U.S. Planning a Military Strike on Iran’s Nukes?

The English language edition of the esteemed German newsweekly Der Spiegel compiles a review essay of reports from the German press that, together, show strong signs that the United States is planning a preemptive strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities.

The US and Iran: Is Washington Planning a Military Strike?

Recent reports in the German media suggest that the United States may be preparing its allies for an imminent military strike against facilities that are part of Iran’s suspected clandestine nuclear weapons program.

It’s hardly news that US President George Bush refuses to rule out possible military action against Iran if Tehran continues to pursue its controversial nuclear ambitions. But in Germany, speculation is mounting that Washington is preparing to carry out air strikes against suspected Iranian nuclear sites perhaps even as soon as early 2006. German diplomats began speaking of the prospect two years ago — long before the Bush administration decided to give the European Union more time to convince Iran to abandon its ambitions, or at the very least put its civilian nuclear program under international controls. But the growing likelihood of the military option is back in the headlines in Germany thanks to a slew of stories that have run in the national media here over the holidays.

The most talked about story is a Dec. 23 piece by the German news agency DDP from journalist and intelligence expert Udo Ulfkotte. The story has generated controversy not only because of its material, but also because of the reporter’s past. Critics allege that Ulfkotte in his previous reporting got too close to sources at Germany’s foreign intelligence agency, the BND. But Ulfkotte has himself noted that he has been under investigation by the government in the past (indeed, his home and offices have been searched multiple times) for allegations that he published state secrets — a charge that he claims would underscore rather than undermine the veracity of his work. According to Ulfkotte’s report, “western security sources” claim that during CIA Director Porter Goss’ Dec. 12 visit to Ankara, he asked Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan to provide support for a possibile 2006 air strike against Iranian nuclear and military facilities. More specifically, Goss is said to have asked Turkey to provide unfettered exchange of intelligence that could help with a mission. DDP also reported that the governments of Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Oman and Pakistan have been informed in recent weeks of Washington’s military plans. The countries, apparently, were told that air strikes were a “possible option,” but they were given no specific timeframe for the operations.

In a report published on Wednesday, the Berlin daily Der Tagesspiegel also cited NATO intelligence sources claiming that Washington’s western allies had been informed that the United States is currently investigating all possibilities of bringing the mullah-led regime into line, including military options. Of course, Bush has publicly stated for months that he would not take the possibility of a military strike off the table. What’s new here, however, is that Washington appears to be dispatching high-level officials to prepare its allies for a possible attack rather than merely implying the possibility as it has repeatedly done during the past year.

The piece cites similar speculation in the Turkish press and a Sy Hersh piece from January (I blogged about that here) as additional pieces of the puzzle.

As noted after the Hersh piece, my main concerns with attacking Iranian facilities are tactical rather than strategic. So long as the strikes were successful and avoided significant civilian casualties, the fallout would be minimal; no one is the region is anxious to see the Iranian mullahs get nuclear weapons. The tactical questions are 1) can the facilities actually be located and destroyed using aerial strikes and 2) what impact will the Iraq deployment have on planning for an Iran mission?

I don’t have hard answers to either of those. A good starting point, though, is a December 2004 Atlantic Monthly entitled, “Will Iran Be Next?,” wherein James Fallows details an elaborate war game conducted by national security experts assessing a war with Iran.*

While the Israelis successfully took out the Osirak facility in Iraq two decades ago, most reports that I have seen in the last couple of years indicate that the Iranian facilities are much better protected. And, while there have been advances in weaponry to counteract that possibility, we recently canceled the “bunker buster” program. Fallows’ group assessed the issue thusly:

The problem is that Iran’s nuclear program is now much more advanced than Iraq’s was at the time of the raid. Already the U.S. government has no way of knowing exactly how many sites Iran has, or how many it would be able to destroy, or how much time it would buy in doing so. Worse, it would have no way of predicting the long-term strategic impact of such a strike. A strike might delay by three years Iran’s attainment of its goal — but at the cost of further embittering the regime and its people. Iran’s intentions when it did get the bomb would be all the more hostile.

Here the United States faces what the military refers to as a “branches and sequels” decision — that is, an assessment of best and second-best outcomes. It would prefer that Iran never obtain nuclear weapons. But if Iran does, America would like Iran to see itself more or less as India does — as a regional power whose nuclear status symbolizes its strength relative to regional rivals, but whose very attainment of this position makes it more committed to defending the status quo. The United States would prefer, of course, that Iran not reach a new level of power with a vendetta against America. One of our panelists thought that a strike would help the United States, simply by buying time. The rest disagreed. Iran would rebuild after a strike, and from that point on it would be much more reluctant to be talked or bargained out of pursuing its goals — and it would have far more reason, once armed, to use nuclear weapons to America’s detriment.

The fact that a sizable chunk of the American military is deployed to or fatigued from our operation in Iraq also limits our options to some degree. While John Aravosis‘ prediction of “350,000 Irani army members . . . swarming across the boarder into Iraq as a counterpunch” strikes me as unlikely, there are a lot of variables.

Woven in and out of this discussion was a parallel consideration of Iraq: whether, and how, Iran might undermine America’s interests there or target its troops. Pollack said this was of great concern. “We have an enormous commitment to Iraq, and we can’t afford to allow Iraq to fail,” he said. “One of the interesting things that I’m going to ask the CentCom commander when we hear his presentation is, Can he maintain even the current level of security in Iraq, which of course is absolutely dismal, and still have the troops available for anything in Iran?” As it happened, the question never came up in just this form in the stage of the game that featured a simulated centcom commander. But Pollack’s concern about the strain on U.S. military resources was shared by the other panelists. “The second side of the problem,” Pollack continued, “is that one of the things we have going for us in Iraq, if I can use that term, is that the Iranians really have not made a major effort to thwart us … If they wanted to make our lives rough in Iraq, they could make Iraq hell.” Provoking Iran in any way, therefore, could mean even fewer troops to handle Iraq—and even worse problems for them to deal with.

Kay agreed. “They may decide that a bloody defeat for the United States, even if it means chaos in Iraq, is something they actually would prefer. Iranians are a terribly strategic political culture … They might well accelerate their destabilization operation, in the belief that their best reply to us is to ensure that we have to go to helicopters and evacuate the Green Zone.”

Given that even a strained U.S. military could easily defeat the Iranian military in conventional warfare, this threat seems exaggerated. Still, there’s not much doubt the involvement of Iranian forces would seriously complicate an already tenuous situation.

Regardless, though, Fallows’ planners noted that the window for a preemptive strike was narrow:

One response to imperfect data about an adversary is to assume the worst and prepare for it, so that any other outcome is a happy surprise. That was the recommendation of Reuel Gerecht, playing the conservative Secretary of State. “We should assume Iran will move as fast as possible,” he said several times. “It would be negligent of any American strategic planners to assume a slower pace.” But that was not necessarily what the DCI was driving at in underscoring the limits of outside knowledge about Iran. Mainly he meant to emphasize a complication the United States would face in making its decisions. Given Iran’s clear intent to build a bomb, and given the progress it has already made, sometime in the next two or three years it will cross a series of “red lines,” after which the program will be much harder for outsiders to stop.

[…]

Iran will cross one of the red lines when it produces enough enriched uranium for a bomb, and another when it has weapons in enough places that it would be impossible to remove them in one strike. “Here’s the intelligence dilemma,” Gardiner said. “We are facing a future in which this is probably Iran’s primary national priority. And we have these red lines in front of us, and we”—meaning the intelligence agencies—”won’t be able to tell you when they cross them.” Hazy knowledge about Iran’s nuclear progress doesn’t dictate assuming the worst, Gardiner said. But it does mean that time is not on America’s side. At some point, relatively soon, Iran will have an arsenal that no outsiders can destroy, and America will not know in advance when that point has arrived.

The main fallout from the Iraq War, moreso even than the troops on the ground, is the inevitable intelligence debate parallels:

Despite Gardiner’s emphasis on the tentative nature of the intelligence, the principals said it was sufficient to demonstrate the gravity of the threat. David Kay, a real-life nuclear inspector who was now the DCI at the table, said that comparisons with Iraq were important — and underscored how difficult the Iranian problem would be. “It needs to be emphasized,” he said, “that the bases for conclusions about Iran are different, and we think stronger than they were with regard to Iraq.” He explained that international inspectors withdrew from Iraq in 1998, so outsiders had suspicions rather than hard knowledge about what was happening. In Iran inspectors had been present throughout, and had seen evidence of the “clandestine and very difficult-to-penetrate nature of the program,” which “leaves no doubt that it is designed for a nuclear-weapons program.” What is worse, he said, “this is a lot more dangerous than the Iraqi program, in that the Iranians have proven, demonstrated connections with very vicious international terrorist regimes who have shown their willingness to use any weapons they acquire” against the United States and its allies. Others spoke in the same vein.

So, while it may be a “slam dunk” that the Iranians have a nuclear program, it will likely be very hard to persuade world opinion of that.

Ultimately, the group concluded:

A realistic awareness of these constraints will put the next President in an awkward position. In the end, according to our panelists, he should understand that he cannot prudently order an attack on Iran. But his chances of negotiating his way out of the situation will be greater if the Iranians don’t know that. He will have to brandish the threat of a possible attack while offering the incentive of economic and diplomatic favors should Iran abandon its plans. “If you say there is no acceptable military option, then you end any possibility that there will be a non-nuclear Iran,” David Kay said after the war game. “If the Iranians believe they will not suffer any harm, they will go right ahead.” Hammes agreed: “The threat is always an important part of the negotiating process. But you want to fool the enemy, not fool yourself. You can’t delude yourself into thinking you can do something you can’t.” Is it therefore irresponsible to say in public, as our participants did and we do here, that the United States has no military solution to the Iran problem? Hammes said no. Iran could not be sure that an American President, seeing what he considered to be clear provocation, would not strike. “You can never assume that just because a government knows something is unviable, it won’t go ahead and do it. The Iraqis knew it was not viable to invade Iran, but they still did it. History shows that countries make very serious mistakes.”

So this is how the war game turned out: with a finding that the next American President must, through bluff and patience, change the actions of a government whose motives he does not understand well, and over which his influence is limited. “After all this effort, I am left with two simple sentences for policymakers,” Sam Gardiner said of his exercise. “You have no military solution for the issues of Iran. And you have to make diplomacy work.”

Not a good set of options, I’m afraid.

*Yes, the link is to a Free Republic archive of the piece. The Atlantic’s site was down at the time of writing. Plus, their version would be available only to subscribers.

Correction: Iran/Iraq typo in original has been fixed.

FILED UNDER: Middle East, Military Affairs, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is a Security Studies professor at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Elmo says:

    I haven’t read all of the links [or even the entirety of the post (believe what you hear about the fell speed of the current flu in the Southwest)]. Though I have had an interest the last few months, and have been paying attention.

    To me it is a fairly simple equation, with a fairly simple answer. So, while there are infinite models, outcomes, probabilities. There is only one reality. I honestly believe it will not be ignored. Whom so ever shall pick up the gauntlet. Or however firm, precise, or long in time, the hammer it holds. And upon whatever day that may be. A new world is at hand. One more scary than the last. But less so, do to those that not cower, not recede. But stand and face the inevitable. Not with anticipation or glee. But with honorable duty to all humankind.

    Happy New Year OTB crew/family/friends [but keep those welding goggles handy 🙂 ]




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  2. Mark Jaquith says:

    and 2) what impact will the Iraq deployment have on planning for an Iraq mission?

    Don’t you mean “planning for an Iran mission?”

    And to answer that question, it might give us a good base of deployment, although it would probably spread us thin.




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  3. henry says:

    I believe threat of Iran as a nuclear state is exaggerated. I think it would be the best to use engagement policy versus confrontational policy. Wealthy Iran as an ally serves best our long-term interest versus a hostile state in a volatile region of the world. Iran has been helpful for the USA to achieve her goals in Iraq and Afghanistan, despite all sanctions. Iran’s loyalty should not be discredited and ignored. Iranian people still prefer west over east. Thus, window of opportunity is still open, before it gets too late.




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  4. James Joyner says:

    Mark,

    Yep. Fixed now. Thanks.




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  5. McGehee says:

    Wealthy Iran as an ally…

    And how do we achieve that so long as that lunatic Ahmadinejad is their president? Offer to nuke Israel so they won’t have to?




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  6. Sam Moghbelli says:

    And how do we achieve that so long as that lunatic Ahmadinejad is their president? Offer to nuke Israel so they won’t have to?

    He is crazy, no question about it, but its the double standards that will ultimatly make the difference. 40 muslim countries, and only one has nuclear weapons, that being Pakistan, and that only in response to India, whereas Israel has more than 200, and everyone turns a blind eye. Thats why Iran is looking to become the champion of the Islamic world, and defy odds and get the weapons. And lets not forget, Ford and Carter tried to sell them to the Shah, but now we have all this no they dont even need it for enegy attitude? The thing is that the west needs to change why they need these weapons, by offering security, so they wont need them. Lets not forget it was the CIA that overthrow there only democtratic government in the 50’s, just for oil…sound familiar? Same thing will happen in Iraq in 20 years…




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  7. Herb says:

    If any country needs bombing, It’s Iran. We have putting up with their BS for 25 years now and enough is enough, and I can’t think of a better time and reason to do it.




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  8. Larry b says:

    Herb,
    I had a question for you!
    What Iranian have done to you that you are against them that much? Did they take any property away from you or you just blood thirsty son of B$$ch.




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  9. Mario Mo says:

    Definitly US will bomb Iran in early 2006 due to unreasonable misundestanding, but at what cost? $100.00 p/b oil price will destroy the world economy, and terorist activities will be increased around the world and all of us got to understand that Iranian somhow are stronger and more prepared than Iraqi people. I think war action is the worset choice but if the U.S administration offer to payback the Iranian money (13 belions which had been hold!!! It would really helpful to solve the issue. SO DO NOT MAKE ONE MORE MISTAKE.




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  10. i love it says:

    Can anyone blame Iran for wanting to develop nukes? I mean the jews get to have them secretly, so why the hell can’t Iran protect itself? The U.S. un-biased support for Isreal is leading to the destruction of our country. Now we are dragged into every Isreali dispute as if it’s ours. Iran can’t reach the U.S. with a nuke even if they had one with there current missle technology, so you see this is a mission for our jew friends. I am sooo sick and tired of this countries support for Isreal at any cause. We give those ungrateful bastards more aide then they deserve, and we fight wars for them. Note to jews fight your own dam battles and let your kids die in war. I am a pissed off American that is pro-American not pro-Isreal. I am sick and tired of being dragged into there mess. Move the stupid jews out of Isreal and you would solve world peace in one day. AHHHHHHHHHHH




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  11. morgan says:

    Funny , For 8 years the Iranians had a moderate president that made many friendly comments toward US and Israel and Every one brushed him off under the pretext that only teh words of Supreme leader counts in Iran !!

    Israel wants to shape the region for its own interest ? Let them do it themselves and stop using US military as a proxy for Israel .




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  12. Herb says:

    Larry D

    First Larry D, you have a potty mouth

    Next, I have a question for you,

    Why do you love the terrorists sponsering, terrorist loving, Iranians so much that you stick up for those lousy Bast**** that are responsibile for the killing of so many innocent prople thruout the world.

    Or are you one of them?

    It’s obvious that you don’t know much about the history of US, Iranian relations. If you bother to find out about the Iran Hostage event 25 years ago, you just might get a little common sense about youself, which would obviously be a marked change for your mentality.




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  13. Mario Goldstein says:

    I have read comments and I am happy that some Americans are really intelligent to understand who is instigating all these wars in the Middleast and who pays the price.
    If the US policy makers were moderate in their support of Israel, the American people would not suffer their kids dying in useless wars. Consider this: At the moment the Palestinians want only 29% of their historical lands. They have repudiated all their claims to the 100% of Palestine. This is in only 60 years since the Zionists grabbed their lands. Many of those who were chased from their homes are still alive! Yet they are settling for the 29% Israel does not want to give them even that! It wants a share in that 29%! Gosh, how could you be so unfair and brand the Palestinians terrorists and religious fundamentalists. Are the Jews not religious fundamentalists when they insist on building their temple which is not even a historical fact? Who can accept that? Would the Americans accept giving Mexico 5% of Texas?
    C’mmon be reasonable.
    Now you want to start another war, yet to protect Israel which already has nuclear weapons. I do not believe that Iran will start attacking Israel even if it actually acquires nuclear weapons. It is likely that they want them for their own security. Yet, you want to make the Iranians aggressors and blame it on them. Iam Jewish but I think the Zionists are goig to far.




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  14. Mike Schmidt says:

    After reading multiple nonsense posts, I reckon I have to speak. Bomb. Iran. Now. I would rather support a democratic Israel than Palestinian barbarians any day. BRING IT ON. The clown in Tehran should be taken out. Our Air Force lads are just itchin’ to flatten these fuckers who have been killing our ground troops in Iraq.




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  15. Anderson says:

    The fantasies of some commenters that “bomb Iran” is a decisive stroke that will eliminate the Iranian problem are not, I hope, shared by anyone in the White House.

    As JJ pointed out for anyone interested in learning something, Iran has tailored its program to resist air attack. How successful they’ve been, we may or may not find out.

    Meanwhile, we are supposed to be afraid of Iran because it might hate us so much as to make nukes available to our enemies like Osama.

    How, exactly, is bombing them going to help with that problem? It will go miles towards driving the potential opposition into the arms of the mullahs.

    The best thing I can see to do is to admit the obvious, that Iran will have nukes someday, and trade assistance for liberalization. That’s not ideal, but then, Pakistan’s having nukes ain’t so ideal either.

    Remember, the answer to which nuclear Muslim nation’s intel services have aided al-Qaeda in the past and may be doing so today? is not “Iran,” it’s “Pakistan.”




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  16. McGehee says:

    A lot of these Iran apologists put me in mind of the world situation between August 1945, when the world learned that America had the atomic bomb, and (I believe) 1949 when the USSR set off its first atomic bomb.

    Let’s not forget how the Soviets got that bomb…




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  17. Anderson says:

    McG, Fuchs et al. caused the Soviets to get the Bomb sooner than otherwise; they would have built one in the 1950s anyway. Besides, espionage worked for Pakistan, right?

    I do however hope that you’re not classing me with any “Iran apologists.”

    The Iranian regime is detestable on multiple grounds. I am merely skeptical of (1) the possibility of denying it the Bomb indefinitely and (2) the utility of futile attacks that can at best delay their program while antagonizing the entire nation.




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  18. Shai abd-al-Khan says:

    First of all, I’d like to thank James Joyner for his excellent overview, opinions and research on this subject, which is one of the most complex and dangerous situations I can imagine. How unfortunate for us that this is a real-world scenario and not just a wargame.

    Now then…

    It appears that an equal number of people are tempted to advocate the bombing of Iran as are predisposed to accepting it as a member of the so-called “nuclear club”. But this is not a time when we can afford to yield to our temptations.

    Iran’s political leader clearly fancies himself a simple man of the people, with a simple wish: the undisputed worldwide dominion of Islam. In his opinion it’s simply a matter of time before that end, but he has no compunction against hastening the result.

    He has clearly stated his belief on a number of occasions that the Iranian revolution initiated by the late Ayatollah Khomeini is the best model for achieving an Islamic conquest of the earth. To that end, he has breathed new life into the Qods Force, a special branch of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard charged with spreading the movement to every part of the globe. It’s no accident that his missionary force is so-named because the word “qods” is also the Arabic name for Jerusalem.

    The Iranian president, Mahmoud Ahmadi-Nezhad, plays a fine game of “walking the line” when it comes to the letter of the law (or the letter of any legal agreement, including the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty [NPT]) while intermittently interjecting combustible phrases into a highly inflammable debate, often with an air of earnest innocence. Most of these barbs are fired in the direction of Israel, but they are aimed to offend Jews worldwide.

    To my mind, it’s clear that Iran desires the sort of strategic deterrence that is inherent in the possession of nuclear weapons, but it’s not a strictly defensive wish. I have no doubt that these weapons, in the hands of an aggressive regime, would underwrite a wide range of non-nuclear conflicts by neutralising the prospect that the regime could ultimately be held responsible for its actions.

    Iran supposedly has no nuclear weapons right now, yet every tactical report published to-date concerning this dilemma unequivocally states that Israel cannot manage to strike more than a few targets in Iran without resorting to a sustained nuclear missile assault; they just don’t have the resources to do it. It’s just too far away and Iran is a very large and mountainous country. Wargames conducted by the United States as part of the Millennium Challenge program predicted the loss of almost the entire American fleet in the Persian Gulf unless the U.S. resorted to a broad nuclear pre-emption in the early stages of such a war involving Iran. It’s difficult to imagine a situation in which the U.S. or Israel could launch such a conflagration without being completely ostracised by the entire world community; we’re talking about the use of 100+ nuclear weapons against a state that doesn’t even have them. The best strategy from a defensive Iranian point-of-view would seem to be a non-nuclear one.

    That’s exactly what Iran says. They don’t want nuclear weapons.

    So, let me ask, why does one of the most-resource-rich countries on the planet want to get involved with the highly technical mess that brought us such past glories as Three Mile Island and Chernobyl? Let’s not even mention the millennia-long concern of storing the nuclear by-products of these processes or the dangers posed by the toxic chemistries involved.

    Iran could lead the world in developing wave, solar and wind energy technologies (the country is ideally situated for all three) but it would rather develop nuclear power. Interesting.

    And the agreement that gives Iran the right to master the complete fuel cycle is the NPT. It stipulates that any signatory thereto who promises not to build nuclear weapons and distribute them to others may develop technologies for the enrichment of radioactive elements to levels consistent with civilian power generation programs, but not to the levels required for nuclear arms. The NPT makes no provision for the fact that the same equipment can be used for either purpose; it’s a loophole that the Iranian regime has been exploiting flagrantly.

    Are we to forget that Iran hid its nuclear development plans from the world for 18 years until they were exposed in 2002? Had it not signed the NPT prior to the time when its secret facilities were revealed?

    Most of Iran’s arguments on the nuclear issue are specious and misleading diatribes; like the one it uses to avoid the Russian proposal for uranium enrichment external to its own borders. The Iranian president said that it was not reasonable for Iran to conduct uranium enrichment in Russia because there was no 100% guarantee that it would get the fuel it needed. All phases of the nuclear cycle, he declared, must be completed in Iran. Well, how about the fact that Iran’s uranium deposits will run out before the Russian-built Bushehr reactor reaches the end of its lifecycle? And what of the 19 other reactors that are scheduled to be built after it? Will the country’s uranium not need to come from outside the country?

    A fundamental right of any person or nation is inalienable only within the spectrum afforded by the reasonable expression of that right. As the old saying goes… your right to swing your fist stops at your neighbour’s nose. There are reasonable limits to the freedom of expression, so why shouldn’t the development of nuclear power be similarly constrained?

    Iran’s dossier must be referred to the UN Security Council for the consideration of sanctions. It must be done very soon, and it requires the support of both Russia and China. The world must stand steadfast and united against the danger of Iranian nuclear-tipped diplomacy or face the consequences that will surely multiply in the vacuum created by our inaction.




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  19. Anderson says:

    Shai abd-al-Khan: Very interesting comment. Sanctions are certainly worth looking into, if they can be effective—which, given the fractured international scene, I somewhat doubt.

    Since you appear knowledgeable, allow me to ask: my reading has suggested that the Iranian people as a whole, opposition or not, strongly favor a nuclear program. Thus, foreign opposition to such a program risks alienating all Iranians, and giving the regime a chance to solidify its support.

    What do you think?




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  20. Shai abd-al-Khan says:

    To Anderson: Thank you for your comments.

    What the Iranian people feel, as a whole, is difficult to determine without engaging them in a direct and personal way. Even then, many of them may be unwilling to speak openly for fear of recrimination. You will find that this is true not only in Iran, but in other countries as well, especially where recent immigrants are involved.

    The majority of mass media in Iran is controlled, in whole or in part, by the government. Access to outside news sources is frowned upon by the state, such that the seizure of satellite dishes by police has gone up dramatically in recent months. Western music was also recently banned; a measure that hasn’t been in place since the early days of the revolution. Basically, the government in Tehran knows that a sure way to control the ideas coming out of people is to control what kind of ideas are getting into people.

    My own experience with people from Iran, in Canada and the United States, has been fantastic. The Persians are a truly remarkable people; bright, studious, passionate and extremely helpful. Most of the people I’ve spoken with would like to return to Iran some day (many still have family there), but they’re waiting for a change in government. Iranians are very business-oriented and many of them would like to see a much less insular economy, something more in line with their traditional trading role on the ancient silk road between China and the West. As it is, Iran is scheduled to become the pipeline capital of Asia Minor, but that’s a pond from which the small fish are excluded. And most of the 70 million people living in Iran consider themselves to be very small fish indeed.

    With respect to the Iranian nuclear program, most Persians that I know are not in favour of it at all. They can’t understand why the government wants to spend billions upon billions of dollars on nuclear plants (twenty or more already planned) when they have so many other ways to create the energy they need. Poverty is on the increase and illiteracy is rising, so many wonder why the money can’t be spent on programs to reduce these problems.

    One of the main reasons that people inside Iran are silently opposed to their own nuclear program is that they are NOT stupid. They know what’s going on. Can you imagine the uproar that would take place in the United States if most of its diplomats and ambassadors were suddenly replaced with Marine Corps generals? And what if most of Congress was similarly displaced? And what if the government decided to replace the deans of all major U.S. universities with hardcore, evangelist, Baptist preachers? The notion sounds laughable, but that’s exactly what has happened in Iran. Virtually every government ministry in Iran is controlled by the military, which is in turn controlled by a Supreme religious body.

    The Iranians have been conditioned to living under “strong” leaders. And it’s not just them, either. Most of the people in the Middle East feel this way.

    Right now, they see that their “strongman” is having success in his struggle against the “enemy”. It’s the old “my Dad can beat up your Dad” theme that everybody remembers from early grade school. And no one believed it more than the kid whose Dad honed his skills to a fine edge on Mom and the kids.

    Sad, but true.




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  21. Everyone,

    Please ponder on these divine words [Words of God] in quotation marks below, which contain the answers to the issues you’ve been discussing. It seems everyone is looking for a band-aid solution and not really looking for the root cause of our planet’s problems.

    Our main problem is disunity among people which can be solved by focusing hard on bringing about justice to the peoples of the world. Unity and Justice go hand-in-hand. Here’s what GOD via His Manifestations [Prophets/Messengers] is teaching humanity in this day and age (see below):

    “The well-being of mankind, its peace and security, are unattainable unless and until its unity is firmly established.”

    I wish you all a happy and a blessed day,




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  22. Timothy L says:

    Attacking Iran is not a legitimate option for the US. Emphasize “legitimate”. Iran has not massed troops and tanks on its border to attack anybody. The rant against Israel is just that and no more – verbiage for internal political reasons. We did the same – Bush claiming Iran to be an “evil” state is the equivalent of calling for its destruction……. simply pandering to the domestic audience.
    Iran actually threatens no-one. Plainly, the US simply does not want Iran to assume its natural stature as a regional power. Motive??
    Not a single commentator has touched the subject of projecting the fallout of an attack on Iran. How many US soldiers are projected to die as a result? I would guess thousands sounds right. What is the prospect of retaliation on American business and travellers about the world?
    There’s no free lunch…… and the red-neck/KKK white Christian/Zionist militants behind all this ranting about Iran should keep in mind that they can’t exterminate the Iranians as they did the Cherokee 175 years ago. There will be a price… and I don’t see any details of the projections on the cost in US lives, economic disruption, and tax money.




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  23. Larry b says:

    First To Shai abd-al-Khan, Secondly to Anderson
    Thirdly to Herb

    Shai ————————-
    Thank you for a broad info about Iran, I agree with 87% of what you mentioned, Iranian always are very supportive of each other no matter what will happen. During the 1980 war Iraq had a hard time to dominate iran’s land even though they were supplied with WMD from Germany and weaponary from USA, the reason was there were plenty of young adults that fighting for their country and did not care what will happen to them. At the moment Iran’s population has about 45% young adult ages 15 to 35.

    You mentioned
    “With respect to the Iranian nuclear program, most Persians that I know are not in favour of it at all. They can’t understand why the government wants to spend billions upon billions of dollars on nuclear plants (twenty or more already planned) when they have so many other ways to create the energy they need. Poverty is on the increase and illiteracy is rising, so many wonder why the money can’t be spent on programs to reduce these problems.”

    Even Iran is the 4th larget oil and 2nd largest LNG producer still has to import a lot of oil from other countries including Russia. Irans power and energy producing facilities are pretty old such as DAMS, and Power houses, these resources are built during the Shah era with help of German companies like Siemens. Iranian do not have any new parts to replace the old one’s with, in return They have to refurbish them and they will not last long under the load of constant useage.
    As we have seen and heard on the news that most of domestic planes that were purchased by the Shah from USA are so old that they crash because of the part failure and that causes a large amount of casulties. The raeson was only because of the sanction that USA forced the UN to force on Iran and that they do not payback the 35 Billion $’s back to Iran. The money that they owed to Shah. This action forced Iran to get closer to the eastern and Asian countries such as Russia and China. Iran has been a survivour, say 2550 years of it. If they were able to stay on their feet this long then they will find a way to stay on their feet for as long as the earth and universe exist. But one thing is very important though and that is that the only way USA can stop Iran’s nuclear activities is to try to open their door for discussion and promotions with a freindlier approch, otherwise the way that Iran is taking steps ahead to get closer to be a super power in middle east is on the clock and it is ticking.

    To Anderson——————–

    “I think the key words here are “potential” and “preparing”. I know that some see it differently on this board, but my feeling is that if Iran has a WMD, it won’t be if, it will be when will they use it and against whom.”
    Iran doesn’t have any WMD. None. Zero. Zip. And yes, that HAS been verified by the U.N.’s I.A.E.A.
    I know you (and others) can’t accept the fact that Iran has a right under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, of which they are a signatory, to develop non-military nuclear energy programs, but they do. They also have the right to develop the ability to manufacture and refine uranium fuel for such reactors under the terms of the treaty. Refining nuclear fuel for reactors is NOT the same as refining weapons-grade plutonium; uranium is only a the trigger for such weapons and alone, it poses no threat as a nuclear bomb.
    For the past two years, we have been involved in covert intelligence operations against Iran. It’s widely known that American and British intel and special forces have waged a campaign to stir ethnic and sectarian conflicts in order to destablize the government in Tehran. Satellite surveillance of suspected nuclear facilities have gone on unabated and the areas under consideration for attack have been located and thoroughly mapped. It has been reported in the European press that the idea is that regime change in Iran can be achieved by sectarian opposition, but the reality is that the Iranians will consistently rally behind a wartime government against foreign aggression. In fact, the entire Middle East and beyond would rise up against US interventionism.
    If you think we have problems in Iraq, then you haven’t seen anything yet.
    President Bush signed off on plans to invade Iran in June of last year. What that means is that the U.S. and Israel are in a state of readiness and are prepared to launch an attack; all that remains is to set a date for the event. Recent reports such as my original post state that Israel will be ready by late March to effect a bombing raid similar to their attack on Iraq’s nuclear facilities at Osiraq in 1981. The thing is… Iran is ready and they WILL fight back.
    So there is NO psychological deterrent. Not against Iran anyway.

    “As for the Russian answer…I just don’t know how far I trust that government to be a “key” player. I will have to think on that one.”
    Surely you’re aware of Putin’s approval and subsequent sale of defensive missile technology to Iran and the United State’s stated opposition to that sale. You should be. It made headlines… even at Faux sNooze. Russia sold Tehran an air defense system designed to shoot down aircraft, cruise missiles and precision-guided weapons, upgraded Russian-made fighter jets, and submarines for their small naval fleet last May. Iran has also upgraded its Shahab-3 missile systems, which can reach targets in Israel, so if they were a threat to Israel they would have attacked already.
    China’s strategic interests in Iran are high as well. In 2004, China’s state-owned oil trading company signed a 25-year deal to import 110 million tons of liquefied natural gas (LNG) from Iran. This was followed by a much larger deal between another of China’s state-owned oil companies and Iran. That deal is worth about $100 billion and allows China to import a further 250 million tons of LNG from Iran over a 25-year period. In addition to LNG, Iran will provide China with 150,000 barrels per day of crude oil over the same period. Also Iran sigend a large multy million $ contract with Japan to drill for new oil exploration in the south east of country.If the U.S. engages Iran in a war similar to the one we have in Iraq, those contracts will be null. Do you think China will just sit back and allow that to happen???
    There’s substantial Chinese investment in Iranian energy exploration, drilling and production, as well as in petrochemical and natural gas infrastructure. Total Chinese investment targeted toward Iran’s energy sector could exceed a further $100 billion over 25 years. At the end of this year just past, China became Iran’s top oil export market. Since we don’t export all that much in the way of petroleum to the Chinese, who do YOU think they’ll back in a shooting match?

    to Herbi HanCOCK———————-

    I might have a putty mouth but I like it.
    How many damn war you as an American want to get involved with? Every time a new damn president was elected there was a new war with a diffrent country. I do not understand what is it that every country is just againt USA. Why this doesn’t happen to any other countries. I wonder why no country wants to terrories Italy, Germany, England, Sweden, Finland, Australia, France, and on and on.
    What is your answer to that?
    By the way, FYI I am an Iranian and proud of it. So what?




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  24. alex says:

    all this iran talk is psychological warfare meant to put pressure on iran. nothing more.
    besides an all out war, airstrikes are the next best option which will lead to an all out war as iran will most likely responds harshly.
    the US is in no postition to engage iran in an all out war because of the mess in iraq.
    the US is using the WMD and terrorism issues as tools to put pressure and eventually remove the ruling party in iran. the talk that “iran will destroy israel with a nuke” and all is baseless propaganda, as iran hasnt attacked another country in over a 100 years. if that was to happen, then israel will take out every iranian city with a devasting nuclear response of its own. would iran have itself destroyed for the sake of destroying israel? never.
    Ahmadinejad’s statements regarding israel cant be taken literarily, as its propaganda meant to win support amongst the muslims and to strenghten his position in iran, nothing more.
    israel on the other hand cant really be comfortable with a nuclear iran and may take action to delay the iranian program for a couple of years. but the problem is that they need american help and the green light. in case of any attack iran probably wont distinguish between israel and the US and will target both nations in response. so, then the US will become involved anyhow.
    we reach the same conclustion then. the US is in no position to confront iran at this time and it would be a very big mistake to do so.
    psychological warfare than anything else.




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