Monday, January 16, 2006

previous entry | main | next entry | TrackBack (0)

It's been a busy day for Iran-watchers

Let's see what's been going on with regard to Iran for the past day or so, in order from tragedy to farce:

1) The BBC reports that Britain, France and Germanyt will request an extraordinary session of the IAEA in order to refer Iran to the UN Security Council.

2) In an interview with Newsweek's Christpher Dickey, IAEA head Mohammed El Baradei -- who was quite the skeptic when it came to whether Saddam Hussein had nuclear weapons -- makes it clear that he's pissed at the Iranians:

DICKEY: You've said you're running out of patience with Iran. What does that mean?
ELBARADEI: For the last three years we have been doing intensive verification in Iran, and even after three years I am not yet in a position to make a judgment on the peaceful nature of the [nuclear] program. We still need to assure ourselves through access to documents, individuals [and] locations that we have seen all that we ought to see and that there is nothing fishy, if you like, about the program.

At one site called Lavizan, facilities were bulldozed by Iran before you could look at them, and you weren't allowed to run tests in the area.
We clearly need to take environmental samplings from some of the equipment that used to be in Lavizan. We need to interview some of the people who have been engaged in Lavizan. We have [also] gotten some information about some modification of their missiles that could have some relationship to the nuclear program. So, we need to clarify all these things. It is very specific. They know what we want to do, and they just have to go and do it. I'm making it very clear right now that I cannot extend the deadline, which is ... March 6.

With all due respect, the Iranians don't seem to care what you think.
Well, they might not seem to care. But if I say that I am not able to confirm the peaceful nature of that program after three years of intensive work, well, that's a conclusion that's going to reverberate, I think, around the world....

What if the Iranians are just buying time for their bomb building?
That's why I said we are coming to the litmus test in the next few weeks. Diplomacy is not just talking. Diplomacy has to be backed by pressure and, in extreme cases, by force. We have rules. We have to do everything possible to uphold the rules through conviction. If not, then you impose them. Of course, this has to be the last resort, but sometimes you have to do it.

You're angry.
No, I'm not angry, but I'd like to make sure the process will not be abused. There's a difference. I still would like to be able to avoid escalation, but at the same time I do not want the agency to be cheated; I do not want the process to be abused. I think that is clear. I have a responsibility, and I would like to fulfill it with as good a conscience as I can.

This would be more persuasive if ElBaradei didn't make this point every month or so.

3) Iran has expelled CNN from working in Iran because of a slight mistranslation problem, according to the AP's Nasser Karimi:

Iran said Monday it is barring CNN from working in Iran "until further notice" due to its mistranslation of comments made by the president in a recent news conference about the country's nuclear research.

In a speech Saturday, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad defended Iran's right to continue nuclear research. State media have complained since the speech that CNN used the translation "nuclear weapons" instead of "nuclear technology."

The ban by the Culture and Islamic Guidance Ministry was read in a statement on state-run television.

"Due to mistranslation of the words of Ahmadinejad during his press conference, activities of the American CNN in Tehran are banned until further notice," the statement said.

CNN acknowledged that it had screwed up -- but this does strike me as overkill.

4) Finally, in a separate story, the AP's Karimi reports that Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has decided to make his contribution to genocide studies:

Iran announced plans yesterday for a conference to examine evidence for the Holocaust, a new step in hard-line President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's campaign against Israel -- one that could deepen Tehran's international isolation.

Ahmadinejad already has called the Nazis' World War II slaughter of European Jews a ''myth" and has said the Jewish state should be wiped off the map or moved to Germany or the United States....

Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi did not disclose where or when the Holocaust conference would be held, and he would not say who would attend or what had prompted Tehran to sponsor it.

Ahmadinejad, who took office in August, caused an international outcry in October by calling Israel a ''disgraceful blot" that should be ''wiped off the map."

You just know this will be one of those invitation-only kind of conferences where only the cream of the Holocaust-deniers will be asked to attend.
If Iran keeps this up -- making news, kicking out competitors -- they're going to exhaust that poor AP guy based in Tehran.

posted by Dan on 01.16.06 at 02:42 PM


So just how close is Iran to having a nuclear weapon?

The answer to that question will tell us whether we are looking at a major --perhaps THE major -- international crisis of the next couple of years, or whether Iran is looking at several more years of isolation. The problem, of course, is that we don't know the answer. Prudent policy must treat the worst case as a possibility. But we really don't know how close it is to becoming a reality.

posted by: Zathras on 01.16.06 at 02:42 PM [permalink]

Off topic comment -- you know whats always bugged me, not so much about El Baradei, but about his qualifications ? Baradei is a lawyer ? Why the devil dont we have an engineer in charge of this organization ?

It may be hard to get a nuclear engineer with the requisite management and political skills (given the small size of that pool), but a general engineer shouldn't be that hard to get. Obviously top appointments to these international bodies are still very much a matter of who you know and how well you can schmooze.

Even WHO has a genuine MD in charge.

The person in charge doesn't have to be a (non-peace) Nobel Prize physicist. But is should be an engineer or a physici
True it may be hard to get a nuclear engineer with the requisite management skill and background

posted by: erg on 01.16.06 at 02:42 PM [permalink]

To halt a country's nuclear weapons program, do we have to invade and occupy it as we've invaded and occupied Iraq?

If so, how many times can we do this?

Or, is it possible to perform pin-point strikes, by missile or special forces, to prevent a country like Iran from acquiring nukes? If this is possible, can we keep it up indefinitely?

Can economic and political sanctions work, and can we afford to try them? Sanctions seem to assume rational actors have some control over policy. Is this the case?

Speaking of rational actors in control, what about deterrence? Could we accept Iranian nuclear weapons with the idea that it would establish some sort of MAD stability?

I don't know.

posted by: Andrew Steele on 01.16.06 at 02:42 PM [permalink]

Sanctions can work; they worked against Saddam, and they worked against South Africa.

"Pinpoint bombing" installations assumes that 1) we know for sure where they are, which we don't; and 2) "pinpoint" means "pinpoint," which it doesn't.

Invading Iran is just about the only thing Bush and the GOP can so at this point to change the conversation from corruption, cronyism, and abuse of power - so you betcha there will be an invasion. And the Bush Admin will screw it up, just like they screwed up in Iraq. And anyone who dares to oppose the invasion, or express doubts about Bush &Co.'s competence, will again be vilified.

I hoped that the sheer godawfulness of what's going on in Iraq, along with all the other evidence we've had since 2003 that the Bush Admin can't be trusted to run a tea party, much less a large-scale military operation, would slow down or halt a drive to war against Iran.

I was wrong.

It's really kind of amazing, how the Right is already hauling out the same rhetoric it used for Iraq, and how the MSM is already repeating it without question. It also amazes me how nobody on the Right- not a single soul! - has made any reference at all to Iraq when talking about a war with Iran: neither to warn against repeating the mistakes made there, nor to mention the effect a war on Iran will have on the ongoing violence and instability in Iraq.

I'd love to know if that's because the Right doesn't think any mistakes were made in Iraq, or because the Right's so excited by the prospect of invading Iran it's completely forgotten all about Iraq.

That amnesia includes the wee fact that we couldn't secure Iraq when we had the greater part of our ground troops there, hadn't already lost at least 10% of them to death or serious injury, and hadn't already had to lower recruiting goals by 33% in order to meet the quotas (and are still having trouble doing so). Now we're suppposed to secure two hostile countries, with fewer troops than we had when we invaded Iraq?

And before anyone here says, "Yes, but can you deny Iran is a real threat?" let me remind you that one of the reasons so many of us are enraged by the FUBAR in Iraq is because we knew it'd mean we'd be in deep doodoo if a "real threat" opened up somewhere else --

Oh, Christ. Why bother. I'm shoveling sand against the tide. If Bush wants another war, he'll have it, and his supporters will again play the role of amen chorus.

posted by: CaseyL on 01.16.06 at 02:42 PM [permalink]

Interesting enough, Iran has told the world how to response to it's atomic program.

Iran has plainly said that it's for peaceful purposes, not making atomic weapons.

With that statement Iran has no defense. None. Zero. Zip.

If Iran can be shown that it is breaking that statement about developing atomic
weapons, the world has the Right to take the second military strike.

Who committed the first military strike against the world? Iran did by lying about
it's atomic program.

The first thing the world needs to do is lay the foundation for the second
strike in a "Clear And Concise Statement Of Intent":

"Iran - You have declared in open that you have no intent of obtaining atomic

"Iran - WE, the world, have evidence that the statement about your
atomic program is a lie."

"Iran - You have committed a first military strike by lying to us."

"Iran - You will stop all atomic activities and allow our inspectors
in to openly and unopposed investigate your atomic program at all levels."

"Iran - If you fail then WE, the world, will use our Right to commit to a
secondary strike upon you."

"Iran - WE will continue the military strikes until you are brought
into our compliance."

"Iran - Compliance means no future atomic activities of any kind."

If done right this 'could' force Iran into compliance.

But hey...your dealing with people who just want that Bomb.

It will take a strong will and skill for the world to do it.
(My take...Skill? What skill? It could get very messy...worst than Iraq.)

Side note: You don't have to destroy any atomic structures themselves.

If your lab is under a mountain, just destroy the tunnel into the lab.

You can destroy bridges, roads, and all other support materials
that are needed to maintain and operate atomic facilities.

And if you are really really serious you could start by destroying
non-atomic structures in Iran. Electrical facilities are nice targets.

Bottom line: Just how bad do you want them to have The Bomb?

Face it people. You just may have to get into a big ole war.
Iran vs The World.

Remember though, Iran is the nation that lied. Everyone else has the high
moral ground to do anything they want.

Come to think of it...Is this situation really that hard? How do you
control a badly behaving teenager?

The human race is acting as if it never confronted a situation like
this before...Ohhhh...pleaseeeeeee.

posted by: James on 01.16.06 at 02:42 PM [permalink]

"Remember though, Iran is the nation that lied. Everyone else has the high moral ground to do anything they want."

Of course, the US has never ever lied on matters related to national security and was perfectly truthful in the lead up to the war in Iraq. Wait ...

posted by: Jon on 01.16.06 at 02:42 PM [permalink]

"The human race is acting as if it never confronted a situation like this before...Ohhhh...pleaseeeeeee."

It certainly has. Very very similar.

posted by: J Thomas on 01.16.06 at 02:42 PM [permalink]

Post a Comment:


Email Address:



Remember your info?