« National Journal Bllog - 28 September, 2009 | Main | "The Stability of MAD" Habakkuk »

28 September 2009

Comments

Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Lysander

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?

jr786

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.

YT

“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?

YT

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

otiwa ogede

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.

Bill Wade, NH

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.

N. M. Salamon

Lysander:

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!

Colonel:

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.

Bill

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.

Clifford Kiracofe

"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...."

http://www.express.co.uk/posts/view/130251/
Saudis-will-let-Israel-bomb-Iran-nuclear-site

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.

eakens

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.

William R. Cumming

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

Curious

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.

rick

OK, where is the US national interest that calls for the use of our brute force to prevent Iran from gaining any of these weapons systems? I understand the Israeli interest, and the Europeans, but I am still at something of a loss to discern the American interest, except in protecting allies, seemingly so that they don't have to protect themselves.

JohnH

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:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/cifamerica/2009/sep/25/iran-secret-nuclear-plant-inspections

Patrick Lang

JohnH

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

Thomas

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.

matter

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.

JohnH

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.

Andy

JohnH,

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.

All,

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.

J

Colonel,

What about 'Dimona' that produces weapons grade uranium, plutonium, and tritium, and nuke warheads? What about 'Dimona'?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bbjgDERSuiI

I prefer going after the real threats like Israel's Dimona instead of Iranian 'construction sites'.

Andy

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.

Clifford Kiracofe

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: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iraqi_Perspectives_Project

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

Sidney O. Smith III

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.

graywolf

"How gullible do they think we are?"
Pretty damned gullible - as we've repeatedly shown ourselves to be.
As far as attacking them:
Who?
Not us - that's for sure.
Not as long as Obama - President of the UN - is conducting foreign policy by bending over.

Israel?
Not if you and the other "realists" have your way.
TOUCHDOWN: Iran.

Abu Sinan

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.

The comments to this entry are closed.

My Photo

February 2020

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
            1
2 3 4 5 6 7 8
9 10 11 12 13 14 15
16 17 18 19 20 21 22
23 24 25 26 27 28 29
Blog powered by Typepad