This week the United Nations International Atomic Energy Agency released a 15-page report which essentially amounts to a “smoking gun” that Iran is working to build nuclear weapons. Among the more significant findings in the report:
• Iran is clandestinely acquiring equipment and data needed to make nuclear weapons.
• Iran has been conducting high explosives testing and developing detonators designed to trigger a nuclear explosion.
• Iranian scientists have been using computer modeling to design the core of a nuclear warhead.
• Iranian military personnel have been doing work consistent with preparation for a nuclear weapons test.
• Iran is working on mounting a nuclear payload onto its Shahab 3 intermediate range ballistic missile
For its part, not surprisingly, Iran denies that its nuclear program is a weapons program. The Ayatollahs maintain that their nuclear program is a peaceful energy program.
But the UN IAEA report points out that there is activity associated with Iran’s nuclear program that can only be categorized as weapons activity. In other words, there would be no reason to conduct these activities if the Iranians were not working on a nuclear bomb. If you want to view this evidence yourself, here is a link to the report itself:
All of this comes as no surprise to sober Americans, Israelis and other Westerners. Only fringe politicos have been in denial as to Iran’s sinister intentions for its nuclear program. Nevertheless, those in the West who have denied the true nature of Iran’s nuclear program have served the Ayatollahs’ purpose as “Useful Idiots” for years. For decades in fact, the Iranians have bought time through denials, lies and theatrics designed to conceal their nuclear weapons program. And their friends, vendors and customers in nations such as Russia, Red China, Japan, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Brazil, India, the United Arab Emirates, and, yes, the United States of America, have played a supporting role in this theater of the absurd.
Nor is the UN itself blameless. Recall that the IAEA was once headed by a man from Egypt named Mohammed El Baradei. El Baradei had a terrible reputation among the Western arms inspectors assigned to the IAEA as someone who went to great lengths to give Moslem nations the benefit of the doubt when it comes to nuclear inspections. It was while El Baradei was heading the IAEA that Iran was expanding its nuclear program with huge underground facilities as places like Natanz equipped with advanced centrifuges used to enrich uranium in violation of the NPT (Non-Proliferation Treaty). It is difficult to believe that all of the revelations in the latest IAEA report couldn’t have been gleaned during the El Baradei years.
All of the delays have helped the Iranians grow closer to achieving their goal of arming themselves with nuclear weapons. Unfortunately, at the forefront of those whose incompetence and professional neglect enabled the Iranians to advance their nuclear weapons quest was none other than the US intelligence community. Recall back in November 2007 that the Office of National Intelligence published a National Intelligence Estimate that stated that Iran had abandoned its nuclear weapons program back in 2003.
Here is a link to that infamous document:
Within two years, that horribly flawed and politically biased report had been discredited as flat wrong:
No single document helped the Iranians more than the 2007 NIE. It paralyzed the Bush administration, Congress, Israel and some of our NATO allies for months, even though the Israelis and some of the Europeans knew the report to essentially be a work of fiction.
There can be no doubt that Iran is much closer to being armed with nuclear weapons now than they were before the DNI published the 2007 NIE. And the NIE gave them cover.
One of the things that is so infuriating about all this is that there were mountains of physical and circumstantial evidence pointing to an Iranian nuclear program years before the latest IAEA report was published.
Consider these anecdotes:
• In January 1994, the Clinton administration’s Undersecretary of State for International Security, Lynn Davis, told USA Today that “Iran’s actions leave little doubt that Tehran is intent upon developing nuclear weapons capabilities.” Davis went on to say that “Iran’s nuclear acquisitions are inconsistent with any rational civil nuclear program.” This statement was made nearly 18 years ago. EIGHTEEN years ago, we knew what the Iranians were up to, but the Clinton administration did next to nothing to stop them.
• In February 1987, Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khameini uttered these words in a speech before his country’s Atomic Energy Organization: “Regarding atomic energy, we need it now. Our nation has always been threatened from the outside. The least we can do to face this danger is to let our enemies know that we can defend ourselves. Therefore, every step you take here is in defense of your country and your revolution. With this in mind, you should work hard and at great speed.”
• An even more overt statement came a year later. In a broadcast over Tehran radio in October 1988, the speaker of the Iranian parliament, Hashemi Rafsanjani, made this chilling declaration that called for the development of weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear weapons: “We should fully equip ourselves both in the offensive and defensive use of chemical, bacteriological and radiological weapons.”
• A lot more evidence of Iranian nuclear intentions surfaced during the 1990s. German and French security officials reported that, from 1992 to 1995, they foiled several attempts by Iranian intelligence agents to purchase equipment needed to create an atomic bomb. But perhaps the clearest evidence spilled out in January 1995 in a nuclear deal signed between Iran and Russia. After the U.S. strongly protested the agreement, Russian President Boris Yeltsin acknowledged that the agreement did in fact contain a military “component” and he announced that he was voiding that portion: “But it is true that the contract does contain components of civilian and military nuclear energy. Now we have agreed to separate those two. In as much as they relate to the military component and the potential for creating weapons grade fuel and other matters-the centrifuge, the construction of shafts-we have decided to exclude those aspects from the contract.”
• There is even more evidence. Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma, who served from 1994 to 2005, was quoted as saying that Iran was seeking help from his nation to build nuclear weapons: “We need oil from Iran because Russia is strangling us. We have no intention of responding to the repeated request by the Iranians to share with them know-how on nuclear weapons, or to sell them any equipment in this field.”
What all this obviously means is that no one should be surprised by the findings in the latest IAEA report. This leaves two main questions:
1. How close are the Iranians to having nuclear weapons?
2. What can be done?
The answer to the first question is as elusive as the wind itself. Estimates range all over the place. But keep in mind that Western intelligence agencies have provided estimates ranging from 5 years to 15 years since the 1990s. Heck, at one time, for a short period, the CIA even told President Bush that they thought Iran already had one nuclear weapon, but eventually backtracked from that statement. The fact is, if you look at the history of estimates from Western sources, it becomes clear that no one knows how close the Iranians are to having nuclear bombs. They could even already have a nuclear bomb. Or they could be years away.
But one thing we must remember is that the Iranians are awash in petrodollars, so they have been able to purchase expertise and components from the likes of AQ Khan of Pakistan and North Korea, in addition to former Soviet and South African nuclear technicians. Being able to afford to buy existing knowledge and equipment “off the shelf,” provides a real short-cut to completing a nuclear weapons program. Given that the Iranians are not idiots and they have been working on this project since the late 1980s, it would be a mistake to assume that Iran is many years away from having an atomic bomb.
This leaves us with the last question: what is to be done?
It is most unfortunate that Presidents Clinton, Bush and Obama have not exhibited any of the political will necessary to prevent Iran from becoming a nuclear power–and we MUST acknowledge that preventing Iran from going nuclear is an absolute necessary vital national security issue for the United States. All of the good options are gone.
Had we imposed meaningful sanctions back in January 1994 when the Clinton State Department declared Iran’s nuclear program a weapons project, and worked to compel our NATO allies to do the same, there could have been a meaningful impact on Iran’s economy and ability to acquire nuclear technology. But Clinton lacked the political will to defend America.
Unfortunately, President Bush displayed little additional political will to target the Iranians with meaningful sanctions. Bush continued the Clinton policy of issuing waivers for foreign companies in violation of the Iran Sanctions Act. Big firms such as Siemens, Total SA, GE, BP, Thyssen-Krupp, Royal Dutch Shell and Alcatel-Lucent were given a free pass to provide corporate life support for the Ayatollahs. Each of companies, and others, has done hundreds of millions, if not billions, of dollars of business with the Iranians while the Iranians have built nuclear weapons.
The Obama administration has continued the waiver policy. In other words, since the mid 1990s when the Iran Sanctions Act was signed into law, we have failed to enforce the Act and have had n0 tough sanctions on Iran, despite the fact that Iran has armed our enemies on the battlefield in Iraq and Afghanistan and have supported Al Qaeda in its war against America.
If the United States decided to suddenly start enforcing its existing sanctions policies, would there be enough time for the sanctions to make themselves felt in Iran, before Iran got nuclear weapons? That is the great unknown–but we DO know that we cannot trust anything coming out of our intelligence community on the subject.
That leaves the military option, something that the Obama administration almost certainly has no stomach for. I believe it is safe to say that Obama would rather allow Iran to go nuclear and let the next president deal with it than take any forceful action to prevent the Ayatollahs from going atomic. Moreover, Obama’s policies of withdrawal have weakened our ability to threaten Iran and strike at its nuclear facilities. US forces are almost completely withdrawn from Iraq and Obama is seeking to accelerate their withdrawal from Afghanistan. Whereas, not long ago, the US had large formations of forces bracketing Iran, including, most importantly, massive air assets and special operations forces, soon there will be few if any of those assets on hand to launch a campaign against Iran’s nuclear facilities, which have been dispersed and hardened. This will make the planning and execution of any military operation against Iran much more complicated.
Which is exactly what Obama and his hard left, Soros-funded allies want. Like Ron Paul on the right, they’re just fine with Iran getting nuclear weapons. It’s an insane policy, unless your goal is to see the United States substantially weakened in the world and Israel threatened.
Speaking of Israel, it appears that it will be up to that isolated and abandoned republic to defend itself and rid the Free World of the Iranian nuclear menace. Are they up to it?
They certainly have the political will that America’s leaders have lacked, but they lack pure numbers of suitable weapons and geography.
Iran has at least 15 significant nuclear sites. While some observers maintain Israel would not have to destroy every site to cripple Iran’s program, Israel’s intelligence would have to be extremely good to skip over any known sites, much less sites that are not widely known. Iran has been secretive about its nuclear program for nearly two decades and it is possible that crucial activities are hidden in unknown areas and sites.
Israel would not want to leave any aspect of Iran’s nuclear program intact, therefore, to suggest that an attack would need to destroy 15 sites may be conservative.
Israel used 16 aircraft just to destroy Saddam Hussein’s Osirak nuclear facility in June 1981. Osirak was relatively poorly defended and was only approximately 570 miles from Tel Aviv. By contrast, Iran’s largest nuclear site is 1,000 miles from Israel. The furthest Iranian nuclear site is in Tabas, in the eastern end of the country, some 1600 miles from Israel. The other 13 nuclear sites are widely dispersed.
The Iranians are very aware of what happened at Osirak. Their nuclear sites are hardened—often built underground—and are heavily defended by Russian-made surface to air missiles and anti- aircraft artillery. Israeli planning tends to be very good, but with so many targets, follow-up strikes would almost certainly be needed. This makes the fact that the Iranians have gone to great lengths to defend their nuclear facilities a problem. Even if the initial strikes get by Iranian defenses, the Iranians will be that much more alert for follow-up strikes. And Israel does not possess stealth aircraft or large numbers of long- range cruise missiles to conduct such missions. The Israelis would need to be uncannily accurate in their initial strikes to ensure success and this is not the same Israeli Air Force that existed in 1981. Today, many Israeli pilots have not seen true combat, have not had to deal with sophisticated air defense systems and have never flown long-range precision strike missions.
Iran’s nuclear facilities are not the only problem. Iran’s Shehab-3 ballistic missile has the range to hit Israel. It is not certain how many of these missiles Iran has (though some published reports give a number of 15, with no acknowledged source), nor is it known if any are equipped with chemical or biological warheads.
So, Israel would also have to try to account for potential Iranian missile sites in any strike. There are at least 8 known sites throughout Iran capable of launching ballistic missiles: Tehran, Bakhtaran, Garmsar, Karaj, Mashhad, Qom, Semnan, and Shahroud,
This means that Israel would be faced with having to strike no fewer than 23 separate targets, all more than 1,000 miles from Israeli air bases and it simply does not have the number of long-range aircraft necessary to do so. Israel has 100 F-16I and 30 F-15I capable of carrying out this mission profile.
What this means is that Israel would have to do more than just launch air strikes against Iran’s nuclear facilities. Perhaps this is why Israel has recently tested a new, extended range version of its Jericho ballistic missile, equipped with a larger warhead.
Additionally, Israel has a number of cruise missiles installed on its German-built Dolphin class submarines, with which it could strike Iran from the Persian Gulf or the Arabian Sea.
Given all its weapon assets, special operations forces and intelligence capability, Israel may very well be capable of setting Iran’s nuclear program back by a number of years, but in the process Israel will be subjecting itself to unrestricted warfare at the hands of Iran’s terrorist allies around the globe, as well as other forms of retaliation from Iran’s ballistic missile forces.
We can’t help but wonder if all of this would have been necessary if the US had fulfilled its proper role as world leader and enforced robust sanctions against Iran 18 years ago…
Filed under: Afghanistan, Al Qaeda, ballistic missiles, Gas & Petroleum, Hezbollah, IAEA, Israel, Khamenei, military, missiles, Mohammed El-Baradei, Natanz, NATO, Navy, nuclear program, Obama, Pakistan, sanctions, Terrorism, UAE, US State Department, USA | 4 Comments »