Sunday, March 09, 2008

Is Iran's nuclear program still active?

The Guardian quotes senior British diplomatic sources as saying that Teheran could still be developing nuclear weapons, despite an American NIE finding that work on building a bomb stopped in 2003.

For the first time, a senior British diplomat cast doubt on the US National Intelligence Estimate published last November which reported "with high confidence" that Tehran's nuclear weapons programme had been halted in autumn 2003. The NIE also judged "with moderate confidence" that the programme had not been restarted.

The intelligence report blocked momentum towards US military action and delayed the passing of a third sanctions resolution against Tehran - a mild version of which was approved this week in an effort to persuade Iran to suspend enrichment of uranium. But the senior British diplomat claimed there was no serious evidence that Iran's efforts to build a nuclear weapon had halted.

The British diplomat cited "evidence against Iran presented in Vienna last week by Olli Heinonen, the chief investigator at the International Atomic Energy Agency" who had documents including an organizational chart "linking a variety of nuclear weapons projects", instructions for concealing true names and a "report on a weapons project for a period up to January 14 2004, months after the end date suggested in the NIE".

My guess is that the British have classified information tending to support their belief the Iranians are still building nuclear weapons but are following the time-honored practice of citing only open source proof for conclusions their clandestine sources suggest are true.

All intelligence assessments are subject to change. In an ordinary world the NIE assessment of 2007 that Iran had stopped building weapons in 2003 would be revised the instant new information came in. It would have no special sanctity. But in the world of politics, intelligence is used not to provide a snapshot of the current best estimate but to anchor perceptions. And because the NIE of 2007 plays to the antiwar lobby's agenda it will tend to remain valid, whatever new evidence emerges, eternally. That inertia was already in evidence.

The forcefulness of Heinonen's presentation caused rifts within the IAEA, irritating the agency's director general, Mohamed ElBaradei, who has sought to defuse international tensions over Iran's nuclear programme.

Addressing the IAEA board on Monday, ElBaradei said his inspectors had resolved all but one of the unanswered questions over Iran's nuclear programme, the exception being the weaponisation studies.

However, Smith, speaking on behalf of Britain, Germany and France at the IAEA board yesterday, said Iran's cooperation had been "abysmal". "Over a wide range of issues on which the agency asked for clarification the answers are less than satisfactory," he said.




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15 Comments:

Blogger VinceP1974 said...

This is even a question?

Iran must laugh at the West.

Check out this clip from MEMRI.

Title of Video: Chief Iranian Negotiator on the Nuclear Issue Hosein Musavian: The Negotiations with Europe Bought Us Time to Complete the Esfahan UCF Project and the Work on the Centrifuges in Natanz

3/09/2008 02:07:00 PM  
Blogger EvilDave said...

So my question is:
When Obama becomes President and a nuke goes off over Tel Aviv, or New York, or DC, can I refer to him as O-Bomb-a?
(Seeing as I am not allowed to refer to him as Barack Hussein Obama.)

For the record, you may also not refer to him as Ba-lack Obama. That would be wrong.

3/09/2008 02:40:00 PM  
Blogger Zenster said...

Addressing the IAEA board on Monday, ElBaradei said his inspectors had resolved all but one of the unanswered questions over Iran's nuclear programme, the exception being the weaponisation studies.However, Smith, speaking on behalf of Britain, Germany and France at the IAEA board yesterday, said Iran's cooperation had been "abysmal". "Over a wide range of issues on which the agency asked for clarification the answers are less than satisfactory," he said.

First off, how idiotic must someone be in order to believe a Muslim's findings regarding the agenda of a Muslim nation? Doesn't taqiyya—whether it is in active play or not—totally destroy any chance of credibility? This makes a fox guarding the henhouse look like sound strategy.

Secondly, do the math. As an insecure Shiite nation amidst a sea of surrounding Sunni countries, what best serves Iran's interests? By a process of exclusion one can rather easily trace around the outline of Iran's goal.

No single item more capably serves the entirety of Iran's current military, political and relegious agenda than acquisition of nuclear weapons. Increased wealth, self-sufficiency in food production, industrial modernization, none of these, repeat NONE OF THESE so categorically address Iran's current overall agenda like possessing nuclear arms.

Regional hegemony, deterrence of Western intervention, countering Sunni dominance, enabling heretofore unthinkable levels of terrorism and even the incomprehensible notion of summoning forth the 12th imam all are fulfilled by this one single achievment.

How is it possible for anyone of reasonable intelligence to believe that Iran has abandoned pursuit of something which simultaneously satisfies the vast majority of its short-term and long-term goals? Iran's entire modus operendi is so comprehensively served by this one single objective that drawing any other conclusion simply defies logic.

Furthermore, every bit of external evidence, be it public pronouncements, continued enrichment activity, reactor construction, hardening of all R&D facilities and so forth all fit the exact pattern of weapons development.

Regardless of whether or not Iran is actually attempting to construct nuclear weapons, all outward appearances point towards such a conclusion. It matters not one whit that—similar to Saddam's own boasting about WMDs—Iran may be encouraging this perception as a form of defensive propaganda.

Just as Ahmadinejad's hideous rhetoric must be taken at face valus, so should all of the apparent evidence that Iran is seeking nuclear arms.

Couple this fact with how such an achievement would represent nothing short of a total calamity for regional stability including overall military strategy with respect to containing the threat of Islamic terrorism and even the most remote possibility of Iran's success looms as a complete catastrophe for all involved.

To wilfully ignore this—not to mention dismiss it outright—is a direct indication of such stunning incompetence that it verges on malfeasance when demonstrated by political and diplomatic leaders. It is this blindingly obvious fact that begets suspicion of connivance on the part of IAEA director Mohamed ElBaradei. Little else can adequately explain how he continues to downplay the strategic importance of concretely denying Iran nuclear armaments of any sort.

Moreover, Islam's quest for global domination is so well-served by ElBaradei's potential ongoing collusion that it is utterly impossible to ignore the possibility of his complicity as a Muslim in this ghastly scenario.

The perfect fit of nuclear weapons into Iran's strategic agenda, when combined with how totally disastrous such an outcome is for Iran's enemies all interlock into an undeniable configuration that demands immediate and overwhelming military intervention against Tehran's nuclear aspirations. Nothing less will serve to protect both the Middle East region and the global economy from total mayhem in the form of a nuclear armed Iran.

As I have repeatedly observed here and elsewhere:

IRAN'S ACQUISITION OF NUCLEAR WEAPONS WILL GO DOWN AS THE SINGLE GREATEST STRATEGIC BLUNDER OF THIS NEW CENTURY.

3/09/2008 02:55:00 PM  
Blogger whiskey_199 said...

Brits and other Europeans understand what Iranian nukes mean: they will have to submit to Iranian rule, and lose a great amount of their territories to "independent Islamic Republics."

Reportedly, Iran threatened France with terrorism of the nuclear kind during the first Fracofatada, under Chirac. Which made Chirac threaten back.

It is why NATO generals, most of them Europeans, are scared out of their minds and calling for premptive nuking of proliferators.

WHEN Iran has nukes they can threaten Amsterdam or London with nuking if say, a cartoonist or politician or artist or ordinary citizen is not sent to Tehran posthaste for public hanging for "offending Islam." And European nations will have NO CHOICE BUT TO SUBMIT. Which will in turn likely provoke public outrage and a coup. Weakness begets more attacks from all quarters. Or perhaps Muslims will declare the Islamic Republic of England and Iran will threaten to nuke the UK if it's not recognized. Again the UK would have no choice but to SUBMIT and that weakness would prompt again, a coup (ceding UK territory in England to Muslims?) because weakness invites attack.

We would likely see Hezbollah carried out attacks on US cities, to "force" withdrawal of the US Navy from the Gulf (and from Iraq and Afghanistan). We'd lose cities. Under Hillary or particularly Barack Hussein Obama there would be a general surrender, followed no doubt by impeachment and wiping out of Iran. At great cost on all sides.

But no one wants to take the (by comparison) reasonable and less costly measures of bombing Iran, promoting counter-terror, and assassinations to forestall their nukes. Instead we'd rather pay nothing now so we can pay with tens of millions of American lives and ruined American cities later.

3/09/2008 04:49:00 PM  
Blogger whiskey_199 said...

But it's Europeans who are weaker and will likely face the first threat. It's why the UK and Scandi nations are scared. THEY will face the first demands.

Likely for forced extradition of some artist or something. Iran has played the "protector of Islam" card many times. Ask Salman Rushdie. Next time it might be someone who expresses negative opinions of Mohammed or Islam in a newspaper or on TV.

In their own country.

3/09/2008 04:52:00 PM  
Blogger NahnCee said...

I suppose "Be-Hussein-O" is too long. Maybe "BeHO".

3/09/2008 05:09:00 PM  
Blogger Utopia Parkway said...

"When you examine his [ElBaradei's] behavior you cannot but reach the conclusion that he is a sort of planted agent...who has served well the interests of Iran," said Boim

Boim is the Israeli housing minister who is usually annoying the Pals with his building in Jerusalem. Not sure what he knows about Iran but he has an opinion.

The Kuwaiti's weigh in: Kuwaiti strategist: Israel should strike Iran

In fact the GCC countries together have a large combined air force and in theory could mount a large attack on Iran if they chose to. I'm sure their air assets are more modern than Iran's. Of course Iran would be firing missiles at their cities. Maybe if Israel combined with the GCC countries to... Naaaah that wouldn't work.

3/09/2008 05:20:00 PM  
Blogger Utopia Parkway said...

Whiskey, what Iran wants is oil. Having more oil means they don't ever have to work again. They can kick back and send their terror minions across the globe to wreak havoc. Then they can just think evil thoughts all day long, which is what they're good at. They need the oil first because their coffers are bare.

They will attempt to take the oil fields from their neighboring countries: Saudi, the Emirates and whichever stan also has oil. If they get the bomb and even threaten to take the Saudi oil fields the price of oil will be in the stratosphere.

If they have that situation well in hand they will get down to the business of creating Shiite states across the middle east, which of course they will lead, and taking control of Eurabia. Israel and the US will certainly be in their sights but may not be first.

OTOH, they might decide that to get the Saudi oil fields they have to bloody the US's nose first to deter us from defending Saudi again.

Without the oil they won't have enough money to fulfill their dreams.

3/09/2008 05:37:00 PM  
Blogger buck smith said...

This is a GREAT question to put to all the presidential candidates. Something like "Have you read all the intelligence information available to you? Do believe the NIE is accurate?"

3/09/2008 06:46:00 PM  
Blogger Aristides said...

If you have a spare two hours or so, this (relatively) recent talk given at MIT by Kenneth Pollack is worth watching. (Note: 1) I'm not endorsing everything he says, 2) the validities of his severable points are mutually exclusive, so don't discard everything if you find some things disagreeable.)

here

3/09/2008 07:41:00 PM  
Blogger Zenster said...

Great article on ElBaradei, Utopia Parkway.

ElBaradei has irked some Western leaders by suggesting the world may eventually have to live with some enrichment on Iranian soil, under IAEA monitoring, and that only diplomatic compromise, not sanctions or war, can bring a lasting solution.

Pure poppycock. There is no reason on earth that we need live with even a shred of nuclear activity in Iran. They are a terrorist regime and for that one reason alone they should be denied all access to nuclear technology. Any regime that has substantial Islamic terrorist activity within its borders should be barred—under threat of military retaliation—from pursuing all forms of nuclear technology. No power generation, nothing.

It's good to see that I'm not the only one who sees ElBaradei as a Muslim dupe or, even, collaborator. I have consistently maintained that it is wholly inappropriate to have a Muslim leading the IAEA, especially while it is supposedly attempting to intervene in the MME (Muslim Middle East). The mere existence of taqiyya makes the entire affair into a monstrous conflict of interest. The fact that Ahmadinejad has threatened Israel with nuclear attack causes this to be an existential danger and one that needs immediate redress.

3/09/2008 08:04:00 PM  
Blogger Mad Fiddler said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

3/09/2008 08:29:00 PM  
Blogger Mad Fiddler said...

Barack Hussein Obama presents some distinct conundra --- Here is a man born of an Atheist mother and Muslim Father, with a SECOND Muslim Stepfather who carried his wife and stepson to live in Jakarta, Indonesia (a predominantly Muslim culture) and provided years of private Muslim education for his stepson.

But on returning to the United States and achieving his majority, the stepson elects to join a Christian Church.

Mr. Obama, then, has either (a) studied, then specifically rejected Islam or (b) he was raised as Muslim, but decamped from the faith (keeping in mind that Apostasy in Islam is a capital offense...)

Either way, it's a slap in the collective Muslim face (keeping in mind that Islam is very much a "face" culture...)

I doubt that Muslim fanatical Imams are going to issue a fatwa on Obama, but it does raise the question as to how he would be perceived and regarded by Islamic groups if he indeed were elevated to the Leadership of the United States.

3/09/2008 08:38:00 PM  
Blogger whiskey_199 said...

As a practical matter we will have to "live with" a nuclear Iran and nuclear proliferation in the ME. Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia, Turkey, Jordan, Egypt, Sudan, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Oman, UAE, and Kuwait have all announced nuclear programs.

The basic technology of nuclear weapons is 63 years old. Ballistic Missiles a bit older, and what the Russians had in the 1960's, true ICBMs, 40 years old. Without political will which we do not have, there is no practical way to keep nukes out of the hands of any nation that wants them.

South Africa in the 1970's built and tested nuclear weapons, the "gun-style" Uranium bomb. Plutonium bombs are harder to make, though worthwhile because you can stick them on ICBMs and go nuke whoever you want. We just don't have the political will to stop this process.

Iran would certainly want us out of the Gulf first, before anything, so we are likely to be hit first with "deniable" nukes via Hezbollah to force the US Navy out. It would certainly fit Iran's MO of deniable terrorist proxies and their view of us since 1979. Iran is not afraid of us.

I don't see this ending well.

3/09/2008 09:29:00 PM  
Blogger Mad Fiddler said...

To paraphrase the old quote,

"Nothing concentrates the mind...

...like having a nuclear device detonate in a nearby city..."

3/10/2008 01:38:00 PM  

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