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12 September 2009

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Bill Wade, NH

Might be a good time to stop harassing the Russians, they seem to have our USA best interests at heart, at least moreso than Israel.

Good news indeed!!!

JohnH

It's remarkable. I see this as the US agreeing to talk about the other side's concerns first. When was the last time that that happened, if ever?

Most recently, the US attitude has been that the other side must first agree to everything the US demands. Then negotiations can take place about the terms of surrender. At that point what's the point of talking about the other side's concerns? Of course, this hasn't worked out so well for the US side lately.

We may be witnessing a tidal shift in how the US deals with others. Or it could just be another show.

Jose

I know nothing of nuclear weapons, but someone told me that Iran just wants to develop the technology base which is equivalent to having nuclear weapons.

This person told me that Japan and Germany could have a nuclear weapons within weeks if they so desired.

Amazingly, Brazil and Argentina could also have one within months if they so desired.

I hope your "concert" has a chance, but I'm beginning to think that Israel needs to divert attention from the settlements real soon.

Onama's refusal to stand up to Bibi is not a good sign...

It's a shame we if rush into another needless war of choice (this time the choice is not even ours) with all the problems we currently have.

Mark Stuart

"the document [...] made no reference to international demands that Iran suspend its efforts to enrich uranium, but did mention ending proliferation in nuclear weapons..."

My guess is that Iran will want to bring the Israeli nuclear program to the table under the broader regional non-proliferation agenda, before any talk about their own program. But it's only a guess.

Wether they will succeed or not, this will definitely resonate in the streets of Islamabad, Beyrouth, Cairo or Jerusalem.

Anyone heard about A.Q. Khan's latest interview in Karachi regarding his contribution to the Iranian nuclear program? Interesting timing for this bold and unusual intervention. Not sure what to make of it?

ms.

Babak Makkinejad

There is also a rumor of the ongoing transfer of 20 Boeing airplanes built in 2008 and 2009 to Iran via Venezuela as part of a legal settlement of the Iran-US Claims Tribunal http://www.iusct.org/).

par4

I hope they send some open-minded experts there. No Israeli double agents.

Pirouz

Babak, that rumor has been denied by the head of Iranian Civilian Organization:

http://www.mehrnews.com/fa/newsdetail.aspx?NewsID=946005

It would have been great news if true.

graywolf

The Iranians don't have to be smart.
They are dealing with a weak pacifist administration and the usual State Department weasels who have made careers of selling out their own country.

Babak Makkinejad

gray wolf:

That is patently silly.

Navy men, FBI men, CIA mem have sold their country's secrets (but not their country).

Actually, all weak states have to have smart leaders in order to survive.

It is the strong states with hydrogen bombs that can afford to be dumb, fat, and happy - or at least so they think.

Tyler

Somewhat relevant, due to diplomacy.

With the recent events at the embassy in Kabul with the contractors, this is now on USAJobs.

Security Protective Specialist

Any thoughts on what this means? Notice the appointment period (13 months...Then up to 5 year increments), and the requirements. It seems like they're trying to find someone to fix the muscle gap between your average foreign service officer and the Diplomatic Security Officers.

otiwa ogede

I fail to see what is "belligerent" about Iranian insistence on its right to lawful nuclear enrichment. My reading of the matter is simply that the IAEA has no proof that current enrichment is being diverted towards illegal ends, and it has questions about past alleged Iranian behavior. Allegations made and sustained by nations Iran considers hostile. After past allegations made about Iraq, and Saddam's "belligerent" refusal to declare, and destroy his WMD, well...enough said there.

What the politicians and commentators in the "developed West" fail to understand these days is the mindset of the "undeveloped South", people who have a history of being subjects of imperialist and colonial games. Look at Zimbabwe, North Korea, Syria, Afghanistan, Burma, Iran, Palestine, Lebanon, Eritrea, even Iraq. The point is violence, and the threat of violence are not the useful tools they were when deployed by the West half a century ago.

The new Southerner would rather die than compromise his independence. It's a matter of history, and honour. We reserve the right to make good,or bad decisions without our "betters" breathing down our necks, threatening us with military and economic violence. I don't seek to condone Iranian behavior, but as a "Southerner" living in the West I sure can understand it.

Mark Stuart

Babak Makkinejad:

That is patently silly.Navy men, FBI men, CIA mem have sold their country's secrets (but not their country)

Is it really? Does this apply to Israel-Firsters too?

ms.

Babak Makkinejad

Mark Stuart:

I do not understand your questions.

N. M. Salamon

ALL:

The TEXT OF IRAN'S PROPOSAL TO THE 5+1 group:

http://documents.propublica.org/iran-nuclear-program-proposal#p=1

ENJOY!!

toto

Look at Zimbabwe, North Korea, Syria, Afghanistan, Burma, Iran, Palestine, Lebanon, Eritrea, even Iraq.

And yet, most of these governments make highly effective use of violence against their own populations. Hell, today's Iraq is probably one of the lesser offenders in this regard!

David Habakkuk

otiwa ogede,

I think what you say takes us to the heart of some of the inadequately appreciated problems with Western non-proliferation policy. Essentially, the U.S. (and British) position is that nuclear weapons were a security panacea for us in the Cold War -- and the possession of these, and right to use them first, continues to be indispensable to our security in the post-Cold War world.

An irony here is that nuclear weapons were seen in the West as a security panacea, in large measure because it was judged to be impossible -- or at least prohibitively expensive -- to match Soviet conventional power on its own terms. Given the clear preponderance the U.S. today enjoys in conventional power, precisely such arguments provide perfectly 'rational' considerations suggesting that the acquisition of nuclear weapons may be a security panacea to its actual or potential enemies -- prominent among whom, of course, is Iran.

But what makes the confrontation between the United States and Iran so dangerous is that 'rational' considerations are not all that are at issue.

If the 'developed West' is to try to legitimise the nuclear 'double standard' to the 'undeveloped South' -- as distinct from simply imposing it by force -- it has to argue either that its intentions are self-evidently benevolent, or that, because it is superior in 'rationality', it is more deserving of being trusted with nuclear weapons.

Even if such claims were objectively justified -- and recent U.S. and British policy has hardly matched our flattering self-images -- they are liable to be unpersuasive, if not indeed counter-productive. In crucial instances, they are liable to make people believe that to accept that they should not acquire nuclear weapons is tantamount to accepting the validity of an image of themselves as malevolent or irrational -- something which they will be deeply resistant to doing.

Mark Stuart

graywolf:
Iranians are dealing with [...] the usual State Department weasels who have made careers of selling out their own country.

Babak Makkinejad:
That is patently silly. Navy men, FBI men, CIA mem have sold their country's secrets (but not their country).

ms:
is it so silly to think that people in the US would sale their country's secrets but not their country?
are Israel-Firsters also included in the lot of those who would sale secrets but not their country?

My apologies for the confusion.

ms.

Babak Makkinejad

Mark Stuart:

I was attempting to be precise.

There are historical examples of leaders who sold their country - Koreans at the turn of last century comes to mind.

I do not think espionage rises to that level.

optimax

D.H.,

is tantamount to accepting the validity of an image of themselves as malevolent or irrational -- something which they will be deeply resistant to doing.

Quite an understatement, I think that whould p*ss off anyone.

What about the fact that the U.S. has never invaded a country that has nuclear arms? That, and their fear we could under the right circumstances invade their country, seem like a more rational argument for Iran developing nuclear weapons than our fear that Iran would use such weapons against us or Israel.

Mark Stuart

Babak Makkinejad:

I do not think espionage rises to that level.

In one case the payment is made by installments, in the other it's up front. But in both cases it's a sale's transaction. In both cases the buyer is taking control (ownership) of the "good" (the other country).

It must be a language thing i guess.

ms

Babak Makkinejad

Mark Stuart:

I disagree.

In case of Korea, her leaders sold her sovereignty - she ceased to be an independent state.

I stand by what I said.

David Habakkuk

optimax,

'Quite an understatement, I think that whould p*ss off anyone.'

I would not disagree with you -- I was indeed indulging in a bit of British understatement.

For what it is worth, incidentally, I am deeply sceptical about the ability of any of us to handle the kind of security dilemmas created by the existence of nuclear weapons very satisfactorily.

The recollections which Daniel Ellsberg has just posted of U.S. nuclear war planning in the Fifties are I think accurate. What they are bring out is how people of great intelligence and goodwill -- Eisenhower being a case in point -- ended up creating a machinery of destruction which could very easily have gone off without anyone intending it to.

It is very easy to say that something had gone terribly wrong -- much more difficult to say what one would have done oneself, facing the constraints the planners faced.

(See http://www.truthdig.com/report/print/20090910_a_hundred_holocausts_an_insiders_window_into_us_nuclear_policy/.)

parvati_roma

To DH - great posts! Especially this: "to accept that they should not acquire nuclear weapons is tantamount to accepting the validity of an image of themselves as malevolent or irrational -- something which they will be deeply resistant to doing." In Iran's case the bar is being held even lower: not about actually making efforts to "acquire weapons" but about claiming its right under the NPT to run a civilian-use nuclear power programme, on the grounds that it could "potentially" enable Iran to become a nuke-power - specifically-stated reason for opposing the exercise of this right being ... the "malevolence and irrationality" of Iran-and-Iranians. About time someone drew attention to this!

optimax

David Habakkuk,

I figured it was intentional. You are very clear and concise in your writing, and I respect your analysis. I realized after I posted that I'd gone a bit rhetorical and was later sorry. A bad habit I acquired in college and haven't completely broken.

You say "much more difficult to say what one would have done oneself." I agree. We usually don't extend empathy to those we have no sympathy for.

Also wonder what most people would have done if they had been sitting in the hot seat as Truman was when he decided to drop the two big ones on Japan. The world, after witnessing the destructive capabilities of nuclear weapons, has never used them again. To say that is a positive result is unpopular, I know. But I don't put much faith in people's ability to accurately predict the consequences of their actions.

Babak Makkinejad

David Habakkuk:

The Russian military doctrine, as far as I heard, is predicated on usage of tactical nuclear weapons.

I would like to pose to you the hypothetical situation in which Argentina would use tactical nuclear weapons against the British fleet amassed around Falkland Islands during that war.

What was the British nuclear doctrine at that time and how would UK possibly respond to the Argentina using tactical nuclear weapons against British naval military targets?

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