05 December 2007

Iran and Nuclear Weapons

There's a new NIE out.



Read it before you read my comments on it.

Seriously, stop reading this post now and click on the link and read it from beginning to end. Anyone who does not, please do not waste my time replying. I am rather tired of embedding links and having passionate arguments in the comment section wherein someone (typically the liberal) reveals an incapacity or disinclination to read the cited article.

It's only nine pages of which four are introductory material.

OK, the Main-Stream Media is spinning the holy hell out of this, as claiming Iran has shut down its nuclear program entirely, questioning Bush's Iran policy as a result, and echoing Harry Reid's dubious drivel about how this report was “directly challenging some of this administration’s alarming rhetoric about the threat posed by Iran.”

To summarize the report, based on the latest information, it is possible to say with a "high degree of confidence" that Iran suspended activity on its program in the fall of 2003. Let's ponder this assessment for a moment. For those of you whose memories for details are a little fuzzy, in the months prior to that point in time, George Bush had publicly called for regime change in Iraq and Iran both, linked them in an 'Axis of Evil', invaded Iraq, destroyed its army, arrested its leadership, and found its ex-President hiding in a hole in the ground near Tikrit. Everyone else remember this time?

I don't suppose it occurs to ANYONE in the media or in the Democratic Party that perhaps, just perhaps, this scared the Iranian regime so badly that they decided not to push George. Keep in mind that they fought the Iraqi Army for 10 years and all they got was a stalemate of epic proportions. It is fair to say that the Iranian Army of 1990 and the Iraqi Army of 1990 were as precisely evenly matched as two armies can be in terms of capability. We blew it away then, and finished it off in 2003. If there is doubt in anyone's mind that we couldn't do that to the Iranian Army, they are smoking some seriously good stuff. Whether we could hold a country with 80 million inhabitants afterwards, that's another proposition.

Now, go back to your copy of the NIE. Scroll down to the middle of page 6.

"We assess with moderate confidence Tehran had not restarted its nuclear weapons program as of mid-2007, but we do not know whether it currently intends to develop nuclear weapons."

Now, scroll back up to page 5. Read the definition of moderate confidence.

Think on it. Sip your coffee, and try to put yourself in the position of the President of the United States, with 300 million citizens depending on you to keep Iranian nutjobs from nuking them. Then go back to page 6, and read the paragraph below the one I quoted.

"Our assessment that the program was probably halted primarily in response to international pressure suggests that Iran may be more vulnerable to influence on this issue than we judged previously."

Meanwhile, you've got reports sitting on your desk about increased production of improved missiles capable of delivering said hypothetical future nuclear weapons that the NIE says the Iranians could have between 2009 and 2015 if they restart their program.

We all know what course of action President Bush chose--to keep the pressure up on Iran to force them to shut down their program permanently and put in place safeguards to prevent it from being restarted.

Put this report, assessing that Iran is vulnerable to international pressure, next to a story coming out of China about their willingness to put some pressure of their own on Iran, and you get an interesting picture.

I'm with Israel. Just because it is someone's best guess (with "moderate confidence") that Iran's nuclear program is temporarily frozen, does not mean that we get to ignore them. Nor does it mean that we should abandon the stick and offer them merely carrots. Diplomacy is good, but effective diplomacy requires at least a credible threat of negative consequences for failing to negotiate in good faith or failing to reach an acceptable compromise.

I am a negative consequence.

h/t rjlippincott

3 Comments:

Blogger Yuri said...

Then what carrots are we offering?

Why the run up in our rhetoric against Iran when the administration knew that the threat wasn't immanent?

Why is there nothing said about Pakistan's nukes? Pakistan doesn't have the best reputation for stable governments.

Yes Iran with nukes is bad, but, at the same time the do need energy--and I think we are going to have to come to grips that soon most of the world will need to be running fast breeder reactors to keep the lights on.

Not to mention that its coming to light that this administration has done an awful job on the proliferation front and may have known about Abul Khan's network in excess of 4 years before shutting it down.

9:33 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I concur with your observation, Castrorum, that Iran shelved its Nuc program because of the invasion of Iraq in March of 2003. Remember also that Libya shelved its WMD programs at about the same time.

Both nations were scared shitless of GWB and his 'cowboy diplomacy'. Of course, the MSM and the Libs (but I repeat myself) will never give him credit for it.

The best comment I can offer is the observation that the only really startling thing about the NIE is that it changes our understanding of the mad mullahs who run Iran are not so insane as we think. For them to shelve their nuc plans is a RATIONAL RESPONSE to a real threat to them. The rhetoric we have been hearing out of Iran since 1979 has always indicated that the leadership of that beknighted country were complete, total loons.

In reality (not in rhetoric) is that we've dealt with these kinds of people before. The only substantive difference between Iran and the fUSSR is the verbiage espoused by the leadership of the respective countries. Now that we know for sure that they are just as rational (ultimately) as Gorby and the other Russians, we can deal with them as Reagan dealt with the Russians. Sadly, the currrent President will be out of office before a Reaganesque strategy can be worked and implemented. But this NIE indicates that we might be able to duplicate the successes of Reagan and the first Bush administration.

This is another reason that I am becoming politically active this campaign year. The older I get, the more critical that political issues become. My sincerest prayer is that the American people find the collective Wisdom to put another Reaganesque conservative in office next year. I will do my part to see that it happens.
-cv

7:06 PM  
Anonymous Laserlight said...

Yuri,
Your question about "when the administration knew that the threat wasn't immanent" has several mistaken assumptions. 1) The NIE just came out, so we didn't "know" this until now; 2) "Iran could have a bomb in 2009" strikes me as imminent--what did you want to do, wait until December 2008 to make a move?
3) This is an intel estimate, not a Word from On High. It could be wrong. The Israelis, who are no slouches when it comes to intel, disagree with it. 4) Why do you imagine Iran put on hold a project they've been working on for 20+ years? Do you suppose some saber rattling from The Superpower might possibly have anything to do with it?

As for them needing energy--I haven't looked into whether there's a design for a nuke plant that can't be used for weapons material. But if there is, Iran doesn't seem interested. Wonder why not?

We're not doing anything about Pakistan because a) their leaders haven't used "death to the Great Satan" as their mantra for the last thrity years, and more importantly b) they already have nukes, so it's a little late.

6:03 PM  

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