration has a severe lacking in the backbone department, as it is afraid to enforce our own laws, in particular the Symington Amendment.
    So in reality it is Tel Aviv, not Obama who is really calling the shots in D.C.. Not a good picture for Americans, when a foreign government has taken its nation ‘hostage’.
    ‘Washington Times’: ‘US won’t make Israel disclose nukes’ | International | Jerusalem Post
    Addendum: Symington Amendment

  93. Mark Stuart says:

    Colonel Sir, Clifford Kiracofe:
    Sir John Scarlett has been told that Saudi Arabia is ready to allow Israel to bomb Iran’s new nuclear site.
    How much weight do you both attribute to this piece of news?
    When talking about our Iranian options, I hardly ever see anything in the news regarding Saudis but also, Bahrainis, Emiratis nor Omanis. It is my understanding that the Royal Family in Saudi would suffer tremendous pressures within its own family for action to further distance itself from us. Not to mention the pressures of its own Shi’ite sensible minorities in its oil rich western region and at its southern border with Yemen. And this at a time when its economy is overall fairing very well after their admission to the WTO. Would it really be in the interest of the Kingdom, in the interest of the Saudi Family, to venture, directly or indirectly in such a hazardous gambit?
    As you said it Colonel Sir: Only perceived interests and brute strength, whether economic or military matter in the end… Isn’t Saudi Arabia’s perceived and real strength today its economy?
    Would it also be in the interest of other regional powers to be seen by the regular “Abdu” in the street of Algiers, Riyadh or Cairo so blatantly aligned behind America but also…..behind Israel too? The sheer perception of some Arab and Muslim leaders working hand in hand and sharing the same goal with Tel Aviv, would definitely not be productive in attaining our own security goals.
    The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict: The Graveyard Of American Presidents?, Michael Brenner
    Micheal Brenner highlights the importnat fact that The Palestinian issue cuts much deeper there [North Africa] than do any of the other American actions in the Middle East. This is not negligible an effect, nor affect to consider while planning any anti-Terror global war.
    The effect of the Iranian Islamic Revolution of 1979 in Algiers or Cairo were limited only by the fact that it eventually led to a war between Sunnis and Shi’ites. I’m not sure the reaction in the Muslim world would be as tamed in the case of a direct engagement with Israelis or Americans. The increasing following that Hezbollah was able to garner in the Sunni world after the 2006 Lebanon War is prove that Sunnis and Shi’ites are able to find common grounds and at times set aside their religious differences. No matter how many Shi’ite mosques or shrines are bombed in Baghdad or Pakistan.
    Again Colonel Sir, what is your take on this perspective? is it sheer conjecture or real potential troubles looming in case of a strike against Iran?
    Colonel Sir:
    What’s your preferred course of action? serve it up and we will discuss it.
    Is the state of our intelligence combined with that of the Israelis, Saudis, Emiratis, Bahrainis or Omanis that debased that we cannot exploit the many sunnis and other minorities (and could we agree here to forget about the pro-democracy movements?) within Iran to further our goal against a nuclear armed Iran or at least a regime change?
    perhaps literally the end for someone. my guess Sir is that i see Israel disappearing from the map before Iran. If the history of those two peoples is any indication.
    Why does that fatwa play so little into deducing Iran’s intentions?
    I think it was taken into consideration. But do you really believe that any foreign power, be it the Americans or the Saudis or the Israelis, would want to rely on Iranians being “good Muslims”? In matter of religion, there are always the rule, agreed upon by most, and what some humans decide to do with them.
    “I have a sneaking suspicion that one of the goals of current Iranian strategies is to force the explicit admission that Israel has nuclear weapons.”
    Would a pubic admission by Israel make really any substantial difference in the big picture? International inspectors on the ground would though.
    I know! you’re in … MYANMAR! What the hell did you do to those poor Muslims over there so they would be so bad to you? They are pretty tame and harmless considering their plight and their treatment by the Burmese government! You must have really ticked them off!…lol

  94. Mark Stuart says:

    I have done penance all that time for my last erring, but not seeing my last comment on this post makes me wonder if i might not have unwillingly faulted once more? Rest assured Sir that in this case it would be unwillingly on the part of someone always eager to submit to authority and wisdom derived from knowledge and experience.
    Either my comments were totally off and unworthy of your attention. Or the phrasing was at fault when i referred to “the state of our intelligence combined with that…”? Which you might have construed as indirectly insulting.
    I realize that i’ve been in France too long and the very Proustian way of thinking and writing might have rubbed off on me way more than i had suspected. But what i merely suggested is that maybe some covert operations with the help of other regional intelligence communities might be successful at bringing at least regime change in Tehran, if not completely halting their nuclear program. But again, there might be many other reasons.
    Which one is it Sir? Knowing i could have been disrespectful to you is mortifying and would be unbecoming of someone always yearning to please and show respect and deference to people of authority. But also, because my only purpose reading you Sir is to learn from you. To learn from your responses to others but also your responses to me. Be it a simple “funny” comment, or “bs” or “totally stupid”. I still learn.
    PS: Please feel free to edit any or the entirety of my comments as you see fit. I will learn too. I want to be your friend again.

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  96. Iran should not arouse concern. Georgia is the most dangerous flashpoint in Russia’s tense relations with the West. The Bible says: “At the appointed time [the king of the north = Russia] will return back [will regain the influence, which it lost after the break-up of the Soviet Union] and come into the south [many indicate that this might be Georgia], but it will not be as the former [1921] or as the latter [2008]. For the dwellers of coastlands of Kittim [the West] will come against him, and he will be humbled, and will return.” (Daniel 11:29,30a) Then Iran will be humbled also. “But ships will come from the direction of Kittim, troubling Asshur [Russia] and troubling Eber [inhabiting on the other side the Euphrates].” (Numbers 24:24a, BBE)
    At that time, peace will be taken from the earth and the “great sword” – nuclear sword – will be used. (Revelation 6:4) However, it will be neither the great tribulation nor “the end of the world” (Armageddon). As Jesus foretold, that will be “the beginning of birth pains”. (Mathew 24:7,8)
    If the Heavens planned a full return of Russia (and much suggests this) the present economic crisis will deepen. Then also the European Union and NATO will not stands.
    In the same way the earlier prophecy had fulfilled: “And (he) [the king of the north = Russia] will go back (to) his land with great wealth [1945]; and his heart (will be) against the holy covenant [state atheism]; and will act effectively; and turned back to his own land [the break-up of the Soviet Union and Warsaw Pact, the return of Russian troops to country].” (Daniel 11:28)

  97. YT says:

    Mark Stuart: “Re:I know! you’re in … MYANMAR!”

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