HomeFeaturesDailyBriefingsRapidReconSpecial ReportsAbout Us

InBrief Archives

« March 2006 | Return to InBrief | May 2006 »

April 28, 2006

Ahmadinejad: ‘We Don’t Give a Damn’ About UN Resolutions

With the IAEA report on Iranian non-compliance due potentially within minutes of this posting, Iranian defiance has not abated. It has, in fact, become more intense. Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad dismissed the UN Security Council and the IAEA out of hand while addressing a rally orchestrated by the regime. Said Ahmadinejad, “Those who want to prevent Iranians from obtaining their right, should know that we do not give a damn to such resolutions.”

Yet, to date all UN resolutions and/or statements have been gentle on the Iranian regime with an IAEA leadership reluctant to step forward and a UN Security Council fielding two veto-wielding member states – Russia and China. Both states oppose any sanctions against Iran, let alone military action. Russia and China are major trading partners with Iran and adversarial to most American policy wishes, and both states have contributed significantly to the clandestine Iranian nuclear program currently under international scrutiny.

For these reasons, it is not unreasonable to conclude that any IAEA and/or UNSC statements or resolutions will fail to have any real affect on the Iranian program or the regime’s economic or military status.

The parallel universe occupying the synapses of Ahmadinejad’s mind is plainly visible through his statements. However, those same statements are a refreshing dose of directness and honesty historically shrouded by the Iranian regime. For that, the West should be appreciative. Speaking in the northwestern Iranian city of Zanjan, Ahmadinejad declared the state sponsor of terrorism a fountain of world peace when he said, “We call for peace and tranquility for all states. We have not attacked any country and are not regarded as a threat to the world. The Iranian nation is independent.” His defiance was echoed by former Iranian President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, often misrepresented by Western agencies as a ‘moderate’.

Israel, of course, is not a state by Iranian definition. So the calls for the destruction of the illegitimate gaggle currently occupying Palestinian Territory do not count against the calls for tranquility for ‘all states’ and absolves Iran and its surrogates – Iranian funded terrorist groups Hizballah, Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, et al – from being counted in any attacks on any ‘country’.

The Iranian nuclear advances were said to be the property of all Muslims by Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir. Iran has previously stated that it intends to share its ‘peaceful’ nuclear technology with all Muslim nations. To that end, the Sudan Tribune reports that a cooperation agreement was signed by the two states Wednesday in Tehran.

It remains uncomfortably clear that the only way to stop the Iranian sprint towards nuclear arms and their proliferation throughout the world is to physically stop the regime. Resolutions are conspiracies to be ignored. Sanctions are economic attacks by Zionists and Zionist supporters to be endured and counter-attacked. Negotiations are vehicles through which meek Western leaders, wittingly or unwittingly, buy the regime precious development time.

Air strikes on Iranian nuclear facilities are a declaration of war. That much is agreeable.

But, to those wandering through their comfortable days waiting in line for their Happy Meals or demanding investigations into evil oil companies seeking a gouging cause to rising gas prices, please understand that there is already a war on.

It doesn’t look like what you think wars look like, but it is declared in the minds of the antagonists and the combatants are wielding their weapons with varying degrees of success and persistent degrees of non-recognition by Western observers.

Note to Washington politicians: Gas is at record levels because crude oil is at record levels. Oil is at record levels because of Iranian threats to close the Strait of Hormuz.

There’s a war on.

The weapons are words, terrorism, oil, and religion. All are accurately and effectively targeting the inherent weaknesses of Western tolerance and conflict avoidance.

As evidenced by American reaction to the price of gasoline and Washington’s inexplicable joining in the dance, the West is more apt to rip itself apart rather than confront the aggressors.

April 27, 2006

The Iran Plan: Lather, Rinse, Repeat

With the Security Council’s deadline for Iran’s compliance expiring Friday, the sense of urgency can be felt all the way from the UN building at Turtle Bay in New York to the deli across the street. Its range of influence extends nowhere near Tehran, as the regime remains defiant with little difference from any other point in the last three years of heightened international attention on the Iranian Nuclear Crisis. Yet there are no shortages of headlines and reporting, reports that could easily be date stamped from any point since at least August 2005 without confusing news consumers.

Iran will ignore UN Security Council demands, Ahmadinejad said once more in defiance. “If international institutions respect our legitimate rights, we will respect their decisions. However, we will not regard these decisions as valid if they are intended to deny us our rights,’’ he said.

Ahmadinejad added, “Our scientists have mastered this technology with their own brains, their own might and their own hands.” And, of course, Russian reactor construction, Chinese laser enrichment equipment and construction, Pakistani centrifuges and bomb designs and North Korean missile technology and bunker building skills.

Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, threatened America with global terrorism, again. “The Americans should know that if they launch an assault against Islamic Iran, their interests in every possible part of the world will be harmed,” Khamenei warned. As well, internally, most of the Iranian clergy is still angry over women going to soccer matches because it ‘violates Islamic law for a woman to look at the body of a male stranger.’

British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw ruled out military strikes against Iran and its nuclear facilities, again. Straw offered the recycled quote, “This is not Iraq. Nobody is talking about military action.” Someone obviously forgot to tell Khamnenei.

Knight-Ridder reminds us that Russia still remains a negotiating conduit between Iran and the West. Yet, someone should check with Vladimir Putin, because while Iran restates its refusal to go along with any decision that curtails its program, Russia still maintains that it opposes any sanctions on Iran. Russia is not between Iran and the West. Russia is behind Iran and opposing the West. Still.

China again says there is still time for diplomacy, offering that “[u]nder the current situation, there is still room to seek an appropriate settlement to the Iran nuclear issue through diplomatic negotiation.” Perhaps the Chinese calendar begins this year when the deadline expires. There is, of course, no telling when the UN calendar begins.

In the United States, the Congress is considering even tighter unilateral sanctions against Iran. Again. Of course, knocking the $75 Million plan to aid pro-democracy groups in Iran down to $56 Million does not ring consistent with this. Perhaps if Iran had snail darters or spotted owls instead of those pesky nuclear designs the fully-funded (yet still under-funded) plan would have survived intact.

Yet, amidst all of the recycled rhetoric and news stories that could pass with practically any date stamp, at least one Western diplomat ‘gets it’. “I have spent several years now worried about the Iranian nuclear weapons program, but obviously now we also see the effect of the financing by the Iranian government of terrorist organizations and their effort to disrupt what we think should be progress toward a sovereign and democratic Lebanon,” US Ambassador to the UN John Bolton said.

The Iranian threat of international terrorism - stated bluntly, boldly and proudly by their own Supreme Leader - is at the epicenter of the crisis. For even if the regime were prevented from attaining nuclear weapons, that very real and deadly threat remains from the world’s terrorism kingpin. Solving the nuclear crisis does not solve the problem.

Ending the rule of the regime that supports more terrorist groups than some nations have embassies does, however, solve that deadly threat posed by Ahmadinejad, Khamenei & Company. And there is no easy or bloodless way to achieve it. It can be debated about whose blood will be shed, but shed it will be. The leaders of Iran are not going to negotiate disarming Hizballah, discontinued funding to Hamas and Islamic Jihad (et al) or their own regime change.

The Iranian Plan is simple: Lather, Rinse, Repeat.

The UN Plan is also simple: When the shampoo bottle goes empty, buy a new one.

A new bottle of shampoo will emerge as soon as Friday’s deadline comes and goes. The IAEA might very well turn into a pumpkin. That would be news.

April 19, 2006

Shanghaied in Shanghai

Last Friday, we noted that Iran was to meet up with their partners, China and Russia, in Moscow.

China (‘Concerned’ China) has sent an envoy to Iran, Assistant Foreign Minister Cui Tiankai, for stopover talks before both proceed to Moscow to join up with the other Iranian enabler within the UN Security Council. A spokesman for the Chinese foreign ministry said, “The visit aims at stepping up exchanges with all parties concerned in a bid to help resolve the nuclear issue.” He added that China is “worried about the way in which things are developing.” That could mean a lot of things, but likely refers more to the American debate over strikes hitting a crescendo.

The extent of that partnership is taking even more concrete form. From Regime Change Iran, we learn of an Asia Times article reporting that China and Russia are welcoming Iran into the SCO. Also noteworthy and troubling is that “Mongolia, India and Pakistan, which previously had observer status, will become full members” along with Iran. If the SCO were an economic organization it would be one thing. But it is clearly a security organization (even a military confederacy?) under the thin guise of an economic cooperative.

Consider that the “SCO’s decision to welcome Iran into its fold constitutes a political statement. Conceivably, SCO would now proceed to adopt a common position on the Iran nuclear issue at its summit meeting June 15.”

What position might Russia and China dictate that the SCO adopt? That it will include a critical and indispensable American ally in the War on Terror, Pakistan, and India, finally assuming ally status and newly declared American nuclear partner is troubling.

If this proceeds as envisioned by China and Russia, the impact it will have on relationships with the two American allies, both new and fragile, could be destructive.

The timing is quite deliberate.

By the end of April the director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency is expected to report to the United Nations Security Council in New York regarding Iran’s compliance with the IAEA resolutions and the Security Council’s presidential statement, which stresses the importance of Iran “reestablishing full, sustained suspension of uranium-enrichment activities”.

The SCO membership is therefore a lifeline for Iran in political and economic terms. The SCO is not a military bloc but is nonetheless a security organization committed to countering terrorism, religious extremism and separatism. SCO membership would debunk the US propaganda about Iran being part of an “axis of evil”.

The article also quotes Gennady Yefstafiyev, a former general in Russia’s Foreign Intelligence Service, who wrote a commentary in China’s People’s Daily on April 13 decrying US actions and attempts to halt the Iranian nuclear program through the UN.

“The real intention behind the US fueling the Iran issue is to prompt the UN to impose sanctions against Iran, and to pave the way for a regime change in that country. The US’s global strategy and its Iran policy emanate out of its decision to use various means, including military means, to change the Iranian regime. This is the US’s set target and is at the root of the Iran nuclear issue.”

He went on to state that the root intent is American hegemony in the region and control over gas and oil, which is patently false (see Iraq). But to the above statement of the intent to create the conditions for a regime change in Iran, he is absolutely correct and there should be no hesitance in official US acknowledgement.

Clearly, via the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, the lines are being overtly drawn in the sand, and on which side Russia and China are resting their shoes has never been more clear.

That it potentially includes now both Pakistan and India joining the Sino-Russo stance on the Iranian sprint toward nuclear arms is cause for alarm.

It may be time for President Bush (and more importantly, the American public) to revisit and re-state with post 9/11 clarity, “You are either with us, or you are with the terrorists.” Nuance on this issue is more than dangerous. It may be destructive.

The stakes with a potentially nuclear premier State Sponsor of Terrorism cannot be overstated, and the lines are being drawn for us to either recognize and address…or ignore.

April 17, 2006

Tehran Qods Conference Nets Funding for Hamas

An important chain of events over the weekend emanated from the Tehran-sponsored and hosted International Conference on Qods and Support for the Rights of Palestinian People. First was Iran’s open pledge of $50 million to Hamas to fill the void left in the wake of withheld international funds. This is more than a token amount, but will not go far as the economic gap without EU and US funding and Israeli tax collections is estimated to be around $1 billion annually.

Iran’s pledge was followed on by Russia, who declared they would support Hamas but did not release any funding amount. Syria pledged a less direct avenue: A telethon, of sorts, where they will set up a state bank account for ‘receiving donations’ for Hamas. US regional ally Qatar also pledged $50 million to the Hamas-led Palestinian Authority.

Iran’s role in orchestrating financial support for Hamas does not come without strings and price tags. This flurry of funding pledges over the weekend is significant, especially when considering Khalid Meshaal’s accompanying declaration that Hamas will never recognize Israel, following weeks of ambiguity on the issue from Hamas. Suddenly, Iran has organized a wave of financial support as efficiently as the pledges from the Arab League itself.

Not many news outlets have taken note of Iran’s hosting of the Third International Conference on Qods and Support for the Rights of Palestinian People. Do a Google News search for International Conference on Qods and Support for the Rights of Palestinian People. As of Monday morning, only two sites were listed among the first entire page of links: Iran’s state-run IRNA and MehrNews. This is unfortunate considering the importance the conference plays in Iran’s increasingly open co-opting of the Palestinian issue for their own strategic gain and their increasing influence within the Sunni Hamas.

It is a significant concert of events in that it demonstrates Iran’s heavy influence within Hamas and the region as a whole, most visible through Hamas’ emboldened declaration that they will never recognize Israel.

April 14, 2006

Ahmadinejad Predicts End of Israel: "Soon"

Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said today that Israel is a “permanent threat” and “heading toward annihilation.” With Iran’s ongoing sprint toward nuclear weapons, it is more appropriate to say that Iran is the one in motion, headed toward annihilating Israel.

But the Iranian leader did not stop there. Ahmadinejad, seeker of peaceful nuclear power plants, continued on to say that “the Zionist regime is a dying tree, and soon its branches will be broken down.”

(Curiously, the CNN International site does not carry this report that “soon Israel’s branches will be broken down,” but rather includes a watered down report where Ahmadinejad is quoted calling Israel simply “tantamount to an imposition of an unending and unrestrained threat”. No breaking of branches coming soon.)

The Islamic Republic of Iran has existed for nearly thirty years as an Islamist state and the world’s chief state sponsor of international terrorism. Yet, in these thirty years, the Islamic Republic of Iran has yet to directly confront the enemy they hate most. Suddenly, the thirty years of hateful and vitriolic rhetoric has seen a notable change in vocabulary: “Soon.”

No longer does Iran simply threaten and denounce Israel. Now, it should be recognized that Iran’s taunts and threats include a sense of urgency and proximity of conflict.

Of course, this is not the first time. Remember that, in the speech that Ahmadinejad gave at the ‘A World Without Zionism’ Conference, he said not only that Israel should be ‘wiped off the map’, but he also included a time reference then, saying that “Very soon, this stain of disgrace [i.e. Israel] will be purged from the center of the Islamic world – and this is attainable.”

Why suddenly is Iran, primarily through Ahmadinejad, adding the time reference of ’soon’ to their threats and condemnations? This is an important detail. Perhaps they are developing new weaponry which will finally allow them to directly confront and defeat an Israel that they have feared, regardless of rhetoric.

Perhaps it is the Flying Stealth Boat? Perhaps the new MIRV missile armed with military-grade plastic explosives? Perhaps Hizballah has suddenly and secretly tripled in size? Perhaps the new ‘world record’ super-fast torpedo can eliminate Haifa?

Maybe the answer lies curiously in Hizballah’s reaction to Rafsanjani’s visit in Damascus, where Hassan Nasrallah declared that Iran’s recent nuclear breakthroughs bring the terrorists encircling Israel “great spiritual boost”.

But what do terrorists care about nuclear power plants?

What makes Ahmadinejad so confident as to declare that the “Zionist tree” of Israel will “soon” have its branches “broken down”? How can he be so sure that “this is attainable”?

Perhaps we should ask our friends, the Russians, the Chinese and Mohamed ElBaradei. Maybe they have an idea.

Iran Meets Partners: Hizballah, China and Russia

It is open information that Iran funds, arms and coordinates among disparate terrorist organizations throughout the Levant, be they Shi’ite or Sunni. As well, understood is Hizballah’s role as the de facto arm of Iranian foreign policy, with the degree of separation between the two recognized only by the willfully blind. It is within that context that former Iranian president and current Iranian Expediency Council Chairman Akbar Rafsanjani’s meeting with Hizballah leader Hassan Nasrallah in Damascus should be viewed.

After talks with Bashar Assad, a co-supporter of Hizballah and itself a client state in many ways to Iran, Rafsanjani told Nasrallah that “unity among the different Lebanese resistance groups was the key factor,” another confirmation – if needed – of Iran’s deep and guiding connection to terrorist organizations in the region beyond just Hizballah.

Nasrallah’s response was telling, as he said that Iran’s continued nuclear development gives “great spiritual boost” to not only the Shi’ite Hizballah, but to virtually all of the Islamic terrorist groups throughout the region.

Why would developments toward nuclear power plants, as Iran claims, provide such a “great spiritual boost” to terrorists, whose mission it is to destroy infidels, be they the Saturday people, the Sunday people, or as displayed in Iraq, against ‘apostates’ of different sects within Islam?

One wonders what morale boost Middle East terrorists received when the proposed Iranian-Indian gas pipeline was announced.

None. Nor do they care about nuclear power plants and electricity generation and supply developments. But the prospect of nuclear weapons, through which the infidels can be intimidated or vaporized into defeat? Now that excites them and pertains to their mission.

Iran receives much moral and material support from powerful veto-wielding members of the Security Council, allowing them to continue on their path to nuclear armament.

China (‘Concerned’ China) has sent an envoy to Iran, Assistant Foreign Minister Cui Tiankai, for stopover talks before both proceed to Moscow to join up with the other Iranian enabler within the UN Security Council. A spokesman for the Chinese foreign ministry said, “The visit aims at stepping up exchanges with all parties concerned in a bid to help resolve the nuclear issue.” He added that China is “worried about the way in which things are developing.” That could mean a lot of things, but likely refers more to the American debate over strikes hitting a crescendo.

China is certainly more concerned that Iran is causing such a stir than it is about the race toward nuclear weaponry that is causing it. Given the choice, China chooses a nuclear Iran over a disruption of their favorable oil deals with the oil-rich terror sponsor. Those energy agreements are the primary motivator for China’s refusal to support any form of sanction or penalty via the UNSC.

For Russia, which was busy downplaying the Iranian breakthrough developments early in the week, Iranian oil is of little consequence, as they themselves are on of the world’s largest producers. As was the case in Saddam’s Iraq, it is the enormous military and technological trade with Iran that fuels their objection to UN sanctions or any other tangible action. The nuclear plants at Bushear have yet to be completed and even more plant construction is in the works. Hundreds and hundreds of millions of dollars serving as an influx to a cash-starved Russian economy.

As with China, given the choice, the Russians appear comfortable with accepting a nuclear armed Iran – even one complicit in Russia’s own conflict in Chechnya – over the loss of favorable trade.

At nearly $70 per barrel, the Persian Gulf’s second largest oil producer has been experiencing a windfall influx of funds. This is thought by many to be the true aim of the Iranian strategy: Drive up the price of oil and reap the rewards. But there is little room in the minds of the messianic leadership beyond such an interim strategy’s usefulness in eventually ‘paving the way for the 12th Imam’s return.’ Remember Ahmadinejad’s claim of a green aura while speaking at the UN, and the UN audience members’ inability to even blink when he was speaking about the return of the Mehdi. Those who believe Iran’s grand strategy is oil price manipulation fail to recognize the horrific reality of the Iranian leadership’s unshakable religious beliefs, beliefs not limited to Ahmadinejad.

So with its abundant oil and the cash windfall it has produced, Iran and its allies, bought and paid for many times over, are to assemble in Moscow.

Some are even beginning to question if one may have just left Tehran for Vienna.

ElBaradei Meeting Nets No Progress...For the West

ElBaradei went to Iran and nothing happened. Or did it? While the current theme in the reporting is that ElBaradei met with Iranian negotiators and left frustrated with no progress, perhaps that is lending some assumption to the tone and demeanor of the director of the IAEA.

Before ElBaradei met with the Iranians, Ahmadinejad did indeed set the Iranian tone. He announced that Iran was indeed working on the more efficient P2 version of uranium centrifuges and, to those who are angry at Iran’s clandestine nuclear program, he offered an unveiled, defiant response. “Our answer to those who are angry about Iran obtaining the full nuclear cycle is one phrase. We say, be angry and die of this anger.”

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice’s response was clear and immediate when she said that “when the Security Council reconvenes, there will have to be some consequence.” But there is clearly little hope in any decisive action coming from the UN Security Council or any other UN body, including ElBaradei’s IAEA.

Consider first the language used by ElBaradei following his widely anticipated yet fruitless meeting in Tehran. In the New York Times report, Dr. ElBaradei is quoted as saying that he hoped he could “convince Iran to take confidence-building measures, including suspension of uranium enrichment activities, until outstanding issues are clarified.”

But the Iranian media report has a more extensive set of quotes from ElBaradei that leave much to be desired from the man tasked by the UN Security Council (and the world) with uncovering the nature of the Iranian program.

“I’ve come to Tehran to discuss with Iranian officials to resolve the remaining issues in the way of verifying Iranian nuclear program.” This from the IAEA director was followed by “I conveyed the request of the international community to Iran to suspend enrichment for a specific period.” So far, so good. But then it gets troubling.

We have done our inspection works. No diversion has been found and Iran has the right to enjoy nuclear energy. But, What I’m insisting is that Iran should not deal with the matter emotionally. The request is that Iran suspend uranium enrichment for a specific period for confidence-building with the international community. I hope we will have good cooperation in future with Iran if Iran helps resolve the remaining issues on the table.”

ElBaradei followed this by adding, “I’m pleased with Iran’s readiness to hold dialogue to resolve them.”

No diversion has been found? What of their 18+ years of secrecy and concealment? What of the orders from the Mayor of Tehran to fell trees surrounding a razed plant because they contained radioactive traces of activity at the once active Lavizan nuclear facility? What of Iran’s denials of the existence of various plants until confronted with undeniable evidence to the contrary? What then also of their defiance in the face of ElBaradei’s own inspectors when they removed IAEA cameras and ripped seals from equipment in front of their eyes? The list of defiance and diversion is exhaustive.

It is again three steps forward and one step back, if ElBaradei’s kinder, gentler words are to be heeded by the Iranians.

During this tripartite approach, the Iranians take three steps forward, then one back, and end up well on their way to acquiring nuclear weapons. Despite all the passive-aggressive noisemaking, they push insidiously onward with development, then pause when they have gone too far, allow some negotiations, then are right back at it.

It is unsettling that ElBaradei’s presence brings more comfort to the Iranians amid their nuclear sprint than to anyone else. His presence and language brings more consternation to the West than to the suspect Iranian regime.

Considering the gentle – even acquiescent – language used by ElBaradei with the Iranians, it causes pause and makes one wonder, just what was the purpose of this visit? Indeed, as defiant as Ahmadinejad’s words are, he seems emboldened by ElBaradei’s presence. This is disconcerting.

Why is that? Why is it that Mohamed ElBaradei brings the West more consternation than the deceptive and less than forthright Iranian regime whose nuclear program he is tasked with inspecting and uncovering?

April 12, 2006

Iran, 'The Club' and the Saudi Shift

Iran announced yesterday that it is now an indisputable member of ‘The Club’, having successfully enriched uranium for the first time in their 164-centrifuge cascade at Natanz. Having finally cleared this hurdle, it is on to the next step: Their stated goal of arraying 3,000 centrifuges in cascade for usable amounts of enriched uranium, the precursor for the 50,000 centrifuge set-up eventually desired.

Iran accomplished enriching uranium in their centrifuges to a 3.5% purity. The goal is to set up enough cascades to enrich it to a level of 80-90% purity and amassing weapons-grade fissile material. Iran has actually enriched uranium to a 15% purity already using laser enrichment in experiments in 2002.

But perhaps most curious is the Saudi Arabian angle following a diplomatic exchange with Iran. Little noticed was the development that Ali Larijani , the Secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, went to the Arabian Peninsula to hold talks with Saudi King Abdullah bin Abd al-Aziz. Iranian state-run media paraphrases King Abdullah’s reception as warm, and that he sees Iranian-Saudi cooperation on security matters “effective in repelling the threats and establishing permanent security in the region and the entire international community as well.”

Last week, the Kingdom sent Prince Bandar bin Sultan to Russia. The former Ambassador to the US and now head of the Saudi National Security Council had curious words in support of the Iranian nuclear quest. He was quoted as saying that he “urged Russia to strive to prevent the adoption of a UN Security Council resolution which the US could use as justification to launch a military assault to knock out Iran’s nuclear facilities.” These are curious words from the principle regional adversary in the eyes of the Iranian regime.

Saudi Arabia is thought to be in its own nuclear quest, ironically seen to be principally a defensive reaction to Iran’s own race for nuclear arms. This backdrop makes Prince Bandar’s statement that Saudi Arabia now officially believes Iran’s program is purely peaceful more than curious. He declared, “That is why we don’t see a danger in Iran acquiring knowledge about nuclear energy provided it does not lead to (nuclear) proliferation. Of course, we believe proliferation is a threat.”

Saudi Arabia may now see the futility in opposing Iranian nuclear progress and instead seek to begin justifying their own. They echo the assertion made by Iran’s Ambassador to the UN that Iran is not a proliferation threat and, like Ambassador Zarif, conveniently dismiss that proliferation (via the AQ Khan network) is precisely how Iran acquired much of its nuclear knowledge and equipment to-date. As was earlier stated in a rebuttal to Ambassador Zarif, is the West – and now apparently Saudi Arabia – to believe that iran is suddenly going to ‘play by the rules’?

The regime is using the nuclear development achievements with some success to rally popular support among a fiercely nationalistic Iranian population. Without doubt, the public ceremony was a nationalistic celebration, complete with doves, dancing and flags. This is in sharp contrast to the recent furious public display in the form of the Great Prophet military maneuvers, complete with aggressive rhetoric, stretched claims of military advancement, missile tests, and dire warnings of the destruction of any (US) aggressors.

With ElBaradei in Tehran for talks, many have high hopes yet hold low expectations. But it is the ElBaradei arrival that is the prime cause for the highly public, celebratory announcement. Former Iranian president Hashemi Rafsanjani made this clear when he said during his announcement yesterday that ElBaradei “faces new circumstances.”

This announcement may indeed have come before the actual accomplishment or, conversely, may have been delayed some in order to have the psychological effect that comes with good timing. But the US annouced that it cannot confirm Iran’s enrichment claim. In truth, no one can. But whether they achieved it last month, yesterday or will in reality next month, the point is moot.

The timing certainly could not be more convenient or useful with ElBaradei in the country for discussions. Dr. Judith Klinghoffer speculates on the purpose of ElBaradei’s recent Nobel Peace Prize and says, “Unlike previous winners, his was intended to strengthen his hand for just such an existential moment. Will it be enough?” She hopes that it will serve to bolster his efforts to bring Iran into line with the international community. Though, as Russia, China and now Saudi Arabia demonstrate, that international community is less than homogenous and the United Nations typically less than united. She recalls 1967 and current parallels between ElBaredei’s trip to Iran and U Thant’s trip to Egypt ahead of the 6 Days War.

Ed Morrisey at Captain’s Quarters recalls the duplicity of Hitler before World War II. “Does this sound familiar? For students of the second World War, it certainly will. Adolf Hitler made a career of breaking treaties and immediately offering to work within them once again, all the while advancing his military position against that of the Western alliance.”

With certainty, conflict is brewing.

And observers should look beyond the doves and dancers on public display in Tehran and view developments within the context of the chest pounding that resonated from the Great Prophet Persian Gulf exercise, the mobilization of Hizballah, tacit support of Hamas and Islamic Jihad, let alone the usefulness of Iran’s ‘house arrest’ of top al-Qaeda operators who fled from US forces pursuing them in Afghanistan. For this is the true nature of the regime touting ‘peaceful’ progress and ambitions.

April 7, 2006

Nuke-Modified Nosecones and Secret Facilities Hang Over Iran

Missile experts analyzing footage of recent Shahab-3 test launches have concluded that Iran has modified the nosecone to accommodate a nuclear warhead. The Telegraph report cites experts noting the triconical design of the new nosecone “to accommodate a nuclear device and this type of warhead is normally found only in nuclear weapons.” An unnamed senior US official said that it was a significant development and that Iran has “been trying to do this for years and now they have succeeded. It is a very disturbing development.”

The curious aspect of the report is the timing. The triconical nosecone did not surface in the most recent test firings of the Shahab-3, Iran’s staple medium range missile. A September 2003 Iranian military parade shows the missile on display with the straight nosecone. Middle East Missile Monitor report from as far back as September 2004 notes the appearance of the triconical nosecone – calling it the Baby Bottle Shihab - as well as other aspects that indicate Russian technological signatures on the Iranians’ steady advances in their missile development, such as the fuel lines ‘over the shoulder’ of the nosecone. From the 2004 report, the author draws a conclusion as to the Russian technical assistance:

Engineers have a tendency to copy their earlier successful design formulae and practice, or - not unlike artists - to advertise their achievements by stamping their personal style on their work. The result is often a “family look”, sometimes functional, sometimes aesthetic (Like the not coincidental resemblance of the F-22 and F-35 combat aircraft). To the present writer, the family looks shared by the new Shihab and the old Soviet missiles seem to be more than a coincidence. The thumbprint of the SS-9 designers characterizes the new front end the Iranian new missile. In view of the persistent reports on missile technology transfer from Russian to Iran, this should not be too surprising. The photos of the new Shihab may be a validation of Iran ‘s Russian Connection.

Flying Boat

From a link provided by the Telegraph, in September 2004, Jane’s Defence Weekly quotes Uzi Rubin, the former director of Israel’s BMDO, on the Shahab-3 advances. He noted the Russian signatures but did not (in the available text) make the direct connection between the new nosecone and nuclear indications.

To be sure, the emergence of the triconical design is not new. However, to what degree is the true significance of its relation to a nuclear capability advancement? And, if this is so, why is it being put into such context now? Is there more recent footage of a new triconical design more advanced than the available 2004 images revealed?

Also from the Telegraph overnight is a report on IAEA suspicions of a secret parallel uranium processing and enrichment network in Iran, intended to ensure the survivability of the Iranian nuclear work after previously disclosed sites are destroyed by an American bombing campaign. This is a significant aspect that warrants a most active intelligence effort.

IAEA officials refer to late-2005 interviews with AQ Khan as “convincing evidence that the Iranians are working on a secret uranium enrichment project that has not been officially declared.” It is believed by the IAEA interviewers that Khan provided “full disclosure of the nuclear dossier he gave the Iranians.”

At issue and in question leading the IAEA to this conclusion are two primary factors today. First is the apparently very revealing interview of AQ Khan, possibly looking to save his own skin, and the many inconsistencies between what Iran has claimed and/or denied and what Khan disclosed about what his network provided Iran.

Second is the still unresolved question over Iran’s ‘Green Salt Project’ that was discovered yet publicly denied by Iran (as was the whole of its nuclear program for 18 years). Iran had made some backtracking gestures offering some information on the project after immediate denials, but those offers by Iran have apparently since died after the initial gestures. Also to be considered are the warhead designs discovered that Iran first denied outright. Iran then backtracked and said that they had them but never asked for them, suggesting that it was a marketing effort by Khan to gain more business.

The question of a secret Iranian parallel program is not new. That the IAEA is apparently now openly suggesting its existence, however, is new.

What these two developments serve to further expose is the clandestine nature of the Iranian program, despite their repeated denials. To that end, as very specific details are exposed, one by one and over time, the Iranian response is consistent and largely generic: “These are lies. We only pursue peaceful nuclear power.” On a regular basis, specifics are combated largely with generalities.

It is Iran’s undeniable presence at the epicenter of international terrorism that is at the center of the conflict and the heart of the dangerous threat. The concern is less the nuclear weapons than the nature of the regime pursuing them.

The race to develop nuclear weapons by both India and Pakistan, while troubling, did not cause the level of concern caused currently by Iran.

April 5, 2006

Iran's Public Defense Industry Trade Show Maneuvers

Yesterday’s Iranian military hardware ‘Breakthrough of the Day’ was, on its face, amusingly humorous. The Pentagon confirmed (so much for stealth) that Iran’s much-touted Friday missile test, complete with claims of stealth (again) and MIRV capabilities, as that of simply a Shahab-2. Both serve to put the entire operation into perspective. It was an Iranian defense industries trade show.

From Sun Tzu: “If you are strong, appear weak. If you are weak, appear strong.”

This is what Iran is pursuing both on the military and the terrorism fronts. MIRV missiles, stealth ‘flying boats’ and world-record torpedo speeds. It largely hides its tentacles of terrorism from view, while attempting to dupe the West with false displays of military might.

But while Iran claims “We are going to have very important news that will make our nation proud in the next few days,” to the extent that they are conventional developments, much will be left to be desired. To be sure, however, is the troubling reality of the Russian and Chinese feeding tubes sustaining most of Iran’s military technological advances. While western media outlets are finally beginning to recognize Iran’s Persian Gulf exercise as more of a media blitz than a combined forces training exercise, China’s state-run media, Xinhua, continues to laud the illusory Iranian display of power with headlines such as Iran showcases its military strength.

But fear of Iran as a conventional military power was never the concern. The fear is founded upon the current Iranian role as the premiere state sponsor of terrorism and its collision course with nuclear capabilities. Russian and Chinese guidance in the latter while disregarding the former are of even greater concern than all other conventional assistance combined.

Germany’s foreign minister is urging the US to hold talks with Iran, talks that the realistic (or pessimistic) would see as no more productive than the fruitless talks about talks that the EU eventually even abandoned themselves in favor of a Security Council referral. Simultaneously, Iran is stating that it is ready to negotiate on large-scale enrichment, a public overture that fails to address the UN’s demand (and that of the West) that Iran cease all enrichment activities. For, so long as Iran can continue talks and discussions on its program and forestall any action against its program, their nuclear development proceeds.

Within the same breath, IAEA inspectors are set to visit Iran’s Natanz enrichment facility, the site where Iran broke the IAEA seals under the protest and observation of the same inspectors.

The options are limited in dealing with a belligerent regime racing towards nuclear development, though military strikes appear more and more likely as time is squandered in inactive international debate over what not to do to the regime. Iran continues to posture that military strikes are not in US interests. While there would certainly be consequences, the world’s premiere state sponsor of terrorism rising to a nuclear power serves US interests even less. Indeed, Iran has suggested that terrorist strikes worldwide would result from any attack, coordinated primarily by its foreign policy arm, Hezbollah.

The question that must be answered is: Does the world believe that attacks would not occur if Iran were permitted to arm itself, and potentially its client terrorist organizations, with nuclear weapons?

Iran has a track record of international terrorism since 1979. Indeed, Iran and its Hezbollah offspring dwarf the threat perceived by many from al-Qaeda. In many ways, al-Qaeda itself enjoys the support and protection of the Iranian regime.

There are no palatable choices in dealing with Iran and the terrorism they cultivate. Doing nothing is the worst among them.

April 4, 2006

Iran's Stealth Advances: The Iranian 'Flying Boat' Marks Latest

Conventional military advancements continue to be announced in Iran’s latest military exercise in the Persian Gulf, Great Prophet. After several announcements of missile and torpedo test launches comes Iran’s report of what the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps calling their ‘flying boat’. Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting showed the ‘flying boat’ flying at low altitude and maneuvering in water and said that it was domestically produced in Iran.

Flying Boat It follows a common thread along with the rest of Iran’s new hardware announcements: Stealthy technology. This is the true value of the conventional advances announced by Iran in the Great Prophet maneuvers in the Persian Gulf and Sea of Oman, not any claimed MIRV development that Iran cannot arm or even the speed of the 328-feet-per-second Hoot torpedo, by contrast a very real threat to traffic in the Strait of Hormuz. The source of the stealthy technology is without doubt our friends in China and Russia.

Last week, it was noted that there was no word from NORAD nor the US Military in-theater of a ‘ballistic’ missile launch detection in Iran. Today, we get that word. The Pentagon is saying now that Iran tested an older version of the Scud missile family last week and not any new ICBM development. What was launched in last week’s much publicized Iranian media event was, in fact, a Shahab-2 with a range of 310 miles. The Shahab-2 is the Iranian designation for the Scud-C variant of the Russian design.

Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman seems to echo sentiments expressed in this space since last week saying, “It is possible they are increasing their capabilities and making strides in radar-absorbing material and targeting. However, the Iranians have been known to boast and exaggerate their statements about greater technical and tactical capabilities.”

A senior Russian Minister of Parliament criticized Iran’s very public displays in their current wargaming maneuvers, calling them inappropriate. Minister Konstantin Kosachyov, the chairman of the Russian State Duma International Affairs Committee, also cast doubt on the wild (and vague) claims made by the Iranians regarding last week’s missile test announcement. “So far we have nothing except the assertion by the Iranian military and by politicians that it is superior to other similar missiles, but I see no reason to believe these statements.”

The development of stealthy technology is not insignificant. However, Iran’s greatest development is and was their creation, development and support of Hezbollah, and the terrorism and terrorist groups Hezbollah aids, trains, funds and arms. Aside from military attacks on shipping in the Straits of Hormuz, the only effective attack arm Iran possesses against the United States is that of Hezbollah and other terrorist groups carrying out attacks in the region and throughout the world.

While Iran states they will not use oil as a weapon, it can be assured that they will. They must. There is a reason that their latest maneuvers center around the Strait of Hormuz, and it is not because their missile testing ranges are conveniently located nearby.

April 3, 2006

The Two Faces of Hamas

After last week’s announcement that US agencies are banned from contact with Hamas-Led Palestinian Authority agencies, Hamas’ new PA Prime Minister, Ismail Haniyeh, sharply criticized the US decision and suggested that the United States give Hamas one full year before reaching such a policy decision. “Let them bear with us for a year,” he said.

He went further and stated that the United States is ironically violating it’s own purported support for democracy by breaking ties with the freely and fairly elected Hamas leadership. Meanwhile, the US will be maintaining contact with the Fatah leadership through PA President Mahmoud Abbas.

But Haniyeh’s pleas for Western patience might be better recieved were it not for abrasive comments like that offered by the Palestinian Authority’s new Foreign Minister Mahmoud Zahar, who said over the weekend, “I dream of hanging a huge map of the world on the wall at my Gaza home which does not show Israel on it. I hope that our dream to have our independent state on all historic Palestine (will materialize).”

Couple that with the recent statistical disclosure from Israel revealing that fully 234 of the 713 terror-related arrests by the IDF in the first quarter of 2006 were members of Hamas, more than any other group from the Palestinian Territories. Said the source of the report data to Ynetnews, “That figure just shows that under the surface Hamas is involved in attacks, albeit not directly.”

Hamas’ open partnership with Iran, the world’s premiere State Sponsor of Terrorism, is a barometer revealing the choices Hamas is willing to make, and their refusal to acknowledge Israel or standing pre-Hamas agreements an equal indicator of the choices Hamas is not willing to make. They, and the people they represent – who indeed freely and fairly elected them into power – will have to endure the consequences of such choices.

Iran's Amazing New Weapons Developments

On the heels of a very public proclamation of new missile technology on Friday, Iran says it will test more weapons in its Persian Gulf exercise. Sunday, Iran laid claim to the successful test firing of what it calls the world’s fastest torpedo, claiming it travels underwater at 328 feet per second.

Taking a step back, this should all be digested in context. To be sure, discerning exactly what Iran has or has not truly developed is guesswork at this point. However, it should at least raise eyebrows that all of these seemingly miraculous developments are being realized within the scope of a one week military exercise that is designed purely as a show of force for Western consumption, all on the heels of UN Security Council proceedings on Iran’s nuclear program that has revealed very real fissures in the Western stance (insofar as Russia and China can be considered ‘Western’ in this context).

While the nature of the advances (as advertised) should be digested with at least some skepticism, it should also be noted that Iran has been working nearly as feverishly in their missile program as they have in their nuclear program. And it should also be noted that Iran did launch their first indigenously produced submarine within the past few months, augmenting a small fleet of Soviet Kilo-Class hunter-killer submarines.

But the concern with Iran should remain one of international terrorism and not one of military might. In fact, to the degree that Iran has improved their naval systems, it is much more likely that these advances will serve Iran’s ability to threaten civilian maritime vessels, primarily oil tankers and the closure of the Straits of Hormuz, and not for direct military-on-military war fighting. Iran’s military, regardless of missile and torpedo advances, would be crushed under the overwhelming military power of the United States.

In a Washington Post story, the headline misses the mark: Attacking Iran May Trigger Terrorism. The body of the story is correct, drawing attention to the certainty that Hezbollah – as Tehran’s de facto foreign policy arm – would be used in attacks of retaliation following any Western strike on Iranian nuclear facilities. But, the headline leaves much to be desired, as it implies that Iran otherwise would not ‘trigger’ such acts.

It cannot go unrecognized that not attacking Iran has ‘triggered terrorism’ since 1979. From the Marine Barracks and US Embassy in Beruit, to the US consulate in Kuwait, to the Israeli Embassy in Argentina and the Karin-A shipment of arms bound for Gaza but intercepted by the Israelis in 2002, no American attack on Iran was required. Iran’s tentacles of terror reach far beyond just that of Hezbollah. Indeed, Iran is now the principle regional supporter of Hamas and, through Hezbollah, coordinate with, fund, arm and train various terror groups, including but not limited to the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, the PFLP-GC, and others. Iran also continues to harbor within their borders what al-Qaeda themselves have claimed is over 100 of al-Qaeda’s top operatives.

Attacking Iran will not ‘trigger’ terrorism. There will be increased attacks to be sure, but they will not come from a vacuum. To shrink from Iran because of the threat of terrorism will be akin to shrinking from the schoolyard bully because he may hit you. The bloodied lip should serve to remind that the bully already has.

  • AudioFebruary 2, 2010
    [Listen Here]
    What on Earth can Usama bin Laden, the mystical calculus of climate change and US Homeland Security have in common? Does bin Laden really agree with the President of the United States on matters weather? How is it that the...

Special Reports

Recent Features