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09 February 2009


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William R. Cumming

Posting this comment post-Israeli election. Since a competent government [US?] plans for most reasonable contingencies--such as Israel even having an election-- what policy choices does this foreign dictate or offer for US? Or is this another US policy of choosing to wait to see what the other guy (nation) does first? Where is a foreign policy that can be understood domestically and by foreign governments and populations? Talk about public diplomacy let's take a formal position on the Israeli nuclear capabiliy? There is difference in exercising discretion and doing nothing!

Babak Makkinejad


To my knwoledge there is no techncial capability or potential technical capability along the lines that you have suggested is any Arab country except perhaps Egypt and/or Algeria.

The Arab states of the Persian Gulf will never have credible military capabilities (regardless of how much hardware they buy) since the leaders of these states are more afriad of their own militaries than any external foe.

In a way, they are acting in a very similar way to the Abbasid Khalifs. The Abbasids did not truts either the Persians or the Arabs so they brought in the Turkic slave soldiers. In time, the Turkic slave soldiers called the shots in Baghdad.


Every single piece of Saudi's military system are bought from other country, their most advance oil processing plants are all western technology, if not run by western trained engineers. All their keys national security points depend on west compliance. Major weapons suppliers are tripping on each others when Saudi wants anything.

So far Saudi has maintained their true skill: soft power based on oil. Bush, Saudi's base, clash with prince Turki, $150/barrel oil are Saudi's true power. Saudi is essential part of global economy.

The hardest part to guess is what saudi's upper leadership have in mind, so far they see no need for even thinking about nuclear, but if they want nuclear, they will get nuclear. Saudi genuinely believe in soft power. But if Israel and Iran start waving nuclear, Saudi will be the first to have one. They will have to restore balance of power.

with US compliance, they will get it in less than 5 yrs. Without, slightly longer.

Saudi's is not on anybody's watch list, they can import entire set of isotopic plant if they want from Belgium or netherland. They can buy any commercial vacuum pump money can buy from germany, japan or russia, if not US company. Country like belgium, netherland or germany are not going to jeopardize their energy and financial stability over some dual use technology. Saudi doesn't need to develop their own technology and they are more than capable to run complex chemical engineering system. Pakistan, France, Sweden, Russia or China will be more than happy to tell them how to make warhead.

Without US compliance? Pakistan, Japan, North Korea, Korea, Taiwan, South Africa, France, China, Russia are more than happy to do business with Saudi for various reason.

Saudi is major global player, they are key player in world banking and a major middle east market. Getting 5 CDs ROM filled with technical data, training session, and few tons of equipments are trivial. They don't need to figure out how to stabilize highspeed rotor, they just buy a complete set of assembly.

Japan, South Korean or Taiwan will be glad to tell them pretty much anything about advance engineering and electronic.

Hell they can clone the entire Pakistani's nuclear research overnight in exchange for few billion dollars.

Basically, they have access to key technology and doesn't need to research everything from scratch. They don't need clandestine program, they can do it in the open and nobody will mess with them. They won't get the latest technology, but more than advance enough. Whatever Pakistan, North Korea, Brazil and Argentina can do, they can do better overnight.


I almost forgot this bit. Bush did offer Saudi nuke. (like I say. if Saudi wants nuke, half the planet will be tripping on each other giving them nuke.)


So, where do we stand? The Saudis can’t help, Bush national security adviser Stephen Hadley told reporters. “What they’re saying to us is…Saudi Arabia does not have customers that are making requests for oil that they are not able to satisfy.” Which does raise the question—isn’t the U.S. a customer of Saudi oil?

But the Riyadh meeting wasn’t entirely fruitless. Despite coming up empty-handed on its oil request, the White House said it will offer Saudi Arabia more help protecting its oil infrastructure from terrorist attacks. Oh, and the U.S. will also give Saudi Arabia civilian nuclear technology so that Saudi Arabia can jumpstart its domestic energy transformation. From the White House this morning:

Babak Makkinejad


I am afraid we have to agree to disagree.

Fundamentally, I think, our difference lies in the weight we each assign to the human element. I believe SA does not have the human capital to utilize whatever hardware its leaders choose to buy. I believe that there isn't the minimum number of competent Saudi Arabian technicians and engineers to design and build thermal power station let alone a nuclear enrichment facility.

This is my opinion and perhaps I am wrong.


ah, but if the saudi would to do uranium enrichment with US technology (assuming centrifuge, instead of laser separation), there isn't going to be much "human element" needed.

Saudi can simply send a a group of engineers to be trained in top university to run the line. And get best commercial and academic engineers to work on new line. The line itself will be built by best chemical and industrial engineers money can buy. No amateur hour for sure. (think dudes from MIT leading US-German team of engineers and korean construction company.)

The rotor and tube won't be touched by human hands at all. It will be fully assembled and installed by robot inside clean room. There isn't going to be imperfection of contamination. Saudi will get a perfect large diameter rotor working right from day one. It will be bigger than anything out there. (I mean, it is an old techniques. Nothing new.) The saudi won't start with 10-15 inch tubes, they will start with improved early 00's design probably bigger than 3 feet. (composite built by robot is very recent technology, nobody has it except few US and japanese companies)

so, welding, assembly, operation will all be automatic. Minimal human error. Human role will be only for monitoring operation. Enrichment is a straight forward chemical process afteral. One can train a monkey to push the button. 3-5 yrs at most.

design and research on the other hand are out of the reach of Saudi.


Heated discussion on Iran's last rocket launch. As usual, a rocket launch always makes everybody busy calculating something ... (biggest surprised, the liquid engine performance is much improved if the rocket is 2 stage. that means Iran has passed the original scud limitation.)


Say the rocket has 20 tons of usable propellant in the first stage, 2 tons structure and residuals, and 4 tons upper stage. Then the vacuum delta-v is 2.6*1.466 = 3.81 km/sec, assuming a not-unreasonable figure of 2.6 km/sec for a Scud-derived missile, with improvements since the 1960’s.
If the second stage has a residual weight fraction of .14 and exhaust velocity of 2.8 km/sec (similar technology, longer nozzle), then the vacuum delta-v is 5.5 km/sec. Total delta-v is then 9.3 km/sec.
This is enough to get into low earth orbit. I’m assuming a residual mass fraction of about 9% for the engines, structure, and residuals of both stages, and 200 kg extra on the upper stage for guidance and control, and payload. The upper stage is shorter and fatter than the lower, giving better mass ratios for structure, but the nozzle on the engine will be longer, and it’s always harder to make a light structure on something small, because of minimum gauge thickness, etc.
If vacuum delta-v of the first stage is about 3.8 km/sec, then it should attain about 2.6 km/sec at burnout, with a maximum cloudtop-to-cloudtop range of 675 km, so it might fall 700-800 km downrange, depending on the details of the trajectory.
I don’t know why a two stage to orbit liquid-propellant rocket is so surprising. Sputnik was launched with a stage-and-a-half configuration.

Babak Makkinejad


I think you have entered the realm of fantasy with you robotic factory etc.

However, the more fantastic is the quaint notion of Saudi engineers; seeing is believing.

As far as I have been able to fathom, the major heart-burn of the US & EU with a nuclear capable Iran is that then Iran cannot be subject to the implicit threat of an air war (largely waged by US).

Likewise for the missile capability - you got to war with your neigbour and finally kill him but you loose and eye or a hand. Some would call that a victory - others a disaster.

Those idiots who put such notions on the table, together with their illustrious predecessors who aided and abetted the rape of the Chemical Weapons Treaty by Iraq, have made the world more dangerous for themselves as well as for others.

They should have taken the honorable way out and fallen on their own swords rather than lurking around in this or that dark corner of US& EU - pushing the same insane policies.


I think Iran biggest problem is creating perfectly aligned rotor assembly and centrifuge tube, right? Because the control is done manually. (eg. Iran cannot get automatic composite fiber taping machine for eg. Iran is on ban list for high precision milling machine. beyond design, those are next big engineering problem.)

as for plant operation, isotopic separation plant is a dumb/fairly simple chemical processing plant.

(compare this to multi batch pharmaceutical line, specialized polymer or sensitive bioprocessing. now those are fickle machines that needs continuous baby sitting.)

anyway, robotic. see this composite machine. now imagine several order of magnitude more precise + temperature and full atmospheric control.

(ever been to hardrive rotor assembly plant? inside seagate plant (those rotor spin at 7-15K, all of them has to work properly. granted they are not 30-50K rpm like high performance centrifuge. but same thing really... All those are machine assembly.


regarding nuclear weapon.
I for one personally think, the only use coming out of nuclear weapon is this:

a lot of smart people work on it. and when the project is over, finally the nation will wake up. That this whole nuke thing is fairly useless as a weapon of war. It won't bring peace. It only brings the conflict to different level. (see past experiences US-soviet, Pakistan-india, etc) Peace and security still have to be sought, it won't come automatically after one has nuke.

so, all those new technology essentially will be a lesson learn and confident building strategy. Basically a nation grows up and becomes more than simply following nationalistic instinct.

Peace won't come magically just because a nation has nuke.


As far as I have been able to fathom, the major heart-burn of the US & EU with a nuclear capable Iran is that then Iran cannot be subject to the implicit threat of an air war (largely waged by US).

Posted by: Babak Makkinejad | 14 February 2009 at 12:36 PM

Yes there is that. But the biggest one, Iranian progress underlines a fact that the world is much bigger place than US ideologue and politicos want to accept. It is not about the war really (we do have tons of war every where afteral.) But that there are ways beyond east/west plus unipolar jibe. The idiot in charge can't handle it. So everybody puts it in best fit known process. It is more about how dare Iran making progress defying effort to contain it. Afteral we won the cold war. It exposes the limitation of "unipolar" myth. "we thought we are king of the hill, after soviet collapse.")

What's worst, Iran actually plays along with this game. The east-west game, instead of trying to find its own role and future.

for eg. I bet Iran top leadership hasn't put time answering this important question: suppose Iran has nuclear. then what? what long term policy should Iran have? What regional role and geopolitical plan should Iran adopt.

This is important unless Iran wants to repeat past mistake of endless cold war arm race, perpetual flux of shifting strategic equilibrium and geopolitical balance.

Once Iran declare nuke, that weapon will demand much bigger responsibility, political skill, leadership maturity.. nevermind much larger national economic footprint and growth stability.

The game will be much more complex. The whole thing won't stop just because there is nuke.

so you see, we all trapped in same myth, confusing technology as the answer of all world problem. Technology is not the ultimate answer, it's only a tool to solve problem and challenge. The challenge itself still need to be answered properly.

Babak Makkinejad


The threat comes from Israel (and also from the United States) and not from Iran, in my opinion.

US indulges Israel's fantasy of being a nuclear power in order to scare every single state within the range of Israel's delivery platforms. These include Turkey, Egypt, Greece, Malta, Algeria, Jordan, Saudi Arabia etc.

Without the Israel’s nuclear threat, and Don America’s offer of protection, the southern flank of NATO would disintegrate. What reason is there for Greece, Turkey, Italy, Malta to stay in NATO now that USSR exists no longer? Where is the threat to them?

Likewise for the Arab states that out of fear of Israel's WMD have to kowtow to every fantasy project that comes out of Washington D.C. This fear is carefully cultivated by the United States to bind these states to US policy positions in Levant & the Persian Gulf – always pleading impotence in the face of the usual suspects: Jewish lobbies, AIPAC, etc.

Without Israel's nuclear weapons the Arab states would not need US protection - they could chart an independent course. [Iran quit the protection racket of Don America 30 years ago and thus subjected to the normal vilification that one would experience in these types of circumstances.]

Clever people, the Americans. Their useful idiots being the leaders of state of Israel (a.k.a. the Zionist entity).

Really & truly, if US & EU desire peace in the Levant and Eastern Mediterranean they would disarm Israel - in my opinion.



Thanks for your recent comments. You raise a number of interesting points, and it's a pleasure to read what you write.

I think this is especially noteworthy:

Really & truly, if US & EU desire peace in the Levant and Eastern Mediterranean they would disarm Israel - in my opinion.,

This would be a noble goal, and while it may seem infeasible politically, it would go a long way towards ending an arms race in the middle east.

We speak a lot about the need for democratic governments to demonstrate "transparency", but having all of our leaders publicly subscribing to an obvious delusion (namely that Iran is the nuclear problem in the middle east) is not transparency. It's quite the opposite...

I think that open discussion of the Israeli nuclear arsenal is one of the best first steps the world can take towards a path leading to a better world for the people of the middle east.

It's high time we stopped pretending that Israel is some enlightened beacon of democracy in that region: it's closer to being a theocracy that is armed to the teeth via a rogue nuclear weapons program, and we should think and act according to that simple reality.


Likewise for the Arab states that out of fear of Israel's WMD have to kowtow to every fantasy project that comes out of Washington D.C. This fear is carefully cultivated by the United States to bind these states to US policy positions in Levant & the Persian Gulf – always pleading impotence in the face of the usual suspects: Jewish lobbies, AIPAC, etc.

Posted by: Babak Makkinejad | 16 February 2009 at 04:26 PM

yeah, we all read the paper, but those are things you can't control. The best you can do is read the situation correctly, anticipate move, and prepare.

From where I am sitting, I really don't think Iran leadership comprehend what having a nuke means. It won't be "the world will finally accept and open up to Iran", we got the big one. but most likely it will be "omg, the crazies now have nuke. prepare counter strategy."

that's just one. another scenario, if everybody has nuke, does Iran have the capability to react correctly in the event of nuclear launch? You are not going to have the luxury contemplating if a radar bleep is thermonuclear head and you should retaliate or not. You want a cold war with Israel, then you will get a cold war with Israel. As a nation you have to do soul searching, figuring out each apocalyptic scenarios and what they mean.

You are going to have complete radar warning, deep intel, if not a "red phone" with Israel, 24 hrs ready launch, counter strike, armageddon scenario, etc. that's just simple direct scenario. Now add political transition, misunderstanding, misreading, a wacko leaders itching to hit the button, or the other side has the clever idea to do sneak attack and fail... Welcome to thermonuclear war game.

Iran hasn't contemplated this!

Like I say, a lot of very smart people has thought about this first time around. An entire branch of mathematics exploded to explore the possibilities. This is a very precise, quick and deadly game. You are not going to find what you want in it. But you can't get out. I am sure your mathematicians already calculate the equilibrium point by now, given various known variables.

The game itself will devour a country's soul first before anybody launching an attack.

Why do you think we are so paranoid about somebody else having nuke?

Babak Makkinejad


You wrote: "Why do you think we are so paranoid about somebody else having nuke?"

That is because we are in the State of Fall. Every thing flows from that once you understand it.

To overcome it you have to practice courage of highest kind: Be Not Afraid" as Jesus, the Blessed Son of Mary, stated in many of his hadiths.


religion won't save anybody on nuclear arms race. It's all analysis, modeling and strategies.

that is why it is so scary. that is why even until now we still talks about missile defense, mirv, advance radar, newer submarines, etc.

but don't believe me. do your own calculation and modeling.

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