Iran's North Korean Plutonium Pipeline
Trent Tolenko writes on the coming nuclear test by Iran at Winds of Change with Count Down to Iran's Nuclear Test. He makes some great observations (Trent's eyes are always open). After he states his case that, in his long-held belief that an Iranian nuclear test is due this spring, he posits on the aftermath of an American (or other) series of strikes on its facilities.
What do we do if, after we bomb Iran’s known nuclear facilities flat, over the 4-6 week period needed to be really thorough, and ride out Iran’s expected retaliation – mining of the Straits of Hormuz, attacks on oil tankers in the Persian Gulf, uprisings by its covertly controlled militias in southern Iraq, etc., Iran then does a nuclear test anyway a few months later, with a nuke it has had all along?
And says that, if we attack again, it will nuke Kuwait and the oil ports of Saudi Arabia? Because it is still getting, from North Korea, everything it needs to build more nuclear weapons. Because we’re letting North Korea be an invulnerable sanctuary for Iran’s nuclear weapons enrichment, while Iran provides the sites for North Korean nuclear tests.
First, his observations on the role of North Korea in Iran's program are important to note. A question came to mind of how difficult it is to successfully transfer shipments of plutonium or HEU from NoKor to Iran (or anywhere else) without detection. That is, in part, a question of technicality that I would like to leave to my friends at Los Alamos and Idaho National Laboratories to weigh in on. The other side of the question is, how closely are we looking for this, regardless of technical (masking/shielding) transport issues. The answer to that will likely never go farther than those tasked with that responsibility, nor should it. When the quantities are measured in kilograms, this seems a daunting task to pursue with confidence.
As to Trent's conclusion of the aftermath, while the possible Iranian reaction he states is wholly plausible and not unreasoned, it is at this time, after strikes, that the only way to stare them down from the precipice they have climbed to is to, well, stare them down from the precipice.
If Iran's purpose, under the leadership of Ahmadinejad, is truly to bring about cataclysmic horror to 'pave the way' for the return of the 12th Imam, they will know that there will no longer be any building of an arsenal and that the best time to 'pave the way' is to use what they have on hand. They will know that everything they build will be knocked down (or in). If a strike has already been made, they will never have more than they have at the time of the strike and therefor not bother with threats. If they recognize this and are not therefor, in this scenario at least, vying for a future arsenal, there is no purpose that a threat serves. They will act without such announcement.
If there is not time to fund and surge an internal regime change, bargaining with the current Iranian regime at this or future points should be considered a fool's game. If there is time, then any further negotiations will be flipping the tables with the West now wanting 'talks about talks' in search of time while the internal opposition gathers its long-awaited steam.
But, by nearly all accounts, there is no time, regardless of chirpings about the suddenly-respected intelligence community's 10-year estimate.
The West now has what it has in Iran after years of not knowing what the West did not want to know.
There are no palatable options with the current regime. There are only varying degrees of horror.