web analytics
December 20, 2014 / 28 Kislev, 5775
 
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Iranian nuclear program’

How Not to Keep Israel from Bombing Iran

Wednesday, September 12th, 2012

There are no deadlines:

The U.S. is “not setting deadlines” for Iran and still considers negotiations to be “by far the best approach” to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told Bloomberg in an interview published Monday.

Speaking to Bloomberg Radio on Sunday after the conclusion of meetings at an Asia-Pacific forum in Vladivostok, Russia, Clinton said that economic sanctions are affecting Iran and the U.S. is “watching very carefully about what [the Iranians] do, because it’s always been more about their actions than their words.”

And there are no red ones either, according to State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland yesterday:

QUESTION: Toria, your closest ally in the Middle East, Israel, is quite upset with a interview that the Secretary gave, particularly when she was asked about redlines or deadlines for Iran’s nuclear program. Do you have positions or levels in Iran’s nuclear enrichment that you consider unacceptable and that would force some sort of change to the current stalemate, let’s say?

MS. NULAND: Well, as we have been saying for many months, and as was clear when the Secretary was in Jerusalem earlier this summer, we have extensive and ongoing contacts with our close ally Israel to discuss the full range of security issues, but obviously to compare notes on the challenge posed by Iran, and we will continue to do that…

QUESTION: Well it’s a very – will you agree that it’s – are you – is there a specific policy of being – of constructive ambiguity here? Because, I mean, not allow Iran to obtain a nuclear weapon means many different things to many different people. As you know, the Israelis have one definition of what it means to have a nuclear weapon, and maybe you have another one. So could you provide any –

MS. NULAND: Among the many reasons, Elise, why these consultations with Israel need to be constant, they need to be detailed, they need to be private. …

So we are absolutely firm about the President’s commitment here, but it is not useful to be parsing it, to be setting deadlines one way or the other, redlines. It is most important that we stay intensely focused on the pressure on Iran, the opportunity for Iran to fix this situation through the diplomacy that we’ve offered, and intensive consultations with Israel and all the other regional states, as we are doing.

Nuland seems to be trying to suggest that there is more going on under the surface with Israel, but Israel Hayom quoted “senior diplomatic sources in Jerusalem” saying that,

Hillary Clinton is speeding up the Iranian centrifuges with her erroneous public comments … Without a clear red line, Iran will not halt its race for nuclear weapons.  … not only do Clinton’s comments not deter Iran, they actually appease it.

So to recap: there are sanctions, but Iran’s 20 biggest trading partners have exemptions. Iran still refuses to let IAEA inspectors into its test site at Parchin, where it appears that experiments related to weaponization have been carried out. The I.A.E.A. also reports that Iran is carrying out computer simulations of the destructive power of nuclear warheads. Iran continues to add centrifuges to bolster its enrichment capabilities.

But the U.S. is not prepared to issue an ultimatum. It will go no further than to repeat that “we will not allow Iran to get a nuclear weapon,” but it will not say — publicly or to Israel — how far it will allow Iran to go.

The Iranians understand this to mean that they can keep on doing what they are doing, which is putting all the pieces in place to sprint to the finish line when they choose to do so. It’s by no means clear that we will know when this is about to happen, or that we will be able to act quickly enough to stop it, even if we do know. It is also generally accepted that the ability of Israel by itself to prevent Iran from building a weapon is eroding with time.

The U.S. has the power to issue a credible threat to destroy Iran’s nuclear capability, as well as a great deal of its military assets — missiles, air defense systems, etc. Such a threat would most likely cause Iran to pull back and would not actually have to be carried out.

By not doing this, the administration leaves Israel with only one option, which is to try to destroy or delay Iran’s program itself. While an American threat carries the risk that the Iranians will call our bluff and provoke a conflict, an Israeli attack guarantees one.

Incidentally, it should be mentioned that the former Israeli security officials like Meir Dagan who are opposed to an Israeli attack in the near term do not believe that Iran should be allowed to get nuclear bombs. They simply disagree with the PM and Defense Minister aboutwhen there will be no other way to stop Iran. If the US persists in allowing Iran to proceed, then even Meir Dagan’s red line will be crossed.

If the administration wants to prevent an Israeli attack on Iran, it has a strange way of showing it!

Eight Reasons why Containment is not an Option with Iran

Tuesday, September 4th, 2012

1. Iran’s regime is outspokenly dedicated to the goal of destroying the State of Israel. Iranian political, religious, and military leaders have expressed their desire to annihilate Israel at every opportunity they have received. Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, says that the physical elimination of Israel is a religious duty. It would be criminally negligent to disregard Iran’s official state ideology and gamble with the lives of millions of Israelis on the unproven assumption that Iran will behave rationally as a nuclear-armed actor. For Israel, the struggle to keep Iran from going nuclear is not about regional influence or ensuring an edge over its enemies. It is about Israel’s Right to Life.

2. The Iranian regime is filled with quarrelling factions that could in the future lead to a destabilization of the government, the military, and the Islamic Republic Guards Corps.

Some factions are influenced by radical Shi’ite ayatollahs such as Mezbah Yazdi, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s spiritual mentor. Yazdi not only says that Israel is the embodiment of evil on Earth, he has also called for the production of nuclear weapons. In any future destabilization of an Iranian regime armed with atomic bombs, a hardline faction could seize control of nuclear missile bases and order an attack. The security of Israel, the region, and the world would be held ransom to the outcome of domestic Iranian power struggles. No country can be expected to accept such a threat

3. Despite all of the above, some commentators continue to insist that facing a nuclear Iran can be compared to the superpower rivalries of the Cold War, which pitted the U.S. and the Soviet Union against one another, and resulted in both sides refraining from resorting to nuclear force, due to the threat of mutually assured destruction (MAD).

The analogy, however, does not work. Ideologically, there is a stark difference between hardline Shi’ite Iranian ideology, which adores the concept of martyrdom, and the secular Soviet ideology, which dismissed with contempt notions of religious war and ideas about divine rewards in the afterlife.

4. Even if we set aside difference in ideology, there are other reasons MAD is not applicable in Iran’s case. Moscow and Washington established lines of direct communications that allowed them to deescalate standoffs. The open channels allowed the superpowers to walk away from the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis, thereby sparing the planet from a nuclear holocaust. Jerusalem and Tehran have no direct lines of communication whatsoever, and no way to deescalate future crises, which will surely arise.

5. Iran’s territory is 70 times larger than Israel, a disparity that will form a constant temptation for Iranian leaders to realize their fantasy of destroying Israel. Iranian former president Ali Akbar Hashemi-Rafsanjani, considered an Iranian “reformist,” formulated this thinking, when he said in 2001: “If a day comes when the world of Islam is duly equipped with the arms Israel has in possession, the… application of an atomic bomb would not leave anything in Israel, but the same thing would just produce damages in the Muslim world.”

With 70% of the Israeli population concentrated in cities on the Mediterranean coastal plain, Iranian leaders face the constant temptation of initiating a nuclear attack based on Rafsanjani’s calculation. Israel has a population of 7.8 million. Iran has a population of 74.8 million.

6. Once Iran breaks through to the nuclear arms stage, it would automatically spark a Middle Eastern arms race, as Iran’s frightened Sunni rivals would rush to get their own atomic bombs. Sunni states suffering from chronic instability, such as Egypt – already under Islamist rule – as well as other Sunni powers such as Turkey and Saudi Arabia would end up armed with nuclear weapons, too.

With the Middle East at its most unstable phase to date (the dissolution of Syria and concerns about its chemical weapons as a case in point), nuclear armed states could experience severe turbulence that would compromise the security of their nuclear arsenals, putting them within reach of fanatical factions or terror organizations.

7. Iran remains the region’s number one state sponsor of terrorism. Operating through its extraterritorial covert elite unit, the Quds Force, Iran provides arms, tends of thousands of deadly rockets, explosives, cash, and logistical support to its Shi’ite proxy Hezbollah, as well as Islamic Jihad in Gaza, and several additional radical non-state actors around the region.

Do we ‘have Israel’s back’?

Monday, September 3rd, 2012

There should not be a shred of doubt by now: when the chips are down, I have Israel’s back.Barack Obama, March 4, 2012

General Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, is the top military adviser to the President (although he is not directly part of the chain of command). Last week in London he said,

[An Israeli attack would] clearly delay but probably not destroy Iran’s nuclear programme … I don’t want to be complicit if they [Israel] choose to do it.

One wonders what complicity would consist of. Using American forces to assist Israel in an attack? Striking back at Iran? Providing weapons or aircraft? Providing intelligence information? Even resupplying Israeli forces with ammunition or spare parts in the event of a protracted war? Dempsey didn’t say, but the message implicit in the statement is “if you start it, you will be on your own,” which is hardly consistent with the President’s remark about having Israel’s back.

Does this represent administration thinking? This weekend the White House had the opportunity to walk back Dempsey’s remark, but the best spokesman Jay Carney could do was this:

Cooperation with Israel between our military and intelligence communities has never been closer … Assistance provided to Israel by the United States has never been greater than it has been under President [Barack] Obama. We have an extremely close relationship with Israel, which is appropriate given our unshakeable commitment to Israel’s security.

Really? A joint American-Israeli missile defense exercise that was planned for October has been greatly scaled down, according to a report in Time Magazine:

The reductions are striking. Instead of the approximately 5,000 U.S. troops originally trumpeted for Austere Challenge 12, as the annual exercise is called, the Pentagon will send only 1,500 service members, and perhaps as few as 1,200. Patriot anti-missile systems will arrive in Israel as planned, but the crews to operate them will not. Instead of two Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense warships being dispatched to Israeli waters, the new plan is to send one, though even the remaining vessel is listed as a “maybe,” according to officials in both militaries. [my emphasis]

In Israel gas masks are being distributed and bomb shelters in places like Tel Aviv, unused for years, are being cleared of junk and prepared for use. I’m sure a few more operational Patriot systems would be welcome.

PM Netanyahu reportedly had an angry exchange with US Ambassador Dan Shapiro earlier this week about the US commitment to prevent Iran from going nuclear:

A source that participated in the meeting said that a particularly angry and stressed Netanyahu began a tirade against the US president, attacking him for not doing enough on Iran. “Instead of pressuring Iran in an effective way, Obama and his people are pressuring us not to attack the nuclear facilities,” the source quoted Netanyahu as saying. [my emphasis]

Angered about continued US rhetoric that diplomacy needs more time to work, Netanyahu said flatly: “Time has run out,” Yediot reported.

The American ambassador is said to have responded politely but firmly, telling Netanyahu that he was distorting Obama’s position. Obama promised not to allow Iran to obtain nuclear weapons, he explained, and left all options on the table, including military options.

At that point, diplomatic sources told the paper, “sparks flew” in an escalating shouting match between Netanyahu and Shapiro as the stunned congressman [Rep. Mike Rogers -- R., MI] watched.

Dempsey’s statement and the decision to withhold entirely defensive items from Israel certainly buttress the PM’s contention.

But reliance on the US promises of support is a bad idea in any case. Yoram Ettinger provides some historical examples of why:

From 1950 to 1955, the U.S. promised Israel military systems to deter an Arab offensive. Failure to deliver emboldened Arab terrorism, which led to the 1956 Sinai Campaign.

On Feb. 27, 1957, Israel’s Abba Eban and the U.S.’s John Dulles reached an understanding on Israel’s withdrawal from the Sinai Peninsula, including Sharm el-Sheikh, if Israeli passage through the Straits [sic] of Tiran was assured. Jerusalem interpreted the understanding as a U.S. commitment to use force to keep the straits open. However, Washington’s interpretation was that it did not have the right to use force to protect vessels of other flags, which would require congressional action.

Netanyahu: I will go to the UN and Break the Silence on Iran’s Terror Regime

Thursday, August 30th, 2012

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has decided to speak at the U.N. General Assembly next month in order to speak “the truth about Iran’s regime of terror,” which he said “constitutes the greatest threat to world peace.”

Netanyahu said his decision was in response to the Non-Aligned movement summit held in Iran.

“Today in Tehran the representatives of 120 countries heard a blood libel against the State of Israel and were silent,” Netanyahu said. “This silence must be stopped.”

The General Assembly will convene at the end of September. In order to speak Netanyahu will have to fly to New York immediately after the end of Yom Kippur.

Russia ‘Regrets’ Iran’s Continued Uranium Enrichment

Tuesday, January 10th, 2012

The Russian Foreign Ministry released a statement Tuesday expressing “regret” and “concern” for Iran’s decision to enrich uranium near the city of Qom, despite the fact that Russia has persistently shielded the Islamic Republic from more severe UN Security Council resolutions.

“Hopefully, Iran will listen to our opinion about the need for further close cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency and the soonest beginning of serious negotiations on the Iranian nuclear program with the Sextet without preconditions,” the statement continued.

Iran: What Will Germany Do Now?

Sunday, January 1st, 2012

A turning point has been reached that challenges the reigning paradigm of German-Iranian relations.

There are sentences that can trigger wars. Among them is this sentence from the International Atomic Energy Agency’s report on Iran of 8 November 2011: “The information indicates that Iran has carried out activities relevant to the development of a nuclear explosive device.”

Contrary to prior assumptions, Iran continued pursuing its nuclear weapons program after 2003. The regime has been conducting research into the conversion of uranium metal into a form usable in warheads, working on the complex detonating mechanisms for nuclear bombs and making preparations for a nuclear test.

Admittedly, since 1945 the world has got used to living with the idea of nuclear weapons in the hands of secular or semi-secular states. But why is Iran determined to push forward with its nuclear program at absolutely any price?

Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad answered this question in August 2007: “The nuclearization of Iran is the beginning of a fundamental change in the world”. Iran’s nuclear technology, he went on to promise, would “be used in the service of those who are determined to resist the brutal powers and aggressors.”

These remarks show that the Iranian President does not consider Iran’s nuclear weapons program to be defensive in intent. It is also clear that Iran is ready to pass on its nuclear capabilities to other regimes and movements. There is, moreover, absolutely no doubt about where the “fundamental change” is to begin: “The Zionist regime will be erased and humanity will be liberated”, Ahmadinejad promised the audience at the 2006 Holocaust denial conference in Teheran.

Furthermore, once Iran’s revolutionary leader has the bomb, it will be difficult to disarm him and deprive him of his power without this bomb being used. The world would then have to decide whether to make further concessions to a fanatical regime or defeat it – now at an inconceivably high price.

The small disaster is approaching

So there are sentences that can trigger wars. The above-quoted sentence has brought the moment when American and/or Israeli jets take off to destroy Iran’s nuclear sites menacingly close. The small disaster intended to ward off the great one is approaching.

Is it going to happen or will the international community summon up the will to use all the non-military instruments envisaged by the UN Charter to bring regimes such as the one in power in Iran to see reason? According to Article 41 of the Charter, such measures include “complete or partial interruption of economic relations and of rail, sea, air, postal, telegraphic, radio, and other means of communication, and the severance of diplomatic relations”.

At the moment, apparently not. On the contrary, the sextet of the five permanent Security Council members plus Germany initially entrusted with tackling the Iran issue is less united than ever.

On the one side are China and Russia. They seem reconciled to the Iranian bomb and reject increased pressure on Iran. According to a recent study from the Washington-based Atlantic Council, “China does not feel threatened by the prospect of a nuclear weapons-capable Iran. … Some elements in the Chinese defense establishment would actually prefer a nuclear Iran … if that compels the United States to retain substantial military forces in the Gulf rather than East Asia.” Similar considerations may also be at work in the Kremlin.

On the other side are the UK, France and the USA. Last Monday they sharply stepped up their pressure on Teheran. On 21 November the USA reinforced its sanctions against the Iranian oil and petrochemical industries. On the same day France called for an end to purchases of Iranian oil and a freeze on all Iranian Central Bank assets and the UK suspended all financial cooperation with Iran with immediate effect.

That leaves Germany, which seems to be treading water midway between these two positions. In Germany’s Foreign Office, it is being said that the Western proposals “are heading in the right direction”, but must first be “intensively studied”.

The spokesperson for the Social Democrats’ Bundestag group, Rolf Mützenich, even sounded a note of disappointment, finding it “regrettable that individual governments are going ahead with further sanctions on Iran.” We have heard no specific proposals responding to the deepening of the crisis.

The German government, however, has the power to tip the scales. Will it come down on the side of Israel or Iran?

Germany as the founder of Persian industry

Back in the 1920s, Persia was ruled by a man who adored the Germans: Reza Shah. He arranged for 70 German officials to run the Iranian State Bank. He ensured that all the machinery for Iran’s mining, cement, paper, textile and other industries came from Germany. This process reached its climax at the beginning of the 1940s, when 43% of all Iranian imports came from Germany and 47% of all Iranian exports went in the opposite direction.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/analysis/iran-what-will-germany-do-now/2012/01/01/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: