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The Race for Iran

IRAN REACTS TO BECOMING A U.S. NUCLEAR TARGET

Photo from AFP

As we noted last week, the Obama Administration’s Nuclear Posture Review, issued last Monday, included a provision asserting a U.S. prerogative to use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear-weapons states that Washington deems not be in compliance with the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).  Following the release of the Nuclear Posture Review last week, both President Obama and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates clearly stated that this new provision in America’s declaratory posture regarding the use of nuclear weapons was aimed at Iran, along with North Korea and other potential “outlier” states.  (Even though the International Atomic Energy Agency has never concluded that Tehran is in breach of its NPT obligations, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and other Obama Administration officials have been asserting for some time that the Islamic Republic is not in compliance with the Treaty.) 

President Obama, Secretary Gates, and other Administration officials argue that making the Islamic Republic subject to nuclear first use will somehow incentivize Tehran to back away from the further development of Iranian nuclear capabilities and become more cooperative with U.S. nuclear proposals.  We find this argument nonsensical in its causal logic.  As we noted in our original piece, making Iran a potential U.S. nuclear target will, from a purely strategic perspective, reduce Tehran’s incentives for restraint in developing its own nuclear capabilities, not bolster them: 

“If Iran, as a non-nuclear-weapons state, will face the threat of nuclear ‘first use’ by the United States, why shouldn’t Tehran proceed to the actual acquisition of nuclear weapons”? 

Over the past few days, Iranian officials have been reacting to the Nuclear Posture Review—and, not surprisingly, they appear neither amused nor intimidated by the newest wrinkle in the Obama Administration’s Iran policy. 

It is remarkable that the Iranian/North Korean exception has not gotten more critical attention in the United States.  Republicans and hawkish Democrats appear to have bought the specious argument that threatening Iran with nuclear attack will somehow deter Tehran from further development of its nuclear capabilities.  (Republicans, of course, are generally unhappy with most other parts of the Nuclear Posture Review.)  More liberal Democrats and the professional arms control/nonproliferation community have been inclined to see the Obama Administration’s nuclear weapons policy as a “glass half full” rather than a “glass half empty”.  These actors portray the Review as, on balance, a positive step in the right direction of reducing the role of nuclear weapons in America’s military posture; they depict the Iranian/North Korean exception as an unfortunate byproduct of interagency compromise which can be “worked on” in the future.     

This is regrettable, because the Iranian exception is a serious step in the wrong direction for American policy toward the Islamic Republic.  Overall, Iranian reaction to the Nuclear Posture Review has focused on highlighting the illegitimacy of U.S. threats to use nuclear weapons against Iran and other non-nuclear-weapons states.  According to Iranian media, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei told senior military commanders on Sunday that President Obama’s threats to use nuclear arms against Iran

“are very strange and the world should not ignore them because in the 21st century, the century of claiming to advocate human rights and fight terrorism, the head of a country has threatened a nuclear attack”. 

Khamenei added that

“these remarks show that the U.S. government is a wicked an unreliable government…In recent years, the Americans made many efforts to show that the Islamic Republic of Iran is unreliable in the nuclear issue…it is now clear that the governments that possess atomic bombs and shamelessly threaten to bomb others are the unreliable ones.  Therefore, the U.S. president’s remarks are scandalous.” 

Also on Sunday, parliament speaker Ali Larijani added his own criticism of the Nuclear Posture Review, charging that threatening nuclear first use against Iran and other states violates the NPT.  The spokesman for Iran’s Foreign Ministry said that the Iranian government would lodge a formal complaint with the United Nations regarding the Obama Administration’s nuclear stance toward the Islamic Republic. 

Iranian officials have said repeatedly, over years, that the Islamic Republic does not want nuclear weapons and is not seeking them.  Furthermore, political and religious authorities have said that acquiring nuclear weapons would be a departure from Islamic ethical standards.  (In this regard, it is interesting to note that Iran decided not to weaponize and use chemical agents during the Iran-Iraq war, even though Saddam Husayn subjected both Iranian military forces and civilian targets inside Iran to chemical attack.)  Our understanding is that, within the Islamic Republic’s decision-making circles, Ayatollah Khamenei has steadfastly rejected the weaponization of Iran’s growing nuclear capabilities—and that opposition to nuclear weaponization remains his position.  Certainly, Ayatollah Khamenei’s public statements on the subject are consistent with such a position. 

This is important in the context of the Islamic Republic’s political order and culture.  Given Tehran’s record of official and religious rejection of nuclear weapons, for Ayatollah Khamenei to shift course at some point in the future and endorse nuclear weapons fabrication by the Islamic Republic would require him to explain, to the Iranian public and his followers throughout the Shi’a world, how Iran’s strategic circumstances had changed to such an extent that it was now both necessary and legitimate for the country to develop a full-fledged nuclear deterrent.  But, as a highly regarded Iranian analyst pointed out to us last week, having the United States threaten to “nuke” the Islamic Republic could plausibly be an important element in the changed circumstances that might warrant a fundamental shift in Iran’s posture toward nuclear weapons

There is no indication that Iran’s leadership is preparing to depart from its longstanding position regarding the acquisition of nuclear weapons.  But America’s nuclear weapons policy should not incentivize nuclear proliferation—and that, unfortunately, is precisely what the Obama Administration has done.  In the wake of the Nuclear Posture Review, we anticipate that Tehran will be even more inclined to push the development of its nuclear capabilities to a point where it will be perceived as having all of the major “building blocks” for fabricating nuclear weapons, should the Iranian leadership at some future point decide that such a step were necessary to ensure the Islamic Republic’s survival.     

–Flynt Leverett and Hillary Mann Leverett

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62 Responses to “IRAN REACTS TO BECOMING A U.S. NUCLEAR TARGET”

  1. mrmb says:

    @ Mark Fitzpatrick,

    Here is the mission statement from IAEA web site, no interpretations required:

    Mission Statement
    The International Atomic Energy Agency:
    is an independent intergovernmental, science and technology-based organization, in the United Nations family, that serves as the global focal point for nuclear cooperation;
    assists its Member States, in the context of social and economic goals, in planning for and using nuclear science and technology for various peaceful purposes, including the generation of electricity, and facilitates the transfer of such technology and knowledge in a sustainable manner to developing Member States;
    develops nuclear safety standards and, based on these standards, promotes the achievement and maintenance of high levels of safety in applications of nuclear energy, as well as the protection of human health and the environment against ionizing radiation;
    verifies through its inspection system that States comply with their commitments, under the Non-Proliferation Treaty and other non-proliferation agreements, to use nuclear material and facilities only for peaceful purposes.

    Now here is your statement:
    To correct one factual misrepresentation in this posting: Yes, the IAEA has never found Iran to be in violation of the NPT, but it never will. Just as it never did in the case of North Korea. The IAEA does not draw conclusions about nations’ adherence to the NPT. It can only determine that a nation is in violation of IAEA safeguards agreements. The IAEA has done this for Iran. And since implementation of the safeguards agreement is an integral part of a nation’s NPT nonproliferation obligations, it is entirely fair and logical for many governments, including the US, to state that Iran has been found not to be in compliance with the Treaty.

    I am going to leave it to others to draw their own conclusions. The IAEA was correct on Iraq (over a million killed and 4 million displaced) and people like you chose to ignore it for political ends. The IAEA has always declared that Iran has not diverted any material to a military program. The IAEA under intense political pressure from the zionists and their lackies in US administration(s) and congress has kept the Iran file open as a tool of blackmail. There are no legal or technical justification for the IAEA actions except intense zionist pressure on the board of governors.

    The IAEA should however inspect all nuclear weapons labs, processing facilities in the US and go through every lab and facility in Israel and establish a comprehensive monitoring program for two of the biggest violators of NPT: US and Israel. Once thats done then some loud mouths in and out of the government can wrap themselves in a flag and start shouting at other countries. Till then these hypocritical moralistic claims by a bunch of duplicitous and hypocritical liars will be viewed as worthless. BTW, until I see GW and Dick C. and Don R. and other criminals who lied us into a war in a court of law being prosecuted for war crimes I wont beleive a word coming out of the mouths of our elite. I dont need to be lied to more than once to realize who I am dealing with.

    What is a known fact is that Iran has not started a war in recent memory. Not used WMD against anyone. However we cant say the same thing about US and Israel. Two loud mouths that have a clear criminal history in starting numerous wars of aggression with the US being the only government in the history of mankind to have used nuclear weapons against civilians but somehow instead of its leaders who ordered such a criminal act and those who continue to defend and support it, be prosecuted for war crimes they have become loud mouths who preach morality to the rest of the planet. What a ridiculous joke.

    For those who are interested in a clear and unbiased analysis on this subject please refer to Physicist Dr. Gordon Prather’s articles and interviews on this subject at http://www.antiwar.com

  2. Mark Fitzpatrick says:

    To correct one factual misrepresentation in this posting: Yes, the IAEA has never found Iran to be in violation of the NPT, but it never will. Just as it never did in the case of North Korea. The IAEA does not draw conclusions about nations’ adherence to the NPT. It can only determine that a nation is in violation of IAEA safeguards agreements. The IAEA has done this for Iran. And since implementation of the safeguards agreement is an integral part of a nation’s NPT nonproliferation obligations, it is entirely fair and logical for many governments, including the US, to state that Iran has been found not to be in compliance with the Treaty.

  3. Rehmat says:

    On April 2, Barack Obama in response to Harry Smith’s (‘One-on-One’, CBS) question on Islamic Repulic’s nuclear program at the White House basketball court – showed his total submission to the Jewish Lobby. Without any new proof or hesitation he accused Iran of pursuing nuclear capability to make weapons which would initiate an nuclear arm race in the Middle East (as if the Zionist entity which has possessed over 240 nuclear bombs for the last three decades, is not located in the Middle East). He also lied that Iran has been “more isolated” since he moved into the White House. The fact is his own national ratings (as per CBS poll) are at the lowest point (44%) and it’s the US which has been isolated in the world due to its blind support for Israel and its international bullying especially in South America. Obama, then used Dubya Bush’s coined threat “all options are on the table” to cover his lies.

    It’s interesting to note that while Barack Obama keeps the “option on the table” for Iran’s non-existant nuclear arsenal – he has alway maintained a duct-tape on his mouth when it comes to Israel’s existing nuclear arsenal.

    Obama ’s “carrot and pressure” diplomacy during the recently concluded Nuclear Security Summit in Washington to bring Russia, China, India, Brazil and Turkey failed once again. They all believe that Tehran’s nuclear program is not for the military purposes and that Israeli fear of a nuclear Iran should be resolved by peaceful negotiations. This leaves the Western ZOGs (the US, Britain, Germany and France) and Israel for the “Crippling sanctions” followed by a “military option” against Tehran.

    http://rehmat1.wordpress.com/2010/04/14/obama-all-options-are-on-the-table/

  4. kooshy says:

    Alan,

    Thank you for your comments, unfortunately with regard to Iran’s Nuclear rights, there is a similar altitude with many of Iranian intellectuals, especially with Greens and the expatriates, as is evident by the vote they cast in the last Presidential election of June 09, and the Greens position with proposed swap deal of October.

    To my understanding, this group’s position is that any resolution of the nuclear standoff between Iran and the west will enhance and cement the current Islamic system in place for a long time to come. In other words, since in Iran currently no one politically or even physically affords to agree, to let go, some, or all of Iran’s NPT rights, and because of this groups deep hate for the current Islamic ruling system, therefore they prefer a status quo verses a resolution of the nuclear standoff.

    There is a funny Yazdi Iranian proverb, which I have heard from my mother since my childhood, it perfectly matches this group of Iranian’s reasoning
    for this issue. Translation of it is “To get even with whom who is washing your dirty cloths, one shouldn’t shit in his own pants”

  5. David Sheegog says:

    James Canning,

    I didn’t mean to imply that Israel as US ‘aircraft carrier’ made any sense, or, for that matter, that any of US policy toward Israel makes any sense. If Israel fell into the sea tomorrow it would not change the political dynamics of the region, except eliminate one of the distractions/misdirections used by Arabs and US alike to divert attention from their internal politics and the politics of oil. When FDR made the ‘forever’ pact with King Saud in 1945 for US to be the protector of the Kingdom in exchange for oil, Israel was shaping as more than just a glint in the eye of the Zionist movement – the Zionists were on the verge of establishment of a state – a state that has been another tribal antagonist in a region which already had too many. We know that Truman had great hesitation about supporting creation of Israel, but I doubt that even his best military and political advisors would have predicted the extent of the mess we have today. The Zionist/neo-con strategy of wedding US to Israel has been more successful than their wildest dreams – to the detriment of the whole world.

  6. Alan says:

    Kooshy – I wouldn’t argue any of those points you made, they’re very interesting. I think the nuclear issue for Iran strategically is about independence as you say, and also about carving out a leadership role outside the main powers. There is a consistency to their actions that ultimately the West will have to respect I believe, because US strategy in the Middle East is still grounded, as Nadia Hijab says, in their perceived right to control and use the region as their own. That strategy simply can not work forever, or even for very long.

  7. Pirouz_2 says:

    @Pirouz:
    Thanks a lot for the source. Much appreciated.

  8. Dennis says:

    The Obama administration’s threat to use nuclear weapons against Tehran is similar to the Nixon and Kissinger pyschological strategy used against the North Vietnamese during the Vietnam War. Because the war could not be won on-the-ground militarily, the Nixon administration stepped up bombing on a massive scale along the Cambodia and Vietnamese border and over North Vietnam (always keeping the nuclear option open)in an attempt to intimidate and scare the North Vietnamese into believing that the US would use nuclear weapons to win the war. Of course we all know that strategy was a disastrous failure, just as their overall war policy was.

  9. mrmb says:

    First of all its irrelevant if Iran had CW capability in the 80′s or not. The fact of the matter is that Iran never used WMD of any sort against Iraq during the war. I do not recall seeing any evidence to support this allegation by the zionists and their cohorts in the western media or the political elite. However I have read plenty by zionist dominated western media that either alluded or explicitly mentioned Iran having used CW against Iran without any proof such as dead and wounded Iraqi soldiers or civilians. None will be offered anytime soon either.
    As far as the US latest nuclear military doctrine goes. Its criminal at best. It completely exposes the nature of the US governemnt for what it really is: a criminal gang that will not hesitate to lie, cheat, murder and steal no matter what the consequences.

    Its rather mind boggling, criminal, duplicitious and hypocritical for the US government who already has the criminal honor of using nuclear weapons against civilains in WWII and repeatedly since then has threatened non-nuclear weapon states with a nuclear strike in order to black mail them, to constantly cry foul about Iran’s civilain nuclear program, that even the US – zionist dominated IAEA board has not been able to definitively claim to be in violation of the NPT.

    If I was Iran, I would immediately start a military nuclear program and weaponize my delivery system to safeguard my country against criminals who will not hesitate to start WWIII on false pretexts and outright lies.

  10. James Canning says:

    David Sheegog,

    Are you serious? The propaganda line of neocons that Israel is an “unsinkable aircraft carrier” needed to ensure US access to oil is so obviously spurious I would urge you to think again.

    US military and foreign policy experts told Truman Israel would be a millstone around the neck of the US and adversely affect US relations with oil-producing Arab countries. This remains true today, more than 60 years later.

  11. James Canning says:

    Cold Wind,

    The solution to the long-standing problem of too many stooges of Aipac etc in the US Congress, is to expose the degree of the subservience those stooges show to a foreign country with interests directly hostile to those of the US.

  12. Dan Cooper says:

    .

    PT

    Excellent analysis

  13. kooshy says:

    I should have added, that majority of Iranian classical literature that Ms. Nafisi like me and any other Iranian is proud of, is mostly about this very subject, how to help the oppressed and standup to the unjust, and maintain your integrity, this all will be one’s highest of achievements in an earthly life, and in the eyes of the all mighty superior. Besides they are fiercely nationalistic even the post Islamic classical literatures of poets like Hafez and Sadie continually promote the concept of “Aiyari” which is mainly a Robin Hood life.

  14. kooshy says:

    Fiorangela , Alen

    I respectfully do not agree with Azar Nafisi’s assessment that the Iran’s recent Nuclear technology progress is not a point for national pride for majority of Iranians, it’s like to say, that landing in moon is not something that American are proud of, since they have 17% unemployment today. True that the Nuclear Technology was not discovered or invented by the Iranians. Knowing Iran’s culture and history one will understand, that cannot be the point, the point that makes the Iranian’s, proud of their recent achievements with respect to this new technology, is the Sovereignty, independence and above all defiance of the unjust powerful who have been preventing them, from something that they felt is their right and just. It’s “Yes we can” motto that Nafasi should know reading Iranian and Shih Islam classical text like Shahnameh , or the events around Imam Husain, that has been the essential fabric of the Iranian culture.

  15. David Sheegog says:

    Wonderful discussion. We need to remind ourselves of the unspoken reason behind US aggression toward Iran – oil. It is only in this context that the US/Israeli relationship makes complete sense. If the US is to control the world’s access to the richest remaining deposits of petro-energy (Carter/Brzezinski doctrine), then that old metaphor of Israel as the US’s permanent “aircraft carrier” in the gulf defines an explicit military reason why both US and Israel are willing to be condemed by much of the world, and virtually all the Muslim world, when US-Israel actions in the region seem so clearly to be against the best interests of our people and the national interest of our countries. Its about oil. If Iran had no oil, there would be about as much interest in them as, say, Madagascar. Matthew Simmmon’s “Twilight in the Desert” (2005) makes clear that Saudi oil production has peaked; further, that the combined petro-resource reserves of Iran and Iraq far exceed that of any single country in the world. Indeed, Saddam’s failure to win the Iran-Iraq war and his later intransigence toward the US was information enough for our war planners to be at work on a strategy to take over the Shiia region long before 9/11. 9/11 was a very big stretch to provide the rationale for invading Iraq, and in the words of James Woolsey, “Iran next”, but that’s where the oil (and gas) is. Z-big’s doctrine is little discussed in the context of these ME wars and conflicts, and that lack of discussion is for a reason – the same reason that oil was never mentioned by a single soul in the Bush administration leading up to the Iraq invasion – not very civilized to take down a country to steal their natural resources. Too much like the brutal empire building of centuries past. Also little mentioned is the Saudi’s ambition to crush the Shia power across the Gulf, which they consider to be a medium to long term threat to their dominance in the region. The trilateral pact between Israel, US and SA has been ongoing for decades with little commentary anywhere – its about oil…again.

  16. James Canning says:

    I agree with Alan that the obvious course to follow, to achieve the nuclear swap of LEU from Iran, for 20% U from Russia/France, is to use a middleman.

    Why is Hillary Clinton not even discussing the issue? Is Hillary essentially a stooge for those who scheme to set up another insane war, and want to window dress the proceedings in order to obtain deniability?

  17. Bianca says:

    What a pointless discussion. Accusing a country of NPT violation, without IAEA actually saying so — then proceeding with UN SC sanctions, just as if any of this is real. Sending fuel for “reprocessing”, all of it — a good joke.

    How can we even talk about the rubbish. It does not pass a straight face test.
    We should just let our leaders know that we have no problem them taking more of our homes through their financial “instrument” shenannigans. The houses were not built that well, anyway. We do not mind them taking our kids for any wars — they are no good anyway. Take away out social security, please. It has been spent on wars anyway, so why even pretend that such a thing exists. By all means “reform” our health care. Our insurance companies skyscrapers are getting a bit shabby, and they need new ones. And these patriotic companies invested in Wall Street instruments, preventing the country from suffering the ill effects of poor bankers not getting their bonuses.

    All is well with the universe. Bankers got bonuses, and wars without end are on schedule. We just need more of them, a lots more.

  18. Alan says:

    Eric – I do; less can go wrong that way!

    Fiorangela – there’s a good piece from Nadia Hijab at the Institute for Palestine Studies entitled “Parsing Petraeus” which follows a similar theme to you http://www.counterpunch.org/hijab04132010.html

    Arnold – I suppose a deal is on offer insofar as the Iranians have made very clear what they would accept over the TRR, which as James repeatedly says is hardly onerous for the US.

    In theory that could still be done in isolation; although as it would not resolve the major issues to which the sanctions drive pertains, it seems impossible to do that deal on the one hand while pushing for sanctions on the other. That strikes me as being the conundrum the diplomats need to find their way out of.

    On the other hand, both issues, the refusal to supply the TRR plates and the UNSC resolutions on Iran’s enrichment (on which the sanctions are based), contravene Iran’s rights under the NPT, so Iran may well want to have both issues open and up for discussion at the NPT review.

    I agree there is no precipice quite yet (although there was in 2005-06), but that depends on US rhetoric, and how the US handles the Israelis and the Lobby. So far, the pattern has been to make belligerent statements and sideline the Israelis, but not follow through with anything concrete. The problem with that is the belligerence itself can grow its own head, particularly when there is no shortage emanating from Israel and the Lobby.

  19. joorip says:

    Invest in Rods from God ,Rapid Global Strike, The Hypersonic Cruise missile X-51 missile defense ,and alternative energy

    Engage Iran in a full scale cold war & arms race

    and get rid of the Khomeni followers that way.

    Eventually it will work

  20. 5 dancing shlomos says:

    israel wants to destroy hezbullah and hamas and to remove totally the palestinians and to take part of lebanon. to do this iran must be given the iraq treatment.

  21. Arnold Evans says:

    Further, I don’t think there is necessarily a deal in the offering, but I also don’t think there is a precipice. Any sanctions will be just like the sanctions in place now. Iran will respond as it always does by accelerating its nuclear program and Obama will be able to say he’s done everything he can.

    Iran do what the US wants and permanently forswear an option that the US admits prevents regime change, in other words that the US admits protects Iran from the fate Iraq suffered in 2003. The US can’t break itself, publicly, from the idea that it has to maintain Israel’s strategic advantage which includes nuclear.

    There is no common ground on which to make a deal. So what we have instead is the status quo, which in its own way is a deal. Until the US adds new sanctions, Iran will not substantially increase its LEU production, once it does, Iran and the US will reach a new equilibrium between economic impositions and Iran’s nuclear program.

    War is still, in practical terms, off of the table and we continue to wait.

  22. Arnold Evans says:

    I think it was Ray Takeyh who admitted that once Iran is nuclear capable the US will no longer be able to threaten to use force against it. John Bolton had said the same thing earlier – he said in the context of Iran’s program that if Bosnia had been nuclear capable, regime change would not have been an option.

    Iran having a Japan option provides primarily defensive value to Iran’s position. Iran’s motivation is not to neutralize Israel’s monopoly. That is just a side-effect. But it is also a side-effect that is unavoidable if Iran is to gain the defensive benefits of being nuclear capable.

  23. Eric A. Brill says:

    Alan,

    “The question is, is it easier to do a deal where both sides suddenly step back from the precipice, or is it easier to step back in stages and then do a deal? If the former, then brinkmanship will be the pattern.”

    I gather you favor the second alternative. So do I.

  24. Fiorangela Leone says:

    Alan wrote:
    <<>>

    Agreed.
    From Iran’s perspective, Israel is not the core issue.

    It may also be the case that, from Iran’s perspective, nuclear development is not the core issue, and here the discussion becomes circular.

    Azar Nafisi spoke at a conference in Washington, DC, yesterday, and noted that the development of nuclear technology is not the centerpiece of Iranian pride and national identity. She mentioned a conversation with an Iranian professor in Iran. The Professor said, “I don’t wake up every morning and think about how wonderful it is that Iran has nuclear technology. I wake up and wonder how I am going to pay for my house, how I am going to provide for my children’s education, if I will keep my job…”
    Earlier in the program, Nafisi spoke passionately of the touchstone of Iranian pride and culture; that touchstone, Nafisi said, is Iran’s poetry and literature, not its nuclear technology.

    It was not Iran that made nuclear technology the gorilla that it has become; Israel made Iran’s nuclear program the talisman (maybe boogeyman is a better word?) of Israel’s bid for hegemony in the region. Ephraim Sneh made a name for himself in the 1990s through his presentation to Knesset of the “threat” to Israel posed by Iran’s nukes. Sneh, then a deputy defense minister, used the claim to persuade Knesset to increase funding for his defense department wish-list.

    US piled on in two ways; firstly, US foreign policy is firmly committed to the ‘security’ of Israel. That principle is cemented in place through the extensive influence of Israel-centric agents who advance Israel’s interests and convince US representatives that US interests and Israel’s interests coincide. In turn, this commitment is circular: Israel extorts annual remittances from the US, and used a majority of that funding to purchase weapons from US arms merchants.

    Secondly, as you say, Alan, the US still functions under a neoconservative rationale that still has vestigial roots in America’s Puritan founders and that is reinforced by Old Testament/Israel-sympathetic references — that the US is an exceptional nation, with a god-given right-to-rule and a mission to spread democracy throughout the world. That exceptionalism and politicized proselytizing mindset imbues American leaders with the belief that it is not only appropriate for them to choose nuclear winners and losers, but even the obligation to do so.

  25. Alan says:

    I tend to agree that there is little real change in the nuclear posture toward Iran. Perhaps what we were all looking for was an easing of it; an attempt to change the current dynamic, and it didn’t happen.

    It strikes me that this is really part of the same game that has been played out over the TRR fuel. It is painting something as leverage that isn’t really leverage. There are still two ways out – sanctions and war, or a deal where simultaneously the West claims Iran succumbed to pressure while Iran claims the West caved in to their unflinching demand to their rights. The question is, is it easier to do a deal where both sides suddenly step back from the precipice, or is it easier to step back in stages and then do a deal? If the former, then brinkmanship will be the pattern.

    Regarding the NPT, I get the impression next month’s review looms large in Iran’s thinking and strategy. There seems the chance that Iran could utilise its position within the Non-Aligned Movement to demonstrate the double standards with which the nuclear powers approach the NPT. After all, it is the compliance of the 118 nations in the NAM which ultimately determines the extent of nuclear proliferation, and they have already shown strong support for Iran’s position.

    This has little or nothing to do with Israel by the way. As Israel is not in the NPT, and will not be for the foreseeable future, they do not feature. It is everything to do with how the West picks and chooses who can have access to nuclear technology WITHIN the NPT, demonstrated by the systematic obstruction of the Iranian nuclear energy program for decades. Why be in it if, in trying to use it as designed, your country is sanctioned and turned into an international pariah? This point is not lost on the NAM, which could make the NPT review interesting.

    On nuclear weapons, even there I don’t believe Iran’s thinking is shaped so much by Israel. The “Japan Option” seems almost inescapable for Iran simply as a tool to prevent the US, Russia, China and India from using Iran as an international battleground. However, the reverse is not the case. Iran having the “Japan Option” is anathema for Israel and they will do all they can to prevent it.

  26. keltrava says:

    It is easy to conclude that we are currently witnessing a well coordinated and planned international media campaign against Iran. Many pressing issues such as US health reform, the Israel USA spat over settlements and financial reform seem to have deliberately been taken off the news pages. One commentator even bemoaned the “untimely” Polish air tragedy as doing harm to the campaign.

    No one seems to be linking the Israeli bombing of the Iraqi nuclear reactor to the situation with Iran. The reason the Iraqi reactor was bombed was that it would soon become operational and once onstream would present an internationally unacceptable health risk if bombed then. Similarly with Iran.

    Israel knows that the attainment of nuclear weapons by Iran is virtually impossible. Israel just dosen’t want Iran to have nuclear energy. The nuclear arms arguement is simply a smokescreen to justify the bombing or disablement of Iranian nuclear plants.

    The divestment and sanction campaigns are simply to minimize the magnitude and possibility of lawsuits against Israel for losses suffered by International companies if Israel bombs Iranian nuclear installations. They are not intended to persuade Iran one way or another.

  27. Fiorangela Leone says:

    Dan Cooper posted:

    “”“I would hope that the lessons of Iraq, both in London and in the US have started to sink in,” he told the Guardian. “Sure, there are dictators,

    >>>>but are you ready every time you want to get rid of a dictator to sacrifice a million innocent civilians?”">>>>>

    Joe Sestak is campaigning for Arlen Specter’s senate seat. He fully endorses sanctioning Iran ie. destabilising Iranian economy in order to topple a ruling regime that does not kowtow to US demands.

    Sestak’s wife, Susan Clark-Sestak, wrote an analysis of US basing rights: http://www.dtic.mil/cgi-bin/GetTRDoc?AD=ADA419977&Location=U2&doc=GetTRDoc.pdf

    “”This paper explores the changing relationships between the United States and the
    five Central Asian nations of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and
    Uzbekistan as a result of the global war on terrorism. These nations have rendered
    varying degrees of support to the U.S. campaign, including agreements to allow the
    stationing of U.S. troops at air bases in Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan. Key questions for
    the future are what U.S. intentions in the region might be for the longer term, and what implications these plans might have for the regional balance of power, for U.S. bilateral relations with these nations as well as with Russia and China, and for domestic developments within these countries.

    It seems likely that Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, and possibly Tajikistan will figure in
    the new U.S. global basing posture for creating forward operating bases and locations
    with a minimal (if any) permanent U.S. military presence. When deciding such issues, it is vital that the U.S. government balance the benefits that such basing opportunities afford with potential drawbacks. Such drawbacks could include: negative effects on U.S.-Russian relations, fueling local opposition to the United States and thereby fostering the growth of anti-terrorism elements in the region,
    **and creating at least the perception that we are willing to sacrifice our principles of promoting democratic freedoms in exchange for basing rights.”"***

    At a recent Town Hall, Joe Sestak effusively praised Obama’s G 20 announcement that US would reposition missiles so that Russia was not threatened. He praised Obama’s argument to Europe that the new arrangement would “defend Europe from the threat of an Iranian missile attack.”

    With the thoughts of both Mr. and Mrs. Sestak in mind — that Iran is a threat to Europe, and that US sacrifices its principles in exchange for basing rights, take a close look at the map at the head of Leveretts’ “THE UNITED STATES, IRAN, AND THE MIDDLE EAST’S NEW “COLD WAR. ”” Iran is ringed by US bases.

    Who threatens whom?

  28. PT says:

    With friends like President Obama, the Nuclear Proliferation Treaty (NPT) has no greater mortal enemy. Israel has successfully maneuvered a totally NPT tone deaf Obama into throughly bastardizing the original intent of the NPT into Israel’s tool to validate and insure their NPT outlaw regional nuclear arsenal monopoly goes unchallenged.

    A better friend of the NPT’s premise would seek to persuade Israel to abaondon their NPT destabalizing nuclear arsenal and to seek the NPT’s protections. Instead, President Obama is irresponsibily destroying the very creditability of NPT’s protections with his coconspiracy of two nuclear weapons powers threating both nuclear and conventional attacks against a NPT member who seeks to utilize the nuclear rights guaranteed by the NPT. It is unmistakeable evidence that the NPT protections have been transformed by President Obama into a punitive tool to serve Isreal’s interests to maintain regional nuclear domination.

    President Obama NPT hypocracy has no limits when it comes to being Israel’s most servile American fool. It is no accident that only America and Isreal are blocking the Middle East Nuclear Weapons Free Zone (MENWFZ) treaty initiative supported by the entire region including Iran and the rest of world. This initative seeks to do for the ME what the South African’s did for the continent of Africa to remove the scourage of nuclear weapons.

    Isreal’s nuclear arsenal is the undeniable fundamental cause of the current NPT crisis because it is only reason why Iran would need let alone desire to build a nuclear counter force capability. That reason has a valid national security justification which is to render Isreal’s nuclear arsenal unusable against Iran. The NPT crisis can never be resolved by a path that seeks to preserve protect and defend Israel’s nuclear tyranny over her neighbors.

    Unfortunately President Obama is paralyzed by the patronage fears of a Chicago ward politican on a national scale. Words that ever recognize the existance of Israel’s 400 NPT outlaw nukes are words President Obama dares not let pass his lips.

    The harsh reality is President Obama is not ready for prime time to protect defend and preserve both America’s and the NPT’s vital interests with enhancing rather than destroying the creditablity of the NPT.

    President Obama (and our elected representatives) need to be confront at every opportunity with two fundamental questions that directly address the American and Isreal NPT hypocracy:

    President Obama, why is it in America’s national interest to make threats of nuclear and conventional war against a NPT member that only serves to validate and extend the monopoly of the ME’s only existing NPT outlaw nuclear arsenal?

    President Obama, why are you not supporting the MENWFZ diplomatic initiative that can resolve the current NPT crisis peacefully by ridding the entire ME of both existing and potentially new NPT outlaw nuclear weapons arsenals?

    oes not even allow to pass his “don’t ask don’t tell” trembling lips. which are a far more serious threat to the NPT and the entire region than the phony crisis of the Iraniam enrichment program which the NPT allows. they are guaranteed by the NPTthe most serious destabalizing threat to the outo protect now completes the thorough bastardization of the NPT in a despartate but futile attempt to extend the life o\\\ Israel’s NPT outlaw nuclear weapons regional hegemony from the possibilty of a potential Iranian counter with not so thinnly veiled threats to attack a NPT signatory member into the tortured rationale to bomb a NPT signatory member state’s

  29. ghouri says:

    This is a tragedy that the US always showed it,s muscles and made the world unsecure. This is not the first time that they have thretened Iran with nukes. They did the same with Saddam in 1991. Now as Pakistan say,s that our nukes are gaurantee agaist Indian agressions and ocuppier of Jammu and Kashrir and killer of 100000 Kashmiris and the US and the West are killers of 175 million men and women in the world since 20th century.
    US have send a message which every super power in the world had done to use might against weak nations. In this way the world will be made unsecure.I believe we can use economic might instead of nukes. This massage will encourage other nations to acquire nukes. Israel can smuggle Uranium and technologie from US and build huge nukes in the region and become threat to the Arabs is legal but Iran is enriching Uranium for peaceful use is a threat to us. When a nation is ethically bancrupt use such tactics God bless Americans

  30. Zia says:

    So much for Iranian restraint and signing on the NNPT! With a nuclear threat now leveled at it, Iran is fully within its rights to defend itself. And, if this means developing a nuclear arsenal, can anyone argue against it? Iran should have exactly the same rights and obligations as Israel; i.e., a carte blanche. With routine threats doled out by the Zionist entity in Palestine, Iran would do well to thumb its nose at the war-mongers in the US. That it remains engaged with the IAEA and submits to inspections, despite provocations, speaks volumes for conduct behooving its ancient civilized heritage.

  31. Andrew P says:

    Obama talks too much. He should either nuke Iran now, or even better tell the Israelis that they are on their own, and it is up to them to nuke Iran – and make sure they do a proper job of it on the first strike because they won’t get a second chance.

  32. Persian Gulf says:

    aren’t this kind of silly threat part of the strategy to drag Iran into the ruinous arms race (something that has long been suggested) at the time that the country has other important priorities?

    http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/iran-builds-nuclear-case-with-soft-power/story-e6frg6tx-1111114432403

  33. Sakineh Bagoom says:

    James Canning,

    Of course Iran is not going to destroy Tel Aviv or Jerusalem (the third holiest city in all of Islam)! That needn’t be said. If Iran were to bomb either site they would destroy Palestine as well.
    What I was trying to point out is Iran has already achieved MAD. Iran does not need to weaponize its program, since it has fissile materials and the means to deliver them. Also, in any salvo, all the US ships in Persian Gulf would be sitting ducks.
    This entire chest thumping between US and Iran has to do more with bigger picture. Iran wants to play a bigger roll in Iraq and Afghanistan. This is what the Iranians call baraadar bozorg (big brother, not as in 1984). After all, it is their neighborhood, why not? It is just that US and to some extent Israel say we are baraadar bozorgtar (bigger brother). So, all this schoolyard, mine is bigger than yours is the resultant.

  34. Dan Cooper says:

    Israel must denuclearize, Erdogan says

    The international community has turned a blind eye to Israel’s nuclear program.

    Erdogan said Iran’s nuclear program has come under scrutiny as a result of its membership in the International Atomic Energy Agency whereas Israel, which has not signed the NPT, is “free to do what it wants.”

    http://presstv.com/detail.aspx?id=123061§ionid=351020204

  35. Dan Cooper says:

    George Bush and Tony Blair are guilty of war crimes.

    The former head of the UN’s chief nuclear agency, Mohammed ElBaradei, said in an interview with the British newspaper Guardian Wednesday that those who launched the war in Iraq were responsible for killing a million innocent people and could be held accountable under international law.

    He was clearly referring to US President George Bush, British Prime Minister Tony Blair, and their top military and security aides.

    It was his first interview with an international publication since ElBaradei returned to his native Egypt, after a decade heading the International Atomic Energy Agency, where he won the Nobel Peace Prize, in large measure because of his opposition to the efforts by the Bush administration to use concocted charges about “weapons of mass destruction” as an all-purpose pretext for military intervention throughout the Middle East.

    “I would hope that the lessons of Iraq, both in London and in the US have started to sink in,” he told the Guardian. “Sure, there are dictators, but are you ready every time you want to get rid of a dictator to sacrifice a million innocent civilians?

    All the indications coming out of [the Chilcot inquiry in Britain] are that Iraq was not really about weapons of mass destruction but rather about regime change, and I keep asking the same question―where do you find this regime change in international law? And if it is a violation of international law, who is accountable for that?”

    This suggestion that Bush and Blair were guilty of war crimes, coming from a high-ranking former UN official, would ordinarily be considered major news.

    The Guardian interview was reported by the main British and French news agencies, Reuters and AFP, but the entire American corporate media gave it zero coverage.

    Not a single major American newspaper or television network mentioned it.

    http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article25132.htm

  36. Dan Cooper says:

    Kam Zarrabi

    Excellent post, http://www.intellectualdiscourse.com

    I could not agree more with your statement.

    In USA, Obama is in Office but Israel Lobby is in Power

    You wrote and I Quote:

    “what could the American administration or the Chief Executive do to break out of the bondage of Israeli interests and manipulations? The cards are stacked against Mr. Obama. He and his advisors are not incompetent, they are incapacitated and rendered impotent, left with little choice but to pay the ransom to the thugs in Tel Aviv, or else!

    Or else what?

    On the surface, the fear is that should Mr. Obama find the courage or become crazy enough to expose this blackmail and put Israel on notice, the extortionist would open the floodgates of hell and drag the United States into an extended, expensive and catastrophic military engagement against Iran. A missile or torpedo showing Iranian colors launched against American naval vessels in the Persian Gulf, or an air attack on Iran’s nuclear installations, would do the job.

    In truth, this fear is simply for public consumption. The real tragedy is that no politician or official in the executive or the legislative branches of the American government, from the Chief Executive down to the lowest levels of the Congress, can afford to alienate the Zionist centers of power and influence in our country. This is indeed a tragedy for the American people, when the leaders of the nation are more concerned about their personal tenure, job security, fame and fortune than about the welfare of their constituents.

    In my opinion, Mr. Obama has finally thrown in the towel accepting the bitter fact that the game plan is out of his hand and, to survive politically, and who knows perhaps even physically, he must not violate the script.”

  37. Kam Zarrabi,

    I noticed your website home page is headed “My Farewell,” and then discovered the reason is that you’re retiring to Silver City, NM. You might think that lets you off the hook from further contributions here, but I’m sad to tell you they have Internet connections in Silver City. No rest for the weary.

    Eric

  38. Pirouz says:

    Pirouz_2:
    Here’s one source (you’ll need to scroll down a bit):

    http://books.google.com/books?id=q_uRLaPbTEUC&pg=PA117&lpg=PA117&dq=General+Mohammad+Salimi&source=bl&ots=hJJ99dYcnA&sig=dtHRt_DWAYaMEotGH3BLzUanrcY&hl=en&ei=Iv7CS6vZKsWingfYqJ2aCg&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=10&ved=0CCMQ6AEwCQ#v=onepage&q=General%20Mohammad%20Salimi&f=false

    There are other sources for this, but I haven’t time too locate. (Should be able to find using google.)

    Your argument revolving around Iran CWs is logical. Personally, I think Iran being party to the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) is what’s significant here. Also, keep in mind Iran’s military possesses relatively substantial Chemical Weapon Defense assets, which are regularly put on display during the Army Day parades (next one April 18).

  39. Kathleen says:

    James \

    the other day not a whisper about Netanyahu canceling, blowing off the Nuclear summit by NPR’s Weekend edition host Scott Simon or news analyst Daniel Schorr on the Week round up segment. Not a whisper about Netanyahu’s pulling out

    Npr’s Scott Simon and Daniel Schorr Silent on Netanyahu blowing off the Nuclear Summit
    http://seminal.firedoglake.com/diary/40129

  40. Fiorangela Leone says:

    to Kam Zarrabi:
    re: “Second is thinking that the mere handful of readers of such pages who have the intellectual capacity and are interested enough to appreciate and digest these points could gather enough momentum to steer the policy makers in the right direction.”

    Why do you suppose that “mere handful” does what they do, however inartfully?

    Perhaps to be able to tell their children that they tried to take a position on the right side of history? Perhaps to educate others, even to the limited understanding they themselves possess? Perhaps because they fear the indictment of not having tried. Perhaps because Margaret Mead was right: “A small group of thoughtful people could change the world. Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” Perhaps, most important of all, because they love their own country and wish to see it behave properly, and because they value the Iranian culture and people.

  41. Fiorangela Leone says:

    Greg Thielmann wrote:

    “At least three previous administrations have made explicit that the U.S. reserves the right to respond to CW or BW attacks with nuclear weapons.”

    oh dear.
    I guess that means that just as soon as the identity of the rogue that sent anthrax thru the mails to Tom Dschle’s office in 2001, some hapless nation is in line for a nuclear comeuppance.

  42. James Canning says:

    Kam Zarrabi,

    I talk to a number of fairly well-informed Americans, who think any Israeli planes overlying Iraq to attack Iran, should shot down by the US. Part of the problem in the Middle East, is the number of zealous “supporters” of Israel, in the US Congress, who encourage Israel to take actions that are gravely injurious to the national interests of the US, on spurious grounds of “understanding” Israel needs to “protect” itself (meaning slaughter tens of thousands of civilians in Lebanon and other bordering countries over the past 30 years).

  43. James Canning says:

    Kam Zarrabi,

    Iran is not the greatest threat to Israel; in fact, Israel’s fractious “democracy” is a greater “threat” to Israel, than Iran. Reason? Israel is unable to act in its own best interests. Meaning, GET OUT OF THE WEST BANK, AND STAY OUT. AND GET OUT OF THE GOLAN HEIGHTS.

    It is total fallacy that a “threat” to Israel is a “threat” to the US. This non sequitur brought the world the insane Iraq War.

  44. Kam Zarrabi says:

    Excerpts from my web site: http://www.intellectualdiscourse.com

    With the best of intentions, commentators and analysts, Americans, Iranian Americans or Iranians, have been attempting to point out the unjust, deceptive and downright malicious accusations and allegations against the Iranian regime by the American and some Western administrations. We see on a daily basis articles posted on various internet sites that highlight not only the futility, but even the danger of imposing harsher economic and diplomatic sanctions against Iran.

    I maintain that there are two fundamental things wrong with these honest and brave efforts. First is assuming that those who actually formulate and implement America’s foreign policies in the Middle East are unaware of the facts and need to pay closer attention to such sage advice by people in the know. Second is thinking that the mere handful of readers of such pages who have the intellectual capacity and are interested enough to appreciate and digest these points could gather enough momentum to steer the policy makers in the right direction.

    Now, let’s first locate the dots before we try to connect them.

    Dot: Iran has been effectively and convincingly (to the American public) been portrayed as the greatest threat to Israel and, by extension, to the American interests in the region.

    Dot: Accordingly, Iran must be pressured and contained by any means possible and prevented from acquiring nuclear weapons.

    Dot: As long as this portrayal remains actively viable in the public mind, America’s vital friend and ally, Israel, must be supported by the United States, economically, militarily and diplomatically at any expense to the American taxpayers and in spite of the damage to America’s global reputation.

    Dot: Under these circumstances, and the prevailing public perception that Iran and its surrogates, Lebanon’s Hezbollah and the Palestinian Hamas, pose an “existential” threat to the Israeli nation, pressuring Israel to compromise its position and enter into negotiations with the Palestinians, to stop the expansion of its settlements in East Jerusalem and the West Bank, and to relent in its “defensive” war against Gaza would be too much to ask.

    Dot: A nation under imminent threat of annihilation, as the prevailing mythology portrays, may just have to take matters in its own hands and use its own military might to strike at its enemies preemptively.

    Dot: Even though the American public would not blame Israel to rise in its own self-defense, we certainly do not like that to happen, since such a perfectly justifiable act by Israel would have dire consequences for the United States and indeed the industrialized world.

    Dot: It follows, therefore, that to avoid such an undesirable eventuality, Israel deserves to be amply compensated for risking its own very survival to accommodate its friend and benefactor’s wishes, which leads to the only viable conclusion.

    Connecting the dots: Iran must remain under severe containment in suspended animation, but kept alive as a perceived threat to Israel. At the same time, any effort by the Iranian regime or the opposition movement within Iran to implement positive social reforms and to engage in a rapprochement with the United States must be torpedoed in order to maintain the pariah status of the Islamic Republic.

    This scenario is much like the life cycle of a type of hornet. This hornet stings a tarantula, which remains alive but paralyzed, to provide the hornet’s eggs with nutrients as they mature!

    Over this panoramic background, what could the American administration or the Chief Executive do to break out of the bondage of Israeli interests and manipulations? The cards are stacked against Mr. Obama. He and his advisors are not incompetent, they are incapacitated and rendered impotent, left with little choice but to pay the ransom to the thugs in Tel Aviv, or else!

    Or else what?

    On the surface, the fear is that should Mr. Obama find the courage or become crazy enough to expose this blackmail and put Israel on notice, the extortionist would open the floodgates of hell and drag the United States into an extended, expensive and catastrophic military engagement against Iran. A missile or torpedo showing Iranian colors launched against American naval vessels in the Persian Gulf, or an air attack on Iran’s nuclear installations, would do the job.

    In truth, this fear is simply for public consumption. The real tragedy is that no politician or official in the executive or the legislative branches of the American government, from the Chief Executive down to the lowest levels of the Congress, can afford to alienate the Zionist centers of power and influence in our country. This is indeed a tragedy for the American people, when the leaders of the nation are more concerned about their personal tenure, job security, fame and fortune than about the welfare of their constituents.

    In my opinion, Mr. Obama has finally thrown in the towel accepting the bitter fact that the game plan is out of his hand and, to survive politically, and who knows perhaps even physically, he must not violate the script. His latest tirade against Iran (and North Korea) in his remarks regarding America’s new nuclear policies, whereby the United States would not consider deploying nuclear weapons against anyone but the two mentioned states, upset the Iranian President, Ahmadinejad.

    Mr. Ahmadinejad’s response was harsh and straight to the point. The English translation of his response was softened up in the press; but the original Persian version (Fars News Agency, Farsi version) had all the sarcasm, angst and venom expected of him. Here I translate a segment of his remarks into colloquial English to retain the intended impact:

    Mr. Obama; you have just arrived on the political scene. Wait just a little, buddy, and let your sweat dry so you can get a better feel for the weather. And, be more careful. Don’t read every piece of paper they give you to read and don’t just repeat every word you are instructed to utter. Those who were bigger and stronger than you couldn’t do diddly….; what makes you think you can? Watch out; if you follow the same path as your predecessor, Bush, you will get the same jaw-smashing response from other nations as did Bush.

    In spite of such brash remarks from both sides, sanity dictates that the United States and Iran remain on the same page and understand the consequences of any wrong move on this high-wire act. As the threats of military attack and crippling sanctions against the Islamic Republic escalate, inching close to the flashpoint only to recede to a safer level, the Iranian regime plays its part by doing everything it can to retain the image of the Devil incarnate.

  45. Greg Thielmann says:

    I too believe that the nuclear threat against a non-nuclear Iran, implied by the NPR, is counterproductive. I had a chance to make that point at an on-the-record NPR briefing (Gen. Cartwright, Bob Einhorn, Tom D’Agostino, Brad Roberts) hosted by the Council on Foreign Relations last Thursday (April 8). Einhorn responded by denying that the NPR threatened the use of nuclear weapons against Iran. He contended that the U.S. makes an explicit pledge in the NPR to NPT members in good standing and merely notes that some countries are not affected by this pledge.

    Consistent with the tone of Einhorn’s comments, Iran is not explicitly mentioned in the NPR. However, Defense Secretary Gates’ public comments certainly raise the profile of the implied threat to both North Korea and Iran.

    I do think you should have mentioned in your piece that there is nothing new to the U.S. nuclear threat against Iran. At least three previous administrations have made explicit that the U.S. reserves the right to respond to CW or BW attacks with nuclear weapons. George W. Bush’s inclusion of preventive war in his 2002 military doctrine implied that the U.S. would have been willing to use nuclear weapons against Iran even if Iran had not attacked anyone. The 2010 NPR is therefore accurate in claiming: “…this does not mean that our willingness to use nuclear weapons against countries not covered by the new assurance has in any way increased.”

  46. Pirouz_2 says:

    @Pirouz:
    The very fact that Iran may have admitted that it had chemical weapons in 1999, implies that they did not have the technology in 1988. For, what is the use of having chemical weapons (as Iran said it did in 1999) if you are not going to use it even when you are attacked by such weapons and forced to accept a cease fire against your will?? If you are not going to use it even when you are attacked by those weapons and forced into submission then what is the use of producing them? To me it does not make any sense.
    I don’t think that Iran had a chemical weapon capability as of 1988.
    By the way, I would very much appreciate it if you could point me to a source which quotes Iran as to having admitted to have such weapons in 1999.
    Thank you very much for taking your time and replying to my post.

  47. James Canning says:

    Does Bob Gates lack a strategic sense? Clearly, Hillary Clinton has none. She can do her talking points, and press foreign leaders to back the foolish sanctions program, but obviously she has no undersanding of the historical forces at work in the Middle East. Is this crucial element also missing from Gates’ abilities? Otherwise, does one explain his continuing pandering to the Iranophobes, as just playing the game to advance his own interests?

  48. James Canning says:

    Kathleen,

    Great post (9:33AM). If NPR avoids discussing Israel’s vast stockpile of nuclear weapons, and its refusal to allow any IAEA inspectors into the country, while shouting from the rooftops that Iran is in contravention of its NPY obligations, it is disheartening. Netanyahu’s obvious effort to continue his vicious attacks on supposed Iranian “noncompliance” while his own country refuses to sign the treaty, should receive the widest possible publicity. Globally, and in Washington!

  49. James Canning says:

    Sakineh,

    Good point, but one should observe that Iran is not about to destroy Jerusalem, or even Tel Aviv, even if it could do so.

    I think Bob Gates has pandered to the Iranophobic crowd within the Beltway, and in so doing has rendered a disservice to the US.

  50. James Canning says:

    I thought Bob Gates was seriously stupid, when he lumped Iran in with North Korea in his press conference regarding the new nuke policy. Surely Gates is aware Iran condemned the North Korean nuke test last year.

  51. Sakineh Bagoom says:

    Iran does not need to weaponize its program. Just loading a gram of fissile material in a warhead and exploding it at a destination, can render the area contaminated for decades. Iran is now in possession of such material and warhead. I think both US and Israel know this.

  52. Tony says:

    Iran should build nuclear weapons as quickly as possible. Any nation faced with the threat of nuclear annihilation would be crazy not to try and defend itself. Living in peace and security is not a monopoly of the USA, Israel and the West.

  53. Eric A. Brill says:

    Fiorangela,

    “It would be a grave mistake to take such an action autocratically, and I don’t see that such an action, in a situation of threat, is in character for Iranian leaders.”

    I agree that “it would be a grave mistake to take such an action autocratically.” I was laying out arguments I think critics would make, not what I think Khamenei would in fact do.

  54. Kathleen says:

    “(Even though the International Atomic Energy Agency has never concluded that Tehran is in breach of its NPT obligations, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and other Obama Administration officials have been asserting for some time that the Islamic Republic is not in compliance with the Treaty.)”

  55. Kathleen says:

    And on Npr this morning not a mention that Netanyahu has canceled. Reported that Obama has met with Pakistan, India…not a mention of Israel.

    On NPR’s Weekend Saturday with Scott Simon during the segment on the weekly round up neither Daniel Schorr nor Scott even whispered about Netanyahu backing out of the Nuclear summit. Not a whisper. So goes NPR..covering for Israel

    ot but critically important

    Not many folks covering this. Especially our MSM (hello Rachel, Keith) enough stories about Sarah Palin
    Has Aafia Siddiqui’s Daughter Surfaced?
    http://emptywheel.firedoglake.com/
    Last weekend a girl approximately 12 years old, who spoke only English and Persian and claimed her name was “Fatima,” was dropped off in front of the home of Siddiqui’s sister. Some stories indicate an American named “John” may have been with her. Dawn reported a senior policeman described that the girl was:

    … wearing a collar “bearing the address of the house in case she wandered off”.

  56. Pirouz says:

    Pirouz_2:

    Iran admitted in 1999 that it had possessed chemical weapons in the past. However, the Islamic Republic is party to the CWC (and BWC).

  57. kooshy says:

    An American in Tehran
    The ‘Green Revolution’ won’t come as soon as we think it will.
    http://www.inthesetimes.com/article/5736/an_american_in_tehran

  58. Iranian@Iran says:

    I don’t think the issue is any change in Iran’s policy regarding it’s nuclear program. Rather I think what is important is that the Iranian’s see Obama and even the US media in a very different light than before. To see a US president threaten a nation with mass murder and then see that the US and western media is not outraged is a clear sign that Iran should never trust the US.

  59. Fiorangela Leone says:

    Eric — edit: should have said ‘argument #1: “Khamenei won’t care….”

  60. Fiorangela Leone says:

    “Iran decided not to weaponize and use chemical agents during the Iran-Iraq war, even though Saddam Husayn subjected both Iranian military forces and civilian targets inside Iran to chemical attack.”

    I wonder what response Iran anticipates from the UN in this nuclear matter, inasmuch as the UN was not effective in compelling Iraq to cease use of proscribed chemical weapons in 1984-87.

    Eric, interesting analysis, but the ‘psychology’ of argument #2 does not ring true, from an Iranian perspective: it seems to me Khamenei would use the threatening posture of the US to appeal to the Iranian people to rally to his/the national cause. It would be a grave mistake to take such an action autocratically, and I don’t see that such an action, in a situation of threat, is in character for Iranian leaders.
    Rather, this is one more reason Obama’s declaration of right of first-use of nuclear weapons is beyond boneheaded: it will act as a unifying force among the struggling and contending Iranian leadership factions; appeal to Shia principle will be essential to align the mullahs with the military.

  61. Pirouz_2 says:

    “In this regard, it is interesting to note that Iran decided not to weaponize and use chemical agents during the Iran-Iraq war, even though Saddam Husayn subjected both Iranian military forces and civilian targets inside Iran to chemical attack.”

    [B]As far as I know[/B] as of 1988, Iran still did not have the technology to develop Chemical weapons. Can anyone point me to a source which gives some evidence suggesting otherwise?

    Thanks Everyone.

  62. “Given Tehran’s record of official and religious rejection of nuclear weapons, for Ayatollah Khamenei to shift course at some point in the future and endorse nuclear weapons fabrication by the Islamic Republic would require him to explain, to the Iranian public and his followers throughout the Shi’a world, how Iran’s strategic circumstances had changed to such an extent that it was now both necessary and legitimate for the country to develop a full-fledged nuclear deterrent.”

    I don’t disagree with the Leveretts’ analysis in general, but very few Iran critics will agree that Khamenei’s behavior will be affected by any perceived need to explain his position shift. Most critics would make one (or more) of at least these three arguments:

    1. If Khamenei decides to develop nuclear weapons and to announce this publicly, he won’t care whether the Iranian public and his followers throughout the Shi’a world are bothered by his inconsistency. Only Iran’s lap dogs believe that Khamenei really cares what his people think.

    2. If Khamenei decides to develop nuclear weapons, he’s not likely to announce it publicly, for at least these reasons: the US (or Israel) might bomb Iran very soon after his announcement; the US would find it much easier to get support for crippling sanctions; Khamenei would cede the moral high ground; neighboring countries (Saudi Arabia, for example) might soon follow suit.

    3. Since Iran has been developing nuclear weapons for a long time already (these critics would insist), a “change” in Iran’s position would not really be a change at all. Iran would merely be continuing its secret nuclear weapons program — just the same as it would have done if the US hadn’t put it on the “exception” list.