There have been two recent developments that should greatly raise the level of concern over the Islamic Republic of Iran’s quest for nuclear weapons.
First was the recent North Korean nuclear test. There is no doubt that Iran and North Korea have cooperated for decades on a variety of matters. They have evidently shared ballistic missile technology and there have even been reports from the US Congressional Research Service of North Korean advisers training Hezbollah terrorists in the Bekaa Valley, something that would almost certainly be set up by the Iranian Pasdaran.
In the past, when the North Koreans have conducted weapons tests of various types, there have been repeated reports of Iranian observers on the scene.
The latest North Korean nuclear test indicates that North Korea has two separate and relatively successful nuclear weapons tracks: one plutonium and the other enriched uranium.
Given the close relationship between North Korea and Iran in the past, and given that Iran is awash in petrodollars (despite sanctions) and North Korea is always wanting for cash, one cannot help but be concerned that at the very least nuclear technology is changing hands. At the worst, North Korea might well simply sell Iran a nuclear bomb.
Meanwhile, Iran’s own nuclear research efforts continue apace. Keep in mind that, even if North Korea hands over a bomb to Iran, Iran would almost certainly want to develop and maintain a nuclear infrastructure to support a nuclear arsenal.
The UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) issued a report last week that Iran has installed and begun using advanced centrifuges which have enabled them to speed up their uranium enrichment. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says that Iran has enriched uranium to a level that is 70% of what is needed for a weapon and, given Iran’s current capabilities, the Ayatollahs could have enough enriched uranium to make a bomb “by the summer.” That’s just 4 months off.
Meanwhile, it seems as if the US Obama administration is preparing for a nuclear Iran. The evidence for this comes from the notoriously shameless shills for Obama at the inappropriately named Center for a New American Security. The eggheads over there are now dismissing the notion that a nuclear-armed Iran will touch off a Middle East nuclear arms race. They base this on the fact that the Saudis do not possess the know-how to run a nuclear weapons program.
What they completely overlook, or conveniently fail to acknowledge, is the fact that Saudi Arabia has scarcely EVER possessed the know-how to do ANYTHING complex. For decades the Saudis have purchased everything they need and the technical support to go along with it.
Despite the CANS denials, there is an obvious source for the Saudis to turn to for nuclear weapons: Pakistan. Pakistan reportedly has between 90 and 110 nuclear warheads. They have the technical expertise for a nuclear program. But most importantly, it has been widely reported that the Pakistani nuclear program was financed by Saudi Arabia in the first place.
So, the Center for a New American Security’s latest comic book disguised as scholarly output is stillborn.
Of course, the report downplays the possibility of a Middle East nuclear arms race, and it does not delve into any of the other potentially terrible outcomes from a nuclear-armed Iran.
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 »
Every so often, when the Ayatollahs in Iran start to feel the heat from the international community about their nuclear weapons program, they begin to make noises about compromising and negotiating. These noises are always meaningless. They result in weeks and months of fruitless talks and always amount to nothing.
Last week, French President Nicholas Sarkozy proclaimed that Iran’s nuclear program could very well get it attacked.
True to form, the Iranians then trotted out a proposal–without details of course–to allow supervision of its nuclear program (at least the parts that aren’t secret). And, just as predictably, the Iranians add the caveat that they will continue enriching uranium in violation of UN resolutions.
In other words, the Iranians want us to buy into a scheme in which the UN will supervise a nuclear program that the UN has already declared illegal! In return, all the world has to do is lift sanctions on Iran!
Such a deal!
Not surprisingly, the Los Angeles Times dutifully reported the Iranian proposal as if it meant anything at all.
What this proposal is designed to actually do is to buy the Iranians more time to work on their nukes…
More than seventeen years after a Clinton administration State Department spokesperson told USA Today that Iran’s nuclear program had none of the characteristics of a peaceful energy program and all of the hallmarks of a weapons program, the United Nations’ International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has released a statement indicating that they are “increasingly concerned” about intelligence that shows that Iran is in fact working on nuclear weapons.
This 11th hour admission is enough to make sane, sober people flip their lid. For those who may not remember, the head of the IAEA for too many years was an Egyptian politician named Mohammed El-Baradei. Baradei went to great lengths–repeatedly–to give the Iranians the benefit of the doubt on their nuclear program, despite evidence that they were lying and cheating. One has to wonder if El-Baradei was in fact running interference for the Iranians and whether he was doing so out of religious fervor, a hatred of Israel, for money or all of the above.
Here are some highlights of the new 9-page report that the IAEA just released about Iran’s nuclear program:
• Iran is working secretly on developing a nuclear payload for ballistic missiles.
• Iran has developed a new, hardened facility at Fordow in which to enrich uranium, a facility thought to be more resistant to air attack than the existing facility at Natanz.
• It is possible that Iran has undisclosed nuclear-related activities and facilities. [In our estimation this should be a forgone conclusion!]
• Iran has enough enriched uranium right now to produce 6 nuclear bombs.
• Iran’s secrecy and lack of cooperation make it impossible for the IAEA to conclude the Iran’s nuclear program is peaceful.
This last statement is especially infuriating because Iran has been secretive and uncooperative about its nuclear program from the very beginning. For the IAEA to now suddenly admit that the Iranians’ policy is suspicious can only mean either the IAEA has gotten wiser or previous IAEA personnel looked the other way while Iran worked on nuclear weaponry.
We still maintain that should Iran be allowed to obtain nuclear weapons, the world will be forever altered for the worse and future generations of Americans will ask of our generation: “How did you ever let that happen?!”