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Iran's Drive for Nuclear Weapons - Reality Verses Rhetoric

Discussion in 'Middle Eastern Politics' started by The Bare Knuckled Pundit, Jun 26, 2009.

  1. The Bare Knuckled Pundit

    The Bare Knuckled Pundit New Member

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    The alarm goes off. A sharp elbow in the back informs you the snooze timer's gone off for the second time. Grumbling through the sleepy haze, you fumble for the remote and flip on the television. Lying in bed, you await the standard fare of mindless morning chit-chat intermingled with the local forecast and traffic report.

    Rudely, you're aroused from your foggy semi-consciousness as a reporter states that both the US Geological Survey and sources in the Pentagon have confirmed that Iran has successfully tested a nuclear weapon. Seismic data indicates the test occurred in the Dasht-e Lut, a desert region of salt flats located in Iran's southeastern Kerman province. This coincides with video of the test site released by the government in Tehran.

    As golden slumbers blissfully filled your eyes, a phone rang in the White House residence. With it, the President received the dreaded 3AM call that Hillary Clinton had clairvoyantly prognosticated during the 2008 primaries. In similar fashion to your own, the Commander-In-Chief was shocked out of his serene repose with news that the world had a new upstart and unwelcome member of the nuclear club - Iran.

    As unsettling as it may be, many intelligence analysts believe this scenario may well play out sometime over the next 18 to 24 months. In the interim, there is a growing consensus among Conservative commentators and pundits that Iran's pursuit of nuclear weapons is driven by a virulent anti-Israelism and aspirations of regional hegemony. However, a closer look beyond the apocalyptic rhetoric reveals a chorus of neorealist historical and geopolitical forces compelling the mullahs to the mastery and weaponization of the atom. Among them are....

    Nationalism - With it's roots firmly set in antiquity as one of the world's oldest civilizations, there is a great sense of cultural and historical pride among Iranians, particularly the dominant Persians. There is, however, a sense that Iran does not enjoy a concomitant level of respect and influence in the international arena. Accordingly, many believe that mastery of nuclear energy and possession of even a limited nuclear arsenal are a means to an end. The rationale is predicated on the belief that by joining the elite few that are counted among the members of the globe's nuclear club, Iran will gain the respect, prestige and status commensurate with it's historical significance.

    Religion - Looking at the world and national security through the prism of faith, the Shia mullahs of the regime find themselves politically isolated and strategically disadvantaged. A minority among the Muslim ummah, Iran views itself as the political guardian of the Shia faithful. Though it's influence has grown significantly in the wake of the removal of it's nemesis, Saddam Hussein, Tehran still finds itself located in a region populated by Sunni-dominated antagonists. Despite talk of a burgeoning "Shia Crescent", Iran remains isolated in the Muslim political world as the lone defender of what the Sunni majority view as the apostate followers of the martyred Imam Hussain.

    Furthermore, the mullahs find themselves to be at a strategic disadvantage in the religious/philosophical realm. Gazing across the globe, they see Christian (United States, Great Britain, France and Russia), Jewish (Israel), Hindu (India), Confucian (China), Atheist (North Korea) and Sunni (Pakistan) nuclear powers. Again, they find themselves alone in a neighborhood teeming with a nuclear-armed Jewish state to the west, Sunni and Hindu bombs to the east and Christian bombs deployed via warships on their doorstep in the Persian Gulf. Despite Ayatollah Khomeini's condemnation of nuclear weapons, there are factions within the regime that believe ultimate security for the Shia and the Islamic Republic can only be found in the ultimate weapon.

    Distrust of the international community - In spite of international conventions forbidding their use, Saddam Hussein nonetheless unleashed chemical weapons on Iran over the course of the bloody Iran-Iraq War in the '80s. At the time, Saddam was seen as the Sunni bulwark against the spread of Khomeini's Shia revolution and the potential dangers it posed to the lifeblood of the West's industrialized economies - oil. Consequently, Iran's Gulf neighbors and the West gave their tacit approval of the Butcher of Baghdad's blatant war crimes through their silence.

    Adding to the antipathy between Iran and it's Gulf neighbors is the fact that much of Saddam's war efforts were underwritten by billions of dollars in loans from such Sunni stalwarts as Kuwait and Saudi Arabia.

    In addition to it's complacence in response to Saddam's aggression, the international community's inconsistency and hypocrisy on nuclear weapons fuels Tehran's paranoia and distrust. Israel hides it's nuclear arsenal behind the shield of "strategic ambiguity" and America's veto in the UN Security Council. Meanwhile, nuclear pariahs Pakistan and India are rehabilitated and embraced by the United States once they serve Washington's strategic interests.

    Yet, the US has aggressively and repeatedly prodded the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to refer Iran to the Security Council for sanction. In tandem with it's dogged hounding of the IAEA, Washington also made multiple attempts to peal off Iran's defenders on the Security Council, Russia and China. The objective, to expose the regime to stiffer, broad-based sanctions, was seen as a necessary step that must be taken prior to any military action the US might eventually feel compelled to take. All of this adds up to a distrust of the international community that has become an article of political faith among the ranks of the regime.

    Regime Survival - The primary objective of the regime - and any government, for that fact - is survival and continuity. In prioritizing existential threats, the United States is easily at the top of Tehran's list. America alone enjoys a unique combination of both conventional and strategic assets and capabilities, many of which are currently deployed around Iran's borders.

    With troops in excess of 100,000 in Iraq and Afghanistan, bases on the Arabian side of the Gulf and carrier battle groups routinely patrolling both the Persian Gulf and Gulf of Oman, Iran finds itself virtually surrounded by American forces. That's not even mentioning the fact that American B-2 Spirit strategic bombers can reach the heart of the Islamic Republic from their home bases in Kansas. Should follow-on strikes be required, America's arsenal of naval and air-launched Tomahawk cruise missiles allow her the ability to attack Iran from a distance with minimal exposure to harm for her own forces.

    Facing this imposing array of assets and capabilities, Tehran has become an ardent student of recent history.

    Saddam Hussein, maintaining "strategic ambiguity" about weapons of mass destruction, found himself toppled from power in a flurry of America's "shock and awe" military might. His sons cut to pieces in a firefight with personnel from the 101st Airborne Division, Saddam was eventually captured hiding unceremoniously in the dirt of a spider hole and met Allah at the end of a hangman's noose.

    Meanwhile, the incessant provocations and belligerent saber-rattling of North Korea's Kim Jong-il merits little more than nervous chatter and hollow condemnations. Why? The answer is simplicity itself - nuclear weapons.

    The lesson is clear. Those who do not possess nuclear weapons leave themselves at Washington's not-so-tender mercies; those that do possess them keep America at bay and are bombarded by angry condemnations instead of laser-guided bombs.

    Though the December 2007 National Intelligence Estimate found that Iran suspended it's nuclear research program following America's 2003 invasion of Iraq, it is generally believed to have been aggressively restarted in the wake of Washington's rebuff of what appeared to be a tentative overture for reconciliation from Tehran. In a fit of imperial hubris, the Bush administration then embarked on a term-long two-pronged program that included an ineffective and ultimately insincere diplomatic track in conjunction with repeated bellicose calls for regime change.

    With Bush's words ringing in their ears and images of Saddam's inglorious final moments in this world fresh in their minds, the mullahs have taken his bitter lesson to heart. The Islamic Republic will endure and the American juggernaut will be held at bay through the power of the atom.

    Regime survivability through modern technology, faithful readers.

    Stay tuned for further updates as events warrant and a President earnestly hopes to never be roused from his blissful slumber by a 3AM call.
     
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  2. Saxon

    Saxon Member

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    Hmmm, let me see. USA = thousands of nukes. IRAN = none. Uh, I don't think so pal.
     
  3. The Bare Knuckled Pundit

    The Bare Knuckled Pundit New Member

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    That's a bit vague. Care to elaborate.
     
  4. Saxon

    Saxon Member

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    The USA has absolutely nothing to fear from Iran. The only reason they are *****ing is because their masters in Jerusalem demand they do something about it, or else. Remember, the largest, and most-powerful political lobby in the USA is the Jewish lobby. Why would the USA have anything to fear from a country that has yet to even develop a nuke, whereas the USA has, since the days of the atomic bomb, led the world in the proliferation of nukes? The USA has, since that time, owned more nukes than the rest of the world COMBINED, and that includes the former Soviet Union. I do not understand the fear, other than that it is a fear pushed by pro-Israeli Jewish lobby groups who have your entire country in their pocket.
     
  5. Klipkap

    Klipkap New Member

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    I hear echos of 7 years ago. The threat is immediate!! He has WMDs, we have clear evidence of that. The tyrant (who we shook hands with and supplied) must go. He is stalling. The AEA has had its turn.

    1) We are used to this now. You can only do this kind of thing once. So unless some REAL evidence is delivered, which does not mean of a quality similar to those box shapes in tthe desert, I for one don't believe a single word of it. The track records of truth from the US regimes since the days of Nixon, through Reagon to Bush II have been ruly appalling. So cut the sabre rattling and put some hard facts on the table, or zip the lip and set about mending your tattered image.

    2) If you are so desperately worried about Islamic regimes having "the bomb", why don't you go ape about Pakistan? no, no - answer the question - why?

    3) So you meddled (via Kermit) in Iran's affairs in 1953, funded the overthrow of their democratically elected government, helped install a dictator, trained the loathsome SAVAK that subjected Iranians to gross obscenities for 25 years, and now are surprised when they want nothing to do with you and treat your every word with grave suspicion. Tell me - why shouldn't they? Leave it to the IAA. We are tired of your deceptions.

    4) Who do we have the most to fear from? I mean, who has "the bomb" and has shown that it is quite willing to toss it on crowded civilian concentrations instead of on an isolated island occupied perhaps by one lighthouse keeper?

    Is this America bashing? If real facts bash, then I suppose it is, and why not? As I said, the track record is truly appalling.

    Facts - hard facts. Because I don't trust 'you' an inch.

    Klipkap, a right-wing libertarian.
     
  6. The Bare Knuckled Pundit

    The Bare Knuckled Pundit New Member

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    Did either one of you actually read the piece? Or did you just get so enraged by the title that you couldn't take the time to trifle with the details before you unleashed your fire?

    The point of the piece is to look at Iran's pursuit of nuclear weapons from their geopolitical and historical perspective.

    Nonetheless, allow me to address a few of your points.

    Regardless of it's clear numerical superiority, the US would still be vulnerable to an Iranian "bolt out of the blue" nuclear attack. If Iran masters the ability to miniaturize a nuclear warhead and mounts it to a Shahab-3 missile, it could, hypothetically, place a mobile launcher on a cargo ship, sail to the coast of the US, then launch it. Detonated at the appropriate height and location, the resulting EMP would blanket the country, destroying all unshielded electronics. The result would be the instantaneous crippling and blinding of the US as well as the devastation of it's economy. That, in most serious analyst's books, qualifies as a serious vulnerability.

    I know what you're going to say, "That's a far fetched, paranoid scenario!" Sorry, but that's what analysts and planners get paid to do - imagine the unimaginable, identify the risks and vulnerabilities. And sorry, Saxon, but that has nothing to do with the ZOG or our supposed "masters" in Jerusalem.

    Next, I believe Klipkap is referring to the International Atomic Energy Agency, the IAEA. If you're going to bandy acronyms about, it would help your argument if you made sure you used the correct ones. And I assure you, that comment is sincere, not snide. Don't undermine your credibility by displaying a lack of command of the basic elements and facts that are crucial to your argument.

    As for Klipkap's points -

    1) One can hardly accuse the Obama administration of anything remotely close to saber rattling. Indeed, he has publicly stated his support of Iran's right to develop peaceful, civilian nuclear energy. Though he has stated his opposition to the militarization of Iran's nuclear program, he has not used the bellicose and cryptic language preferred by his predecessor.

    2) While I would never presume to speak for the American public, as for myself, it's not a matter of an Islamic regime possessing the bomb. The issue is the stability and maturity of the regime.

    Personally, I believe Pakistan's possession of the bomb is a highly destabilizing influence in the region. Furthermore, I have serious concerns about the security of it's nuclear arsenal. Accordingly, I have long considered Islamabad's nuclear weapons to be strategic threats not only to India, but to the wider region as a whole as well as America's long term national security. I have similar as well as completely different concerns about Iran's potential possession of the bomb - none of them related to the religious identity at the heart of the Islamic Republic, I might add.

    3) Actually, despite an inherent and justified paranoia about American meddling in Iranian politics, the US is held in relatively high favor by the average Iranian. While there would be instances of divergence rooted in respective perceived national interests, I imagine were the Khomeinist regime to be replaced, that Tehran and Washington would gradually reestablish a rather close geopolitical relationship again.

    4) Beyond the attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, I'm unaware of any instance where the US has utilized atomic weapons. As for the lone lighthouse keeper on an isolated island, I haven't the foggiest idea what you're talking about.

    While I concur with your emphasis on facts, I might suggest you likewise include a focus on more logic and rationality instead of emotion and hyperbole.
     
  7. BigRob

    BigRob Well-Known Member

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    I do not think Iran would use the weapon should they get one, but if they should I have doubts this would be the scenario. They would be much more likely to strike at US interests in the region, or the massive military presence one country over.

    I also am not sure that the EMP would be that serious of a problem from an Iranian warhead. While we certainly have yet to see the potential size of their warhead, it would have to be quite a warhead for a single EMP to really cripple the entire country. I would think a much more practical scenario to utilize the EMP would be a space detonation against US satellite capabilities.

    This fits into his "reaching out" mentality. However he can hardly argue that Iran does not have a right to peaceful nuclear energy without arguing against the NPT, which rightfully we do not want to do in my view. Of course the problem remains that a civilian program can quickly be shifted to a military one.

    I think Iran is stuck with a bit of a problem here as well. I think that even if Iran obtained a weapon, they would be unable to test it without uniting a lot of the powers in the Middle East against them, which Iran does not want. If they do test it however, it establishes them as a nuclear power and brings more regime survivability, if not stability. By testing, they seem to put themselves in a weaker position as other ME states would pursue programs of their own and unite against Iran, whereas by not testing they can not ensure regime survivability. It is an interesting problem.

    I can agree with this. The most likely scenario for an extremist group obtaining a nuclear weapon would be in Pakistan.

    I think this is very dependent on what takes the place of that regime.
     
  8. Saxon

    Saxon Member

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    *ROTFLMAO* Bwaaaaaaaahhhhaaaaaaaaaaaaa!!!
    :rolleyes:
    *wipes away a tear of laughter* OMG, that hurt my tummy! Too much. This guy is a complete idiot. Iran, a country which requires outside help to even build a nuclear power plant, is capable of 'mastering the ability to miniaturize a nuclear warhead'? Bwaaaaaahhhhhaaaaaaaa!! These people are PRIMITIVE to the extreme. Then, you mention placing a mobile launcher onto a cargo ship, sailing it to the coast of the US, a coast which is heavily patrolled by the most-advanced warships the planet has ever seen, including attack subs, along with the world's most-advanced satellites which could pick up a radiation signature from a nuke? Damn, you really think your country is so stupid, don't you? *ROTFLMAO* The Soviets have had this capability for almost 50 years. Tell me, why didn't THEY do this? The stupidity in here is absolutely staggering.
     
  9. Saxon

    Saxon Member

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    *ROTFLMAO* OMG, I am STILL laughing at Iran's 'advanced' capabilities, a country that needs OTHERS to teach them how to do the simplest things. *ROTFLMAO*

     
  10. BigRob

    BigRob Well-Known Member

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    There are reports and statements from very high level people in this country, including the Secretary of Defense, that North Korea has successfully miniaturized the ability to put a nuclear warhead on a missile.

    North Korea is far more backwards than Iran and if they are able to pull it off Iran would have no problem doing the same. Further, given the cooperation between Iran and North Korea and North Korea's willingness to sell anything, it is not unlikely that Iran would simply buy the know how from them, or has already done so.

    That said, I agree the cargo ship scenario will not occur, however you are in fantasyland thinking that our satellites are going to be picking up radiation signatures. You assume you know where to look to begin with and if that were the case we would not need a satellite. Further, since we are able to so easily pick up radiation signatures (some of which would be naturally occurring anyway) why is it that we still cannot find hidden locations of an Iranian nuclear program? Why is it that we had no idea North Korea was moving and about to test a weapon? Why is it that we have no idea about the location of Pakistani nuclear warheads? Since all we must do is simply "use a satellite."
     
  11. The Bare Knuckled Pundit

    The Bare Knuckled Pundit New Member

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    Bully, BigRob! My compliments for your outstanding insights, sir. Pleased to see there is someone here who doesn't base their opinions solely on Tom Clancy and Larry Bond novels.

    Allow me, if you will, to point out that the cargo ship scenario was merely one among many possibilities. It was offered in response to Saxon's ill-informed statement that "primitive" Iran poses no threat whatsoever to the US. As I identified in the final point of the piece, I believe regime survival is one of the primary driving forces behind Tehran's quest for the bomb.

    Excellent point on the fact that the Hermit Kingdom, arguably one of the most backward states globally with a rudimentary economic base, has been able to develop, miniaturize and deploy nuclear weapons. This is clearly a boon to the Iranian program, as Tehran has been underwriting much of North Korea's missile program in exchange for technological transfer for the better part of this decade.

    As for the notion that a "primitive" Iran has no chance whatsoever of developing the bomb, this is the same argument that skeptics made with "primitive" Pakistan and "primitive" North Korea. This arrogance is the philosophical kin of the condescending imperial hubris of the British and the French. The "natives" are too "primitive" and "backward" to be a serious threat, our empires will endure so long as the Sun rises in the East and sets in the West. Sorry, but the Sun eventually sat on both their empires as the "primitive" natives often repaid their civilizing colonial masters with revolution and blood.

    Not sure if you're familiar history, Sax. But the British thought the "primitive" colonials in America were little more than a short-lived inconvenience that posed no threat to the glory of His Majesty's empire. Might want to take a lesson from some of the great military theorists throughout the ages. Never give your enemy the advantage of overestimating your abilities while underestimating his.

    I'd point out that applies particularly to your starry-eyed faith in our satellite capabilities. It's that kind of unwarranted technological awe that has crippled our human intelligence capabilities over the past two decades. This semi-religious dependence on satellite systems is a kin to the ill-conceived reliance on air power that Israel's 2006 mini-war with Hezbollah dispelled. Air power and satellites are pieces in a greater puzzle, not the puzzle itself. Just like you need boots on the ground to hold territory, you also need human assets and resources to gain some of the most critical intelligence.
     
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