December 10, 2013 · 9:14 pm
This week nuclear experts arrived in Tehran to inspect a plant that had been denied to them for years. The team from the International Atomic Energy Agency will look into the Arak heavy-water system. Iran insists the plant is for energy production, but has the capacity to produce plutonium for a nuclear weapon.
While the inspection is an important first step, concern remains for whether the recent six month agreement with Iran is a breakthrough or a “bad deal” as the Prime Minister of Israel Netanyahu claims. U.S. envoy to the Middle East Dennis Ross recently said that the United States and its allies must be prepared to escalate sanctions if change doesn’t occur. Ross believes three procedures must follow.
- If there are any loopholes in the Geneva agreement, they must be plugged during this 6 month waiting period.
- The West must make it clear that if the agreement isn’t fulfilled, the sanctions will be increased.
- Iran must understand they can’t evade sanctions that will be intensified.
The real issue is whether the Iranians will roll back their nuclear program. Everything depends on this singular factor. The negotiators must remember Iran’s leadership is aggressive, anti-American, anti-Semitic, duplicitous, and murderous. The ultimate decisions lay in the hands of the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and he has been consistently opposed to negotiations. However, the Iranians have not been irrational or imprudent. The only reason the new president Hassan Rouhani has come to the bargaining table is that it has become too costly to their economy not to do so.
However, there are other factors at work. If they completed a nuclear weapon, Saudi Arabia would follow suit. With the Sunni-Shiite controversy between the two countries, Iran knows this would be a more than justifiable reason to stop short of weaponization. Moreover, Israel has the capacity of a nuclear option. While this is unthinkable, it still stands in the wings. When it is all said and done, economic pressure remains the number one leverage that the West has used successfully. Iran’s economy is hurting too greatly to not pay attention to the consequences of further sanctions.
This isn’t’t a time to take the American hand off the cash register. Let’s not let up.
February 16, 2013 · 2:12 pm
Several recent news releases have upped the ante on how to respond to Iran. As reported in an earlier blog, Iran has announced that they are speeding up the enrichment process. It will take time to make an actual weapon and mount it on a missile so the announcement doesn’t mean that they will be attacking tomorrow. However, it does tell us they are not backing down. At the same time, the supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has rejected any direct talks with the United States. Proclaiming that America is holding a gun to their head by enforcing sanctions, Khamenei rejected the possibility of any direct discussions.
Talks have been set to resume this month, but nothing appears to be forthcoming. Israel will insist that Iran only uses the talks as a stalling tactic while it continues to pursue building The Bomb. There is a definite logic in that objection.
The persistent question remains as to why Iran has been so obstinate if their objectives really are only for providing electricity through the use of nuclear material.
At the same time, it appears that the Western World remains on a collision course with Iran. Retired Army Col. Lawrence Wilkerson, the former chief of staff to former Secretary of State Colin Powell, recently spoke at the University of Central Oklahoma and grimly predicted a war with Iran if both sides continue on the present course. Why cannot the Iranians be forthright and open to beginning talks?
A little known religious factor looms in the background. Classic Shi’ism thought believed that the 12th imam was the messiah. He disappeared in 873 CE, but they believe he will return. Until the imam comes back, all political rule is considered illegitimate. When Khomeini came to power he embraced this minor tradition and brought it into circulation in Iran. After his death, more and more crazies took over the country. Even President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad claims to have seen the imam. Earlier, Khomeini thought this stuff was wild and dangerous. The religious idea evolved into a conviction that a conflagration could force the immans return. In other words, any form of war might have the potential to fulfill the religious dreams of these Muslims. Consequently, the rulers in Iran have no reason to back off. The West is stuck in a quagmire. How does anyone do business with people who also see suicide as a shortcut to heaven?
Currently, rumors continue that there is a struggle between the mullahs and the Revolutionary Guard for control of the country. Moreover, many in the Revolutionary Guard are putting their money abroad out of fear for what might happen at home. If this conflict is substantial, nothing would unify the country like a good old-fashioned war.
The bottom line is that dealing rationally with Iran is not much of a possibility. Not unlike the North Koreans, they are capable of acting in ways that are actually harmful to them. In this case, they could prove destructive in a much large sphere. Even when Iran is not currently front page news, don’t bet they have changed their course.
We are still looking at a serious confrontation in the near future.
February 9, 2013 · 12:23 pm
On Saturday, the Iranian government issued a statement saying that any attack on Syrian would be considered an attack on Iran. As Russia looks for a back door to slip out from under their commitments in Syria, Iran appears to be upping the ante. An aid to Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei made these statements of unconditional support during a review of troops conducting an offensive air raid against the rebels. What should we make of such dogmatic positioning?
In the first instance, Iran continues their exercises in muscle flexing from a safe distance. The pronouncement would not be unlike President Obama declaring we would consider any attack on Canada to be an attack on America. Second, Iran’s intentions are to establish a regional network to make them the foremost power in the Middle East. Their statements are aimed at the surrounding countries to impress the locals. Third, such statements confirm the concern that a fundamentalist religious government remains an unpredictable and frightening presence in the region.
On the other hand, would they be crazy enough to go to war against the world? Afraid so.
Iran has already placed itself outside the circle of responsible nations because of its nuclear program. They could care less what the United Nations thinks or says. Of course, at this time the United Nations does not carry must weight anywhere. Their treatment of Israel and ineptitude in handling the Syrian civil war has sidelined the international organization. Britain and France have urged the United States to stop blocking countries like Qatar from providing the rebels with more sophisticated weapons and intelligence assistance.
During this past week, the leader of the Syrian opposition council met with representatives of the United States and Russia in a discussion of the issues to end the Syrian Civil War. Sheik Ahmad Moaz al-Khatib came as the leader of the Syrian opposition.
Russia and the United States mutually blame each other for the current stalemate. When Joe Biden repeated America’s demand that Assad step down, Russia immediately responded that the United States’ position was the single reason the war continues.
Al-Khatib proposed direct talks with Assad, but European officials responded that if al-Khatib was serious, his colleagues would force him to backtrack. Consequently, another closed door!
The situation reminds about where we were a hundred years ago. At the end of World War I, a proposal for a League of Nations went nowhere partly because it could never be approved by Congress. Nations wrangled with each other in a game of push and shove. The Fascist fought a bitter civil war in Spain that proved to be the dress rehearsal for World War II. Leadership failed and the quagmire because the pretext for the actions of the Nazis that started World War II.
America rightly doesn’t want another war, and the fundamentalist radicals are itching for one. No one seems to have the courage to provide decisive leadership. And the Syrian people just keep on dying.
September 6, 2012 · 8:00 am
The most recent report from the United Nations the International Atomic Energy Agency indicates Iran continues to hide its production of enriched uranium. Ayatollah Ali Khamenei talks out of both sides of his mouth, saying pursuit of nuclear weapons is an “unforgiveable sin” while on the other hand proclaiming Iran will not abandon their nuclear program. If you trust the Ayatollah, I’ve got some stock in the defunct Soviet Union I’ll sell you.
Experts are currently divided on what an attack on Iran would do to support for the Moslem regime. All agree the current Moslem government is unpopular and would welcome any action that would shore it up. However, a direct attack on the country would not necessarily bring support from the current opposition to the government. Probably, the rebels response would be determined by how much of the population was killed or hurt in such an attack. Undoubtedly, President Ahmadinejad would call for national unity. In the short run, it could be a boost for the regime’s popularity.
At this time, sanctions have definitely hurt the popularity of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s government. While the economy has definitely been effected, the business person on the street is really getting it in the neck with decreasing support for Khamenei. However, it appears to be a toss up among the experts as to how Iranian rebels would respond to an attack on their own soil.
The most pressing current issue is stopping Iran’s intervenetion in Syria. Iran is doing everything possible to hold on to the Assad control of the country. Loss of the relationship with this current government would amount to a clossal defeat and greatly weaken the Iranian hold on the Shi’ite Cresent that extends from the Persian Gulf to the Mediterranean. However, the United States has made it clear that they will directly confront Iran If more intervention follows. Moreover, Israel would feel directly threatened by an Iranian presence in Syria and would immediately respond aggressively. Of course, Russia would support Iran, but could do little to actually support their actions militarily.
So, where do we go next?
Most experts agree that the USA must do more. They have already made it clear that crossing a red line drawn by Secretary Hillary Clinton will bring a military response, but it is not clear that the Iranians take this warning seriously enough to back off. The Khamenei regime still doubts American’s will to make a military effort. Many feel the USA must facilitate the Syrian rebels supply of anti-tank and anti-aircraft weapons while encouraging more Syrian government officials to defect if Iran is to take them more seriously.
Iranian expert Prof. David Menashri believes the regime is in a delicate situation with considerable pressure from inside the country. Citizens are dissatisfied with the lack of social and political justice and freedom. A more public demonstration of unity of the United States with Europe would help increase the stress on Khamenei and his comrades. Menashri asserts Israel should keep its debate behind closed doors as disagreements only lessens Iran’s fears.
Words no longer count for much. The issues will be settled by action. (530 word count)
Question: Can diplomacy still stop Iranian intervention or is time running out?
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