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03 August 2008


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You said,

--no one to date has produced any evidence that iran is doing anything else with its nuclear research other than building civlian power stations.

Unfortunately for your argument, that is not the point. Iran violated its safeguards agreement (CSA) for more than 20 years. While Iran has an inalienable right to peaceful nuclear technology, it does not have a right to violate such agreements, which are treaties themselves, part and parcel of the NPT and the heart of the Agency's verification measures. Furthermore, it is the IAEA that determines whether Iran is in compliance with the NPT and its CSA and not Iran - IOW Iran doesn't get to unilaterally decide that its program is "peaceful," particularly when it has a demonstrated and admitted history of deception on the matter.

The crux of the dispute is therefore the question of whether Iran's program is wholly peaceful or not. Certainly much of Iran's program is civilian in nature, though much of it has inherent military uses as well. Regardless, mostly civilian is not good enough - it must be wholly civilian. So, to answer the question requires a close examination of all the historical information along with a high degree of transparency and accessibility by IAEA inspectors for a significant period of time. IOW, in order to account for Iran's past deception, the IAEA says it requires measures above and beyond what is required in Iran's standard CSA (which obviously cannot provide the kind of needed access and transparency since it was that CSA Iran was able to deceive for all those years). The IAEA clearly laid out to Iran what the Agency required in 2003 and Iran agreed to it. For about two years, Iran was fairly cooperative, but has since failed to fulfill its 2003 promises to the IAEA's satisfaction.

Legally, therefore, the IAEA board is perfectly with its rights to raise the issue of Iranian noncompliance to the UNSC, which has passed three binding resolutions on the matter - quite a feat for the diplomatically-challenged Bush administration. What's quite amazing, actually, is the level of international agreement on this issue despite this administration.

Next you bring up the NIE. I suggest you go back and read it again because it doesn't say what I think you think it says. It says the Iranians had a weaponization program which it halted in 2003 (note that "halt" is not "end" or "dismantle"). If true, the IAEA did not detect this program and is still unaware of it. Therefore, how is the IAEA to know when/if Iran decides to "un-halt" the program and get it up and running again? It won't unless a much stronger verification regime is in place - a regime Iran says it won't implement even on a temporary basis. So the NIE actually underscores the IAEA's position all along and highlights the importance of Iran allowing the Agency the access it needs to do its job and give very Iran's program is wholly peaceful.

To conclude, I think it's important to take the public posturing regarding desired end-states between the US and Iran with a grain of salt. These are the starting positions from which a compromise will (hopefully) be reached once each side can find a way to get to the table. I don't think the US will get zero enrichment in Iran and I don't think Iran will get the slate wiped clean with no additional restrictions on its program. The likely end result, in my view, will be that Iran gets to enrich, but with a significantly stronger and more transparent and aggressive inspection regime that will make resumption of an Iranian weapons program very difficult.

Leila Abu-Saba

Huh. I am trying *NOT* to worry my pretty (?) head about any of this too much, except that I just bought tickets to go visit my relatives in South Lebanon in late September/early October. I've been feeling confident that all hell won't break loose while I'm there. Until now.

This thread is making me worry. I should not read about this stuff on the internet.

My motto is - if they start bombing before we go, then we don't go. If they bomb while we're there, we sit tight and hope for the best. I figure with the other stuff I've got going on, the odds of lightening hitting me twice are low. And if my Maker wants me, He'll have me, sooner or later. I'm going to Lebanon (Insha'allah).

I do hope this business doesn't escalate, that's all. My kids would never forgive me for running out on them and getting blown up.


The Iranians only need a moderate oil slick to shut the gulf to all shipping --
forget the anti mine forces etc.

They can close the gulf for at least 3 months if push comes to shove.

The Gulf states would have kiss all their tourism ventures goodbye.


Lina, there are elections in Lebanon in the spring. Unless Israel attacks Lebanon at the time of attacking Iran, I doubt the Resistance will risk their electoral chances by giving the Israelis an excuse to pound Lebanon again.


This stuck out to me from cwz's article:

Though the administration has often been portrayed as divided over military options against Iran, an official denied there are now any sharp rifts. "There is uniformity across the U.S. government about the way to proceed with Iran," the official said. "Everyone from this White House, including the vice president's office, is in agreement that the military option is not the best option at this point, and we should pursue diplomatic and economic pressures."

i guess there are different definitions of "small government".

but what i really wanted to do was to enter a thought from the "conspiracy fringe" re wild card dangers. i've been spending too much time lately away from news sources, but last i heard bush was still planning to attend the olympic opening ceremonies, with all sorts of other "world leaders", so we could maybe see major wild card play this weekend already, eh?
just a thought. one that i'm sure is not original to me, though beneath the dignity of this gathering.


'Col. Lang is absolutely correct about a US naval/air war with Iran. I did some contingency planning in the Gulf back in the early 1990's after the Gulf War. Both the US and Iran have been preparing for a naval war since before that. Despite gains in Iranian capabilities, they will still lose. The only question is how long it would take.'


The Colonel told me that I didn't get it and evidently I still don't. Sorry to be slow on the uptake.

Isn't time the critical variable? The question isn't whether Iran can 'close' the Straits for ever (even I'm not that dumb) but whether it can drag out a crisis long enough to do serious political and economic damage.

Past experience surely suggests (at least to me, fwtw) it would certainly take weeks and probably months for 'normality' to return. With the electoral clock ticking in the US that is serious. Political and economic damage elsewhere would also be happening all that time (e.g. here in the UK the Brown government would fall about 2 days after it announced its support for US measures, I should think).

I guess I still haven't got it, but please be patient with me. I'm trying to learn.


Cold War Zoomie


My take on the Washington Post article that Col Lang posted is that no-one's bombing anyone. Granted, I'm no expert in this stuff.

Believe it or not, I think Bush is actually smarter and more rational than we are willing to allow ourselves to believe. That is anathema for many. But I think the signs are out there. (I'm sure some people's blood vessels are popping while reading this.)

One could counter: "But if he were so rational why would we stay in Iraq?" Because the generation in power in Washington today are products of the 1960s and 70s. For them, the major failure of Vietnam is that we didn't stay there long enough to finish the job. And now the world sees us as a nation that "cuts and runs." That's why leaving has been coupled with losing. So in this Administration's mind, staying in Iraq has been the rational thing to do.

I truly believe that there are all sorts of signs out there that Bush has recognized the limitations of military options and is not a wild card in this.

Here is one:

Google Search Result

Best of luck.



what i said -- --no one to date has produced any evidence that iran is doing anything else with its nuclear research other than building civlian power stations. -- IS the point.

show me the beef where iran is a nuke threat. 3% civilian enrichment does NOT transfer into weapons grade manufacturing (80% plus).

we spelled 'u.s.' 'contained' a REAL nuclear threat during the 'cold war' with the soviet union having REAL 'weapons grade' nuke enrichment, REAL nuke weapons production program, and REAL nuke weapons DELIVERY capability. iran is small fish, with NO nuke weapons program, with NO nuke weapons delivery capability, and NO nuke weapons threat in any capacity. 'if' iran were to ever go into nuke weapons development, then 'containment' should be the word of the day.

i ask 'where's the beef'.

your argument about safeguards violations i view as a stick of bologna, whereas i'm looking for the REAL-DEAL BEEF of real-world solutions/answers to the overblown 'iran problem'. and that is 'containment', not the lets-kill-everybody-in-sight mantra coming from the bush-cheney-neocon-israeli cabal.



You have it backwards. When a country violates its CSA, the IAEA has a duty and a right to fully investigate those violations regardless of any evidence of an actual NPT violation (IOW, enriching to 80%). This is really a separate issue from what you're suggesting which would be an NPT, not a CSA, violation.

So no, the only evidence required in the case of a CSA violation is evidence the CSA was violated. In the case of Iran, there is plenty of evidence for that as well as Iranian acknowledgment of those violations. When such violations of the Agency's accountability measures occur, it is up to the violating state to make corrections as well as to provide the a complete accounting and the transparency and access measures for the Agency to verify that a state is now in compliance with its CSA. This is what Iran refuses to do.

In short, NPT violations are not the same as CSA violations and the latter is all about accountability and verification to get a state full back under safeguards. To require the level of evidence for CSA violations would be to make safeguards useless. States could violate them at will as long as no evidence comes to light of an actual NPT violation. That is simply not the way the safeguards regime was designed, and for good reason.

William R. Cumming

Again the Iranians are smart and sophisticated at both internal and external intrigue. How do they play it? Wait it out? Stimulate an aggressive response? Lie low? Flex some muscle (say in the straits of Hormuz) or through proxies? A huge country with a huge population that has survived 2500 years as a entity is going to be very very careful in its choices. No announcements there about preventive war and preemption. After all they do have to consider what immediate capability is in theatre even if they believe it can be defeated or minimized by its enemies. But it does look like Iranian patience will have paid off. No real effective on-scene inspections, and no really brutally crippling international sanctions. And quite strong interenational support. Strictly benefit cost analysis seems to argue for nothing before elections and they just worry that Bush wants a "Victory" somewhere for the history books. After all when he and his dad have breakfast, he may have "Won" those two terms but his DAD did have several "Victories."



When such violations of the Agency's accountability measures occur, it is up to the violating state to make corrections as well as to provide the a complete accounting and the transparency and access measures for the Agency to verify that a state is now in compliance with its CSA. This is what Iran refuses to do

Granted, but the larger context is that Iran's spotty track record of permitting IAEA inspections is still infinitely better than Israel's.

The Bush administration is currently attempting to rationalize the idea that a nation that (a) is not a signatory of the NPT, (b) has built nuclear weapons and continues to operate a surreptitious nuclear weapons program, and (c) has likely proliferated such technology to other non-signatory states, ought to be able to attack an NPT signatory nation whose track record of IAEA inspections is merely inconsistent.

Besides being insane, that's also a clear case of the Israeli pot calling the Iranian kettle black, and that larger context is what gets lost in all the saber-rattling.

The rogue nuclear weapons state in the middle east is Israel. Any discussion about how well other states behave w.r.t. the IAEA must proceed from that all-too-obvious context.


Past experience surely suggests (at least to me, fwtw) it would certainly take weeks and probably months for 'normality' to return. With the electoral clock ticking in the US that is serious. Political and economic damage elsewhere would also be happening all that time (e.g. here in the UK the Brown government would fall about 2 days after it announced its support for US measures, I should think).

Posted by: Andrew | 05 August 2008 at 04:54 AM

First of all, Israel knows as much naval strategy as they know about chinese cooking. They couldn't even drive their frigate to lebanon without returning with a giant hole in their ship.

Closing persian gulf. why exactly one needs to "close" it? It;s a question of oil transportation, slowing down the oil enough until the US economy crashes. From last data. we won't be able to survive 3 months of $300+/barrel.

It is not that people suddenly can't drive. But it's a question of economic crisis where suddenly mortgage paper isn't worth a thing and banks start imploding. (ie. the very structure of US lending economy) 2009 budget deficit is $600B+.. without add on of various bank and corporate bail out. Nevermind additional war cost. War with Iran can add $200-500B easy on initial phase.


Can Iran "close" the gulf?

1. Iran doesn't need to sink tankers, they only need to punch hole on every tankers. (there are only about 4500 tankers in the world (think about that!)

2. US naval strategy is build on fighting another naval power (ie. ship, anti ship weapons, submarines, planes, etc) All Iran has to do is NOT fight like naval power, but mechanized infantry on surface of water.

- eg. semi submersible cement pontoon/barges. It's cheap, well constructed one with multiple chamber is almost impossible to sink using air to surface missiles. It can be used to protect small soft craft from ship fire while moving.

It can be used as platfrom to launch 'anti tank' weapons against ship. (imagine that. cheap RPG vs tanker? RPG WINS. another hole in a tanker)

this pontoon practically will function like foxhole on land. (launching a $300K torpedo against $300 cement structure? They already win there.)

These cement pontoon can be made in thousands if not hundred thousands, turning the entire gulf into a giant maze for speed boat/rubber boat/jet skies vs frigates. Guess who is going to win after frigates dislodges all it's heavy missiles? A frigates against 100 anti tanks, medium range missiles, thermobaric, mine, torpedo and advance RPG? It's downright medieval.

-. tankers as unsinkable missile platform. (protect the tankers body with active armor and those cement pontoon (will stop all expensive near surface missiles and torpodos) All costing less than $50million without the weapons. invite aircraft to bomb the tankers (add manpad and medium range anti aircraft) Even if the entire structure only down 3 fighter jets, Iran already won in term of cost. Nevermind sinking aircraft carrier with this set up. which I believe is very much doable.

-unlimited amount of decoys (surface/underwater) make those sonar,radar, and imager saturated with useless electronic bleeps) This will make submarine absolutely useless. The torpedo can't distinguish between real ship from a piece of floating metal.

I am sorry, when it comes to making sure no oil is going in and out of the persian gulf. I choose Iran side. because they ahve far shorter logistic, gigantic mountain, unlimited amount of cement)

and we are not talking about blowing p oil facilities in Iraq, Saudi, Kuwait, etc...

which makes closing the gulf pointless altogether without oil terminals. (anybody know that there are less than half a dozen of those puppies? think about that)

When it comes to making sure no oil flowing through the persian gulf, the Iranian WINS period.

Our navy is design to fight naval power, not making sure oil is flowing.

If Iran conduct naval warfare, they lost. If they focus on making sure no oil is going through. They win.


Babak Rahimi:

"What the freeze-for-freeze proposal has failed to include is a comprehensive response to Iranian concerns over the U.S. policy of economic and political pressure, which has only made Tehran's hard-liners more assertive in both domestic and foreign affairs."

Clifford Kiracofe

A Brit analysis (2006) of a war scenario and consequences/implications:


k. 4 biggest variables left at play. Israel next PM, Iran, Bush/Condi, and oil price (Saudi really)

Everybody already have some idea how the military issue will play out, or how the "diplomatic solution" will go on. Both depend on the variables above.

On Israel:


The technical details are as follows: Kadima’s circa 70,000 members are eligible to vote in a leadership primary to be held on September 17th. Four candidates have so far announced their intention to stand, all of whom are serving as ministers in the current government—Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, Transportation Minister Shaul Mofaz, Interior Minister Meir Sheetrit, and Public Security Minister Avi Dichter. Any candidate receiving 40 %-plus one votes in the first round becomes party leader. If no one achieves that, then the top two candidates go into a second round run-off on


Iran will react and play for time (with Russia and China's backing) Germany is getting antsy with their economy slowing. Sarkozy is absolute Israel's lapdog. UK is hook on Bush despite crashing economy.

Saudi. I can't guess what they are thinking. Anybody? (they definitely turn on the tap after Olmert resign.)

Condi/Bush. They are playing wait and see. General is putting tight leash on Bush/Cheney. Frankly I think Condi's diplomatic effort has collapsed. It all external variables now. Annapolis style.


The naval blockade is definitely on.

thus, the war is now probably on.

The plan: naval blockade for several months, then let Israel attack Iran.

The ball is now on Iran side. This is going to get very nasty. Kuwait and Israel are gone for sure if there is war. Half of Iran oil facilities are definitely gone too. Time to take out your pen and paper and do the calculation.


Two additional United States naval aircraft carriers are heading to the Gulf and the Red Sea, according to the Kuwaiti newspaper Kuwait Times.

Kuwait began finalizing its "emergency war plan" on being told the vessels were bound for the region.

The US Navy would neither confirm nor deny that carriers were en route. US Fifth Fleet Combined Maritime Command located in Bahrain said it could not comment due to what a spokesman termed "force-protection policy."



I'm not quite sure what your point is with a comparison to Israel. Are we supposed to give Iran a pass simply because Israel has never joined the NPT?

And Iran's violations were not "merely inconsistent." Iran engaged in a two-decade program designed to purposely deceive the IAEA. This included, inter alia, delaying inspections, then removing equipment and material that should have been declared; cleaning the facilities, and then allowing the Agency to inspect. It was lucky these deceptions were caught in the first place.

While I would like to see Israel denuclearized and brought under the NPT, I don't think Israel's nuclear history can or should be used to justify Iran's history. In other words, bad behavior does not justify bad behavior.



I'm not quite sure what your point is with a comparison to Israel. Are we supposed to give Iran a pass simply because Israel has never joined the NPT?

Sorry not to make the point more explicit. Let's try again...

And as far as your question, the answer is clearly "no".

The underlying point is simply that Iran is not an existential threat to the U.S. -- so the idea that any clandestine weapons efforts within Iran's nuclear programs (assuming these even exist) justify our our taking unilateral military action against them is absurd.

We can't afford to be the world's policeman, and we definitely can't afford to initiate military hostilities against any and all countries we suspect to have a clandestine nuclear weapons program (especially now, with our military stretched thin and our economy teetering on the brink of recession, or worse).

We can (and should, given our status as a founding member of the IAEA) lead the world effort to bring Iran into the fold of proper inspections and fully-peaceful nuclear technologies, but that effort does not begin and end with bunker busters, and it should be performed in close collaboration with other IAEA members, some of whom are actually at real risk from Iranian weapons.

And for us to threaten to attack Iran because of Iran's obstinacy towards IAEA inspections, when we are making said threats on behalf of a country in the region that already possesses a rogue nuclear weapons program, is the height of hypocrisy.

I'm completely confident that the rest of the world sees that point, and quite clearly.


The trade bickering with Iran has happened since the Clinton Era.


In April 1995, President Bill Clinton issued a total embargo on dealings with Iran, prohibiting all commercial and financial transactions with Iran. Trade with the U.S., which had been growing following the end of the Iran–Iraq War ended abruptly. [3]

The next year, the American Congress passed the Iran and Libya Sanctions Act of 1996 (ILSA) which threatened even non-U.S. countries making certain investments in Iran. Under ILSA, all foreign companies that provide investments over $20 million for the development of petroleum resources in Iran will be imposed two out of seven possible sanctions, by the U.S.:[4]


This is not something new. The nuclear talk is just another item on ongoing fight between Israel/pro Israel player in DC vs. Iran.

Israel goal is to put friendly regime in Iran to neutralize Hezbollah. Which is not going to happen since hezbollah is now almost self sustaining political power.

But then there is Hamas.


Basically, if it were not nuclear, there is something else that Israel and pro Israel player will use as excuse to pick a fight with Iran. It has been like that since Israel first Lebanon invasion.

Just watch, IAEA is about to clear Iran from all nuclear issues. (Bu the fight will continue on.)


They may in for a rude awakening soon, in light of the steady normalization of Iran's nuclear file as a result of Iran's improved ties with the UN's International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), reflected in this week's Tehran trip of the IAEA's deputy director, Ollie Heinonen.

According Gholam Reza Aghazadeh, the head of Iran's Atomic Energy Organization, Heinonen's two-day trip signals improved "bilateral relations and ways to keep cooperation based on rules". Already, per a recent work plan between Iran and the IAEA, all the so-called "outstanding issues" have been resolved in Iran's favor and, despite some lingering questions about certain "alleged studies" in the past, the process of cooperation between Iran and the IAEA leaves no doubt that the full normalization of Iran's nuclear file is called for and necessary, irrespective of how the nuclear issue has been played out at the UN Security Council.


The shape of the fight and the global context where the fight happens.

1. US economy is crashing badly. These silly war has to stop. (UK is the same, and French starts imploding fast. Spain is gone. While Italy now is in the phase of beating up gipsy to distract the public from crashing economy.)

2. There is massive geopolitical realignment in eurasia that Condi and crew have no idea what to do , or don't even notice. (how do these people get their job? amazing.)

3. Asean and China are about to enact FTA. They are going to need massive oil to fuel the explosive growth. (And nobody in Asia particularly care about Jews blowing up Arab, as long as the oil is flowing.) Observe latest Peres trip to China, or asian economy entering middle east.

so, in the end, this Iran conflict with Israel might play pivotal role in redrawing global balance of power, first start with trade and natural resource. Then military power.


This is the larger context that everybody sees while the neocons are busy with more wars...

(realignment of global geopolitics to eurasia, instead of US-western europe)


Numbers released yesterday show US consumers borrowed more than twice as much as economists forecast in June as a decline in home equity forced Americans to fund purchases with credit cards and other loans. Consumer credit rose by $14.3 billion, the most since November, to $2.59 trillion. Consumers here in the US are using credit cards and loans to cover expenses as falling home values cause banks to restrict access to home-equity lines.

And the weekly jobless claims released yesterday showed another 455,000 workers filed last week, 30,000 more than economists predicted. Continuing claims also rose to 3,311,000. The only positive piece of data released in the US yesterday showed pending sales of previously owned homes rose in June as buyers swept up foreclosed properties. But I don’t think you can look at an increase in foreclosure sales as a real positive for the US economy.

No, the underlying economic fundamentals of the US economy have not improved. In fact, they have actually worsened. Last week I reported how the administration is projecting a record high deficit in 2009. The 2008 fiscal deficit forecast of $289 billion equals 2.7% of GDP, while the 2009 fiscal deficit estimate of $482 billion is equivalent to 3.3% of GDP based on a 2.2% GDP growth projection for 2009. And if you take the IMF's projection of only .8% US GDP growth instead of the administrations overly optimistic 2.2% GDP rate, the fiscal deficit would stand at 3.5% of GDP, matching the 2004 high.

The administration have also predicted a declining current account deficit to 4.9% and 4.7% of GDP in 2008 and 2009 respectively. This puts the total of these twin deficits (budget and current account) to near 8.0% of GDP in 2009. Implications of these twin deficits are significant for the US$, as foreign investors face an even wider choice of alternatives to US dollar investments. The credit crisis in the US has already made foreigners a little wary of US investments and higher US interest rates would be required to maintain foreign flows into the US. But higher rates will mean a further drag on a faltering US economy. I continue to believe that these twin deficits, and weak underlying economic fundamentals will push the dollar lower over the longer term.


Plunging stock prices on Wall Street mean the world's top two banks by market value - and three out of the top six - are Chinese.

Singapore's investment funds Temasek and GIC have used the turmoil to make massive investments in the Western banking sector.

They're now the biggest shareholders of Merrill Lynch and UBS. They are both sitting on big paper losses as values continue to fall, but they will tell you this was a unique opportunity to gain that sort of foothold on Wall Street.

And while we are focused on this week's one-year anniversary of the credit crunch, it is easy to forget that other anniversary we were marking last year - 10 years since the Asian financial crisis.

The irony of Asian money bailing out Western banks has not been lost on many in this part of the world.


And the great game continues. After this Europe energy supply will be 100% under Russian control.

Result: Iran-Turkey is the only other route europe can get their gas without using sea transport.

I think this is the very first big central asian battle on Russian side. (after chechnya, but condi also fail to get chechnya. That was brutal and the russian won't forget that bit.)

It'll be interesting to see if this strategy will extent to Iraq, Pakistan and afghanistan.


Russia forces on edge of South Ossetia capital

US troops train Georgians amid tension
Jul 21, 2008

British-Georgian military exercises may fall

Joint military training exercises by Georgian and British forces next month could be cancelled depending on how the South Ossetia crisis develops, British officials signalled Friday.

Jews flee Georgia

In a bulletin to its membership Friday, NCSJ said that, according to its contacts, most of the Jewish community in Gori, an early near the conflict zone, have left for the capital Tbilisi.


Israel ceased its weapons supply to Georgia by Russia


This is going to be very interesting. A complete diplomatic and financial battle between Bush/UK/Sarkozy vs Iran/China/Russia.

Something is going to pop for real. Either Kuwait or some small european country economy.


Britain, the United States and their allies plan to target Iran's energy sector with tough independent sanctions in a bid to overcome opposition from China and Russia to a hardening of measures against Tehran at the U.N. Security Council, a senior British official said Friday.

The official, who demanded anonymity because of the sensitivity of ongoing negotiations, said the individual sanctions would target vulnerable areas of the Iranian economy, including the finance sector and investment in the country's oil and gas industries.

Cold War Zoomie

I cannot believe no-one blasted me for my "Bush is smarter than we want to believe" comment.

People are going to let that stand!?


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