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The Race for Iran

IRAN AND THE GULF’S “NUCLEAR RACE”

As Iran’s nuclear program moves ahead and international agitation about the Islamic Republic’s nuclear activities intensifies, Arab states on the other side of the Persian Gulf are taking steps to develop their own nuclear capabilities.   To offer insights and perspective on the Gulf’s “nuclear race”, we are pleased to present this post by our friend and colleague, Jean-François Seznec.  (In March, we published Jean-François’s “Why Saudi Arabia Does Not Support a Strike on Iran”, see here.) 

Jean-François is Visiting Associate Professor at Georgetown University’s Center for Contemporary Arab Studies, where his scholarship and teaching concentrate on the influence of political and social variables in the Gulf on financial and energy markets.  He is currently focusing on industrialization in the Gulf, and, in particular, on the growth of the region’s petrochemical industry.  Jean-François has 25 years’ experience in international banking and finance, ten of which were spent in the Middle East, and is Senior Adviser to PFC Energy as well as a founding member and Managing Partner of the Lafayette Group, LLC, a U.S.-based private investment company.  He holds a MIA from Columbia University and a MA and Ph.D. from Yale University.  He has just returned from a trip to Saudi Arabia.    

From Jean-François Seznec: 

After more than 100 trips to Saudi Arabia in the past 35 years, 10 years of living in the Gulf (including two years in Riyadh), and three trips to the Gulf this spring alone (including a two-week stay in Saudi Arabia), I feel that I am just beginning to know what I don’t know.  Keeping this caveat in mind, this piece seeks to report on the nuclear issues in the Gulf, as well as the perception of the Iranian threat.

In Saudi Arabia, I was fortunate to attend a workshop put together by the Stimson Center of Washington and the King Faisal Research Center in Riyadh.  The workshop was attended by a number of experts on nuclear issues from the United States, Japan, the European Union (EU), Turkey, Saudi Arabia and elsewhere.

Some of the main points, which came out during the various meetings are:

1-    No one seems to doubt that Iran is pursuing a nuclear weapon capacity

2-    It seems to be common wisdom that the Arab countries of the Gulf, as well as Iran, desperately need to develop power generation and that such generation can no longer just come from natural gas or even crude oil.

3-    Burning crude or heavy fuel oil for power generation is heavily polluting and inefficient and takes away from profitable exports. 

4-    Alternative energies like wind and solar are promising but too unreliable and expensive for the time being.

5-    The only feasible and credible alternative to gas and oil to supply electricity and desalinated water will have to come from nuclear reactors.

There are of course other dimensions, which were subsumed in the meetings and not expressed as directly:

1-    If Iran develops nuclear weapons, it may gain a strong and unacceptable bargaining tool to use against its Arab neighbors.

2-    If Iran succeeds in developing only nuclear power generation capacity, it still would have a technological advantage, which until now has been maintained by the Gulf Arab countries in most industrial ventures.

3-    The consensus is that most Gulf countries will now pursue very active nuclear policies, all couched in terms of power generation.

The Gulf Arab states are approaching the formulation of their nuclear policies in a variety of ways.  The United Arab Emirates (UAE) contracted to purchase four reactors from Korea for $ 24 billion, with the first reactor coming on stream in 2017.  To achieve this, the UAE had to sign a so-called “123” agreement with the United States, which forces it to renounce enriching fissile material and have no control over the technology.  The Korean deal needed U.S. approval because most of the technology and some of the equipment included in the Korean contract will come from the United States.  The UAE chose to follow this route in spite of the fact that the reactors they purchased are not the most advanced. 

Of course, the UAE could easily give up on the right to enrich uranium, knowing that they would not have the means to develop technology by itself.  Their own population is so small that they would have great difficulty developing rapidly the manpower necessary to build their own nuclear capacity.   The Korean deal, however, gives the UAE a leg up in the race for nuclear prestige and advanced technology in electricity generation.  The Emirates may be a bit behind Iran now, but will catch up rapidly and overcome the Islamic Republic by 2020 with four reactors.

Saudi Arabia, by contrast, has a larger pool of technicians and engineers than the UAE—albeit not many trained and experienced in nuclear matters.  Given the right incentives and joint ventures with foreign partners, Saudi Arabia could eventually develop its own nuclear technology.  Traditionally, the Saudis have wanted to control and develop the technologies used in the Kingdom’s industrialization.  Control of technology brought from abroad has typically been secured through joint ventures or direct acquisition; once the Saudis secure control over technology originating outside the Kingdom, they typically work to develop it further in their own research centers. 

Hence, it is very likely that Saudi Arabia will not wish to submit itself to the rigors of a 123 pact with the United States.  It will not want to lose control of the technology involved or give up the possibility of enriching uranium indigenously

Of course, the main drawback of this approach is that it limits the places from which the Saudis can source the necessary technology.  If the Saudis wish to build their own nuclear industry, including uranium enrichment, based on the most advanced technology, they will have to work with France—at some considerable expense.  Furthermore, in the UAE case, it appears that the French were not willing to transfer technology on their third-generation reactors, which the Saudis would almost certainly demand.  Alternatively, the Saudis could turn to China or even Russia for older and not-as-highly regarded technology.

In any case, the Saudis—who signed a cooperation agreement on nuclear issues with the United States two years ago—are unlikely to bother negotiating a deal with the United States, Korea, or Japan.   Companies in Japan as well as Korea use U.S.-based technology and, thus, would require conclusion of a 123 agreement between Saudi Arabia and the United States.  As noted above, such an agreement would almost certainly preclude technology transfer to the Saudis and forbid uranium enrichment in the Kingdom.  Furthermore, the Saudis will almost certainly want to avoid being dragged through the mud by a virulently anti-Saudi U.S. Congress. 

It does appear that the fairly sudden interest in nuclear energy in the Gulf was not triggered just by the need for electricity.  The GCC states have known for some time that an increase in demand for electricity of 8% per year and an even greater increase in demand for desalinated water would not be sustainable if these states relied solely on natural gas or crude oil to generate electricity—certainly not without endangering economic growth.  The urgency which one can sense in the efforts of GCC states to move into nuclear energy was undoubtedly triggered by Iranian initiatives.  The Saudis do not want to be left behind Iran or even the UAE in terms of technological advance, ability to maintain industrial primacy, and—to a certain extent—nuclear bragging rights

A Nuclear Free Zone

It seems pretty clear that the Saudis do not have the wherewithal or interest to develop nuclear weapons.  This may explain the Kingdom’s efforts to promote the idea of the Middle East as a nuclear weapons free zone. 

The concept, of course, would have Israel give up its nuclear weapons against assurances that Iran would not pursue its program.  This idea is unlikely to win many converts, either in the present Israeli government or in Tehran.  One hopes that a nuclear free zone could be negotiated and presented as a major victory for each of the parties.  Iran would show that it could force Israel to back down and Israel could show that its tough policies have won its peace for the long term.  Many in the Gulf would like this outcome and would probably back it with substantial sums of money for all concerned.  But, it all sounds a bit too idealistic to see daylight. 

In the meantime, the Saudis are happy to promote any policy that would delay the Iranian program.  It seems that the GCC, as a whole, heartily supports sanctions against Iran, even at a substantial cost to the UAE in terms of trade and financial flows.  There is a feeling in the Gulf that Iran’s economy is on the verge of collapse.  Iran’s oil and gas fields are very poorly managed.  Iran is importing more gas than it exports.  It is still importing 130,000 barrels per day (bpd) of gasoline.  Economically, it finds itself increasingly isolated.  China is not the golden partner that Iran hoped for.  China now buys over 1million bpd of oil from Saudi Arabia and less than 300,000 bpd from Iran.  China is promising a great deal to Iran, but, as of yet, not one drop of oil has been produced by Chinese companies there.  The investments in gas fields and LNG projects signed by China are very much pie in the sky, in the sense that with a very low price for gas on world markets and plentiful supplies from Qatar, Chinese companies have very little incentives to live up to their MoUs.  The Iranian government keeps touting its own projects in petrochemicals, refining and oil/gas fields, while in fact achieving very little.  The sanctions will, of course, not stop imports, even of sensitive materials, but they are increasing costs substantially, thereby increasing pressure on the Iranian treasury.  

But, while the Gulf Arab states support and would applaud a collapse of the Iranian economy, it seems very unlikely—notwithstanding assessments offered by many in Washington and in Israel—that GCC governments would support military operations against Iran.  The interpretation of the discussions between an array of neo-conservatives and the UAE ambassador to the United States, Yousef al-Otaiba, in Aspen last month seems to reflect wishful thinking on the part of the Israel lobby rather than real views in the Gulf.  By and large, the Arab states fear that military action against Iran would be equivalent to kicking a hornet’s nest, pushing Iran to promote civil unrest in the Gulf, sabotage key industries, and limit the flow of oil.  [NB: Is this week’s “terrorist” attack on a Mitsui tanker in the straits a warning to the GCC?]  In essence, an attack on Iran could bring the economic miracle of the Gulf Arab states to a screeching halt, impoverishing everyone, endangering local regimes, and encouraging extremists

Many in Washington claim that GCC leaders say “in private” that they would support a U.S. attack on Iran, as witnessed by Ambassador al-Oteiba’s remarks.  However, I am firmly convinced that this is just not the case.  This understanding of “in private” statements reflects only a selective and self-serving hearing of Gulf leaders’ words.  

In the meantime, the Arab states of the Gulf wish to develop nuclear power generation, and the Saudis are likely to seek enrichment facilities.  Ultimately, they may want to reach a “Japanese state” of technological development, whereby they could have a strong base of nuclear power plants and be able to build weapons rapidly if they so desired.

In conclusion, it appears that the race for nuclear technology in the Gulf is as much a race to show which side has the strongest capacity for sophisticated development and the means to achieve it.  At this time, obviously, Iran is ahead.  However, the Arab states of the region are seeking to catch up.  They will spend the money and expand the manpower necessary to do so.  Judging from their successes in other advanced industries, they can use their extensive financial resources, political vision, and emphasis on technology to achieve industrial dominance in selected fields.  Indeed, they may win a nuclear race and overcome an Iran weakened by poor leadership and economic collapse, without the United States intervening to facilitate that outcome, beyond the imposition of strong economic sanctions.

–Jean-Francois Seznec

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41 Responses to “IRAN AND THE GULF’S “NUCLEAR RACE””

  1. James Canning says:

    Shouldn’t Seznec have called attention to the fact the South Koreans won the competition to build nuclear power plants in the UAE because their design is simpler and less expensive than the French proposal? The French probably will be obliged to produce a less-sophisticated proposal for future deals in the Gulf.

  2. Taheri says:

    A poorly written anti-Iranian piece.

  3. Iranian@Iran says:

    A pretty awful piece by a well funded pro-Saudi (Salafi!) propaganda writer.

    The natural gas reserves discovered by the Israelis are not all that big. For a population of 3-4 million people it will last 15-20 years. Also, the natural gas intillations will probably be destroyed in a war since Hezbollah says it belongs to Lebanon.

  4. Fiorangela says:

    fyi wrote: “In fact, sanctions against Iranian Oil & Gas are harmful to US allies in South and South East Asia, as well as EU states in that they increase energy prices.”

    Israel would gladly supply Europe and all comers with gas from either the deposit discovered off Askelon or Gaza’s natural gas trove, estimated at $4trillon worth.

    follow the money

  5. Sakineh Bagoom says:

    OK, sometimes friends have to give in to “friends” and colleagues. Sometimes “friends” do a lot of arm-twisting to a get a piece published on a good site like this. The French Seznec may still be reeling from the “Freedom Fries” and trying to make good for his American masters. This propaganda piece should not shock anyone! Iranians should be viewed as bass ackward, camel jockeys that don’t know any better.

  6. James Canning says:

    Rehmat,

    Why would Israel want to interfere with the provision of parts for Pakistani warplanes? Pakistani-designed, or owned?

  7. James Canning says:

    fyi,

    You are quite right to point out that the sanctions restrict the supply of oil and gas, and thus tend to raise prices.

    I don’t think the EU is looking for an Iranian “surrender” (regarding the nuclear programme), necessarily. Admittedly, there are numerous neocons and others trying to ensure the EU marches lockstep with the US in this matter.

  8. Rehmat says:

    James Canning – Pakistan has plenty of LNG resources which Chinese can buy. France has signed US$25 billion contract to buy LNG – which is being delayed because under Israeli pressure France has delayed the supply of parts for Pakistani redesigned JF-17 Thunders……

    http://rehmat1.wordpress.com/2010/07/31/chutzpah-israeli-puppets-bully-pakistan/

  9. fyi says:

    Fiorangela:

    US does not need to supress gas production in Iran to make gas production from shales economical. In the Mobile Bay, there are many man ygas fields a single one of which is could power US for 300 years.

    In fact, sanctions against Iranian Oil & Gas are harmful to US allies in South and South East Asia, as well as EU states in that they increase energy prices.

    What US and EU sanctions indicate to me is that they fully expect Iran to surrender on their terms.

    It is stupid but then GM was in decline for 25 years with multiple individuals warning GM leaders of disasters that could befell them, to no avail.

  10. Fiorangela says:

    kooshy wrote: “Iran has the second largest natural gas reserves in the world, is the 4th largest producer of natural gas in the world and 3 largest consumer of natural gas (after US and Russia) in the world.”

    strictly a coincidence, no doubt —

    the US has played out the Gold strike of ’49 (1849); the post-war pent-up-demand prosperity boom; the suburbanization boom, the silicon valley boom, the stock market boom, and the housing boom. This is a country desperately in search of a new boom.
    Like the one promised by Marcellus shale (Pennsylvania), Barnett shale (Texas), Fayetteville shale (Arkansas), Green River Oil shale (Wyoming, Utah).

    You don’t suppose US congresspersons are being pressured to carve Iran out of the competition for markets while US domestic shale gets up to speed, do you?
    Nah, never happen.

  11. Liz says:

    It is surprising to see such nonsense on such a good website. Regimes like Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, and the UAE are run by westerners and slaves from India, Pakistan, the Philippines, and Bangladesh do the hard work. Go to any supermarket in these countries and you will have difficulty finding anything, other than Colas canned in Saudi Arabia, that are produced in these countries. They import cars, medicine, food,…The author is obviously well fed.

  12. Iranian says:

    I’m surprised to see such heavy propaganda for Arab dictatorships on this website. The UAE and Saudi Arabia do not compare in any field with Iran. Iran has sent satellites into space, it has a sophisticated home grown military industry, a strong high-tech industry, what do these two countries have?

    I wonder who pays for all the trips to the Persian Gulf made by Jean-Francois Seznec? Is it his prize for his propaganda pieces?

  13. rfjk says:

    Richard Steven Hack

    “This happens over and over throughout human history, Humans have no capacity to learn.”

    Its called human nature.

  14. kooshy says:

    Iran has the second largest natural gas reserves in the world, is the 4th largest producer of natural gas in the world and 3 largest consumer of natural gas (after US and Russia) in the world. Iran to rapidly grow and develop to become an industrial goods exporter nation in its immediate region (where Iranian made exporting goods are easily marketed), and not solely relying on energy export in next coming decade which is impossible to maintain for a nation of 80 plus million, Iran is the only country in the region who has the geography for adequate demography, water, and cheap energy for becoming a possible industrial goods exporter.

    To many Iranian experts opinion Iran made a correct decision to use the cheapest and most available form of energy, natural gas, for its own industrial development, if it wasn’t for converting to natural gas for domestic energy use today Iran would not have been able to export any of its oil and for that matter petrochemical products. Iran is not Qatar it produces and extracts a lot more gas then Qatar but correctly for domestic cheap use of energy to make industrial development possible, like one old Persian proverb says the “light that is needed at home is forbidden to be used at the mosque”

  15. James Canning says:

    I think it would be so obviously idiotic for any Gulf country to develop nukes, it should almost go without saying. As Libya’s Gaddafi noted some time back: nukes are expensive, and dangerous for the country that has them.

    Is it possible that M. Seznec is not aware of Iranian governmental policy on nukes? Iran seeks elimination of nukes globally, and especially in the Middle East.

    Surely M. Seznac is aware that no Israeli government is likely to support eliminating Israeli nukes. Without a great deal of pressure from the US.

  16. James Canning says:

    David Sheegog,

    With the current glut of LNG, the Chinese have little reason to rush ahead with development of gas in Iran, but the Chinese obviously see that current market conditions are only temporary. The US, of course, has been trying to arrange for ever higher purchases of Saudi crude, by China, so that purchases of Iranian crude are lower.

  17. James Canning says:

    M. Seznec asserts that “the Middle East as a nuclear weapons free zone . . . is unlikely to win amny converts in the present Israeli government or in Tehran.” In fact, this is current policy for the government of Iran, to seek a Middle East free of nukes. Any Israeli government, on the other hand, is virtually certain to oppose such a policy.

  18. Rehmat says:

    The only nation which has stood up to Israel and inflicted a military humiliation of thw world’s fourth powerful army – happens to be Lebanon. Atonishingly, in this fight – some Lebanese women came out as the wra heroes.

    http://rehmat1.wordpress.com/2010/08/08/lebanons-female-freedom-fighters/

  19. Fiorangela says:

    “Israel could show that its tough policies have won its peace for the long term. ”

    not likely.

    Israel has never been on a quest for peace, only for pacification. Were Iran to concede to Israeli/US wishes, either the goalposts would be moved for Iran or Israel would discover a new “existential threat” or both.

  20. David Sheegog says:

    I agree with the consensus view of the comments that most of Seznec’s article is propaganda. However, he points out something that Paul picked up on that I believe is important:
    Seznec: “China is not the golden partner that Iran hoped for. China now buys over 1million bpd of oil from Saudi Arabia and less than 300,000 bpd from Iran. China is promising a great deal to Iran, but, as of yet, not one drop of oil has been produced by Chinese companies there. The investments in gas fields and LNG projects signed by China are very much pie in the sky, in the sense that with a very low price for gas on world markets and plentiful supplies from Qatar, Chinese companies have very little incentives to live up to their MoUs.”
    Its almost as though China has done the ‘bait and stall’ re: Iran’s oil and gas development that Russia did with the nuclear power plant. As Paul said: “I think China is playing the same game that Russia has played with Iran for so many years, making noises and gestures in support of Iran, but moving steadily away from Iran.” Maybe, Paul, but it seems more likely that Russia and China have a gentlemans’ agreement to remain the two main powers doing any real business with Iran, but going slowly, not really moving away, because they need not hurry at all. The longer the US paints itself into a corner with sanctions and threats of war, the better the chances that China and/or Russia will win the ‘race for Iran’. Iran is the greatest remaining “prize” in the entire region and ‘winning it’ with regime change vis-a-vis the US plan, is not as likely (as fyi states) as “China and Russia who will pick up Iran on the cheap” winning it. We’ve snookered ourselves with bass-ackward foreign policy… again.

  21. JohnH says:

    Seznec raises an important point when he talks about Saudi Arabia’s desire for control of the technology. Local governments do not want foreign companies controlling their industrial crown jewels. And, after these countries’ experience with international oil companies, who can blame them?

    After the US signaled that it was willing to hold the supply of nuclear fuel hostage to its political games (TRR), any nation that depends heavily on nuclear power will want to reassess its dependence on the nuclear cartel for technology and fuel supply.

    Countries with the financial and educational resources to enrich their own uranium will certainly do so, increasing nuclear proliferation. Obama was an idiot to play games with the TRR fuel supply.

  22. GJC2E8JTSJ62 says:

    I’ve must admit. I found the “Technical post” far more enlightening than this biased report.

  23. The reason the corrupt monarchies of the Arab states assume Iran is conducting a nuclear weapons program is because they project their own corruption on Iran, not to mention that they wouldn’t mind having “money for nothing and their nukes for free” which is basically how they treat everything. Since they are even weaker than Iran in terms of their military and economic potential, naturally they fear Iran. It’s standard human – read “primate” – behavior.

    As for the author, well, he’s French, right? And who will benefit from selling nuclear reactors to the Arabs? France. Sure, he’s in the US now, but I imagine with a bit of work his French bias could be demonstrated.

    More importantly, I don’t see the point of the article. First it says what is probably obvious, that the Arabs assume Iran wants nukes. Then it says the Arab states don’t want a war with Iran – also a pretty obvious position for them. Then it says the Arab states want the tech Iran has – also obvious.

    Then it says Iran will fall apart and the Arab states will be better off than Iran. This statement is unsupported by much of anything except a recital of how current oil prices have delayed Chinese development, and how Iran is still short of gas. The pessimism is considerable, but not really supported by anything concrete, just an extrapolation of the present into the future.

    The article doesn’t contribute much to what we already knew. It would have been more interesting to examine the implications for the so-called Iran “crisis” once half a dozen more Arab states have nuclear reactors, even without uranium enrichment. Especially since, despite the so-called 123 agreements, any of these states could just as easily start a uranium enrichment project at any time. What does the US and Israel do then when Saudi Arabia is enriching uranium? Nuke the oil fields?

    The point is not that any of these states necessarily will do so, but that ultimately any of these states COULD do so. The only way for Israel to deal with that situation is for it to convince the US to destroy Iran, and then convince the US to threaten any other state with the same level of destruction.

    Since the Saudis have the oil, it will lead to a difficult decision process for future US Presidents. Support Israel at the cost of the oil? Dump Israel instead and accept enrichment by at least a couple more Arab states?

    Once again, the issue boils down to the EXISTENCE of the Zionist state. Several Arab states with nuclear power is not a big deal. Several states enriching uranium and thus achieving a “breakout” capability IS a big deal as long as Israel exists. The only thing Israel has is its advantage in terms of time – it already has more nukes than any Arab state is ever likely to accumulate in the next twenty or thirty years. So Iran is no threat by itself, as I’ve argued. Half a dozen Arab states in addition to Iran with nuclear weapons capability and Israel becomes untenable, or at least the MAD doctrine becomes shaky, especially if any one of those states achieves second-strike capability even on a lower level than Israel’s.

    Fortunately this is an issue for twenty or thirty years down the road – by which time, Israel may already have been forced into a bi-national state by Arab demographics or international pressure against an apartheid regime. Which would neuter the problem of Arab nukes entirely, except to the degree that the Arabs would like to threaten each other, of course.

    Arnold’s point that the Arab states are under the control of the US for the most part is also relevant. The US can probably keep them from uranium enrichment for most of that time, especially as the Iranian enrichment continues on for another decade or two with no Iranian bomb in evidence.

    Unfortunately a US or Israeli strike on Iran in the meantime could cause Iran to try to build nukes. Personally I doubt Iran would do so, but it’s far from impossible. And that would motivate the corrupt monarchies to follow suit, projecting their own fear of Iran. So once again, the usual human attempt to stop something from happening out of fear of the consequences will immediately cause them to act in such a way as to ensure those consequences occurring.

    This happens over and over throughout human history, Humans have no capacity to learn.

  24. Rehmat says:

    The writer seems to be one of those “arm-chair” experts who are in abundance this age when it comes to the Muslim world.

    1. Of course “no one seems to doubt that Iran is pursuing a nuclear weapon capacity” – because the disinformation is coming from the masters in Washington and London, who are, as usual, interested in “divide and rule”. And how many other non-Muslim countries already such “capability”, other than Japan, Canada, Germany, Argentina, Brazil, South Africa, etc.? Of course these countries don’t pose a “Shia threat” to the western puppet Arab regimes.

    2. All the mentioned countries, with the exception of Saudi Arabia and UAE – don’t have the financial resources to even build a single modest-size nuclear plant (US$20-30 billion). The Saudis and UAE Sheikhs never have the ability to protect their regimes except help from London or Washington.

    3. To pursue a nuclear program, the country’s leadership needs the courage and vision to make stand against the western nuclear power. Something, which none of the rulers of the Arab League has – and plus why would their masters in Washington, London and Paris, who are controlled by Israel – allow any Arab country to have nuclear arsenal which some day in the future could be used against Israel?

    I can list dozen of other reasons in support of the impotence of the Arab rulers to go for nuclear programs of their own and Islamic Iran being not pursuing military nuclear technology or posing a military threat to its neighboring Arab countries – but that would not stop the on-going Hasbara lies about the Islamic Republic.

    http://rehmat1.wordpress.com/2010/04/07/israel%E2%80%9Cbomb-bomb-bomb-bomb-bomb-iran%E2%80%9D/

  25. Arnold Evans says:

    Articles about Saudi Arabia, UAE, Kuwait, Jordan, etc, really are remiss when they fail to mention that the US government has more leverage with their leaderships than their own people.

    These countries, in an essential sense, are colonies – with the United States playing the exact same role today that Great Britain played 100 years ago in relation to them.

    The United States does not want there to be any nuclear capability in the region except for Israel’s. The United States’ desires are those countries’ primary “strategic calculation”. It misses the most important point to create other rationales for these countries adopting policies in line with the desires of their ruling power.

    Barack Obama is, in the Middle East, as much or more of a colonialist than Winston Churchill. Any article about policy making among the colonies that omits that point does its readers a disservice.

  26. kooshy says:

    Iran is the country who is currently feeding the Persian gulf states as well as Iraq with food products, if one goes to Bandar-e-Lengeh and smaller village ports on the north Persian Gulf can see on daily bases many, many traditional small Motor boats leave Iranian ports with agricultural food products of Iran for smaller villages on south side and come back with smuggled electronic goods, load them on back of camels and send them north to Lar and Grash, Darab most of times unattended since camels can be trained to travel without needing an attendant, locally they are called Chatrebaz (Chatre means umbrella in Persian) since they are holding up umbrellas to prevent the sun

    Kuwaiti is continuously begging to buy water from Iran, which Iran will not sell, if they did there will be a new revolution in Iran, the problem for development in that region of the world is water, there is not a single river in the Arabian Peninsula all the way to the Nile. Therefore these states can’t possibly demographically grow too big to become a problem economically or strategically for Iran.

  27. fyi says:

    paul:

    I think that an Iran-US War is in the strategic interests of a number of states including China and Russia who will pick up Iran on the cheap.

    Israel will like it although it will be damaging to that state as US will have to abandon the defense of Israel due to the increase cost of the doing so. [That is, US will be forced to manitain, indefinitely massive number of assets in the Persian Gulf.]

    For different reasons, neither India nor Pakistan would want such a war.

    Recall that for the Western states, the strategic prize is the change in the orientation of the Iranian state. A war is not going to bring it.

    So, I am not concerned about the possibility of a war that much.

    I think Mr. Obama might have tried to negogiate with Iran but with faulty strategic understanding which had not taken into account the realities of the situation. I think he is being poorly advised – at a minimum.

    In regards to US scene, I agree with you that it is disturbing that so many Americans seek a war with a country that does not seek a war with them.

    It is rather perverse that Chinese, who were murdering the American wounded in the Korean War, and had supported Vietnam to the hilt during the US-Vietnam War, are considered friends of the United States to the extent that US sold off her industrial jobs to that country to support her military machine.

  28. fyi says:

    kooshy:

    Of course he is writing this to get invited back.

    The Shah of Iran had these types of things printed about him.

    I suspected that those authors or publications got paid by him too.

  29. kooshy says:

    FYI

    Not excited at all, what he is suggesting is a wishful thinking, if he thinks the southern Persian Gulf state lets can become technologically advance and industrialized.

    Even if they import technology and operational staff, one should ask him with what water? This guy is like Shah’s era foreign advisers he makes rosy opinions to get invited back. For people who know geography and demography they know not even one sentence of what he wrote is achievable, one can accept that region can become a financial or trade center, but not an industrial center, not only technically but even financially not workable.

  30. paul says:

    Fyi, I wouldn’t argue for a moment that the ‘West’ is more inured to fantasy than the rest of the world. Only, we have a lot of power. We are like delusional children setting fires everywhere. We need to wake up from our dreams. We don’t have to set the world on fire. We can live in real harmony, not domination, but we’d have to wake up and make that choice.

  31. paul says:

    Regarding the views of the Arab states in the Gulf: I don’t think it’s very hard to read between the lines. They seem to be in favor of an attack on Iran, for reasons that probably have to do with economic rivalry and fear, ironically, of the DEMOCRATIZING influence of Iran (which, though much maligned, and rightly so, appears to be far closer to democracy than most of the gulf states), but what they DON’T want is a lot of blowback. So what the Obama Regime will surely do is attempt to convince them that there will not be a lot of blowback. And I don’t think this will be as hard as many alternapundits are claiming. Isn’t it obvious that the US and allies will be able to establish air dominance over Iran quickly? And once that is accomplished, Iran will not be able to do much, in terms of reprisal.

    And while the Green Revolution seems to have subsided quite a bit, that was never essential, I think. What was always essential, from the point of view of US planners, I suspect, was the Rafsanjani/Mousavi faction, a faction which I think the US expects will be much more pliable, once in power.

    As we have seen so often with Obama, his actions will be judged not in terms of right or wrong, but on the basis of whether he succeeds or not. If he is able to accomplish a regime change in Iran, with minimal blowback to other countries in the region, he can expect another Nobel Prize. It won’t matter whether it’s right for many nations to gang up on one for no particular reason. It only matters that they can.

    Xinhua has a disturbing article today, about Iran …

    http://news.xinhuanet.com/english2010/indepth/2010-08/07/c_13434335.htm

    … on the surface, this article is reassuring, in that it declares a US attack on Iran unlikely. But use critical thinking and look beyond the surface: the deeper message has two key elements; on one hand, the xinhua article simply takes it for granted, as is done increasingly, that Iran DOES have a dangerous nuclear weapons program that MUST be stopped, and that FORCE is appropriate to stop it. This is an argument for war. From there, the Xinhua goes on to build a portrait of Obama as someone who is exhausting every possibility short of war, which is certainly a charming picture of Obama, but one that flies in the face of reality. In reality, Obama has not even tried negotiation in a sincere way. This article seems to reflect a China that is moving shockingly quickly from opposition to sanctions to agreement to sanctions to being willing to go along with war, while not actively participating. And if Seznac has anything useful to say, I think it is in relation to China. I think China is playing the same game that Russia has played with Iran for so many years, making noises and gestures in support of Iran, but moving steadily away from Iran.

    Events are moving fast. Clouds are gathering very very fast.

  32. fyi says:

    paul:

    Many non-Western, non-industrialized people live, to a larger extent that Western people, in their fantasy worlds. Arabs are not an exception.

    I suspect that in US, on the other hand, people have tried to ignore reality – not just at the state and government level but at all levels of the society.

    Different countries, different polities, and different problems.

  33. fyi says:

    kooshy:

    You are getting too excited.

    The sentence you quoted: “…they can use their extensive financial resources, political vision, and emphasis on technology to achieve…” – don’t you see? This is a piece of flattery.

    Paul:

    US & EU are teaching Iran how to fight, economically and otherwise.

    Israelis taught Hezbullah how to fight within a generation.

    And just like Israel, US & EU are going to find an unpleasant outcome.

    No reason to get excited, this is what statecraft is all about.

  34. paul says:

    Fyi, yes, it is a funny article, in a way. But the thing is, this kind of propaganda is already getting the lion’s share of media attention and play. IT DOESN’T NEED ANY MORE. Why would any alternative site give yet more play to the views already dominating the public debate almost to the exclusion of other views?

    I mean, yeah, it’s laughable. But yet, the situation where such bizarre and propagandistic views dominate is far from laughable.

  35. kooshy says:

    Jean-Francois Seznec

    “However, the Arab states of the region are seeking to catch up. They will spend the money and expand the manpower necessary to do so. Judging from their successes in other advanced industries, they can use their extensive financial resources, political vision, and emphasis on technology to achieve industrial dominance in selected fields.”

    Jean-Francois

    You may as well recommend to the country of France, the queen prostitute of proliferation in the world prior to AQ Khan, the one who proliferated nuclear weapons to Israel as early as 1950’s, to do the same for the small gulf friendly Emirs, that is the fastest way to catch-up to the Iranians, you know how fast with help of France Israel became a nuclear state.

  36. fyi says:

    paul:

    Actually I liked that the Leveretts published this article.

    All articles are, in so far as they express a point of view, may be considered a piece of propaganda.

    I found this article to be revealing of the mindset of those who have paid for it.

    “No war please, we will buy advancement [no need to sweat to earn it], and they will collapse and go away. And magically there will be peace too.”

    This is a very good example of “magical thinking” or “wishful thinking” in that part of the world – including Iranains. Although I do not think Iranains are the worst offenders here.

    It is a funny article, in a way.

  37. paul says:

    Ah, I’m not surprised that the apologist for the Ancien Regime has jumped in on this. Oh yes, the vicious economic war being waged against Iran is all Iran’s fault. Blame the victim is always the recourse of the aggressor. Always.

    And it really has to be pointed out that the barely hidden sentiments of glee in this article at the collapse of Iran’s economy, sentiments that seem to be attributed to the Gulf States, but which the writer would seem to share, seem nothing short of sadistic. An entire nation’s population is suffering, and that’s something to crow about? To celebrate? This is truly sick stuff.

    And that’s putting aside the utterly absurd pretense that it has nothing to do with the fact that Iran has been and is increasingly the target of an economic war.

    One has to wonder, where is the conscience, where is the decency, in the US-Nato-Israel complex? Is world domination reason enough? Is that all the ‘vision’ that matters?

    In the Might Makes Right Universe, I guess so.

  38. fyi says:

    Nasser:

    Go to the Periodicals Room of the Abdulaziz University which carries any imaginable scientific periodical from major science publishers.

    It is empty of students.

  39. Nasser says:

    “My understanding of the Southern Persian Gulf native population has been that there are very few among them who can perform actual work…”

    Never met one that didn’t weigh 300 pounds or weren’t affected with type 2 diabetes :) Also the only people I have ever met that were ruder and had more racist sentiments than Iranians. Jean-François Seznec calls Iran a “predator country” hahaha I rather like that term, but he is actually right about Iran’s ability to turn mismanagement into an art form.

  40. paul says:

    The lack of judgement shown by the Leverettes when they publish someone else is shocking. This is nothing but a miserable piece of propaganda. It’s just blatant. Look at a sentence like this one …

    “Indeed, they may win a nuclear race and overcome an Iran weakened by poor leadership and economic collapse, without the United States intervening to facilitate that outcome, beyond the imposition of strong economic sanctions.”

    … you couldn’t have a more blazing self-contradiction in a sentence, could you? No, you really couldn’t. It’s like saying that the Iranian economy has struggled despite the US not being involved in hurting the Iranian economy, beyond MASSIVELY HURTING IT. The whole thing is rank propaganda, and you say you are proud to publish this, Leverettes? This writer simply assumes that Iran has a nuclear weapons program that it probably doesn’t have. But wait, a meeting of Iran’s enemies agreed that Iran has a nuclear weapons program, so surely they must! The propaganda just goes on and on and on in this piece. The writer boasts that his pals in the gulf have more ‘political vision’. Oh, is that what we call it now when someone joins a gang (in this case, the US-Nato-Israel gang) because it’s the biggest gang around? What’s funny there is that Iran actually DOES appear to have a political vision and principles relating to that vision that guide it, a vision that champions the sovereignty of smaller countries. On and on this writer goes. He claims that Iran has had no success with improving its gas self-reliance, however recent reports indicate that it has had tremendous success over the past year. And here’s a real killer paragraph from the latest Race For Iran propaganda catapulter:

    “The concept, of course, would have Israel give up its nuclear weapons against assurances that Iran would not pursue its program. This idea is unlikely to win many converts, either in the present Israeli government or in Tehran. One hopes that a nuclear free zone could be negotiated and presented as a major victory for each of the parties. Iran would show that it could force Israel to back down and Israel could show that its tough policies have won its peace for the long term. Many in the Gulf would like this outcome and would probably back it with substantial sums of money for all concerned. But, it all sounds a bit too idealistic to see daylight. ”

    Oh yes, that really cuts to the chase, doesn’t it? Yes, we must pretend that Iran has a program it probably doesn’t have, because that seems to be Israel’s last remaining excuse for having a truly MASSIVE nuclear weapons program and stockpile, on the Rogue. Of course, if a deal was struck whereby Israel gave up its program in return for Iran giving up its (likely nonexistent) program, that is one Iran would almost certainly jump at. It would be a HUGE, immeasurable victory for Iran.

    I’m just disgusted at this read. The only reason to read this is to know what the anti-Iran propagandists are putting out there, and I already know that.

  41. fyi says:

    Jean-François Seznec writes, it seems to me, what Arabs like to hear. Why and how the Iranian economy is going to collapse is never explained. I would like to learn what mechanisms already are in place to achieve that.

    I would also like to know the industrial ventures in which Arab states of the Persian Gulf are ahead of Iran. Is it in aluminum smelting, petrochemicals, pharmaceuticals, electricity generation, avaiation, automobile manufacturing, or food processing? Which sector?

    My understanding of the Southern Persian Gulf native population has been that there are very few among them who can perform actual work – who is an expert, in the Western sense, in any technical field. That they could manage to produce technical staff for nuclear power stations, let alone for uranium enrichment, is something that I find hard to credit.

    In fact, to my knowledge only 2 Arab states had any capacity in nuclear sciences – Egypt and Algeria.

    I would like to be corrected if I am wrong.