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The Race for Iran

THE REAL STRATEGIC CHALLENGE THAT TURKEY AND IRAN POSE TO ISRAEL

 

**For the photo above: David Ignatius (left), the moderator of this panel at last year’s Davos World Economic Forum, tries to stop Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey (center) from speaking. Mr. Erdogan later left the stage to protest comments by President Shimon Peres of Israel (right).**

As the interlinked dramas of Israel’s attack on Turkish civilian ships on the high seas and the Obama Administration’s push for a new Iran sanctions resolution in the Security Council play out, some in the American foreign policy establishment are beginning to realize that the Middle East—and America’s place in it—are changing in profound ways. 

Turkey’s deepening engagement in the region is an extremely important catalyst for change.  Of course, this is not a new or suddenly breaking news story.  Turkey’s refusal to allow U.S. forces to invade Iraq from Turkish territory in 2003—not long after Erdoğan’s AKP had come to power–should have been a wake-up call.  At the time, though, Turkey’s decision was dismissed by the Washington establishment with a mix of disbelief and a refusal to appreciate how popular the decision was in Turkey. 

After Turkey’s key role, along with Brazil, in brokering the recent nuclear deal with Iran and Erdoğan’s strong reaction to the Israeli attack on Turkish-flagged vessels, the U.S. foreign policy establishment is now compelled, by force of events, to recognize that something important is afoot.  In this regard, we were struck by David Ignatius’ most recent column in the Washington Post, “Flotilla raid offers Israel a learning opportunity.”  He writes,

“By attacking the relief flotilla, Israel picked a fight with Turkey, a more dangerous foe than Hamas. The quarrel has been brewing for the past several years, and it’s a huge strategic change in the Middle East. Once Israel’s most important regional ally, Turkey now seeks to challenge Israel’s hegemony as the local superpower. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is a Muslim populist with a charismatic message: We won’t let Israel push us around. Where Iran’s president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, is often a buffoon, Erdoğan is a genuinely tough if erratic rival.”

Ignatius underestimates Ahmadinejad and the Islamic Republic’s challenge to Israel.  But, to his credit, puts his finger on the most important strategic implication of Erdoğan’s challenge—it is fundamentally a challenge to Israel’s sense of unfettered hegemony over the region. 

In explaining why Israel decided to attack Turkish ships headed for Gaza, Ignatius writes, with blazing clarity, “The answer is that over many years, Israel has become accustomed to unchallenged freedom of military action in the Middle East.”  That is absolutely correct, and Israel is determined to preserve this freedom of action, whatever the cost—and to persuade craven American politicians and the more gullible parts of the American public that both vital U.S. interests and Israel’s very survival are at stake in preserving it, even when that is manifestly not the case. 

We have previously made a similar argument about what is at stake for Israel in the disposition of the Iranian nuclear issue, see here.  The Islamic Republic’s nuclear program is hardly an “existential threat” to Israel.  But, a nuclear-capable Iran might, at the margins, begin to impose some limits on Israel’s absolute freedom to use military force unilaterally, wherever it wants, and for whatever purpose it favors. 

The Israeli argument against Iran’s nuclear development—like its argument against Turkey’s pique over having Turkish vessels attacked on the high seas, its argument that settlements in occupied territory are completely legal, and its argument that blockading a civilian population in Gaza is also completely legal—is not based on rational analysis of actual physical threats.  All of these arguments are directed towards the preservation of Israel’s regional hegemony, embodied in its unchallenged freedom of military action in the Middle East. 

From this perspective, Iran and Turkey pose very similar “threats” to Israel.  Iran’s re-emergence as a powerful regional player (with its principal regional foes, Iraq and Afghanistan, neutered by U.S. invasions) with the potential for a nuclear weapons “option” could effectively check Israel’s ability to use force unilaterally whenever and wherever it chooses.  And, Turkey’s challenge to the siege of Gaza by Israel (and, let’s be fair, Egypt, too) could, if successful, have a similar effect.

Flynt Leverett and Hillary Mann Leverett

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147 Responses to “THE REAL STRATEGIC CHALLENGE THAT TURKEY AND IRAN POSE TO ISRAEL”

  1. Eford says:

    @christopher

    Thanks for the clarification, Chris.

    I was beginning to think this was just another online gathering of paranoid Jew-Haters.

    Your use of CAPITALIZATION gives your argument credence (and gusto!) and has swayed me to your way of thinking.

    Regards.

  2. Eford says:

    …”unchallenged freedom of military action in the Middle East”?

    That must have happened while I was in the shower, because I seem to have missed it.

    The US is concurrently bombing Iraq, Afghanistan, and Yemen.
    Russia is trampling on Chechnya, Georgia, and the rest of it’s neighbors.
    Turkey stomps gleefully on the Kurds.
    Iran funds Militants across the ME.
    Sudan’s Muslim government machetes a million of it’s Christians and Animist citizens.
    Etc, etc….

    At most, all of the above countries get a pro-forma UN scalding or, as with Iran, an empty threat of ineffectual sanctions.

    Israel shot 9 guys on a boat after the guys attacked them with bats and the entire world condemns it, expresses it’s unfathomable outrage, and howls for an international inquiry.

    The same was true in 67′, 72′, and during the bloodbath of the first “Intifada”.

    The world’s obsession with anything Israeli has caused Israel’s inept leaders to act with suicidal and irresponsible restraint.

    Any country with a healthy sense of self-preservation would have carpet-bombed Lebanon and turned Gaza into a Dresdenesque inferno.

    I’m not sure what planet you live on, but the only country in the world that does not seem to enjoy “unchallenged freedom of military action” is Israel.

  3. Liz says:

    Joao C,

    lol. They showed the speech in full and you can watch the footage of the 22nd of Bahman rallies. I won’t ask you to open your eyes, you can’t.

  4. Alan says:

    Castellio:

    Alan… “and we know Obama does not like to be seen as adopting Israel’s position merely because it is Israel’s position.”

    We know that?

    ———–

    ??

    (three strikes and you’re out by the way)

  5. Joao C says:

    Liz aka Afsaneh,

    My “biased” world view simply asks that you juxtapose news from various sources. To put images side by side and compare and think straight. You’re the one who always brings up the GM and put me in a position of defending them. The fact remains that Khomeini’s speech was cut short whether they showed it or not (they didn’t) by the same people who attacked Khomeini’s home in Jamaran on Tasua (baton and chain holding Basijis).

    Looks like I’ve hit a soft spot with the diversity charge. You know fully well that supporters of the IRI are not diverse. They don’t come from various backgrounds as evident in the staged rallies where they hold government made posters. You are hurt that the GM has the support of a wide range of Iranians inside and outside of Iran. Whether I’m Iranian or Brazilian or Brazilian-Iranian or just married to an Iranian is not relevant to the discussion at hand. If someone doesn’t write me back it shows they’re out of jibberish to spit out and pollute the Internet with. You, whoever you are, with whatever ID, are a minority. Accept it.

  6. Liz says:

    Joao C,

    That was the footage of Fars News, the “biased” and “ultraconservative” enemy of humanity and in the footage you can hear Hassan Khomeini loud and clear. The footage shown on Iranian TV was the same, only the volume of the protestors chanting slogans was turned down not that of Hassan Khomeini. The opposite of what you say is true. In fact, many are saying that IRIB was “unfairly biased” towards Hassan Khomeini. The rest of what you say is infected with the same biased world view. The popularity of the IR of Iran can not be denied.

  7. AFSANEH says:

    JOAO.C
    I have been following your comments for a long time. I have a few points for you.

    1- you can say whatever you want, I know that you are an Iranian, but if you are really a Brazilian who is this passionate about the greens in Iran, I think you should open a “Mousavi Campsign in Brazil”, to compete with Lula, I am 100% sure that you will find significant irregularities in the Brazilain elections and finally figure out that Lula came to power as a result of “fraud”!!

    2- When people don’t answer back to your comments the most likely reason is that probably they don’t find your comments worthy of their time and effort.

  8. Castellio says:

    Liz, why can’t they attack without US support? The US would have to support them after the fact anyway. Perhaps the question is better framed this way: Can Israel be blackmailing the US through the positioning of its nuclear attack subs?

    This is a new thought for me. I had always assumed that they were hand in glove, sometimes pretending distance. Phil Weiss says there is distance. Is there?

  9. Joao C says:

    @ Liz and Kamran and Iranian@Iran

    The clip in the Fars News link is not the clip shown on News Network. On News Network they were showing footage of people walking about and various shots of walls and flowers and occasional cuts to Khomeini’s grandon and his audio was turned WAY down. This didn’t happen when Ahmadinejad and Khamenei were speaking. I said the Fars news link proves MY point because they admit his speech was cut short. And if you live in Iran you would have to live under the rock right now not to know that the general public perceived this as a slight on Khomeini’s legacy. I bet you folks were first in line to shed crocodile tears over Khomeini’s torn photo scenario. IRIB raised hell over that. But staging a group of hoodlums to prevent Khomeini’s grandson from speaking is somehow not disrespectful to the late Leader. These were the same folks who attacked Khomeini’s house on Tasua (the night before Ashura) with batons and chains and beat ordinary people and destroyed Khomeini’s Jamaran home. The videos are still on youtube.

    The problem with you folks is that you fail to see the diversity in the GM. Diversity of people is what will eventually overthrow the hardliners in power. Just as it was the diversity of the crowds that overthrew the Shah. It was when the nationalists, the communists and the technocrats, the seculars and the religious bazaris rallied behind one leader (Khomeini) that the Shah was overthrown. This diversity exists in the GM and NOT in the so-called supporters of those in power.

    From religious standpoint, out of all the Grand Ayatollahs only two support Ahmadinejad and were even willing to see him. More and more Grand Ayatollahs are siding with the people and the GM with each of the regime’s misteps. Their religious followers aren’t exactly secular northern Tehranis you claim make up the GM. And their religious credentials far outweight that of the SL.

    On the artistic front, a great majority of acclaimed Iranian filmmakers support the GM. From the liberals like Jafar Panahi, Bahram Bayzayi, Abbas Kiarostami to conservatives like Majid Majidi, Ebrahim Hatamikia, Ahmadreza Darvish to the ultra conservative Mohammad Nourizad. Nourizad was a close ally of Khamenei up until the election unrest. At which point he wrote two critical letters and was put in prison and is still in prison. Perhaps you should read his letters.

    On the ordinary people front, just look at the footage from the GM rallies of Khordad 25 and compare them to footage of pro-regime rallies. The diversity is in the GM rallies, where men and women, young and old, religious and secular, chadoris and bad-hijabis, rich and poor, educated and uneducated walk side by side. You don’t have this diversity in your staged rallies, do you?! That’s what happens with staged rallier, everyone holds the same posters and everyone looks the same!

    Even on the political front, you now have the principalists such and Motahari, Larijani and Ghalibaf, the progressives like Rafsanjani and the gang, and the reformers from Khatami to Mousavi and Karoubi all against the Ahmadinejad government.

    Better get used to the idea folks. Ahmadinejad is on his way out and he may or may not take down Khamenei with him.

  10. Liz says:

    Israel can’t attack without US support and Iran will attack the US in retaliation if the Zionists attack Iran.

  11. Castellio says:

    There are Israeli subs with nuclear cruise missiles now in the Gulf off Iran’s shores. There are suggestions that the U.S. is trying to contain Israel’s belligerency.

    http://mondoweiss.net/2010/06/gulp-israel-deploys-nuclear-cruise-missiles-near-iran.html

    What is really happening, I don’t know.

  12. James Canning says:

    kooshy,

    Israel could not “safely” attack Iran after failing to crush Hezbollah during the Israeli rampage in Lebanon in 2006. This was good fortune for Israel itself.

  13. Liz says:

    I agree with Kamran and Iranian@Iran.

  14. Kamran says:

    I rarely make comments, but I think it’s pretty clear that the Islamic Republic has a strong support base in the country. Saying otherwise is not only dishonest, but it also helps justify US criminal actions against the Iranian people.

  15. Iranian@Iran says:

    Joao C

    Her link proves you wrong and that you contradict yourself.

    Earlier you said, “the regime”…”the fact they censored Khomeini’s grandson’s speech”

    Later you said “And Liz, I had “Shabakeh KHabar” (News Channel) on and the volume had to be turned ALL THE WAY up to make out what Khomeini was saying.”

    Anyone who watches the clip (without knowing Farsi even) will see that like almost everything else you said, this claim is false.

  16. Joao C says:

    @ Liz

    Please do us the honor of pointing out what is it that I said that contradicts itself? I have asked people to make up their own minds. The fact still stands that your sources are nothing but that of the IRI propoganda machine. Be it the IRGC’s Fars News or the biased IRIB. (Though even your Fars News link proves my claim that the speech was cut short by a handful of basijis – whom they call “people.”) Furthermore I have said nothing about being outside of Iran. That is irrelevant to the discussion. I think we need not be victims of any “green propoganda” or IRIB propoganda. We can juxtapose the facts from various outlets and make up our own minds.

    – Watch the report on IRIB and read haghighatjoo’s rebuttal and decide for yourself.
    – Watch IRIB’s version of Neda’s death and the “For Neda” documentary and decide for yourself.
    – Talk to people from all walks of life in Tehran, Shiraz, Isfahan and Mashad and decide for yourself.

    If you’re so narrowminded to think like how Fars News and IRIB wants you to think, that’s your problem, not mine.

  17. Iranian@Iran says:

    It’s amazing. Anyone who lives in Iran knows that what Liz is saying here is true and there is no controversy. It’s like Obama’s visits to the Mexican Gulf, the footage is there for everyone to watch. Even green spin doctors (like Scott Lucas) shouldn’t be able to hide everything.

  18. Liz says:

    Joao C,

    Another response to your claims:

    http://www.farsnews.com/media.php?nn=8903150743

  19. Liz says:

    Also, your claim that they have “admited that they have 40% of the audience they had from before the election” are not true. I think living outside Iran and relying on the western media and green propaganda outlets distorts your view too much.

  20. Liz says:

    Joao C,

    I think if you look at your comments and put them together you will see that they contradict each other. Thank you for proving my points about the speech and what Hagheeghatjoo said about the MKO, Monarchists, and others working together.

  21. kooshy says:

    Eric, Arnold

    Often Iranian leaders compare a possible US air campaign on Iran to Israel / Lebanon 06 which they believe was a test run to attack Iran, the point they make is that Israel for 3 weeks decimated the Lebanese infra structures but the rockets keep coming, and as war progressed rockets start moving even little further south, to stop the rockets which was now decimating Israeli civilians, there was no other option but to invade, this last week of the actual invasion was what really made Israeli failure final, call it an Ali style Rope-a- Dope.

    Now the question is would three, four five weeks of bombing Iran finally convince the US military to invade Iran? Does anyone has any idea what size force is necessary, does anyone who’s suggesting a bombing, attack, war with Iran have any idea what kind of train Iran has? I do, I say US will lose in a way that internally becomes instable. I am sure US military planners have been ordered to draw plans and that is the real deterrence Iran has, that is US’s own incapability to militarily achieve its goals without destroying its minimal interests.

  22. James Canning says:

    irshad,

    The Russians say they will finish Bushehr #1 by August, or perhaps now September. Or at least get it operational. And they would like to build nuclear power plants for Syria and Turkey.

    Just what wheeling and dealing is going on behind the scenes, so that Russia signs up for yet another round of sanctions against Iran, remains to be ascertained.

    Does anyone know what Russia will charge for the nuclear fuel supplied for Bushehr #1, and what would be Iran’s cost of producing its own fuel?

  23. irshad says:

    What game are the Russians playing?

    Medvedev hailing agreement on the upcoming Iran sanctions with Merkel in Germany…!?!

    I am now trully baffled by the Russian position vis-a-vis Irans nuclear programme. Have they now decided that Iran has poked the West too much and its time to “contol” Iran by joining the sanctions bandwagon? And if Russia does support the sanctions (which IMHO, it will) what will be the backlash from the Iranians?

    And suprisingly, PM Putin has’nt said much either?

    OR – have the Iranianis and the Russians have had a serious behind the scene disagreement re: the starting of Busehr NPP, which has been scheduled for Sept?

    From this, I learnt one thing: Never trust the Russians!

  24. Joao C says:

    @ Liz and Eric

    Thanks for the link Liz. It makes it much easier for me to make the argument against the IRIB. Anyone with the slightest clue about how film editing is done will figure out in a split second the trickery at play here. Eric, you can google translate Haghighatjoo’s letter here:

    http://news.gooya.com/politics/archives/2010/05/105507.php

    Unfortunately you can’t translate the video. But Haghighatjoo provides links to videos they have used in their “report” to make their case. You can juxtapose the real footage and figure out how they take things out of context and make their cases. This is the very news program that has so far said Neda was killed by (a) BBC Reporter (b) The Green protestors, (c) Arash Hejazi among other outlandish claims such as Taraneh Mousavi being alive and well and living in Canada!

    And Liz, I had “Shabakeh KHabar” (News Channel) on and the volume had to be turned ALL THE WAY up to make out what Khomeini was saying. And he couldn’t say much, because his speech was cut short. So please, stop with your lies. You’re not helping. And perhaps you should take a course or two on film editing. It will do you good if you’re only watching IRIB news. This at a time that they themselves have admited that they have 40% of the audience they had from before the election. The actual number is probably a lot less.

  25. Arnold Evans says:

    James:

    Exactly to both.

  26. James Canning says:

    Arnold,

    I assume you share my dismay that Gary Samore still is in his current position. If Obama thinks Iran should be able to enrich U as allowed under the NPT, why does he not say so? Is the game plan one of concealing a US objective of denying Iran its legitimate rights as a signatory party to the treaty?
    ElBaradei thought, and may still think, the issue essentially is one of adequate transparency.

  27. James Canning says:

    Arnold,

    We should keep in mind here that Iran opposes the Taliban, and wants to prevent a return to power of the Taliban in Kabul. This is one reason US policy toward Iran has been so astoundingly stupid, idiotic, etc.

  28. Arnold Evans says:

    James Canning:

    The Obama administration should feel free to inform Iran and the public it represents what its position is on Iranian enrichment whenever it chooses. It would be very irresponsible for Iran to just assume that the US would accept enrichment before Obama at least says it.

    But if the Obama administration is going to press for a suspension, which it is, then that closes the subject. The US nuclear policy community, Gary Samore, David Albright, “unnamed officials” all seem to advocate zero enrichment when I see them quoted in the press. I’m pretty sure the Obama administration has actually not moved away from the Bush administration’s position.

    It would take one statement to dispel that impression, and the Obama administration has not provided any.

  29. James Canning says:

    Eric,

    Don’t you think it fair to say that bombing Iran would be a way to encourage the government to seek to build some nukes? In other words, a guaranteed-to-be-counter-productive move?

    Castellio,

    Are you joking? Surely Obama does not want to be seen as adopting a given policy merely because that is the wish of Israel.

  30. Arnold Evans says:

    1) On the issue of the US’ point where it decides to attack Iran, according to Dick Cheney, it already passed. The US is not directly threatened by Iran having a Japan option. How much is the US willing to pay to keep a regional monopoly for Israel? Not an unlimited amount. My calculation is that as long as Iran ensures that an attack will be expensive in terms of US interests, the US is not going to attack. That’s why the US didn’t attack in 2006, 2007 or 2008.

    The US is not undeterrable. Kooshy asks why the US did not bomb North Korea. Because it was deterred.

    2) Robert Gates and Admiral Mullen discuss hypothetically bombing Iran all the time. Their public assessment is that the US can delay Iran’s nuclear program but not stop it. According to them, after bombing Iran would still be able to build a weapon. I’m sure you’ve across statements to that effect. It seems to be the US military consensus.

    3) I think you emphasize a deliverable bomb more than I do. Japan doesn’t have a deliverable bomb for all we know. The Japan option relies on technology and materials that are known to be in place. The benefits come long before any actually builds a bomb. For example, I don’t expect Japan to actually ever build a live bomb over the next 50 years, but the fact that it could impacts the decisions of countries that interact with it. With technology and material in place, if building a bomb takes three months or six or eight months is much less important. Iran is moving away from Egypt’s situation where building a bomb would take years and would be easily preventable.

    4) When the US stops being bogged down in Afghanistan and Iraq, Iran will have warning and will adjust its policies accordingly. There are other interests that Iran can threaten as a deterrent. Iran strikes me as flexible enough to work with what it gets. But until the situation changes, Iran is behaving well right now.

    5) Not US patience, Brazil has gotten that far. North Korea has gotten much further than that. If Iran can keep it so attacking would harm the US regional position more than it helps it, Iran will not be attacked.

    6) I seriously have not read anyone here in the raceforiran comments suggest Iran either get an actual weapon or be opaque about whether or not it is building a weapon. As I’ve said before, Japan is not opaque. Japan is not building a weapon. Brazil is not opaque. Brazil is not building a weapon. If Japan was to decide to build a weapon, it would not be opaque, it would announce that it will no longer be bound by the NPT in 90 days. 90 days from then Japan will build a weapon. Opacity does not play a role.

    You’re concerned with opacity. I’m not sure why. Having a Japan option is not about opacity.

    7) No, the US never asked the IAEA for information about the laptop of death. The US has, and I’m pretty sure invented, the laptop of death and does not show it in full form either to the IAEA or to Iran.

    The IAEA has never demonstrated any ability to keep any information secret from the US. Iran disclosed Qom to the IAEA in late September, the IAEA is to keep such information confidential. It was in the New York Times reported by un-named officials with ties to the IAEA the next day.

    The answer is just no. The IAEA for a thousand reasons cannot be trusted to protect Iranian secrets from the West.

  31. Liz says:

    lol. They deserve each other.

  32. Fiorangela Leone says:

    Liz, have you noticed that Scott has wangled a place onto NIAC’s board.

    Trita disappoints.

  33. Joao C:

    “Read up on Haghighatjoo for example. Read her rebuttal and watch the documentary they aired on IRIB and judge for yourself.”

    Is the documentary in English? If you have a link, I’d appreciate it.

  34. Arnold:

    “Iran has a few years in which I expect the US to be deterred, and it does not need its nuclear program to play any important role in that deterrence. Over those few years Iran can both make its nuclear program more difficult to bomb and develop new means of deterrence, and possibly its program will reach the point where it is a deterrence in its own right.”

    Who can dispute “possibly?” Worth the risk? Bear in mind that, assuming perfect knowledge, just before the moment when Iran’s nuclear program becomes a deterrent (i.e. when Iran has a deliverable bomb, to sidestep “nuclear option” definitional issues here) is when the risk of US attack will be greatest, since the US will recognize that it’s “now or never.” In the real world, where the US’ knowledge about Iran’s nuclear program is far from perfect, that “now or never” moment may occur much sooner, depending on how far Iran has progressed, how much the US knows, and how much ambiguity the US is willing to accept.

    Is it possible that, if the US were presently not bogged down in Iraq and Afghanistan and its economy were stronger, US leaders might even today be concluding that the now-or-never moment is already here? Might their present calculus change if, some day, the US is not bogged down in Iraq and Afghanistan and its economy is stronger? Might there not be many in the US government today who fret that we’re waiting too long but who are mollified by others who assure them that we’ll make up later for our laxity by increasing the harshness of our post-attack measures to ensure that Iran either doesn’t develop a deliverable bomb or is persuaded that it would be very unwise to use it?

    “If the US bombs Iran today, the US does not expect that it can prevent a full-on push for a bomb that Iran would be able to make after the attack.”

    How do you know that? You don’t, obviously. This statement strikes me as a classic example of starting with a conclusion and working backwards to fill in the arguments necessary to support that conclusion.

    There is more than one way to prevent Iran from building a deliverable bomb (or at least delivering it). The obvious way is to ferret out the bomb-makers and their activities, which may not be effective if Iran is clever enough. A less-obvious way is to threaten, and even carry out, severe punishment, including collective punishment, at even the slightest hint of bomb-making activity. (As in: “Whoops, really sorry about Tabriz – it was a nice city, we’ve heard; great bazaar and all that. One of our guys overheard two Iranians talking about bombs in a café. Turns out they were actors rehearsing their lines in a play, but it was too late to call back our planes. We’re kind of touchy these days – bear that in mind.”)

    “But either way, I’ve never thought Iran’s nuclear program either is today, or will be in any near foreseeable future the only or the primary deterrent to a US attack on Iran.”

    Probably correct at the moment, but you draw an unwarranted conclusion from that. Since other deterrents are sufficient to keep the US from attacking, you conclude that Iran is safe in working on weapons development. That seems sound to me, for the time being, but does it mean that the US would overlook weapons development if those other deterrents should cease to be present? Are you confident the US will continue to be bogged down in other wars, or have a weak economy, or both, for quite some time? I wouldn’t be; the US might actually get out of Iran and Afghanistan some day, and its economy actually might improve, and its people actually might be spoiling for a new war. Iran won’t have much control over any of that. If all that happens and no new deterrents have arisen in the meantime, and Iran is still developing a nuclear weapon (or being secretive, so that the US suspects that it is), are you confident the US will continue to sit back and do nothing about it – just keep passing sanctions and funding opposition groups?

    “I also think eventually Iran’s nuclear capability will reach the point that it could by itself prevent a US attack on Iran, but that is generations from now.”

    Your faith is considerably greater than mine that the US will exhibit the long-term patience required for Iran to get that far.

    “If you’re suggesting Iran should deliberately design its nuclear program around the constraint that the US must feel confident that it could stop it by bombing it if it wants, no state would do that. No state has ever done that. It is an unreasonable suggestion.”

    I feel that Iran should develop every aspect of its peaceful nuclear program on the assumption that it will need to run it entirely without outside help. That includes enrichment, among other activities that the US insists need not be done in order for a country to produce peaceful nuclear energy. To that extent, I agree with you that Iran should not place constraints on its program to appease the US. But I see no need and considerable risk in going beyond that. I don’t know on which side of the line every nuclear activity falls on, and there undoubtedly is ambiguity on that question even for nuclear scientists best trained to draw such lines. I’d give Iran the benefit of the doubt for that reason. But if Iran is engaging in some activity that can only be related to bomb development, I would cut it no slack.

    You ignore an overarching concern here. Many countries, at any given point in history and especially if one looks back a long way, can complain about being kicked around and abused by a world power or two. For each of those countries, a “game-changer” powerful weapon would almost certainly be useful. But then the world would end up with yet another country that has that powerful weapon. Countries that acquire powerful weapons aren’t known for giving them up when the pressing need for the weapon no longer exists, and so the list of countries only grows longer, never shorter. After some time passes, the kicked-around-and-abused country might find some smaller country to kick around and abuse. If and when that happens, what had been merely a useful defensive tool may be used for a less noble purpose. (Isn’t that precisely what many now argue is the case for Israel?) Until, of course, the target of this new abuse runs out and gets its own powerful weapon. (For example, Iran runs out and gets itself a nuclear bomb because Israel has one.) And so on and so on.

    We’ve got enough nuclear-armed states as it is. Iran deserves to not be kicked around and abused, but it doesn’t need or deserve a nuclear bomb to put an end to that, nor does it deserve even the opacity necessary to keep the world guessing about whether it’s building one. Iran should find some other way to stop being kicked around and abused, and I think there are other perfectly good ways out there, as I’ve explained elsewhere. They require more thought and more patience, but they’re out there.

    “Oh, the question of can the IAEA keep its findings confidential. The short answer is no. The IAEA is essentially an intelligence service. The US contributions to the IAEA’s personnel are supplied by the US’ intelligence services.”

    I’m not naïve about this, and certainly understand the risk that the IAEA has tipped its hand to the US, or will in the future. Nonetheless, your third sentence misses the point. The issue is not what the US tells the IAEA, but what the IAEA tells the US. My recollection is that the US grumbled about the IAEA’s stone-walling in response to US requests for more information about the laptop of death, requests ostensibly made so that the US could help the IAEA further by seeing how the IAEA’s information jibed with the US’ own information. The IAEA’s entirely reasonable response, if I recall correctly, was: “If you want so much to help, please tell us what you know that you haven’t already told us, and WE will figure out how it all fits together.”

  35. Castellio says:

    Alan… “and we know Obama does not like to be seen as adopting Israel’s position merely because it is Israel’s position.”

    We know that?

  36. James Canning says:

    Arnold,

    Re June 4th 8:21pm – – I too wonder just what the Obama administration position is, regarding Iranian enrichment of U. No enrichment, even to 5% or less? No enrichment, if the enriched U stays in Iran? We know Israel’s position, and we know Obama does not like to be seen as adopting Israel’s position merely because it is Israel’s position.

  37. Castellio says:

    Thanks again, Liz. It’s very hard for someone in the west to get accurate information about the Green movement; to what extent it is indigenous and socially coherent, as opposed to contrived and tactical.

  38. Liz says:

    Sorry about a third post! Zibakalam has been in debates on Iranian television after the statements that he made about Reza Khan.

  39. Liz says:

    By the way, they showed the whole speech live on Iranian TV (I saw it). They only turned down the volume when people were chanting anti-Mousavi slogans. Again you reinforce the point that I made earlier.

  40. Liz says:

    It was quite clear that she named the MEK and the Monarchists.

  41. Joao C says:

    @ Liz

    The fact that IRIB is your only source of news is telling of your stance on all topics discussed here. Haghighatjoo’s rebuttal on the documentary aired about her is also available. They have cut and paste her speeches from various talks and speeches to make their case and to try and link her to MEK. There’s no denying the hatred people have for MEK in Iran. Specially because of their terrorism activities and their Iran-Iraq war involvement. But to accuse him and all reformers of being supporters of the MEK is ridiculous at best. Zibakalam’s appearance on IRIB on a show that was later canceled is nothing to be proud of. Perhaps you were blind or deaf yesterday when they cut off Khomeini’s grandson’s speech from IRIB!

    @ Eric

    Women whose policies and beliefs (Fateme Rajabi) echo those of the hardliners in Iran and plan on limiting women’s rights might as well be men. Ahmadinejad is in fact changing laws to limit women’s involvement in society. Read up on Haghighatjoo for example. Read her rebuttal and watch the documentary they aired on IRIB and judge for yourself.

  42. Liz says:

    Castellio,

    His problem was that he didn’t distance himself from any group and that made him look especially bad. Recently, there was a piece on television about a woman in the Mousavi camp called Hagheghatjoo. She was shown speaking to a group of anti-IRI protesters in the US and she said that “we” all have a common goal and she named the Monarchists as well as the MEK. This made people over here very angry, especially as the MEK or MKO is hated by Iranians as much as Saddam Hussain is despised (after all they spied and fought for him). Since Mousavi is seen as accepting their support by refusing to distance himself from them and as they are supported by western governments and have dark pasts, especially during the Iraq-Iran war, Mousavi has lost most of his support base.

    Joao C,

    It’s best if we stay clear of the language used by Scott Lucas and his sidekick ChrisE. I believe I know a bit more than you do at least when it comes to Iran. The fact that you have not heard about Zibakalam’s recent remarks shows the limits of your knowledge about the country. His statements were the talk of the town for a few days.

  43. Sakineh Bagoom says:

    Eric A. Brill 11:53 am

    “It IS the nuclear issue AND Iran’s support of Islamic resistance groups in Lebanon and the Occupied Territories AND the allegedly illegitimate regime AND at times any number of other things”.

    Eric, among other things, let’s not forget multi-trillion dollars worth of gas and oil that is currently under the control of Iran. So the ISSUE is hegemony. Money begets money begets control begets hegemony.

  44. Joao C:

    “Plus, while under Khatami Iranian women were able to find their way to high office and made up majority of university students, under Ahmadinejad he’s trying to reverse that trend.”

    I vaguely recall hearing Ahmadinejad has appointed more women to cabinet positions than his predecessors. Not so?

  45. DWZ:

    “I hate to repeat myself but it’s not a nuclear Islamic Republic or its gaining capibility to make a nuclear bomb – which scares both Washington and Tel Aviv – but Tehran’s support for the Islamic resistance groups in Lebanon and the Occupied Territories”

    You’re correct that it’s not ONLY the nuclear issue, but you overstate the point a bit. It IS the nuclear issue AND Iran’s support of Islamic resistance groups in Lebanon and the Occupied Territories AND the allegedly illegitimate regime AND at times any number of other things.

    It’s like the amusement arcade game, Whack a Mole, in which the player stands with a small club in front of a flat table with about a dozen round holes through which the heads of little furry moles pop up faster than the player can whack them.

  46. Castellio says:

    Okay, Liz, thanks. When you say, “None of them have support inside Iran and Mousavi has lost his support basically because he and his people have established ties and alliances with some of these organizations which are deeply despised inside the country”, can you identify with which groups Mousavi has established alliances? Does he knowingly draw support from the Monarchists, from MEK?

    I can follow the American angle, funding all enemies of Iran, using the diaspora, to create the appearance of a deep and growing opposition, but are the top Greens, and I think we’re discussing Mousavi, supportive of this broad American strategy? Perhaps I am asking two questions: is Mousavi is a traitor to his own specific constituency within Iran; is his position being helped or hurt by the broader American strategy?

  47. Fiorangela Leone says:

    hah, Castellio, what you DON’T know about those flowing robes clothing French nuns in virtue is that inside those robes were thick books, scissors, knives, pins — weapons of mass destruction. Those nuns were terrorists!

  48. Fiorangela Leone says:

    Israel stations nuclear subs in Persian Gulf

    Is this real or is this psychological warfare?

    Is this the cudgel Israel is holding over Obama’s head — “If you call Israel to account for the death of an American citizen, we will attack Iran.”

    see also, “‘Hold Me Back:’ Israel’s Bellicose Threats Against Iran.” Uri Avnery
    http www dot counterpunch dot org/avnery04052010.html

    “When a boy has a scuffle with a bigger and stronger boy, he pretends that he is going to attack him any moment and shouts to the spectators: “Hold me back, or I am going to kill him!”

    Israel is now in such a situation. We pretend that we are going to attack Iran at any moment and shout to the entire world: “Hold us back or…”

    And the world does indeed hold us back.

    * * *

    IT IS dangerous to prophesy in such matters, especially when we are dealing with people not all of whom are wise and not all of whom are sane. Yet I am ready to maintain: there is no possibility whatsoever that the government of Israel will send the air force to attack Iran.”

    Valiant effort, Uri, but Israel HAS killed, killed an American citizen, 19 year old Furkan Dogan, killed him execution-style: four bullets to the head (‘confirm the kill,’ IDF SOP), one to the chest.

    AMERICAN MAINSTREEAM MEDIA IS NOT REPORTING ON
    ISRAEL’S EXECUTION OF AMERICAN FERKAN DOGAN!

    Israel has nuclear weapons aimed at Iran.

  49. Joao C says:

    @ Rehmat

    I agree with you and William that the Iranian women are better off than during the Shah’s time. But this is more their doing than that of the Islamic Republic. They’ve had to work twice as hard as men and this has made them stronger. The whole mandatory hijab is not even a major issue as far as women rights goes in Iran. Yes, to a foreign journalist who has to wear it briefly while on a short visit to Iran it may just be a work uniform. But to an Iranian girl who has grown up in Tehran and has been arrested time and time again for showing too much hair or is disrespected by unintelligent beings known as the moral police has its toll. It’s not about being able to choose what to wear, its about stopping hijab as a tool to oppress and humiliate. Plus, while under Khatami Iranian women were able to find their way to high office and made up majority of university students, under Ahmadinejad he’s trying to reverse that trend. Because he believes women belong in home as housewives and mothers. So for example his new university laws gives more slots to men than women. A girl who scores higher on the national exam (known as konkoor) will get placed under a guy with a lower score. Watch the films by Iranian female filmmaker Rakhshan Bani-Etemad on this subject and other women issues…

    @ Humanist

    Yes, you are right, they are not always implemented. In fact, every summer they start taking such laws seriously then they kind of forget about it. It’s really a tool to occasionally humiliate and oppress the masses with. I truly believe if the IRI one day decided that it would benefit from everyone walking around naked in the streets, they will use batons to make sure people walk around butt-naked! I remember two winters ago when I was in Tehran and they were arresting girls for wearing boots and cutting their boots in public with scisors! But this new moral police with its three divisions (you can see the cars marked for each squad in the streets in major squares) is taking things more seriously. It may just be a fad that wears off… But the fact stands that (a) my married friends were arrested and (b) They are arresting people and fining them in broad daylight in major squares in Tehran. Hopefully soon the cell phone footage of such arrests will make it on youtube.

    @ Pirouz_2

    I really would like to know what an ideal government for you is? A total anarchy? Please do tell. Because you just sound bitter and pissed off no matter what. Perhaps you’re playing the devil’s advocate. And I am not sure why you’re so against the Greens. You keep arguing they are a dead minority, but you continue to bring them up, because again, you’re bitter! How convenient for you to forget the thousands of chadoris who participated in the Green rallies. You forget the many photos and videos of chadoris side by side with the “bad-hijabis.” You also forget that the in 1979 revolution the chadoris were again next to women wearing no hijab. It’s just that the more extreme factions took control and enforced hijab against the wishes of the likes of Ayatollah Taleghani… The GM is not a mini-skirt movement. Among other things, they demand freedom to wear what the choose and what they choose may in fact be a chador. Like in Turkey. There will be more traditional neighborhoods and cities that will choose to wear a hijab at all times while the more liberal neighborhoods and cities will be mixed. Re: Zibakalam… I have never seen him on TV claiming Reza Shah did this country good. But let’s assume he did. So what?! What about the hundreds of other political prisoners? If you’re a secular atheist as you say you are, stop defending a defeated regime who can’t even tolerate it’s founder’s grandson’s speech!

    @ Liz

    You know everything. Nice lady.

  50. Fiorangela Leone says:

    Open Democracy provides some good background on US-Turkey relations.

    http://www.opendemocracy.net/kerem-oktem/turkey-and-israel-ends-and-beginnings

  51. Khurshid says:

    Leveretts have corretly pointed out the challenge Iran and Turkey are giving to Israel and US. I would include IRAQ, SYRIA and LEBANON in the list. we might not have seen any visible actions from these three yet but within a decade we will see. In 10 ten years “P5 of middle east” will completely dominate political landscape

  52. Liz says:

    Castellio,

    The traditional opponents of the Islamic Republic of Iran who are based in Europe and the United States consist of numerous groups. Some are monarchists, some are Marxist, some are terrorist organizations,etc. Recently another group of Iranians has been added to this long list and they are some of the hard core Mousavi supporters who have left Iran. All of these groups receive large amounts of funding from the US government as well as from foundations close to the political establishment in DC. However, while they are all “green”, they are deeply hostile towards one another and often accuse each other of having secret links with the political establishment in Iran. None of them have support inside Iran and Mousavi has lost his support basically because he and his people have established ties and alliances with some of these organizations which are deeply despised inside the country.

  53. Castellio says:

    I think, Liz, I am confused by how hierarchical (or not) the green movement can actually be, and if there is a process (or a modus vivendi) among the rival factions where they actually plan together..

  54. Castellio says:

    What’s absurd is that until quite recently it was extremely common to see nuns everywhere in France, teaching, in hospitals, etc., flowing robes, long sleeves, high necks, cowls, no hair or neck visible… and then, it was a respected sign of virtue.

  55. Pirouz 2,

    “The reality of “liberal democracies” is that in those countries the state can demand its citizens to abide by certain dress codes.”

    That is shocking, isn’t it? I’m amazed, and saddened, that a modern European country such as France would punish someone for dressing as they choose.

    It’s worth adding that several European countries imprison people for expressing a certain belief about history. One can deny that the Turks ever massacred the Armenians, or that Stalin ever ran prison camps. One can even deny that the entire 20th century ever happened. No punishment. Freedom of belief; freedom of expression. But to deny that that a particular historic event happened can land you in jail for several years in several European countries – and has. One can understand receiving a failing grade on a history test – but several years in prison?

    I find these European laws prohibiting certain modes of dress, and the expression of certain beliefs about history (wrong or not) very disturbing.

  56. Castellio says:

    Liz… what do you mean exactly when you say “Of course, they are all now rival green organizations.” Monarchists and MEK are distinct groupings within the greens? In a structured way, or sort of by default. I apologize for my ignorance.

  57. Liz says:

    Humanist and Joao C,

    Obviously, neither of you live in Iran and your views are colored by western media stories that for decades often came from monarchist and later mko (or mek) terrorist organization members. Of course, they are all now rival green organizations.

  58. Persian Gulf says:

    I have few questions here:

    1- why didn’t U.S attack North Korea back in 2003 when NK left NPT? or in the period of 2003-2006? was it because of China’s objection? it was crystal clear at that time where the situation is heading toward. Japan and South Korea seem to be very uneasy nowadays. I personally don’t think Japan would stay in that status for long. and it might come from the liberal party, in a rather bizarre fashion, as the events show.

    2-how big a place should be for 164 centrifuges? from the few pics that I saw in the web, it should be relatively small. Iran is comparatively big country.

    3-we know that at the beginning of 80s, Pakistan had roughly 2000 centrifuges, and it made the bombs a decade latter (we have had tremendous jump in terms of technology since then. computer simulation and so on). where did it get the materials for 70-80 bombs? are those just from LEU or other methods?

    4-question 3 applies partly to Israel as well. 200 bombs need a lot of materials based on the U.S concern for Iran’s nuclear program.

    other than LEU, plutonium, I think there are some methods using laser. and Iran is not that backward technologically. I mean, if a country like wants to make it (which I personally think, it should), it should need that much of efforts. well, Iran the cash, at least far more than what is needed for this purpose.

    and
    @ Eric, for your post on June 4, 2010 at 1:19 am

    your logic or power disproportion is a sort of motherhood statement, I guess. and it might be true partially. the question is, can you make this comment for the period before 2002? when Iran’s nuclear program was not up that much for the game.

  59. pirouz_2 says:

    @Humanist and Eric:

    Like Humanist, I too am an atheist! And just like Humanist I too am 100% behind a secular system.
    However, unfortunately, just like the recent history of Iran, in case of secularism too, “greens” know abosultely NOTHING.

    The WORST years of civil rights violation in Iran was between 1981-1995 under Mousavi/Rafsanjani!
    Today there is ALMOST nothing left of Hijab in Northern Tehran! If you go to ski resorts in the northern Tehran there is LITERALLY (and NOT virtually) NO HIJAB.
    Iran of today is NOT remotely comparable to the Iran of 1980s and 90s, in terms of freedom of “mini skirt”!! And BELIEVE ME all that “greens” understand from civil liberties is the freedom to mini skirt and listening to the garbage music called “rap” by the likes of “Sasy mankan”!! In fact if you take out the freedom to alcohol and mini skirt NOTHING is left from the so called GM!

    Now I say greens understand nothing from the true meaning of “civil liberities” precisely because of the following:

    Civil liberties are not just for an elite or for those who want to wear less! Those liberties are supposed to protect those who want to cover more as well! Greens understand nothing from the true meaning of secularism because they don’t understand that an important part of “secularity” is the freedom to practice your religion and abide by its dress codes.
    Now have a look at France, Netherland, Switzerland and Canada:
    In france, burqa is forbidden EVEN ON THE STREETS! In france girls cannot go to school with Hijab! (similar but perhaps looser codes are in effect in the countries in that list other than France)
    The reality of “liberal democracies” is that in those countries the state can demand its citizens to abide by certain dress codes.
    Just as in France the state can demand girls not go to school with Hijab, just as in most provinces in Canada women cannot go to the beaches “topless”, in Iran too, there are codes of covering of body demanded by the government!
    So why is it that no one feels the heat in france? or in Canada? Is it because there is no dress code? ABSOLUTELY NOT! BECAUSE THERE ARE DRESS CODES FOR MEN AND WOMEN ALL OVER THE WEST!
    The only criterion in the western countries for dress codes is that those “codes” are based on the “culture” of the majority of society, and no one gives a damn to the feelings of the muslim minority!
    SIMILARLY, the dress codes in Iran are based on the culture of the “majority” and NO ONE gives a damn to the feelings of the educated, western minded MINORITY!

    I am against BOTH systems and I believe in NO DRESS CODE AT ALL. People should be free to wear whatever the hell they want. BUT THE REALITY ON THE GROUND ALL OVER THE WROLD (AND NOT JUST IN IRAN) IS NOT THAT!

    And one last point: Political freedom and dress codes are two completely different things! In terms of political freedom Iran is in a state where people such as Sadegh Zibakalam can come on STATE TV and openly say that whatever Reza Shah did was good and useful for Iran and he made Iran progress! The equivalent of this in USA would be that someone would come on CNN and openly support Al-Qaeda!
    And it is not just that, the very same person (Zibakalam) has come and openly said on STATE TV that USA had a right to confiscate Irans savings in US (some 13 billion dollar in 1979) and distribute it among the members of the former government who escaped from Iran after the revolution (all of whom were corrupt to their bones) and as such Iran cannot demand its holdings back from USA!
    This is the state of political freedom in Iran today.
    Is it a free and democratic system? HELL NO!
    Is it a liberal democracy? IT MOST CERTAINLY IS!

  60. Castellio says:

    Just to thank Arnold for his most recent post at 8.21, and to Eric for provoking it. Thanks to both of you for taking the time.

  61. Humanist says:

    @ Eric re: Joao’s post

    I think Joao is telling half of the story. I am an atheist always advocating the separation of Religion and State, however I try to speak out when I notice false or dishonest allegations against IRI.

    At the beginning of Fars News’ post one reads:

    (On January 2006 the Law of “Rendition ways of Expanding the Culture of Decency and Hijab” was passed by “High Council of Cultural Revolution”. But after over four years, no serious step is taken to implement it.)

    This is very typical and is not the first time laws are passed but never implemented. In early days after the revolution, Iranian rulers established that all the laws of the land must be based on Strict Islamic Principles.( Such as Stoning, cutting off the hands of thieves, eye for an eye, absolute prohibition of paying interest, family laws, execution of infidels etc).

    Soon, IRI faced serious problems in passing and/or enacting laws that had to adhere to above principals.

    These days one can find numerous serious deviations from that basic rule.

    Among many that infuriates Wahhabi Sunnis are: Iranian Government Banks openly pay interest to their customers, after millions of theft in the last 30 years only a few stoning and amputation are recorded and women are not treated differently as clearly stipulated in Quran

    One comical rumor is: in one small town, instead of cutting off the hand of a convicted thief, the mullahs bent the rules and (probably after receiving bribe) settled to amputation of his pinky toe.

    Another example of comical contradictory practice are ……..they teach Darwin’s theory of Evolution and Evidence of “Natural Selection” in the biology classes….and they have a Governmental and Private Research Institutions for Stem Cell research !

    ..

  62. Dan Cooper says:

    Norman Finkelstein vs. zionist at crosstalk on Israeli attack part 1

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hpcrS0rTUtk

    Part 2

    ,http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lyWd6i2LJeE,

  63. Rehmat says:

    Joao C

    William Beeman and Zara Houshman in “Pacific News Service”, Feb. 27, 2001 paid tributes to Muslimahs in Iran and the rest of Muslim world. William wrote: “No place in the Islamic world has been more stigmatized for its treatment of women than Iran. But on the recent trip there – my first in many years – my greatest surprise was the clear evidence that Iranian women are better off today than they were under the Shah.

    The Islamic Republic has emphysized women equality in education, employment, and political as matter of national pride. Although Iranian women have served in Iranian legislature and as government ministers since the 1950s, more women make up the current parliament than under the Pahlavi regime…..More than 75% of population is under age of 25 – well over 90% of men and women are literate (as compared to world’s richest country, the US, where more than 15% Americans cannot read or write) even in rural areas.

    Many older, westernized women decry any restriction on their dress, but younger women who grew up in Islamic Republic take it in stride. “I View it a kind of work uniform. I am far more concerned about press restrictions than the dress code,” claimed one female journalist.”

    http://rehmat1.wordpress.com/2009/02/11/though-the-eyes-of-a-muslimah/

  64. Arnold Evans says:

    Eric:

    Remember Dick Cheney, I think in 2005 or 2006, said the Bush administration would not leave without Iran’s nuclear issue settled? It left without the issue settled because the military over-ruled opening a new war with Iran. Iran had no nuclear deterrent, but the US was deterred nonetheless.

    Iran has a few years in which I expect the US to be deterred, and it does not need its nuclear program to play any important role in that deterrence. Over those few years Iran can both make its nuclear program more difficult to bomb and develop new means of deterrence, and possibly its program will reach the point where it is a deterrence in its own right.

    If the US bombs Iran today, the US does not expect that it can prevent a full-on push for a bomb that Iran would be able to make after the attack. But either way, I’ve never thought Iran’s nuclear program either is today, or will be in any near foreseeable future the only or the primary deterrent to a US attack on Iran. But I do think Iran should and will keep the option open for future generations of Iranian leaders to emphasize its nuclear capability more or less as they feel conditions require. I also think eventually Iran’s nuclear capability will reach the point that it could by itself prevent a US attack on Iran, but that is generations from now.

    If you’re suggesting Iran should deliberately design its nuclear program around the constraint that the US must feel confident that it could stop it by bombing it if it wants, no state would do that. No state has ever done that. It is an unreasonable suggestion.

    I guess I don’t know what you mean by nuclear option. This is what I expect to see over the next five years: Iran will build a little more than a ton of LEU per year. Iran in 2010 or 2011 will demonstrate that it can transform LEU into a metallic state and work with it in that state. Maybe in 2011 or 2012, Iran will transfer some of its LEU stock to more bomb resistant locations. Iran in 2013 or 2014 will switch on Arak, which will give Iran a pathway to plutonium. That pathway will give Iran measurable new nuclear options sometime before 2020.

    Iran’s progress on the nuclear field is, to some degree negotiable, but not with the US demanding an indefinite suspension of its program that has no legal or technical basis. Things that have not been done yet can probably be postponed, maybe indefinitely for an agreement that respects Iran’s right to keep the status it now has. But the US and Israel are not able to commit to Iran keeping the status it now has because Iran, by my, Israel and the US’ definition is nuclear capable today. I see not by yours, so whatever term you think my definition fits, read that in what I write from now on.

    Oh, the question of can the IAEA keep its findings confidential. The short answer is no. The IAEA is essentially an intelligence service. The US contributions to the IAEA’s personnel are supplied by the US’ intelligence services. Iran cannot sensibly submit to the AP at this point unless and until the US accepts Iran’s nuclear status.

    The United States has a political and strategic issue with Iran achieving what you would consider a broad definition of nuclear capability. Hillary Clinton’s definition of nuclear capability that was the same definition used under Bush and that has not been corrected, but rather reaffirmed by Obama administration personnel such as Obama himself and Robert Gates.

    Iran being more forthcoming will not solve that political and strategic issue, it would just give the US more tools to try to achieve its objective by misusing the IAEA and UNSC, by covert attacks on Iran’s program, including assassinations, and by threatening overt bombing attacks.

    Alan:

    Bush wanted a permanent cessation of enrichment, Obama clearly states he wants a temporary suspension to comply with UNSCRs, and that they only need to suspend until they have complied with the requirements of the IAEA.

    It’s not the same, Arnold. We don’t know what the outcome of it all will be, but it is definitely not the same.

    The problem is that it is exactly the same. In fact I’m pretty sure Condoleeza Rice, speaking for the Bush administration, clearly stated that she only wanted a temporary suspension to comply with the UNSCRs. This temporary suspension is permanent because the US has the votes on the BOG to prevent a finding of compliance from ever happening. If the US did not have to votes to do that, there never would have been a finding of non-compliance in the first place.

    There was no missing fissile material when this finding was made. To protect Israel, the US could whip up such a finding against Saudi Arabia or Egypt or Syria or Sudan at any time because every nation that has not implemented the AP for years is subject to such a finding. Iran was implementing the AP when the finding was made. The IAEA Board of Governors is not some impartial jury.

    I guess you’re saying you’ve agreed with the IAEA BOG’s positions. I don’t agree with its findings, nearly nobody in Iran agrees with its findings. The Bush administration, the Obama administration and the US foreign policy communities agree with those finding and with you. At this point you’re defending the Bush administration not much differently than Condoleeza Rice would. If you assume the US position is reasonable and do not feel that assumption needs support, that’s what you’ll do.

    On Iran, he wants to negotiate with them over their nuclear programme, but they won’t talk to him about it. On the other hand, Iran wanted to talk to Bush, but he wouldn’t talk to them.

    There has been enough direct and indirect contact between the US and Iran (under both Bush and Obama) that what is really happening is not that either side wants to negotiate but the other does not. What is happening is that the minimum Iran will accept, in the case of both administrations is more than the maximum the US is willing to allow.

    I don’t know for sure what the US is willing to allow, because its position has not been made public. I see no indication at all that the US is willing to allow enrichment. Or that the Obama position on Iran’s nuclear program is different from Bush’s. You’re assuming it is, but with absolutely no basis except that if you were Obama your position would be different. (Mines too.)

    On the nuclear issue, Bush agreed to disagree, worked with Iran on stabilizing Iraq and (voluntarily) issued the 2007 NIE which took further sanctions and a military strike off the table. Obama has taken symbolic steps against Israel but has done nothing as tangible regarding Iran as Bush’s 2007 NIE. He could and should have in the wake of the Brazil, Turkey deal.

  65. Joao C:

    I used Google Translate to translate the web page you cited, which translated well enough for me to get your point. I must say I wouldn’t like it much either. Americans are used to a great deal more freedom.

  66. Joao C says:

    @Eric

    “A man and a woman just walking down the street, side by side, doing nothing wrong, and they were thrown in jail until they produced their certificate of marriage. You’d bet your life on this, eh?

    How about a link to those articles that describe this?”

    I would never bet my life on an article written by someone I don’t know in some website somewhere! But I would on first hand information from my own friends. I could give you their full names and address and phone number in Tehran, but that would just be plain stupid, wouldn’t it?! Better believe it though. The new (and improved!) moral police is divided into three sections as part of the new campaign for “hijab and chastity”: 1. Hijab squad (to enforce hair coverage and clothing. 2. Make-Up squad (to enforce make up control) and [Ready for this?] 3. Relationship squad (to arrest couple suspicious of having a premarital relationship. Now I don’t know if you’ve ever been to Iran, but many of the middle class young people have boyfriend/girlfriend relationships like they do in the West. They used to check on their relationship status in the earlier days of the revolution, but since Khatami came to power they stopped. But they are doing that again.

    All this is meant for domestic consumption, so naturally I couldn’t find the news on Fars News English. But my broken Farsi tells me this is the link all about this campaign on Fars News Farsi:

    http://www.farsnews.com/newstext.php?nn=8902030057

  67. James Canning says:

    Eric,

    I certainly agree with you that Iran should avoid setting up a needless confrontation.
    I also think it is in the best interests of the US and Israel for Iran to be prosperous and at peace. This is but one reason I support Chinese and Turkish investment in Iranian oil and gas facilities.

  68. James,

    To clarify my opening response: the “Absolutely not” replied to your first question, not your second.

  69. James,

    “Is Iran playing a “cat and mouse game” with the US when Iran insists it has the right to enrich U to 5% or less, under the NPT? Isn’t Iran standing on principle?”

    Absolutely not, if that were all there is to it. If only the NPT and Iran’s Safeguards Agreement were at issue, Iran could afford to stand on principle. I was all prepared to lay out complicated legal arguments to just that effect. And I do think Iran should stick to its guns on enrichment, and on anything else it needs to do to run its peaceful nuclear program on the assumption it gets absolutely no help from any other country.

    But I no longer think it makes much sense for Iran just to stand on its rights under the NPT and Iran’s Safeguards Agreement. The US, the UNSC and the IAEA won’t accept that. (To some extent, they don’t even UNDERSTAND it, since many players seem to believe, mistakenly, that the UNSC has some authority to enforce the NPT and Iran’s Safeguards Agreement.) Whether they should is another question entirely, but they don’t, and I don’t see that as likely to change. And so, if I were Iran, I’d accept the short-term reality, disclose more to keep the US off my back for the time being, and be patient. The more time passes, the longer is Iran’s record of compliance and cooperation, the tighter grow its bonds to strong or medium-strong countries other than the US, and the weaker the US and Israel grow.

    When time is on your side, you’re best off waiting. When time is not on your side, you’re better off forcing the issue.

  70. James Canning says:

    Eric,

    Is Iran playing a “cat and mouse game” with the US when Iran insists it has the right to enrich U to 5% or less, under the NPT? Isn’t Iran standing on principle?

    Arnold’s notion of a “virtual nuke” seems obviously highly dangerous and an open invitation for another idiotic Iraq-style war based on false pretenses.

  71. Dan Cooper says:

    British survivor of Gaza flotilla raid: ‘Israelis ignored SOS calls’

    Sarah Colborne said pleas for aid were dismissed by the troops who fired live rounds at the activists and handcuffed medical staff.

    “The Israeli military were firing on us,” she said. “We had no arms. We made two attempts to get the message across in the written form. We wrote a sign in Hebrew saying ‘SOS! Need medical assistance. People are dying. Urgent.'”

    Watch the Video:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/jun/03/british-survivor-gaza-flotilla

  72. Fiorangela,

    “I don’t think Iran “wastes its time” by preparing for its future OR by protecting its people from American and Israeli threats.”

    I don’t either. I just question whether playing cat-and-mouse games with the IAEA and US is the best way to go about it. I recognize it might not seem obvious at times, but I’m a strong supporter of Iran.

    I probably ought to place more weight on Iran’s memories of its difficulties defending itself against Saddam’s army during the Iran-Iraq war. But maybe it’s best that I don’t put too much weight on that, if that enables me to point out that the Iranian people may be placing too much weight on it. I worry that they’re overlooking the futility of a great deal of what those memories might induce them to do. If Iran wants to confront the US, it will probably be better off postponing that a while longer, and doing today what’s necessary to make sure that postponement occurs.

  73. Arnold,

    We actually do agree on something here, though it’s not obvious:

    “I think you both have a somewhat wrong impression of what commenters, at least I, mean when when we say “virtual bomb”. But I’m pretty sure what we mean corresponds closely with what Israel and the United States mean when they say an Iranian virtual bomb cannot be tolerated. If Iran has enrichment technology and a stock of LEU at 5% that could be further enriched to build a weapon, Iran has a virtual bomb. Period. Iran has a virtual bomb today.”

    When I say “nuclear option” or “virtual bomb” requires more than this, I’m referring essentially to what would be necessary for it to have at least a sporting chance of building a deliverable bomb after the US has bombed Iran. That requires a lot more than what you’re describing here, and is inevitable a fluid definition because Iran’s chances of success depend on two factors, not just one, as I mentioned in an earlier post:

    1. How far along Iran is in its bomb development when the US attacks; and

    2. How harsh of post-bombing measures the US is able and willing to take to prevent Iran from getting any farther.

    In one important respect, I think your lower-threshold definition makes perfectly good sense. As I’ve written before, as long as the US doesn’t have anything close to perfect knowledge about Iran’s nuclear program, it’s likely to define “virtual bomb” much more broadly than it might define it if it had considerably greater knowledge. It might well say, as you stated, that “If Iran has enrichment technology and a stock of LEU at 5% that could be further enriched to build a weapon, Iran has a virtual bomb. Period.”

    If the US’ very limited knowledge of the current state of Iran’s nuclear program causes the US (and Israel) to set the bar that low, then it follows that Iran is presently at considerable risk of being attacked, unless Iran:

    1. Persuades the US that the US is setting the definitional bar of “virtual bomb” way too low – that the US shouldn’t be getting all worked up about the possibility of Iran’s bomb development, notwithstanding Iran’s practice of disclosing considerably less about that than the US, the IAEA and others have asked for; or

    2. Iran can disclose considerably more about its nuclear program so that the US’ knowledge about its nuclear program gets close to “perfect” (albeit still fairly far away from that), which might cause the US to narrow its definition of “virtual bomb” so that Iran no longer satisfies the definition.

    I don’t see Alternative 1 working very well, and I don’t understand why Iran is so opposed to Alternative 2.

    I’ll offer a possible answer to the last question, which is reflected in one of your comments: disclosing more (for example, what the Additional Protocol would require) would be like handing over to the US a road map of Iran’s bombable nuclear facilities. Though you didn’t say so, I gather this means that you have little or no faith that the IAEA would honor its contractual and NPT obligations to maintain the confidentiality of the information Iran discloses, and that no practical way exists for Iran to disclose this information without specifying the exact locations of these additional facilities (blindfolding IAEA inspectors when they’re driven to the facilities, for an obvious example).

    Can you comment on that?

  74. Fiorangela Leone says:

    Eric, I should have addressed your specific question. Joao’s correct. Enforcement of Iranian relations with opposite sex is even more difficult than dress regulations, requiring creativity on the part of both determined offenders and enforcers (provides an insight into Iranian penchant for stretching/twisting/bending rules). Family is such an important part of Iranian culture, tho, that family members exercise the kind of vigilance that I recall from growing up in a closely monitored Catholic environment in the ’50s.

    Young girls in Iranian society wear street clothes, bare heads, until ?? 9 or 10 yrs old; then they cover. School children we saw (everywhere! hundreds of them) dress in uniform hijab and manteau, generally in pastel colors, related to their school. Boys wear polo shirts and slacks.

  75. Fiorangela Leone says:

    Eric, Joao, The Morals Police drive white cars with green lettering. Offenders are either reprimanded on the street, or bundled into the car and taken to a lockup until someone comes and pays a fine to bail them out. Black Mercedes Benzes are also used by Morals Police to patrol.

    The stringency of enforcement differs in different cities: Shiraz is quite liberal, as is Isfehan. Mashad, a major tourist spot and site of a shrine to ?? (I’ve forgotten — I think it’s the martyred Imam), is very strict. Tehran is such a large city that various parts of it are more or less liberal.

    Offenses include showing too much hair under hijab (hijab is just the head cover, often just a scarf), too-tight clothing, makeup, improper cover of the upper body (manteaus are worn to cover from neck to knees, shoulder to wrist; blue jeans typically complete the ensemble. keep in mind Iran is a hot country). Pious Iranian women wear chador — enveloping cape/robe, usually black, that covers head to ankle. It’s quite a knack to wear a chador; I have photos of chador-clad Iranian women, on motorcycles, with their spouse and a child. You really wanna tangle with someone who can pull that off? Iranian women are TOUGH!

    It’s quite a game to see how far one can push the Morals Police. It is not at all uncommon to see Iranian women in a black chador, spectacular shoes, giant red purse, magnificent sunglasses. Brightly colored scarves are worn in a way to expose just a little too much hair. In Tehran we had a very long and wonderful talk with three young artists who had just opened a gallery near Laleh Park. They complained bitterly that the MP were arbitrary and would detain them for an offense on one day, but would not detain another person for the same offense on another day. Their strongest objection, however, was to the restrictions the IRI put on their artistic expression. As they showed us their paintings, they explained how their images were ‘coded’ to represent themes that IRI would otherwise censor.

    One of our guides, an Armenian Christian*, was an extraordinarily affable man who expressed the typical complaints about repressive Iranian actions but was unfailingly good-natured about them. Except for one situation: Morals police detained him and his wife, put them in jail and humiliated his wife. He said if that happens again he will kill the police.
    *Armenians/Christians have a few more degrees of latitude in Iranian society. For example, Christians may drink alcohol, therefore, many Armenians run small businesses out of their homes ….

  76. kooshy says:

    Liz

    As you may have heard this Persian proverb
    سگ زرد برادر شغال است
    “Yellow dog is coyote’s brother “

  77. Joao C:

    “On this I am willing to bet my life on. I am 100% positive because I KNOW one such couple. They were held in jail until they proved with the certificate of their marriage that they are married.”

    A man and a woman just walking down the street, side by side, doing nothing wrong, and they were thrown in jail until they produced their certificate of marriage. You’d bet your life on this, eh?

    How about a link to those articles that describe this?

  78. Liz says:

    Alan:

    – He is not talking to Hamas.
    – Israel was named in the NPT Review Conference outcome document, only because if he had vetoed the declaration the conference would have failed and Obama would have been held responsible. By the way, the US has been attacking the declaration ever since.
    – He opposes Jewish settlement building in East Jerusalem? We all remember Clinton speaking about the “unprecedented concessions” made by the Zionist state.
    – he kicked Netanyahu out of the White House without his dinner, twice? I thought that it was Biden who was humiliated in Israel not Netanyahu in DC.
    – he wants to withdraw from Iraq? With the US economy as it is and after all that happened in Iraq, who doesn’t?
    – he wants to withdraw from Afghanistan? He sure fooled me with the “surge”.
    – he hasn’t invaded anybody (although he wrongly supports drone attacks in Pakistan)
    By “wrongly supports” do you mean that he is respnsible for crimes against humanity, the deaths of countless women and children, and the current hatred for the US throughout the country?
    On Iran, he wants to negotiate with them over their nuclear programme, but they won’t talk to him about it. When did this happen?

  79. John Earls says:

    Fiorangela makes the key point “…it’s my assessment that Middle East leaders are dramatically changing the game from “We’ve got the biggest guns” to “We think more rationally.””

    The world’s problems can only be addressed by thinking rationally about them, and that implies taking into account the rational interests of the others’ concerns. The biggest gun users ever more increasingly shoot themselves in the foot in the biggest gun game.

  80. Alan says:

    Arnold:

    – he is talking to Hamas, Bush didn’t
    – he named Israel in the NPT Review Conference outcome document, Bush didn’t
    – he opposes Jewish settlement building in East Jerusalem, Bush didn’t
    – he kicked Netanyahu out of the White House without his dinner, twice
    – he wants to withdraw from Iraq
    – he wants to withdraw from Afghanistan
    – he hasn’t invaded anybody (although he wrongly supports drone attacks in Pakistan)

    On Iran, he wants to negotiate with them over their nuclear programme, but they won’t talk to him about it. On the other hand, Iran wanted to talk to Bush, but he wouldn’t talk to them.

    Bush wanted a permanent cessation of enrichment, Obama clearly states he wants a temporary suspension to comply with UNSCRs, and that they only need to suspend until they have complied with the requirements of the IAEA.

    It’s not the same, Arnold. We don’t know what the outcome of it all will be, but it is definitely not the same.

    I have been answering your questions for days now, dozens of them. It is you who is guilty of what you constantly accuse me of – you constantly seek to exonerate Iran with a blind faith in their willingness to engage and their negotiating wisdom that I see no evidence for, while blaming the US every step of the way despite a catalogue of evidence that shows they ARE trying to engage.

    The amazing thing to me about this is finding myself a defender of the US, when the very idea has been anathema to me for years.

  81. Joao C says:

    @ Eric

    On this I am willing to bet my life on. I am 100% positive because I KNOW one such couple. They were held in jail until they proved with the certificate of their marriage that they are married. Like I said, this no longer has anything to do with Sharia law or Islam, it’s just a show of force and a means to scare people off streets. You may choose to believe me or not, but like I said, I know these people PERSONALLY. I’ll vouch for it. And that’s not the absurdest new law enforced by the moral police. The new apporach fines girls for nailpolish per finger, for tanning, for wearing sunglasses on their heads (?!!). And as part of the fine for being with a boy/girlfriend they impound your vehicle and ask that you pay a $2000 fine. I’m not making this up. Check Raja News or Fars News if you want!

    My question is still unanswered regarding Leverett’s sense of patriotism. How can they consider themselves Americans if they never criticize a regime that says “Death to America.” How do they expect to sell Khamenei/Ahmadinejad to the American People?

  82. The pieces on this website have come so fast and furious this week that some might have overlooked Flynt’s and Hillary’s excellent monograph on China/Iran relations, which they cited in their piece on China earlier this week:

    http://www.sais-jhu.edu/centers/reischauer/moving_slightly_closer.pdf

  83. jay says:

    Alan’s position seems to me to be untenable.

    Here are some of facts on the ground are:
    a) Obama brought aboard Clinton and her colleagues
    b) Obama pursued a policy of confrontation despite the rhetoric of reconciliation
    c) Obama has pursued a “don’t ask don’t tell” policy vis-a-vis “American allies”

    In each of case the examples are abound! From the recruitment of the same neocons in the Bush administration to the expansion of covert operations in Iran and the continual pursuit of the lob-sided position with respect to Middle East peace.

    Obama, to his credit, has managed to wage a better PR image. However, on the substance (not the form) of every foreign policy issue his approach has been hard to distinguish from his predecessor. Yes, he has talked about peace, reaching out, unclenched fists, etc., etc. – but these are all “form” not substance.

    On the substance of American foreign policy Obama has pursued the same “group think” that has besieged Washington. The label “neocon” is “scary” because it is associated with a school of thought that not only views the world from a narrow and often dangerous view point – a lens of unreality – but more importantly acts on it from this limited viewpoint. In practice, as experienced by the average world citizen, what matters is the observed actions; and, in this department if you close your eyes and replace all the names from the press secretary all the way up, the Obama administration has the feel that is eerily similar to the Bush administration.

  84. Fiorangela,

    “It saddens me that you have incorporated the hasbara that wigwag spread over this site, the same propaganda with which MSM infects the American people. … Cowboys yell ‘yihah’ and the herd moves where the cowboy wants it to move, but that doesn’t mean yihah is true or a good place for cows to go.”

    I’m not agreeing that Americans ought to hate Iranians. I feel strongly to the contrary, very strongly. I’m just saying that they do. On the other hand, your “cows” metaphor is a good one, since a herd of cows can fairly easily be turned in a different direction, even 180 degrees.

    I do my part at every opportunity to turn the American cows around. But I think Iran would be very unwise to base its nuclear policy on an assumption that those cows are, or soon will be, running in the right direction.

  85. Joao C:

    I try to steer clear of comments on what’s happening on the streets of Iran, but I’m willing to go out on a limb on this one:

    “The “moral police” is arresting and fining young Iranians for anything from bad hijab to wearing sunglasses and being with a member of the opposite sex (regardless of them being married or not).”

    Do you recognize what your claim here includes? You’re essentially saying that married Iranian couples are being arrested and fined today (meaning June 4, 2010) for nothing other than walking down the street together?

    Does that not strike you as implausible? Do you understand why, every now and then, some people think the Greens exaggerate just a tad?

  86. Arnold,

    First, a definitional point:

    “If Iran has enrichment technology and a stock of LEU at 5% that could be further enriched to build a weapon, Iran has a virtual bomb. Period. Iran has a virtual bomb today.”

    If that’s your (very broad) definition of “virtual bomb,” then I agree there’s nothing Iran can do – other than give up enrichment, which it should not do – to avoid being deemed to have a virtual bomb. My definition would be considerably tighter: Iran would have to be much closer to building a deliverable bomb.

    Regardless of our respective definitions, you appear to find considerably more merit than I do in the argument that Iran’s possession of a “nuclear option” (or “virtual bomb”) might dissuade the US from attacking Iran for fear that Iran might become very upset and build a real and deliverable bomb, undetected by the US.

    That certainly happened with Iraq after the Israelis blew up the Osirak reactor in 1981 – and Iraq’s secret bomb-making effort after Osirak is precisely what led to the Additional Protocol being drafted. But Israel had considerably less control over the post-bombing environment than the US is likely to ensure itself that it has if it ever bombs Iran (which I don’t think will happen, despite all our hand-wringing). I doubt very seriously that the US would make the “Iraq mistake” again – attack Iran and then leave it up to Iran to decide whether it now felt that adopting the Additional Protocol was a good idea. What the US would almost certainly do – starting, say, as the dust was still clearing from the last US bombing run – would be to announce to Iran that a new “inspection regime” labeled “Extra Strength Additional Protocol” was now in place. I’ll bet dollars to donuts that the specs for Extra Strength Additional Protocol have already been written up by some US nuclear guys, in collaboration with Army Special Forces representatives, and that those specs involve some pretty stiff penalties for non-compliance (death penalties, drawing and quartering, the rack – that sort of thing – along with some collective punishment, such as nuking successively larger cities as violations are discovered).

    However one defines “nuclear option” (or “virtual bomb”), one of two things must be true:

    1. Iran’s possession of a nuclear option will dissuade the US from ever attacking Iran; or

    2. It won’t – or, if it would and the US is not confident it can determine whether Iran has a nuclear option, the US will attack Iran without waiting any longer to find out, which amounts to “won’t.”

    Assuming the second choice is correct – as I do after three seconds of thought or after any longer period of thought – then it follows that the US has probably thought through how it would handle the post-bombing risk that Iran would become so upset that it might try to build a deliverable bomb, as Saddam did. The next question, then, is whether it’s possible for the US to come up with some plan that would ensure that Iran does not have an opportunity to transform its virtual bomb into a real and deliverable bomb. On this question, one of these two facts will be true:

    A. It will simply not be possible for the US to control the post-bombing Iran “environment,” either through stringent on-site monitoring, threats of serious individual and collective punishment, or some combination of the two (and/or other methods I may be overlooking), sufficiently to prevent Iran from slapping together a deliverable bomb; or

    B. It will be possible to do that (or at least the US will persuade itself that it’s possible), which will leave only the question of how heavy-handed the US is prepared to be in order to ensure that its bomb-prevention efforts succeed.

    I’ll answer that final question with a great deal of confidence: as heavy-handed as necessary, maybe even more.

    As this might suggest to you, I find your very broad definition of “virtual bomb” ironic. If Iran’s already there, then either (1) you think that’s good enough to keep the US from attacking Iran – which I seriously doubt you think; or (2) you must acknowledge that having such a loosely-defined “virtual bomb” really doesn’t count for much, since it won’t keep the US from attacking Iran. If it’s the latter, as I strongly suspect, then you must have in mind some narrower definition of “nuclear option” that really means something (that “something” being whatever it takes to keep the US from attacking). Much more important here, the US undoubtedly has its own version of that “practical” definition, which has two interdependent elements:

    a. How far along in its bomb development Iran appears to be; and

    b. Given the extent of Iran’s bomb-development, whether the US believes that the post-US-bombing measures that the US is prepared to take will be sufficient to prevent Iran from developing that bomb.

    Because (I believe) those two elements of the US’ practical definition are interdependent, the US could well decide to let Iran “slide” a bit longer than might seem prudent, provided that the US is prepared to take such harsh post-bombing measures that it is confident Iran won’t get very much farther down the bomb-making road. (You should note that, in deciding upon your own narrower definition of “nuclear option” (meaning whatever it takes to keep the US from attacking), you won’t have the luxury of knowing just how extensive of post-bombing measures the US will be prepared to take, which ought to leave you a bit uncertain as to whether your new definition will provide a useful guide for Iran’s behavior.)

    If I’m right about this interdependency, and Iran does pursue a “nuclear option” (not the meaningless sort of “virtual bomb” you point out it already has), and Iran is later pleased that it seems to be getting pretty far down the bomb-making road without having been attacked by the US, Iran might end up learning, the very hard way, that it got that far only because the US had considerable confidence that the extreme harshness of its planned post-bombing measures would make up for its “long leash” approach before the attack.

    All in all, it seems best for me that Iran (1) come up with a narrower definition of “nuclear option” than you suggest, since your definition doesn’t tell Iran much about where it ought to draw the line on its nuclear-related activities; (2) stay on the “peaceful” side of that line; and (3) be more forthcoming with the IAEA so that the IAEA gets confident that Iran is staying on the “peaceful” side of the line.

  87. James Canning says:

    Arnold Evans,

    Are you spooning up the rubbish put out by the Wall Street Journal and the neocons? A “virtual bomb”! How many months would be needed to take Iranian LEU from 5% to 95%? And remember, the IAEA monitors Iranian nuclear materials 24 hours a day, seven days a week. So any diversion would be noticed.

  88. James Canning says:

    Serifo,

    I agree entirely with you that Iran does not need nukes to protect itself. Just closing the Strait of Hormuz would wreak havoc globally.

    Iran has given many signals over the years it would tolerate Israel if Israel makes a deal with the Palestinians acceptable to the Palestinians. And Syria would enter into a peace agreement if Israel got out of the Golan Heights entirely (save for some radar sites).

  89. kooshy says:

    Fiorangela

    “Iran purchased the space that allowed these leaders to formulate their views. From Khomeini to Ahmadinejad, IRI leaders have been calling upon Iran’s neighbors to stand up for their rights, to refuse to continue to be humiliated by western domination. al-Assad has refined that message into terms more palatable to the west: cooperation but not capitulation, based on reason, not military might.”

    I just got the chance to read your very good post, and I must say a very expensive purchase but if it ever works is well worth.

  90. Serifo says:

    For the short term Iran doesn`t need nuclear deterrent , the Saudi oil fields and the straight of Hormuz are enough to force Washington to stop the Zionist insanity ! :)
    Wow Iran doesn`t need nuclear deterrent for long term either , because the Zionist regime will not last forever and the bankrupted U.S empire will not last forever ! :) Long live prime minister Erdogan………………

  91. James Canning says:

    I recommend Philip Stephens’ comments in the Financial Times today: “The Palestinians cannot be hammered into submission”.
    Also in the FT today: “Historic speech comes back one year on to haunt Obama” (by Ed Luce).

  92. Arnold Evans says:

    Alan:

    So what specific policy differences do you see between Obama and Bush. Your position seems to me that Obama’s policies look exactly like Bush’s, but in Bush’s case it was Bush’s fault and in Obama’s case it is Iran’s fault.

    An Obama administration official could say tomorrow that there is no legal basis for demanding Iran not enrich uranium. You think it’s Iran’s fault that it hasn’t. You have to go way out of your way to believe that.

  93. Rehmat says:

    Fiorangela Leone ……

    There are tens of thousands of Israel Hasbara operatives including our Canadian PM Stephen Harper, and thousands of American ‘Israel-Firsters’ are busy shielding Zionist regime from the world outcry for its continuous barbaric actions.

    These people do hate Iran for supporting Hamas and Hizbullah. However, more than 40 million Americans who cannot afford even basic medicare – are looking forward for benefiting from Islamic Iran’s Healthcare Houses…

    http://rehmat1.wordpress.com/2010/06/04/irans-health-house-model-for-us/

  94. kooshy says:

    Eric

    Thanks for your comments,
    I wonder if American public will ever realize that how a “Madman” of an action Mr. Obama’s expansion of the war inside tribal areas of Pakistan, a nuclear country that unlike Vietnam if it falls, (and I guarantee it will), that is not tied ideologically or religiously to a friendly large neighbor (China), that if it falls could be moderated when it falls is.
    As you know Pakistan actually is in a permanent conflict with its largest neighbor, what would you think America can do if Pakistan falls and if Americans can’t overcome, what would south west Asia look then.

    On the other hand unleashing and letting Israel loose in an angry Muslim region for colonial means, as I understand has permanently diminished America’s image in that region if not among rest of the Muslims, to me this is much more mad and serious for the security of the world than just bombing Laos and Cambodia and making deals with China. If Americans are not mad and insane, then they must be sure they are still safe because of the two oceans and can be careless with the rest of the planets inhabitants. Well if that is the case that sounds MAD too.

    As always thank you for your comments, I always enjoy reading your thoughts

  95. Alan says:

    I think there is a bit of a problem at the moment with the way US policy is perceived. I know it never lends itself to any form of applause, but I think it is important to separate the Bush years from normal US service.

    Bush was an unrelenting, unmitigated disaster, for so long, and in such total harmony with Israel, that nowadays it is tempting to view Bush-era policy as being uniform historical US policy. It wasn’t, otherwise the huge mess we have now would have come about an awful lot sooner that it did.

    The lunatics are back in their padded cells in the US. I know that is patently not the case in Israel, but that is why there is clear blue sky between the US and Israel once again. However bad or disappointing Obama’s adminstration turns out to be, it will never be another Bush.

  96. Fiorangela Leone says:

    Dr. Alan Sabrosky combines Turkey, NATO, and UN in a stew of suggested necessary responses to Israel’s attack on the Gaza flotilla [USG = US government]:

    ” invoke the “Uniting for Peace” Resolution in the UN General Assembly, which gives the UNGA the enforcement mechanisms available in other circumstances to the Security Council. My reading of the reaction to this incident is that at this time, there are more than enough votes in the UNGA to do this.

    Remember that a resolution designed by the US to circumvent Soviet intransigence and vetoes in the Security Council of its day, can and should with equal justice be directed against the US for the same reasons today on this issue. All countries would not take all of the actions enumerated above, but enough would take some of them to make life very interesting for Israel and its minions in the USG.

    Second, there is NATO itself. Turkey has said it would provide escort to future efforts at sending aid to Gaza, presumably on Turkish-flagged ships. It is a key regional player and has been a good ally for decades, and it should not be required to act alone on something that ought to have activated the collective defense provisions of the NATO treaty: between 9/11, used as a pretext for NATO to become engaged in Afghanistan, and the attack on the Turkish part of the Gaza aid flotilla, is a difference only of degree and not of kind.

    A NATO multinational naval presence off the Gaza coast is just what is needed for openers, and if it is supplemented by another under UN auspices, so much the better. Indeed, even a single warship from any other country joining even one from Turkey to escort the next ship through Israel’s illegal blockade would send a much-needed and long overdue signal neither Israel nor the USG could ignore. Israeli arrogance has given the world an opportunity to change things, if it dares — and perhaps it will.”

  97. Castellio says:

    Wigwag, in an earlier post, tried to position Erdogan as acting strong to cover for Turkey’s dismal economic situation. This from Informed Comment: “Economically, Turkey ranks 17 in the world for nominal gross domestic product. Turkey was not hurt as badly by the economic downturn in 2008-2009 as some others, and it is on track to grow over 6 % this year on exports. It may be this year’s fastest growing economy. It has been growing at a rapid clip during the past decade, and has attracted billions in foreign investment.”

  98. Arnold Evans says:

    Eric and Alan:

    I think you both have a somewhat wrong impression of what commenters, at least I, mean when when we say “virtual bomb”. But I’m pretty sure what we mean corresponds closely with what Israel and the United States mean when they say an Iranian virtual bomb cannot be tolerated.

    If Iran has enrichment technology and a stock of LEU at 5% that could be further enriched to build a weapon, Iran has a virtual bomb. Period. Iran has a virtual bomb today.

    I guess the test is that if Israel threatens to bomb Cairo, and Egypt says your direct threat may lead us to reconsider our stance on nuclear weapons, Israel can laugh. Egypt can’t just reconsider its stance. It would have to build an infrastructure and amass materials over years.

    If Israel threatens to bomb Tehran, not in a vague sense like it constantly does now, but in a more specific context, Iran says your threat may lead us to reconsider our stance on nuclear weapons, Israel does not have the luxury of laughing that off the way it does for Egypt, it has to seriously consider it the way it would have to for Brazil, Japan or Germany.

    Now Iran does not have ballistic missiles, and today Iran’s LEU stock is more vulnerable than it could be and slightly smaller than would be most convenient but it is fundamentally nuclear capable.

    Iran giving up nuclear capability today is not a matter of implementing the AP, for Iran to give up nuclear capability it has to give up some combination of ongoing enrichment and its stock of LEU.

    Also about ambiguity: Nothing I’ve seen indicates that Iran is aiming for ambiguity. Ambiguity is far from the reason Iran stopped implementing the AP. Japan is not ambiguous. Japan does not have a weapon. Period. If Japan leaves the NPT, it will build a weapon. Period. That’s Japan’s situation. Completely unambiguous. No weapon now, certainly. A weapon if it leaves the treaty. Certainly.

    Iran implementing the AP today would give the US more information that it would use to produce laptops of death, meaning it would use information gained to advance its political/strategic goal of punishing any Iranian effort to break Israel’s monopoly on regional nuclear capability and it would have better information about how to target Iran’s nuclear program, meaning where centrifuges are constructed and stored, how many exist, who is involved, if it decides to attack overtly and it would assist the covert programs the US admits it is operating against Iran’s nuclear program. Take those two considerations away, and Iran will implement the AP.

    Only problem is that those two considerations: forged evidence that Iran is building a weapon to get sanctions and increase pressure and covert and potential overt attacks on Iran’s nuclear program are inherent in the US position that Iran must not be nuclear capable. If the US is going to use the AP the way it has so far, it is really difficult for Iran to implement it.

  99. Parker says:

    A prime opportunity is about to present itself for Israel to make some major mischief.

    During the upcoming soccer World Cup, when the world is looking elsewhere, it wouldn’t surprise me if an “incident” were to occur somewhere (maybe on the Lebanese border) that could well lead to the sparking of a wider conflict, with the potential to drag a reluctant US into the fray.

  100. Will says:

    ” craven American politicians and the more gullible parts of the American public ”

    so direct, rich, & sadly truthful. encompasses about 70 American Senators & 300 Congressmen even though only 14 Senators & only about 48 or so Reps are Jewish.

  101. Fiorangela,

    I’ll try to reply later to the rest of your excellent post, but let me protest right now this part:

    “I’m just not that smart.”

    Eric

  102. Liz says:

    There was a massive Friday prayer gathering in south Tehran today. We got stuck in traffic for hours and we still didn’t make it to the gathering. Ayatollah Khamenei and Ahmadinejad both had harsh words for Israel’s western backers.

    Just one thing, sending children over minefields in the Iran-Iraq war is a myth (like many others) created in the west.

  103. Fiorangela Leone says:

    Eric,
    It saddens me that you have incorporated the hasbara that wigwag spread over this site, the same propaganda with which MSM infects the American people. By repeating and repeating that “Americans hate Iran,” and citing faux polls to support their agenda, wigwag and MSM planted the seed and grew the weed that has invaded the garden. Take another look at wigwag’s method: in three posts over a 2 or 3 hour period, he said at least four times that “Americans hate Iranians.” He then made policy suggestions and drew conclusions based on that false but repeated premise. Cowboys yell ‘yihah’ and the herd moves where the cowboy wants it to move, but that doesn’t mean yihah is true or a good place for cows to go. I consider it my job to try to teach cows to question yihah (also want to keep the cows out of the garden! –ugh, mangled metaphors.)

    As for politicians, if they continue to function out of hatred for Iran, which is contrary to the best interests of Americans, then they NEED to lose their jobs; that’s what elections are about. It’s my job and yours to see that they either rethink their policies; that is, examine what is so compelling about yihah that they are willing to run America over a cliff, or lose their jobs.

    You wrote,

    “A. It can keep wasting time and money, and put its people at risk, by “standing up” to the US, which sounds manly to some but to me appears childishly naive given the mismatch in power – more accurately put, in that true light: playing “hide the ball” with the US in the delusional belief that it can develop a “nuclear option” before the US attacks because it’s figured that out or has figured out that it can’t figure it out and doesn’t want to keep wondering about it.”

    Tehran hosted a G 15 nuclear summit shortly after Obama’s nuclear summit in Washington. The catch-phrase that emerged from the Tehran summit was, “The power of logic vs. the logic of power.”
    I think that you perceive Iran as attempting to play the West’s game of chest-thumping; I don’t think that’s an accurate assessment. Based on information the Leveretts and Ben Katcher have presented to us, it’s my assessment that Middle East leaders are dramatically changing the game from “We’ve got the biggest guns” to “We think more rationally.” Three recent policy statements inform that assessment; namely, Davutoglu’s Zero Problems policy; Bahar al-Assad’s reality-based and rational good neighbor strategy, including a willingness to cooperate with- but not capitulate to- the west; and Khaled Meshaal’s determination to advocate for his people but with a pragmatic view toward cooperation with Israel. Iran purchased the space that allowed these leaders to formulate their views. From Khomeini to Ahmadinejad, IRI leaders have been calling upon Iran’s neighbors to stand up for their rights, to refuse to continue to be humiliated by western domination. al-Assad has refined that message into terms more palatable to the west: cooperation but not capitulation, based on reason, not military might.

    I don’t think there is anything at all “delusional” about Iran’s **rhetoric** bruiting a “nuclear option;” Iran would be delusional if it thought it could turn back a psychologically out-of-control but hyper-militarized Israel and United States by any means other than causing those two superior forces to worry that Iran MIGHT have nuclear means to defend itself. Don’t forget that Iran, too, has its own ‘Never again’ determination: Iran was so ill-prepared to confront Saddam’s army that they had to send their children to clear mine fields; Iran was unable to protect her people from Saddam’s gas attacks. Iran will not let those things happen again.

    You and several others go into the tall weeds examining the details of Iran’s nuclear capabilities, intentions, rules, etc. Having shared a bunk with an engineer/lawyer for over a quarter century, I understand the fascination.

    I’m just not that smart.

    All I know is what I saw in the precincts of Natanz: acres and acres of pine trees planted over twenty years ago to cool the desert so that the region can be developed for housing and the economic activity required to support Iran’s young population. Power lines radiate from the Natanz nuclear facility over many miles, to power these nascent developments. On farther rings, beyond the reach of the power lines, windmills as far as the eye can see are planted in the desert to harvest the desert wind and supplement the power generated by Natanz. The US would have been much better off to have “wasted its time” planning for the needs of the American people in that fashion rather than by creating a military superpower. I don’t think Iran “wastes its time” by preparing for its future OR by protecting its people from American and Israeli threats.

  104. Rehmat says:

    Learning the truth about the various color revolutions – From Orange to Green….

    http://rehmat1.wordpress.com/2009/07/28/the-color-revolutions-from-orange-to-green/

  105. Kooshy,

    I’m aware of the Nixon “madman” theory. I was aware of it back then (though I don’t recall ever hearing about nuke-armed bombers flying around in October 1969, or ever). I wasn’t terribly impressed back then, and I don’t think the North Vietnamese were either. I think they were impressed by Nixon actually stepping up the bombing, and by the Cambodian invasion, but those were actual applications of force, not merely stories about what the American president might do because he’s a madman.

    Good point, even so, about America’s waning influence leading it to do something desperate. Despite my recent prediction that America’s dominance will end with a whimper rather than a bang, what you say is possible, as I’ve written in the past. America’s sense that it may not have many more chances to take action against Iran may play some part in its decision to attack Iran (if that happens, which I still don’t consider likely, despite all of our discussion of it). Still, I think the largest contributing factor – assuming it never actually finds evidence of bomb-making – will be the US’ uncertainty about what Iran is up to. No US president wants to be in this situation:

    “Well, Mr. President, Iran appears to still be hiding something from us and the IAEA and, frankly, we don’t know for sure what it is. It may just be bluffing, like Saddam Hussein was, or it may instead be finishing up a nuclear weapon, like North Korea was. Who knows? We think there’s about a 20% chance, Mr. President, that Iran is working on a bomb and is less than a year away from getting one. What’s your call, Mr. President? Should we just keep reminding Iran how upset we are that it won’t tell us more, and wait another year until our 20% odds rise to 60% and our one-year time-line is down to three months? Who knows, maybe Iran won’t turn out like North Korea. Or would you like to do something else, Mr. President?”

  106. Dan Cooper says:

    Full Text of Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s Speech following Israel’s murderous attack on against a defenceless ship at sea, the “Freedom Flotilla”.

    http://palestinethinktank.com/2010/06/02/full-text-of-recep-tayyip-erdogans-speech-english-turkish/

    Israel, with no excuse, no reason can wash the blood on her hands. The issue, case created by the bloody attack in the Mediterranean Sea, is not the problem between two countries but the problem of the entire world. I believe that no country considering humane values and virtues, no international institution will just watch a murder of these dimensions.

    From now on, whoever shuts their eyes to the bloody attacks of Israel, whoever ignores them, should know, they are accomplices of these murders.

    It has been understood that the matter is not a matter of defending against terrorism, that the matter is not struggle against terrorism, but that the matter is an effort of a massacre towards a city, towards all people of a city, in order to completely exterminate them, has one more time been proven with this last incident that occurred.

    You throw bombs on these people, you try phosphorous bombs on these people, you bomb hospitals, you bomb mosques, you attack schools, you bomb playgrounds, and you even aim at the UN Office, as if this illegality was not enough, you also cut off all kinds of needs of those people.

    After all of this, you will not withhold the aid volunteers who try to deliver to these people medicine, food, construction materials, to feel your inhuman savagery.
    Anyone, everyone can condone, tolerate this illegality. I openly say, stressing it, insidiously can support it, but Israel should not make the mistake of comparing Turkey with others. Such a mistake will have a very high price.

    Israel, who shot a bullet on innocence and mercy, has chosen with this murder in the open sea, solitariness against the whole world. Has chosen to be isolated.
    I say it one more time. If everyone keeps silent, if all shut their eyes, if all turn their backs; we, as Turkey, we will not turn our back to Palestine, to the Palestinian people, to Gaza. We will not shut our eyes! We will not cease crying for Palestine!!!

    I also want to call to the Israeli people from here. We have always been against anti-Semitism. We have raised our voice against the injustice against the Jewish people. We have contributed so that the Israeli people can live in peace and security in the Middle East. Now, as the Israeli people it is your turn to show the same sensitive attitude, the same humane attitude, to say, “Stop these cruelties being done.”

    The policy of violence shown by the coalition of the government, violating any kind of right and law, is totally putting Israel’s interests aside. Is clearly putting your peace and security at risk. Due to the aggressive attitude of your government, the State of Israel assumes a piracy position, engaging in banditry.

    Those reckless administrators, thinking that they, with lies, deceit, shedding blood, aggressiveness, piracy, using state terrorism, the massacre of innocent people do govern a State. But those reckless politicians primarily do evil to Israel and the Israeli people.

  107. Joao C says:

    @Eric

    There’s an unofficial martial law in the streets of Tehran on the days leading up to the anniversary of the election. The “moral police” is arresting and fining young Iranians for anything from bad hijab to wearing sunglasses and being with a member of the opposite sex (regardless of them being married or not). Now the Green Movement may or may not show up on the anniversary, but the fact that the regime has increased pressure on the public, the fact they censored Khomeini’s grandson’s speech and forced him to cut his speech short today, the fact that Khamenei had a Freudian slip where he referred to the 22 Bahman protests as 22 Khordad protests (he later made the point to correct himself) shows that him and his followers are afraid. They are far from actually having defeated the Greens. Today i didn’t see a Leader that has the support of a majority, I saw a Shah who threatened to kill opposition, a year after having issued same warnings. Warning that went unnoticed.

    And I am just wonder how the Leveretts feels about “America can’t do a damn thing” and “Death to America” slogans the pro-regime rallies shout. How will they ever sell a relationship with this regime to the American public when the stance of the IRI is such dated slogans? Are the Leveretts not Americans?! Don’t they have any patriotic feelings towards their government and their own people? If the US government suddenly staged a rally where people were shouting Death To Iran, everyone in Iran would have raised hell.

  108. Irshad,

    Thanks for the cite to the Guardian article. I shudder at how misguided the author’s analysis is:

    “So far, four days since the [flotiall] crisis started, we have not seen any major [anti-Israel] demonstration in Iran. So what has happened? Khamenei is fearful. Not of Israel, but from his own population. His regime is isolated within Iran and has lost so much credibility that he is worried that such demonstrations could turn into anti-government gatherings. And he would be right.”

    Do I have this right? Khamenei is worried that an anti-Israel demonstration over the flotilla incident would lead to a popular uprising against the Iranian government? Flynt and Hillary have often written that Green supporters are out of touch with reality, but clearly they understate it.

  109. Dan Cooper says:

    Shimon Peres, The victory is a “piss”.

    Watch the short video and Listen to Peres’s accent pronouncing the word “peace”

    How ironic that all the Israel’s murderous victories are nothing but “piss”.

    The Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan reply Speech at DAVOS

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DE6KY-AjWmA

  110. Dan Cooper says:

    It is no longer accept­able to close our eyes on the injus­tices com­mit­ted by Israel … And those who defend Israel’s action, are its part­ner in this crime.

  111. irshad says:

    Interesting article. Thank you.

    What do you think, of Turkeys recent actions vis-a-vis Iran.

    Is this a challenege for the leadership of the Islamic world, something that Iran aspires to be, between Turkey and Iran?

    Meir Javedanfar

    Why Iran is quiet on the flotillaIran is usually the first to condemn Israel. Could its silence over the flotilla attack signal a sea change in Islamic politics?

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2010/jun/03/iran-gaza-flotilla-turkey

    I disgaree with him – he still is stuck in the green movement and any gathering of the public been turned in to a green issue.

    I think, its good to see both Turkey and Iran taking a stand for the Palestinians – they are using their own different methods and style – this should not be seen as challenging each other, more complimenting each other.

    But this just shows one things: in the great Middle East game, the main players is Turkey, Iran and isreal. The Arabs are nowhere to be seen….

  112. kooshy says:

    Eric

    “I don’t remember every thinking Nixon would do anything “crazy.” I always thought of him as pretty measured. Far from crazy. Even if one disagrees with that assessment, Obama is not Nixon, and I can’t imagine him doing something “crazy.”
    The Madman theory was a primary characteristic of the foreign policy conducted by U.S. President Richard Nixon. His administration, the executive branch of the federal government of the United States from 1969 to 1974, attempted to make the leaders of other countries think Nixon was mad, and that his behavior was irrational and volatile. Fearing an unpredictable American response, leaders of hostile Communist Bloc nations would avoid provoking the United States.
    As Nixon told his White House Chief of Staff H. R. Haldeman:
    “I call it the Madman Theory, Bob. I want the North Vietnamese to believe I’ve reached the point where I might do anything to stop the war. We’ll just slip the word to them that, ‘for God’s sake, you know Nixon is obsessed about Communism. We can’t restrain him when he’s angry — and he has his hand on the nuclear button’ — and Ho Chi Minh himself will be in Paris in two days begging for peace.”[1]
    On October 1969, the Nixon administration indicated to the Soviet Union that “the madman was loose” when the United States military was ordered to full global war readiness alert (unbeknownst to the majority of the American population), and bombers armed with thermonuclear weapons flew patterns near the Soviet border for three consecutive days.
    The administration employed the “Madman strategy” (as it was later dubbed by Haldeman) to force the North Vietnamese government to negotiate a peace to end the Vietnam War.[3] Along the same lines, American diplomats (Henry Kissinger in particular) portrayed the 1970 incursion into Cambodia as a symptom of Nixon’s supposed instability.
    Nixon’s use of the strategy during the Vietnam War was problematic. “First, while he would pretend to be willing to pay any price to achieve his goals, his opponents actually were willing to pay any price to achieve theirs. Second, Nixon had the misfortune to preside over a democracy growing weary and increasingly critical of the struggle.

    Eric

    “I think the US’ waning influence will decrease the chance of war, almost certainly, though power vacuums don’t last long.”

    Unfortunately I disagree I actually think US out of desperation is getting much more dangerous, very much like it’s client baby state Israel, case and point attacking the peace convoy a few days ago, or widening the afghan war to a nuclear armed fragmented Pakistan, and willing to make concessions to rival powers a form of appeasement to rivals that eventually could drags her to a bigger war.

  113. pirouz_2 says:

    Eric:

    There is a saying which goes as “a lion will never catch the deer because the lion is running for its lunch whereas the deer is running for its LIFE”. Of course I am sure that it is obvious that this saying is just trying to make a “point” and it does not literally mean that lions can’t catch deers in the nature.

    What I am trying to say, is that if there is a SERIOUS and VIABLE threat that Iran can hit Tel-Aviv and Haifa with a nuclear missile IN RETALIATION, even if US were to think that it can kill Iranians to their last soul and destroy the whole country and still would be the last man standing without a single American city being hit, it still would NOT attack Iran.
    The perspective of the attacker who may die to maintain hegemony is very different from the perspective of the defender who is dying for his homeland. Which was why I mentioned that saying at the begining of my comment.

  114. pirouz_2 says:

    Eric:

    Hitler did not steal the German elections either, but that didn’t make him any less of a criminal!
    With all due fairness to Ahmadinejad, I really don’t think that he is anything like Hitler, what I meant was just to give an example which would clarify why having the popular support does not necessarily mean being democratic.

  115. Pirouz 2,

    “the Iranian leaders -despite their criminal and undemocratic nature”

    Come now, certainly you don’t think Ahmadinejad stole the election!

  116. Pirouz 2,

    On the “virtual bomb:” Maybe having it would be useful. The US would always have to wonder whether, if it attacked, a bunch of Iranian scientists would be scurrying around 100 meters underground, assembling bomb components, cranking up the centrifuges, dusting off the missiles. But I don’t think I’d worry about it as much as you might think one should. And I think it’s all but academic anyway since, by the time it all got bolted together, the landscape (both figuratively and literally) would look quite a bit different, in which case Iran might think twice about launching it. The US would still have a few bombs left, and Iran would still have a few cities left.

    I think the US would be especially brave in that situation if it were confident that Iran lacked the capability of delivering a nuclear weapon to the US – which is why, of course, the US has very little desire to see Iran develop its space program. Like it or not, I suspect Iran had better get used to the US blocking that endeavor.

  117. pirouz_2 says:

    @Eric:
    Re: your comment on June 4, 2010 at 2:03 am

    I agree fully with what you have said in that comment. I just wish that we had a populist system in which I could trust that it would be smart enough to do what you have mentioned in your comment.
    Let’s hope and just hope that the Iranian leaders -despite their criminal and undemocratic nature- would come as close to what you have advised for Iran as possible.

  118. Pirouz 2,

    What probably doesn’t emerge from what I’ve been recommending is this: if I were Iran, I wouldn’t yield an inch on my right to enrichment, or any other aspect whatsoever of my nuclear program that I needed in order to “go it alone” if necessary. If I were Iran, I wouldn’t count on assistance from anyone at all, even current pals Turkey and Brazil, and so I’d fight tooth and nail to hang onto those rights. It’s been burned too many times, and I think it should count on getting burned again.

    My only real point is that, if I were Iran, I’d figure out what I needed to accomplish that “go it alone” capability and make sure I had that nailed down (though I’d cooperate with other countries whenever practical – buy 20% fuel, for example, swap LEU for 20% fuel, whatever – as long as doing so didn’t weaken my fall-back “go it alone” capability), and then (2) with all that in place and kept firmly in mind, I’d try to be nice and do what I could, without taking on unreasonable burdens, to eliminate the suspicions of other countries who had it in their power to make a lot of trouble for me.

  119. pirouz_2 says:

    Eric:

    First of all you don’t need to apologize, I KNOW that you mean well!
    Secondly, break out capability TO ME means the ability to make a nuclear device in as short a time as possible. I am not a nuclear scientist so I am not sure exactly what that means “technically”. But I do know that there is a concept of having a “virtual” bomb.

    Third, I think that yes it is worth striving for ESPECIALLY in case of Iran. And yes I do think that Iran’s virtual bomb will make US and Israel think twice before attacking us (realistically).

    and fourth, I don’t think that Iran’s nuclear program is the end of it, the moment that Iran gives that up, something else will come up! In fact it already has. Look at the text of the proposed sanctions and you will see that the next item after the nuclear program is any possibility of Iran having a “space program”, and this is when both Russia and India refused (just 2-3 months ago) to send our sattelite into space.

  120. Kooshy,

    “Eric can you explain if you fear a waning US influence (hegemony) will increase or decrease chance of a new war, and do you think US has the option to say like Nixon did when he was losing in Nam. I am all mad and I will do something crazy, do you have that fear?”

    I think the US’ waning influence will decrease the chance of war, almost certainly, though power vacuums don’t last long. If they’re filled by just one new power without much competition (like US circa 1990), then who knows? Up and coming powers like China tend to look nicer to those who see them as a welcome replacement to the long-standing bully, but sometimes they’re not quite as polite once they’re at the top of the heap.

    I don’t remember every thinking Nixon would do anything “crazy.” I always thought of him as pretty measured. Far from crazy. Even if one disagrees with that assessment, Obama is not Nixon, and I can’t imagine him doing something “crazy.” If he gets replaced in 2012, all bets are off. I have no idea what Republican might replace him. They’d all be a lot harder on Iran than Obama is, and I suppose I’d put Sarah Palin in the potentially “crazy” category since she’s largely an empty vessel and nobody can predict who’d be pouring what into her head at any given time.

  121. pirouz_2 says:

    @Eric:

    By the way, I forgot to mention that it also saddens me to see EVEN a man of your qualities, could be affected by the Western propaganda so much that he would believe that Iran is so hell bent over world domination that a basic right that countries such as Brasil, Argentina, Japan etc. freely exercise, should all of a sudden be restricted when it comes to the lunatic Iran!

  122. Pirouz 2,

    Three points.

    First and most important, my apology for unfairly suggesting you weren’t being forthright. Actually I didn’t think that, but I can see how what I wrote would most likely be interpreted that way.

    Second, I actually don’t think Iran is trying to develop a bomb, or even the ability to “break out” in “as short a time as possible.”

    Third, partly a point and partly a question: for the life of me, I’ve never understood exactly what it means to be in a position to “break out.” As best I can tell, this means that you’ve got a bomb design all worked out, the equipment in place to make the components (maybe even most of them already made and sitting on a shelf), enough LEU and centrifuges to produce some bomb grade fuel fairly quickly, the means to shape that bomb grade fuel into a warhead, and a delivery system capable of handling such a nuclear weapon.

    If that, or something close to it, is what “break out” ability means, it strikes me as hardly worth striving for. I suppose the idea is that Iran would kick out the IAEA inspectors and try to get everything together before the US could bomb. Is that even remotely close to realistic?

    But let me get back to the first point: my apology for upsetting you. I have great respect for you.

  123. Fiorangela,

    “Hard to imagine Iran thinks this a sporting event or a game. If I were Iran, I would indeed be seeking a nuclear option to protect my people from a series of threats uttered by Israel and the US, two states that have proven time and again that they mean what they say and for whom the usual rules of conduct do not apply.”

    Iran has been misunderstood, disrespected and mistreated by Americans. But a country has to base its foreign policy on how life is, not on how unfair it is. Unfairness sometimes lasts a long time – for hours or days on end, even centuries.

    I can’t predict the future of US/Iran relations, but I’ll confidently predict that they will be influenced considerably for at least the next few years by these facts:

    1. The American public strongly dislikes Iran, so do most US leaders, and any US leader who doesn’t won’t be cashing government paychecks for very much longer.

    2. The US has many nuclear bombs, Iran has no nuclear bombs, and the US very much wants to keep it that way.

    3. Because Fact 1 and Fact 2 are true, there is zero (as in “zero”) chance that the US is going to let Iran get far enough down the road to achieve what we have been calling a “nuclear option.” Based on its experience with Iraq in the 1980s (which led to the very Additional Protocol that Iran now declines to adopt) and North Korea more recently, the US won’t accept ambiguity for very long. It will bomb first and ask questions later.

    As a result, Iran has two choices (assuming, as, frankly, I do not, that Iran’s top government leaders really are seeking a “nuclear option” as so many of its unofficial supporters and, reportedly, mid-level government officials believe it should):

    A. It can keep wasting time and money, and put its people at risk, by “standing up” to the US, which sounds manly to some but to me appears childishly naive given the mismatch in power – more accurately put, in that true light: playing “hide the ball” with the US in the delusional belief that it can develop a “nuclear option” before the US attacks because it’s figured that out or has figured out that it can’t figure it out and doesn’t want to keep wondering about it.

    B. It can face reality, which is that the US will never let Iran get nuclear weapons, and instead devote its time and money – at much lower risk – to develop its nuclear program (including the complete fuel cycle) exclusively for peaceful purposes, doing its best for as long as necessary to allay the US’ suspicions so that the US stops trying to block it at every turn. This will get Iran where it should be trying to get – more quickly, more cheaply and with less risk. And Iran will end up, much sooner, as the strong nation it can and should be, in which case it will get the respect that comes with that – a much better form of respect than Iran’s supporters imagine it will get by stubbornly resisting every demand for greater disclosure and cooperation in its nuclear program.

    Iran won’t have to keep this up for all that long. The US’ influence is fading pretty quickly and, as it does, Iran can take a tougher and tougher stance. I think that’s true enough already, in fact, that I don’t believe one should necessarily conclude (as Lysander suggests) that no good would come of Iran’s adoption of the AP merely because nothing good came of it in 2003-2005. The US is weaker now, 9/11 is less fresh in our minds, and we have a different president.

    But even when the US gets bumped from number 1 by some other power, presumably China, Iran should not assume that China’s sympathy for Iran will translate into permission to develop nuclear weapons. Fact 1 above will probably not be true for China, but Fact 2 probably will be. Fact 2 tends to be true for powerful countries even when Fact 1 is not. Americans like Canadians, for example, but I’m not sure we’d like them quite as much if they told us they wanted a nuclear bomb.

  124. pirouz_2 says:

    @Eric:
    “Though neither of you actually says this, I gather your conclusions are essentially:

    “…and all this would be much easier to accomplish if Iran could only get a nuclear bomb.””

    Eric, you have my admiration for your strong usage of logic and the good head that you carry on your shoulders, and for your open mind which makes you transcend your nationality and think as a HUMAN being with a loyalty to the HUMAN RACE rather than loyalty to this or that country.

    Which is why it saddens me to see that you:
    1) Think that I who am not a diplomat or a politician (and therefore have no reason to pretend or lie), I who was one of the few Iranians who emphesized the “security” aspect of our nuclear program on this site, that you would think that of all people “I” would mince my words and would say based on “tactics” to hide my “strategic” goal.
    Believe me, If I thought having an actual bomb would be good for Iran, I would come and say it on this site OPENLY and then would have stood by my words as I have always done so on this site!
    What I want for Iran is the FULL CAPABILITY to break out in AS SHORT A TIME AS POSSIBLE WITHOUT CREATING THE ACTUAL BOMB! AND I MEAN IT WHEN I SAY WITHOUT MAKING AN ACTUAL BOMB! IT WOULD BE VERY UNWISE FOR US TO ACTUALLY MAKE THE BOMB PRECISELY FOR THE REASONS THAT YOU YOURSELF MENTIONED!

    2)And it also saddens me to see that EVEN a man of your qualities could be affected by the fear mongering of the Western media to “suspect” that somehow deep inside, the Iranian government has a “clandestine” plan to make a few bombs!
    I am not clairvoyant so I can’t read Iranian leaders mind!
    But every ounce my logic, my common sense and my observation of Iranian leaders’ behaviour tells me that THEY ARE WAY AND I MEAN WAY WAY SMARTER THAN WHAT THE WESTERNERS GIVE THEM CREDIT! As such they know better than anyone else what would be the result of Iran having an actual bomb! And NO I don’t mean that USA would attack Iran if we had the bomb, to the contrary they would NEVER attack a country with a bomb.

    Under normal circumstances I would not want for Iran to even have a nuclear program to produce even energy! That money could be spent on FAR better purposes:
    -on health care on a nation which is in an appalling state of health!
    -on the education of Iranian children so that the education wouldn’t be the previledge of the wealthy few who are so contemptful of the vast Iranian masses that don’t want to even give them a right to VOTE! So that children of Iran (like Ms. Alam-houli) would not be illiterate and would take “pen” into their hands rather than AK-47!
    -on R&D in various fields of science and technology (metalurgy, material science, petro-chemistry, Pharmacology) so that Iran wouldn’t be so underdeveloped to be vulnerable to the bullying and sanctions of the West!

    Yes I would like for us not to have a nuclear reactor LET ALONE a nuclear bomb (which I deeply despise)! BUT ALAS WE ARE NOT LIVING THE PERFECT WORLD AND VERY OFTEN WE ARE DICTATED TO GO DOWN A CERTAIN ROUTE BY THE WEST!
    When there is a MAD DOG (Israel) comparable only to Nazi Germany in this region, who would not mind to kill all of Iranians and even the whole world population for it’s perverted strategic goals, I HAVE TO THINK OF MY COUNTRY’S SECURITY! I AM FORCED TO! THE WEST IS THE PARTY WHICH FORCES ME!
    As such I do think that a full breakout capability is VITAL for Iran’s security! BUT SHORT OF MAKING THE ACTUAL BOMB! GOING THE “EXTRA INCH” AND MAKING THE ACTUAL BOMB WILL BE VERY UNWISE FOR US IN TERMS OF SECURITY (FOR THE REASONS YOU YOURSELF MENTIONED).

    By the way, NO I don’t think that Iranians owe any measure of trust to the West for their past behaviour! Furthermore I don’t think that the West’s problem with Iran is about “lack of trust”! They know FULLY WELL that Iranians don’t want to make the actual bomb! West’s problem with Iran is about the Western HEGEMONY and Iran’s INDEPENDENCE. PERIOD!

  125. Fiorangela,

    “Hard to imagine Iran thinks this a sporting event or a game. If I were Iran, I would indeed be seeking a nuclear option to protect my people from a series of threats uttered by Israel and the US, two states that have proven time and again that they mean what they say and for whom the usual rules of conduct do not apply.”

    Iran has been misunderstood, disrespected and mistreated by Americans. But a country has to base its foreign policy on how life is, not on how unfair it is. Unfairness sometimes lasts a long time – for hours or days on end, even centuries.

    I can’t predict the future of US/Iran relations, but I’ll confidently predict that they will be influenced considerably for at least the next few years by these facts:

    1. The American public strongly dislikes Iran, so do most US leaders, and any US leader who doesn’t won’t be cashing government paychecks for very much longer.

    2. The US has many nuclear bombs, Iran has no nuclear bombs, and the US very much wants to keep it that way.

    3. Because Fact 1 and Fact 2 are true, there is zero (as in “zero”) chance that the US is going to let Iran get far enough down the road to achieve what we have been calling a “nuclear option.” Based on its experience with Iraq in the 1980s and North Korea more recently, the US won’t accept ambiguity for very long. It will bomb first and ask questions later.

    As a result, Iran has two choices (assuming, as, frankly, I do not, that Iran’s top government leaders really are seeking a “nuclear option” as so many of its unofficial supporters and, reportedly, mid-level government officials believe it should):

    A. It can keep wasting time and money, and put its people at risk, by “standing up” to the US, which sounds manly to some but to me appears childishly naive given the mismatch in power – more accurately put, in that true light: playing “hide the ball” with the US in the delusional belief that it can develop a “nuclear option” before the US attacks because it’s figured that out or has figured out that it can’t figure it out and doesn’t want to keep wondering about it.

    B. It can face reality, which is that the US will never let Iran get nuclear weapons, and instead devote its time and money – at much lower risk – to develop its nuclear program exclusively for peaceful purposes, doing its best for as long as necessary to allay the US’ suspicions so that the US stops trying to block it at every turn. This will get Iran where it should be trying to go – more quickly, more cheaply and with less risk. And Iran will end up, much sooner, as the strong nation it should and can be, in which case it will get the respect that comes with that – a much better form of respect than Iran’s supporters imagine it will get by resisting every demand for greater disclosure and cooperation in its nuclear program.

    Iran won’t have to keep this up for all that long. The US’ influence is fading pretty quickly and, as it does, Iran can take a tougher and tougher stance. But even when the US gets bumped from number 1 by some other power, presumably China, Iran should not assume that China’s sympathy for Iran will translate into permission to develop nuclear weapons. Fact 1 above will probably not be true for China, but Fact 2 probably will be. Fact 2 tends to be true for powerful countries even when Fact 1 is not. Americans like Canadians, for example, but I don’t think we have much interest in seeing Canada get the bomb.

  126. kooshy says:

    Eric

    “I believe the US’ influence is waning enough (lately, more quickly than I’d have guessed even a few months ago)”

    Eric can you explain if you fear a waning US influence (hegemony) will increase or decrease chance of a new war, and do you think US has the option to say like Nixon did when he was losing in Nam. I am all mad and I will do something crazy, do you have that fear? Didn’t work then
    it end up giving up a UNSC seat with full veto option, I wonder if Alan fears from a similar conclusion?

  127. Kooshy,

    There may be some ambiguity in “nuclear option.” A country gets pretty far along the road to a nuclear weapon with just a nuclear energy program – I recognize that. A centrifuge is a centrifuge. And if I were Iran, I’d sure learn as much as I could from that. At some point, though, you go beyond that – such as when you figure out how to shape nuclear fuel into hemispheres, or design nuclear triggers. That’s the sort of thing I’d steer clear of, and I’d be willing and eager to let the world know I was.

  128. kooshy says:

    Lysander

    As usual accurately realistic, and I agree, bending over is not confidence building

  129. Humanist says:

    @James Canning
    “I think Israel’’s true best interests would be served by a prosperous, stable Iran. So would the interests of the American people”

    About 37-38 years ago when I was working for government of Iran I heard from a trustworthy source something that I think is “sort of” plausible . He maintained after the war in the US Administration there was a discussion about including Iran in the “club” of Germany, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan etc ….making Iran too, a prosperous industrial state.

    Whenever the documents of post WWII are declassified one could verify the credibility of that interesting assertion and if true find out who opposed that critical proposition and why.

  130. Lysander says:

    @ Rehmat 9:25 pm I agree completely with your post.

    @ Eric

    “Lysander,

    You’re ignoring the extra ingredient that has never before been there: a commitment by Iran to disclose more, and cooperate more, such that the US (or at least other powers) are persuaded that it isn’t either planning to build a bomb or maintaining the illusion that it’s doing so.

    Iran has never done that.”

    It hasn’t? It was complying with the additional protocols and had halted uranium enrichment for for 2 years. It would have remained in the AP if the IAEA hadn’t, under enormous US pressure, referred Iran to the UNSC.

    By agreeing to the BTI deal, Iran has done enough to win world support. Your impression is that Russian and Chinese support for sanctions (intermittent and weak) has so much to do with Iran’s nuclear program. It has little to do with it. It has to do with big power wheeling and dealing about North Korea, Taiwan, NATO expansion, etc. Russia and China know the US wants sanctions and so they offer some weak resolution in exchange for some concession from the US. It’s that simple.

    As a lawyer, you seem to view the UNSC as some kind of impartial jury carefully weighing the evidence in a trial. And if only Iran presented more evidence in its defense it would be acquitted. Nothing could be further from the truth.

  131. Fiorangela Leone says:

    Eric,

    “This isn’t some sporting event: Iran should be trying to get its nuclear program fully operational for peaceful purposes, not playing some childish cat-and-mouse “nuclear option” game.”

    Hard to imagine Iran thinks this a sporting event or a game. If I were Iran, I would indeed be seeking a nuclear option to protect my people from a series of threats uttered by Israel and the US, two states that have proven time and again that they mean what they say and for whom the usual rules of conduct do not apply.

    The US patrols the Persian Gulf — 30 miles off Iranian territory, and has air force in bases on every side and curve of Iran’s landmass; Israel has nuclear-capable submarines in the Persian Gulf. US and Israel have eyes in the sky on Iran, and spies on the ground. You bet I would want at least nuclear ambiguity, preferably a nuclear option, probably not full nuclear weaponry.

  132. kooshy says:

    Sorry I have a typo in my last post

    “About the nuclear option I actually believe that is Inevitable once you have a working nuclear enrichment program and I agree this shouldn’t need to be bragged about….”

  133. Lysander,

    You’re ignoring the extra ingredient that has never before been there: a commitment by Iran to disclose more, and cooperate more, such that the US (or at least other powers) are persuaded that it isn’t either planning to build a bomb or maintaining the illusion that it’s doing so.

    Iran has never done that.

    Many say Iran hasn’t done it because it wants to preserve its nuclear option, and I don’t think that’s a good enough reason.

    Others say Iran hasn’t done it simply because whatever it does will never be good enough for the US. They may well be right, but I don’t think one can fairly reach that conclusion based solely on the history of this dispute, given that Iran has never yet been as fully cooperative as I’m suggesting.

    I believe the US’ influence is waning enough (lately, more quickly than I’d have guessed even a few months ago) that, if Iran makes substantial and genuine moves toward greater disclosure and cooperation, it will either be enough to satisfy the US (unlikely) or enough to satisfy other UNSC heavyweights sufficiently that they won’t agree with the US to more sanctions and will eventually whittle away the ones that are already there.

    I’m not suggesting the US wouldn’t continue to whine every step of the way, merely that it’s whining wouldn’t convince the other major players as long as Iran was taking the additional steps I’m suggesting. China and Russia (especially China) would almost certainly welcome something they could point to in order to withstand the US’ constant demands for further punishment of Iran. This would give them what they need to do that.

    If I’m right, I don’t think Iran will need to give up either the fuel it’s already got or its right to enrich more (up to 3.5%, or maybe up to 20% if things don’t work out on the TRR deal). I understand the US and others are demanding that now. What I’m suggesting is that, with more extensive cooperation (probably including at least adoption of the Additional Protocol, and maybe more – that’s Alan’s special province), Iran could continue to refuse to give up its fuel or its enrichment rights (I’d adamantly refuse on both), get the sanctions gradually lifted, and very soon end up with a complete-fuel-cycle nuclear program. As matters are now progressing (or not), accomplishing all that is going to take Iran a lot longer, cost a lot more, and expose its people needlessly to considerably more risk.

    This isn’t some sporting event: Iran should be trying to get its nuclear program fully operational for peaceful purposes, not playing some childish cat-and-mouse “nuclear option” game.

  134. kooshy says:

    Eric
    “Kooshy and Pirouz 2,
    Though neither of you actually says this, I gather your conclusions are essentially:
    “…and all this would be much easier to accomplish if Iran could only get a nuclear bomb.”

    Eric Thanks,

    First of all that is not at all how I conclude, No, I actually don’t believe Iran needs a Nuclear Bomb, not so much because of fear of US or Israel, but rather just because of future relations with its Sunni neighbors. About the nuclear option I actually believe that is investable once you have a working nuclear enrichment program and I agree this shouldn’t need to be bragged about, fortunately as far as I know that is the current Iran’s nuclear policy and I don’t believe it will change, again this is not due to fear of US, Israel or Russia it is because of need to live and do business with other Muslims surrounding Iran.
    Now the comments I made earlier on this tread that might have been the cause of your recent response was actually raising a questions to this latest Leverett’s post. I was not hinting or justifying that Iran and Turkey will need a nuclear option to slide off of the US hegemony. No, my actual point was, raising the question on a point that the US liberal left continuously fails to admit, and is never mentioned, by policy analyst, that is, if the Israeli actions are “tools” and of the “cause” of US polices, and not the other way around as often is explained here that US polices in Middle East is all “because” of the Israeli Zionist lobby that has taken over our government, which we really can’t do anything about. There is saying in my native Persian, asking someone “why you stole something” that the answer goes like this “it wasn’t me, it was my hand, and a fault of my shirt’s cuff”

  135. Fiorangela Leone says:

    Rehmat, this is inaccurate to state that only Israel threatened its rival nuclear country.
    India and Pakistan had a nuclear standoff in 2002 http://www.nrdc.org/nuclear/southasia.asp

  136. Rehmat says:

    Lysander….

    I hate to repeat myself but it’s not a nuclear Islamic Republic or its gaining capibility to make a nuclear bomb – which scares both Washington and Tel Aviv – but Tehran’s support for the Islamic resistance groups in Lebanon and the Occupied Territories. Therefore, even if Islamic Republic declare today that it will allow Washington or IAEA to decommission its nuclear facilities – The Israel Lobby will raise the stake – “Sto supporting the Hizbullah and Hamas terrorists”.

    Although Dr. Ahmadinejad declared a few months ago that Iran doesnt need nuclear bomb to defend itself – but Iranian leaders should be realistic in countering the bullies – Islamic Republic MUST acquire a nuclear arsenal as detterant – as Israel, India, N. Korea and Pakistan did. With the exception of Israel – none of the others have ever threatened it rival nuclear country.

    http://rehmat1.wordpress.com/2009/12/02/iran-must-produce-a-bomb/

  137. Lysander says:

    “I’ll be amazed if we ever get beyond the current impasse over Iran’s nuclear program unless and until Iran takes whatever steps are needed to assure the world that Iran can’t be working toward a “nuclear option.”

    Well, Eric, that means Iran has to stop all uranium enrichment and give up all the uranium it has already enriched. And that still wont be enough. The prospect of war with Iran was talked about all through 2003-2005 while Iran had halted enrichment and was observing the additional protocol and Khatami was president.

    I’m sorry Eric but I have to disagree vigorously with what you are saying. There is absolutely nothing Iran can do to placate US demands. The US will continue to sanction Iran and threaten war until Iran’s government falls. Don’t believe me? Ask yourself, if Iran announced tomorrow that it will forswear all nuclear activity in exchange for the lifting of all US sanctions, what do you think the US answer will be?

  138. Fiorangela Leone says:

    Eric,

    “Having a “nuclear option” may be a useful tool for a mistreated country to achieve some noble objective. But when the dust clears, the world ends up with yet another nuclear-armed state. And if that country some day is the mistreater rather than the mistreated, and its objectives are less noble than they used to be, it’s still got the bomb. What then?”

    I was going to say, Then, Iran is counterbalanced by the OTHER nuclear state in the region, Israel. Nuclear Iran + Nuclear Israel = neutralized nuclear threat.

    But I’m not sure how Pakistan and India factor in the equation; they do neutralize each the other, but I suppose efforts would be made for Iran to ally with India against Pakistan, etc etc, and everything’s back to square one.

    THAT IS WHY THE INTEGRITY OF NPT IS ESSENTIAL. Nukes aren’t going to go away. Iran is under at least some level of inspection and accountability. Israel has GOT to get its nuclear weapons under NPT.

    I understand but disagree with the incremental approach Alan thinks Obama must pursue. I suppose I like the drama of a bold leader taking huge risks. Obama could have the political support of the Democratic base if he took a strong and principled stand, demanding that Israel join NPT or risk complete shunning by US. Let Dick Morris draw triangles; a statesman leads from the front.

  139. Kooshy and Pirouz 2,

    Though neither of you actually says this, I gather your conclusions are essentially:

    “…and all this would be much easier to accomplish if Iran could only get a nuclear bomb.”

    I might agree with you on that, but I still don’t think a “nuclear option” is a good idea – including for Iran. Iran’s “Why shouldn’t we have the bomb like Israel?” could quickly become “Why shouldn’t we have the bomb like Iran?” And who might be saying that? Turkey? Syria? Brazil?

    Besides, is it reasonable to expect that the US will somehow not notice, or will notice but act too late, if Iran starts moving toward a bomb. Recent history should tell you that the US is not exactly slow on the trigger when it suspects some Middle Eastern country may be working on a bomb. Even making the effort would be very dangerous for the Iranian people, and probably futile.

    If the end result is not desirable even if it can be achieved, highly unlikely ever to be achieved, and very likely to lead to some serious punishment, why not think about doing something else instead? Such as developing nuclear energy for peaceful purposes, and taking a few extra steps to show the world that’s all you really have in mind.

    Iran can get where it needs and deserves to be – cranking out peaceful nuclear energy and medical isotopes – without building a nuclear bomb (or keeping its enemies guessing about whether it is). Frankly, I think it will sooner or later do just that: however much many Iran supporters may insist on a “nuclear option,” it simply is not going to happen. I’ll be amazed if we ever get beyond the current impasse over Iran’s nuclear program unless and until Iran takes whatever steps are needed to assure the world that Iran can’t be working toward a “nuclear option.”

  140. Fiorangela Leone says:

    Mounting evidence indicates that Jewish Americans are increasingly disassociating themselves from Israel’s current posture, and feeling some pressure to change the path Israel is taking. Jewish Americans might well endorse Turkey’s and Iran’s strategies toward containing Israel in order to redeem their vision of a cherished and righteous homeland for the Jewish people.

  141. kooshy says:

    “The Israeli argument against Iran’s nuclear development—like its argument against Turkey’s pique over having Turkish vessels attacked on the high seas, its argument that settlements in occupied territory are completely legal, and its argument that blockading a civilian population in Gaza is also completely legal—is not based on rational analysis of actual physical threats. All of these arguments are directed towards the preservation of Israel’s regional hegemony, embodied in its unchallenged freedom of military action in the Middle East. “

    Don’t these same arguments also apply to the preservation of US.’s unchallenged freedom of military action in the Middle East as well? Unless US. is welling to change its regional policies in a meaning full way, in that case would this new restructured policies threaten a logical existence for state of Israel at its current format? Would these new empowered Muslim states of Middle East obey directives of the West as if there was no fear of war with a US proxy state? There seems to be more reasons for allowing freedom of military action for Israel then just love for a Jewish home land, or just because lobby is not letting us do what is best for us.

  142. pirouz_2 says:

    Israel, by hiding behind USA’s/West’s military/economic power was able defeat and bully the population of ME en masse since it’s creation by the British in 1939. But those days are now long past. The burst of the “American military” bubble, in Iraq and Aghanistan, led to a similar burst of the Israel’s “invincibility” bubble in 2006!
    Fact of the matter is that Israel, is by no means capable of sustaining it’s position IF the people of middle east free themselves of the foreign hegemony. Despite all it’s military gadget, IF middle eastern countries awaken, they can defeat Israel easily.
    Well… one after the other middle eastern countries are awakening and emerging as INDEPENDENT countries whose governments are not the puppet of foreign forces.

  143. Flynt and Hillary write:

    “The Islamic Republic’s nuclear program is hardly an “existential threat” to Israel. But, a nuclear-capable Iran might, at the margins, begin to impose some limits on Israel’s absolute freedom to use military force unilaterally, wherever it wants, and for whatever purpose it favors.”

    This states one view on what Iran’s legitimate objectives for its nuclear program may include, and many people who post here appear to agree with it. I don’t. Having a “nuclear option” may be a useful tool for a mistreated country to achieve some noble objective. But when the dust clears, the world ends up with yet another nuclear-armed state. And if that country some day is the mistreater rather than the mistreated, and its objectives are less noble than they used to be, it’s still got the bomb.

    Who’s next, then?

  144. Rehmat says:

    On January 29, Turkish prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan walked out of World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland – after being not allowed enough time by the Jewish-Armenian Islamophobe moderator, David Ignatius (b. 1950), a columnist at The Washington Post – to respond to Zionist entity’s president Shimon Peres who ranted for 25 minutes about Israel’s right to attack 1.5 million Gazan civilians.

    Erdogan, who was honoured with “Courage to Care Award” by Abraham Foxman, national president ADL, an Israel Lobby group, on June 10, 2005 at organization’s headquarter in New York – should have known that during 2006 gathering at Davos – WEF founder Klaus Schwab did to Mazin Qumsiyeh PhD article Boycott Israel, which originally appeared in WEF Global Agenda Magazine but subsequently deleted with Klaus’s apology to Zionist entity for its publication. The gathering was addressed by US secretary of state Condoleeza Rice which was attended by Shimon Peres (Israel), Gen. Pervez Musharraf (Pakistan), and Bill Gates (Microsoft Corp.)

    Klaus spilled his Zionist beans in his opening address when he recommended that the Wall Street crooks who helped to cause global economic crisis should not be shunned but included in the hunt for a solution. In other words – like 9/11 Commission – let criminals be the judge and the jury!

    In September 2003, Sabahattin Atas interviewd Dr. Noam Chomsky – in which Noam said: “Israel cannot help Kurds to establish a Kurdish state without American authorization….. The lesson in democracy Turkey taught to the US is deeply resented by US elites, and may elicit retaliations, but that alone is unlikely to lead to significant cooling of relations. However, many other processes are underway….Turkey has independent reasons to improve ralations with Iran – in many ways a natural trading partner. These are the steps the US will strongly oppose (to please Israel), as long as Iran retains some measure of independence. There are many sources of tension…”

    http://rehmat1.wordpress.com/2009/01/31/wef-erdogan-peres-and-gaza/

  145. James Canning says:

    Iran’s support for Syria and Hezbollah can be seen as actually being in the best interests of Israel, if it prevents another insane smashing of Lebanon (as in 2006).

    Iran does not need an ability to develop nukes to be able to provide sufficient support to the Palestinians, to prevent the Israeli effort to crush their national spirit from succeeding.

    I think Israel’s true best interests would be served by a prosperous, stable Iran. So would the interests of the American people.

  146. James Canning says:

    The stupidity of the Bush administration’s spurning Turkish warnings that the invasion of Iraq was a serious blunder, is only too obvious at this point.

    I think Turkey is actually working hard to protect the true best interests of Israel, as the Turks strive to resolve the various disputes in the Middle East. The US, regrettably, is encouraging foolish behavior by Israel and making it much more difficult for Israel to get out of the West Bank.