Foreign Policy

Iranian Nukewatch

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On the Iran nuke front, some fear-mongering on CNN from Joint Chiefs of Staff head Adm. Mike Mullen (who said he believes Iran has enough fissile uranium to make a nuclear bomb), some calming from Defense Secretary Robert Gates on NBC ("They are not close to a stockpile; they are not close to a weapon at this point") and from an LA Times account, Iranian

Foreign Ministry spokesman Hasan Qashqavi noted…that Iran still had a long way to go before building a bomb, which requires highly enriched uranium.

"How is it possible that the enrichment level of 3% to 4% suddenly mounts to 90%?" Qashqavi said to reporters in Tehran….. "We have repeatedly said that manufacturing atomic bombs has no place in our defensive doctrine."

Iran insists its nuclear program is meant only to produce low-grade uranium to generate electricity while the U.S., Europe and Israel allege it is trying to create a weapons capability. An IAEA report last month said Iran had accumulated at least 2,227 pounds of reactor-grade enriched uranium, an amount which could theoretically yield enough weapons-grade material for a single bomb.

Even with its 1-ton stockpile of nuclear material, Iran would have to take the dramatic steps of kicking out international inspectors, withdrawing from treaty obligations and begin further refining its enriched uranium, moves that would likely trigger a major global confrontation.

And U.S. envoy to the International Atomic Energy Agency meeting going on in Vienna Gregory Schulte

noted the new administration's "readiness for direct engagement with Tehran" to persuade its leadership to not pursue sensitive nuclear technology.

Probably best for U.S. lives and fortunes that that spirit, rather than the spirit of "we must use all elements of our national power" to keep Iran in line, dominates U.S./Iran relations in the future.

NEXT: Obama Out of Afghanistan!

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  1. While I am a proud American, did my stint in the 82nd, all that jazz, I do like to see a more humble and balanced approach to foreign policy. The sort of heavy-handed approach to dealing with other countries needlessly places many of my good friends in harms way, for what appears to be corporate interests instead of national. I am not quite willing to say that we verged into fascism, but it is much closer than I prefer.

    Now if we could take a rational look at police militarization, the drug war, the military application of the global war on terror (which should be handled by criminal courts), rampant deficit spending, the assault on personal liberty, the war on equal rights for gays, our decaying infrastructure, our debilitating oil addiction, the aging workforce, the financial implosion, our loss of political capital in the world, and the illegal immigrant issue (it should be much easier to gain citizenship), this country would be in great shape.

  2. Ramseys electronium hat must harness the power of sunspots to produce cognitive radiation…

  3. What happened to Jesse’s Joe the Plumber post?

  4. Probably best for U.S. lives and fortunes that that spirit, rather than the spirit of “we must use all elements of our national power” to keep Iran in line, dominates U.S./Iran relations in the future.

    Not likely, seeing how the State Department and Il Duce’s government keep spewing the same falsehoods about Iran, as if that country was some sort of “rogue state” outside any international agreements, even when Iran is one of the FEW countries that signed the Non Proliferation Treaty and allows UN inspectors into the country (unlike those peace-loving doves like Israel, India or Pakistan . . .)

    http://www.lewrockwell.com/buchanan/buchanan104.html

  5. Jesus, who gives a fuck if the Iranians build a nuclear bomb? Joe Stalin built several thousand of them, and he was as batshit crazy (but crazy also like a fox) as Ahmadickhead and his fruitcake friends with the head wrappings.

    The world survived just fine. The solution to an Iranian bomb is the usual MAD deterrent: a dozen ICBMs targeted at Tehran and environs, the usual warnings, the usual dog ‘n’ pony sideshow with Secretaries of State jetting off to summits at which solemn promises of mutual respect and restraint are announced.

    I mean, seriously, the Iranians are not going to use a nuke on Tel Aviv, because the US (not to mention Israeli) retaliation would make Persia uninhabitable for a thousand years. They’re not going to sell working nukes to al Qaeda, because they’re not that stupid. Nobody smart enough and disciplined enough to build a nuke is stupid enough to sell it to psychotics you can’t control.

    Frankly, there may be some hidden advantage to the Iranians acquiring The Bomb. In the first place, after a country gets one their mortal enemy usually does, and then conventional warfare grinds to a halt, Mexican stand-off fashion. Look at Pakistan and India: three wars in 25 years over the Kashmir, then they both get nukes, and poof! no war at all for 25 years. Neither can afford one, now. Let Iran get a bomb, and Israel will have to be open about its deterrent — and then everybody needs to be much more careful about what cross-border crap they get up to in Lebanon, just like the US and USSR had to be careful about what their proxies got up to in Asia. No one can afford a situation that gets out of control. I can see that working out pretty well.

    Second, if you don’t like a country, and they’ve got internal stresses — lack of liberty, economic inefficiencies — one of the nastiest things you can do to them is encourage them to embark on a nuclear arms program. It’s very, very expensive. And once you start, you tend not to be able to stop. It’s like a crack habit, sucking up all your brainpower and hard currency and political leadership skills. It takes over your foreign policy. In short, it’s the kind of Brer Rabbit briar patch into which we might cynically suggest the Iranians take a stroll, if we want to entrap them in a pit of snakes.

  6. My understanding of the technical aspects are this: If they have “enough fissile material for a bomb” – that means they have enriched enough uranium to 3-4% that it could eventually be enriched further to make a bomb. This is something less than 50 kg.

    So they would have to enrich all the material they have now – a lot more (though I understand it gets easier as you move up the curve) – build and test a weapon (I assume its already designed). Then they would have to start all over again enriching to get an actual bomb for a threat weapon.

  7. Carl,

    Unlike Stalin, Tehran can claim plausible deniability if a suitcase nuke is “stolen” and detonated in Tel Aviv. Could we really retaliate without rock-solid proof that this was Tehran’s intention?

  8. Abdul puts his finger on it. The danger with Iran, Pakistan, the Norks, etc. going nuclear is that they have ample “deniable” channels through which to deliver a bomb.

    If a nuke was smuggled into, say, NY harbor, even assuming post-detonation we could identify the source country, I have serious doubts about whether we would retaliate.

    An up-front statement that, if one of your bombs goes off anywhere, anytime, we will deliver specified megatonnages to specified locations, no questions asked, would go a long, long way. Would Obama ever make such a statement? I seriously doubt it.

  9. Unlike Stalin, Tehran can claim plausible deniability if a suitcase nuke is “stolen” and detonated in Tel Aviv. Could we really retaliate without rock-solid proof that this was Tehran’s intention?

    We could. The Jews would. The question is, would Israel take out Damascus, Mecca and Medina at the same time?

  10. An up-front statement that, if one of your bombs goes off anywhere, anytime, we will deliver specified megatonnages to specified locations, no questions asked, would go a long, long way. Would Obama ever make such a statement? I seriously doubt it.

    I certainly hope he’s too mature to spout bellicose nonsense like that.

  11. I was under the impression that during the cold war, ICBMs were only aimed at military targets, not population centers, and the civilian deaths would be more of a side effect from wind-blown fallout. But now we’re talking about nuking major cities.

  12. An up-front statement that, if one of your bombs goes off anywhere, anytime, we will deliver specified megatonnages to specified locations, no questions asked, would go a long, long way. Would Obama ever make such a statement? I seriously doubt it.

    I certainly hope he’s too mature to spout bellicose nonsense like that.

    How is it bellicose to threaten to retaliate after a first strike?

  13. Another Phil

    Read RCD’s post and then mine again as you seem to be missing something. Does tone deaf mean anything to you?

  14. Abdul | March 3, 2009, 7:57am | #

    Carl,

    Unlike Stalin, Tehran can claim plausible deniability if a suitcase nuke is “stolen” and detonated in Tel Aviv. Could we really retaliate without rock-solid proof that this was Tehran’s intention?

    That’s my concern exactly. Also, given that air plane hijackers had no reservations against targeting European and American planes, a suitcase bomb could likely go off in Chicago, London, or Prague. A couple of factors make an attack in a European city more likely than an attack in Israel. First, Israelis tend to hardening their stance in response to attacks, while Europeans tend to shell over hundreds of millions in euros to “address the roots cause” after an attack. Second, wind and water currents would carry radiation from a large attack on Israel to the Jordan Valley, Gaza, and the Nile Delta. A few years of elevated cancer deaths and birth defect rates among Muslims in the fall out area would hurt Iran’s image in the Muslim world.

  15. I’m trying to make a good analogy for this situation.

    You know a married guy with a hot wife everyone’s jealous of. But you also know he’s been dating another girl, who he should have nothing to do with. After all, he has a smoking hot wife, why spoil a good thing?

    And when you confront him about the girlfriend, he tries to reassure you by saying he’s only making out with her, but he’d never go “all the way”. Even if you believe him, what an asshole right?

  16. Mark,

    So, do we nuke the girlfriend or let the Israelis do it?

  17. The root cause of the problem is that white Anglo-Saxon, protestant-European and Americans have been telling people all over the world what to do, how to do it ,what you will not do, ever since slavery. The colonial mindset of whites even gets in the way of their very own religion Christianity. This is why they can plot and plan to drop nuclear bombs and napalm on densely populated cites and urban areas. If their religion was real and the god of that religion was real, we would not have nuked Japan or continued to develop our own weapons of mass destruction. The Christian mindset would not allow homosexuality and try to justify immoral behavior with science. Whites have systematically murdered more people all over the world throughout history than any other race. They fear genetic aannihilation for all the evil they are engaged in and rightfully they deserve it. The nuclear bomb is the stick whites use to intimidate other nations into bowing to their wishes. Neither Iran nor any other nation has to ask permission of anyone or any nation to pursue and utilize their god given rights of developing nuclear technology. Iran having a nuclear bomb is fine by me because it will act as deterrent for Israel and the Neo Cons and Hawks in this country by curbing both of their ambitions in the Islamic hemisphere.

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