Saturday, February 20, 2010

More Hysteria On Iran About Nukes

OK, so I am not happy about the recent reports out of the IAEA that the Iranians are not cooperating with them and are clearly making efforts towards having the capability to move towards having a nuclear weapons capability. However, the Obama administration on this matter seems to have been taken over by Hillary Clinton, who was more hawkish than on Iran than Obama in the primary campaign, and who now has managed a historic reversal wherein the US State Department is now the most hawkish department on a matter of national security while the DOD and the intel establishment are less so.

While I am not happy about this latest development, it should be kept in mind that the main new report is that the Iranians have refined a small amount of uranium to the 19.5% level. This is allowed under the treaty agreements that they have signed and is the level for use in the medical facilities for which they have long and publicly been planning to use their uranium, besides for supplying electricity. For all the talk that they are "working on a nuclear warhead," there remains no evidence of this. That would require a much higher level of refinement than this recently reported level, and their supreme leader and commander-in-chief, Vilayat-el-faqih Ali Khamene'i continues to maintain his fatwa against acquiring nuclear weapons.

11 comments:

Anonymous said...

In a TV interview a senior member of the Iranian government said that the reason that they backed away from an agreement to send their uranium off shore for enrichment was because they could not get any assurances that they would get the enriched uranium back. I don't know if this turn around is what you are unhappy about but if it is, I can understand their position. Why should they send their uranium away not knowing if they will get it back again? I wouldn't like it if I was in their shoes.

What scares me is all the hysteria that is being whipped up about them. I feels like they are trying to prepare the public for an attack and that would be so dumb.

Shag from Brookline said...

Iran is another variation of "The Mouse That Roared" with its spokespersons rivaling Peter Sellers. (I concede that comedy can easily turn into tragedy.) Remember Iraq's Hussein's claims to WMD to scare off neighboring nations? I noted at Juan Cole's Informed Comment comments made by a Russian General about a US attack on Iran. The military-industrial complex become "complexer and complexer."

Henry said...

Anyone who thinks Iran isn't developing nukes, is a moron.

rosserjb@jmu.edu said...

Anonymous,

I agree, and I think that Shag's reference to what went on with Iraq and citing Juan Cole's comments today on this are relevant. It does seem that Iran is messing with the IAEA, giving the impression of more bad behavior than is actually going on. It would be tragic if this did feed into a pointless attack the way Saddam's messing with weapons inspectors looking for his nonexistent WMDs led to the invasion of Iraq.

Henry,

Hmmm, well that would include the entire US intelligence establishment, whose official position in its constantly updated NIE is that Iran is not pursuing a nuclear weapons program, something that somehow only gets reported in the US media in little corners and back pages while the whooping hawks get the headlines and the front pages. I can well understand why you are a sucker for this drivel along with so many others.

A curious observation I have is that for the first time in a very long time, maybe longer than I can remember, the US State Department, or at least its Secretary Hillary Clinton, is more hawkish on something than either the DOD (and its Secretary, Robert Gates) or the US intelligence establishment, in this case in regard to Iran. I frankly suspect future presidential ambitions on her part as playing a role in this, and she did have a more hawkish position on Iran during the campaign than did Obama. I find the apparent move to her taking a public lead on this issue not to be a good sign at all.

Anonymous said...

If they don't want to develop nukes, why are they building an arsenal of middle and far range missiles capable of reaching even central Europe? One has only to listen to the rants of lunatic Ahmedinnajad, prophecying the world domination of Shiite Islam, in order to understand the real intentions of Iran's rulers. 75 years ago the world dismissed Hitler's bragging and threats as something that can pose no danger. It appears that the world has not learned the historical lesson of that fatal mistake.

Anonymous said...

Henry,

Anyone who has not learned from Iraq is a true moron. For what ever reason, there is a a group of powerful people who want to see us engage in a series of wars in the Middle East. It is madness.

Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me. We wont be fooled again.

rosserjb@jmu.edu said...

Anonymous 1,

The obvious object of Iranian military developments is defense against Israel and an ability to dominate immediate neighbors. Even if they got nuke weapons, would the ability to hit Budapest bring "world domination"? You have to be kidding. Germany in the 1920s and 1930s was one of the leading industrial and militayr powers in the world.

Oh, and the last time that Persia/Iran invaded a neighbor was in the late 1700s. There is a lot of loudmouthed ranting by Ahmadinejad that does not get repeated by his superior, the Vilayat-el-faqih.

Anonymous said...

Anyone who uses 'Ahmadinejad', and 'Vilayat-el-faqih', in the same sentence, without misspelling either name, is NOT a moron. (Which also makes me 'not' a moron). ~ray l love
( Barkley, your site refuses to recognize me, or my password?)

Suffern AC said...

Couple of points.
1) Since the public rhetoric about Iran in the U.S. usually ranges narrowly from merely 'hostile' to 'bellicose' it is sometimes very hard to find major policy shifts in the finer nuances of the language. I thought that the policy shift towards nations such as Iran in this administration was that the U.S. would not be adopting "regime change" as the ultimate goal. In the case of Iran, I did not think that the goal of U.S. policy for Iran would be that "the world would be a more stable and better place if Iran had nuclear weapons." Instead, I thought it would be, "If Iran wasn't afraid that the U.S. would drop bombs on Iran in an effort to overthrow the regime no matter what the regime did, and if the U.S. didn't attempt to destablize Iran internally no matter what the regime did, Iran might not build bombs or threaten to drop bombs on Israel" or something like that.

Clinton seems to be calling for the civilian and religious authorities in Iran to reign in the influence and actions of the Revolutionary guard. The part of the new policy where the U.S. doesn't publicly make statements to threaten the existence of the regime in Iran seems to still be in place. The part where the U.S. doesn't publicly support an overthrow of the regime is still in place. The part where the U.S. will attempt to isolate Iran if it pursues nuclear weapons seems to be in place. The part where the U.S. will fight a preemptive war to prevent Iran from gaining nuclear weapons may or may not be in place. (I can't tell for certain if the Bush Doctrine is on or off, I admit that.) How is this a new hawkish shift in policy?

Here is the defense department being dovish back in July.
http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601109&sid=aMiQmByND.2A

2) Not every regime change will do. A situation in Iran where security authorities are in charge is a very different Iran than was in place before. Are there signs that this is happening? I am not certain how to read the "facts" presented to support her claims of an immanent military takeover. (9 of the 22 cabinet positions are now filled by people with ties to the Guard! I have no way to evaluate what that means.)

3) Major shifts in U.S. policy aren't usually made in speeches to university students. It seems that she is trying to to convince a group of students that U.S. policy is in their interests.

4) Hillary Clinton is acting like someone who is Secretary of State on a mission to gain support for sanctions against Iran if Iran starts developing nuclear weapons. She was in Saudi Arabia to gain a Saudi commitment that Chinese oil would not be cut off in the event that sanctions against Iran were necessary so that the Chinese would support these sanctions were they necessary. Since her actions are consistent with someone who is serving as a Secretary of State, I don't know why someone would interpret her actions with reference to a hypothetical presidential run.

The Secretary of State is going to be the public face of foreign policy, hawkish or not. She is going to have the lead public role in these efforts since right now the focus on Iran is diplomatic.

rosserjb@jmu.edu said...

Ray 1 love,

I do not know what is going on with the system. We have a system administrator whose name I do not wish to broadcast publicly. But, if you send me your email to me at mine, rosserjb@jmu.edu, I shall forward yours to the system admin.

Suffern,

You make valid points. Much of what is coming out from Hillary seems to be more noise and atmospherics than seriously substantive policy changes. It would seem that the Obama team are frustrated at the lack of response from Iran to his initiatives, and the latest reports that they are jerking around the IAEA, which has always played it straight with Iran in contrast with past US administrations and other parties, is clearly rattling them (and a lot of other folks).

Probably Hillary was doing in Saudi Arabia what you say, but that remains unclear. There may have been more. The Saudis are both very important in many ways in this, as well as pretty darned subtle. One should keep in mind that their foreign minister, Sa'ud ibn Faisal ibn Abdullah al Sa'ud, has held that job for a longer period of time than any other such official on the planet now and is about as smart as anybody in the top leadership there.

Suffern AC said...

Fareed Zakharia wrote on the same topic today in the Washington Post. http://tinyurl.com/Zakaria-WP

Basically opining that the U.S. should do the opposite of what it is doing. Instead of calling for the civilian and religious authorities to reexert control, should instead attempt to destabilize the country by supporting the Green movement. I understand his dream correctly, even if the Green movement fails, the resulting military dictatorship would be better, since military dictatorships act in calculating manners for self-preservation. (You know, like how when security forces are in charge, they do things to protect secrecy, like yanking the chains of nuclear inspectors in order to preserve themselves *sigh*).

Zakaria can write the article to appear reasonable as he posits his Iranmar outcome as more reasonable when compared to a US invasion supposedly advocated by Sarah Palin. I don't know how reasonable it would appear to be should an actual military dictatorship appear in a destabilized Iran rather than an imagined ideal one.