Posts Tagged ‘Nuclear Weapons’

CURRENT – ‘DILLUTED’ – SANCTIONS ON IRAN ARE UNLIKELY TO STOP PRODUCTION OF NUCLEAR WEAPONS, WITH IRAN AND RUSSIA PLAYING BRILLIANTLY. HOWEVER, NUKES IN HANDS OF AHMADINEJAD COULD EVENTUALLY HARM IRAN, BRING STRONGER SANCTIONS OR EVEN A BLOCKADE.

Nuclear Iran could pose a danger to the Middle East... and to itself. Despite recent prognosis of new sanctions draft against Iran barring sale of advanced weaponry to it, Russians announced they would indeed supply the Mullahs with S-300 anti-aircraft missile system:

Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Mikhail Margelov said the latest sanctions proposal does not pertain to agreements signed with Iran in the past.

"Russia is a responsible supplier to international markets and it has no interest in working towards arming the Middle East," Margelov was quoted as saying by the Novosti and Interfax news agencies. He added that the draft proposal formulated by the five permanent members of the Security Council along with Germany is "balanced" and that the sanctions it offers are not "paralyzing."

"We are talking about steps that would be unavoidable should Iran not adhere to international law," he said.

(Ynet)

RUSSIA CERTAINLY USES the loophole well to its advantage: they keep Iran at bay by saying they won’t sell it any new weapons, however, they are already willing to supply much to Ahmadinejad. We still know little of what exactly was signed between Medved and Ahmadinejad, thus it is possible the sales would include not only the S-300 system, but also fighter aircraft (such as the MiG-29) and other types of weaponry.

Russia comes out as a sole winner in this situation – at one hand, the West cannot complain about Russian weapons in Iran’s hands; on the other, Iran gets the package; on the third – Russians get paid in full, thus fueling their own economy, and particularly the defense budget.

Some analysts point out that within days of Brazil-brokered ‘enrichment deal’ with Turkey, Iran, played out its cards well, making few significant gains:

1.   Tough UN sanctions are off the table, leaving individual governments the freedom to proceed, or not, with unilateral penalties against Iran’s nuclear violations.

2.   The heavily-diluted UN draft omits any mention of energy bans, such the refined oil products, a provision formerly advocated by Washington as the most effective means of forcing Iran to abandon its drive for a nuclear weapon.

3.   Not only has the notion of a sea blockade gone by the board, but heavy restrictions are clamped down on searches of vessels suspected of carrying contraband military or nuclear cargoes, for which permission must now be requested by the nation flagged. This allows Iranand Syria to safely import nuclear materials and missiles by sea without fear of interception. Even before the haggling begins, therefore, the new "sanctions" draft before the UN Security Council scarcely answers to its description.

4.   The Obama administration’s inclination to treat the new uranium exchange deal brokered by Brazil and Turkey as the Six-Power Group’s springboard for bringing Tehran back to the negotiating table offers Iran the gift of more time and space to achieve its ultimate objective of a nuclear weapon.

(DebkaFile)

Israeli leaders are probably shocked at the incompetence and stark pacifism of the international community. While nobody wants war, it is clearly understood that the current sanctions draft will lead nowhere, as it basically leaves in Iran in its current position for at least several years.

Iran’s strategy could be in the wrong, however. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad plans to create a nuclear weapon as soon as possible, in order to control as much of Middle East as possible. Then, Ahmadinejad believes, Iran would could and it would be impossible to simply impose sanctions on it. He could be wrong, however. True, Iran is no North Korea, but it could be close. While uncertain, the international community would be much more inclined to impose tough sanctions on Iran when it realizes its nuclear potential. While a blockade would always be the last resort of the pacifist United Nations, nuclear Iran would cause much worry for surrounding states, thus giving sanctions a few more votes in the Security Council. While Russia or China could indeed veto such decision, they would be unlikely to do so, as their current rhetoric allows them to waste time until Iran finishes its nuclear research, but not much after it does.

Nuclear Iran certainly would start a new era in the Middle East. Radical Islamists African countries are likely to flock to it for protection and military supply, which Iran would gladly provide (unless a blockade is indeed imposed). Few more entities, such as Syria, Gaza’s Hamas and Lebanon’s Hezbollah would make bolder steps, bluntly confronting Israel, even militarily – feeling Iran’s protective backing. On the other hand, Iran’s enemies – such as Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia, are likely to make bolder steps on their side against Iran-aligned elements within their societies. Thus – if he makes it, that is – Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak would instruct his forces to up the stakes in fight against radical Muslim Brotherhood, and would take further steps to lock down Gaza. Jordan, knowing it is vulnerable, would likely keep any anti-Iran operation under covers, and would likely request help from either of its neighbors – even Israel, although that would be accepted covertly and in a limited fashion.

Overall, nuclear Iran certainly would alter Middle East’s inner workings. However, it is quite possible the altercation would not be good for Iran, as its only option could be aligning itself with even poorer nations, who can do little to further Iran’s goals on international arena.

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Iran and Brazil - new best friends? In a trick worthy of better politicians, Iran’s Mahmoud Ahmadinejad agreed surprisingly quickly to Brazil’s offer of enriching uranium in Turkey:

The shipment of the low-grade uranium ostensibly would prevent the possibility that Iran could use the material to build a nuclear weapon. However, Germany and Britain remain unimpressed. Iran would continue to be able to produce high-grade uranium, and Turkey would return the low-grade uranium if it does not ship fuel rods within a year.

No announcement was made concerning what Turkey would do with the low-grade uranium, which would be stored under supervision of United Nations and Iranian authorities.

(Channel 7 News)

THE DEADLOCK SOLVED itself swiftly – so swiftly, in fact, that it smells real dirty. After all, Brazil stepped in as a mediator only a week ago, and managed to solve a situation stalled for a month?

Not so fast, though. While Brazil’s da Silva stepped up his efforts, Iran still claims the right to continue enrichment program, thus it is unclear whether Turkey would play any role at all. With Russians warning the deal unlikely to solve anything, the international community cannot really stop pushing Iran:

"One question is: will Iran itself enrich uranium? As far as I understand from officials of that state, such work will be continued. In this case, of course, those concerns that the international community had before could remain," [Russian President Dmitry] Medvedev said.

(Haaretz)

The Europeans put even sadder masks on, expressing outright disgust at Iran’s mockery of a deal:

The office of EU foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton in Brussels said the deal "does not answer all of the concerns" raised by Tehran’s nuclear program.

Germany’s Foreign Ministry responded that no agreement could replace the draft inked between Iran and the IAEA last October in which Iran would transfer its enriched uranium to France and Russia, where it would be processed into nuclear fuel rods and returned back to Iran to fuel Tehran’s research reactor.

(Ynet)

The analysts go far beyond disgust, illustrating outright humiliation of the West and somewhat good political planning and execution by anti-US bloc of Iran, Brazil and the Thanksgiving Country:

Just think: Obama invited Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva to the White House and praised him wildly: Obama called himself "a great admirer of the progressive, forward-looking leadership that President Lula has shown." This is despite the fact that the Brazilian leader is as close to a Communist as you can get nowadays, has sunk his country into huge debts, and has been a major critic of the United States.

And then what does “Lula” do after being feted in the White House?

Naturally, he is trying to destroy U.S. efforts to raise and enforce sanctions on Iran. Lula has tried to save Iran from sanctions by putting together a phony diplomatic deal on Tehran’s terms. And guess who his partner is in trying to sabotage sanctions and help Tehran? Why that "moderate Muslim" regime in Turkey for which the Obama Administration has had so much praise!

Now Lula has just visited Tehran in person and proposed that Brazil should provide Iran with equipment and parts to modernize its oil production while Iran assists Brazil in deep-water drilling efforts in the Atlantic Ocean. Lula also said he would urge Brazilian companies to invest in Iranian refineries. There can be no doubt that Brazil will oppose sanctions in the UN.

(Rubin Report)

Other analysts go further, echoing warnings by Western countries that the deal, based on technicality, legitimizes Iran’s continued nuclear program and further stalling possibility of sanctions on Iran:

2. The deal legitimizes Iran’s right to enriched uranium of a higher grade, which can be converted in short order to fuel for a nuclear bomb. Tehran has now gained an international seal for going up to weapons grade.

3.  Given the close bonds unfolding between Turkey, Iran and Syria, no independent agency can expect a chance to monitor the transaction or find out the actual quantity of enriched uranium Tehran is in fact exporting to Turkey.

4.  The Six-Power group’s compromise proposition for the export of 1.200 kilograms of low-enriched Iranian uranium was put forward more than a year ago and left hanging. There is no telling how much enriched uranium Tehran has produced in the interim period. Therefore, the quantity Iran has agreed to send to Turkey may be a drop in the ocean. In any case, the deal leaves Tehran with all the necessary infrastructure for continuing to build up its stocks of enriched uranium – and at a higher grade.

(DebkaFile)

The ridiculousness of the situation portrayed best by the inability of the sole superpower to impose any kind of restraint on Iran. I could understand why President Obama feels he cannot single-handedly impose a blockade on Iran, as he outdoes himself distancing his policies from those of his predecessor. However, lack of US’ strong lead undermines any possibility of peaceful solution to the problem. The Europeans certainly will not take a lead and are likely to portray themselves as being forced into sanctions, as European governments attempt to contain rage of millions of Muslim immigrants as well as some neighbors. The United States – the one country that does not heavily depend on pacifying rioting Muslim youths – fails the test of time, as neither President Obama nor Secretary of State Clinton presented a clear stance and strategy for combating Iran’s acquisition of nuclear arsenal.

Thus Israel is left with a tough choice. Feeling it is out of friends, it mulls the option to attack; nevertheless, it is the route Netanyahu’s unlikely to take as he clearly understands the repercussions of such a move. While Israel – and other intelligence agencies around the world – attempted to sabotage Iran’s program, they achieved only scarce success.

This leaves Israel with two options, neither of them perfect: step up anti-ballistic defense R&D and step up Mossad’s sabotage. Neither will bear necessary fruit. Israel’s tough stance will force Netanyahu and his generals to think of new strategies – and seek new friends.

Is al-Assad to build another reactor with Medvedev's help? With Russian President Dmitry Medvedev visiting Damascus, some analysts and officials wonder if Medvedev would discuss arms deals with his Syrian counterpart:

Observers in Washington see the deepening of Moscow-Damascus relations as a failed mark for the Obama-Clinton drive to woo Assad. Some are saying that the Kremlin, for its part, seeks to use Syria as a fig leaf for its deepening crisis with Tehran, following the Russian president’s promise to Barack Obama to back tough sanctions against Iran. This promise was accompanied by Moscow’s secret assurance to hold back from activating Iran’s first nuclear reactor at Bushehr – in breach of Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin’s pledge earlier this month to have the reactor up and running by August.

(DebkaFile)

SYRIA’S BASHAR AL-ASSAD would prefer Russians to the Americans any day of the year. Russians are more than willing to sell Syria weapons of grade of sophistication Assad would never get from the United States. He believes he is threatened by Israel and wants to be armed to the teeth to repel any attack. He is not far from the truth, and Israel’s attack on alleged Syrian nuclear reactor-in-construction is evidence to that. It is likely al-Assad plans to begin construction on another reactor and wants the best of protection Russians can offer against likely Israeli airstrike.

The deal is great for Russia as well. More important than the cash Medvedev would earn from the sale, he would gain footing in the region, if he manages to woo Syrians on their side. He likely understands that, in part, he is being played by al-Assad, who uses Obama’s attempts at closure as leverage against Russia. “Do you want to lose Syria as an ally in the region?” Assad asks Medvedev? “Then support me”.

Medvedev would have to give Assad few discounts on the weapon systems. It is quite likely, that the meeting in Damascus might involve some degree of discussion on Russia’s support in Syria’s aim for a new reactor. As Putin’s Russia helped Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to construct a reactor of his own, Assad certainly would want to see Medvedev agreeing to a similar deal.

Hiding spot for Israel's nukes? Dimona reactor. President Obama would continue his support for Israel’s “policy of nuclear ambiguity”, according to some military analysts, reports say, and name several reasons:

2.  There was talk in the corridors of the conference, some published by Egyptian sources, that the US and Egypt were formulating a joint Middle East nuclear policy for bringing about the dismantling of Israel’s nuclear stockpiles.
3.  It became clear to the White House that if Netanyahu got the notion that President Obama was retreating from his nuclear commitment to Israel, he could forget about progress in the Middle East proximity talks which his special envoy George Mitchell is working hard to jump-start this week.

(DebkaFile)

WHILE SOMEWHAT GOOD for Israel, reasoning behind Obama’s stance are nothing good for Netanyahu, as underscored by former UN ambassador John Bolton:

His exact words were:  "There is only one country that resolution is targeted at and that is Israel."

With Obama deep in the gutter on domestic front – such as healthcare, which he still has to defend, and an apparently upcoming immigration reform – it is very unlikely he would act assertively to counter Israel’s alleged nuclear potential. While such an option should not be discarded, it is likely Israel’s secret would outlive Obama’s administration.

Yet, Netanyahu has much to fear, as Israel’s alleged nuclear arms are the main deterrent against outright Arab assault against Israel. Moreover, in 1973’s Yom Kippur war, the threat of Israel using such an arsenal in case Arab armies advance deep into Israel arsenal is what brought US administration to provide Israel with arms to protect itself. Obama understands that if Israel would to reveal its nuclear program – or lack of thereof – could mean disastrous consequences.