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DougMacG
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« Reply #100 on: September 29, 2009, 09:43:57 AM »

"US:  Iran has halted weaponization in 2003."

That would be the first instance of Obama crediting Bush for a success.  Unfortunately it is false.
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ccp
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« Reply #101 on: September 29, 2009, 09:53:21 AM »

Doug

This erronous conclusion was made public before OBama became President.

W very much let Israel drift in the wind at the end of his second term.

I don't think he wanted to but he was so politically destroyed by the left's attacks and falling in the polls he abandoned them.
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G M
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« Reply #102 on: September 29, 2009, 10:02:01 AM »

http://hotair.com/archives/2009/07/20/germans-of-course-iran-kept-working-on-nuclear-weapons/

Germans: Of course Iran kept working on nuclear weapons
posted at 1:36 pm on July 20, 2009 by Ed Morrissey

When the American intelligence community reversed itself in 2007 and announced that Iran had quit working on nuclear weapons in 2003, jaws dropped around the world.  George Bush’s political opponents at home and enemies around the world used it to buffalo the administration into reducing its effort to corner Tehran, but European intelligence agencies did not fall for the political kneecapping performed on Bush.  At the time, British intel rejected that conclusion, and now the Wall Street Journal reports that the Germans have thoroughly debunked it:

The Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND), Germany’s foreign intelligence agency, has amassed evidence of a sophisticated Iranian nuclear weapons program that continued beyond 2003. This usually classified information comes courtesy of Germany’s highest state-security court. In a 30-page legal opinion on March 26 and a May 27 press release in a case about possible illegal trading with Iran, a special national security panel of the Federal Supreme Court in Karlsruhe cites from a May 2008 BND report, saying the agency “showed comprehensively” that “development work on nuclear weapons can be observed in Iran even after 2003.”
According to the judges, the BND supplemented its findings on August 28, 2008, showing “the development of a new missile launcher and the similarities between Iran’s acquisition efforts and those of countries with already known nuclear weapons programs, such as Pakistan and North Korea.”
It’s important to point out that this was no ordinary agency report, the kind that often consists just of open source material, hearsay and speculation. Rather, the BND submitted an “office testimony,” which consists of factual statements about the Iranian program that can be proved in a court of law. This is why, in their March 26 opinion, the judges wrote that “a preliminary assessment of the available evidence suggests that at the time of the crime [April to November 2007] nuclear weapons were being developed in Iran.” In their May press release, the judges come out even more clear, stating unequivocally that “Iran in 2007 worked on the development of nuclear weapons.”

This rises far above the level of evidence provided in the 2007 NIE.  The court had to determine whether evidence presented by the German government could convict a defendant in an espionage trial, and the case rested in large part on whether the Iranians had continued to develop nuclear weapons.  A lower-court ruling had tossed out the indictment, ruling that the US NIE showed that Iran had not done work on its nuclear-weapons programs during the time that the defendant had allegedly traded illegally and conducted espionage on behalf of their program.  In response, the BND showed the court their evidence of continued work on the weapons program — which the court ruled sufficient to use at trial.
As the authors note, this decision calls into question yet again how the US intelligence service could have concluded otherwise.  Did they not coordinate with the Germans, who have much better access to Iran than either the US or even the British?  The BND says they shared these findings with the Americans prior to the publication of the NIE, but that they were ignored.  Why?
It’s really not difficult to conclude that the higher echelons of American intelligence had gone to war with the Bush administration early in his presidency.  The 2007 NIE was their coup de grace, making Bush impotent and giving them control over American foreign policy.  It also let vital time slip past while Iran continued to develop nuclear weapons, although in the event, Europe simply rejected the NIE as faulty and proceeded along the same path that Bush had demanded.  The NIE gave Russia and China political cover to block the West’s attempts to rein in the Iranians, although that would have happened anyway with other rationalizations.
Democrats are demanding a reckoning with the CIA over a program that never proceeded past the spitball stage.  Republicans ought to demand a reckoning, too — over the NIE and the wool that got pulled over the eyes of Congress.
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #103 on: September 29, 2009, 10:14:21 AM »

This is a remarkable and IMHO very important piece GM.  Would you be so kind as to also post it in the Intel Matters thread as well?  Thank you.
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DougMacG
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« Reply #104 on: September 29, 2009, 10:29:51 AM »

"This erroneous conclusion was made public before OBama became President.
W very much let Israel drift in the wind at the end of his second term."

True, thanks.  It was not Obama but it was from similar forces from within Bush's own agencies that undermined any coherent response to an obvious and growing threat.

Bush let his presidency drift or end long before its term other than the amazing success of the surge in Iraq.  Cheney was distanced from being a close adviser and no one with wisdom replaced him.  Especially from a public relations point of view of arguing for your own policies and philosophies, Bush had quit his job by early 2005.
---
Iran stopped weaponization.
Iraq never posed a threat.
If we would just talk to the murderous thugs...
   - I often wish liberals were right so we could end this tiring effort of opposing them.


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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #105 on: September 30, 2009, 08:15:58 AM »

By GARY MILHOLLIN and VALERIE LINCY
Published: September 29, 2009
Washington

The disclosure of Iran’s secret nuclear plant has changed the way the West must negotiate with Tehran. While worrisome enough on its own, the plant at Qum may well be the first peek at something far worse: a planned, or even partly completed, hidden nuclear archipelago stretching across the country.

The Qum plant doesn’t make much sense as a stand-alone bomb factory. As described by American officials, the plant would house 3,000 centrifuges, able to enrich enough uranium for one or two bombs per year. Yet at their present rate of production, 3,000 of Iran’s existing IR-1 centrifuges would take two years to fuel a single bomb and 10 years for five weapons. This is too long a time frame for the American assessment to be feasible. To build one or two bombs a year, Iran would have to quadruple the centrifuges’ present production rate. (While this feat is theoretically within the centrifuges’ design limits, it is not one Iran has shown it can achieve.)

Perhaps Iran was planning to install more efficient centrifuges at the plant, like a version of the P-2 machine used by Pakistan. These could fuel a five-bomb arsenal in just over a year. But while we know Iran has tested such machines, there is no evidence that it can make them in bulk.

Regardless of the machines used, it would take a couple of years at the front end to get them installed. Iran would be looking at three to five years of high activity at the site, during which the risk of discovery would skyrocket.

Clearly, the new plant makes more sense if it is one of many. If Iran built a second plant of the same size as the Qum operation and ran them in tandem, the production times described above could be almost halved. And if Iran had a string of such plants, it would be able to fuel a small arsenal quickly enough to reduce greatly the chance of getting caught. This would also limit the damage if one site were discovered or bombed, because its loss might not affect the others. Such a secret string of plants, however, would probably require a secret source of uranium. Intelligence agencies have been looking for such a source; the Qum discovery should be a signal to increase their efforts.

The Qum plant might also be linked to Iran’s known enrichment plant at Natanz, which is under inspection by the International Atomic Energy Agency. Natanz has a stockpile of uranium that is already enriched partway to weapon-grade. By feeding this uranium into the new Qum plant, Iran could fuel one bomb in about seven months, even at the present low production rate. If the rate were quadrupled, as Washington is projecting, the plant could fuel a five-bomb arsenal in less than a year.

But because the Natanz plant is being watched over by international inspectors, diversion of its material would probably be detected. The question is whether Iran might chance it, deciding that its production rate was high enough to give it a nuclear deterrent before other countries could organize a response to the diversion.

Having begun the Qum plant to supply a bomb’s fuel, wouldn’t Iran also create what’s needed to produce the rest of the bomb’s components? This means laboratories to perfect nuclear weapon detonation and workshops to produce the firing sets, high-explosive lenses and other necessary parts. Although there is plenty of suspicion that such sites exist, Iran has not admitted having them.

All must be found. When talks begin in Geneva tomorrow, there should be little concern with the formerly dominant question of suspending enrichment at Natanz. Rather, Iran must be made to produce a complete map of its nuclear sites, together with a history of how each was created and provisioned.

This means getting access to scientists, records, equipment and sites. It is a lot to ask, and we may not have the leverage to get it. But anything less will provide no protection against what we now know is Iran’s determination to build the bomb.

Gary Milhollin directs the Wisconsin Project on Nuclear Arms Control. Valerie Lincy is the editor of Iranwatch.org.
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ccp
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« Reply #106 on: September 30, 2009, 09:23:01 AM »

I agree with Pat on many issues but not this one.

It is predictable he will pick and write about any evidence he can gather that would support his isolationist position - made a bit more complicated by his well known dislike of the "Jewish Lobby".

Question:  If Iran was interested in only peaceful purpose for nuclear energy than why have it's main spokesman going around the world telling it is nearing the time Israel will be wiped out?

If it is just a bluff what is he gaining by it?



***Is Iran Nearing a Bomb?
by  Patrick J. Buchanan

09/29/2009

That Iran is building a secret underground facility near the holy city of Qom, under custody of the Revolutionary Guard -- too small to be a production center for nuclear fuel, but just right for the enrichment of uranium to weapons grade -- is grounds for concern, but not panic.

Heretofore, all of Iran's nuclear facilities, even the enrichment plant at Natanz -- kept secret before exiles blew the whistle in 2002 -- have been consistent with a peaceful nuclear program.

Iran has also been on solid ground in claiming that, as signatory to the Non-Proliferation Treaty, she has a right to enrich uranium and operate nuclear plants, as long as she complies with treaty obligations.
 

Under the Safeguard Agreement to the NPT, these include notification, six months before a nuclear facility goes operational.

According to U.S. officials, construction of this site began in 2006 and is only months from completion. And Tehran did not report it to the International Atomic Energy Agency until a week ago, when they were tipped the Americans were onto it and about to go public.

Iran's explanation: This facility is benign, a backup to Natanz, to enable Iran to continue enriching uranium to fuel grade, should America or Israel bomb Natanz. It is a hedge against attack. And contrary to what Barack Obama implies, the facility is designed to enrich uranium only to the 5 percent needed for nuclear fuel, not the 90 percent needed for nuclear weapons.

Still, the burden of proof is now upon Tehran.

President Ahmadinejad and Ayatollah Khamenei must convince IAEA inspectors this small secret facility that can house only 3,000 centrifuges has the same purpose as Natanz, which can house 58,000. Or they will be exposed as liars -- to the West, to the Russians who have served as their defense counsel and to their own people.

For while Iranians are near unanimous in backing their national right to peaceful nuclear power, they do not all want nuclear weapons. And the Ayatollah has declared, ex cathedra, that Iran is not seeking them, and possession or use of such weapons is immoral and contrary to the teachings of Islam.

If Obama is right that the secret facility is "inconsistent with a peaceful program," but compatible with a weapons program, Ayatollah Khamenei has a credibility problem the size of Andrei Gromyko's, when he assured President Kennedy there were no Soviet missiles in Cuba. And President Kennedy had the photos in his desk.

Diplomats have been called honest men sent abroad to lie for their country. But ayatollahs, as holy men, are not supposed to be descending to diplomatic duplicity.

Obama's dramatic announcement represents a coup for U.S. intelligence, but it also raises questions.

Reportedly, we have known of this Qom facility "for several years." Yet, in late 2007, the National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) said that U.S. agencies had "moderate confidence" that Iran had ended any nuclear weapons program in 2003.

In August, Walter Pincus, in a Washington Post story -- "Iran Years From Fuel for Bomb, Report Says" -- wrote, "Despite Iran's progress since 2007 toward producing enriched uranium, the State Department intelligence analysts continue to think that Tehran will not be able to produce weapons-grade material before 2013."

This was the judgment of the State Department Bureau of Intelligence and Research, based on "Iran's technical capability."

Query: If State's top intelligence analysts, this year, did not think Iran could enrich to weapons grade until 2013, had they been kept in the dark about the secret facility near Qom?

Two weeks ago, in a Web exclusive, Mark Hosenball wrote, "The U.S. intelligence community is reporting to the White House that Iran has not restarted its nuclear weapons development program, two counter-proliferation officials tell Newsweek."

The officials told the White House the conclusion of the 2007 NIE -- i.e., Iran had halted its weapons program in 2003 -- stood.

Were these two counter-proliferation officials also out of the loop on the secret site? Or did they know of it, but fail to share the sense of alarm and urgency President Obama showed last week?

Despite last week's revelation, the Obama policy of talking to Tehran makes sense. Whatever the ayatollah's intentions, IAEA inspectors have his lone ton of low-enriched uranium at Natanz under observation. To enrich it to weapons grade, it must be moved.

America's twin goals here are correct, compatible and by no means unattainable: no nukes in Iran, no war with Iran.

Bombing would unite that divided country behind a regime whose repressed people detest far more than we, as they have to live under it. Patience and perseverance, as in the Cold War, may be rewarded with the disintegration of a state that is today divided against itself.

We outlasted the Red czars. We will outlast the ayatollahs.


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Mr. Buchanan is a nationally syndicated columnist and author of Churchill, Hitler, and "The Unnecessary War": How Britain Lost Its Empire and the West Lost the World, "The Death of the West,", "The Great Betrayal," "A Republic, Not an Empire" and "Where the Right Went Wrong."****

My answer to Buchanan's question is Iran is obviously working to build a bomb(s).  How near it is no one seems to be sure - at least publically.
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Rarick
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« Reply #107 on: September 30, 2009, 10:00:55 AM »

If you were the leader of a small country and saw how N. Korea managed to get Billions of dollars worth of "respect" wouldn't you take serious risks to get a nuclear stick? 
Why did we get involved in Pakistan with $ instead of using the usual "just bomb them into the stone age" we did with other countries?

Iran sees the nuclear stuff, probably, as a means of gaining the respect they feel they lack.  They do not see that it is more of a charachter issue, Korea got a couple of concessions, but is still a pariah because of charachter.  Iran does not realize that a llot of their behavior is looked upon in the same light.  They may not get the respect they may expect, I just hope that they do not throw the wrong type of temper tantrum.  Pakistan has been trying to get turned around, but its therapy is on going, we will see.
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ccp
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« Reply #108 on: September 30, 2009, 05:54:43 PM »

Hi Rarick,

Good to have another poster.

"If you were the leader of a small country and saw how N. Korea managed to get Billions of dollars worth of "respect" wouldn't you take serious risks to get a nuclear stick?" 

I agree with you.

I think Iran is pursuing nucs for this reason.

Do you think they may not really be pursuing them and just bluffing with Amendinajan's rhetoric in order to get the same respect just the same?

Apparently some seem to think so.  Even Buchanan is implying this.



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Rarick
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« Reply #109 on: October 01, 2009, 05:52:11 AM »

The satellite images that have been shown in the media (forget exactly where) show some serious underground construction for the enrichment process.   I would not be the least bit surprised if a lot of that equipment has Iraqi and Pakistani trademarks on it......... 

I doubt that they are bluffing, it is one of those thing you do not want to bluff about, the stakes are too high if the bluff gets called.  Even if they do not develop a full on nuke, a dirty bomb (a bomb with a uranium powder casing?) would still cause a lot of OMG, very much like the Anthrax in the mail.
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #110 on: October 01, 2009, 08:59:51 AM »

Why Iraqi trademarks?

I would suspect the North Koreans first and foremost.
=================

Intelligence Guidance (Special Edition): Oct. 1, 2009 - Iranian Crisis on Hold
Stratfor Today » October 1, 2009 | 1406 GMT
Editor’s Note: The following is an internal STRATFOR document produced to provide high-level guidance to our analysts. This document is not a forecast, but rather a series of guidelines for understanding and evaluating events, as well as suggestions on areas for focus.

Both the United States and Iran are attempting to avoid a deterioration to war. Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki’s Sept. 30 visit to Washington did not involve meeting with members of Congress, or if it did, it was only to use them as a conduit to someone more important; the wording of his spokesman makes that clear. The spokesman denied knowledge of any meeting with administration officials, not that meetings took place. At the very least, Mottaki made a major gesture in coming to Washington, and now the United States is making one in return. The reports out of Geneva are noncommittal, but no one has walked, and now the conventional wisdom is that the talks will continue into Oct. 2 and that Iran has until the end of the year to verify the non-military nature of its nuclear program. The Israelis have made it clear that they are prepared to withhold action and criticism until this phase is concluded.

Related Special Series
Special Series: Iran Sanctions
Related Special Topic Page
Special Coverage: The Iran Crisis
Logically, the Iranian goal is to initiate a set of extended negotiations in which nuclear weapons are not the only issue on the table. The more complex the negotiations, the longer they go on, the more international credibility Iran gains, and the less likely Iran is going to be forced to capitulate on the nuclear question.

For the United States, this strategy puts off the day of reckoning, and does not force a crisis this week. It also allows U.S. President Barack Obama to maintain his doctrine of engagement. There does not seem any great pressure politically on Obama to act. There is not a critical mass in Congress wanting to press the issue to the max right now. One may emerge, but if the Obama administration is skillful in shaping an apparent negotiating process, it will not emerge for a while. The key here is Israel. When Israel decides it has gone on long enough, it will pull in enough chips on Capitol Hill to create that pressure. But for right now, the people who would like to see a crisis aren’t strong enough to create one. So there is talk about disappointment, but they aren’t going to be introducing resolutions. Obama has bought time.

Diplomatically, the Israelis have backed off. This does not necessarily indicate that Israel thinks there is any chance of this working, but they do not want to be accused of sabotaging the process. If military action is taken, this also allows the United States to say it did its very best to prevent that action. Action now or down the road, the outcome today (and for some parties the very goal) is extensive talks, not a crisis.

If Iranians simply stonewall the nuclear issue, a crisis will break out. Tehran knows this, so it will raise ambiguities, such as an extended negotiation over when International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors might be permitted in, and under what circumstances. All of this comes directly from the North Korean rulebook.

The question is what might upset the applecart here. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is playing statesman, and his enemies might be motivated to destabilize the talks by leaking more information on his program. New information on the program might leak from CIA or elsewhere, increasing the pressure. Or the Israelis might do some sophisticated and deniable leaking.

For the moment, we need to watch the nuances of the talks. The participants want them to continue indefinitely in hopes of taking the issue out of crisis mode. Two things to watch for are, one, if Ahmadinejad feels compelled to gloat, and two, if the Israelis appear to feel that fruitless talks are going to go on forever. At any point, a number of players can abort the process.

The most concerned party should be Russia. Real talks are not the path the Russians wanted, even if this is the path they said they wanted. The Russians were anticipating a breakdown in the talks that they would then blame on the Americans. The Russians want the Iranians and Americans at each others’ throats, but they also need to be perceived in Europe as a reasonable player. Russian’s grand strategy is to split Europe from the United States, and particularly Germany. Part of that includes painting the Americans as warmongers. That’s hard to do if you are seen as the one that submarines talks that could have succeeded in dialing back a crisis. But this is not the same as saying they are out of the game. Their options are plentiful, they just cannot be used today.

We need to listen very carefully to the comments, leaks, and off-the-record spin of the talks when they end today, and look to see whether they go on another day. And we need to know if Mottaki has left Washington.

For the moment, this has not gone as we expected. Obama has defused the immediate crisis. He has not ended it by any means, but we are in a different timeframe, probably one running to the end of the year based on what has been said. He now has one crisis, not two (at least for now) — unless the present process blows apart in the next few hours. It seems to us that the most likely outcome at present is everyone to continuing to talk about talking.
« Last Edit: October 01, 2009, 11:38:01 AM by Crafty_Dog » Logged
Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #111 on: October 01, 2009, 11:40:32 AM »

second entry

October 1, 2009 | 1350 GMT
Summary
Negotiations have begun in Geneva between the P-5+1 and Iran over the Iranian nuclear program. The most important statement to emerge so far is from a U.S. assistant secretary of defense, who told a Russian news agency that Washington plans to give Iran until the end of the year to verify that its nuclear program is only civilian in nature.

Analysis
Related Special Series
Special Series: Iran Sanctions
Related Special Topic Page
Special Coverage: The Iran Crisis
Talks between Iran and the P-5+1 nations — the United States, the United Kingdom, Russia, China, France and Germany — began Oct. 1 in the village of Genthoud, a municipality of Geneva. The morning kicked off with several plenary meetings, with time allowed for intermittent breaks that presented opportunities for more private sideline discussions with Iranian representatives.

So far it appears that Iran is providing the P-5+1 powers with plenty of fodder for discussing its nuclear program. The meetings are now expected to extend into the early evening and on into the next day. The United States has been careful to clarify that this is not the meeting where sanctions would be threatened against Iran. The Geneva meeting was designed to engage the Iranians; should that fail, subsequent meetings of the P-5+1 (without Iran) would be organized to discuss the sanctions option.

The most important statement that has come out of the summit so far is from U.S. Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Alexander Vershbow, who told Russia’s Interfax news agency that Washington plans to give Iran until the end of the year to prove that its nuclear program is only civilian in nature. “Now this process may last more than one day, but it cannot go on indefinitely,” Vershbow said. “We have agreed with our main partners that we need to see progress before the end of the year, or else we will have to shift toward tougher measures, including stronger sanctions.”

This is a slight shift from earlier U.S. (and particularly Israeli) warnings indicating that the Geneva meeting was a chance for Iran to come clean or face “crippling” sanctions. And Vershbow, in particular, is a technocrat whose word carries more weight. He has served as the U.S. ambassador to Russia, NATO and South Korea and is not prone to grandstanding.

Iran had plans all along to lengthen the negotiating track and buy more time for dialogue, but the fact that Washington is agreeing to extend the deadline could indicate one of two things: Either the United States is buying time to sort this issue out and attempt a compromise with the Russians to increase pressure on Tehran, or Iran has made a concrete offer behind the scenes that has caught the White House’s attention.

Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki’s visit to Washington, which began Sept. 30, is key to this latter scenario. The U.S. State Department so far is downplaying the entire visit and claiming ignorance on whether Mottaki has met with U.S. officials, but Mottaki certainly did not visit the nation’s capital for a tour of the monuments. At the same time, Iran’s state-run news agency IRNA is claiming that Mottaki discussed his country’s nuclear program with two U.S. Congressmen on the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, though this report has not yet been confirmed. An unnamed U.S. official also announced Oct. 1 that Washington may even be open to one-on-one talks with the Iranians.

So far it appears that the United States has found a new reason to be optimistic about the Geneva talks, but there is much more to uncover as the summit plays out. And, as always, Israel is the critical player to watch.
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Rarick
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« Reply #112 on: October 02, 2009, 03:37:52 AM »

@Crafty-  Iraqi Trademarks because Iraq had plenty of time to move what nuclear/ WMD stuff they had been developing before Iraqi Freedom finally kicked off.  If Iraqis are willing to shift fighter aircraft to Iran, why not Nuclear goodies and other stuff?  (I have seen no evidence, but would not be surprised if.....)

If my clan were going to go under, but I had some unique assets that the tribe could use- why not hand it off to another clan that could make viable use of it?
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #113 on: October 02, 2009, 07:19:04 AM »

I understand that, but it is my understanding that in his interviews after his capture when asked why he had left the impression of having WMD when he didn't SH said that it was to bluff the Iranians.  My guess would be Syria would be a more likely place to stash nasty toys.
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #114 on: October 02, 2009, 08:08:28 AM »

From Geneva yesterday come all kinds of good diplomatic vibrations. Iran may allow U.N. inspectors into a recently unveiled uranium-enrichment plant "within two weeks." Another meeting will be held before month's end. A "freeze" on sanctions was bruited about. In an appearance at the White House, President Obama sounded sober but hopeful, calling the direct American talks with the Islamic Republic "a constructive beginning" toward "serious and meaningful engagement."

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was presumably in even better spirits at his remarkable change of fortune. A month ago, Iran's president was struggling to cement his grip on power after stealing an election and repressing nationwide protests. A week ago, the disclosure of the secret facility near Qom highlighted Iran's chronic prevarication and raised calls for more sanctions.

By yesterday, all that had changed. At the 18th-century Villa Le Saugy, Iran's representative sat among the world's powers as a respected equal. Responding to an overture from the Obama Administration, the Iranians even talked about the future of the U.N. and other nonnuclear issues. Meanwhile, Washington was "buzzing" (as one newspaper put it) that a one-day visit by Iran's foreign minister might signal more detente to come. Back in Tehran, Mr. Ahmadinejad floated a tete-a-tete with the U.S. President. In short, this engagement conferred a respectability on his regime that Mr. Ahmadinejad could only have imagined amid his vicious post-election crackdown.

The price of entry is surprisingly modest, too. Though cautious, the P5+1 (the veto-wielding Security Council members, plus Germany) welcomed signs of Iranian concessions: Inspectors at Qom, an openness to send low-enriched uranium outside Iran for enrichment, possibly suspending its own enrichment program. Mr. Ahmadinejad said the Geneva talks were "a unique opportunity" for the West.

Consider the Iranian offers in turn. Inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency won't find anything incriminating at the Qom facility. Having lied about it for years, the Iranians now have plenty of time to clean the place out. Iran's experience with the IAEA goes back to the first inspections starting in 1992, which somehow prevented the world from learning about Iran's bomb program for a decade and then only from an Iranian dissident group. A freeze on enrichment used to be the U.S. precondition for talks with Iran. Now the U.S. and Europeans say that in exchange merely for this enrichment promise, they'll freeze any additional sanctions.

Iran has timed its olive branch well. The Europeans are more frustrated with past Iranian stalling than is Washington and have started to hanker for tougher measures. Those demands will now be muted. For years, Iran has talked with the Europeans, using the time and diplomatic cover to make nuclear progress. The Obama ascendency offers the mullahs another chance, with an even more eager partner, to repeat the exercise with a far bigger potential payoff. Expect Iran to follow the North Korean model, stringing the West along, lying and wheedling, striking deals only to reneg and start over. In the end, North Korea tested a nuclear device.

On long evidence, the regime has no intention of stopping a nuclear program that would give it new power in the region, and new leverage against America. The Qom news reveals a more extensive, sophisticated and covert nuclear complex than many people, including the CIA, were willing to recognize. The facility is located on a Revolutionary Guard base, partly hidden underground and protected by air-defense missiles. Its capacity of 3,000 centrifuges is too small for civilian use but not for a weapons program. It's a good bet an archipelago of such small covert facilities is scattered around Iran.

Meanwhile, news reports this week say German and British intelligence believe Iran never stopped clandestine efforts to design a nuclear warhead. Their assumptions contradict the U.S. National Intelligence Estimate in 2007 that Iran had stopped its nuclear weapons program in 2003 and kept it frozen.

The evidence is overwhelming that the window to stop the world's leading sponsor of terrorism from acquiring a bomb is closing fast. If we are serious about doing so, the proper model isn't North Korea, but Libya. The Gadhafi regime agreed to disarm after the fall of Saddam Hussein convinced its leaders that their survival was better assured without nuclear weapons. Mr. Ahmadinejad and Iran's mullahs will only concede if they see their future the same way.

This supposed fresh start in Geneva only gives them new legitimacy, and new hope that they can have their bomb and enhanced global standing too.
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #115 on: October 03, 2009, 08:51:19 AM »

I think I may disagree with Stratfor here.  I tend to go with Krauthammer that this is all a joke, that BO is getting played, and that the Iranians have just successfully picked up several months of delay.

To threaten a punishment of really mean sanctions is meaningless-- the Russians and the Chinese won't be part of it.

By the time the Iranians stall enough that BO begins to negotiate with the Russians, Chinese, Germans (who have voraciously been doing business with Iran all along btw) many months will have passed and all that will be produced with be a fart.
================

A Delay in the Iran Crisis Timeline
THE P-5+1 MEETING was held in Geneva on Thursday. At its conclusion, U.S. President Barack Obama gave a press conference in Washington. Of all the reactions, the U.S. reaction was the most important, since the U.S. reading of the situation determines the probability of sanctions and, more important, of military action against Iran. It is clear from Obama’s press conference that neither is going to happen at the moment. Therefore, the talks weren’t a disaster.

Iran seems to have agreed to an International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) team coming in two weeks to inspect the recently disclosed uranium enrichment facility at Qom. Of course, whether Iran ends up admitting the team and what it will allow the team to see will be the issue. Iran has been a master at delaying and partially fulfilling agreements like this. Those countries that don’t want a confrontation have used this to argue that limited progress is better than no progress, and that at least some progress is being made. Iran previously has used the ambiguity of its cooperation to provide a plausible basis for those in the coalition against it that don’t want a confrontation to split from those coalition members who do. Given the high degree of unity among foreign powers that is needed for sanctions, IAEA inspections are a superb tool for Iran to use in managing the coalition arrayed against it.

Obama expressly said that delays wouldn’t work, adding that words need to be followed by actions. From the tenor of his speech, it appears that the United States has postponed the crisis but not cancelled it. At the same time, the basic framework of engagement and a long-term process of accommodation with Iran has not been violated. The United States can use ambiguities to justify pulling back from a confrontation.

” The crisis will come not from clear Iranian unwillingness to cooperate, but from ambiguity over whether Iran has cooperated.”
Obama deliberately adopted a resolute tone with a short timeline. Whatever room for maneuver he retained, his tone was extremely firm. Interestingly, his tone was sufficiently hard that how it will play in Iran is now in question. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad does not want to appear as weak or caving in. Domestically, he cannot afford to appear so easily browbeaten, having just emerged from a messy internal struggle whose losers would appreciate the opportunity to paint him as mishandling negotiations. Therefore, the tone of Obama’s statement might cause him to be more intransigent. The real issue is what happens in the next two weeks. We suspect events will be sufficiently ambiguous to allow any and all interpretations. The crisis will come not from clear Iranian unwillingness to cooperate, but from ambiguity over whether Iran has cooperated.

Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki’s decision to visit Washington on the eve of the Geneva talks and the willingness of the United States to give him a visa to do so have confused matters a bit. The visit offered a superb opportunity for high-level talks, but all sides are denying that such talks took place. According to Mottaki, he visited the Iranian interests section at the Pakistani Embassy on Sept. 30, had dinner with the staff, and left by 6 a.m. the next day. The itinerary is possible, but somehow doesn’t feel right. Perhaps it was just a symbolic concession on both sides, with Mottaki being willing to visit the capital of the Great Satan and the United States being willing to host a charter member of the Axis of Evil. It could be that simple. But given Obama’s interest in engagement, we can’t help but wonder who else Mottaki spoke to. In the end — or rather, now that the Geneva talks have gone reasonably well — it probably doesn’t matter.

There are two wild cards in this deck. The first is Israel. Israel has clearly chosen to allow this process to proceed without issuing threats. Obama is aware that he must keep the Israelis in check, and that excessive flexibility could create a loose cannon that disrupts the entire process. The other wild card is U.S. domestic politics. Congress has been obsessed with health care reform; it has had no bandwidth for foreign policy. Assuming that some resolution on health care takes place in the next couple of weeks, Congress will have that bandwidth and will start limiting Obama’s room for maneuver.

That, of course, affects Afghanistan as well as Iran. Obama’s trip to Copenhagen on Friday now appears no longer simply about getting Chicago named as a host city for the Olympics, but about meeting with some European officials — undoubtedly about the Afghanistan strategy review now under way. When Congress comes up for air, it will be raising questions on Afghanistan. The White House announced Thursday that Obama is taking another several weeks to review the strategy — and should he decide to increase forces and shift strategy, he will want to be able to demonstrate European cooperation. Going to Congress with a massive increase in U.S. forces and nothing from the Europeans would be difficult.

Therefore, we can expect intense diplomacy in the weeks leading up to the IAEA inspections at Qom, the subsequent report and the controversy that will result from the report. It is the controversy on the report that will shape the next phase of the Iran issue. The timeline has clearly slipped from September to later in the year, but the basic structure of the crisis, in our opinion, remains unchanged.
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« Reply #116 on: October 04, 2009, 07:45:31 AM »

From Pravda on the Hudson:

Report Says Iran Has Data to Make a Nuclear Bomb

By WILLIAM J. BROAD and DAVID E. SANGER
Published: October 3, 2009
Senior staff members of the United Nations nuclear agency have concluded in a confidential analysis that Iran has acquired “sufficient information to be able to design and produce a workable” atom bomb.


The report by experts in the International Atomic Energy Agency stresses in its introduction that its conclusions are tentative and subject to further confirmation of the evidence, which it says came from intelligence agencies and its own investigations.

But the report’s conclusions, described by senior European officials, go well beyond the public positions taken by several governments, including the United States.

Two years ago, American intelligence agencies published a detailed report concluding that Tehran halted its efforts to design a nuclear weapon in 2003. But in recent months, Britain has joined France, Germany and Israel in disputing that conclusion, saying the work has been resumed.

A senior American official said last week that the United States was now re-evaluating its 2007 conclusions.

The atomic agency’s report also presents evidence that beyond improving upon bomb-making information gathered from rogue nuclear experts around the world, Iran has done extensive research and testing on how to fashion the components of a weapon. It does not say how far that work has progressed.

The report, titled “Possible Military Dimensions of Iran’s Nuclear Program,” was produced in consultation with a range of nuclear weapons experts inside and outside the agency. It draws a picture of a complex program, run by Iran’s Ministry of Defense, “aimed at the development of a nuclear payload to be delivered using the Shahab 3 missile system,” Iran’s medium-range missile, which can strike the Middle East and parts of Europe. The program, according to the report, apparently began in early 2002.

If Iran is designing a warhead, that would represent only part of the complex process of making nuclear arms. Experts say Iran has already mastered the hardest part, enriching the uranium that can be used as nuclear fuel.

While the analysis represents the judgment of the nuclear agency’s senior staff, a struggle has erupted in recent months over whether to make it public. The dispute pits the agency’s departing director, Mohamed ElBaradei, against his own staff and against foreign governments eager to intensify pressure on Iran.

Dr. ElBaradei has long been reluctant to adopt a confrontational strategy with Iran, an approach he considers counterproductive. Responding to calls for the report’s release, he has raised doubts about its completeness and reliability.

Last month, the agency issued an unusual statement cautioning it “has no concrete proof” that Iran ever sought to make nuclear arms, much less to perfect a warhead. On Saturday in India, Dr. ElBaradei was quoted as saying that “a major question” about the authenticity of the evidence kept his agency from “making any judgment at all” on whether Iran had ever sought to design a nuclear warhead.

Even so, the emerging sense in the intelligence world that Iran has solved the major nuclear design problems poses a new diplomatic challenge for President Obama and his allies as they confront Iran.

American officials say that in the direct negotiations with Iran that began last week, it will be vital to get the country to open all of its suspected sites to international inspectors. That is a long list, topped by the underground nuclear enrichment center under construction near Qum, that was revealed 10 days ago.

Iran has acknowledged that the underground facility is intended as a nuclear enrichment center, but says the fuel it makes will be used solely to produce nuclear power and medical isotopes. It was kept heavily protected, Iranian officials said, to ward off potential attacks.

Iran said last week that it would allow inspectors to visit the site this month. In the past three years, amid mounting evidence of a possible military dimension to its nuclear program, Iran has denied the agency wide access to installations, documents and personnel.

In recent weeks, there have been leaks about the internal report, perhaps intended to press Dr. ElBaradei into releasing it.

The report’s existence has been rumored for months, and The Associated Press, saying it had seen a copy, reported fragments of it in September. On Friday, more detailed excerpts appeared on the Web site of the Institute for Science and International Security, run by David Albright, a nuclear expert.

In recent interviews, a senior European official familiar with the contents of the full report described it to The New York Times. He confirmed that Mr. Albright’s excerpts were authentic. The excerpts were drawn from a 67-page version of the report written earlier this year and since revised and lengthened, the official said; its main conclusions remain unchanged.

“This is a running summary of where we are,” the official said.

“But there is some loose language,” he added, and it was “not ready for publication as an official document.”

==========

Page 2 of 2)



Most dramatically, the report says the agency “assesses that Iran has sufficient information to be able to design and produce a workable implosion nuclear device” based on highly enriched uranium.

Weapons based on the principle of implosion are considered advanced models compared with the simple gun-type bomb that the United States dropped on Hiroshima. They use a blast wave from a sphere of conventional explosives to compress a ball of bomb fuel into a supercritical mass, starting the atomic chain reaction and progressing to the fiery blast. Implosion designs, compact by nature, are considered necessary for making nuclear warheads small and powerful enough to fit atop a missile.
The excerpts of the analysis also suggest the Iranians have done a wide array of research and testing to perfect nuclear arms, like making high-voltage detonators, firing test explosives and designing warheads.

The evidence underlying these conclusions is not new: Some of it was reported in a confidential presentation to many nations in early 2008 by the agency’s chief inspector, Ollie Heinonen.

Iran maintains that its scientists have never conducted research on how to make a warhead. Iranian officials say any documents to the contrary are fraudulent.

But in August, a public report to the board of the I.A.E.A. by its staff concluded that the evidence of Iran’s alleged military activity was probably genuine.

It said “the information contained in that documentation appears to have been derived from multiple sources over different periods of time, appears to be generally consistent, and is sufficiently comprehensive and detailed that it needs to be addressed by Iran with a view to removing the doubts” about the nature of its nuclear program.

The agency’s tentative analysis also says that Iran “most likely” obtained the needed information for designing and building an implosion bomb “from external sources” and then adapted the information to its own needs.

It said nothing specific about the “external sources,” but many intelligence agencies assume that Iran obtained a bomb design from A. Q. Khan, the rogue Pakistani black marketer who sold it machines to enrich uranium. That information may have been supplemented by a Russian nuclear weapons scientist who visited Iran often, investigators say.

The I.A.E.A.’s internal report concluded that the staff believed “that non-nuclear experiments conducted in Iran would give confidence that the implosion system would function correctly.”
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« Reply #117 on: October 05, 2009, 07:41:34 AM »

By JOHN BOLTON
The most widely touted outcome of last week's Geneva talks with Iran was the "agreement in principle" to send approximately one nuclear-weapon's worth of Iran's low enriched uranium (LEU) to Russia for enrichment to 19.75% and fabrication into fuel rods for Tehran's research reactor. President Barack Obama says the deal represents progress, a significant confidence-building measure.

In fact, the agreement constitutes another in the long string of Iranian negotiating victories over the West. Any momentum toward stricter sanctions has been dissipated, and Iran's fraudulent, repressive regime again hobnobs with the U.N. Security Council's permanent members. Consider the following problems:

• Is there a deal or isn't there? Diplomacy's three slipperiest words are "agreement in principle." Iran's Ambassador to Britain exclaimed after the talks in Geneva, "No, no!" when asked if his country had agreed to ship LEU to Russia; it had "not been discussed yet." An unnamed Iranian official said that the Geneva deal "is just based on principles. We have not agreed on any amount or any numbers." Bargaining over the deal's specifics could stretch out indefinitely.

Other issues include whether Iran will have "observers" at Russian enrichment facilities. If so, what new technologies might those observers glean? And, since Tehran's reactor is purportedly for medical purposes, will Mr. Obama deny what Iran pretends to need to refuel it in 2010?

• The "agreement" undercuts Security Council resolutions forbidding Iranian uranium enrichment. No U.S. president has been more enamored of international law and the Security Council than Mr. Obama. Yet here he is undermining the foundation of the multilateral campaign against Tehran's nuclear weapons program. In Resolution 1696, adopted July 31, 2006, the Security Council required Iran to "suspend all enrichment-related and reprocessing activities, including research and development." Uranium enriched thereafter—the overwhelming bulk of Iran's admitted LEU—thus violates 1696 and later sanctions resolutions. Moreover, considering Iran's utter lack of credibility, we have no idea whether its declared LEU constitutes anything near its entire stockpile.

By endorsing Iran's use of its illegitimately enriched uranium, Mr. Obama weakens his argument that Iran must comply with its "international obligations." Indeed, the Geneva deal undercuts Mr. Obama's proposal to withhold more sanctions if Iran does not enhance its nuclear program by allowing Iran to argue that continued enrichment for all peaceful purposes should be permissible. Now Iran will oppose new sanctions and argue for repealing existing restrictions. Every other aspiring proliferator is watching how violating Security Council resolutions not only carries no penalty but provides a shortcut to international redemption.

• Raising Iran's LEU to higher enrichment levels is a step backwards. Two-thirds of the work to get 90% enriched uranium, the most efficient weapons grade, is accomplished when U235 isotope levels in natural uranium are enriched to Iran's current level of approximately 3%-5%. Further enrichment of Iran's LEU to 19.75% is a significant step in the wrong direction. This is barely under the 20% definition of weapons-grade, highly enriched uranium (HEU). Ironically, Resolution 1887, adopted while Mr. Obama presided over the Security Council last week, calls for converting HEU-based reactors like Iran's to LEU fuel precisely to lower such proliferation risks. We should be converting the Tehran reactor, not refueling it at 19.75% enrichment.

After Geneva, the administration misleadingly stated that once fashioned into fuel rods, the uranium involved could not be enriched further. This is flatly untrue. The 19.75% enriched uranium could be reconverted into uranium hexafluoride gas and quickly enriched to 90%. Iran could also "burn" its uranium fuel (including the Russian LEU available for the Bushehr reactor) and then chemically extract plutonium from the spent fuel to produce nuclear weapons.

The more sophisticated Iran's nuclear skills become, the more paths it has to manufacture nuclear weapons. The research-reactor bait-and-switch demonstrates convincingly why it cannot be trusted with fissile material under any peaceful guise. Proceeding otherwise would be winking at two decades of Iranian deception, which, unfortunately, Mr. Obama seems perfectly prepared to do.

The president also said last week that international access to the Qom nuclear site must occur within two weeks, but an administration spokesman retreated the next day, saying there was no "hard and fast deadline," and "we don't have like a drop-dead date." Of course, neither does Iran. Once again, Washington has entered the morass of negotiations with Tehran, giving Iran precious time to refine and expand its nuclear program. We are now even further from eliminating Iran's threat than before Geneva.

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 and Abroad" (Simon & Schuster, 2007).
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« Reply #118 on: October 05, 2009, 10:12:44 AM »

One of my patients is a tough negotiator over medicines I suggest to him.
I complemented him and said we need you over there in Iran negotiating with them over the nukes.
He said forget the negotiations.  We should just bomb them to smitherines and go over and plant the American flag.
I said that is what I mean - we need you to get the job done.

Instead we have Obama.

And we will have a nuclear weaponized Iran.

A rebirth of the Persian empire - which is what it is really all about.
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« Reply #119 on: October 05, 2009, 11:38:14 AM »

Bolton who in my mind is the only one seaking the truth was on Fox this weekend and when asked about this loon who is head of the IAEA stated we should be grateful his term as Director is almost up. This is exactly why he said this:
 
****ElBaradei says nuclear Israel number one threat to Mideast: report 
 
TEHRAN, Oct. 4 (Xinhua) -- Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Mohamed ElBaradei said Sunday that "Israel is number one threat to Middle East" with its nuclear arms, the official IRNA news agency reported.

    At a joint press conference with Iran's Atomic Energy Organization chief Ali Akbar Salehi in Tehran, ElBaradei brought Israel under spotlight and said that the Tel Aviv regime has refused to allow inspections into its nuclear installations for 30years, the report said.

    "Israel is the number one threat to the Middle East given the nuclear arms it possesses," ElBaradei was quoted as saying.

    Israel is widely assumed to have nuclear capabilities, although it refuses to confirm or deny the allegation.

    "This (possession of nuclear arms) was the cause for some proper measures to gain access to its (Israel's) power plants ... and the U.S. president has done some positive measures for the inspections to happen," said ElBaradei.

    ElBaradei arrived in Iran Saturday for talks with Iranian officials over Tehran's nuclear program.

    Leaders of the United States, France and Britain have condemned Iran's alleged deception to the international community involving covert activities in its new underground nuclear site.

    Last month, Iran confirmed that it is building a new nuclear fuel enrichment plant near its northwestern city of Qom. In reaction, the IAEA asked Tehran to provide detailed information and access to the new nuclear facility as soon as possible.

    On Sunday, ElBaradei said the UN nuclear watchdog would inspect Iran's new uranium plant near Qom on Oct. 25.*****
 
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« Reply #120 on: October 05, 2009, 04:11:56 PM »


Two Leaks and the Deepening Iran Crisis
October 5, 2009
By George Friedman

Two major leaks occurred this weekend over the Iran matter.

In the first, The New York Times published an article reporting that staff at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the U.N. nuclear oversight group, had produced an unreleased report saying that Iran was much more advanced in its nuclear program than the IAEA had thought previously. According to the report, Iran now has all the data needed to design a nuclear weapon. The New York Times article added that U.S. intelligence was re-examining the National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) of 2007, which had stated that Iran was not actively pursuing a nuclear weapon.

The second leak occurred in the British daily The Times, which reported that the purpose of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s highly publicized secret visit to Moscow on Sept. 7 was to provide the Russians with a list of Russian scientists and engineers working on Iran’s nuclear weapons program.

The second revelation was directly tied to the first. There were many, including STRATFOR, who felt that Iran did not have the non-nuclear disciplines needed for rapid progress toward a nuclear device. Putting the two pieces together, the presence of Russian personnel in Iran would mean that the Iranians had obtained the needed expertise from the Russians. It would also mean that the Russians were not merely a factor in whether there would be effective sanctions but also in whether and when the Iranians would obtain a nuclear weapon.

We would guess that the leak to The New York Times came from U.S. government sources, because that seems to be a prime vector of leaks from the Obama administration and because the article contained information on the NIE review. Given that National Security Adviser James Jones tended to dismiss the report on Sunday television, we would guess the report leaked from elsewhere in the administration. The Times leak could have come from multiple sources, but we have noted a tendency of the Israelis to leak through the British daily on national security issues. (The article contained substantial details on the visit and appeared written from the Israeli point of view.) Neither leak can be taken at face value, of course. But it is clear that these were deliberate leaks — people rarely risk felony charges leaking such highly classified material — and even if they were not coordinated, they delivered the same message, true or not.

The Iranian Time Frame and the Russian Role
The message was twofold. First, previous assumptions on time frames on Iran are no longer valid, and worst-case assumptions must now be assumed. The Iranians are in fact moving rapidly toward a weapon; have been extremely effective at deceiving U.S. intelligence (read, they deceived the Bush administration, but the Obama administration has figured it out); and therefore, we are moving toward a decisive moment with Iran. Second, this situation is the direct responsibility of Russian nuclear expertise. Whether this expertise came from former employees of the Russian nuclear establishment now looking for work, Russian officials assigned to Iran or unemployed scientists sent to Iran by the Russians is immaterial. The Israelis — and the Obama administration — must hold the Russians responsible for the current state of Iran’s weapons program, and by extension, Moscow bears responsibility for any actions that Israel or the United States might take to solve the problem.

We would suspect that the leaks were coordinated. From the Israeli point of view, having said publicly that they are prepared to follow the American lead and allow this phase of diplomacy to play out, there clearly had to be more going on than just last week’s Geneva talks. From the American point of view, while the Russians have indicated that participating in sanctions on gasoline imports by Iran is not out of the question, Russian President Dmitri Medvedev did not clearly state that Russia would cooperate, nor has anything been heard from Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin on the subject. The Russian leadership appears to be playing “good cop, bad cop” on the matter, and the credibility of anything they say on Iran has little weight in Washington.

It would seem to us that the United States and Israel decided to up the ante fairly dramatically in the wake of the Oct. 1 meeting with Iran in Geneva. As IAEA head Mohamed ElBaradei visits Iran, massive new urgency has now been added to the issue. But we must remember that Iran knows whether it has had help from Russian scientists; that is something that can’t be bluffed. Given that this specific charge has been made — and as of Monday not challenged by Iran or Russia — indicates to us more is going on than an attempt to bluff the Iranians into concessions. Unless the two leaks together are completely bogus, and we doubt that, the United States and Israel are leaking information already well known to the Iranians. They are telling Tehran that its deception campaign has been penetrated, and by extension are telling it that it faces military action — particularly if massive sanctions are impractical because of more Russian obstruction.

If Netanyahu went to Moscow to deliver this intelligence to the Russians, the only surprise would have been the degree to which the Israelis had penetrated the program, not that the Russians were there. The Russian intelligence services are superbly competent, and keep track of stray nuclear scientists carefully. They would not be surprised by the charge, only by Israel’s knowledge of it.

This, of course leaves open an enormous question. Certainly, the Russians appear to have worked with the Iranians on some security issues and have played with the idea of providing the Iranians more substantial military equipment. But deliberately aiding Iran in building a nuclear device seems beyond Russia’s interests in two ways. First, while Russia wants to goad the United States, it does not itself really want a nuclear Iran. Second, in goading the United States, the Russians know not to go too far; helping Iran build a nuclear weapon would clearly cross a redline, triggering reactions.

A number of possible explanations present themselves. The leak to The Times might be wrong. But The Times is not a careless newspaper: It accepts leaks only from certified sources. The Russian scientists might be private citizens accepting Iranian employment. But while this is possible, Moscow is very careful about what Russian nuclear engineers do with their time. Or the Russians might be providing enough help to goad the United States but not enough to ever complete the job. Whatever the explanation, the leaks paint the Russians as more reckless than they have appeared, assuming the leaks are true.

And whatever their veracity, the leaks — the content of which clearly was discussed in detail among the P-5+1 prior to and during the Geneva meetings, regardless of how long they have been known by Western intelligence — were made for two reasons. The first was to tell the Iranians that the nuclear situation is now about to get out of hand, and that attempting to manage the negotiations through endless delays will fail because the United Nations is aware of just how far Tehran has come with its weapons program. The second was to tell Moscow that the issue is no longer whether the Russians will cooperate on sanctions, but the consequence to Russia’s relations with the United States and at least the United Kingdom, France and, most important, possibly Germany. If these leaks are true, they are game changers.

We have focused on the Iranian situation not because it is significant in itself, but because it touches on a great number of other crucial international issues. It is now entangled in the Iraqi, Afghan, Israeli, Palestinian, Syrian and Lebanese issues, all of them high-stakes matters. It is entangled in Russian relations with Europe and the United States. It is entangled in U.S.-European relationships and with relationships within Europe. It touches on the U.S.-Chinese relationship. It even touches on U.S. relations with Venezuela and some other Latin American countries. It is becoming the Gordian knot of international relations.

STRATFOR first focused on the Russian connection with Iran in the wake of the Iranian elections and resulting unrest, when a crowd of Rafsanjani supporters began chanting “Death to Russia,” not one of the top-10 chants in Iran. That caused us to focus on the cooperation between Russia and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on security matters. We were aware of some degree of technical cooperation on military hardware, and of course on Russian involvement in Iran’s civilian nuclear program. We were also of the view that the Iranians were unlikely to progress quickly with their nuclear program. We were not aware that Russian scientists were directly involved in Iran’s military nuclear project, which is not surprising, given that such involvement would be Iran’s single-most important state secret — and Russia’s, too.

A Question of Timing
But there is a mystery here as well. To have any impact, the Russian involvement must have been under way for years. The United States has tried to track rogue nuclear scientists and engineers — anyone who could contribute to nuclear proliferation — since the 1990s. The Israelis must have had their own program on this, too. Both countries, as well as European intelligence services, were focused on Iran’s program and the whereabouts of Russian scientists. It is hard to believe that they only just now found out. If we were to guess, we would say Russian involvement has been under way since just after the Orange Revolution in Ukraine, when the Russians decided that the United States was a direct threat to its national security.

Therefore, the decision suddenly to confront the Russians, and suddenly to leak U.N. reports — much more valuable than U.S. reports, which are easier for the Europeans to ignore — cannot simply be because the United States and Israel just obtained this information. The IAEA, hostile to the United States since the invasion of Iraq and very much under the influence of the Europeans, must have decided to shift its evaluation of Iran. But far more significant is the willingness of the Israelis first to confront the Russians and then leak about Russian involvement, something that obviously compromises Israeli sources and methods. And that means the Israelis no longer consider the preservation of their intelligence operation in Iran (or wherever it was carried out) as of the essence.

Two conclusions can be drawn. First, the Israelis no longer need to add to their knowledge of Russian involvement; they know what they need to know. And second, the Israelis do not expect Iranian development to continue much longer; otherwise, maintaining the intelligence capability would take precedence over anything else.

It follows from this that the use of this intelligence in diplomatic confrontations with Russians and in a British newspaper serves a greater purpose than the integrity of the source system. And that means that the Israelis expect a resolution in the very near future — the only reason they would have blown their penetration of the Russian-Iranian system.

Possible Outcomes
There are two possible outcomes here. The first is that having revealed the extent of the Iranian program and having revealed the Russian role in a credible British newspaper, the Israelis and the Americans (whose own leak in The New York Times underlined the growing urgency of action) are hoping that the Iranians realize that they are facing war and that the Russians realize that they are facing a massive crisis in their relations with the West. If that happens, then the Russians might pull their scientists and engineers, join in the sanctions and force the Iranians to abandon their program.

The second possibility is that the Russians will continue to play the spoiler on sanctions and will insist that they are not giving support to the Iranians. This leaves the military option, which would mean broad-based action, primarily by the United States, against Iran’s nuclear facilities. Any military operation would involve keeping the Strait of Hormuz clear, meaning naval action, and we now know that there are more nuclear facilities than previously discussed. So while the war for the most part would be confined to the air and sea, it would be extensive nonetheless.

Sanctions or war remain the two options, and which one is chosen depends on Moscow’s actions. The leaks this weekend have made clear that the United States and Israel have positioned themselves such that not much time remains. We have now moved from a view of Iran as a long-term threat to Iran as a much more immediate threat thanks to the Russians.

The least that can be said about this is that the Obama administration and Israel are trying to reshape the negotiations with the Iranians and Russians. The most that can be said is that the Americans and Israelis are preparing the public for war. Polls now indicate that more than 60 percent of the U.S. public now favors military action against Iran. From a political point of view, it has become easier for U.S. President Barack Obama to act than to not act. This, too, is being transmitted to the Iranians and Russians.

It is not clear to us that the Russians or Iranians are getting the message yet. They have convinced themselves that Obama is unlikely to act because he is weak at home and already has too many issues to juggle. This is a case where a reputation for being conciliatory actually increases the chances for war. But the leaks this weekend have strikingly limited the options and timelines of the United States and Israel. They also have put the spotlight on Obama at a time when he already is struggling with health care and Afghanistan. History is rarely considerate of presidential plans, and in this case, the leaks have started to force Obama’s hand.
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« Reply #121 on: October 05, 2009, 08:40:07 PM »

Another piece that suggests the US is gearing up for war with Iran?
I don't see it.

If polls are correct and a majority of the American public actually support military force (I am not sure I believe this) it certainly is NOT due to anything Obama has done.

It can only be because of what he is not doing.

It can only be people are not as stupid as him and are getting tired of his endless appeasements.

We will see.

What does anyone else think about this?

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« Reply #122 on: October 05, 2009, 10:26:35 PM »

We are watching the end of Israel and America as we knew it.
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« Reply #123 on: October 05, 2009, 11:06:14 PM »

I don't see it either-- BO is painting us into a corner that requires action, but will puss out , , , and everyone knows it.  Sanctions are a meaningless threat without the Russians and the Chinese.

I suppose one could argue that maybe he is holding off on Afg because he knows what comes with Iran, but ultimately the man is universally believed to be a pussy and that is how all players are going to play.

Edited to add this from the WSJ:
==================
NEW YORK—When American diplomats sat down for the first in a series of face-to-face talks with their Iranian counterparts last October in Geneva, few would have predicted that what began as a negotiation over Tehran's nuclear programs would wind up in a stunning demand by the Security Council that Israel give up its atomic weapons.

Yet that's just what the U.N. body did this morning, in a resolution that was as striking for the way member states voted as it was for its substance. All 10 nonpermanent members voted for the resolution, along with permanent members Russia, China and the United Kingdom. France and the United States abstained. By U.N. rules, that means the resolution passes.


 
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad meets IAEA Director General Mohamed ElBaradei.
.The U.S. abstention is sending shock waves through the international community, which has long been accustomed to the U.S. acting as Israel's de facto protector on the Council. It also appears to reverse a decades-old understanding between Washington and Tel Aviv that the U.S. would acquiesce in Israel's nuclear arsenal as long as that arsenal remained undeclared. The Jewish state is believed to possess as many as 200 weapons.

Tehran reacted positively to the U.S. abstention. "For a long time we have said about Mr. Obama that we see change but no improvement," said Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki. "Now we can say there has been an improvement."

The resolution calls for a nuclear weapons-free zone in the Middle East. It also demands that Israel sign the 1970 Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty and submit its nuclear facilities to international inspection. Two similar, albeit nonbinding, resolutions were approved last September by the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna.

At the time, the U.S. opposed a resolution focused on Israel but abstained from a more general motion calling for regional disarmament. "We are very pleased with the agreed approach reflected here today," said then-U.S. Ambassador to the IAEA Glyn Davies.

Since then, however, relations between the Obama administration and the government of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, never warm to begin with, have cooled dramatically. The administration accused Tel Aviv of using "disproportionate force" following a Nov. 13 Israeli aerial attack on an apparent munitions depot in Gaza City, in which more than a dozen young children were killed.

Mr. Netanyahu also provoked the administration's ire after he was inadvertently caught on an open microphone calling Mr. Obama "worse than Chamberlain." The comment followed the president's historic Dec. 21 summit meeting with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in Geneva, the first time leaders of the two countries have met since the Carter administration.

But the factors that chiefly seemed to drive the administration's decision to abstain from this morning's vote were more strategic than personal. Western negotiators have been pressing Iran to make good on its previous agreement in principle to ship its nuclear fuel to third countries so it could be rendered usable in Iran's civilian nuclear facilities. The Iranians, in turn, have been adamant that they would not do so unless progress were made on international disarmament.

"The Iranians have a point," said one senior administration official. "The U.S. can't forever be the enforcer of a double standard where Israel gets a nuclear free ride but Iran has to abide by every letter in the NPT. President Obama has put the issue of nuclear disarmament at the center of his foreign policy agenda. His credibility is at stake and so is U.S. credibility in the Muslim world. How can we tell Tehran that they're better off without nukes if we won't make the same point to our Israeli friends?"

Also factoring into the administration's thinking are reports that the Israelis are in the final stages of planning an attack on Iran's nuclear installations. Defense Secretary Robert Gates, who met with his Israeli counterpart Ehud Barak in Paris last week, has been outspoken in his opposition to such a strike. The Jerusalem Post has reported that Mr. Gates warned Mr. Barak that the U.S. would "actively stand in the way" of any Israeli strike.

"The Israelis need to look at this U.N. vote as a shot across their bow," said a senior Pentagon official. "If they want to start a shooting war with Iran, we won't have their backs on the Security Council."

An Israeli diplomat observed bitterly that Jan. 20 was the 68th anniversary of the Wannsee conference, which historians believe is where Nazi Germany planned the extermination of European Jewry. An administration spokesman said the timing of the vote was "purely coincidental."

Write to bstephens@wsj.com

« Last Edit: October 07, 2009, 06:40:07 AM by Crafty_Dog » Logged
G M
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« Reply #124 on: October 06, 2009, 09:21:53 AM »

But, but Obama wore a kippah at AIPAC.....

 rolleyes
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« Reply #125 on: October 06, 2009, 09:25:23 AM »

Any buyer's remorse yet, Obama voters?
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« Reply #126 on: October 06, 2009, 10:34:55 AM »

***The Iranians are in fact moving rapidly toward a weapon; have been extremely effective at deceiving U.S. intelligence (read, they deceived the Bush administration, but the Obama administration has figured it out***

You mean to tell me everyone was fooled by Iran until the great Obama came around to find out the truth.  Is the above statement some sort of joke??

***The most that can be said is that the Americans and Israelis are preparing the public for war***

What BS spin!  Oh I get it.  Obama has been a resounding success for persuading the American public that *war* is necessary.

So the opinion polls are showing a majority of Americans recognize the need for a military strike and of course this is exactly what OBama has brilliantly manuevered the public to believe?

What horse crap is this?

What good is this article that suggests such outragesouly ridiculous ideas?  And anyway, their numerous conclusions are all predicated on numerous assumptions and outright guesses.

I can't take this guy George Friedman seriously.  He has an air of knowing what he is talking about but on closer look it is mostly BS speculation and outrageous in some opinions at that.


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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #127 on: October 06, 2009, 10:49:35 AM »

IMHO I have found GF to be one of the deepest and most perceptive observers that we have.

That said I agree with your questioning of some of his premises here. 

The problem may lie in the fact that GF's model seeks to be coldly analytical and not at all partisan.   As I see it, the fact of the matter is that our President is talking and taking certain steps consistent only with action-- and I have seen serious US polls that think some 70% of the American people think he is being too soft on Iran.  GF HAS said that various actors doubt our President has a line that he will not allow to be crossed; as I understand GF's model it includes making such assessments.

That doesn't change the fact that we seem to have elected a clueless pussy.
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« Reply #128 on: October 06, 2009, 08:37:39 PM »

Is the U.S. Preparing to Bomb Iran?
Is the U.S. Stepping Up Preparations for a Possible Attack on Iran's Nuclear Facilities?
By JONATHAN KARL
Oct. 6, 2009—


Is the U.S. stepping up preparations for a possible attack on Iran's nuclear facilities?

The Pentagon is always making plans, but based on a little-noticed funding request recently sent to Congress, the answer to that question appears to be yes.

First, some background: Back in October 2007, ABC News reported that the Pentagon had asked Congress for $88 million in the emergency Iraq/Afghanistan war funding request to develop a gargantuan bunker-busting bomb called the Massive Ordnance Penetrator (MOP). It's a 30,000-pound bomb designed to hit targets buried 200 feet below ground. Back then, the Pentagon cited an "urgent operational need" for the new weapon.

Now the Pentagon is shifting spending from other programs to fast forward the development and procurement of the Massive Ordnance Penetrator. The Pentagon comptroller sent a request to shift the funds to the House and Senate Appropriations and Armed Services Committees over the summer.

Click here to see a copy of the Pentagon's request, provided to ABC News.

The comptroller said the Pentagon planned to spend $19.1 million to procure four of the bombs, $28.3 million to accelerate the bomb's "development and testing", and $21 million to accelerate the integration of the bomb onto B-2 stealth bombers.


'Urgent Operational Need'
The notification was tucked inside a 93-page "reprogramming" request that included a couple hundred other more mundane items.

Why now? The notification says simply, "The Department has an Urgent Operational Need (UON) for the capability to strike hard and deeply buried targets in high threat environments. The MOP is the weapon of choice to meet the requirements of the UON." It further states that the request is endorsed by Pacific Command (which has responsibility over North Korea) and Central Command (which has responsibility over Iran).


Is the U.S. Preparing to Bomb Iran?
The request was quietly approved. On Friday, McDonnell Douglas was awarded a $51.9 million contract to provide "Massive Penetrator Ordnance Integration" on B-2 aircraft.

This is not the kind of weapon that would be particularly useful in Iraq or Afghanistan, but it is ideally suited to hit deeply buried nuclear facilities such as Natanz or Qom in Iran.


Copyright © 2009 ABC News Internet Ventures
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #129 on: October 08, 2009, 06:08:41 AM »

Again Stratfor seems to think the US leadership is capable of military action against Iran.

Nonetheless, as is usually the case with anything from Stratfor, there is much to consider:

Russia Responds on the Iran Issue
AFTER A WEEK OF SILENCE following the Oct. 1 talks with Iran in Geneva, Russian officials issued a series of statements Tuesday. First, Deputy Foreign Minister Aleksey Borodavkin told Itar-Tass directly that Russia intends to continue its military-technical cooperation with Iran, though within the strict framework of international laws on such matters. Borodavkin’s statement comes in response to U.S. and Israeli demands for Russia to stop supporting Iran. Later in the day, National Security Council chief Nikolai Patrushev denied a report in Britain’s Sunday Times that stated Israel had confronted Moscow with evidence that Russian scientists were aiding Iran in the development of a nuclear weapons program.

Russia has been in a tense position since the Geneva talks. Though the P-5+1 and Tehran reached a tentative agreement to allow Iran’s nuclear facilities to be inspected, under the authority of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Washington and Tehran are still heading toward a crisis. At the heart of this crisis is Russia: It is Russia that is helping Iran with its civilian nuclear program, and Russia is the country that could undermine the effectiveness of U.S. sanctions against Iran. Moscow also occasionally raises the specter of more significant military assistance to Iran, in the form of modern strategic air defense systems like the S-300.

“If Russia was directly linked to the crisis, it would wreck Moscow’s ability to negotiate not only with the United States but with the West as a whole, including Europe.”
In the past week, a flurry of leaks has escalated tensions between the United States and Iran. There was a leak from the IAEA stating that Iran’s nuclear program is much more advanced than previously thought, as well as leaks from the United States that the government is re-examining its intelligence estimates on Iran’s program. But what was really interesting was the leak about Israel’s evidence that Russia is helping Iran with its nuclear weapons program (instead of nuclear energy for civilian purposes). This leak not only heightened the sense of an impending crisis between the United States and Iran, but also pointed a finger directly at Russia.

Yet Russia was silent for a week after the Geneva talks, and for three days after the Sunday Times reported the accusations against it. But the silence has now been broken.

The Russians took their time deciding how to respond on all fronts. As expected, Moscow denied that it was helping Iran develop a weapons program. For Russia to achieve its goal, it must be seen as supportive of Iran, but not as the cause of the turmoil between Washington and Tehran. If Russia was directly linked to the crisis, it would wreck Moscow’s ability to negotiate not only with the United States but with the West as a whole, including Europe.

While Russia distances itself from the leaked Israeli accusation, it is the statement from Borodavkin that is critical. Russia is reserving the right to continue its military relationship with Iran, despite the U.S. and Israeli demands to stop. Russia is pushing the United States into a dilemma.

Moscow sees three possible outcomes of the crisis.

First, the United States could try to cut a deal with the Russians: Washington would concede on issues in Moscow’s sphere of influence, in exchange for Russia backing away from Iran. But the United States would have to give up much more than missile defense in Europe. Russia wants control in the former Soviet sphere and in Europe.

The second possible outcome would be the United States backing down on the Iran issue, which Russia would see as a very public demonstration of Washington’s weakness.

The third possibility is that the United States would take military action against Iran and get involved in a third war in the Middle East. The Russians believe that as long as Washington is focused on Iran, it cannot also be focused on their actions.

Moscow is playing a complex and dangerous game with Iran and the United States. For the past several years, Russia has made it clear to the United States that it wanted Washington to quit meddling in its periphery and recognize Russia as the predominant Eurasian power. The United States, under the previous and current administrations, ignored Russia’s demands. Russia has proven recently — through the August 2008 Russo-Georgian war, for example — that it cannot be ignored. As it seeks to push back against the United States, Moscow does not see a downside to the U.S.-Iranian crisis, except possibly one: A short, sharp air and naval campaign that hurls Iran back a generation, combined with a U.S. pullout from Iraq and Afghanistan, would leave Russia without its Iran card, and looking at an angry United States that has a very free hand.
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ccp
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« Reply #130 on: October 08, 2009, 02:04:37 PM »

Well, the analysis of the chess game Russia may or may not be playing certainly seems logical and sound.

But the following part sounds like wishful thinking especially when all I've heard from this administration is that military action would be a "disaster". And the thought of Obama allowing the specter of thousands of Iranians killed getting splashed all over international TV just seems completely antethetical to his known historical and career long liberalism and his obvious quest to be The Savior of the World (as Crafty notes, "the One"):

"A short, sharp air and naval campaign that hurls Iran back a generation, combined with a U.S. pullout from Iraq and Afghanistan, would leave Russia without its Iran card, and looking at an angry United States that has a very free hand."

I guess the only other explanation is there are some pro-Israeli hawks keeping the military option REALLY on the table and not just (as appears to me) nothing more than a simple bluff.
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #131 on: October 08, 2009, 04:52:36 PM »

Usually I agree with Stratfor on most things, but I agree with you about the estrogen orientation of this President.

In fairness it must be said that
a) I don't sense our military chomping at the bit
b) Bush left us seriously overextended viz the Russians.  For the strategy he was following IMHO it was really poor judgment to not expand our bandwith

OTOH maybe if candidate BO hadn't been such a vigorous advocate of running away from Iraq, and as President maybe if he hadn't demonstrated so much weakness and poor judgement, then maybe the Iranians, the Russians et al would be taking us more seriously.
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Freki
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« Reply #132 on: October 08, 2009, 08:12:17 PM »

Our economic problems also favor Russia.  If they can manipulate things so oil prices rise it hurts us.  It is in their intrests to weaken us.  Our politicians are fools to think they can win Russian support in these circumstances.
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DougMacG
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« Reply #133 on: October 08, 2009, 11:09:25 PM »

Stratfor can be so good in their analysis and writing that it can be easy to forget that most conclusions are admittedly based on conjecture.  Even within the responsible agencies and with all the security clearances, much intelligence is false and much of what is needed just doesn't exist.  I think Strat is valuable so often just for asking the right questions even if their answer is just one opinion.

Maybe a military action (against Iranian nukes)would be a disaster or maybe a short, sharp air and naval campaign to set them back a generation is possible.  From our point of view in the armchair, the strike now question is hypothetical - assuming that we can.  But we don't know that.

With Osirak 1981, the Iraqis might not have known the Israelis could do that. With SDI, the enemy thought we could and the Americans thought we couldn't. Nuclear disarmament, forcible or negotiated is tricky business.
---
Freki, What you write about Russia is true.  I would add that as an energy producer, Russia wants higher prices for oil regardless of how it affects us, and for the US as we choose to leave our energy in the ground and choose to pay enemies for energy - the price spikes that threaten our economy and our security are our own damn fault. 

For China I think the situation is the opposite of Russia.  They are highly dependent on the US economy, the dollar and the value of their already sunken investment.
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G M
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« Reply #134 on: October 09, 2009, 08:42:52 AM »

I disagree Doug. China has us by the short and curlies. They couldn't build a military that could defeat ours for the amount of money they used to buy our debt. Now, they are using their financial leverage to bend us to their will. Unrestricted warfare, financial edition.

"The acme of skill is to defeat an enemy without fighting".

"He who understands himself and his opponent need not fear the outcome of a thousand battles"

Sun Tzu
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ccp
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« Reply #135 on: October 09, 2009, 09:34:24 AM »

Well not only did Arafat win the prize, the guy who was happy to see suicide bombers murder innocent travelers in ariplanes and was one of the original architects of what we now call terrorism look at who won the prize in 2005!

The one and only guy who now considers Israel's nukes to be the biggest threat to world peace!

What a joke.

So is Stardfor still thinking BO is going to bomb Iran??  They have got to be kidding.  LOL the peace prize winner is going to bomb Iran's military installations.  If he had any thoughts of doing so this about kills those thoughts.

Come to think of it perhaps the Russians, Chinese, or Iranians bribed those guys in Sweden.

http://nobelprizes.com/nobel/peace/peace.html
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« Reply #136 on: October 09, 2009, 10:18:32 AM »

I corrected the wrong thread before - sorry.
eom
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #137 on: October 09, 2009, 11:20:30 AM »

U.S.: Broadening the BMD Network
Stratfor Today » October 9, 2009 | 1347 GMT

CHOI WON-SUK/AFP/Getty Images
U.S. Assistant Secretary of Defense Alexander Vershbow in April 2008U.S. Assistant Secretary of Defense Alexander Vershbow said Ukraine has been added to the list of countries that could be included in the United States’ developing ballistic missile defense (BMD) network. The statement, given in an interview to Defense News magazine, which published Oct. 9, surprised the Russians for several reasons.

In and of itself, the Russians do not care much about the BMD program. Russia sees its long-term security guaranteed mostly by its nuclear deterrent. The U.S. BMD program in its current incarnation is expressly designed only to protect the United States from a handful of missiles from a rogue country such as Iran or North Korea; but the Russians fear that, with time and experience, the BMD program could grow into something more capable. And since Moscow, during the Cold War, was far from confident in its ability to counter American BMD (then called Star Wars), modern Russia — with fewer financial and technological resources — is doubly concerned.

But the more immediate Russian concern is not so much BMD, but Ukraine. Ukraine is integrated fully into the Russian industrial and agricultural heartland and is critical for the operation of the Russia’s transport and energy networks. Ukraine also happens to hold the populations and transport links that allow Russia to control the Caucasus, as well as lying within 300 miles of Moscow and Volgograd. With Ukraine, Russia can make a serious effort to become a major power again. Without Ukraine, it is feasible to start thinking about Russia’s (permanent) decline. Such thinking is precisely the sort of activity the Russians do not want anyone spending time on.

In fact, the Kremlin is on a bit of a roll, having recently managed to surge their influence into Germany, Azerbaijan, Turkey and even Poland. STRATFOR sees Russia’s influence growing with every passing day. In particular, Moscow believes it has Ukraine not simply locked down, but on the final path toward excising all elements of the 2004 pro-Western Orange Revolution.

So, Vershbow’s statement has really grabbed Russia’s attention. As Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov noted, “The statement by Alexander Vershbow was rather unexpected. In principle, he is a person who is prone to extravagancies. We would like to receive full clarification.”

Which brings us back to Vershbow himself: Former U.S. ambassador to both NATO and Russia, he knows the Russian mind as well as is possible for an American. In his new job at the Defense Department, his primary task is to try to keep Ukraine and Georgia — another sore spot with the Russians — independent.

At present, STRATFOR cannot confirm the core of Vershbow’s interview — whether Ukraine is a serious candidate for a BMD station. What we can say is that the Americans have been reaching for a means of not simply halting Russia’s rise, but eliciting Russian cooperation on containing the Iranian nuclear program. The first part of that is forcing Russia’s attention onto topics the Americans want to discuss.

“Extravagancies” or not, Vershbow is certainly a person who knows how to capture Russia’s attention.
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Rarick
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« Reply #138 on: October 11, 2009, 08:31:53 PM »

Wait?  I thought that the BMD system had been canceled due to budget.  Is it back on the table as a negotiating point with the Russians? 

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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #139 on: October 12, 2009, 02:02:40 AM »

Not quite. May I suggest rereading this thread? and perhaps the US Foreign Affairs thread?
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« Reply #140 on: October 12, 2009, 07:59:15 AM »

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1219569/Revealed-Al-Qaeda-suspect-worked-UK-laboratory.html#

Fears Al Qaeda-linked scientist was planning nuclear attack on UK after MI5 learn he worked at top-secret British lab

By Jason Lewis and Peter Allen
Last updated at 9:36 AM on 11th October 2009

Raid scene: French police at the modest flat in Vienne where Adlene and Halim Hicheur were arrested on Thursday

A brilliant young nuclear scientist who was arrested in France last week over alleged links to Al Qaeda had worked for a top-secret British nuclear research centre.

Last night fears were growing that Dr Adlene Hicheur – who was a researcher for the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory in Oxfordshire for a year – could have been planning a nuclear attack in the UK.

The French government said yesterday that the arrest of Hicheur, 32, and his brother Dr Halim Hicheur, 25, could have averted a terrorist atrocity.

They were seized after an 18-month investigation by French anti-terrorist police hours before Adlene Hicheur was due to travel to the laboratory where he now works at, CERN, the European Organisation for Nuclear Research near Geneva.


Halim Hicheur carries out research at similar high-security scientific institutions around Europe.

The brothers’ council flat was stormed at 6am last Thursday by eight masked officers from the elite Central Directorate of Interior Intelligence (CDII), the French equivalent of MI5, and 20 armed riot officers.

With almost no noise, a spearhead unit rushed up the concrete steps leading to the cramped flat in Vienne, South-East France. A battering ram was used to break the lock and the warning ‘Armed police!’ shouted.

Large-calibre machine pistols and other weapons were aimed at those inside the flat, including the brothers’ parents and siblings.

Secret agents had been monitoring the brothers’ movements, and all their phone calls, text messages and emails were being bugged ‘in real time and minute by minute’, according to a security source.


‘It was like we were sitting on their shoulders. We knew exactly what they were saying.’

 
Mysteries of the universe: An aerial view of the Rutherford Appleton lab where Dr Hicheur worked

 
The source said that Adlene Hicheur had been ‘pinpointing nuclear targets’ but would not be more specific.

The scientists were being questioned last night at the maximum-security headquarters of the CDII on the outskirts of Paris while MI5 began trying to piece together their movements and contacts in Britain.

French Interior Minister Brice Hortefeux said both men posed such a serious threat that he had halted the long-running surveillance operation and ordered their ‘immediate’ arrest.

‘The investigation will reveal what were the objectives in France or elsewhere of these men,’ he said. ‘Maybe the inquiry will reveal that, thanks to these two arrests, the worst could have been avoided.’

Mr Hortefeux said the apparently mild-mannered, highly religious brothers were a ‘high-level threat’ who were suspected of ‘criminal activities related to a terrorist group’.

Last night, MI5 was understood to be examining their British links amid fears that they were plotting to launch a nuclear attack in the UK. A spokesman for the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory refused to release details about Adlene Hicheur’s time there.

Fears were growing that the men may have been in a position to smuggle nuclear material out of a secure lab for use in a ‘dirty bomb’ attack, or to plant explosives inside the sensitive facility.

According to European intelligence sources, MI5 had been warned that the suspects ‘are outstanding scientists who had been honing their techniques in nuclear fusion across the world.

‘There are genuine fears that they were locating terrorist targets, especially in countries like France and Britain. Their level of expertise in nuclear fusion was improving all the time, leading to the terrifying scenario of a terrorist nuclear attack.’

The arrests followed surveillance  that had logged the French-Algerians’ ‘every word and every move’, including frequent visits to England.

The Mail on Sunday understands that MI5 and British police had begun their own investigation into the two men after the French provided a full breakdown of their visits to, and work in, the UK.


The police will want to question anyone who has worked with or studied alongside either man at Britain’s scientific research centres or universities.

The brothers first came to the attention of French anti-terrorist officers when their names cropped up in an investigation trying to identify French jihadists fighting Nato forces in Afghanistan.

The decision to arrest them followed the interception of internet exchanges with people identified as having links to terrorists in Algeria. The messages reportedly included information on potential targets in France and elsewhere in Europe.

The brothers’ British links included Adlene’s work for the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, as well as research at university cities including London, Manchester, Durham, Edinburgh and St Andrews. They had also spent time studying at Ivy League universities in the US.

Adlene Hicheur is a former research fellow at the Rutherford Appleton and still visits the UK for conferences and other meetings. He and Halim are accused of compiling information about possible targets and sending it to contacts in North Africa involved with Al Qaeda Islamic Maghreb (AQIM).

The group is thought to have been behind a number of terror attacks in Algeria and has recently been linked to a call for vengeance against China for mistreatment of its Muslim minority during riots in July.

European intelligence sources said that Adlene Hicheur, who studied at Stanford University in California before moving to Oxfordshire, had expressed a ‘very strong wish to carry out attacks anywhere where Western security interests can be damaged’.

This included ‘countries like Britain and any others where Americans are well represented’, the source added, making it clear that neither brother had yet ‘carried out an attack nor put the material into place to do so’.

Adlene Hicheur is now working on analysis projects with CERN’s Large Hadron Collider. The nuclear research body said he ‘was not a full-time CERN employee’ and claimed ‘his work did not bring him into contact with anything that could be used for terrorism’.


But there is no doubt that his role would have made him  useful to terrorists, especially those keen to  develop a nuclear capability.

The Mail on Sunday has learned that Adlene Hicheur used to work at another atomic collider – the two-mile long Stanford Linear Accelerator (SLAC) at Stanford University in 2001.

‘Some people at the department were freaked out when they were told about the allegations against him,’ a source at the US Department of Energy said. ‘But there really is nothing to worry about because this lab conducts basic science.’

Unmarried Adlene Hicheur still lived with his elderly parents on the council estate in the working-class L’Isle district of Vienne.

‘The raid was a shock to all of us,’ said Veronique Reguillon, 48, who lives in the flat upstairs. ‘The police were in and out in a few minutes, with neither of the boys putting up any resistance.


Adlene is a quiet, studious type who never caused any trouble on the estate. He grew up here with his brother and three sisters. The family has had the same flat for 30 years.

‘His mum and dad are immigrants from Algeria and have worked hard all their lives. They are devout Muslims, with all the women in the family often wearing veils.

‘Adlene is a brilliant academic. Halim is like his brother – well-mannered, hard-working and studious. Their parents will be finding this very hard to take.’

Under French anti-terror laws, the brothers can be held for four days before being formally charged.

The antimatter bomb and the recipe for a Hollywood blockbuster


 
Chilling: Tom Hanks stars in the apocalyptic film Angels & Demons

The arrest of Al Qaeda suspect Dr Adlene Hicheur as he set off for his laboratory at CERN has chilling echoes of Hollywood thriller Angels & Demons, starring Tom Hanks as Professor Robert Langdon.

Based on the best-selling book by Da Vinci Code author Dan Brown, the blockbuster’s apocalyptic plot opens at CERN.

In Brown’s story, a flask containing highly dangerous antimatter is stolen from a secret physics laboratory by an underground brotherhood called The Illuminati and taken to Rome, where they plan to use it to destroy the Vatican.

If antimatter came into contact with matter, they would violently annihilate each other. But in reality, the amount needed to cause such a mighty occurrence, and the expense and difficulty of producing it, mean this proposition belongs firmly in the realms of fiction.

CERN does produce antimatter in its quest to unlock the secrets of the universe and observe the hypothetical Higgs Boson which scientists refer to as the ‘God Particle’ as it gives all matter mass.


The Large Hadron Collider, a 17-mile circular tunnel, tries to recreate conditions soon after the Big Bang 13.7billion years ago by blasting protons together at 99.99 per cent of the speed of light.

It took 20 years, 10,000 scientists, and £5billion to create, but the equipment failed soon after its launch in September last year. However, it should be operational next month.
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DougMacG
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« Reply #141 on: October 12, 2009, 10:43:57 AM »

"I thought that the BMD system had been canceled due to budget."

The Russians opposed missile defense sites in Czech and Poland.  Obama wanted Russian cooperation on Iran.  Obama canceled those sites, backstabbing our allies.  Later Sec. of Defense Gates wrote that we have a much better missile defense plan in the works, unbeknown to the Czechs and Poles and likely to be again canceled later.  Now Russia is allegedly upset about that and can still sabotage cooperation against Iran.

A government 2 trillion out of balance is not likely to feel constrained by a budget.
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ccp
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« Reply #142 on: October 13, 2009, 10:23:18 AM »

What??

I don't get it.  No one has the cohonas to come out and say that military action is needed.  Instead the talking heads all seem to take the politically correct road calling for harsher sanctions including billary.  And of course we must get Russia on board.  Now this from the billiary.  If this does not prove that our negotiations with Russia are a total and complete failure and that Russia is playing us as are the Iranians than I don't know what does.  A week ago the left in the MSM were estatic about trumpeting Obama's triumph at getting the Russians on board with sanctions.  God, where is the outrage from the media at the ineptidude of this administrations policy with Iran??

How long does the US have to look like morons?  Forget the goddamn Nobel Prize.  Sometimes if one wants peace one has to fight for it.

Now that I have vented:
 
MOSCOW, October 13 (RIA Novosti) - U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said after talks with Russia's foreign minister on Tuesday that neither country is seeking to impose sanctions against Iran under the current circumstances.

Clinton said sanctions over Iran’s controversial uranium enrichment program would be premature, and that Russia was being “extremely cooperative in the work we have done together” on the issue.

Lavrov said Russia is “in principle very reserved on sanctions, as they rarely produce results.”

He said sanctions should only be used when all diplomatic means have been exhausted, and that “in the situation with Iran, this is far from the case.”

Lavrov also said the U.S. and Russia had identical positions on the issue.

“We are not asking anything of each other on Iran, because it would be ridiculous to make requests on an issue where our positions coincide,” he said.

However, Clinton said that sanctions over North Korea's nuclear program would remain in place.

"We have absolutely no intention of relaxing or offering to relax North Korean sanctions at this point whatsoever," she said.

Clinton will later meet with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev. Before her arrival in Russia as part of a European tour, Clinton had visited Switzerland, the U.K., and Ireland.

 angry

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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #143 on: October 20, 2009, 05:10:30 PM »

Summary
Iran demanded Oct. 20 that France not participate in the talks on Tehran’s nuclear weapons program, claiming that Paris has not honored past agreements with the Islamic republic. The delay is just one of several that Iran has been storing up to use during the negotiations, but comes at a time when Western patience with Iranian obfuscation is wearing thin.

Analysis
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The Iranian Nuclear Game
Negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program stalled yet again Oct. 20 in Vienna. This time, the Iranians have demanded that France, one of the parties attending the talks, now be barred because Paris has failed to honor past agreements with Tehran on delivering nuclear material. Though it comes as no surprise that the Iranians are delaying these talks again, such tactics are likely to come at a cost for Tehran this time around.

Tehran had agreed Oct. 1 to meet with France, Russia and the United States at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) headquarters in Vienna from Oct. 19 to Oct. 20 and work toward a compromise on Iran’s uranium enrichment needs.

The deal on the table going into these talks was for Iran to ship most, if not all, of its low-enriched fuel to Russia for further enrichment. From Russia, the additionally enriched fuel would be sent to France for conversion into metal fuel rods and medical isotopes and then shipped back to Tehran for either medical use or installment in a small research reactor in Tehran. The medical isotopes would provide Iran with more highly enriched fuel, but would not be in a volume or form that Iran could exploit easily for weapons use. According to this plan, the bulk of enriched fuel would essentially be taken out of Tehran’s hands, thus assuaging widespread fears that Iran would build up its stockpiles, continue to enrich and potentially achieve high levels of enrichment sufficient for use in a bomb within a year.

However, Tehran is now kicking France out of the talks, claiming that Paris has not fulfilled its commitment in delivering nuclear materials to Iran in the past. Tehran is referring to its 10 percent share in a Eurodif nuclear facility in France that has refrained from delivering enriched uranium to Iran. France, quite reasonably, has withheld the enriched uranium out of its desire to avoid an array of U.N. sanctions that bar countries and companies from trading any material, equipment or technology that could be diverted to an Iranian weapons program.

The complaint against France is part of a large volume of delaying tactics that the Iranians have held in reserve for these negotiations. Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator, Ali Akbar Salehi, played good cop representing Iran on Oct. 1 in Geneva, where he struck a conciliatory tone and gave the P-5+1 group a glimmer of hope in the negotiations. Salehi then decided to stay home Oct. 19 and instead sent Ali Asghar Soltanieh, Iran’s ambassador to the IAEA, who was apparently playing bad cop in stunting the talks.

Iran is now refusing to send its enriched uranium abroad and insisting on continuing uranium enrichment at home. Moreover, Tehran is turning the original deal on its head, saying that even as Iran has the right to hold onto its low-enriched uranium, it also has the right to buy nuclear fuel (for “peaceful purposes”) from countries that have signed the Nonproliferation Treaty.

This is not exactly what the United States and its allies had in mind. Iran allegedly has about 1,400 kilograms of low-enriched uranium in its possession, and the P-5+1 was aiming to have at least 1,200 kilograms shipped abroad to get as much enriched uranium as possible out of Iran. Iran is believed to have been able to enrich its uranium only to about 5 percent — enough for civil nuclear power generation, but below the 20 percent needed to produce medical isotopes and well below the 80-90 percent required for use in a nuclear device.

The 1,400 kilograms of low-enriched uranium Iran is believed to have currently is theoretically more than enough raw material for the country to develop a nuclear device or two within a one-year time frame. However, that estimate assumes that Iran has enough technical centrifuge expertise –- and that is a big assumption -– to enrich its low-enriched uranium to the 80-90 percent threshold. It is no secret that Iran faces significant qualitative challenges in its centrifuge operations, but this is still not a risk that many countries — particularly, Israel — are willing to take. If Iran holds onto to its low-enriched uranium, it will be able to continue building stockpiles and furthering its work on centrifuge enrichment.

Iran evidently is feeling confident enough to blow off the nuclear talks for now, but it also will not be able to disregard Israel’s military maneuvers in the region. Operation Juniper Cobra — the largest-ever U.S.-Israeli biennial military exercise — is scheduled to kick off Oct. 21. The exercise, which will focus on joint ballistic missile defense capabilities, is a clear warning to Tehran that neither the Israelis nor the Americans are going to put their military preparations on hold while Iran performs its nuclear dance in Europe.

Israel will become more aggressive in demanding decisive action against Iran in the weeks ahead. The United States, meanwhile, is still struggling to keep a positive face while the diplomatic phase plays out with Iran. Rumors are circulating in Washington that a revised National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) on Iran’s nuclear program based on new intelligence gleaned from Iranian defectors will be put together and will reverse the judgment from the 2007 NIE that claimed Iran had halted its work on a nuclear weapons program as early as 2003. Though a reassessment is likely in order, politics in Washington currently dictate that the United States refrain from making any move that would provide Tehran with an excuse to walk away from the negotiating table. If, however, it appears as though Iran is walking anyway, the time may be approaching for the United States to ratchet things up again.
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« Reply #144 on: October 22, 2009, 07:12:24 AM »



Iran Deal Would Slow Making of Nuclear Bombs Sign in to Recommend
by DAVID E. SANGER
Published: October 21, 2009
VIENNA — Iranian negotiators have agreed to a draft deal that would delay the country’s ability to build a nuclear weapon for about a year, buying more time for President Obama to search for a diplomatic solution to the Iranian nuclear standoff.

Under the tentative accord hammered out in international talks here, Iran agreed to ship about three-quarters of its known stockpile of nuclear fuel to Russia for conversion into a form it could use only in a peaceful nuclear reactor, participants in the negotiations said Wednesday. But the arrangement would still have to be approved by Friday in Tehran and Washington.

If Tehran’s divided leadership agrees to the accord, which Iran’s negotiators indicated was not assured, it will remove enough nuclear fuel from Iran to delay any work on a nuclear weapon until the country can replenish its stockpile of fuel, estimated to require about one year. As such, it would buy more time for Mr. Obama to try to negotiate a more comprehensive and more difficult agreement to end Iran’s production of new nuclear material.

Obama administration officials expressed cautious optimism that the agreement could increase the chances of striking a broader diplomatic accord and put off any decision about whether to address the Iranian nuclear threat by other means, including military action. In particular, the United States is seeking to convince Israel that negotiations have reduced the risk that Iran could throw out nuclear inspectors and quickly turn its reactor fuel into bomb fuel.

“There’s a part of this that’s about getting our diplomacy with Iran started, and a part that’s about convincing the Israelis that there’s no reason to drop hints that they are going to reach for a military solution,” one senior administration official said from Washington.

The Friday deadline for Iran to respond also poses a major test for its embattled leadership, one that is “intended to explore the proposition of whether Iran really wants to negotiate its way out of this problem,” in the words of one White House official.

“We want it to make it clear we’ve made bona fide offers to the Iranians,” the official said.

The agreement was conceived as a test of Iran’s intentions. Iran claims that it needs the uranium fuel it has produced — in violation of several United Nations Security Council resolutions — for peaceful purposes, citing, among other uses, the Tehran Research Reactor, which makes medical isotopes. Iran said it needed to further enrich 2,600 pounds of uranium, which amounts to three-quarters of its claimed stockpile of the fuel, for that purpose.

Under the draft agreement, Iran would ship that fuel to Russia for further enrichment, and Russia would return it to Iran in the form of metal fuel rods. Those could be used in a reactor but not a nuclear weapon. The deal would take away enough of Iran’s existing stockpile of uranium to make it difficult to produce a nuclear weapon until it has time to produce more raw fuel.

Some White House officials argue that the Bush administration, by refusing to talk to Iran, never forced its leadership to make such a choice. If Iran rejects the accord, administration officials believe, that could make it easier to get Security Council approval for harsher financial sanctions, a step that Russia and China have steadfastly resisted so far.

The same theory applies to Iran’s behavior on Sunday, when a team of atomic energy agency inspectors is to arrive for a first look at a newly revealed nuclear enrichment plant buried deep inside a mountain near the holy city of Qum. Inspectors have already asked Iran for far more than just a visit. They say they want engineering drawings, permission to interview scientists and others involved in planning the long-hidden nuclear site, and explanations about whether there are other hidden plants to feed the one at Qum with nuclear material. So far the Iranians have not responded.

Even if approved, the deal will represent only one small step toward resolving what has become one of the most complex foreign policy challenges facing Mr. Obama and the Middle East. Because Iran continues to produce nuclear fuel at a rapid clip, this accord would be only a temporary fix, though a symbolically important one.

American officials, including the head of the negotiating delegation here, Daniel B. Poneman, dodged reporters on Wednesday and declined to discuss the contents of the agreement drafted by the director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Mohamed ElBaradei. He set the deadline of Friday for all sides “to give, I hope, affirmative action” to the accord, which he said was “a balanced agreement.”

Dr. ElBaradei, who is leaving his job at the end of next month, said he hoped that leaders in the West and in Tehran would “see the big picture” and approve the agreement. But his voice was tinged with doubt.

While the amount of uranium that would be exported is significant, a critical part of the agreement is the timing of the shipments. Mr. Poneman, the deputy secretary of energy, and other American officials have so far refused to discuss such issues.

“We are not going to get into the details,” said Mike Hammer, a spokesman for the National Security Council.

The energy agency’s experts said Iran would have too little fuel on hand to build a nuclear weapon for roughly a year after a shipment to Russia. But if the 2,600 pounds of fuel was shipped out of Iran in small batches instead of all at once, the experts warn, Iran would be able to replace it with new fuel almost as quickly as it leaves the country.

Also of concern is the possibility that Iran might have more nuclear fuel in its stockpile than it is letting on. The agency’s estimate that it has 3,500 pounds of low-enriched uranium “assumes that Iran has accurately declared how much fuel it possesses, and does not have a secret supply,” as one senior European diplomat put it on the sidelines of negotiations in Vienna.

Ultimately, Mr. Obama would have to get Iran to agree to give up the enrichment process as well. Otherwise, the fuel taken out of circulation in the draft accord would soon be replaced.

It was not immediately clear why a draft agreement could not be declared final. But it appeared that the Iranian delegation lacked that authority as it navigated an Iranian leadership that is clearly divided on the question of whether, and how quickly, to pursue the nuclear program.
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« Reply #145 on: October 24, 2009, 06:33:38 AM »

One sign that an adversary isn't serious about negotiating is when it rejects even your concessions. That seemed to be the case yesterday when Iran gave signs it may turn down an offer from Russia, Europe and the U.S. to let Tehran enrich its uranium under foreign supervision outside the country. The mullahs so far won't take yes for an answer.

Tehran had previously looked set to accept the deal, which is hardly an obstacle to its nuclear program. A Democratic foreign policy shop called the National Security Network heralded the expected pact in a blast email this week as "Engagement Paying Dividends on Iran." But now Tehran may be holding out for even more concessions, as Iranian news reports suggest Iran wants to be able to buy more enriched uranium from a third country to use in a research reactor for medical use—as opposed to shipping its uranium to Russia for a roundtrip.

This may merely be the equivalent of last-minute haggling over the price of a Persian carpet, because the West's enrichment offer is already a good one for Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Iran would give up one bomb's worth—about 2,600 pounds—of uranium enriched at its facility in Natanz to the low level of 3.5%. Russia would then enrich the uranium further to 19.75% and someone, most likely France, would put the uranium into fuel rods for transfer back to Iran for ostensible use in a civilian nuclear reactor. Western officials say this would delay Iran's efforts to get a bomb.

d
.There are a couple problems with this theory. With the exception of the regime, no one knows for sure how much uranium Iran possesses. Given Iran's long history of lying to the world and the discovery of covert enrichment facilities (most recently in Qom) that need uranium from somewhere, a fair guess would be that Iran has more than the 3,500 pounds it has declared to U.N. inspectors.

Meanwhile, Iran insists it won't stop enriching uranium on its own, in violation of Security Council resolutions. Aside from rewarding Iran for past misbehavior by letting it use illegally enriched uranium, this deal fails to solve the problem it is intended to solve. That's because as long as the Natanz facility continues to enrich uranium at its current rate of about 132 pounds a month, Iran will produce enough low-enriched uranium within the year for a bomb. Make Natanz more efficient and the time could be cut in half.

Claims by Western officials that Iran can't convert the uranium enriched abroad for military use are less than reassuring. Though encased in a fuel rod in France, the more highly-enriched uranium returned to Iran would be simple to extract, using something as basic as a tin snipper to force open the fuel cladding, and enrich further.

"With 19.75 enriched feed"—as opposed to the 3.5% that Iran now manages—"the level of effort or time Iran would need to make weapons grade uranium would drop very significantly," from roughly five months today "down to something slightly less than four weeks," says Henry Sokolski of the Nonproliferation Policy Education Center.

Iran may also welcome the Russian-enriched uranium because its own technology is less advanced. The October 8 edition of the trade journal Nucleonics Week reports that Iran's low-enriched uranium appears to have "impurities" that "could cause centrifuges to fail" if Iran itself tried to enrich uranium to weapons-grade—which would mean above 20% and ideally up to 90%. In this scenario, the West would be decontaminating the uranium for Iran. Along the way, Iranian scientists may also pick up clues on how to do better themselves.

The mullahs know that President Obama is eager to show diplomatic gains from his engagement strategy, and they are going to exploit that eagerness to get every possible concession. The one thing Iran has shown no desire to bargain over is its intention to become a nuclear power.
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« Reply #146 on: November 10, 2009, 05:11:20 AM »

THE LATEST DEVELOPMENTS IN THE IRAN SITUATION

THE IRANIAN GOVERNMENT SEEMS TO HAVE REJECTED the deal on nuclear material that
appeared to be in place after the meeting with the P-5+1 countries. The deal, which
centered on Iran's willingness to send its nuclear material to another country for
processing into peaceful nuclear material, was not rejected in any irrevocable
sense. A senior lawmaker in Iran indicated on Sunday that it might still be on the
table, and Iranian media discussed possible further negotiations. Iran is known for
creating ambiguity as a bargaining tool, but officials could be seeking to gain time
rather than bargaining -- though it is less than clear to what end.

The rejection comes in conjunction with a report that Iran has experimented with
two-point implosion -- a warhead configuration that is relatively simple, but
several steps beyond first-generation nuclear devices. If true, it would mean that
Iran might be closer to a weapon than previously thought (though the principal
hurdle is still enriching uranium to sufficient purity for use in a weapon, and that
ability remains questionable). Reports suggest that the United States, and perhaps
other members of the P-5+1, has been aware of this development for some time.

"Understanding Iran’s current thinking is becoming increasingly difficult."

The experiment was discovered by inspectors from the International Atomic Energy
Agency (IAEA), which means that the Iranians wanted them to discover it. Western
sources have said that the method used was a highly classified process and expressed
surprise that the Iranians would know how to do it. Clearly, the Iranians want to
show they are further along than previously thought. In that case, they should be
buying time -- but not letting the IAEA see papers. Understanding Iran’s current
thinking is becoming increasingly difficult.

Certainly the rejection of a deal and the revelation of the experiment have
ratcheted up tensions. The Russians responded, somewhat surprisingly, with a
statement from President Dmitri Medvedev that while Moscow does not want to see
sanctions imposed on Iran, "if there is no movement forward, no one is excluding
such a scenario." This is not so much a change in Russia’s position as a willingness
to increase the pressure on Tehran just days before Medvedev goes into talks with
U.S. President Barack Obama. The Iranians appeared to respond to Medvedev when
Alaeddin Boroujerdi, head of the parliament's foreign policy and national security
committee, demanded that the Russians fulfill promises and deliver the S-300
strategic air defense system, saying: "Avoiding delivery of S-300 defense system to
Iran, if that is Russia's official stance, would be a new chapter in breaking
promises by the Russians." The timing is obvious. The question is whether the
Iranians are referring only to the S-300 when they speak of broken Russian promises.


In the midst of these developments, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is
traveling to the United States to address a Jewish meeting and meet with Obama. An
administration official confirmed that Obama and Netanyahu would meet but did not
say what would be on their agenda.

Initially, the Americans refused to commit to a meeting, though the Israelis openly
said they would like one. Given tensions between the Israelis and Palestinians, the
thinking goes, the president would rather not meet with Netanyahu at the moment. Of
course, every meeting between U.S. and Israeli leaders takes place amid
Israeli-Palestinian tensions. More likely, in our minds, Obama did not want to have
to discuss the Iran question with Netanyahu. Indications are that Obama will make
and announce his position on Afghanistan this week or shortly thereafter. He wants
to announce it, we would guess, after the health care debate is finished, as he
doesn't want any political blowback on Afghanistan to undermine his flagship
domestic issue. The likely reason for the Americans' initial hesitance is that Obama
would not want to get involved with Iran just yet if he is announcing an Afghanistan
policy. He seems to be favoring a sequential approach -- in public at least.

The Iranians obviously see room for maneuvering. They have rejected the nuclear
agreement, but have not ruled out the possibility of a change in policy. They have
signaled an increased threat of weaponization, but with sufficient ambiguity to back
away from it. Russia has given something the Americans wanted, but not in any
absolute way. The Iranians responded by charging the Russians with betrayal, but not
from a member of the government -- and not in general, but specifically on the
S-300. The United States is holding its position that its patience is not endless,
without signaling the end of its patience. And the Israelis are hovering on the
sidelines, waiting.

Obama so far has kept Iran from becoming a major story. Health care and Afghanistan
have absorbed the media's attention. Thus, Obama has bought domestic space. But the
Iranians clearly will not deal without a major crisis first, and even then their
position is not clear. The Russians have not committed to anything but have made a
gesture. And the new technology Iran showed the IAEA is non-trivial. At some point
the Iran issue will become a top story, and Obama will have to take action. We
expect that to happen sooner rather than later.

Copyright 2009 Stratfor.
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« Reply #147 on: November 10, 2009, 06:17:26 AM »

Obama won't act. Iran knows this. Why give up anything?
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« Reply #148 on: November 10, 2009, 11:49:45 PM »

OURTING RUSSIA ON THE IRANIAN NUCLEAR ISSUE?

MONDAY MARKED THE 20TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE FALL of the Berlin Wall, the beginning of
the collapse of the Soviet empire. The day holds mixed feelings for Russia, although
Russian President Dmitri Medvedev was in Berlin to celebrate the anniversary. Russia
has come a long way since Nov. 9, 1989. After the collapse of the Soviet Union,
Russia fell into utter chaos for nearly a decade and has spent the second decade
since pulling itself back together politically, economically, and socially, and also
launching itself back onto the international stage.

One of the themes that Medvedev repeated while giving a series of interviews in
Germany was on Russia's current place within the international system -- as a
partner to European states, a counterbalance to the United States and as a mediator
within the Iranian situation.

It is this theme as mediator within the Iran negotiations that has really struck a
chord with STRATFOR, especially as so many twists in those negotiations have
occurred within the past few days -- all this leading to the question of whether
Russia is about to shift its international role within the Iran talks.
 
The past few days have been particularly busy for the players involved in the Iran
issue. Over the weekend, there were leaks from an International Atomic Energy Agency
(IAEA) report stating that Iran had been experimenting with two-point implosion -- a
warhead configuration -- followed by Iran's rejection of an IAEA proposal to ship
Iran's nuclear material out of the country for enrichment, a deal that was said to
be in place after a meeting with the P-5+1 countries. Also on Monday, Iran announced
that the three hikers from the United States arrested on the Iraqi border with Iran
would be charged with espionage. With each of these issues, Iran was not only
dragging out negotiations with the West, but also raising the stakes.

"In the past, Russia has only been willing to give up its support for Iran if the
United States made large concessions, like its relationship within Russia's entire
sphere of influence -- a price Washington has not been willing to pay."

 
It would have been expected that Washington would come out with a new ultimatum to
Tehran, but instead announced that it was giving Iran more time to consider the
nuclear proposals. The announcement was as if the United States slammed on its
brakes on the Iran issue.
 
Even more baffling was that this announcement was made while Israeli Prime Minister
Benjamin Netanyahu and Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak were in Washington to
meet with U.S. President Barack Obama and a string of security officials. The
Israelis have been relatively quiet on the Iranian nuclear issue while in
Washington, with Netanyahu saying that the international community needs to unite
against Iran, but not specifically responding to what seemed like the United States
giving Iran a free pass excusing its weekend antics.
 
This has led STRATFOR to question what Washington is telling the Israelis on what
the U.S. will be planning while giving Iran "more time." Other than the United
States also having its own motivations to drag out negotiations like the Iranians,
there are two options that come to mind: first would be that the United States is
planning a military intervention. The United States would not try to give many hints
if they were planning a surprise military strike, but would act as if it were still
interested in the negotiation process.
 
But Washington could be attempting a different option: to get Moscow to reverse its
support for Tehran. 

Russia has traditionally been staunchly against sanctions on Iran. But in the last
few weeks, Moscow suddenly grew quiet. During this time, U.S., U.K. and French
officials have visited Russia to discuss the Iran issue. Moreover, STRATFOR sources
in Moscow have stated that the West has been much more vocal in the possibilities of
Western investment and cash going back into Russia, should Moscow want to be
partners with the West.
 
These incentives from the West have certainly given Russia something to think about.
In the past, Russia has only been willing to give up its support for Iran if the
United States made large concessions, like its relationship within Russia's entire
sphere of influence -- a price Washington has not been willing to pay. However, now
Russia may be willing to concede for a partial recognition within the sphere and the
Western cash into Russia.
 
Medvedev has already shown that he is open to this line of negotiations, saying that
he and Obama will be discussing Russia's economic issues as well as Iran when they
meet on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Forum this weekend in Singapore.
Now the devil will be in the details. Russia has been picky in the past in accepting
U.S. incentives, but this time there is the possibility that Russia may now be up
for purchase.

Copyright 2009 Stratfor.

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« Reply #149 on: November 11, 2009, 08:48:23 AM »

At this point in the game, getting Russia's support on Iran isn't worth a bucket of warm spit. Obama selling out our allies in exchange for it is beyond stupid, but far from unexpected.
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