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Author Topic: Nuclear War, WMD issues  (Read 148583 times)
Power User
Posts: 42522

« on: March 08, 2007, 12:14:38 PM »

This article raises some very important and very scary questions.  Comments?

The Words None Dare Say: Nuclear War
By George Lakoff

"The elimination of Natanz would be a major setback for Iran's nuclear ambitions, but the conventional weapons in the American arsenal could not insure the destruction of facilities under seventy-five feet of earth and rock, especially if they are reinforced with concrete. "-Seymour Hersh, The New Yorker, April 17, 2006
"The second concern is that if an underground laboratory is deeply buried, that can also confound conventional weapons. But the depth of the Natanz facility - reports place the ceiling roughly 30 feet underground - is not prohibitive. The American GBU-28 weapon - the so-called bunker buster - can pierce about 23 feet of concrete and 100 feet of soil. Unless the cover over the Natanz lab is almost entirely rock, bunker busters should be able to reach it. That said, some chance remains that a single strike would fail. " - Michael Levi, New York Times, April 18, 2006

03/01/07 "ich" -- -  A familiar means of denying a reality is to refuse to use the words that describe that reality. A common form of propaganda is to keep reality from being described.

In such circumstances, silence and euphemism are forms of complicity both in propaganda and in the denial of reality. And the media, as well as the major presidential candidates, are now complicit.

The stories in the major media suggest that an attack against Iran is a real possibility and that the Natanz nuclear development site is the number one target. As the above quotes from two of our best sources note, military experts say that conventional "bunker-busters" such as the GBU-28 might be able to destroy the Natanz facility, especially with repeated bombings. On the other hand, they also say such iterated use of conventional weapons might not work, e.g., if the rock and earth above the facility becomes liquefied. On that supposition, a "low yield" "tactical" nuclear weapon, say, the B61-11, might be needed.

If the Bush administration, for example, were to insist on a sure "success," then the "attack" would constitute nuclear war. The words in boldface are nuclear war, that's right, nuclear war - a first strike nuclear war.

We don't know what exactly is being planned - conventional GBU-28s or nuclear B61-11s. And that is the point. Discussion needs to be open. Nuclear war is not a minor matter.

The Euphemism

As early as August 13, 2005, Bush, in Jerusalem, was asked what would happen if diplomacy failed to persuade Iran to halt its nuclear program. Bush replied, "All options are on the table." On April 18, the day after the appearance of Seymour Hersh's New Yorker report on the administration's preparations for a nuclear war against Iran, President Bush held a news conference. He was asked,

"Sir, when you talk about Iran, and you talk about how you have diplomatic efforts, you also say all options are on the table. Does that include the possibility of a nuclear strike? Is that something that your administration will plan for?"

He replied,

"All options are on the table."

The President never actually said the forbidden words "nuclear war," but he appeared to tacitly acknowledge the preparations - without further discussion.

Vice-President Dick Cheney, speaking in Australia last week, backed up the President .

"We worked with the European community and the United Nations to put together a set of policies to persuade the Iranians to give up their aspirations and resolve the matter peacefully, and that is still our preference. But I've also made the point, and the president has made the point, that all options are on the table."

Republican Presidential Candidate John McCain, on FOX News, August 14, 2005, said the same .

"For us to say that the Iranians can do whatever they want to do and we won't under any circumstances exercise a military option would be for them to have a license to do whatever they want to do ... So I think the president's comment that we won't take anything off the table was entirely appropriate."

But it's not just Republicans. Democratic Presidential candidate John Edwards, in a speech in Herzliyah, Israel, echoed Bush.

"To ensure that Iran never gets nuclear weapons, we need to keep ALL options on the table. Let me reiterate - ALL options must remain on the table."

Although, Edwards has said, when asked about this statement, that he prefers peaceful solutions and direct negotiations with Iran, he has nonetheless repeated the "all options on the table" position - making clear that he would consider starting a preventive nuclear war, but without using the fateful words.

Hillary Clinton, at an AIPAC dinner in New York, said,

"We cannot, we should not, we must not, permit Iran to build or acquire nuclear weapons, and in dealing with this threat, as I have said for a very long time, no option can be taken off the table."

Translation: Nuclear weapons can be used to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons.

Barack Obama, asked on 60 Minutes about using military force to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons, began a discussion of his preference for diplomacy by responding, "I think we should keep all options on the table."

Bush, Cheney, McCain, Edwards, Clinton, and Obama all say indirectly that they seriously consider starting a preventive nuclear war, but will not engage in a public discussion of what that would mean. That contributes to a general denial, and the press is going along with it by a corresponding refusal to use the words.

If the consequences of nuclear war are not discussed openly, the war may happen without an appreciation of the consequences and without the public having a chance to stop it. Our job is to open that discussion.

Of course, there is a rationale for the euphemism: To scare our adversaries by making them think that we are crazy enough to do what we hint at, while not raising a public outcry. That is what happened in the lead up to the Iraq War, and the disaster of that war tells us why we must have such a discussion about Iran. Presidential candidates go along, not wanting to be thought of as interfering in on-going indirect diplomacy. That may be the conventional wisdom for candidates, but an informed, concerned public must say what candidates are advised not to say.

More Euphemisms

The euphemisms used include "tactical," "small," "mini-," and "low yield" nuclear weapons. "Tactical" contrasts with "strategic"; it refers to tactics, relatively low-level choices made in carrying out an overall strategy, but which don't affect the grand strategy. But the use of any nuclear weapons would be anything but "tactical." It would be a major world event - in Vladimir Putin's words, "lowering the threshold for the use of nuclear weapons," making the use of more powerful nuclear weapons more likely and setting off a new arms race. The use of the word "tactical" operates to lessen their importance, to distract from the fact that their very use would constitute a nuclear war.

What is "low yield"? Perhaps the "smallest" tactical nuclear weapon we have is the B61-11, which has a dial-a-yield feature: it can yield "only" 0.3 kilotons, but can be set to yield up to 170 kilotons. The power of the Hiroshima bomb was 15 kilotons. That is, a "small" bomb can yield more than 10 times the explosive power of the Hiroshima bomb. The B61-11 dropped from 40,000 feet would dig a hole 20 feet deep and then explode, send shock waves downward, leave a huge crater, and spread radiation widely. The idea that it would explode underground and be harmless to those above ground is false - and, anyway, an underground release of radiation would threaten ground water and aquifers for a long time and over a wide distance.

To use words such as "low yield" or "small" or "mini-" nuclear weapon is like speaking of being a little bit pregnant. Nuclear war is nuclear war! It crosses the moral line.

Any discussion of roadside canister bombs made in Iran justifying an attack on Iran should be put in perspective: Little canister bombs (EFPs - explosively formed projectiles) that shoot a small hot metal ball at a humvee or tank versus nuclear war.

Incidentally, the administration may be focusing on the canister bombs because it seeks to claim that the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution of 2002 permits the use of military force against Iran based on its interference in Iraq. In that case, no further authorization by Congress would be needed for an attack on Iran.

The journalistic point is clear. Journalists and political leaders should not talk about an "attack." They should use the words that describe what is really at stake: nuclear war - in boldface.

Then there is the scale of the proposed attack. Military reports leaking out suggest a huge (mostly or entirely non-nuclear) airstrike on as many as 10,000 targets - a "shock and awe" attack that would destroy Iran's infrastructure the way the U.S. bombing destroyed Iraq's infrastructure. The targets would not just be "military targets." As Dan Plesch reports in the New Statesman, February 19, 2007, such an attack would wipe out Iran's military, business, and political infrastructure. Not just nuclear installations, missile launching sites, tanks, and ammunition dumps, but also airports, rail lines, highways, bridges, ports, communications centers, power grids, industrial centers, hospitals, public buildings, and even the homes of political leaders. That is what was attacked in Iraq: the "critical infrastructure." It is not just military in the traditional sense. It leaves a nation in rubble, and leads to death, maiming, disease, joblessness, impoverishment, starvation, mass refugees, lawlessness, rape, and incalculable pain and suffering. That is what the options appear to be "on the table." Is nation destruction what the American people have in mind when they acquiesce without discussion to an "attack"? Is nuclear war what the American people have in mind? An informed public must ask and the media must ask. The words must be used.

Even if the attack were limited to nuclear installations, starting a nuclear war with Iran would have terrible consequences - and not just for Iranians. First, it would strengthen the hand of the Islamic fundamentalists - exactly the opposite of the effect U.S. planners would want. It would be viewed as yet another major attack on Islam. Fundamentalist Islam is a revenge culture. If you want to recruit fundamentalist Islamists all over the world to become violent jihadists, this is the best way to do it. America would become a world pariah. Any idea of the U.S. as a peaceful nation would be destroyed. Moreover, you don't work against the spread of nuclear weapons by using those weapons. That will just make countries all over the world want nuclear weaponry all the more. Trying to stop nuclear proliferation through nuclear war is self-defeating.

As Einstein said, "You cannot simultaneously prevent and prepare for war."

Why would the Bush administration do it? Here is what conservative strategist William Kristol wrote last summer during Israel's war with Hezbollah.

"For while Syria and Iran are enemies of Israel, they are also enemies of the United States. We have done a poor job of standing up to them and weakening them. They are now testing us more boldly than one would have thought possible a few years ago. Weakness is provocative. We have been too weak, and have allowed ourselves to be perceived as weak.

The right response is renewed strength -- in supporting the governments of Iraq and Afghanistan, in standing with Israel, and in pursuing regime change in Syria and Iran. For that matter, we might consider countering this act of Iranian aggression with a military strike against Iranian nuclear facilities. Why wait? Does anyone think a nuclear Iran can be contained? That the current regime will negotiate in good faith? It would be easier to act sooner rather than later. Yes, there would be repercussions -- and they would be healthy ones, showing a strong America that has rejected further appeasement."

-Willam Kristol, Weekly Standard 7/24/06

"Renewed strength" is just the Bush strategy in Iraq. At a time when the Iraqi people want us to leave, when our national elections show that most Americans want our troops out, when 60% of Iraqis think it all right to kill Americans, Bush wants to escalate. Why? Because he is weak in America. Because he needs to show more "strength." Because if he knocks out the Iranian nuclear facilities, he can claim at least one "victory." Starting a nuclear war with Iran would really put us in a worldwide war with fundamentalist Islam. It would make real the terrorist threat he has been claiming since 9/11. It would create more fear - real fear - in America. And he believes, with much reason, that fear tends to make Americans vote for saber-rattling conservatives.

Kristol's neoconservative view that "weakness is provocative" is echoed in Iran, but by the other side. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was quoted in The New York Times of February 24, 2007 as having "vowed anew to continue enriching uranium, saying, 'If we show weakness in front of the enemies, they will increase their expectations.'" If both sides refuse to back off for fear of showing weakness, then prospects for conflict are real, despite the repeated analyses, like that of The Economist that the use of nuclear weapons against Iran would be politically and morally impossible. As one unnamed administration official has said (The New York Times, February 24, 2007), "No one has defined where the red line is that we cannot let the Iranians step over."

What we are seeing now is the conservative message machine preparing the country to accept the ideas of a nuclear war and nation destruction against Iran. The technique used is the "slippery slope." It is done by degrees. Like the proverbial frog in the pot of water - if the heat is turned up slowly the frog gets used to the heat and eventually boils to death - the American public is getting gradually acclimated to the idea of war with Iran.

* First, describe Iran as evil - part of the axis of evil. An inherently evil person will inevitably do evil things and can't be negotiated with. An entire evil nation is a threat to other nations.
* Second, describe Iran's leader as a "Hitler" who is inherently "evil" and cannot be reasoned with. Refuse to negotiate with him.
* Then repeat the lie that Iran is on the verge of having nuclear weapons - weapons of mass destruction. IAEA Director General Mohamed ElBaradei says they are at best many years away.
* Call nuclear development "an existential threat" - a threat to our very existence.
* Then suggest a single "surgical" "attack" on Natanz and make it seem acceptable.
* Then find a reason to call the attack "self-defense" - or better protection for our troops from the EFPs, or single-shot canister bombs.
* Claim, without proof and without anyone even taking responsibility for the claim, that the Iranian government at its highest level is supplying deadly weapons to Shiite militias attacking our troops, while not mentioning the fact that Saudi Arabia is helping Sunni insurgents attacking our troops.
* Give "protecting our troops" as a reason for attacking Iran without getting new authorization from Congress. Claim that the old authorization for attacking Iraq implied doing "whatever is necessary to protect our troops" from Iranian intervention in Iraq.
* Argue that de-escalation in Iraq would "bleed" our troops, "weaken" America, and lead to defeat. This sets up escalation as a winning policy, if not in Iraq then in Iran.
* Get the press to go along with each step.
* Never mention the words "preventive nuclear war" or "national destruction." When asked, say, "All options are on the table." Keep the issue of nuclear war and its consequences from being seriously discussed by the national media.
* Intimidate Democratic presidential candidates into agreeing, without using the words, that nuclear war should be "on the table." This makes nuclear war and nation destruction bipartisan and even more acceptable.

Progressives managed to blunt the "surge" idea by telling the truth about "escalation." Nuclear war against Iran and nation destruction constitute the ultimate escalation.

The time has come to stop the attempt to make a nuclear war against Iran palatable to the American public. We do not believe that most Americans want to start a nuclear war or to impose nation destruction on the people of Iran. They might, though, be willing to support a tit-for-tat "surgical" "attack" on Natanz in retaliation for small canister bombs and to end Iran's early nuclear capacity.

It is time for America's journalists and political leaders to put two and two together, and ask the fateful question: Is the Bush administration seriously preparing for nuclear war and nation destruction? If the conventional GBU-28s will do the job, then why not take nuclear war off the table in the name of controlling the spread of nuclear weapons? If GBU-28s won't do the job, then it is all the more important to have that discussion.

This should not be a distraction from Iraq. The general issue is escalation as a policy, both in Iraq and in Iran. They are linked issues, not separate issues. We have learned from Iraq what lack of public scrutiny does.

George Lakoff is a Senior Fellow at the Rockridge Institute. Lakoff is Professor of Linguistics at the University of California, Berkeley.
« Last Edit: May 20, 2009, 09:40:07 PM by Crafty_Dog » Logged
Power User
Posts: 15533

« Reply #1 on: March 08, 2007, 12:19:21 PM »

Actually the nuclear option is the way to defeat the global jihad, but we won't act until after we've suffered a nuclear attack CONUS, and that's if we actually have a good president at that time.
Power User
Posts: 42522

« Reply #2 on: March 08, 2007, 01:35:45 PM »

Is it that easy?

Lets say NY or Chicago or Los Angeles or DC gets hit with a small nuke or major dirty bomb and no one (or every one!) takes credit?  Whom do you think we should hit?
Power User
Posts: 15533

« Reply #3 on: March 08, 2007, 01:55:55 PM »

It should be made unofficially clear to our various enemy states with potential nuclear ability that if/when a nuke detonates CONUS Damascus, Tehran, Qum, P'yongyang, Mecca, Medina and large parts of Pakistan's tribal areas are going to become molten glass.

Just as we had to break Japan's will to fight, when the world's muslim population has to contemplate bowing 5 times a day towards America's newest nuclear test site it will raise theological questions that can't be answerd by islamic theology. Unless allah manages to swat down American ICBMs....
Power User
Posts: 42522

« Reply #4 on: March 08, 2007, 03:01:28 PM »

That seems to be a rather broad brush that would get quite a few people who really had nothing to do with it, not to mention contaminating a goodly portion of the planet on which we live for quite a long time and generally greatly irritating the neighbors downwind of the mushroom cloud.

Any chance of your narrowing it down a tad?

Or is the problem precisely that we wouldn't know who did it or where they could be found? Which then reduces us to "Kill 'em all and let God sort it out"? Is this what our strategy should be?  How do you think this would play with the American people?  Anyone who then saw an American abroad?
Power User
Posts: 15533

« Reply #5 on: March 08, 2007, 03:19:21 PM »

Since love and fear can hardly exist together, if we must choose between them, it is far safer to be feared than loved.

Niccolo Machiavelli, The Prince

If an injury has to be done to a man it should be so severe that his vengeance need not be feared.

Niccolo Machiavelli


It'll be done most likely by some sort of proxy group for "deniable plausibility" purposes. If nukes detonate in NYC, DC and the Long Beach port in cargo containers, do you use the CSI: Ground Zero option while the left plays the "It's all our fault" theme and the 9/11 "truthers" spin conspiracy theories and the dems discuss asking the UN for aid or do you act in a meaningful manner?

Innocents are going to die in large numbers on both sides in this war, just as they do in all wars. When we burned German and Japanese children and grandmothers to ash with conventional bombs, did the lack of fissile material really matter in any meaningful moral way?

We are not going to win this war in any way that will meet the approval of the UN, France or the ACLU. The global jihad will not be stopped with anything but overwhelming force that shatters their will to fight.
Power User
Posts: 42522

« Reply #6 on: March 10, 2007, 10:06:06 PM »

I have never heard of "Zee" so this must count as highly unconfirmed info-- but given AQ's recent boasts in this regard, it is worth noting:
Top Pakistan nuclear scientists in Taliban Custody: Zee News Exclusive

New Delhi, March 07: Two top nuclear scientists of Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC) are currently in Taliban custody. The two were working at PAEC’s facility in North West Frontier Province. Zee News investigations reveal that the two scientists were kidnapped about six months ago. To avoid international embarrassment Pakistan Government has kept this information under wraps.

According to information available with Zee News, nuclear scientists have been kidnapped by Taliban at the behest of Al-Qaeda. Further investigations reveal that Al-Qaeda may be using the expertise of the scientists to produce nuclear bombs. The two scientists are reportedly being held somewhere in Waziristan, near Afghanistan border.

In January this year Pakistan security agencies had foiled another attempt by Taliban militia to kidnap nuclear scientists. Earlier, incidents of Taliban militia stealing uranium in NWFP have already been reported. PAEC also has a uranium mining facility in NWFP.

With repeated Al Qaeda threats to the US, news of kidnapping of nuclear scientists will increase pressure on Pakistan to attack terrorist camps.

Bureau Report
Power User
Posts: 42522

« Reply #7 on: March 11, 2007, 11:13:38 AM »

Here's the URL:
Power User
Posts: 42522

« Reply #8 on: March 12, 2007, 10:57:02 AM »

This is the first I have seen explicitly linking Russia's Bushehr plant and Iran's enrichment program.

RUSSIA/IRAN: Russia and Iran have begun talks that could last several days to settle financial issues related to the construction of Iran's Bushehr nuclear power plant, an Atomstroyexport spokesman said. The announcement came after Russian President Vladimir Putin decided to delay completion of the plant until Iran ends its uranium enrichment program.
RUSSIANS: IRAN NUKE PLANT TO BE DELAYED: The state-run Russian company building Iran's first nuclear power plant said Monday that the reactor's launch will be postponed because of Iranian payment delays. Russian media reports, meanwhile, indicated that the Kremlin was growing tired of Iran's nuclear defiance in the face of U.N. Security Council sanctions, with three agencies citing an unidentified official warning Iran to cooperate and stop playing "anti-American games."

IRAN: Iran should make concessions to the international community regarding its nuclear program to avoid additional sanctions from the U.N. Security Council, former Iranian President Mohammed Khatami said in an interview with economic daily Sanaat va Tosee.
« Last Edit: March 12, 2007, 02:43:29 PM by Crafty_Dog » Logged
Power User
Posts: 42522

« Reply #9 on: March 12, 2007, 11:02:57 PM »

Report: Dirty bomb materials still available

Government reports ‘limited progress’ securing nuclear material worldwidevar cssList = new Array();getCSS("3053751")

By Lisa Myers & the NBC News Investigative Unit
Updated: 44 minutes ago
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Lisa Myers
Senior investigative correspondent
• Profile

WASHINGTON - International inspectors working in the former Soviet republic of Georgia last summer tracked down dangerous radiological materials in an abandoned military complex.

It was an important mission. But a new report by U.S. government watchdogs says a parallel effort overseas by the U.S. Department of Energy has made only "limited progress securing many of the most dangerous sources" — waste disposal sites and abandoned generators across Russia, each with enough material for several devastating dirty bombs.
The new report by the Government Accountability Office says that DOE is doing an admirable job securing low-risk radiological sources — the proverbial low-hanging fruit — at the expense of more dangerous materials that remain vulnerable to terrorists.
“Many of the highest-risk and most dangerous sources still remain unsecured, particularly in Russia,” the GAO writes. “Specifically, 16 or 20 waste storage sites across Russia and Ukraine remain unsecured while more than 700 RTGs [radioisotope thermoelectric generators] remain operational or abandoned in Russia and are vulnerable to theft or potential misuse.”

RTGs can contain up to 250,000 curies of Strontium-90. Experts say an explosion with that amount of Strontium-90 could be dangerous.
"You would cause a significant contamination over a square mile — many, many city blocks, and with the right city blocks, Wall Street or the White House,” says Leonard S. Spector, deputy director of the Center for Nonproliferation Studies at the Monterey Institute. “The impact could be very devastating.”
A test explosion by U.S. scientists working at the Sandia National Labs near Albuquerque, N.M., showed how a dirty bomb works: Conventional explosives spread the radioactive material, which can contaminate large areas.

The new report says the DOE has focused most of its energies in the last three years on securing small sources of radioactive materials in Russia and abroad — largely found in medical equipment stored in doctors’ offices.
Meanwhile, the report says, major waste disposal sites sit protected by primitive fences. And more than 700 generators are vulnerable to terrorists.

"If you look at the past six months, we see, I think, an upsurge in criminal and terrorist activity using radioactive materials,” says Charles Ferguson, a science and technology fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations.
Last year, according to the International Atomic Energy Association, there were 85 confirmed thefts or loss of nuclear or radioactive materials worldwide — mostly small amounts. Most of those have not been recovered.
Last fall, al-Qaida’s leader in Iraq called on militant scientists to create dirty bombs to be tested on U.S. bases in Iraq.

“I am disturbingly concerned about this because it can grow into a huge threat,” says Sen. Daniel Akaka, D-Hawaii, who will chair a hearing Tuesday on the issue at a subcommittee of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security. “These generators are sources that can be used for dirty bombs, and [they are] there for the taking. I feel that DOE is not meeting the priority of our nation in security.”
The report also criticizes the DOE for a “steady” decline in its budget for the International Radiological Threat Reduction program. It says, “[F]uture funding is uncertain because the agency places a higher priority on securing special nuclear material” than it does in protecting dirty-bomb material.

The DOE points out that the GAO report also applauds its efforts in many areas. The agency also says it has made progress, having upgraded security at 500 sites in more than 40 countries. DOE officials say they are now moving to secure more of those high-risk generators and waste sites in Russia, and that their budget request for next year represents a slight increase.

“DOE and the National Nuclear Security Administration are committed to securing and removing vulnerable radiological sources around the world,” says Andrew Bieniawski, who heads up the DOE’s Global Threat Reduction Initiative, run under the National Nuclear Security Administration.
As of January, the agency has spent approximately $120 million to secure vulnerable radiological sources, an expenditure that demonstrates a strong commitment to a program that has produced tangible results and reduced the risks of terrorists acquiring the materials to make a dirty bomb, Bieniawski said.
Power User
Posts: 42522

« Reply #10 on: March 22, 2007, 11:57:58 PM »

Japan, U.S.: Defense Contingencies and the Nuclear Question

Japan and the United States are developing a joint operation plan for the Japanese Self-Defense Forces and U.S. forces to deal with contingencies. While the two sides discuss defense cooperation in the Asia-Pacific region, Tokyo is preparing to question Washington on just how Japan fits under the U.S. nuclear umbrella, and how that umbrella actually works. Among Japan's strategic planners, there is an evolving reassessment of Japan's defensive posture -- and the country's stance on nuclear weapons.


Japan is reassessing its defense policies and security relationships, enhancing ties with Australia and the United States and expanding the role of the Self-Defense Forces. Tokyo also is working with Washington to draw up a Japanese-U.S. operational plan for military contingencies to smooth the coordination of military assets. As part of this overall review, Japan's Ministry of Defense is preparing to ask Washington for clarification of just how Japan falls under the U.S. nuclear umbrella, and how that umbrella actually operates.

Over the past decade, Tokyo has undertaken a major overhaul of its defense posture and evolved a very liberal interpretation of its pacifist constitution to adjust to the changing security situation in the post-Cold War world. Walls between the police and Ground Self-Defense Force or between the Coast Guard and the Maritime Self-Defense Force have fallen. Moreover, Tokyo has improved interoperability within the overall Self-Defense Forces substantially and it has launched a spy-satellite program. Japan's defense development and procurement also has been nothing if not robust, and has included the addition of in-air refueling capabilities, joining U.S. missile-defense systems, bringing additional Aegis destroyers on line, and even funding and developing a large helicopter destroyer just shy of an entry-level aircraft carrier, complete with a full-length flight deck capable of handling the vertical or short takeoff or landing variant of the Joint Strike Fighter.

During that conventional reassessment, Tokyo also has started looking at the nuclear issue. As the only nation ever attacked with nuclear weapons, Japan has long held the view that it of all countries should never pursue nuclear weapons. But slowly, that view has evolved, and over time, discussion of the nuclear issue has moved from the realm of the taboo to more open debate. Former and current Japanese officials, including Foreign Minister Taro Aso, Liberal Democratic Party Policy Research Council Chairman Shoichi Nakagawa, Institute for International Policy Studies Chairman and former Prime Minister Yasuhiro Nakasone and former Japanese Defense Agency Chief Fukushiro Nukaga, have called for Japan to at least study the nuclear issue.

A recent series of articles in the right-leaning Yomiuri Shimbun also has addressed the nuclear issue from a very frank point of view, raising the question of whether, in the event of a potential nuclear confrontation with North Korea, Washington would risk its own security to protect Japan. Unmentioned, but certainly understood, were similar concerns with China.

U.S. strategic doctrine will always place U.S. interests above Japanese interests. Although Japan has developed a robust conventional defense force since losing most of its military infrastructure in and after World War II, Japan finds itself surrounded by nuclear nations: China, North Korea, Russia and the United States. Yet Japan must rely on the United States to counter any potential nuclear threat, limiting Tokyo's strategic independence.

The North Korean nuclear test in October 2006 gave Japan the public justification to re-address its nuclear status more actively, particularly in light of North Korea's missile capability. Japan has the technology for nuclear weapons, and its H2 rocket gives it a strong start on any ballistic missile program. And though it lacks the political will at present to pursue nuclear weapons, this appears to be shifting as well. What appears clear, though, is that Japanese strategic planners view the island nation's nuclear deficiency as a potential risk, and are not too confident in U.S. assurances that everything is taken care of. At a minimum, Japan wants more information and input on the mechanics of a U.S. nuclear umbrella (where are the submarines, for example, or what is the decision-making process for shifting to nuclear weapons) -- something Washington will be unlikely to provide.

Japan feels particularly vulnerable to its nuclear-armed neighbors given its very dense population centers. A recent simulation showed between 2 million and 5 million deaths if a single, 15-kiloton nuclear device were detonated over Tokyo. Few countries feel confident relying on another country for their security, particularly when -- like Japan -- they are a major economic power sitting in the middle of a potentially volatile region. Washington's decision to use diplomacy and economics with North Korea after Pyongyang's nuclear test only added to Japan's insecurities regarding Washington's reliability as a defender of Japan.

A Japanese move toward possession of nuclear weapons would in the end be quiet, following more the Israeli path than the North Korean or Indian path. Tokyo has little need or intent to carry out open tests of nuclear devices, barring a significant change in the regional security situation, but it does want to ensure its own security -- and have its own leverage in dealing with its neighbors. Though there is a long way between capability and possession, the debates in Tokyo are making quite an impression in the region, with China, South Korea and North Korea watching intently to see if Japan moves from talk to action.
Power User
Posts: 42522

« Reply #11 on: April 12, 2007, 03:15:46 PM »


Special Dispatch Series - No. 1538
April 12, 2007 No.1538

Is it Legitimate to Use Nuclear Weapons Against the West? A Debate on An Islamist Forum

The Islamist website Al-Firdaws recently posted an article by a certain Abu Zabadi titled "Religious Grounds for [Launching] a Nuclear Attack." [1] The article, presented as a response to "recent rumors about Al-Qaeda's plan to attack the U.S. with WMDs such as a nuclear bomb," unequivocally opposes the use of WMDs by Muslims against the West, and attempts to counter the legal justifications for their use recently put forward by some prominent religious scholars affiliated with Al-Qaeda and other jihad movements. [2]

The article sparked a fierce debate among participants on the forum, with some participants supporting the author's reasoning and conclusions, and others forcefully rejecting them.

The following are the main points of Abu Zabadi's article, and excerpts from some of the responses to it.

A Nuclear Attack Results in Indiscriminate Killing, Which Is Forbidden by Islam

The author's main concern is not the legitimacy of obtaining WMDs for purposes of deterrence, but whether Islam sanctions a first-strike nuclear attack by Al-Qaeda against the U.S. or Europe. The author states that such an attack is forbidden, and presents several arguments in support of his position.

Using WMDs May Provoke U.S. WMD Counterattack

Abu Zabadi first points out that a nuclear attack results in indiscriminate killing of both innocent and guilty, which violates Allah's commandment to preserve the lives of the innocent.

Next, he dismisses the claim that the U.S. itself has used WMDs - such as phosphor bombs, cluster bombs or depleted uranium - against its enemies, which makes it legitimate to attack it with WMDs. The author states that these are conventional weapons, and that, unlike nuclear weapons, "they do not kill millions at a single strike." From a practical point of view, he adds, "using WMDs against America and its allies will provoke them... to aim a painful blow at Muslims, and this time not with conventional weapons but with WMDs." Such provocation, he states, stands in contradiction to the Prophet's conduct as attested in the Islamic tradition. "Since America and its allies are stronger than the Islamic nation," he says, "circumstances forbid us to provoke America and its allies... even if Al-Qaeda succeeds in obtaining a nuclear bomb."

"If God Wishes to Wipe America Off the Face of the Earth... The Matter Is In His Hands"

Abu Zabadi next addresses the claim that the U.S. must be destroyed because it is an immoral country that encourages corrupt behavior such as consuming alcohol and visiting brothels. He responds that a similar argument can be used to "sanction the killing of our brothers in Yemen, Egypt, and other [countries]." Pointing out that the murder rate in Yemen is very close to that of the U.S., he asks: "Are we therefore permitted to destroy Yemen... with WMDs because of [its]... moral corruption?" He concludes, "If God wishes to wipe America off the face of the earth because of its great corruption, the matter is in His hands [and not in the hands of the mujahideen]."

"If Bin Laden and His Followers Wish to Respond [to U.S. Attacks] in Kind, They Should [Confront] the Evil Troops on the Battlefield"

The author rejects the argument that killing innocent Americans can be regarded as legitimate retribution for attacks on Muslims, which some claim is sanctioned by several Koranic verses. [3] When bin Laden used this argument to justify the attack on the World Trade Center, says Abu Zabadi, he was basing his claims on a flawed understanding of the Koranic text. The Koran, he explains, permits to take revenge on a person who commits an act of aggression, but not to take revenge on his family or friends, as the verse says: "Fight in the way of Allah against those who fight against you, but begin not hostilities. Lo! Allah loveth not aggressors [2: 190]." He therefore concludes, "If bin Laden and his associates wish to respond [to the U.S. attacks] in kind, they should go out and [confront] the evil troops on the battlefield. However, they are not permitted to target unarmed civilians.... men, women, children and elderly people. This is... not permitted by Islamic law."

Forum Participant: The Article "Is All Distortions, It Laughs in the Faces of the Muslims"

Most of the forum participants who criticized the article took up religious arguments made in the past by prominent contemporary Islamist sheikhs (see endnote 2).

A participant calling himself Abdal Al-Sham began with a personal attack on the author, saying: "This article was not written by a Muslim... but by an American, and more specifically, by [someone from] one of their strategic centers for countering the Islamic jihad..." Regarding the content of the article, he said: "The essence of the article.... is that the U.S. bears no responsibility for the killing of Muslim children... And [even in cases] where it is proven that the U.S has killed Muslim women, children and elderly, [the article stipulates that it is permissible] to take revenge only on the one [directly] responsible for the killing... This is a distortion. [The article] laughs in Muslims' faces... It essentially [misrepresents] some of the [texts] it quotes from the Koran and the sunna..."

"The Destructive Power of the... Bombs Dropped on Afghanistan Alone Was Greater Than That of the Atomic Bomb Dropped on Hiroshima"

Abdal Al-Sham then argues against Abu Zabadi's legal reasoning: "The distinction between WMDs and conventional weapons, based on the extent of death and destruction they cause... is theoretically valid. But in reality, this distinction is false!!!... The amount of destruction... and the number of deaths to Muslim civilians - women, children, and the elderly - caused by the... conventional weapons used by the U.S. throughout its years-long Crusader war against Islam is equivalent to the [extent of death and destruction] caused by WMDs!!... The destructive power of the one-ton bombs dropped on Afghanistan alone is greater than that of the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima... The ignorant writer should consider this fact!!!"

It Is Permitted to Strike the Infidels When Their Women and Children Are with Them

Abdal Al-Sham continues: "The principle of retribution in kind applies, for example, when the infidels do something that is completely forbidden to Muslims, such as mutilating corpses. It is prohibited for Muslims [to do such a thing] unless the infidels commit [this crime] against Muslims!!!... However, striking the infidels when their women and children are with them is permitted independently [of] the principle of retribution in kind."

Legally, Americans Are Considered a Single Individual

"It is clear that the elected American government..., the military and civil organizations associated with it, and [the American] nation [as a whole] legally constitute 'a single individual' when it comes to [responsibility for] the killing of women, children and the elderly... by U.S. troops in Muslim lands. This aggression is committed by every American who is [a citizen of] the United States and does not wash his hands of it or keep away from it... Legally, all of them are considered 'one individual.' An American who is against this aggression against Muslims should emigrate from America to a safe place... in order to avoid the punishment [meted out by] the Muslim mujahideen. It is not the concern of the mujahideen to distinguish him from... those Americans who do support the aggression."

Americans Have Used Biological, Chemical and Nuclear Weapons

Another forum participant supported Abdal Al-Sham's position, saying: "[WMDs] include biological, chemical and nuclear weapons, which the Americans - as admitted by their [own] judicial authorities - have used to varying degrees. The U.S. sanctions the killing of civilians day and night, and claims that it is an unavoidable [consequence] of war... It is permissible to kill the infidels..."

Another forum participant criticized Abdal Al-Sham's grasp of the religious sources and provided additional proof-texts in support of the position expressed in Abu Zabadi's article.


[2] For a summary of the arguments presented by some of these scholars, see Special Report No. 34, "Contemporary Islamist Ideology Authorizing Genocidal Murder," September 15, 2004, See also Reuven Paz, "Global Jihad and WMD: Between Martyrdom and Mass Destruction," Current Trends in Islamist Ideology, 2, (2005) pp. 74-86. For a May 2003 article by Islamist Saudi Sheikh Nasser bin Hamad Al-Fahd justifying the use of WMDs, see Nasser Al-Fahd, Risalah fi hukm istikhdam aslihat al-damar al-shamil dhid al-kuffar, (May 2003):

[3] As an example, the author cites the following verse: "Whoever commits aggression against you, you should commit aggression against him like he has committed against you" (2:194).
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« Reply #12 on: April 20, 2007, 01:13:32 PM »

IRAN: Iranian chief nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani will meet with EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana on April 25 to discuss Iran's nuclear program, the ISNA news service reported. The U.N. Security Council imposed sanctions on Iran in March over Tehran's refusal to discontinue its uranium enrichment program.

RUSSIA: Russian First Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov said Russia will not send uranium enrichment centrifuges to countries that do not possess adequate expertise, including Iran, Pakistan and India. Ivanov noted Russia's commitment to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty and confirmed that China is not included on the list. Russia plans to sign agreements with China during 2007 to build the fourth phase of a uranium enrichment plant.
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« Reply #13 on: April 23, 2007, 11:11:20 AM »

Al-Qaeda plans 'Hiroshima'

April 23, 2007 12:00

Article from: </IMG>

AL-QAEDA leaders in Iraq are planning the first "large-scale" terrorist attacks on Britain and other western targets with the help of supporters in Iran, according to a leaked intelligence report.
Spy chiefs warn that one operative had said he was planning an attack on "a par with Hiroshima and Nagasaki" in an attempt to "shake the Roman throne", a reference to the West, according to The Times newspaper in the UK.
Another plot could be timed to coincide with Tony Blair stepping down as prime minister, an event described by Al-Qaeda planners as a "change in the head of the company".
The report, produced earlier this month and seen by The Sunday Times, appears to provide evidence that Al-Qaeda is active in Iran and has ambitions far beyond the improvised attacks it has been waging against British and American soldiers in Iraq.
There is no evidence of a formal relationship between Al-Qaeda, a Sunni group, and the Shi’ite regime of President Mah-moud Ahmadinejad, but experts suggest that Iran’s leaders may be turning a blind eye to the terrorist organisation’s activities," reports The Times.
The intelligence report also makes it clear that senior Al-Qaeda figures in the region have been in recent contact with operatives in Britain.
It follows revelations last year that up to 150 Britons had travelled to Iraq to fight as part of Al-Qaeda’s "foreign legion". A number are thought to have returned to the UK, after receiving terrorist training, to form sleeper cells.
The report was compiled by the Joint Terrorism Analysis Centre (JTAC) - based at MI5’s London headquarters - and provides a quarterly review of the international terror threat to Britain. It draws a distinction between Osama Bin Laden and Al-Qaeda’s core leadership, who are thought to be hiding on the Afghan-Pakistan border, and affiliated organisations elsewhere.
The document states: "While networks linked to AQ (Al-Qaeda) Core pose the greatest threat to the UK, the intelligence during this quarter has highlighted the potential threat from other areas, particularly AQI (Al-Qaeda in Iraq)."
The report continues: "Recent reporting has described AQI’s Kurdish network in Iran planning what we believe may be a large-scale attack against a western target.
"A member of this network is reportedly involved in an operation which he believes requires AQ Core authorisation. He claims the operation will be on 'a par with Hiroshima and Naga-saki' and will 'shake the Roman throne'. We assess that this operation is most likely to be a large-scale, mass casualty attack against the West."
The report says there is "no indication" this attack would specifically target Britain, "although we are aware that AQI . . . networks are active in the UK".
Analysts believe the reference to Hiroshima and Naga-saki, where more than 200,000 people died in nuclear attacks on Japan at the end of the second world war, is unlikely to be a literal boast.
"It could be just a reference to a huge explosion," said a counter-terrorist source. "They (Al-Qaeda) have got to do something soon that is radical otherwise they start losing credibility."
Despite aspiring to a nuclear capability, Al-Qaeda is not thought to have acquired weapons grade material. However, several plots involving "dirty bombs" - conventional explosive devices surrounded by radioactive material - have been foiled.
Last year Al-Qaeda’s leader in Iraq called on nuclear scientists to apply their knowledge of biological and radiological weapons to "the field of jihad".
Details of a separate plot to attack Britain, "ideally" before Blair steps down this summer, were contained in a letter written by Abdul al-Hadi al-Iraqi, an Iraqi Kurd and senior Al-Qaeda commander.
According to the JTAC document, Hadi "stressed the need to take care to ensure that the attack was successful and on a large scale". The plan was to be relayed to an Iran-based Al-Qaeda facilitator.
The Home Office declined to comment
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« Reply #14 on: May 08, 2007, 08:58:55 AM »

Today's NY Times:


WASHINGTON, May 7 — Every week, a group of experts from agencies around the government — including the C.I.A., the Pentagon, the F.B.I. and the Energy Department — meet to assess Washington’s progress toward solving a grim problem: if a terrorist set off a nuclear bomb in an American city, could the United States determine who detonated it and who provided the nuclear material?

So far, the answer is maybe.

That uncertainty lies at the center of a vigorous, but carefully cloaked, debate within the Bush administration. It focuses on how to refashion the American approach to nuclear deterrence in an attempt to counter the threat posed by terrorists who could obtain bomb-grade uranium or plutonium to make and deliver a weapon.

A previously undisclosed meeting last year of President Bush’s most senior national security advisers was the highest level discussion about how to rewrite the cold war rules. The existing approach to deterrence dates from the time when the nuclear attacks Washington worried about would be launched by missiles and bombers, which can be tracked back to a source by radar, and not carried in backpacks or hidden in cargo containers.

Among the subjects of the meeting last year was whether to issue a warning to all countries around the world that if a nuclear weapon was detonated on American soil and was traced back to any nation’s stockpiles, through nuclear forensics, the United States would hold that country “fully responsible” for the consequences of the explosion. The term “fully responsible” was left deliberately vague so that it would be unclear whether the United States would respond with a retaliatory nuclear attack, or, far more likely, a nonnuclear retaliation, whether military or diplomatic.

But that meeting of Mr. Bush’s principal national security and military advisers in May 2006 broke up with the question unresolved, according to participants. The discussion remained hung up on such complexities as whether it would be wise to threaten Iran even as diplomacy still offered at least some hope of halting Tehran’s nuclear program, and whether it was credible to issue a warning that would be heard to include countries that America considers partners and allies, like Russia or Pakistan, which are nuclear powers with far from perfect nuclear safeguards.

Then, on Oct. 9, North Korea detonated a nuclear test.

Mr. Bush responded that morning with an explicit warning to President Kim Jong-il that “transfer of nuclear weapons or material” to other countries or terrorist groups “would be considered a grave threat to the United States,” and that the North would be held “fully accountable.”

A senior American official involved in the decision, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was discussing private national security deliberations, said, “Given the fact that they were trying to cross red lines, that they were launching missiles and that they conducted the nuclear test, we finally decided it was time.”

Mr. Bush was able to issue a credible warning, other senior officials said, in part because the International Atomic Energy Agency has a library of nuclear samples from North Korea, obtained before the agency’s inspectors were thrown out of the country, that would likely make it possible to trace an explosion back to North Korea’s nuclear arsenal. The North Koreans are fully aware, government experts believe, that the United States has access to that database of nuclear DNA.

But when it comes to other countries, many of that library’s shelves are empty. And in interviews over the past several weeks, senior American nuclear experts have said that the huge gap is one reason that the Bush administration is so far unable to make a convincing threat to terrorists or their suppliers that they will be found out.

“I believe the most likely source of the material would be from the Russian nuclear arsenal, but you shouldn’t confuse ‘likely’ with ‘certainty’ by any means,” said Scott D. Sagan, co-director of Stanford University’s Center for International Security and Cooperation, who has studied the problem known in Washington and the national nuclear laboratories as “nuclear attribution.”

Mr. Sagan noted that nuclear material in a terrorist attack might also come from Pakistan, home of the network run by Abdul Qadeer Khan, who sold nuclear technology to Iran, North Korea and Libya.

The Bush administration is also finding a skeptical audience when it warns of emerging nuclear threats, since its assessments of Saddam Hussein’s nuclear capacity in advance of the 2003 invasion proved wildly off the mark. On Sunday, defending his new book during an interview on the NBC News program “Meet the Press,” George J. Tenet, the former director of central intelligence, made the case that any past errors should not blind the public to the threat of nuclear attack posed by Al Qaeda today.

“What I believe is that Al Qaeda is seeking this capability,” Mr. Tenet said.

Pakistani officials have been visiting Washington recently offering assurances that their nuclear supplies and weapons are locked down with sophisticated new technology. During a presentation at the Henry L. Stimson Center, a nonprofit organization here that studies nuclear proliferation, Lt. Col. Zafar Ali, who works in the arms control section of the Pakistani Strategic Plans Division, said that while Al Qaeda and other groups may want a nuclear weapon, “there are doubts that these organizations have the capability to fabricate a nuclear device.”

He bristled at the continuing questions about Pakistan’s nuclear security, arguing that “there is no reported case of security failure subsequent to A. Q. Khan’s case” in 2004, and suggested that American concerns would be better directed at Russia.

But few experts in the Bush administration are reassured, saying that their fear is not only leakage from Pakistan, but a takeover of the government of the president, Gen. Pervez Musharraf. It is a subject they will never discuss on the record, but one that is the constant topic of study and assessment.

The issue of shaping a new policy even presents difficulties when dealing with a country like Iran, which, like North Korea, was once described by President Bush as a member of an “axis of evil.” Tehran does not yet possess nuclear weapons, and inspectors believe that it has produced only small amounts of nuclear fuel, not enough to make a bomb, and none of it bomb grade.

In the cabinet-level discussion last May, Mr. Bush’s top advisers concluded that issuing a warning to Iran might signal that the United States was preparing for the day when Iran becomes a nuclear-armed state, an impression that one former senior administration official said “is not the message we want to send.” As a result, Iran did not receive a warning similar to the one issued to North Korea, whose test made clear that it is edging into the nuclear club.

Mr. Sagan said he supported that approach, saying that if Mr. Bush issues a declaration specifically aimed at Iran, it may be heard among the most radical leaders in Tehran as a tacit acknowledgment that the United States has accepted the possibility that Iran is going to go nuclear.

“We need to distinguish between the leakage problem, where it would be inadvertent, and the provider problem, where it would be an intentional act,” said Robert S. Litwak of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars and the author of “Regime Change: U.S. Strategy Through the Prism of 9/11.”

“To the provider we should say, ‘Don’t even think about it,’ and this more explicit declaratory policy can get us traction because these regimes value their own survival above all else,” Mr. Litwak said. “For the leakage problem, we don’t want to be trapped into a question of how we retaliate against Russia or Pakistan. But through calculated ambiguity, we can create incentives for the Russians and the Pakistanis to do even more in the area of safeguarding their weapons and capabilities.”

The weekly meeting of the interagency group dealing with nuclear attribution is just one part of a governmentwide effort to prepare for what might happen after a small nuclear device was detonated in an American city, just as Washington once gamed out a nuclear exchange with the Soviet Union.

But it is a subject Mr. Bush and his aides have rarely referred to in public. In private, officials say, the Department of Homeland Security is trying to plan for more than a dozen scenarios — including one in which a bomb goes off, and terrorist groups then claim to have planted others in cities around the country.

While most of that planning takes place behind locked doors, officials responsible for it appeared at a workshop last month sponsored by the Preventive Defense Project, a research collaboration sponsored by Harvard and Stanford Universities.

The daylong discussion revealed major gaps in the planning. But it also demonstrated that while the first instinct of government officials after an explosion would be to figure out retaliation, “that would probably give way to an effort to seek the cooperation of a Pakistan or Russia to figure out where the stuff came from, what else was lost, and to hunt down the remaining bombs rather than punish the government that lost them,” said one of the conference’s organizers, Ashton B. Carter of the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard.

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« Reply #15 on: May 09, 2007, 01:38:55 AM »

Nuclear Non-Starter
May 9, 2007

The much-trumpeted 2005 civil nuclear deal between the United States and India always had one problem: the elastically worded accord itself. New Delhi, however, bears the brunt of the blame for the current deadlock. While the U.S. never hid its nonproliferation objectives, India's policy makers embraced the political deal without fully understanding its implications. Now that the technical rules of nuclear commerce are to be defined, they find it difficult to meet the demands set by the U.S. Congress.

The root of the current stalemate over the fine print rests in the new U.S. legislation, dubbed the Hyde Act, governing the deal. The U.S. wants the right to cut off all cooperation and secure the return of transferred nuclear items if India, in Washington's estimation, fails to live up to certain nonproliferation conditions, such as a ban on nuclear testing. The prohibition seeks to implicitly bind India to an international pact whose ratification the U.S. Senate rejected in 1999 -- the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. The Hyde Act also sets out conditions to block India from ending International Atomic Energy Agency inspections even if American fuel supplies are suspended or terminated.

While the political deal had promised India "full civil nuclear cooperation and trade," what is on offer now is restrictive cooperation, tied to the threat of reimposition of sanctions if New Delhi does not adhere to the congressionally prescribed stipulations. India, however, insists that cooperation encompass uranium enrichment, reprocessing of spent fuel and heavy-water production, given that all such activities would be under International Atomic Energy Agency safeguards and for peaceful purposes.

Under the deal inked in 2005, India agreed to "assume the same responsibilities and practices and acquire the same benefits and advantages as other leading countries with advanced nuclear technology, such as the U.S." It now complains that the Hyde Act denies it these "same benefits and advantages." However, New Delhi itself laid the groundwork for higher standards when months earlier it agreed to place 35 Indian nuclear facilities under permanent, legally irrevocable IAEA inspections -- not the token, voluntary inspections accepted by the U.S. on select facilities.

In any case, a growing perception that the U.S. was shifting the goalpost created outrage in India's Parliament. Why the shock and horror? It's simple: India embraced the U.S.-drafted deal hurriedly in July 2005 without fully grasping its significance. As Prime Minister Manhoman Singh admitted in Parliament on August 3, 2005, he received "the final draft from the U.S. side" only upon reaching Washington a day before signing. Until that point, India's negotiators had only discussed submitting "power reactors" to international inspections, not all civilian nuclear facilities. And they certainly didn't anticipate a test ban. Indeed, after signing the deal, Mr. Singh had assured Parliament that "our autonomy of decision-making will not be circumscribed in any manner."

The current deadlock could have easily been avoided. During the nine-month legislative drafting of the Hyde Act last year, India ought to have made it clear that it wouldn't allow its deal-related commitments to be expanded or turned into immutable legal obligations through the means of a U.S. domestic law. It was only after national outcry over the bill's approval by the U.S. House of Representatives that Prime Minister Singh grudgingly defined India's bottom-line: The "full" lifting of "restrictions on all aspects of cooperation" without the "introduction of extraneous" conditions. He went on warn that, "If in their final form, the U.S. legislation or the adopted Nuclear Suppliers' Group guidelines impose extraneous conditions on India, the government will draw the necessary conclusions, consistent with the commitments I have made to Parliament." That was too late to reverse the Congressional push for a tough law to govern the deal.

Last week, India's top diplomat, Foreign Secretary Shiv Shankar Menon, tried to repair some of this damage by sitting down with his U.S. counterparts in Washington. But the reality is that each government finds its negotiating space severely constricted. The Bush administration is bound by the Hyde Act passed by Congress last December, and Mr. Singh is stuck with the deal-related benchmarks he defined in Parliament last August.

Even if the follow-up bilateral agreement did not incorporate the controversial conditions, it would hardly free India from the obligations the Hyde Act seeks to enforce. The U.S. has always maintained that because such a bilateral agreement is a requirement not under international law but under U.S. law -- the Atomic Energy Act -- it cannot supersede American law. In fact, an earlier U.S.-India bilateral nuclear cooperation accord, signed in 1963, was abandoned by Washington in 1978 -- four years after the first Indian nuclear test -- simply by enacting a new domestic law that retroactively overrode the bilateral pact. That broke with impunity a guarantee to supply "timely" fuel "as needed" for India's U.S.-built Tarapur nuclear power plant near Bombay, forcing India to turn to other suppliers to keep the station running to this day. India cannot get a similar lifetime fuel-supply guarantee for the new commercial nuclear power reactors it wishes to import thanks to the Hyde Act, which also bars reprocessing and enrichment cooperation even under IAEA safeguards.

Another sticking point is India's insistence on the right -- under international safeguards -- to reprocess fuel discharged from imported reactors. The U.S. has granted such a reprocessing right to its European allies and Japan for decades. Given that the Tarapur spent fuel has continued to accumulate over the decades near Bombay, with the U.S. declining either to exercise its right to take it back or to allow India to reprocess it under IAEA inspection, New Delhi says it cannot get into a similar mess again. In fact, Washington has not compensated India for the large costs it continues to incur to store the highly radioactive spent fuel from Tarapur.

Faced with the Hyde Act's grating conditions, misgivings over the deal have begun to infiltrate the Indian establishment. The U.S. currently has 23 different bilateral nuclear cooperation agreements with partner-states but none is tied to such an overarching, country-specific domestic law. Even if the present hurdle were cleared, the deal faces more challenges in securing approval from the 45-state Nuclear Suppliers' Group and the 35-nation IAEA board.

New Delhi believes time is on its side. India's economic and strategic influence is growing, strongly positioning New Delhi to conclude a deal on terms that are fairer and more balanced than those on offer today. Its interests also demand a deal not just restricted to civil nuclear export controls, but encompassing the full range of dual-use technology controls in force against India.

The present deal, despite the good intentions behind it, seems doomed.

Mr. Chellaney, a professor of strategic studies at the privately funded Center for Policy Research in New Delhi, is the author of "Nuclear Proliferation: The U.S.-India Conflict" (Orient Longman, 1993).
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« Reply #16 on: May 14, 2007, 10:07:29 PM »

There may be a bit of weird formatting in this piece-- substituting "?" for other punctuation.

New York Times:
Atomic Agency Concludes Iran Is Stepping Up Nuclear Work
Published: May 14, 2007
VIENNA, May 14 ? Inspectors for the International Atomic Energy Agency have concluded that Iran appears to have solved most of its technological problems and is now beginning to enrich uranium on a far larger scale than before, according to the agency?s top officials.

The findings may change the calculus of diplomacy in Europe and in Washington, which aimed to force a suspension of Iran?s enrichment activities in large part to prevent it from learning how to produce weapons-grade material.

In a short-notice inspection of Iran?s operations in the main nuclear facility at Natanz on Sunday, conducted in advance of a report to the United Nations Security Council due early next week, the inspectors found that Iranian engineers were already using roughly 1,300 centrifuges and were producing fuel suitable for nuclear reactors, according to diplomats and nuclear experts here.

Until recently, the Iranians were having difficulty keeping the delicate centrifuges spinning at the tremendous speeds necessary to make nuclear fuel and were often running them empty or not at all.

Now, those roadblocks appear to have been surmounted. ?We believe they pretty much have the knowledge about how to enrich,? said Mohammed ElBaradei, the director general of the energy agency, who clashed with the Bush administration four years ago when he declared that there was no evidence that Iraq had resumed its nuclear program. ?From now on, it is simply a question of perfecting that knowledge. People will not like to hear it, but that?s a fact.?

It is unclear whether Iran can sustain its recent progress. Major setbacks are common in uranium enrichment, and experts say it is entirely possible that miscalculation, equipment failures or sabotage ? something the United States is believed to have attempted in the past ? could prevent the Iranian government from reaching its goal of producing fuel on what President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran boasts is ?an industrial scale.?

The material produced so far would have to undergo further enrichment before it could be transformed into bomb-grade material. To accomplish that, Iran would likely first have to evict the I.A.E.A. inspectors, as North Korea did four years ago.

Even then, it is unclear whether the Iranians have the technology to produce a weapon small enough to fit atop their missiles, a significant engineering challenge.

While the United Nations Security Council has passed a resolution demanding that Iran suspend all of its nuclear activities, and it has twice imposed sanctions for Tehran?s refusal to do so, some European nations, and particularly Russia, have questioned whether the demand for suspension still makes sense.

The logic of demanding suspension is that it would delay the day that Iran gained the knowledge to produce its own nuclear fuel ? what the Israelis used to refer to as ?the point of no return.? Those favoring unconditional engagement with Iran have argued that the current strategy is creating a stalemate that the Iranians are exploiting, allowing them to make technological leaps while the Security Council steps up sanctions.

The Bush administration, in contrast, has argued that it will never negotiate while the Iranians speed ever closer to a nuclear weapons capability, saying there has to be a standstill as long as talks proceed. In a telephone interview, R. Nicholas Burns, the undersecretary of state for policy, who is implementing the Iran strategy, said that while he has not heard about the I.A.E.A.?s newest findings, they would not affect American policy.

?We?re proceeding under the assumption that there is still time for diplomacy to work,? he said, although he added that if the Iranians did not agree to suspend production by the time the leaders of the Group of 8 industrial nations meet next month, ?we will move ahead toward a third set of sanctions.?

Mr. ElBaradei has always been skeptical of that strategy, telling European foreign ministers that he doubts the Iranians will fully suspend their nuclear activities and that a face-saving way must be found to resolve the impasse.

?Quite clearly, suspension is a requirement by the Security Council and I would hope the Iranians would listen to the world community,? he said. ?But from a proliferation perspective, the fact of the matter is that one of the purposes of suspension ? keeping them from getting the knowledge ? has been overtaken by events. The focus now should be to stop them from going to industrial scale production, to allow us to do a full-court-press inspection and to be sure they remain inside the treaty.?

The report to the Security Council next Monday is expected to say that since the Iranians stopped complying in February 2006 with an agreement on broad inspections by the agency around the country, the I.A.E.A.?s understanding of ?the scope and content? of Iran?s nuclear activities has deteriorated. I

Inspectors are concerned that Iran has declined to answer a series of questions, posed more than a year ago, about information the agency received from a Pakistani nuclear engineer, Abdul Qadeer Khan. Of particular interest is a document that shows how to design the collision of two nuclear spheres ? something suitable only for producing a weapon.

The inspection conducted on Sunday took place on two hours notice, a time period so short that it appears unlikely that the Iranians could have turned on their centrifuges to impress the inspectors. According to diplomats familiar with the inspectors’ report, in addition to 1,300 working centrifuges, another 300 were being tested and appeared ready to be fed raw nuclear fuel as soon as late this week, the diplomats said. Another 300 are under construction.

“They are at the stage where they are doing one cascade a week,” said one diplomat familiar with the analysis of Iran’s activities, who declined to be identified because of the sensitivity of the information. A “cascade” has 164 centrifuges, and experts say that at this pace, Iran could have 3,000 centrifuges operating by June — enough to make one bomb’s worth of material every year. Tehran may, the diplomat said, be able to build an additional 5,000 centrifuges by the end of the year, for a total of 8,000.

The inspectors have tested the output and concluded that Iran is producing reactor-grade uranium, enriched to a little less than 5 percent purity. But that still worries American officials and experts here at the I.A.E.A. If Iran stores the uranium and later runs it through its centrifuges for another four or five months, it can raise the enrichment level to 90 percent — the level needed for a nuclear weapon.

In the arcane terminology of nuclear proliferation, that is known as a “breakout capability,” the ability to throw inspectors out of the country and then produce weapons-grade fuel, as North Korea did in 2003.

Some Bush administration officials and some nuclear experts here at the I.A.E.A. and elsewhere suspect that the Iranians may not be driving for a weapon but rather for that “breakout capability,” because that alone can serve as a nuclear deterrent. It would be a way for Iran to make clear that it could produce a bomb on short notice, without actually possessing one.

One senior European diplomat, who declined to speak for attribution, said Washington would now have to confront the question of whether it wants to keep Iran from producing any nuclear material or whether it wants to keep Tehran from gaining the ability to build a weapon on short notice.

“The key decision you have to make right now,” the diplomat said, “is that if you don’t want the breakout scenario, you would have to freeze the Iranian program at a laboratory scale. Because if you continue this stalemate, that will bring you, eventually, to a breakout capability.”

Those in the Bush administration who take a hard line on Iran make the opposite argument. They say that the only position that President Bush can take now, without appearing to be backing down, is to stick to the administration’s past argument that “not one centrifuge spins” in Iran. They argue for escalating sanctions and the threat that, if diplomacy fails, the United States could take out the nuclear facilities in a military strike.

But even inside the administration, many officials, particularly in the State Department and the Pentagon, argue that military action would prompt greater chaos in the Middle East and Iranian retribution against American forces in Iraq and possibly elsewhere. Moreover, they have argued that Iran’s enrichment facilities are still at an early enough stage that a military strike would not set the country’s program back very far. Such a strike, they argue, would only make sense once large facilities have been built.

Vice President Cheney, in an interview conducted with Fox News at the end of his trip to the Mideast, said today that Iran appears “to be determined to develop the capacity to enrich uranium in order to produce nuclear weapons.” But he issued no threats, saying simply “they ought to comply with the U.N. resolutions.”

He noted that President Bush personally made the decision to engage in talks with Iran, at the ambassadorial level, about Iran’s activities in Iraq. But those talks are supposed to specifically exclude the nuclear dispute.
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« Reply #17 on: May 26, 2007, 06:02:19 AM »,1,754545.story?coll=la-headlines-world
Arabs make plans for nuclear power
Iran's program appears to be stirring interest that some fear will lead to a scramble for atomic weapons in the volatile region.
By Bob Drogin and Borzou Daragahi, LA Times Staff Writers
May 26, 2007

VIENNA — As Iran races ahead with an illicit uranium enrichment effort, nearly a dozen other Middle East nations are moving forward on their own civilian nuclear programs. In the latest development, a team of eight U.N. experts on Friday ended a weeklong trip to Saudi Arabia to provide nuclear guidance to officials from six Persian Gulf countries.

Diplomats and analysts view the Saudi trip as the latest sign that Iran's suspected weapons program has helped spark a chain reaction of nuclear interest among its Arab rivals, which some fear will lead to a scramble for atomic weapons in the world's most volatile region.

The International Atomic Energy Agency sent the team of nuclear experts to Riyadh, the Saudi capital, to advise the Gulf Cooperation Council on building nuclear energy plants. Together, the council members — Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the seven sheikdoms of the United Arab Emirates — control nearly half the world's known oil reserves.

Other nations that have said they plan to construct civilian nuclear reactors or have sought technical assistance and advice from the IAEA, the Vienna-based United Nations nuclear watchdog agency, in the last year include Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Turkey and Yemen, as well as several North African nations.

None of the governments has disclosed plans to build nuclear weapons. But Iran's 18-year secret nuclear effort and its refusal to comply with current U.N. Security Council demands have raised concerns that the Arab world will decide it needs to counter a potentially nuclear-armed Iran. The same equipment can enrich uranium to fuel civilian reactors or, in time and with further enrichment, atomic bombs.

"There is no doubt that countries around the gulf are worried … about whether Iran is seeking nuclear weapons," Gregory L. Schulte, the U.S. representative to U.N. agencies in Vienna, said in an interview. "They're worried about whether it will prompt a nuclear arms race in the region, which would be to no one's benefit."

The United States has long supported the spread of peaceful nuclear energy under strict international safeguards. Schulte said Washington's diplomatic focus remained on stopping Iran before it could produce fuel for nuclear weapons, rather than on trying to restrict nations from developing nuclear power for generating electricity.

But those empowered to monitor and regulate civilian nuclear programs around the world are worried. Mohamed ElBaradei, director-general of the IAEA, warned Thursday that the surge of interest in sensitive nuclear technology raised the risk of weapons proliferation. Without singling out any nation, he cautioned that some governments might insist on enriching their own uranium to ensure a steady supply of reactor fuel.

"The concern is that by mastering the fuel cycle, countries move dangerously close to nuclear weapons capability," ElBaradei told a disarmament conference in Luxembourg.

Iran is the obvious case in point. Tehran this week defied another U.N. Security Council deadline by which it was to freeze its nuclear program. The IAEA reported that Iran instead was accelerating uranium enrichment without having yet built the reactors that would need the nuclear fuel. At the same time, the IAEA complained, Iran's diminishing cooperation had made it impossible to confirm Tehran's claims that the program is only for peaceful purposes.

That has unnerved Iran's neighbors as well as members of the Security Council.

"We have the right if the Iranians are going to insist on their right to develop their civilian nuclear program," said Mustafa Alani, a security expert at the Gulf Research Center, a think tank based in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. "We tell the Iranians, 'We have no problem with you developing civilian nuclear energy, but if you're going to turn your nuclear program into a weapons program, we'll do the same.' "

Iran sought to rally Arab support for its nuclear program at the World Economic Forum meeting of business and political leaders this month in Jordan.

"Iran will be a partner, a brotherly partner, and will share its capabilities with the people of the region," Mohammed J.A. Larijani, a former deputy foreign minister, told reporters.

Arab officials were cool to his approach, however, and openly questioned Iran's intentions.

The IAEA team's weeklong foray to Saudi Arabia followed ElBaradei's visit to the kingdom in April. The Gulf Cooperation Council plans to present the results of its study on developing nuclear plants to the leaders of council nations in the Omani capital of Muscat in December.

"They don't say it, but everyone can see that [Iran] is at least one of the reasons behind the drive to obtaining the nuclear technology," said Salem Ahmad Sahab, a professor of political science at King Abdulaziz University in Jidda, Saudi Arabia. "If the neighbors are capable of obtaining the technology, why not them?"

Officially, leaders of the Arab gulf states say they are eager to close a technology gap with Iran, as well as with Israel, which operates two civilian reactors and is widely believed to have built at least 80 nuclear warheads since the 1960s. Israel does not acknowledge its nuclear arsenal under a policy aimed at deterring regional foes while avoiding an arms race.

Advocates argue that the gulf states need nuclear energy despite their vast oil and natural gas reserves.

The region's growing economies suffer occasional summer power outages, and the parched climate makes the nations there susceptible to water shortages, which can be offset by the energy-intensive processing of seawater.


The promising future of nuclear energy in electricity generation and desalination can make it a source for meeting increasing needs," Abdulrahman Attiya, the Kuwaiti head of the Gulf Cooperation Council, told the group this week in Riyadh.

Attiya also cited long-term economic and environmental advantages to nuclear energy.

"A large part of Gulf Cooperation Council oil and gas products can be used for export in light of expected high prices and demand," he said. "It will also help to limit the increase in carbon dioxide emissions in the gulf region."

It remains unclear how many countries will carry through on ambitious and enormously expensive nuclear projects. In some cases, analysts say, the nuclear announcements may be intended for domestic prestige, and as a signal to Iran that others intend to check its emergence as a regional power. As a result, some analysts say fears of a nuclear arms race in the Middle East are overblown.

"Those who caricature what's going on as Sunni concern about a Shiite bomb are really oversimplifying the case," said Martin Malin, a nuclear expert at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government, referring to Sunni Muslim-led Arab countries and Shiite Muslim-led Iran.

Aggressive international monitoring, he contended, could ensure that nuclear energy programs don't secretly morph into weapons capabilities.

"If what Jordan is really concerned about is energy, and the U.S. is concerned about weapons, all kinds of oversight can be provided," Malin said.

A Russian diplomat here similarly cautioned that Iran's influence on other nations' nuclear plans might be overstated. "I should be very cautious about any connection between these two things," he said. "We don't deny that even Iran has the right to peaceful nuclear activities."

Although enthusiasm for prospective nuclear programs appears strongest in the Middle East, governments elsewhere have displayed interest in atomic power after years of decline in the industry that followed the 1979 reactor accident at Three Mile Island in Pennsylvania and the far worse 1986 radiation leak at Chernobyl in Ukraine. About 30 countries operate nuclear reactors for energy, and that number seems certain to grow.

"There's certainly a renaissance of interest," said an IAEA official who works on the issue. "And there's likely to be a renaissance in construction over the next few decades."

IAEA officials say the largest growth in nuclear power is likely to occur in China, India, Russia, the United States and South Africa, with Argentina, Finland and France following close behind. The United States has 103 operating plants, more than any other country, and as many as 31 additional plants are under consideration or have begun the regulatory process.

And there are other nations in line. Oil-rich Nigeria and Indonesia are preparing to build nuclear plants. Belarus and Vietnam have approached the IAEA for advice. Algeria signed a deal with Russia in January on possible nuclear cooperation. Morocco and Poland are said to be considering nuclear power. Myanmar disclosed plans to purchase a Russian research reactor.

Even Sudan, one of the world's poorest countries, has expressed interest.

"When Sudan shows up, we say, 'You're in a real early stage and here's what you need. A law. Get people trained. Build roads. And so on,' " the IAEA official said.

So far, the nuclear programs around Iran are in the early planning stages. Alani, the security expert in Dubai, said most of the nations in the region were scoping out the possibilities but had made no final decisions or begun constructing facilities.

"They feel it's a right and significant move at least to put [their] foot in the door of civilian nuclear energy," he said. "It's not a race, not yet."

Going nuclear

Unlike Iran, most of the countries that have recently begun exploring or setting up nuclear programs are staunch allies of the U.S., often with strong military and political ties to Washington. A sampling of some regional nations' plans:


Seeks to join the Gulf Cooperation Council's nuclear project.


Plans to revive a nuclear energy program it abandoned two decades ago.


Plans to build three nuclear power plants along the Black Sea coast.


Plans to pursue a nuclear energy program.


Plans to build its first nuclear power plant by 2020.

Source: Bob Drogin, Times staff writer

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« Reply #18 on: June 23, 2007, 06:57:20 AM »

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan, June 22 — Pakistan is building a third plutonium production reactor at a major nuclear weapons center, a sign of plans to increase the nation’s nuclear arsenal significantly, a Washington group specializing in nuclear issues said Friday.

Based on satellite imagery of a reactor under construction at Khushab, about 100 miles south of the capital, Islamabad, it appeared that Pakistan would be able to build a new generation of lighter, more powerful weapons that could be more easily launched on missiles, said David Albright, the president of the Institute for Science and International Security.

The new reactor, which had not been publicly known about, is a replica of a second heavy water reactor at Khushab, Mr. Albright said in a telephone interview.

“The other two reactors at Khushab are there for weapons, and this is a duplicate of the second,” Mr. Albright said. He said he was convinced that the new reactor was intended for plutonium to be used in nuclear weapons and not for a civilian energy program.

He added that it was possible that Pakistan was pushing forward with the new reactor because the military was not satisfied that the current nuclear warheads were of sufficient power.

The more powerful weapons, which use plutonium instead of highly enriched uranium — currently Pakistan’s principal nuclear explosive material — would do greater damage to the large cities of its rival, India, which also possesses nuclear arms, Mr. Albright said.

“The trouble with the third reactor is that it seems almost provocative, especially when Pakistan doesn’t say anything, and remains ambiguous,” Mr. Albright said.

Pakistan also recently tested a cruise missile on which it could put a smaller, more lethal nuclear warhead, Mr. Albright said.

A State Department deputy spokesman, Thomas H. Casey, said, “I am not in a position to speculate on the veracity of the information in this report or the intentions of the Pakistani government.” Washington continued to discourage expansion or modernization of such weapons programs in Pakistan, he said.

A spokeswoman for Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry, Tasnim Aslam, did not confirm or deny that a new reactor was under construction.

“Pakistan has a nuclear weapons program, and we have nuclear facilities in Khushab,” she said. The site was “well known,” and “coordinates” were exchanged with India, she said.

“Regarding details of development of nuclear weapons facilities, we don’t comment on that,” Ms. Aslam said.

John D. Negroponte, the deputy secretary of state, met with the Pakistani president, Gen. Pervez Musharraf, here last weekend during a visit that reaffirmed Washington’s backing of the military leader, who is now under increasing popular pressure to return Pakistan to civilian rule.

It was not clear whether Mr. Negroponte raised the issue of the construction of the new reactor with General Musharraf.

Critics of the Bush administration’s support of General Musharraf, who is viewed by the White House as a vital partner in the fight against terrorism, assert that Pakistan has been given too easy a ride on its nuclear weapons program.

“The expansion of the Pakistani nuclear program demonstrates that the Bush policy of giving Musharraf a pass on nonproliferation is accelerating the nuclear arms race in South Asia,” said Bruce Riedel, who directed Pakistan policy at the National Security Council under President Clinton and is now at the Saban Center at the Brookings Institution in Washington.

Pakistan’s facilities at Khushab are not subject to safeguard inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency because the nation has not signed the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. The first reactor at the Khushab site came on line in 1998.

Maria Sultan, a Pakistan nuclear expert at the South Asian Strategic Stability Institute in Britain, said that Pakistan had embarked on an ambitious program for civilian nuclear power that involved building new reactors by 2030. The new reactor could be for either military needs or civilian power requirements, she said.

Pakistan and India, which has also not signed the nonproliferation treaty, each have enough fissile material for more than 50 nuclear weapons, and possibly 100, Mr. Albright said.
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« Reply #19 on: July 17, 2007, 09:05:39 PM »

Defecting Iranian Intelligence General Reveals Iranian Nuclear Secrets.

Iranian general, Ali Reza Asgari, who disappeared in Istanbul last February, has defected and is being held by the United States, Yedioth Ahronot published Sunday. Asgari was considered by the US one of the top intelligence officials in Iran. His defection was made possible thanks to an intricate CIA (Central Intelligence Agency) operation, climaxing in him joining Western intelligence officers in Istanbul, who then had him and his family transferred to the US.

Asgari, who according to reports is being held in a top-secret military installation, has been able to shed a new light on much of the Iranian regime's most inner workings, especially regarding the Iranian nuclear development project. Up until now, Iran - according to known intelligence - has been building two nuclear plants, in Arak and Bushehr, and has been using centrifuges to enrich uranium. Iran, Asgari told his interrogators, is working in another stealth path, toward achieving its nuclear goal. This third method involves attempts to enrich uranium by using laser beams along with certain chemicals designed to enhance the process. These trials are held in a special weapons facility in Natanz.

This new information has those who know its details in full worried. The fact the Iranians are trying to find new ways to enrich uranium is not new onto itself, but the progress made, at least according to the information given by Asgari, is much greater than was suspected. Western intelligence agencies are now busy analyzing the information Asgari provided them with, and estimating just how long is it before Iran has a nuclear bomb.

According to a source, Iran had caught on to Asgari's defection, and had taken preventive actions to protect its intelligence assets, in anticipation of the information he may reveal. [Bergman/Middle East News/8July2007]
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« Reply #20 on: July 31, 2007, 10:41:09 AM »

Bad Company
Before the U.S. makes a nuclear deal with India, it should insist on an end to ties with Iran.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007 12:01 a.m. EDT

American and Indian diplomats have now completed negotiations for the U.S.-India Civil Nuclear Accord, also known as a 123 Agreement (after a section of the 1954 U.S. Atomic Energy Act that governs such deals). The agreement, which bridges the gap between what Congress approved late last year and the conditions demanded by India's government, would allow India to purchase U.S. nuclear technology and fuel, ostensibly for civilian purposes only. Whether New Delhi abides by that commitment is another matter: India first tested a nuclear device in 1974 using plutonium it had illicitly diverted from a Canadian-built reactor--a point apparently forgotten by Undersecretary of State Nick Burns, who noted in a press conference Friday that "unlike Iran. . . . India has not violated its nuclear obligations."

But never mind. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is not the noxious Indira Gandhi, 2007 is not 1974, and there are defensible reasons to support a deal--cementing a strategic relationship between two great democracies foremost among them. But that doesn't mean any deal, under any circumstances. Nor does it mean that Mr. Burns is entitled to shade what some of those circumstances entail, especially as they relate to India's curiously solid ties to Iran.

Take the following statement by Mr. Burns: "I would disagree . . . that somehow there's a burgeoning military relationship [between India and Iran]."

Now take an item from the March 19 issue of DefenseNews, under the headline: "India, Iran Form Joint Group to Deepen Defense Ties." According to the report, the agreement, "which follows the broader strategic partnership accord the two countries signed in 2003, emerged from high-level talks held here during the March 4-9 visit of Rear Adm. Sajjad Kouchaki Badlani, commander of Iran's Navy."

Or consider this Burnsian nugget: "We've made the argument that India has not proliferated its nuclear technology, that India, in effect, outside the [Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty] system, has played by the rules. . . ."

Yet in September 2004 the U.S. imposed sanctions on Chaudhary Surendar and Y.S.R. Prasad, both former chairmen of India's state-run Nuclear Power Corporation, "for allegedly passing nuclear secrets to Tehran," according to a March 2005 report in this newspaper. Though State later dropped the sanctions on Dr. Surendar, they remain in force against Dr. Prasad, who is believed to have passed on "the technology needed to extract tritium from heavy-water nuclear reactors." Iran is currently building such a reactor in Arak; tritium can be used to boost the yields of atomic bombs. Dr. Prasad denies the charges.

That is not all. Last year, State slapped sanctions on two Indian companies for selling Iran precursor chemicals for rocket fuel and chemical weapons. In April, the Department of Justice released a 15-count indictment against two Indian individuals "on charges of supplying the Indian government with controlled technology," including "electrical components that could have applications in missile guidance and firing systems."
In an eye-opening article in the current issue of the Washington Quarterly, Christine Fair notes that "India has developed intelligence outposts in Iran, including the Indian consulate in Zahedan and a relatively new consulate in Bandar Abbas, which. . . . provides India significant power-projection advantages in any future conflict with Pakistan."

Ms. Fair, a research associate at the United States Institute of Peace, also notes that "in the past, India helped Iran develop submarine batteries that were more effective in the warm-weather Persian Gulf waters than its Russian-manufactured batteries and is planning to sell Iran the Konkurs antitank missile."

Advocates of the U.S. nuclear deal with India recognize these facts. But they argue that they are largely driven by India's need for energy, which explains the 700-mile gas pipeline being built between India and Iran. Thus, says Mr. Burns, "the agreement also gives India greater control and security over its energy supplies, making it less reliant on imports from countries . . . like Iran."

Would that this were even half-true. India's relationship with Iran is driven as much by the desire to encircle Pakistan and gain access to Afghanistan as it is by energy concerns. Then, too, nuclear power, which can only provide base load electrical demand, cannot by itself supplant the need for hydrocarbons. "Any time you increase the base load generating capacity of a country, you generally must increase the amount of peak load capacity to match it," says nonproliferation expert Henry Sokolski. "And the most efficient peak load generators are natural-gas fired." Put simply, it's hard to see how building nuclear power will reduce India's interest in Iranian natural gas.

None of this has gone unnoticed in Congress. In May, seven members of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs sent a letter to Prime Minister Singh raising concerns about the Indo-Iranian relationship. Mr. Singh received a similar letter from eight U.S. Senators, including Republican Jon Kyl and Democrat Barbara Boxer. The letters were never answered. "You can take a sledgehammer to the heads of the Indians about this issue and they still won't get it," complains a Congressional staffer.
Actually, the Indians are starting to get it. "We are aware of our responsibilities and we know the danger of an Iran with nuclear weapons," says Raminder Singh Jassal, India's deputy chief of mission in Washington. He dismisses the naval visits as "ceremonial" and insists "we know how to calibrate our relationship [with Iran] without compromising on essentials."

Maybe that's true. Or maybe the U.S. and India have different notions of what a "calibrated" relationship means. But if Congress is going to punch a hole in the NPT to accommodate India--with all the moral hazard that entails for the nonproliferation regime--it should get something in return. Getting India to drop, and drop completely, its presumptively ceremonial military ties to Iran isn't asking a lot.

Mr. Stephens is a member of The Wall Street Journal's editorial board. His column appears in the Journal Tuesdays.

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« Reply #21 on: August 04, 2007, 12:49:49 PM »

U.S./INDIA: The United States and India have released the text of the 123 civilian nuclear cooperation agreement. The 22-page document, which covers nuclear technology sharing, fuel supply and security protocol, will stay in effect for 40 years and can be terminated on a year's notice if a change in the security environment occurs. The United States will help India obtain approval from the 45-member Nuclear Suppliers Group before the agreement is submitted to the U.S. Congress for approval.
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« Reply #22 on: August 07, 2007, 11:44:12 PM »

RUSSIA/IRAN: Russia has told Iran that it will not deliver fuel for Iran's Russian-built Bushehr nuclear reactor unless Tehran reveals details of its past atomic activities, an unnamed European diplomat told The Associated Press. An unnamed U.S. official reportedly said Russia is not meeting commitments with Iran regarding the reactor, delaying activation of the facility.

CHINA: China is willing to do some "creative thinking" with the international community in the Nuclear Suppliers Group on the issue of the Indian-U.S. 123 nuclear deal, a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman told Press Trust of India. The statement is significantly more optimistic than past statements by the Chinese government about possible approval of the deal.
« Last Edit: August 07, 2007, 11:46:02 PM by Crafty_Dog » Logged
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« Reply #23 on: August 25, 2007, 05:32:05 AM »

FRANCE: France has been working with a number of Arab states to develop peaceful nuclear programs to end the region's dependence on oil and improve relations with France, The Jerusalem Post reported, citing a French Foreign Ministry official. France has entered into a deal with Libya and has discussed creating programs with the United Arab Emirates and Algeria. The official said France has ensured the programs will be used for civilian purposes, mainly to produce drinking water by desalination.
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« Reply #24 on: August 25, 2007, 12:35:09 PM »

Ah, thanks France, that should turn out well.  rolleyes
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« Reply #25 on: September 05, 2007, 06:48:51 PM »

This really inspires confidence  tongue rolleyes angry Somebody screwed the pooch.

By Michael Hoffman
Military Times

A B-52 bomber mistakenly loaded with five nuclear warheads flew from Minot Air Force Base, N.D, to Barksdale Air Force Base, La., on Aug. 30, resulting in an Air Force-wide investigation, according to three officers who asked not to be identified because they were not authorized to discuss the incident.

The B-52 was loaded with Advanced Cruise Missiles, part of a Defense Department effort to decommission 400 of the ACMs. But the nuclear warheads should have been removed at Minot before being transported to Barksdale, the officers said. The missiles were mounted onto the pylons of the bomber’s wings.

Advanced Cruise Missiles carry a W80-1 warhead with a yield of 5 to 150 kilotons and are specifically designed for delivery by B-52 strategic bombers.

Air Force spokesman Lt. Col. Ed Thomas said the transfer was safely conducted and the weapons were in Air Force custody and control at all times.

However, the mistake was not discovered until the B-52 landed at Barskdale, which left the warheads unaccounted for during the approximately 3-1/2 hour flight between the two bases, the officers said.

An investigation headed by Maj. Gen. Douglas Raaberg, director of Air and Space Operations at Air Combat Command Headquarters, was launched immediately to find the cause of the mistake and figure out how it could have been prevented, Thomas said.

Air Force officials wouldn’t officially specify whether nuclear weapons were involved, in accordance with long-standing Defense Department policy regarding nuclear munitions, Thomas said. However, the three officers close to the situation did confirm the warheads were nuclear.

Officials at Minot immediately conducted an inventory of its nuclear weapons after the oversight was discovered, and Thomas said he could confirm that all remaining nuclear weapons at Minot are accounted for.

“Air Force standards are very exacting when it comes to munitions handling,” he said. “The weapons were always in our custody and there was never a danger to the American public.”

At no time was there a risk for a nuclear detonation, even if the B-52 crashed on its way to Barksdale, said Steve Fetter, a former Defense Department official who worked on nuclear weapons policy in 1993-94. A crash could ignite the high explosives associated with the warhead, and possibly cause a leak of the plutonium, but the warheads’ elaborate safeguards would prevent a nuclear detonation from occurring, he said.

“The main risk would have been the way the Air Force responded to any problems with the flight because they would have handled it much differently if they would have known nuclear warheads were onboard,” he said.

The risk of the warheads falling into the hands of rogue nations or terrorists was minimal since the weapons never left the United States, according to Fetter and Michael O’Hanlon, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, an independent research and policy think tank in Washington, D.C.

The crews involved with the mistaken load at the 5th Bomb Wing at Minot have been temporarily decertified from performing their duties involving munitions pending corrective actions or additional training, Thomas said.
Air Combat Command will have a command-wide mission stand down Sept. 14 to review their procedures in response to this oversight, he said.

“The Air Force takes its mission to safeguard weapons seriously,” he said. “No effort will be spared to ensure that the matter is thoroughly and completely investigated.”
Source Drudge
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« Reply #26 on: October 17, 2007, 04:26:57 PM »

See No Proliferation
Reality can't interfere with "diplomacy."

Wednesday, October 17, 2007 12:01 a.m. EDT

The silence from the Bush Administration over Israel's recent bombing of a site in Syria gets louder by the day. U.S. officials continue to look the other way, even as reports multiply that Israel and U.S. intelligence analysts believe the site was a partly constructed nuclear reactor modeled after a North Korean design.

The weekend was full of reports about these intelligence judgments, first in the U.S. media then picked up by the Israeli press. Israel's former chief of military intelligence, Major General Aharon Zeevi Farkash, called them "logical." That's the term of art people use to confirm things in Israel when they want to get around the military censors.

Meanwhile, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice visited Israel and offered her own non-confirmation confirmation. "We're very concerned about any evidence of, any indication of, proliferation," she said, according to the New York Times. "And we're handling those in appropriate diplomatic channels." Just what you need when your enemies are caught proliferating nuclear expertise--a little more diplomacy. The world is lucky Israel preferred to act against the threat, in what seems to have been a smaller version of its 1981 attack against Iraq's Osirak reactor.

Ms. Rice went on to say that "The issues of proliferation do not affect the Palestinian-Israeli peace efforts we are making," adding that "This is the time to be extremely careful." In other words, even if North Korea is spreading nuclear weapons, she doesn't want to say so in public because it might offend a country--Syria--that is refusing even to take part in the regional Palestinian-Israeli peace conference next month. That's certainly being "careful."

Or perhaps she fears offending North Korea, which the Bush Administration has agreed to trust for finally pledging to dismantle its nuclear weapons program and disavowing proliferation. In return for that promise, the U.S. is shipping fuel oil to Pyongyang and is taking steps to remove North Korea from its list of terror states. It would certainly be inconvenient, not to say politically embarrassing, if North Korea were found to be helping Syria get a bomb amid all of this diplomacy.
All the more so given that only last year, after North Korea exploded a nuclear device, President Bush explicitly warned North Korea against such proliferation. "America's position is clear," he said at the time. "The transfer of nuclear weapons or material will be considered a grave threat to the United States." More than once, Mr. Bush added that, "We will hold North Korea fully accountable for the consequences."

Even granting some leeway in defining the words "fully accountable," they cannot mean winking at the spread of nuclear know-how to a U.S. enemy in the most dangerous corner of the world. With its continuing silence about what happened in Syria, the Bush Administration is undermining its own security credibility. More important, the see-no-evil pose is showing North Korea that it can cheat even on an agreement whose ink is barely dry--and without "consequences."

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« Reply #27 on: December 19, 2007, 12:13:42 AM »

Iran: Wielding its Regained Nuclear Leverage

While the United States tries to downplay Russia's Dec. 17 announcement that nuclear fuel had been delivered to Iran's Bushehr nuclear facility, Iran is brimming with confidence and making announcements about domestic uranium enrichment activity and the construction of a second nuclear power plant. Tehran has regained -- and is keeping a firm grip on -- its nuclear bargaining chip to use in negotiations with Washington, but the Bush administration's patience could be wearing thin.


Iran has been oozing with confidence ever since Russia's Dec. 17 announcement that nuclear fuel had been delivered to Iran's Bushehr nuclear facility. After years of politically motivated delays, the Iranians finally got their hands on the key to making Bushehr operational -- and thus regained their nuclear leverage in negotiations with Washington after the recent National Intelligence Estimate essentially obliterated an Iranian nuclear weapons threat. The regained leverage lies in the unstated fact that an operational Bushehr can theoretically produce enough plutonium to make a small, crude plutonium bomb on a weekly basis if the Iranians decide to kick out inspectors and tinker with the reactor output.

Washington is doing everything in its power to downplay this latest development in Iran's nuclear saga, saying that since Russia has provided fuel (with appropriate International Atomic Energy Agency safeguards), Tehran has no reason to continue enrichment for civilian nuclear power. But the Iranians are milking the Bushehr fuel delivery for all it is worth, and in a flurry of statements Tehran is dramatically inflating the threat of its nuclear program for its own political gain.

Immediately following the Bushehr fuel delivery announcement, Atomic Energy Organization of Iran chief and Iranian Vice President Gholamreza Aghazadeh announced on state television that the Bushehr development would not stop Iran's uranium enrichment process, and that enrichment would continue at the Natanz plant in central Iran to provide enough nuclear fuel for local power plants. He went on to say that the 3,000 centrifuges allegedly operating at Natanz would be increased to 50,000. The next day, Iran announced that it had done an aerial survey of "generous amounts" of uranium deposits in central and southern Iran (although how one can spot uranium deposits from the air is a mystery).

Aghazadeh also announced Dec. 17 that Iran was building a 360-megawatt nuclear power plant in Darkhovein, south of the city of Ahvaz in the southwestern province of Khuzestan. Iran is claiming all components of this plant would be made by Iranian engineers. But while the Iranians have no doubt carefully watched Russian construction at Bushehr (and diligently taken notes), the construction of a large power generation reactor is a technically challenging undertaking that realistically requires a bit more engineering experience than looking over someone's shoulder. Even India -- a country far more advanced both in terms of an engineering base in general and nuclear experience in particular -- is still looking to Russia to build nuclear power generation facilities in its country. The Russians also strategically did not give the Iranians the benefit of learning how the reactor vessel for Bushehr was built. That crucial component was built near St. Petersburg and then shipped to Bushehr in November 2001, leaving Iran with the limited knowledge of how to insert an already-built vessel into the reactor design.

Meanwhile, Iran has reportedly had to import much of its hardware for uranium enrichment -- and that hardware, whether of domestic or foreign manufacture, does not yet appear to be of particularly high quality. That said, the reactors do not require as much fine machining precision as uranium enrichment does. The Russian light water VVER-1000 power unit design (a Russian acronym for water-cooled, water-moderated and with a roughly 1,000 megawatt capacity) now in place in Bushehr is a late Soviet design thought to be more forgiving than comparable Western designs in terms of functionality -- but without the full suite of safety features. Even if Iran lacks the capability to build this plant completely on its own, it can break ground and begin constructing the facilities whenever it wants and attempt to extract political benefits from that construction for years without making substantial forward progress with the actual reactor vessel design.

With the nuclear card back in its hand, Iran can afford to push the nuclear envelope with the United States to bolster its position in the Iraq negotiations. It comes as no surprise, then, that the Iranians seem to be dragging their feet in the talks and were likely the main impetus behind postponement of a meeting with U.S. officials in Baghdad that was scheduled to take place Dec. 18. While U.S. President George W. Bush's administration is exercising patience in dealing with Iran's nuclear stunts, that patience could soon wear thin, spelling trouble for a future settlement on Iraq.

The definition of a nuclear weapons program is highly subjective, as illustrated by the divergence in views between Israel and the United States over whether the production of fissile material represents a weapons program. The United States could easily manipulate the subjectivity of this nuclear debate for political purposes if Washington wanted to revitalize the threat of military action against the Islamic republic. A shift in the U.S. position on Iran's nuclear ambitions does not appear imminent, but it is certainly possible.

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« Reply #28 on: January 15, 2008, 11:45:51 AM »

Toward a Nuclear-Free World
January 15, 2008; Page A13

The accelerating spread of nuclear weapons, nuclear know-how and nuclear material has brought us to a nuclear tipping point. We face a very real possibility that the deadliest weapons ever invented could fall into dangerous hands.

The steps we are taking now to address these threats are not adequate to the danger. With nuclear weapons more widely available, deterrence is decreasingly effective and increasingly hazardous.

One year ago, in an essay in this paper, we called for a global effort to reduce reliance on nuclear weapons, to prevent their spread into potentially dangerous hands, and ultimately to end them as a threat to the world. The interest, momentum and growing political space that has been created to address these issues over the past year has been extraordinary, with strong positive responses from people all over the world.

Mikhail Gorbachev wrote in January 2007 that, as someone who signed the first treaties on real reductions in nuclear weapons, he thought it his duty to support our call for urgent action: "It is becoming clearer that nuclear weapons are no longer a means of achieving security; in fact, with every passing year they make our security more precarious."

In June, the United Kingdom's foreign secretary, Margaret Beckett, signaled her government's support, stating: "What we need is both a vision -- a scenario for a world free of nuclear weapons -- and action -- progressive steps to reduce warhead numbers and to limit the role of nuclear weapons in security policy. These two strands are separate but they are mutually reinforcing. Both are necessary, but at the moment too weak."

We have also been encouraged by additional indications of general support for this project from other former U.S. officials with extensive experience as secretaries of state and defense and national security advisors. These include: Madeleine Albright, Richard V. Allen, James A. Baker III, Samuel R. Berger, Zbigniew Brzezinski, Frank Carlucci, Warren Christopher, William Cohen, Lawrence Eagleburger, Melvin Laird, Anthony Lake, Robert McFarlane, Robert McNamara and Colin Powell.

Inspired by this reaction, in October 2007, we convened veterans of the past six administrations, along with a number of other experts on nuclear issues, for a conference at Stanford University's Hoover Institution. There was general agreement about the importance of the vision of a world free of nuclear weapons as a guide to our thinking about nuclear policies, and about the importance of a series of steps that will pull us back from the nuclear precipice.

The U.S. and Russia, which possess close to 95% of the world's nuclear warheads, have a special responsibility, obligation and experience to demonstrate leadership, but other nations must join.

Some steps are already in progress, such as the ongoing reductions in the number of nuclear warheads deployed on long-range, or strategic, bombers and missiles. Other near-term steps that the U.S. and Russia could take, beginning in 2008, can in and of themselves dramatically reduce nuclear dangers. They include:

• Extend key provisions of the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty of 1991. Much has been learned about the vital task of verification from the application of these provisions. The treaty is scheduled to expire on Dec. 5, 2009. The key provisions of this treaty, including their essential monitoring and verification requirements, should be extended, and the further reductions agreed upon in the 2002 Moscow Treaty on Strategic Offensive Reductions should be completed as soon as possible.
• Take steps to increase the warning and decision times for the launch of all nuclear-armed ballistic missiles, thereby reducing risks of accidental or unauthorized attacks. Reliance on launch procedures that deny command authorities sufficient time to make careful and prudent decisions is unnecessary and dangerous in today's environment. Furthermore, developments in cyber-warfare pose new threats that could have disastrous consequences if the command-and-control systems of any nuclear-weapons state were compromised by mischievous or hostile hackers. Further steps could be implemented in time, as trust grows in the U.S.-Russian relationship, by introducing mutually agreed and verified physical barriers in the command-and-control sequence.
• Discard any existing operational plans for massive attacks that still remain from the Cold War days. Interpreting deterrence as requiring mutual assured destruction (MAD) is an obsolete policy in today's world, with the U.S. and Russia formally having declared that they are allied against terrorism and no longer perceive each other as enemies.
• Undertake negotiations toward developing cooperative multilateral ballistic-missile defense and early warning systems, as proposed by Presidents Bush and Putin at their 2002 Moscow summit meeting. This should include agreement on plans for countering missile threats to Europe, Russia and the U.S. from the Middle East, along with completion of work to establish the Joint Data Exchange Center in Moscow. Reducing tensions over missile defense will enhance the possibility of progress on the broader range of nuclear issues so essential to our security. Failure to do so will make broader nuclear cooperation much more difficult.
• Dramatically accelerate work to provide the highest possible standards of security for nuclear weapons, as well as for nuclear materials everywhere in the world, to prevent terrorists from acquiring a nuclear bomb. There are nuclear weapons materials in more than 40 countries around the world, and there are recent reports of alleged attempts to smuggle nuclear material in Eastern Europe and the Caucasus. The U.S., Russia and other nations that have worked with the Nunn-Lugar programs, in cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), should play a key role in helping to implement United Nations Security Council Resolution 1540 relating to improving nuclear security -- by offering teams to assist jointly any nation in meeting its obligations under this resolution to provide for appropriate, effective security of these materials.

As Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger put it in his address at our October conference, "Mistakes are made in every other human endeavor. Why should nuclear weapons be exempt?" To underline the governor's point, on Aug. 29-30, 2007, six cruise missiles armed with nuclear warheads were loaded on a U.S. Air Force plane, flown across the country and unloaded. For 36 hours, no one knew where the warheads were, or even that they were missing.

• Start a dialogue, including within NATO and with Russia, on consolidating the nuclear weapons designed for forward deployment to enhance their security, and as a first step toward careful accounting for them and their eventual elimination. These smaller and more portable nuclear weapons are, given their characteristics, inviting acquisition targets for terrorist groups.
• Strengthen the means of monitoring compliance with the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) as a counter to the global spread of advanced technologies. More progress in this direction is urgent, and could be achieved through requiring the application of monitoring provisions (Additional Protocols) designed by the IAEA to all signatories of the NPT.
• Adopt a process for bringing the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) into effect, which would strengthen the NPT and aid international monitoring of nuclear activities. This calls for a bipartisan review, first, to examine improvements over the past decade of the international monitoring system to identify and locate explosive underground nuclear tests in violation of the CTBT; and, second, to assess the technical progress made over the past decade in maintaining high confidence in the reliability, safety and effectiveness of the nation's nuclear arsenal under a test ban. The Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organization is putting in place new monitoring stations to detect nuclear tests -- an effort the U.S should urgently support even prior to ratification.

In parallel with these steps by the U.S. and Russia, the dialogue must broaden on an international scale, including non-nuclear as well as nuclear nations.

Key subjects include turning the goal of a world without nuclear weapons into a practical enterprise among nations, by applying the necessary political will to build an international consensus on priorities. The government of Norway will sponsor a conference in February that will contribute to this process.

Another subject: Developing an international system to manage the risks of the nuclear fuel cycle. With the growing global interest in developing nuclear energy and the potential proliferation of nuclear enrichment capabilities, an international program should be created by advanced nuclear countries and a strengthened IAEA. The purpose should be to provide for reliable supplies of nuclear fuel, reserves of enriched uranium, infrastructure assistance, financing, and spent fuel management -- to ensure that the means to make nuclear weapons materials isn't spread around the globe.

There should also be an agreement to undertake further substantial reductions in U.S. and Russian nuclear forces beyond those recorded in the U.S.-Russia Strategic Offensive Reductions Treaty. As the reductions proceed, other nuclear nations would become involved.

President Reagan's maxim of "trust but verify" should be reaffirmed. Completing a verifiable treaty to prevent nations from producing nuclear materials for weapons would contribute to a more rigorous system of accounting and security for nuclear materials.

We should also build an international consensus on ways to deter or, when required, to respond to, secret attempts by countries to break out of agreements.

Progress must be facilitated by a clear statement of our ultimate goal. Indeed, this is the only way to build the kind of international trust and broad cooperation that will be required to effectively address today's threats. Without the vision of moving toward zero, we will not find the essential cooperation required to stop our downward spiral.

In some respects, the goal of a world free of nuclear weapons is like the top of a very tall mountain. From the vantage point of our troubled world today, we can't even see the top of the mountain, and it is tempting and easy to say we can't get there from here. But the risks from continuing to go down the mountain or standing pat are too real to ignore. We must chart a course to higher ground where the mountaintop becomes more visible.

Mr. Shultz was secretary of state from 1982 to 1989. Mr. Perry was secretary of defense from 1994 to 1997. Mr. Kissinger was secretary of state from 1973 to 1977. Mr. Nunn is former chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

The following participants in the Hoover-NTI conference also endorse the view in this statement: General John Abizaid, Graham Allison, Brooke Anderson, Martin Anderson, Steve Andreasen, Mike Armacost, Bruce Blair, Matt Bunn, Ashton Carter, Sidney Drell, General Vladimir Dvorkin, Bob Einhorn, Mark Fitzpatrick, James Goodby, Rose Gottemoeller, Tom Graham, David Hamburg, Siegfried Hecker, Tom Henriksen, David Holloway, Raymond Jeanloz, Ray Juzaitis, Max Kampelman, Jack Matlock, Michael McFaul, John McLaughlin, Don Oberdorfer, Pavel Podvig, William Potter, Richard Rhodes, Joan Rohlfing, Harry Rowen, Scott Sagan, Roald Sagdeev, Abe Sofaer, Richard Solomon, and Philip Zelikow
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« Reply #29 on: February 25, 2008, 11:18:05 AM »

ElBaradei's Real Agenda
February 25, 2008; Page A14

On Friday, International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director General Mohamed ElBaradei submitted a report on Iran's nuclear program to the IAEA's Board of Governors. It concluded that, barring "one major remaining issue relevant to the nature of Iran's nuclear programme" -- including a mysterious "green salt project" -- Iran's explanations of its suspicious nuclear activities "are consistent with [the IAEA's] findings [or at least] not inconsistent."

The report represents Mr. ElBaradei's best effort to whitewash Tehran's record. Earlier this month, on Iranian television, he made clear his purpose, announcing that he expected "the issue would be solved this year." And if doing so required that he do battle against the IAEA's technical experts, reverse previous conclusions about suspect programs, and allow designees of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad an unprecedented role in crafting a "work plan" that would allow the regime to receive a cleaner bill of health from the IAEA -- so be it.

Mr. ElBaradei's report culminates a career of freelancing and fecklessness which has crippled the reputation of the organization he directs. He has used his Nobel Prize to cultivate an image of a technocratic lawyer interested in peace and justice and above politics. In reality, he is a deeply political figure, animated by antipathy for the West and for Israel on what has increasingly become a single-minded crusade to rescue favored regimes from charges of proliferation.

Mr. ElBaradei assumed the directorship on Dec. 1, 1997. On his watch, but undetected by his agency, Iran constructed its covert enrichment facilities and, according to the 2007 U.S. National Intelligence Estimate, engaged in covert nuclear-weapons design. India and Pakistan detonated nuclear devices. A.Q. Khan, the Pakistani nuclear godfather, exported nuclear technology around the world.

In 2003, Libyan strongman Moammar Gadhafi confessed to an undetected weapons effort. Mr. ElBaradei's response? He rebuked the U.S. and U.K. for bypassing him. When Israel recently destroyed what many believe was a secret (also undetected) nuclear facility in Syria, Mr. ElBaradei told the New Yorker's Seymour Hersh that it is "unlikely that this building was a nuclear facility," although his agency has not physically investigated the site.

The IAEA's mission is to verify that "States comply with their commitments, under the Non-Proliferation Treaty and other non-proliferation agreements, to use nuclear material and facilities only for peaceful purposes." Yet in 2004 Mr. ElBaradei wrote in the New York Times that, "We must abandon the unworkable notion that it is morally reprehensible for some countries to pursue weapons of mass destruction, yet morally acceptable for others to rely on them for security."

IAEA technical experts have complained anonymously to the press that the latest report on Iran was revamped to suit the director's political goals. In 2004, Mr. ElBaradei sought to purge mention of Iranian attempts to purchase beryllium metal, an important component in a nuclear charge, from IAEA documents. He also left unmentioned Tehran's refusal to grant IAEA inspectors access to the Parchin military complex, where satellite imagery showed a facility seemingly designed to test and produce nuclear weapons.

The IAEA's latest report leaves unmentioned allegations by an Iranian opposition group of North Korean work on nuclear warheads at Khojir, a military research site near Tehran. It also amends previous conclusions and closes the book on questions about Iran's work on polonium 210 -- which nuclear experts suspect Iran experimented with for use as an initiator for nuclear weapons, but which the regime claims was research on radioisotope batteries. In 2004, the IAEA declared itself "somewhat uncertain regarding the plausibility of the stated purpose of the [polonium] experiments." Today it finds these explanations "consistent with the Agency's findings and with other information available."

The IAEA director seems intent on undercutting Security Council diplomacy. Just weeks after President George Bush toured the Middle East to build Arab support for pressure on Tehran, Mr. ElBaradei appeared on Egyptian television on Feb. 5 to urge Arabs in the opposite direction, insisting Iran was cooperating and should not be pressured. And as he grows more and more isolated from Western powers intent on disarming Iran, Mr. ElBaradei has found champions in the developing and Arab world. They cheer his self-imposed mission -- to hamstring U.S. efforts to constrain Iran's program, whether or not the regime is violating its non-proliferation obligations or pursuing nuclear weapons.

In working to undermine sanctions, however, Mr. ElBaradei demeans the purpose of his agency and undercuts its non-proliferation mission. He also makes military action all the more likely.

Ms. Pletka and Mr. Rubin are, respectively, vice president for and resident scholar in Foreign and Defense Policy Studies at the American Enterprise Institute.
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« Reply #30 on: February 25, 2008, 11:29:27 AM »

Couple this with the Iranians guy continued statements that Israel's existence  is close to an end and one can conclude only *one* thing.  I have a feeling Israel cannot successfully destroy Iran's nuclear weapons program without US help.  If a crat wins Israel can forget any chance of that.

The only hope is that the leadership of Iran will be toppled and a more moderate regime come into power.  I am not real optimistic about this.  It is like hoping a Gilder stock will come back from the dead.
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« Reply #31 on: February 25, 2008, 12:54:33 PM »

We are in for some expensive lessons that we should have learned from WWII.
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« Reply #32 on: February 26, 2008, 09:40:02 PM »

We are in for some expensive lessons that we should have learned from WWII.

Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.
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« Reply #33 on: February 26, 2008, 11:17:55 PM »

The Adventure continues  grin
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« Reply #34 on: February 27, 2008, 08:13:45 AM »

Pakistan nuclear staff go missing

Two employees of Pakistan's atomic energy agency have been abducted in the country's restive north-western region abutting the Afghan border, police say.

The technicians went missing on the same day as Pakistan's ambassador to Afghanistan, Tariq Azizuddin, was reportedly abducted in the same region.
Mr Azizuddin had been going overland from the city of Peshawar to Kabul.
Pakistan's north-west has witnessed fierce fighting between Islamist militants and government troops.
The pro-Taleban guerrillas declared a unilateral ceasefire last week after months of clashes with troops garrisoned there.

The workers from Pakistan's Atomic Energy Commission were on a mission to map mineral deposits in the mountains when they were kidnapped, police say.

"The technicians were going for some geological survey in the area when they were kidnapped at gunpoint along with their driver," Romail Akram, a senior police official, told Reuters news agency.
Their vehicle was intercepted by masked gunmen in the Dera Ismail Khan district, a stronghold of local militants.
"We don't know if the abductors were militants or members of some criminal gang," a local police chief, Akbar Nasir, told the AFP news agency.
He said efforts to locate the missing men had yet to yield any results.

Karzai concerned
Efforts are also continuing to locate the missing Pakistani envoy, Tariq Azizuddin.
Mr Azizuddin went missing on Monday as he was travelling overland from the Pakistani city of Peshawar to the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Afghan President Hamid Karzai said he was certain the envoy had been abducted, adding: "I hope he is safe and I hope he will be released soon."
The Khyber region has long been a base for bandits and smugglers but has seen little of the unrest linked to an uprising by Islamist militants in adjoining areas.
Pro-Taleban militants recently kidnapped more than 200 Pakistani troops in the South Waziristan region.
The soldiers were reportedly released in a prisoner exchange with Pakistani authorities.

'Protected road'
Pakistan's government has refused to confirm Mr Azizuddin has been kidnapped, saying only that he was missing.
The Pakistani embassy in Kabul said contact was lost with Mr Azizuddin at around 1045 local time (0645 GMT) on Monday.

There were reports on Pakistani television of his car going through a checkpoint without stopping.
An official of the Khyber agency tribal administration told the BBC that the ambassador went through the Khyber agency without taking a security escort that was waiting for him at the start of the tribal territory.
Correspondents say that such escorts are routinely sent with dignitaries and officials when they travel through tribal areas.
But some travellers dispense with them because they think it makes their movements more noticeable.
Mr Azizuddin is said to have previously travelled to Kabul by road, often without the tribal security escort.
The route through the agency is believed to be the shortest and quickest way between Peshawar and Kabul.
Being the main trade route, the Khyber agency road is busy in daylight hours, supplying reinforcements and to the US and Nato forces in Afghanistan. It is also one of the most protected of all the tribal roads, with a contingent of tribal police posted every 100m. The paramilitary Frontier Corps have a fort along the road.
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« Reply #35 on: May 08, 2008, 07:37:56 AM »

Bush's North Korea Nuclear Abdication
May 8, 2008; Page A15

Despite rising Capitol Hill opposition to its North Korea policy, the Bush administration continues to find new and imaginative ways to accommodate Pyongyang's sensitivities. Meanwhile, the administration's Democratic congressional allies are urgently pushing to waive the Glenn Amendment, which bars essentially all U.S. economic and military aid to the North.

The strategic folly here is rooted in the administration's decision to focus on North Korea's plutonium supplies and stop caring what Pyongyang once did or is doing on the enriched-uranium route to nuclear weapons. That could be a fatal mistake.

In 2002, our intelligence community definitively judged that the regime was working on an industrial-scale enrichment program. Since then we have little new information, reducing the confidence level, but not changing the substantive conclusion, that the North Koreans "have and continue to operate a uranium enrichment program" – as Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell testified in February.

For the Bush administration, however, the lack of new data is an excuse to ignore the entire issue of uranium.

On plutonium, the administration seems content to seek vague statements from the North that "account" for the amount of this fissile material we think it has extracted from its Yongbyon reactor's spent fuel rods over the years. Administration briefings reveal little or no interest in how many plutonium weapons exist; whether there are other plutonium-related facilities hidden in North Korea's vast complex of underground facilities; and what the North's weapons-manufacturing capabilities are.

Proliferation? Perhaps the Bush administration's most wondrous act of magic is to make that problem disappear. The State Department argues that North Korea may have proliferated in the past, but that's all behind us. How do we know? The North Koreans have told us.

Since the reactor it helped Syria build on the Euphrates River was pulverized by the Israeli Air Force last September 6, Pyongyang's efforts at and interest in nuclear proliferation may have ceased. Even if true, that should not give us comfort: It took an act of brute military force to bring this about. One need hardly point out that this tactic is not congruent with the administration's current approach to North Korea's nuclear behavior.

More troubling is the administration's apparent treatment of the Syrian reactor as if it were the only proliferation threat in the Middle East. It is not. Iran should be top of mind as well.

It is inconceivable that Syria could work for five years or more building the clone of North Korea's Yongbyon reactor on the Euphrates without, at a minimum, Iranian acquiescence. Quite likely, Iran was involved. Tehran could well be financing Syria's purchase of reactor technology from North Korea. It could also have expected to benefit from the reactor's production of plutonium.

Indeed, Iran had much the same incentive as North Korea to hide its nuclear activities from international scrutiny. What better way to conceal proscribed work from inspectors in North Korea or Iran than to build facilities in Syria?

Iran and North Korea already have a history of cooperation in ballistic missiles – the delivery system which, if perfected, could give their weapons global reach. After the North declared a moratorium on launch testing from the Korean Peninsula in 1999, it simply ramped up cooperation with Iran's aggressive missile research and development program.

The North thus continued to benefit from launch-testing data, prior to breaking its moratorium on July 4, 2006, while also scoring a propaganda victory among the clueless for its apparent renunciation of provocative behavior in Northeast Asia. Outsourcing weapons programs is nothing new for Pyongyang.

Although our intelligence community stated publicly that the Syrian reactor was a cash transaction, its congressional briefings contained little or no supporting evidence that this was so. This is unsurprising. The Israeli raid was based on the hard physical evidence seen on the banks of the Euphrates River, not on scrutiny of documents embodying the deal.

Some friendly advice to our intelligence services: Think joint venture. Think asset diversification.

Hypothetically, what if the deal had North Korea getting a third of the plutonium produced by the Euphrates reactor, Iran a third, and Syria a third? The North benefits by maintaining open access to a plutonium supply even if Yongbyon remains frozen. Iran gets experience in reactor technologies immune from IAEA scrutiny. And Syria takes a major step toward undisclosed nuclear capabilities. Win-win-win, as that entrepreneurial proliferator A.Q. Khan might have said.

Here is the real problem. North Korean nuclear proliferation is quite likely more than a series of one-time transactions that create problems elsewhere in the world. It may very well be integral to its own nuclear weapons program.

The Bush administration can wish away these possibilities and still achieve its deal. But it cannot wish away the underlying reality, the full scope of which we simply do not know. That reality, whatever its reach, will still be there to haunt President Bush's successor and threaten international peace.

Mr. Bolton, a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, is the author of "Surrender Is Not an Option: Defending America at the United Nations" (Simon & Schuster/Threshold Editions, 2007).

See all of today's editorials and op-eds,
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« Reply #36 on: June 16, 2008, 10:25:46 AM »

Duplicating on this thread GM's post on the Homeland Security thread:

Smugglers Had Design For Advanced Warhead
By Joby Warrick
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, June 15, 2008; A01

An international smuggling ring that sold bomb-related parts to Libya, Iran and North Korea also managed to acquire blueprints for an advanced nuclear weapon, according to a draft report by a former top U.N. arms inspector that suggests the plans could have been shared secretly with any number of countries or rogue groups.

The drawings, discovered in 2006 on computers owned by Swiss businessmen, included essential details for building a compact nuclear device that could be fitted on a type of ballistic missile used by Iran and more than a dozen developing countries, the report states.

The computer contents -- among more than 1,000 gigabytes of data seized -- were recently destroyed by Swiss authorities under the supervision of the U.N. nuclear watchdog agency, which is investigating the now-defunct smuggling ring previously led by Pakistani scientist Abdul Qadeer Khan.

But U.N. officials cannot rule out the possibility that the blueprints were shared with others before their discovery, said the report's author, David Albright, a prominent nuclear weapons expert who spent four years researching the smuggling network.

"These advanced nuclear weapons designs may have long ago been sold off to some of the most treacherous regimes in the world," Albright wrote in a draft report about the blueprint's discovery. A copy of the report, expected to be published later this week, was provided to The Washington Post.

The A.Q. Khan smuggling ring was previously known to have provided Libya with design information for a nuclear bomb. But the blueprints found in 2006 are far more troubling, Albright said in his report. While Libya was given plans for an older and relatively unsophisticated weapon that was bulky and difficult to deliver, the newly discovered blueprints offered instructions for building a compact device, the report said. The lethality of such a bomb would be little enhanced, but its smaller size might allow for delivery by ballistic missile.

"To many of these countries, it's all about size and weight," Albright said in an interview. "They need to be able to fit the device on the missiles they have."

The Swiss government acknowledged this month that it destroyed nuclear-related documents, including weapons-design details, under the direction of the U.N.'s International Atomic Energy Agency to keep them from falling into terrorists' hands. However, it has not been previously reported that the documents included hundreds of pages of specifications for a second, more advanced nuclear bomb.

"These would have been ideal for two of Khan's other major customers, Iran and North Korea," wrote Albright, now president of the Washington-based Institute for Science and International Security. "They both faced struggles in building a nuclear warhead small enough to fit atop their ballistic missiles, and these designs were for a warhead that would fit."

It is unknown whether the designs were delivered to either country, or to anyone else, Albright said.

The Pakistani government did not rebut the findings in the report but said it had cooperated extensively with U.N. investigators. "The government of Pakistan has adequately investigated allegations of nuclear proliferation by A.Q. Khan and shared the information with IAEA," Nadeem Kiani, a spokesman for the Pakistani Embassy in Washington, said yesterday. "It considers the A.Q. Khan affair to be over."

A CIA official, informed of the essential details of Albright's report, said the agency would not comment because of the extreme diplomatic and security sensitivities of the matter. In his 2007 memoir, former CIA director George Tenet acknowledged the agency's extensive involvement in tracking the Khan network over more than a decade.

Albright, a former IAEA inspector in Iraq, has published detailed analyses of the nuclear programs of numerous states, including Iran and North Korea. His institute was the first to publicly identify the location of an alleged Syrian nuclear reactor that was destroyed by Israeli warplanes last September.

A design for a compact, missile-ready nuclear weapon could help an aspiring nuclear power overcome a major technical hurdle and vastly increase its options for delivery of a nuclear explosive. Such a design could theoretically help North Korea -- which detonated a nuclear device in a 2006 test -- to couple a nuclear warhead with its Nodong missile, which has a proven range of 1,300 kilometers (about 800 miles).

Iran also possesses medium-range ballistic missiles and is believed by U.S. government officials to be seeking the capability to build nuclear weapons in the future, although an assessment late last year by U.S. intelligence agencies concluded that Iran had discontinued its nuclear weapons program in 2003. Weapons experts have long puzzled over whether Tehran might have previously acquired a weapons design from the Khan network, which sold the Iranian government numerous other nuclear-related items, including designs for uranium-enrichment equipment.

The computers that contained the drawings were owned by three members of the Tinner family -- brothers Marco and Urs and their father, Friedrich -- all Swiss businessmen who have been identified by U.S. and IAEA officials as key participants in Khan's nuclear black market. The smuggling ring operated from the mid-1980s until 2003, when it was exposed after a years-long probe by the U.S. and British intelligence agencies.

Khan, who apologized for his role in the smuggling network in a 2004 speech broadcast in Pakistan, was officially pardoned by President Pervez Musharraf without being formally charged with crimes. The Tinner brothers are in Swiss prisons awaiting trial on charges related to their alleged involvement in the network. They and their father are the focus of an ongoing probe by Swiss authorities, who discovered the blueprints while exploring the heavily encrypted contents of the Tinners' computers, the report said. Several published reports have asserted that Urs Tinner became an informant for U.S. intelligence before the breakup of the smuggling ring, but that has not been officially confirmed.

Switzerland shared the finding with the IAEA as well as the United States, which asked for copies of the blueprints, the report states. The IAEA has acknowledged that it oversaw the destruction of nuclear-design material by Swiss authorities in November 2007. However, IAEA officials would neither confirm nor deny the existence of a second weapons design or comment on Albright's report.

Albright, citing information provided by IAEA investigators, said the designs were similar to that of a nuclear device built by Pakistan. He contends in the report that IAEA officials confronted Pakistan's government shortly after the discovery, adding that the private reaction of government officials was astonishment. The Pakistanis "were genuinely shocked; Khan may have transferred his own country's most secret and dangerous information to foreign smugglers so that they could sell it for a profit," Albright said, relating a description of the encounter given to him by IAEA officials.

Pakistan has previously denied that Khan stole the country's weapons plans. Musharraf has not allowed IAEA experts to interview Khan, an engineer who is regarded as a national hero for his role in establishing Pakistan's nuclear weapons program. Khan, in interviews last month with The Post and several other publications, asserted that the allegations of nuclear smuggling were false.

Albright said it remains critical that investigators press Khan and others for details about how the blueprints were obtained and who might have them. Because the plans were stored electronically, they may have been copied many times, he said.
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« Reply #37 on: June 16, 2008, 10:51:12 AM »

Following up on the preceding post:

Two stories that were in the news yesterday offer interesting opportunities for speculation. Note: what follows is exactly that, speculation.
The first comes from the Washington Post:
An international smuggling ring that sold bomb-related parts to Libya, Iran and North Korea also managed to acquire blueprints for an advanced nuclear weapon, according to a draft report by a former top U.N. arms inspector that suggests the plans could have been shared secretly with any number of countries or rogue groups. The drawings, discovered in 2006 on computers owned by Swiss businessmen, included essential details for building a compact nuclear device that could be fitted on a type of ballistic missile used by Iran and more than a dozen developing countries, the report states.

This relates to the Khan group, which, led by a Pakistani nuclear scientist, sold Pakistan's nuclear secrets to rogue nations. The significance of this new discovery (the discovery reportedly dates to 2006 but is now being made public) is that the Khan group may have sold the design for a nuclear weapon that was more advanced than previously believed--more advanced because it was small enough to fit on missiles that countries like Iran and North Korea already possess. The Post's sources say that they have no idea what countries (if any) may have received these advanced nuclear weapons designs from Khan.

It occurs to me that this story could possible be related to the controversy last winter over the NIE that claimed that Iran had abandoned its nuclear weapons program in 2003. That conclusion, trumpeted by the NIE itself, was obviously overstated: if you read the NIE, it acknowledged that Iran's work on uranium enrichment--the hardest part of nuclear weapons development--continued unabated, but claimed that Iran had stopped its "nuclear weapon design and weaponization work." Let's assume that the CIA did get information to the effect that Iran stopped its nuclear weapon design effort in 2003. Given what we now know about the "products" made available by the Khan network, isn't it possible that Iran did so because it had the weapons designs it needed? And if so, shouldn't the NIE, to the extent we place any credence in it, make us more concerned about Iran's nuclear program, rather than less so?

The second story comes from the London Times; I haven't seen it picked up in the U.S. yet. (But then, I haven't scoured the papers yet this morning.) The story's headline is arresting, even though it is supported only by implication in the article itself: "Get Osama Bin Laden before I leave office, orders George W Bush."
The TImes writes:
President George W Bush has enlisted British special forces in a final attempt to capture Osama Bin Laden before he leaves the White House. Defence and intelligence sources in Washington and London confirmed that a renewed hunt was on for the leader of the September 11 attacks. “If he [Bush] can say he has killed Saddam Hussein and captured Bin Laden, he can claim to have left the world a safer place,” said a US intelligence source. ***
One US intelligence source compared the “growing number of clandestine reconnaissance missions” inside Pakistan with those conducted in Laos and Cambodia at the height of the Vietnam war. ***
A Pentagon source said US forces were rolling up Al-Qaeda’s network in Pakistan in the hope of pushing Bin Laden towards the Afghan border, where the US military and bombers with guided missiles were lying in wait. “They are prepping for a major battle,” he said.
The main operations in Pakistan are being undertaken by Delta, the US army special operations unit, and the British SBS.

I've wondered for a long time whether we have had a better idea of bin Laden's whereabouts than has been publicly revealed, and whether we have preferred to leave him at large rather than to capture or kill him. Why could this be the case? Presumably because we have cracked the security surrounding bin Laden and have been able to acquire valuable intelligence by leaving him at large.

This may be what was going on with Mohammed Naeem Noor Khan, the Pakistani whose laptop was seized several years ago, revealing a number of al Qaeda plots. It may be that Khan was bin Laden's link to the outside world, and that bin Laden's instructions to cells around the world were being intercepted by our intelligence agencies. After Khan's capture was made public, it may be that bin Laden's new links to the outside world were likewise penetrated.

This is, as I said above, pure speculation. But the administration's success in preventing new attacks after September 11 has long suggested the possibility of an intelligence coup equal in magnitude to Enigma. If bin Laden's security was penetrated years ago, it would explain why the administration has preferred to leave him at large despite the occasional annoyance of his propaganda missives.

If the Times' report is correct, then perhaps President Bush has decided that al Qaeda is sufficiently degraded, or the intelligence recoverable through bin Laden is no longer sufficiently valuable, so that it makes sense to try to kill or capture him. No doubt President Bush would like to bequeath his successor a world free of both bin Laden and Saddam Hussein. So it's pure speculation, but for what it's worth, I wouldn't be shocked to see bin Laden killed or captured between now and January.
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« Reply #38 on: June 16, 2008, 01:09:39 PM »

Yet more in this vein, this time from Stratfor:

The Washington Post reported on Sunday that a Pakistani-based ring led by the former head of Pakistan’s nuclear program had in its possession detailed blueprints for the construction of nuclear weapons small enough and rugged enough to be fitted to missiles. The ring, led by A.Q. Khan, has been known about for several years (it was busted in 2004). It has also been known that the ring provided nuclear technology, in the form of parts, to Libya, Iran and North Korea. What the Post has revealed is that Khan’s group also had blueprints for a usable nuclear weapon. The data were found in 2006 on a computer owned by a Swiss businessman. Therefore, the United States and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) have known about the data since then. However, according to the Post article, it is not known whether the information was given to the Iranians — which is what makes this report disturbing, to say the least.

It has been Stratfor’s position that the Iranian nuclear program ought not to be taken particularly seriously, because merely possessing enriched uranium does not give you a weapon. It might give you a device that could be detonated under careful controlled circumstances, but not a weapon that could be reliably delivered on a missile. Before that could happen, the device would have to be turned into a weapon. It would have to be miniaturized and ruggedized, able to withstand the stresses of launch, possible time in vacuum or very low air pressure and the heat of re-entry.

If the Post report is true, that is what these blueprints would provide the Iranians: knowledge of how to turn a device into a weapon. It must be remembered that a blueprint does not by itself enable you to build the weapon. A blueprint for a house would allow me to build the house, but I would need expertise in implementing the blueprint. It is not clear that the Iranians have enough expertise to follow even the most precise instructions, nor the prerequisite equipment. Knowing the kinds of materials or electronics needed to build the weapon doesn’t mean you have the facilities or engineers, in sufficient quantity, to do the job. We continue to think that the Iranians could not actually build a weapon. They lack things like sufficient quality-control engineers and technicians to get the job done. However, they might have the blueprints, and that is a huge barrier to have crossed.

But it simply isn’t clear that the Iranians actually have the blueprints. According to the author of the report, David Albright, who worked for the IAEA, “These advanced nuclear weapons designs may have long ago been sold off to some of the most treacherous regimes in the world.” He also said that Iran and North Korea “both faced struggles in building a warhead small enough to fit atop their ballistic missiles, and these designs were for a warhead that would fit.”

The United States and Israel obviously have known since 2006 that these blueprints existed. Both countries’ intelligence services clearly had one mission above all others: find out if the Iranians had received the blueprints. The fact that there is no weapon yet does not mean that the Iranians don’t have the blue prints. Even with step-by-step instructions, it would take years to build a weapon and marry it to a missile. At the same time, while it might not be known whether they have the blueprints directly, equipment acquisitions, personnel movements and facilities construction could be tracked. If the Iranians were weaponizing, from whatever data source, that likely would be noticeable.

Neither the United States nor Israel has attacked Iran. That indicates that either they know that the Iranians do not have the plans or the process of implementing them has not progressed to a stage of imperative concern. When we recall the National Intelligence Estimate’s finding on Iran’s nuclear program, it would appear not to have triggered visible movement.

But here is the problem. Intelligence is not a science. Yesterday, our view was that the Iranians do not have the know-how or facilities to build a nuclear device. Today, our view is that they might have the know-how and almost certainly do not have a viable program. That’s quite a leap in a short time. What is comforting is that the possibility that they secretly have these plans has been known about for two years and no one has attacked Iran, possibly because no one is sure what to attack. But certainly this report has reduced our comfort level a notch.

That is some set of blueprints floating around. Apart from the obvious questions, it raises some new ones. A.Q. Khan wasn’t just peddling spare parts for the hobbyist. He had in his possession, outside the Pakistani nuclear establishment, the cookbook for weapons. Is there any way that the Pakistani Inter-Services Intelligence, which oversaw Pakistan’s nuclear program, did not know about what Khan was doing? And given that the United States and the Israelis were obsessed with Pakistan’s nuclear program, how could they have missed the fact that the head of Pakistan’s nuclear program was conducting negotiations with Libya, North Korea and Iran? It should have lit up every radar screen of every intelligence service in the world.

Until now, we didn’t much care. The stuff that Khan was delivering was not going to do much for anyone. With this revelation, our attention is, shall we say, piqued. There is something that does not add up here. How did Pakistan’s nuclear plans go walkabout and discussions get held with the most closely watched regimes in the world, and no one noticed until 2006?
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« Reply #39 on: June 17, 2008, 05:05:41 PM »

Iran: Terrorists will get bomb

[Excerpted from Patriot Post Digest, June 13, 2008]

"Last week, Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei gave a speech in which he predicted that terrorists would obtain nuclear weapons and 'take away security from all the tyrants of the world.' He later made it clear that by 'tyrants' he meant the United States. The statement is darkly ironic, since Iran is the world’s foremost sponsor of terrorism, and the pariah state is almost certainly in pursuit of a nuclear weapon. Khamenei was quick to add that Iran could never possess or use nuclear weapons since they are against 'Islamic beliefs,' but Iran’s Islamic government has never been known for being straightforward, and the supreme leader urged his listeners to continue exporting the Islamic revolution. If anything, Khamenei’s statement could be interpreted as a warning that Iran’s nuclear weapons will not be used by the country’s military, but rather by proxy terrorist groups. Meanwhile, the international 'community' finds itself incapable of taking any real action against Iran thanks to strong opposition from China and Russia, making it likely that whoever challenges Iran militarily will do so alone.

"Israeli Deputy Prime Minister Shaul Mofaz seems willing to take that chance. Mofaz recently announced his candidacy to succeed Ehud Olmert as Israel’s leader, and should he win, he intends to deal with Iran using whatever means necessary. 'If Iran continues its nuclear weapons program, we will attack it,' Mofaz said last week. 'Other options are disappearing. The sanctions are not effective. There will be no alternative but to attack Iran in order to stop the Iranian nuclear program.' Given Israel’s expertise in destroying such programs (Osirak, Iraq in 1981 and al-Kibar, Syria in 2007), Iran would do well to heed Mr. Mofaz’s warning."

So, "Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei...predicted that terrorists would obtain nuclear weapons and 'take away security from all the tyrants of the world.' He later made it clear that by 'tyrants' he meant the United States." No, he didn't add, "...and Iran will supply those terrorists with nuclear weapons", but I'm not sure it doesn't still stand as a de facto declaration of intent. At least some Israelis aren't fooled, or worried about making a clear statement of intent of their own.
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« Reply #40 on: June 17, 2008, 07:11:16 PM »

Hitler said what he was planning long before German troops crossed any borders, and then as now America slept.
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« Reply #41 on: June 17, 2008, 07:26:13 PM »

And you and I and some others are the Paul Reveres "The Islamo Fascists are coming!  The Islamo Fascists are coming!  One if by border crossing, two if by sea, three if by air!!!"
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« Reply #42 on: June 17, 2008, 11:07:26 PM »

Think anyone is listening? undecided
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« Reply #43 on: June 17, 2008, 11:53:07 PM »

Well 42 posts on this thread has 2888 reads at present.  That averages to , , , almost 69 reads per post.  Do a similar calculation on some of the other threads, and consider that this forum-- no brag just fact-- tends to attract above average IQ readership. 

I think we do important work here.
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« Reply #44 on: June 20, 2008, 01:51:33 AM »

The Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty Is Obsolete
June 20, 2008; Page A11

If claims by Iran that it's building 3,000 more centrifuges to enrich nuclear fuel are true, then the Bush administration and Congress face a more serious challenge than we first thought. Even assuming that Iran intends to use nuclear energy solely for peaceful purposes – and there are very good reasons to doubt Iran's stated intentions – the dangers posed by unsupervised, weapons-grade material in the hands of a regime that has threatened to "wipe Israel off the map" are unacceptable.

The best course would be to persuade Iran to abandon its designs on the bomb and make its nuclear activities completely transparent to international authorities – as three United Nations Resolutions have required.

But Iran is not the only problem. Other countries may travel down the same path, waving the banner of peaceful nuclear energy. Some – including North Korea – already have, and the international system is ill-prepared to prevent wannabes.

Today's legal regime is no match for the wide dissemination of nuclear technology. Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) standards are obsolete, and the growth in the sheer number of nuclear facilities world-wide has made it difficult for the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to achieve its mission.

Moreover, the NPT cuts most of the world out of the nuclear weapons club. It grandfathered in states that had nuclear weapons before 1967, and said that only they could keep them. Given the skyrocketing demand for alternatives to oil, we have to expect that more countries will want to develop nuclear energy. We need a system that allows states to pursue nuclear energy but prevents them from developing nuclear weapons under the radar.

According to IAEA Director Mohammed ElBaradei, what's needed is a multinational initiative that ensures uninterrupted supplies of fuel, regardless of market disturbances or disagreements with suppliers. But the next NPT conference is scheduled for 2010. We should not wait two years to consider a new path.

In 1946, American presidential adviser Bernard Baruch called for countries to transfer ownership and control over civil nuclear activities and materials to a new international organization. Seven years later, President Dwight Eisenhower rolled parts of Baruch's plan into the "Atoms for Peace" initiative, which laid the groundwork for the IAEA. These ideas, though they advanced important goals, were never fully implemented, partly because demand for nuclear energy was low and the nuclear club was relatively small.

More recently, the Department of Energy attempted to tackle this issue by creating a Global Nuclear Energy Partnership (GNEP) – a blueprint for an international organization to reprocess spent nuclear fuel. Although 19 countries bought in to GNEP, it has failed to stem the spread of nuclear technology – largely because the Bush administration has treated it as a research and development initiative, and because the National Academies of Science concluded that it is dependent on technology that is unproven.

A more promising approach might be to create an international consortium of fuel centers that provide enrichment and reprocessing of nuclear fuel, and end-to-end oversight of nuclear resources. Driven by market demand, private companies could operate facilities with IAEA oversight, and participating states would agree not to engage in independent enriching and reprocessing. Material would be purchased from the international market, thereby creating supply assurance for nations who fear being denied fuel.

This concept is a private-sector version of the International Nuclear Fuel Authority envisioned by Sens. Richard Lugar and Evan Bayh, and could borrow from the low-enriched uranium "emergency" stockpile concept proposed by the Nuclear Threat Initiative.

It differs from piecemeal ideas like Iran's 2006 offer that France create a means for production of enriched uranium in Iran, Russia's notion that all of Iran's enrichment take place on Russian soil, or the Saudi suggestion that Switzerland enrich nuclear material for the Middle East. These ideas would not advance U.S. counterproliferation goals. Instead, a comprehensive international consortium would make nuclear energy available and cost effective for countries while solving the guessing game Iran has played by denying its nuclear weapons ambitions.

Even Al Gore agrees that nuclear energy must be considered as the world reduces reliance on fossil fuels and starts to meet the energy demands of exploding populations. Some argue that the nuclear renaissance is already upon us – 23 new permit applications for nuclear reactors have been filed in the past two years in the U.S. alone, and another 150 are planned across the globe.

Iran's unsupervised nuclear program poses an existential threat to Israel and possibly other nations. While we can't take away the knowledge gained through their clandestine program, by "renting" only the amount of fuel necessary for production of peaceful nuclear energy, we may be able to convert these threats posed by Iran and future Irans into a roadmap to nuclear security for the entire world.

Ms. Harman, a Democratic congresswoman from California, is chair of the Homeland Security Subcommittee on Intelligence, Information Sharing and Terrorism Risk Assessment.
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« Reply #45 on: July 09, 2008, 02:05:04 PM »

Good to have the big picture timeline:
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« Reply #46 on: August 14, 2008, 06:22:15 AM »

The Iran Effect
By INVESTOR'S BUSINESS DAILY | Posted Wednesday, August 13, 2008 4:20 PM PT

Nuclear Terror: Saudi Arabia and the United Nations' nuclear "watchdog" have agreed on a "nonproliferation" pact — the prelude to a Saudi nuclear energy program. Can nuclear weapons be far behind?

As the Islamofascist regime in Iran refuses to abandon its uranium enrichment program in spite of international condemnation and economic sanctions, the Saudi kingdom's Arab News newspaper reported this week approval of an agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) regarding application of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

The Saudi move comes amid an explosion in interest in Mideast nuclear activities. In 2006 and 2007, at least 13 Mideast countries announced the launch or renewal of planned nuclear programs — widely viewed as easily convertible to weapons production.

Saudi Arabia has pledged in writing not to pursue enrichment or reprocessing technologies, but its past behavior strongly suggests that its royal family has long coveted nuclear weapons.

Richard L. Russell, who teaches security studies at the National Defense University and at Georgetown, has noted Saudi's secret purchase from Communist China in the 1980s of long-range CSS-2 missiles, capable of delivering a nuclear warhead.

In 1999, Saudi Defense Minister Prince Sultan Bin Abdul Aziz visited Pakistan's uranium enrichment and missile assembly factory in Kahuta, where he was reportedly briefed by black market nuclear arms dealer Dr. AQ Khan.

According to Akaki Dvali, a proliferation expert at the Center for Social Sciences in Tbilisi, Georgia, and senior adviser to the Georgian presidency, "it is reasonable to suspect that Khan developed ties with Riyadh, which would have been capable of paying for all kinds of nuclear-related services."

Saudi defector Mohammed al-Khilewi, who was a high-ranking official in the Saudi mission to the United Nations, charges that the Saudi royal family has been seeking nuclear weapons since 1975.

He has produced documents suggesting that the Saudi government paid as much as $5 billion during the 1970s and 1980s to the late Saddam Hussein to build a nuclear weapon, with the condition that the Saudis get some of the devices.

There are few prospects more frightening than a nuclear Middle East. For years now, the free world has neglected the sure way of nipping it in the bud: Make a top priority of uniting to do whatever it takes to stop Iran.

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« Reply #47 on: August 14, 2008, 08:41:53 AM »

This means the Saudis do not anticipate that we/Israel will stop Iran from becoming nuclear. Oh joy....  sad
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« Reply #48 on: August 21, 2008, 12:50:51 AM »

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Russia's Nuclear Threat Is More Than Words
August 21, 2008; Page A11

What lies behind Moscow's willingness to crush Georgia with overwhelming force? Analysts have highlighted Russia's newfound economic confidence, its determination to undo its humiliation of the 1990s, and its grievances over Kosovo, U.S. missile-defense plans involving Poland and the Czech Republic, and the eastward expansion of NATO.

But there may be another major, overlooked element: Has a shift in the nuclear balance between the U.S. and Russia helped embolden the bear?

Under the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START), which went into force in 1994, both the U.S. and the USSR made radical cuts in their strategic nuclear arsenals -- that is, in weapons of intercontinental range. The 2002 Moscow Treaty pushed the numbers down even further, until each side's strategic nuclear umbrella was pocket-size.

Yet matters are very different at the tactical, or short-range, level. Here, the U.S., acting unilaterally and with virtually no fanfare, sharply cut back its stockpile of nonstrategic nuclear warheads. As far back as 1991, the U.S. began to retire all of its nuclear warheads for short-range ballistic missiles, artillery and antisubmarine warfare. According to the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, not one of these weapons exists today. The same authoritative publication estimates that the number of tactical warheads in the U.S. arsenal has dwindled from thousands to approximately 500.

Russia has also reduced the size of its tactical nuclear arsenal, but starting from much higher levels and at a slower pace, leaving it with an estimated 5,000 such devices -- 10 times the number of tactical weapons held by the U.S. Such a disparity would be one thing if we were contending with a stable, postcommunist regime moving in the direction of democracy and integration with the West. That was the Russia we anticipated when we began our nuclear build-down. But it is not the Russia we are facing today.

Not only has Russia retained a sizable nuclear arsenal, its military and political leaders regularly engage in aggressive bluster about expanded deployment and possible use, and sometimes they go beyond bluster. Six months ago, Russia began sending cruise missile-capable Bear H bombers on sallies along the coast of Alaska.

As recently as July, the newspaper Izvestia floated the idea that Moscow would station nuclear weapons in Cuba if the U.S. went ahead with the deployment of an antiballistic missile radar in the Czech Republic and interceptors in Poland. Col. Gen. Nikolai Solovtsov, chief of Russia's strategic missile command, has openly spoken about aiming nuclear-tipped missiles at those two countries. Vladimir Putin has warned Ukraine that if it were to join NATO, "Russia will have to point its warheads at Ukrainian territory." Not long before that, Mr. Putin cheerfully described a series of ballistic-missile flight tests as "pleasant and spectacular holiday fireworks."

Such cavalier language stands in striking contrast to the restrained approach of American leaders. "I am committed to achieving a credible deterrent with the lowest possible number of nuclear weapons consistent with our national security needs," said President George W. Bush in 2001, in one of his rare pronouncements on the subject. "My goal is to move quickly to reduce nuclear forces." Mr. Bush has kept his word and moved quickly. But has he moved wisely? And given the pugnacious Russia that has suddenly emerged, what is the strategic legacy that he will leave for his successor?

The Russians are steadily acquiring economic and military power, and are not afraid to use threats and force to get their way. Even as they abide by the terms of various treaties, while we are standing still they are finding ways to develop new and highly advanced ground- and submarine-based intercontinental missiles, along with modern submarines to carry and launch them.

As in the Cold War, nuclear weapons are central to the Russian geopolitical calculus. "The weak are not loved and not heard, they are insulted, and when we have [nuclear] parity they will talk to us in a different way." These words are not from the dark days of communist yore. Rather, they were uttered last year by Russia's First Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov, and they perfectly capture the mentality we and Russia's neighbors are up against.

Mr. Schoenfeld is the senior editor of Commentary.
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« Reply #49 on: October 31, 2008, 03:16:39 PM »

Strong Leads and Dead Ends in Nuclear Case Against Iran

By Dafna Linzer
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, February 8, 2006; Page A01

Iranian engineers have completed sophisticated drawings of a deep subterranean shaft, according to officials who have examined classified documents in the hands of U.S. intelligence for more than 20 months.
Complete with remote-controlled sensors to measure pressure and heat, the plans for the 400-meter tunnel appear designed for an underground atomic test that might one day announce Tehran's arrival as a nuclear power, the officials said.

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