Nov 22 2008
Sorry for the light posting folks, we had a new project start up on November 3rd on my ‘day job’ and the start up phase has been kicking my butt. Anyway, the holidays always slow things down on government projects so I will hopefully have a few more windows of opportunity here in the coming days.
In what has to be history’s most ironic and disconcerting example of “watch what you ask for, you just might get it” the Democrats have been handed the reigns of power at a time when the nation’s challenges are of a nature most likely to become worse under Democrat policies than better. It is an odd perfect storm that swept out the infighting conservatives and gave power to a party whose policies can produce in times of bountiful peace and economic growth. In times of national security challenges and a weak economy liberal policies are impotent at best, self destructive on average.
The largest threat facing this country since 9-11, hell since the Soviets and the Nazis, is a nuclear armed Iran run by martyrdom-mad Mullahs. And that threat is now more than ever a reality:
According to an article published Thursday in theÂ New York Times, “Iran has now produced roughly enough nuclear material to make, with added purification, aÂ singleÂ atom bomb, according to nuclear experts.”
“The figures detailing Iran’s progress were contained in a routine update on Wednesday fromÂ the InternationalÂ Atomic Energy Agency, which has been conducting inspections of the country’s main nuclear plant at Natanz. The report concluded that as of early this month, Iran had made 630 kilograms, or about 1,390 pounds, of low-enriched uranium.”
One must not forget that the enriched uranium is low grade. For now, it can be used forÂ nuclear power plants. However, it can be further refined into higher grade uranium. To do that, enrichment facilities at Natanz would have to go through major visible reconfigurations. For example, all the piping infrastructure will have to be redone. This would make it very difficult for Iran to hide from the IAEA inspectors.
Unless, that is, there are secret facilities where the low enriched uranium is purified, away from the eyes and knowledge of the IAEA. And this is very possible.
What really irritates me about the reporting on this issue is the 6th grade level of thinking that goes into the reports. The concepts sound like something out of 1970’s network TV scripts. Let’s assume Iran is working to build a bomb. Would they be doing it in the facilities the IAEA are monitoring or would they be doing it someplace else. And if they could siphon off, say, half the low grade uranium without the IAEA detecting it they could then move this material someplace else. Maybe even to another allied country like Syria:
A senior Syrian official on Friday all but ruled out new visits by U.N inspectors probing allegations that his country had a covert program that could be used to make nuclear weapons.
The IAEA has said it suspects three other sites may have been nuclear-related and linked to the bombed location.
Othman described the three sites as (non-nuclear) “military bases” that could not be visited by outsiders, although higher Syrian authorities could decide otherwise.
An IAEA report this week heightened concerns about Al Kibar, saying that satellite imagery and other evidence showed it had the characteristics of a nuclear reactor. It also said that soil samples taken from the bombed site had a “significant number” of chemically processed natural uranium particles.
The fact is a UN inspections only work when the country wants to demonstrate compliance. They can easily be duped as Saddam Hussein did many times over many years. The UN allows itself to be a hazy cover for rogue nations intent on gaming the inspection system. The UNWMD inspection results should NEVER be given much credence when dealing with hostile nations, just like hostile witnesses cannot be given the benefit of objectiveness or honesty.Â
So to assume Iran is honestly trying to comply with international restrictions on nuclear weapons is a dangerously foolish prospect. With these rose colored glasses on one could find excuses to not investigate all sorts of sophisticated efforts to hide a nuclear weapons program from prying eyes. In fact, we know Iran has been running the weaponization side of a program to build nuclear weapons. That was reported in the infamous NIE on the Iranian nuclear weapons program (see here, here and here). Even Democrats had serious reservations on the Pollyannish NIE that was produced as a media event:
Iran expert Ray Takeyh, a former professor at the National War College and National Defense University, said that although his own politics are left of the presidentâ€™s, he agrees with Bush that Iranâ€™s nuclear program is a continuing threat.
â€œThe position I take is that President Bush is right on this,â€ said Takeyh, now at the Council on Foreign Relations.
Takeyh, who has long argued for engaging Iran in diplomacy, said the intelligence report was too easy on Tehran by not objecting to the uranium enrichment program, which many Western governments have alleged is meant to build the knowledge base to eventually develop nuclear weapons. The American intelligence agencies, in effect, accepted Iranâ€™s contention that the enrichment is for peaceful purposes, Takeyh said.
Sharon Squassoni, a former government nuclear safeguards expert now with the generally liberal Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington, noted that the intelligence report said Iran suspended its enrichment program in 2003 and later signed an agreement allowing U.N. inspections.
But, she said, the portion of the report made public was silent on the fact that the Iranians reversed both actions in 2006.
Gary Samore, who was a top arms control official in the Clinton White House, agreed that the National Intelligence Estimate did not adequately emphasize Iranâ€™s continuing efforts to enrich uranium and build missiles.
â€œThe halting of the weaponization program in 2003 is less important from a proliferation standpoint than resumption of the enrichment program in 2006,â€ said Samore, director of studies at the Council on Foreign Relations.
Samore said the report undermined Bushâ€™s warnings about Iranian efforts to develop nuclear weapons and left Tehran in a strong position, allowing it to develop its enrichment capacity without a substantial challenge from the United States and its allies. The secret weaponization program is â€œon ice,â€ he said, but Iran preserves the option to resume that when it wishes.
What really bothers me on this is the short attention span and the inability or unwillingness to see the big picture here. One of the comments is the enriched uranium is useless without a functional nuclear weapon design and missiles. We know the Iranians have the missiles. And we know, sadly, the Clinton administration provided Iran with the most complicate element of a nuclear weapon – the trigger systems:
Last night, radio talk show host and former US Justice Department official Mark Levin shocked many listeners when he reported that President Bill Clinton gave nuclear technology to the Iranians in a harebrained scheme.
He said that the transfer of classified data to Iran was personally approved by then-President Clinton and that the CIA deliberately gave Iranian physicists blueprints for part of a nuclear bomb that likely helped Tehran advance its nuclear weapons development program.
The CIA, using a double-agent Russian scientist, handed a blueprint for a nuclear bomb to Iran, according to a new book â€œState of Warâ€ by James Risen, the New York Times reporter, who exposed the Bush administrationâ€™s controversial NSA spying operation, claims the plans contained fatal flaws designed to derail Tehranâ€™s nuclear drive.
With all these pieces together, with a mindset that Iran is trying to hide their activities verses demonstrate sincere peaceful intentions (a.k.a. healthy skepticism) we can see the nation faces a real threat. They have the trigger design, they have the uranium, they have the missiles, and the NIE confirmed the weapon design plan, which they claimed was ‘suspended’ in 2003, but others claim was restarted in 2006 (when the Dems won Congress, not surprisingly).
The test will be how the democrats play this to the nation. If they keep presenting scenarios that are more like afternoon-TV script than serious threat assessments we will know they are trying to deny or hide the threat. The Iranians will be watching for this too, and when we all see it that will be the green light for the Iranians to take the final steps. Will the Dems wait until there is a smoking hole where a major Israeli city once was, or a US base in Iraq?
If they present serious concerns in an effort to garner public support here and across the world for severe sanctions, then they will be doing what they can to stop the Iranian threat short of military action. Sadly I think we will not see this serious debate from the Democrats.