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Nuclear War, WMD issues
Topic: Nuclear War, WMD issues (Read 101794 times)
Re: Nuclear War, WMD issues
Reply #150 on:
November 13, 2009, 01:26:15 PM »
Obama can't act, the Military is too tied down with other stuff and Iran is too big. Besides, I think Iran is going to be very busy with this problem real soon:
Some text from the PDF you can download.
In 1999 however, high severities of stem rust were observed in Kenya on previously stem rust
resistant wheat lines. This new race, labeled “Pgt-Ug99”, was subsequently shown to attack
the stem rust resistance genes Sr31 and Sr38, which were previously effective resistance genes.
Since then, similar virulences have been confirmed in Kenya, Ethiopia, Yemen, and Iran,
indicating that this new race, or its derivatives, has spread within North Africa and into the
Middle East. Should the spatial and temporal spread of these new races follow the same
pathway as races of stripe rust caused by Puccinia striiformis, that had arisen in eastern Africa
in the 1980s and eventually moved to North America, then the new Pgt races are expected
move to the Middle East, West Africa, and South Asia within a period of approximately 10
years if not sooner. There also exists the possibility that these races may be introduced into
new areas, including North America via intentional or unintentional human-mediated activities.
For those who can't read Bureaucrat: Uganda had a breakout of Stem Rust and old crop disease that was under control since There were special bred strains of wheat that WERE immune. Not anymore, the last outbreak of this stuff was here in the US/Canada in 1950. The disease turned up in Yemen in 2006. The regular winds from Yemen can easily carry spores across the Arabian Gulf into Iran................
I realize this is kind of Hijacking the thread, but figured that is was germane to some extent since N. Korea has successfully extorted aid by playing the Nuke Card, maybe Iran thinks it can do the same?
Re: Nuclear War, WMD issues
Reply #151 on:
November 13, 2009, 03:40:31 PM »
Relevant stuff, but lets continue it in the Iran thread please.
Reply #152 on:
November 16, 2009, 10:49:38 AM »
Russia has always followed its interests in the building of the Iranian Bushehr power plant and it will never complete the project, said a parliamentary spokesman, DPA reported Nov. 16. Moscow has used the project as a tool in its dealings with the West, and Tehran will have to complete the plant itself, he said.
Reply #153 on:
November 17, 2009, 12:07:39 AM »
The Russian Pivot in the Iranian Nuclear Issue
FROM A CRITICAL MEETING between U.S. President Barack Obama and his Russian counterpart, Dmitri Medvedev, to an escalating proxy battle between Iran and Saudi Arabia on the Saudi-Yemeni border, this was a loaded weekend by STRATFOR’s geopolitical standards.
We’ll begin with the pivot of this story: U.S.-Russian relations. Obama and Medvedev sat down in Singapore for their fourth one-on-one meeting, seeking an understanding on issues deemed vital to their national security interests. The Russians, in a nutshell, want the Americans to keep out of the former Soviet periphery, which Moscow sees as its proper sphere of influence. But Moscow now has an additional favor to ask of the West.
Fundamental shifts are taking place in the Kremlin that have revealed Russia’s desire for Western investment in strategic economic sectors. A number of European and U.S. investors eagerly await Washington’s cue to re-enter the Russian market, but Washington first has to determine the geopolitical price Russia is willing to pay for this investment.
“There are a lot of moving parts to this conflict, but all appear to pivot on what actually transpires between the United States and Russia.”
A big portion of the cost will be tied to Iran. If the United States can coax Russia into abandoning support for Tehran, the Obama administration will gain valuable room to maneuver with the Israelis, and the door will open for a wider understanding between Moscow and Washington. Of course, any potential U.S.-Russia understanding will be loaded with sticking points. Medvedev has hinted at possible cooperation against Iran — saying Russia was open to exploring stronger options in dealing with Tehran, including further sanctions. But there is still much more to be discussed, and we see no clear sign that Russia is willing to fundamentally shift its position on Iran just yet.
Still, Iran has plenty to be worried about. Tehran and Moscow are perfectly capable of having a constructive relationship so long as they both face a greater threat (in this case, the United States). Should Russia and the United States come to terms, however, the strategic underpinnings of the Russian-Iranian alliance would collapse and Iran’s vulnerability would soar. With Iran’s anxiety over a Russian betrayal rising, high-level officials in Tehran are adopting a more aggressive tone against Russia.
For instance, the Joint Armed Forces chief of staff, Maj. Gen. Hassan Firouzabadi, Iranian Defense Minister Ahmad Vahidi and the head of the parliament’s Foreign Policy and National Security Commission, Alaeddin Boroujerdi, have lambasted Russia in the past week for failing to supply Iran with the promised S-300 strategic air defense system. Boroujerdi even issued a veiled threat against Russia when he said, “Iran is not a country which would stop short of action in dealing with countries who fail to deliver on their promises.” It remains unclear to us what Iran actually could do to legitimately threaten Russian security and to sabotage a potential U.S.-Russian understanding, but the shift in tone is unmistakable.
Meanwhile, the Iranians hope to distract U.S. attention from Russia with a proxy war in the border region between Saudi Arabia and Yemen. Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps is exploiting an internal Yemeni conflict by supporting Shiite al-Houthi rebels, seeking to undermine neighboring Saudi Arabia’s security. In a sign that Iran is attempting to escalate tensions with the United States, Majlis Speaker Ali Larijani on Sunday accused Washington of supporting Saudi air strikes targeting the al-Houthi rebels. But Washington is taking great care to avoid acknowledging its role in this proxy battle (a role that so far involves advising the Saudi and Yemeni militaries and supplying satellite imagery of al-Houthi targets for air strikes). The Obama administration would prefer to avoid getting drawn into a crisis with Iran and would rather give the impression that the nuclear negotiations with Tehran are continuing, while it tries to reach a compromise with Russia.
The Israelis don’t appear to be completely on board with this U.S. plan. On the one hand, Israel has a common strategic interest with the United States in keeping as much distance as possible between Russia and Iran. On the other hand, Israel doesn’t want a U.S.-Russian understanding on Iran to defuse the nuclear crisis so long as Israel’s national security is not genuinely preserved. If Washington manages to secure Russian cooperation against Iran, the Obama administration would gain time and space to talk Israel down from taking more aggressive action against Iran. Israel is operating on a different timeline: It wants to lock Washington into a situation that requires more decisive U.S. action against Iran, whether that means stringent sanctions or potential military strikes.
A report by Israel Radio this weekend appears to support this hypothesis. The report quoted an unnamed Western official as saying that Iran has completely rejected a U.N.-brokered nuclear proposal, but that Obama has postponed an official announcement on the failure of the talks for internal political reasons. To the contrary, Iran has been playing a careful game with the nuclear proposal — protesting the offer publicly but also hinting at the regime’s acceptance of the deal — in order to add confusion to the negotiations and drag out the talks. Neither the United States nor Iran has confirmed or denied the Israel Radio report, which leads us to believe this is Israel’s way of trying to wrap up (what the Israelis view as) the aimless diplomatic phase of the negotiations and push the United States into more aggressive action against Iran.
There are a lot of moving parts to this conflict, but all appear to pivot on what actually transpires between the United States and Russia. The Obama-Medvedev meeting revealed a change in atmospherics toward Iran, but we — like the Iranians — are watching for signs of a real shift in Russian policy.
NYT: Shocking! Inspectors fear Iran is hiding plants
Reply #154 on:
November 17, 2009, 11:45:25 AM »
Inspectors Fear Iran Is Hiding Nuclear Plants
DAVID E. SANGER and WILLIAM J. BROAD
Published: November 16, 2009
WASHINGTON — International inspectors who gained access to Iran’s newly revealed underground nuclear enrichment plant voiced strong suspicions in a report on Monday that the country was concealing other atomic facilities.
In a September 2007 photo, antiaircraft guns are seen, left center, at Iran's main plant for nuclear enrichment in Natanz.
The report was the first independent account of what was contained in the once secret plant, tunneled into the side of a mountain, and came as the Obama administration was expressing growing impatience with Iran’s slow response in nuclear negotiations.
In unusually tough language, the International Atomic Energy Agency appeared highly skeptical that Iran would have built the enrichment plant without also constructing a variety of other facilities that would give it an alternative way to produce nuclear fuel if its main centers were bombed. So far, Iran has denied that it built other hidden sites in addition to the one deep underground on a military base about 12 miles north of the holy city of Qum. The inspectors were given access to the plant late last month and reported that they had found it in “an advanced state” of construction, but that no centrifuges — the fast-spinning machines needed to make nuclear fuel — had yet been installed.
The inspectors said Iran had “provided access to all areas of the facility” and planned to complete it by 2011. They also said they had been unable to interview its director and designers.
The inspectors confirmed American and European intelligence reports that the site had been built to house about 3,000 centrifuges, enough to produce enough material for one or two nuclear weapons a year. But that is too small to be useful in the production of fuel for civilian nuclear power, which is what Iran insists is the intended purpose of the site.
The plant’s existence was revealed in September, as many as seven years after construction had begun.
The report comes just two days after President Obama, on a trip to Asia, said “we are running out of time” for Iran to sign on to a deal to ship part of its nuclear fuel out of the country. He said he would begin to plan for far more stringent economic sanctions against Tehran.
He was joined during that announcement by President Dmitri A. Medvedev of Russia, but Mr. Medvedev was vague about whether Russia was prepared to join in those sanctions. Mr. Obama was expected to take up the issue on Tuesday with President Hu Jintao of China, where Mr. Obama is on a state visit. China, like Russia, has historically resisted sanctions on Iran.
In its report, the agency said that Iran’s belated “declaration of the new facility reduces the level of confidence in the absence of other nuclear facilities under construction, and gives rise to questions about whether there were any other nuclear facilities in Iran which had not been declared to the agency.”
Ian C. Kelly, a spokesman for the State Department, said the report “underscores that Iran still refuses to comply fully with its international nuclear obligations.”
Both International Atomic Energy Agency officials and American and European diplomats and nuclear experts have argued that the existence of the hidden facility at Qum would make little sense unless there was a network of related covert facilities to feed it with raw nuclear fuel.
Iran denied that it had any other facilities it had failed to report to the agency. But in a letter to the nuclear inspectors, parts of which the report quoted, Iranian officials said they had been motivated to build the underground plant by “the threats of military attacks against Iran,” a reference to the belief that Israel, the United States or other Western powers might take military action against its main uranium enrichment plant at Natanz.
“The Natanz enrichment plant was among the targets threatened with military attacks,” the Iranian letter, dated Oct. 28, argued. It said that, as a result, Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization went to a little-known military authority identified as the “Passive Defense Organization” and asked for a “contingency enrichment plant.”
The mountainous site was turned over to the nuclear authorities, they said, “in the second half of 2007,” or roughly two years before Iran made its existence known. The Obama administration has said that Iran made the news public only after it had determined that the secrecy around the facility was pierced.
The date of late 2007 is significant because earlier that year Iran had unilaterally renounced an agreement it had signed with the agency to report on any planned nuclear facilities. The agency says that, in the case of Qum, Iran has violated that agreement, which the agency contends is still in force.
In fact, it appears that the construction of the underground plant began years earlier, and the inspectors’ report noted that satellite imagery shows that tunneling work began “between 2002 and 2004,” or shortly after the revelations about the existence of Natanz, which was also built underground. That construction paused in 2004, after the Iraq war began, the report indicated, but was “resumed in 2006.”
Why Iran then resumed the construction work is unclear. But in 2006, the Bush administration indicated a greater willingness to negotiate with Iran if it first complied with three United Nations Security Council resolutions to halt enrichment activity at Natanz. Iran refused, and Monday’s report indicated it now produced about 3,900 pounds of low-enriched uranium, enough for one to two weapons if it was further enriched.
Iran does not appear to be producing fuel as quickly as it could, and there are reports that it has run into technical difficulties.
But the fact that it is continuing to add to its stockpile has, in the words of one Obama administration official, “made us increasingly less interested” in the deal to ship part of Iran’s fuel out of the country temporarily, for processing into a form that could be used in a medical reactor in Tehran. The more uranium Iran produces, the official said, the less time it would take the country to replenish enough of its supplies to build a weapon, if it decided to take that step.
Because Iran continued to produce fuel despite the United Nations resolutions, President George W. Bush also authorized a covert program, focused on the Natanz site, that was intended to disrupt its enrichment activity, by attacking both the computer and electrical infrastructure around the plant.
It is not clear that any of those actions have proven successful. But the construction of an alternative plant, protected by the adjacent Iranian Revolutionary Guards base, appeared to some Western nuclear experts to constitute an Iranian effort to have a backup plan in case it lost use of the Natanz facility.
David E. Sanger reported from Washington, and William J. Broad from New York.
Re: Nuclear War, WMD issues
Reply #155 on:
November 18, 2009, 09:52:19 AM »
Well Iran will be more of a problem to Russia and China with those nukes. Unless Iran starts selling devices on the black market...... Then Everyone would have a problem.
Iranian War Games
Reply #156 on:
November 22, 2009, 09:25:03 AM »
Iran war games to defend nuclear sites.
Iran has begun five days of war games to simulate attacks on its nuclear sites, state media report.
The head of Iran's air defence said the aim was to thwart aerial reconnaissance of the sites as well as air attacks.
Brigadier General Ahmad Mighani said the training would also improve cooperation among different units.
Iran has come under mounting pressure over its nuclear programme, which critics say is intended to produce nuclear weapons.
The US and Israel have not ruled out the prospect of a military attack to prevent Iran developing a nuclear weapon.
Tehran insists its programme is peaceful, and an aide to supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei reportedly warned Iran would retaliate to any attack with a missile strike on Tel Aviv.
"If the enemy attacks Iran, our missiles will strike Tel Aviv," Mojhtaba Zolnoor was quoted as saying by the official Irna news agency.
Brig Mighani told state media the aim of the exercises, which will cover an area of 600,000 sq km (230,000 sq miles), was "to display Iran's combat readiness and military potentials.
Iran insists that all its nuclear facilities are for energy, not military purposes
Bushehr: Nuclear power plant
Isfahan: Uranium conversion plant
Natanz: Uranium enrichment plant, 4,592 working centrifuges, with 3,716 more installed
Second enrichment plant: Existence revealed to IAEA in Sept 2009. Separate reports say it is near Qom, and not yet operational
Arak: Heavy water plant
Key nuclear sites in detail
A high-stakes game
Q&A: Iran and the nuclear issue
"Due to the threats against our nuclear facilities it is our duty to defend out nation's vital facilities," he said.
The exercises come as the UN Security Council's permanent members - Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States - plus Germany, urge Tehran to reconsider its rejection of a deal that would see some of its nuclear material being enriched outside Iran and returned as fuel rods.
The deal - brokered by the UN's nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency - envisages Iran sending about 70% of its low-enriched uranium to Russia and France, where it would be processed into fuel rods for a research reactor in Tehran.
Such a process would prevent Iran enriching uranium to the degree necessary to make a bomb, the UN says.
Iran has rejected a key part of the deal, seeking further guarantees.
The UN Security Council has called on Iran to stop uranium enrichment and has approved three rounds of sanctions - covering trade in nuclear material, as well as financial and travel restrictions.
Re: Nuclear War, WMD issues
Reply #157 on:
November 22, 2009, 02:59:52 PM »
I believe it was during an interview of John Bolton where it was pointed out that the Iranians have ordered and paid for anti-aircraft weapons from Russia.
It is my opinion they have absolutely no choice but to go all out to destroy to the best of their ability the Iranian nuc sites before Iran gets these weapons.
Keep an eye out for this and sell all your stock if we hear these weapons are being delivered in my opinion.
Re: Nuclear War, WMD issues
Reply #158 on:
November 22, 2009, 03:23:41 PM »
The Russians have been yanking the Iranians' chain, and ours, on this point for several years now.
Re: Nuclear War, WMD issues
Reply #159 on:
November 23, 2009, 10:13:54 AM »
"The Russians have been yanking the Iranians' chain, and ours, on this point for several years now."
I didn't realize this.
But where is the Russian's end game with this?
Re: Nuclear War, WMD issues
Reply #160 on:
November 23, 2009, 10:34:52 AM »
To get us to concede East Europe to its sphere again, and to control the gas supplies of Central Asia (the Georgia issue can be seen in this context).
The P-5+1 group meeting in Brussels expectedly ended in stalemate while Iran hosted the Turkish foreign minister in Tabriz Nov. 20. While Iran continues to delay talks and Turkey and Russia exploit the nuclear negotiations for their own gain, Israel is laying the groundwork for more aggressive action against Iran.
Deputy foreign ministers and their equivalents from the United States, United Kingdom, France, Germany, Russia and China — otherwise known as the P-5+1 group — met Nov. 20 in Brussels to discuss Iran. So far, the only statement following the meeting was a joint expression of “disappointment” in Iran’s lack of response to a proposal to ship roughly 75 percent of Iran’s low-enriched uranium (LEU) abroad for further enrichment. The P-5+1 members once again called on Iran to reconsider the proposal and engage in serious negotiations. They planned to reconvene in December around Christmas.
The rather lackluster response after the meeting is not surprising. First, deputy foreign ministers typically do not have the authority to seriously weigh in on an issue of this magnitude. More importantly, the members of the P-5+1 group are in no real hurry to act. The Europeans are in no rush to participate in the U.S. Congress’s sanctions regime on Iran’s gasoline trade, the Chinese have no incentive to revise their trade relations while the others are delaying, the Russians are still working on several crucial sticking points in negotiations with the United States and the United States is trying to buy enough time to deal with Russia in order to stave off an Iran crisis. Sanctions apparently were not discussed in any meaningful detail at the meeting and, perhaps in recognition of the fact that Iran does not respond well to deadlines, no new deadlines or punitive measures were announced. As a result, the meeting in Brussels was another opportunity for bureaucrats to negotiate about further negotiations, with no real policy shifts to report.
While the P-5+1 members discussed their disappointment in Iran, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad hosted Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu in Tabriz, Iran. Notably, the Iranians requested this meeting when Iranian Vice President Mohammad Reza Rahimi met with Davutoglu at Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s inauguration in Kabul on Nov. 19. The meeting was designed to discuss the Iranian nuclear negotiations and timed to coincide with the P-5+1 meeting. Turkey, a regional power on the rise with plans to consolidate influence in the Middle East and demonstrate its utility to the West, has offered to store Iran’s enriched fuel on Turkish territory, thereby assuaging Western concerns that Iran’s LEU will be diverted toward a weapons program.
Iran is as unenthused about giving the Turks control of its LEU as it was about French and Russian offers to ship the LEU abroad. Though such proposals help Iran to stretch out the negotiations and appear cooperative when it wants to, the Iranian government is unlikely to concede on its demand to enrich and store uranium on its own soil. Iran’s latest delay tactic is to insist on the United States unfreezing Iranian assets to allow the negotiations to move forward — a point that Washington does not believe is even up for discussion unless Iran begins cooperating in the negotiations.
Turkey, meanwhile, has made several public moves to alienate Israel and prolong nuclear negotiations with the West and thus build Iran’s trust in Ankara, but Iran still has deep misgivings about Turkey’s intentions. Turkey and Iran are regional competitors, and Turkey is well in the lead. Though Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party is saying all the right things to hold Tehran’s interest, Iran cannot be confident that Turkey will be able or willing to block Israeli and/or U.S. military action against Iran.
Israel is the main player to watch. The Israeli government never believed these negotiations would elicit real Iranian cooperation and does not trust the Turks to mediate the dispute. Israel already has ruled out any further Turkish mediation in its negotiations with Syria, preferring instead to have France and Saudi Arabia facilitate the talks. The more Iran toys with the Turkish proposal to store its enriched uranium, the more the Israelis can protest to the United States behind the scenes that the negotiations will not lead to constructive results, and more aggressive action is needed. The Israelis have thus been busy running their own diplomatic course apart from the P-5+1 group. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was in Paris on Nov. 11 to meet with French President Nicolas Sarkozy and will be meeting with German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle in Israel on Nov. 23-25. It remains to be seen just how effective Israel will be in encouraging these key European members to scale back their trade relations with Iran and support sanctions.
Iran’s management of the nuclear negotiations in the weeks ahead will rely heavily on what, if anything, transpires between Russia and the United States. As evidenced by Iran’s daily diatribes against Russia for stalling on the construction of the Bushehr nuclear facility and on the sale of the S-300 strategic air defense system, a major debate is under way in Tehran over the risks Ahmadinejad’s administration has incurred in relying so heavily on Russia for external support. Should Russia and the United States come to a strategic understanding, Iran would have the most to lose. Iran’s paranoia over Russia reached an unprecedented level Nov. 20 when Iranian Parliamentary Energy Commission Chairman Hamid Reza Katouzian threatened to sue the Russian agencies responsible for delaying Bushehr in an international court, depending on the results of a parliamentary investigation into the reasons behind the delay. Though the chief of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization Ali Akbar Salehi continues citing technical reasons for the delay, there is no doubt in Iran’s, Russia’s or anyone else’s mind that the reasons are political.
Re: Nuclear War, WMD issues
Reply #161 on:
November 23, 2009, 11:43:02 AM »
Quote from: Crafty_Dog on November 23, 2009, 10:34:52 AM
To get us to concede East Europe to its sphere again, and to control the gas supplies of Central Asia (the Georgia issue can be seen in this context).
Reply #162 on:
November 28, 2009, 09:06:07 AM »
Any signficance to the IAEA finally admitting that Iran is going for nukes?
Any significance to the Russians and, for the first time, the Chinese signing a resolution against the Iranian nuke program?
Re: Nuclear War, WMD issues
Reply #163 on:
November 28, 2009, 09:20:24 AM »
Quote from: Crafty_Dog on November 28, 2009, 09:06:07 AM
Any signficance to the IAEA finally admitting that Iran is going for nukes?
**No. They kept anyone in the west from acting back when something less that military action might have worked. Mission accomplished.**
Any significance to the Russians and, for the first time, the Chinese signing a resolution against the Iranian nuke program?
**About as useful as a resolution to rearrainge the deckchairs on the Titanic.**
Re: Nuclear War, WMD issues
Reply #164 on:
November 28, 2009, 09:28:46 AM »
Stratfor had a recent piece about how a) sanctions don't work, and that therefore b) their function is to avoid acting.
This certainly makes sense. OTOH, if we get Russia and China on board it does seem that sanctions (e.g. refined petroleum products) could generate substantial leverage.
Re: Nuclear War, WMD issues
Reply #165 on:
November 28, 2009, 09:43:37 AM »
China will do nothing to increase it's energy costs. Iran shutting down the Persian Gulf's oil exports would jack up the price for Russia's oil exports. Obama has already sold out Poland and the others in eastern europe in exchange for ill defined promises from Russia. Russia has already achieved it's goals in this matter.
Here's the Stratfor on Sanctions
Reply #166 on:
November 28, 2009, 06:31:34 PM »
By George Friedman
The Iranian government has rejected, at least for the moment, a proposal from the P-5+1 to ship the majority of its low-enriched uranium abroad for further enrichment. The group is now considering the next step in the roadmap that it laid out last April. The next step was a new round of sanctions, this time meant to be crippling. The only crippling sanction available is to cut off the supply of gasoline, since Iran imports 35 percent of its refined gasoline products. That would theoretically cripple the Iranian economy and compel the Iranians to comply with U.S. demands over the nuclear issue.
We have written extensively on the ability of sanctions to work in Iran. There is, however, a broader question, which is the general utility of sanctions in international affairs. The Iranian government said last week that sanctions don’t concern it because, historically, sanctions have not succeeded. This partly explains Iranian intransigence: The Iranians don’t feel they have anything to fear from sanctions. The question is whether the Iranian view is correct and why they would believe it — and if they are correct, why the P-5+1 would even consider imposing sanctions.
The Assumptions of Sanctions
We need to begin with a definition of sanctions. In general, sanctions are some sort of penalty imposed on a country designed to cause it sufficient pain to elicit a change in its behavior. Sanctions are intended as an alternative to war and therefore exclude violence. Thus, the entire point of sanctions, as opposed to war, is to compel changes of behavior in countries without resorting to force.
Normal sanctions are economic and come in three basic forms. First, there is seizing or freezing the assets of a country or its citizens located in another country. Second, sanctions can block the shipment of goods (or movement of people) out of the target country. Third, sanctions can block the movement of goods into a country. Minor sanctions are possible, such as placing tariffs on products imported from the target country, but those sorts of acts are focused primarily on rectifying economic imbalances and are not always driven by political interests. Thus, the United States placed tariffs on Chinese tires coming into the United States. The purpose was to get China to change its economic policies. On the other hand, placing sanctions on Iraq in the 1990s or on Sudan today are designed to achieve political and military outcomes.
It is important to consider the underlying assumptions of the decision to impose sanctions. First, there is the assumption that the target country is economically dependent in some way on the country or countries issuing the sanctions. Second, it assumes that the target country has no alternative sources for the economic activity while under sanctions. Third, it assumes that the pain caused will be sufficient to compel change. The first is relatively easy to determine and act on. The next two are far more complex.
Obviously, sanctions are an option of stronger powers toward weaker ones. It assumes that the imposition of sanctions will cause more pain to the target country than it will to the country or countries issuing sanctions, and that the target country cannot or will not use military action to counter economic sanctions. For example, the United States placed sanctions on the sale of grain to the Soviet Union during the Cold War. It discovered that while the sanctions were hurting the Soviets, they were hurting American farmers as well. The pain was reciprocal and there was an undertone of danger if the Soviets had chosen to counter the sanctions with military force. An example of that concerned Japan in 1941. The United States halted the shipment of oil and scrap metal to Japan in an attempt to force it to reshape its policies in China and Indochina. The sanctions were crippling, as the Americans expected. However, the Japanese response was not capitulation, but Pearl Harbor.
To understand the difficulties of determining and acting on the assumptions of imposing sanctions, consider Cuba. The United States has imposed extensive economic sanctions on Cuba for years. During the first decades of the sanctions, they were relatively effective, in the sense that third countries tended to comply rather than face possible sanctions themselves from the United States. As time went on, the fear of sanctions declined. A European country might have been inclined to comply with U.S. sanctions in the 1960s or 1970s, for both political reasons and for concern over potential retaliatory sanctions from the United States. However, as the pattern of international economic activity shifted, and the perception of both Cuba and the United States changed within these countries, the political implication to comply with U.S. wishes declined, while the danger of U.S. sanctions diminished. Placing sanctions on the European Union would be mutually disastrous and the United States would not do it over Cuba, or virtually any other issue.
As a result, the sanctions the United States placed on Cuba have dramatically diminished in importance. Cuba can trade with most of the world, and other countries can invest in Cuba if they wish. The flow of American tourists is blocked, but European, Canadian and Latin American tourists who wish to go to Cuba can go. Cuba has profound economic problems, but those problems are only marginally traceable to sanctions. Indeed, the U.S. embargo has provided the Castro regime with a useful domestic explanation for its economic failures.
This points to an interesting characteristic of sanctions. One of the potential goals of placing sanctions on a country is to generate unrest and internal opposition , forcing regime change or at least policy change. This rarely happens. Instead, the imposition of sanctions creates a sense of embattlement within the country. Two things follow from this. First, there is frequently a boost in support for the regime that might otherwise not be there. The idea that economic pain takes precedence over patriotism or concern for maintaining national sovereignty is not a theory with a great deal of empirical support. Second, the sanctions allow a regime to legitimize declaring a state of emergency — which is what sanctions intend to create — and then use that state of emergency to increase repression and decrease the opportunity for an opposition to emerge.
Consider an extreme example of sanctions during World War II, when both the Axis and Allies tried to use airpower as a means of imposing massive economic hardship on the population, thereby attempting to generate unrest and opposition to the regime. Obviously, strategic bombing is not sanctions, but it is instructive to consider them in this sense. When we look at the Battle of Britain and the strategic bombing campaigns against Germany and Japan, we find that countereconomic warfare did not produce internal opposition that the regime could not handle. Indeed, it could reasonably be argued that it increased support for the regime. It is assumed that economic hardship can generate regime change, yet even in some of the most extreme cases of economic hardship, that didn’t happen.
Imposing an effective sanctions regime on a country is difficult for two reasons. First, economic pain does not translate into political pressure. Second, creating effective economic pain normally requires a coalition. The United States is not in a position to unilaterally impose effective sanctions. In order to do that, it must act in concert with other countries that are prepared not only to announce sanctions but — and this is far more important and difficult — also to enforce them. This means that it must be in the political interest of all countries that deal with the target to impose the sanctions.
It is rarely possible to create such a coalition. Nations’ interests diverge too much. Sometimes they converge, as in South Africa prior to the end of apartheid. South Africa proved that sanctions can work if there is a coalition that does not benefit extensively from economic and political ties with the target country, and where the regime is composed of a minority within a very large sea of hostility. South Africa was a special case. The same attempt at a sanctions regime in Sudan over Darfur has failed because many countries have political or economic interests there.
It is also difficult to police the sanctions. By definition, as the sanctions are imposed, the financial returns for violating them increase. Think of U.S. drug laws as a form of sanctions. They raise the price of drugs in the United States and increase the incentives for smugglers. When a broad sanctions regime was placed on Iraq, vast amounts of money were made from legitimate and illegitimate trading with Iraq. Regardless of what a national government might say (and it may well say one thing and do another) individuals and corporations will find ways around the sanctions. Indeed, Obama’s proposed sanctions on corporations are intended precisely for this reason. As always, the issue is one of intelligence and enforcement. People can be very good at deception for large amounts of money.
The difficulty of creating effective sanctions raises the question of why they are used. The primary answer is that they allow a nation to appear to be acting effectively without enduring significant risks. Invading a country, as the United States found in Iraq, poses substantial risks. The imposition of sanctions on relatively weaker countries without the ability to counter the sanctions is much less risky. The fact that it is also far less effective is compensated for by the lowered risk.
In truth, many sanction regimes are enforced as political gestures, either for domestic political reasons, or to demonstrate serious intent on the international scene. In some cases, sanctions are a way of appearing to act so that military action can be deferred. No one expects the sanctions to change the regime or its policies, but the fact that sanctions are in place can be used as an argument against actions by other nations.
This is very much the case with Iran. No one expects Russia or China (or even many of the European states) to fully comply with a sanctions regime on gasoline. Even if they did, no one expects the flow of gasoline to be decisively cut off. There will be too many people prepared to take the risk of smuggling gasoline to Iran for that to happen. Even if the U.S. blockaded Iranian ports, the Caucasus and Central Asia are far too disorderly and the monetary rewards of smuggling are too great of an incentive to make the gasoline sanctions effective. Additionally, the imposition of sanctions will both rally the population to the regime as well as provide justification for an intense crackdown. The probability of sanctions forcing policy changes or regime change in Iran is slim.
Balancing Acquiescence and War
But sanctions have one virtue: They delay or block military action. So long as sanctions are being considered or being imposed, the argument can be made to those who want military action that it is necessary to give the sanctions time to work. Therefore, in this case, sanctions allow the United States to block any potential military actions by Israel against Iran while appearing domestically to be taking action. Should the United States wish to act, the sanctions route gives the Europeans the option of arguing that military action is premature. Furthermore, if military action took place without Russian approval while Russia was cooperating in a sanctions regime, it would have increased room to maneuver against U.S. interests in the Middle East, portraying the United States as trigger-happy.
The ultimate virtue of sanctions is that they provide a platform between acquiescence and war. The effectiveness of that platform is not nearly as important as the fact that it provides a buffer against charges of inaction and demands for further action. In Sudan, for example, no one expects sanctions to work, but their presence allows business to go on as usual while deflecting demands for more significant action.
The P-5+1 is now shaping its response to Iran. They are not even committed to the idea of sanctions. But they will move to sanctions if it appears that Israel or the United States is prepared to move aggressively. Sanctions satisfy the need to appear to be acting while avoiding the risks of action.
Reply #167 on:
November 30, 2009, 01:34:05 AM »
Mohamed ElBaradei caps his contentious and ultimately failed 12-year stint as head of the International Atomic Energy Agency today, having spent many years enabling Iran's nuclear bids only to condemn them in his final days in office. Mr. ElBaradei combined his rebuke of Iran with his familiar calls for more negotiation, but we'll take his belated realism about Iran as his tacit admission that Dick Cheney and John Bolton have been right all along. Let's hope the education of the Obama Administration doesn't take as long.
As if to underscore the point, yesterday the Iranian government ordered up 10 additional uranium enrichment plants on the scale of its already operational facility in Natanz, which has a planned capacity of 54,000 centrifuges. That could mean an eventual total of more than 500,000 centrifuges, or enough to enrich about 160 bombs worth of uranium each year. Whether it can ever do that is an open question, but it does give a sense of the scale of the regime's ambitions.
The decision is also a reminder of how unchastened Iran has been by President Obama's revelation in September that Iran had been building a secret 3,000 centrifuge facility near the city of Qom. The IAEA's governing board finally got around on Friday to rebuking Iran for that deception, a vote the Administration trumpeted because both Russia and China voted with the United States. But perhaps only within the Obama Administration can a symbolic gesture by the IAEA be considered a diplomatic triumph.
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."Time is running out for Iran to address the international community's growing concerns about its nuclear program," White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said yesterday, but the West has said this many times before. Earlier this year, Mr. Obama said Iran had a deadline of September.
The regime scoffed at Mr. Obama after he delivered a conciliating message for the Persian New Year in March, scoffed again after he mildly criticized its post-election crackdown and killing spree in June (following days of silence), and scoffed a third time by rejecting the West's offer last month to enrich Iran's uranium for it. Yet the Administration insists the enrichment deal is still Iran's for the taking. "A few years ago [the West] said we had to completely stop all our nuclear activities," Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said last month. "Now look where we are today."
Those are the words of a man who believes he has Mr. Obama's number. And until the President, his advisers and the Europeans realize that only punitive sanctions or military strikes will force it to reconsider its nuclear ambitions, an emboldened Islamic Republic will continue to march confidently toward a bomb over the wreckage of Mohamed ElBaradei's—and Barack Obama's—best intentions.
Taqiyya and Nukes
Reply #168 on:
November 30, 2009, 04:57:10 AM »
from the November 20, 2009 edition -
The real reason Iran can't be trusted
As they confront Iran's nuclear aims, negotiators must mind the Shiite doctrine of deceit called 'taqiyya.'
By Mamoun Fandy
In the run-up to talks with Iran last month, many in Europe and the United States asked whether Iran would, or even could, come clean on its nuclear activities.
Should the West trust Iranian promises? The short answer is "no." But the underlying question is "Why not?"
The answer lies in Iranian belief systems – notably the doctrine of taqiyya, a difficult concept for many non-Muslims to grasp. Taqiyya is the Shiite religious rationale for concealment or dissimulation in political or worldly affairs. At one level it means that President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and his regime can tell themselves that they are obliged by their faith not to tell the truth.
This doctrine has not been discussed much in the West, but it should be. How should the world deal with taqiyya in Shiite Islam in the context of Iran's nuclear file?
**Read it all.**
Immunized Against these Threats
Reply #169 on:
December 03, 2009, 09:45:46 AM »
Let Americans have the smallpox and anthrax vaccines.
By Deroy Murdock
Colorado Springs — “I sleep like a baby,” says U.S. Air Force Colonel Randy Larsen (Ret). “Every three hours, I wake up screaming.”
It’s little surprise that Larsen has such trouble getting shuteye. As executive director of the Commission on the Prevention of Weapons of Mass Destruction Proliferation and Terrorism, Larsen spends his days and many nights visualizing mushroom clouds over U.S. cities and emergency rooms clogged with victims of biological attacks. Among his many solutions to America’s WMD challenges, this may be the easiest: Let Americans get immunized against smallpox and anthrax.
“Smallpox and anthrax are our two biggest biological threats,” Larsen tells journalists gathered here on November 16 by the Heritage Foundation at the El Pomar Foundation’s Penrose House. Addressing the topic “Overview of Armageddon,” Larsen adds: “Smallpox and anthrax are the only biological threats for which we have FDA-approved vaccines. We have enough smallpox vaccines for every American, but not enough anthrax vaccines even for 10 percent of our population. Once we increase that supply, we can take these two risks off the table. I would give those vaccines to my grandchildren.”
Voluntarily immunizing Americans against these two diseases would deter terrorists from plotting such biological attacks. “Terrorists never would attack Americans with polio or measles,” Larsen says, “because we vaccinate our kids against those diseases.” Even vaccinating some Americans would create “herd immunity,” whereby those who stay healthy would impede an epidemic’s progress, much as firebreaks retard advancing infernos.
“People who are immune could help respond, since they would not need to worry about getting infected,” explains Dr. Gigi Kwik Gronvall of the Center for Biosecurity at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. “That is part of the reason why priority groups include health-care workers. They would be in contact with the infected, and their services would be needed.”
Larsen’s commission offered this sobering conclusion last December: “Unless the world community acts decisively and with great urgency, it is more likely than not that a weapon of mass destruction will be used in a terrorist attack somewhere in the world by the end of 2013.”
In an October 21 progress report, this bipartisan board added: “In recent years, the United States has received strategic warnings of biological weapons use from dozens of government reports and expert panels.” It cautioned that “a one- to two-kilogram release of anthrax spores from a crop duster plane could kill more Americans than died in World War II,” specifically, 380,000. “Clean up and other economic costs could exceed $1.8 trillion.” “Dark Winter,” a June 2001 high-level simulation exercise, assumed that a covert smallpox attack would infect 3.3 million Americans, one-third fatally.
A biological attack’s psychological impact would be incalculable, especially if healthy Americans saw their smallpox-infected neighbors as contagious “enemies” to be shunned, rather than as compatriots struggling through a September 11-style onslaught.
America’s Islamofascist enemies have stayed busy in this sphere.
“I was directly in charge . . . of managing and following up on the Cell for the Production of Biological Weapons, such as anthrax and others,” Khalid Sheikh Mohammed told a Guantanamo military tribunal on March 10, 2007. KSM was the chief architect of the 9/11 massacre and al-Qaeda’s “Military Operational Commander,” as he describes himself on page 17 of the transcript.
The Commission’s crop-duster scenario was conceived after Americans discovered two Afghan anthrax laboratories. Larsen says, “This was a response to the capability they could have had if we had not gone into Afghanistan, killed or captured those people, and shut down those facilities.” Page 151 of the 9/11 Commission Report says Jemaah Islamiah agent Yazid Sufaat “would spend several months attempting to cultivate anthrax for al Qaeda in a laboratory he helped set up near the Kandahar airport.”
Interestingly enough, Sufaat was captured thanks to information that American interrogators gleaned after waterboarding KSM. Had America not dampened KSM’s nose, U.S. soldiers or civilians already might have had Sufaat’s anthrax up their nostrils.
Kuwaiti professor and terrorist sympathizer Abdallah Fahd Abd Al-Aziz Al-Nafisi gleefully discussed bioterrorism in a speech broadcast February 2 on Al-Jazeera and translated by the Middle East Media Research Institute:
Four pounds of anthrax — in a suitcase this big — carried by a fighter through tunnels from Mexico into the US, are guaranteed to kill 330,000 Americans within a single hour, if it is properly spread in population centers there. What a horrifying idea. 9/11 will be small change in comparison. Am I right? There is no need for airplanes, conspiracies, timings, and so on. One person, with the courage to carry four pounds of anthrax, will go to the White House lawn, and will spread this "confetti" all over them, and then will do these cries of joy. It will turn into a real "celebration." . . .
The Americans are afraid that the WMDs might fall into the hands of "terrorist" organizations, like al-Qaeda and others. There is good reason for the Americans' fears, because al-Qaeda used to have in the Herat region . . . it had laboratories in north Afghanistan. They have scientists, chemists, and nuclear physicists. They are nothing like they are portrayed by these mercenary journalists — backward Bedouins living in caves. No, no. By no means. This kind of talk can fool only naïve people. People who follow such things know that al-Qaeda has laboratories, just like Hezbollah. . . .
If they call someone a terrorist, say: "He's a friend of mine." Why? Because these "terrorists" are the world's most God-fearing people. They are the most honorable people in the world, the best people in the world.
Today’s dilatory federal rollout of swine-flu shots offers little confidence that government can deliver smallpox and anthrax inoculations with speed and tranquility, especially after a shocking attack turbocharged public anxiety.
Instead, these vaccines should reach thousands of hospitals, clinics, and doctors’ offices now. Americans calmly could request them during routine medical visits, rather than overwhelm government agencies amid widespread panic after thousands of citizens have fallen ill — or worse.
Al-Qaeda and other vicious killers surely have a “To Do” list of horrors they would love to hurl at us infidels. Let’s deny them at least these two potential murder weapons.
— Deroy Murdock is a New York-based columnist with the Scripps Howard News Service and a media fellow with the Hoover Institution.
National Review Online -
Re: Nuclear War, WMD issues
Reply #170 on:
December 04, 2009, 06:43:55 AM »
It is hard to weaponize this stuff so it has the effects of the Inhaled variety. The typical form, where you get the nasty, scabby sores on your skin, is easily traetable with regular antibiotics and would take a fair amount of time to kill you. Mearsure weeks instead of days.
Knowledge fron the Desert Storm and general NBC training when I was in the service.
Israel ups the threat
Reply #171 on:
December 09, 2009, 06:36:29 AM »
Israel Upping the Iranian Nuclear Threat
ISRAELI BRIG. GEN. YOSSI BAIDATZ, the head of Israel’s Military Intelligence research division, told a closed session of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee on Monday that Iran had the technical capability to build a nuclear bomb and that it would only take a political decision in Tehran to follow through with these plans. He specified that Iran had successfully enriched 1800 kg of uranium, which he claimed was enough to build more than one nuclear bomb, and that Iran had spent the past year upgrading its military arsenal with missiles capable of carrying nuclear weapons that could reach Israel. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also spoke at the same Knesset meeting, where he said that Iran had lost its legitimacy in the international community and that preventing Iran from obtaining nuclear capabilities was Israel’s central problem.
Though Iran relies heavily on denial and deception tactics to conceal the true status of its nuclear weapons program, Baidatz is likely stretching the truth a bit in describing Iran’s nuclear capabilities. There is an enormous difference between being able to enrich uranium to levels between 5 and 20 percent (what Iran is believed to be currently capable of) and enriching uranium to 80 or 90 percent, which would be considered weapons-grade highly enriched uranium (HEU). Should Iran develop the capability to produce weapons-grade HEU, it would only need a fraction of Baidatz’s claimed 1800 kg of properly enriched uranium to have sufficient raw material for a bomb. In that case, Baidatz’s claim of a political decision being the only thing keeping Iran from the bomb would carry more weight.
These statements are much more an indication of Israeli intentions in dealing with Iran than an accurate reflection of Iranian nuclear capabilities. That the statements of this closed Knesset session were leaked in the first place is particularly revealing of the message that Israel wishes to send Iran and the international community at this point in time. That message, to put it bluntly, is “time’s up.”
“Baidatz is likely stretching the truth a bit in describing Iran’s nuclear capabilities.”
Israel has kept quiet as the United States has made attempt after attempt to extend the proverbial diplomatic hand to the Iranians without success. From Israel’s point of view, the diplomatic chapter is closing this month, and the New Year, if Israel has anything to do with it, will bring a variety of unpleasantries to Iran’s doorstep, including the threat of military action.
But Israel is also operating on a different timeline than that of the United States. Whereas U.S. President Barack Obama would much rather avoid a military conflagration in the Persian Gulf while he attempts to sew up Iraq, make over the Afghanistan war and nurse the U.S. economy back to health, Israel is dealing with a matter of state survival. And that, from the Israeli point of view, takes precedence over its relationship with the United States. This statement from Baidatz is thus likely one of many signals Israel will be sending in the coming weeks to accentuate the Iranian nuclear threat.
Iran, however, still may have a few more tools up its sleeve to take some of the steam out of Israel’s pressure campaign. Obama hosted Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan at the White House Monday. Just before traveling to Washington, Erdogan hosted Saeed Jalili, Iran’s Supreme National Security Council secretary. That meeting followed a recent visit by Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmed Davutoglu to Tehran, where he delivered a proposal to store Iranian enriched uranium on Turkish soil under international safeguards. This was yet another compromise on the enrichment issue intended to ease the tension in Iran’s nuclear negotiations with the West.
It is unlikely that Iran will take Turkey’s proposal seriously, but it can certainly entertain such proposals to buy more time in negotiations and complicate any move toward sanctions or military action. Turkey, meanwhile, has a strategic interest in inserting itself as a key mediator in the Iranian nuclear dispute to not only boost its foreign policy credentials, but also stave off a crisis in its backyard. The Israelis can see through such proposals for what they are — delay tactics — and, most likely, so too can the Americans. But the Americans may not mind giving Turkish mediation a shot if it gives Washington another option to restrain Israeli action and another chance to firm up America’s currently uneasy relations with the region’s rising power: Turkey.
But how many times will Israel allow its tolerance to be tested? As long as Iran appears compromising, even on a surface level, the Russians, the Chinese and even the Europeans can skirt around sanctions talk. And as long as the sanctions haven’t been seriously attempted, Israel cannot easily claim that the sanctions have failed in order to justify military action. This is an uncomfortable space for Israel to be in, but the Iranians, Turks and even the Americans don’t exactly mind seeing Israel in a tight spot right now.
WSJ: Where's our spine?
Reply #172 on:
December 18, 2009, 02:34:49 PM »
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. Text .In his Inaugural address, President Obama promised the world's dictators—with Iran plainly in mind—that he would "extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist." Here's a status report on the mullahs' knuckles:
• Weapons of mass destruction. On Wednesday, Iran tested a new version of its Sajjil-2 medium-range ballistic missile, a sophisticated solid-fuel model with a range of 1,200 miles—enough to target parts of Eastern Europe.
Also this week came news that Western intelligence agencies have an undated Farsi-language document titled "outlook for special neutron-related activities over the next four years." It concerns technical aspects of a neutron initiator, which is used to set off nuclear explosions and has no other practical application. The document remains unauthenticated, and Iran denies working on a nuclear weapon. But it squares with accumulating evidence, from the International Atomic Energy Agency and other sources, that Iran continues to pursue nuclear weapons design and uranium enrichment.
• Support for terrorists. Iran also continues to supply Hamas in Gaza and Hezbollah in Lebanon with weapons and money, and there's reason to suspect the help extends to Colombia's terrorist FARC. Centcom Commander David Petraeus told ABC News Wednesday that Iran "provides a modest level of equipment, explosives and perhaps some funding to the Taliban in western Afghanistan." As for Iraq, he says, "there are daily attacks with the so-called signature weapons only made by Iran—the explosively formed projectile, forms of improvised explosive devices, etc."
• Political gestures. Isolated regimes sometimes signal their desire for better relations through seemingly small gestures: ping-pong tournaments, for instance. Tehran has taken a different tack.
On Monday, it announced that three American hikers arrested along its border with Iraq in July would be put on trial. The charge? "Suspicious aims." New charges were also brought last month against Iranian-American scholar Kian Tajbakhsh, who was already sentenced to at least 12 years in prison on espionage charges. The regime has been going after other foreign nationals, including French teacher Clotilde Reiss, who is living under house arrest in the French embassy in Tehran. Christopher Dickey notes in Newsweek that "since [President Mahmoud] Ahmadinejad took over four years ago, some 35 foreign nationals or dual nationals have been imprisoned for use as chump change in one sordid deal or another."
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Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
.• Diplomacy. In October, the U.S. and its allies offered to enrich Iran's uranium in facilities outside the country, supposedly for the production of medical isotopes. The idea was that doing so would at least reduce Iran's growing stockpile of uranium and thus postpone the day when it would have enough to rapidly build a bomb.
Tehran finally came back with a counterproposal late last week, in which no uranium would leave Iranian soil. Even Hillary Clinton admits it's a nonstarter: "I don't think anyone can doubt that our outreach has produced very little in terms of any kind of positive response from the Iranians," the Secretary of State told reporters.
Given those remarks, we would have imagined that Mrs. Clinton would take it as good news that on Tuesday the House voted 412-12 in favor of a new round of unilateral sanctions on Iran. The Iran Refined Petroleum Sanctions Act would forbid any company that does energy business with Iran from having access to U.S. markets.
Instead, last week Deputy Secretary of State James Steinberg wrote to Foreign Relations Chairman John Kerry urging that the Senate postpone taking up the House bill. "I am concerned that this legislation, in its current form, might weaken rather than strengthen international unity and support for our efforts," wrote Mr. Steinberg.
So let's see: Iran spurns every overture from the U.S. and continues to develop WMD while abusing its neighbors. In response, the Administration, which had set a December deadline for diplomacy, now says it opposes precisely the kind of sanctions it once promised to impose if Iran didn't come clean, never mind overwhelming bipartisan support in Congress. For an explanation of why Iran's behavior remains unchanged, look no further.
Reply #173 on:
December 24, 2009, 09:22:19 AM »
There’s Only One Way to Stop Iran
By ALAN J. KUPERMAN
Published: December 23, 2009
PRESIDENT OBAMA should not lament but sigh in relief that Iran has rejected his nuclear deal, which was ill conceived from the start. Under the deal, which was formally offered through the United Nations, Iran was to surrender some 2,600 pounds of lightly enriched uranium (some three-quarters of its known stockpile) to Russia, and the next year get back a supply of uranium fuel sufficient to run its Tehran research reactor for three decades. The proposal did not require Iran to halt its enrichment program, despite several United Nations Security Council resolutions demanding such a moratorium.
Iran was thus to be rewarded with much-coveted reactor fuel despite violating international law. Within a year, or sooner in light of its expanding enrichment program, Iran would almost certainly have replenished and augmented its stockpile of enriched uranium, nullifying any ostensible nonproliferation benefit of the deal.
Moreover, by providing reactor fuel, the plan would have fostered proliferation in two ways. First, Iran could have continued operating its research reactor, which has helped train Iranian scientists in weapons techniques like plutonium separation. (Yes, as Iran likes to point out, the reactor also produces medical isotopes. But those can be purchased commercially from abroad, as most countries do, including the United States.) Absent the deal, Iran’s reactor will likely run out of fuel within two years, and only a half-dozen countries are able to supply fresh fuel for it. This creates significant international leverage over Iran, which should be used to compel it to halt its enrichment program.
In addition, the vast surplus of higher-enriched fuel Iran was to get under the deal would have permitted some to be diverted to its bomb program. Indeed, many experts believe that the uranium in foreign-provided fuel would be easier to enrich to weapons grade because Iran’s uranium contains impurities. Obama administration officials had claimed that delivering uranium in the form of fabricated fuel would prevent further enrichment for weapons, but this is false. Separating uranium from fuel elements so that it can be enriched further is a straightforward engineering task requiring at most a few weeks.
Thus, had the deal gone through, Iran could have benefited from a head start toward making weapons-grade 90 percent-enriched uranium (meaning that 90 percent of its makeup is the fissile isotope U-235) by starting with purified 20 percent-enriched uranium rather than its own weaker, contaminated stuff.
This raises a question: if the deal would have aided Iran’s bomb program, why did the United States propose it, and Iran reject it? The main explanation on both sides is domestic politics. President Obama wanted to blunt Republican criticism that his multilateral approach was failing to stem Iran’s nuclear program. The deal would have permitted him to claim, for a year or so, that he had defused the crisis by depriving Iran of sufficient enriched uranium to start a crash program to build one bomb.
But in reality no one ever expected Iran to do that, because such a headlong sprint is the one step most likely to provoke an international military response that could cripple the bomb program before it reaches fruition. Iran is far more likely to engage in “salami slicing” — a series of violations each too small to provoke retaliation, but that together will give it a nuclear arsenal. For example, while Iran permits international inspections at its declared enrichment plant at Natanz, it ignores United Nations demands that it close the plant, where it gains the expertise needed to produce weapons-grade uranium at other secret facilities like the nascent one recently uncovered near Qom.
In sum, the proposal would not have averted proliferation in the short run, because that risk always was low, but instead would have fostered it in the long run — a classic example of domestic politics undermining national security.
Tehran’s rejection of the deal was likewise propelled by domestic politics — including last June’s fraudulent elections and longstanding fears of Western manipulation. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad initially embraced the deal because he realized it aided Iran’s bomb program. But his domestic political opponents, whom he has tried to label as foreign agents, turned the tables by accusing him of surrendering Iran’s patrimony to the West.
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Under such domestic pressure, Mr. Ahmadinejad reneged. But Iran still wants reactor fuel, so he threatened to enrich uranium domestically to the 20 percent level. This is a bluff, because even if Iran could further enrich its impure uranium, it lacks the capacity to fabricate that uranium into fuel elements. His real aim is to compel the international community into providing the fuel without requiring Iran to surrender most of the enriched uranium it has on hand.
Indeed, Iran’s foreign minister has now proposed just that: offering to exchange a mere quarter of Iran’s enriched uranium for an immediate 10-year supply of fuel for the research reactor. This would let Iran run the reactor, retain the bulk of its enriched uranium and continue to enrich more — a bargain unacceptable even to the Obama administration.
Tehran’s rejection of the original proposal is revealing. It shows that Iran, for domestic political reasons, cannot make even temporary concessions on its bomb program, regardless of incentives or sanctions. Since peaceful carrots and sticks cannot work, and an invasion would be foolhardy, the United States faces a stark choice: military air strikes against Iran’s nuclear facilities or acquiescence to Iran’s acquisition of nuclear weapons.
The risks of acquiescence are obvious. Iran supplies Islamist terrorist groups in violation of international embargoes. Even President Ahmadinejad’s domestic opponents support this weapons traffic. If Iran acquired a nuclear arsenal, the risks would simply be too great that it could become a neighborhood bully or provide terrorists with the ultimate weapon, an atomic bomb.
As for knocking out its nuclear plants, admittedly, aerial bombing might not work. Some Iranian facilities are buried too deeply to destroy from the air. There may also be sites that American intelligence is unaware of. And military action could backfire in various ways, including by undermining Iran’s political opposition, accelerating the bomb program or provoking retaliation against American forces and allies in the region.
But history suggests that military strikes could work. Israel’s 1981 attack on the nearly finished Osirak reactor prevented Iraq’s rapid acquisition of a plutonium-based nuclear weapon and compelled it to pursue a more gradual, uranium-based bomb program. A decade later, the Persian Gulf war uncovered and enabled the destruction of that uranium initiative, which finally deterred Saddam Hussein from further pursuit of nuclear weapons (a fact that eluded American intelligence until after the 2003 invasion). Analogously, Iran’s atomic sites might need to be bombed more than once to persuade Tehran to abandon its pursuit of nuclear weapons.
As for the risk of military strikes undermining Iran’s opposition, history suggests that the effect would be temporary. For example, NATO’s 1999 air campaign against Yugoslavia briefly bolstered support for President Slobodan Milosevic, but a democratic opposition ousted him the next year.
Yes, Iran could retaliate by aiding America’s opponents in Iraq and Afghanistan, but it does that anyway. Iran’s leaders are discouraged from taking more aggressive action against United States forces — and should continue to be — by the fear of provoking a stronger American counter-escalation. If nothing else, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have shown that the United States military can oust regimes in weeks if it wants to.
Incentives and sanctions will not work, but air strikes could degrade and deter Iran’s bomb program at relatively little cost or risk, and therefore are worth a try. They should be precision attacks, aimed only at nuclear facilities, to remind Iran of the many other valuable sites that could be bombed if it were foolish enough to retaliate.
The final question is, who should launch the air strikes? Israel has shown an eagerness to do so if Iran does not stop enriching uranium, and some hawks in Washington favor letting Israel do the dirty work to avoid fueling anti-Americanism in the Islamic world.
But there are three compelling reasons that the United States itself should carry out the bombings. First, the Pentagon’s weapons are better than Israel’s at destroying buried facilities. Second, unlike Israel’s relatively small air force, the United States military can discourage Iranian retaliation by threatening to expand the bombing campaign. (Yes, Israel could implicitly threaten nuclear counter-retaliation, but Iran might not perceive that as credible.) Finally, because the American military has global reach, air strikes against Iran would be a strong warning to other would-be proliferators.
Negotiation to prevent nuclear proliferation is always preferable to military action. But in the face of failed diplomacy, eschewing force is tantamount to appeasement. We have reached the point where air strikes are the only plausible option with any prospect of preventing Iran’s acquisition of nuclear weapons. Postponing military action merely provides Iran a window to expand, disperse and harden its nuclear facilities against attack. The sooner the United States takes action, the better.
Re: Nuclear War, WMD issues
Reply #174 on:
December 24, 2009, 09:42:04 AM »
Gah! Nasty taste, eventually we will have to kill a bunch of clerics that are dug into Iran like the Borgias were dug into the Papacy in Italy. That is going to create a nastiness that will definately cause some young Moslems in America to start their own retalitations. The government may be forced to simply tell americans to "go ahead carry whatever you wish to while this nastiness is going down", but then again it may just reasult in DHS getting more Autoritay, and we continue to slide down that slippery slope.
I do not see that we have too much of a choice. Get the small problem solved before it becomes a big one, but it is a "doesn't feel good" item that the democrats shy from. That means the "Warmonger" republicans will have to take the job, and the cycle spins.
Re: Nuclear War, WMD issues
Reply #175 on:
December 24, 2009, 09:52:39 AM »
There is also the issue of the growing popular resistance to the regime. How does this variable interact?
Anthrax Attack Update?
Reply #176 on:
January 02, 2010, 10:26:29 AM »
Who was behind the September 2001 anthrax attacks?
By: MICHAEL BARONE
Senior Political Analyst
01/01/10 6:59 PM EST
Here’s some news I missed.Edward Jay Epstein reported on December 21 that the FBI’s anthrax case has fallen apart. In 2008 the FBI declared that Dr. Bruce Ivins, who died an apparent suicide in July 2008, was the perpetrator who sent anthrax-laced letters to members of Congress and others just days after the September 11 attacks. The FBI’s investigation, apparently the most lengthy it had ever conducted, was directed primarily at scientists who had access to anthrax materials. But, Epstein reports, it turns out that Dr. Ivins did not have access to the sophisticated form of anthrax used in September 2001.
Back in October 2001 I wrote a U.S. News column arguing that a state actor may have been behind the anthrax attacks, and I blogged on the subject twice in September 2006 and again in November 2007. It seemed to me then that the anthrax attacks were overwhelmingly likely to be the product of al Qaeda or another terrorist organization, quite likely aided by a state actor, and that the FBI by concentrating its investigation on domestic scientists had been barking up the wrong tree. The announcement in 2008 that the case was solved and a domestic scientist was responsible seemed to refute my conclusions. Now Epstein’s report that the FBI’s case has fallen apart has me thinking along the same lines as I was from 2001 to 2008.
Will we ever learn who was behind the September 2001 anthrax attacks?
Reply #177 on:
January 02, 2010, 11:40:45 AM »
Does anyone know what he is talking about by this phrase?
Does this mean someone who works for the State Dept., the government in general, or an actor like J.W. Booth?
Their was a documentary about this case on one of the cable shows I don't remember which one regarding the suspect.
Colleagues and friends argued there was abosuletly no hint he was thinking along these lines.
The evidence was all circumstantial, and suggestive though not completely conclusive beyond a reasonable doubt IMO.
This guy should have had the same laywers falling all over themselves to defend the 911 bombers.
Re: Nuclear War, WMD issues
Reply #178 on:
January 02, 2010, 11:45:49 AM »
NYTimes.comReport an ErrorTimes Topics > People > I > Ivins, Bruce E.Sign in to Recommend
E-MAILBruce E. Ivins
Usamriid/ReutersBruce Ivins, 62, died of an apparent suicide on July 29, 2008, after learning that federal prosecutors were preparing to indict him on murder charges in the 2001 anthrax attacks that left five people dead.
To some of his longtime colleagues and neighbors, the charges against him marked a startling and inexplicable turn of events for a churchgoing, family-oriented germ researcher known for his jolly disposition.
For more than three decades, Dr. Ivans had worked with some of the world’s most dangerous pathogens and viruses, trying to find cures in case they might be used as a weapon.
Dr. Ivins, the son of a pharmacist from Lebanon, Ohio, who held a doctorate in microbiology from University of Cincinnati, spent his entire career at the elite, Army-run laboratory that conducted high-security experiments into lethal substances like anthrax and Ebola.
He turned his attention to anthrax — putting aside research on Legionnaire’s disease and cholera — after the 1979 anthrax outbreak in the Soviet city of Sverdlovsk, which killed at least 64 after an accidental release at a military facility.
Dr. Ivins was among the scientists who benefited from the post September 11 surge in federal funding for research on potential biological weapons, as 14 of the 15 academic papers he published since late 2001 were focused on possible anthrax treatments or vaccines. He even worked on the investigation of the anthrax attacks, although this meant that he, like other scientists at the Army’s defensive biological laboratory at Fort Detrick, Md., was scrutinized as a possible suspect.
Dr. Ivins and his wife, Diane Ivins, raised two children in a modest Cape Cod home in a post-World War II neighborhood right outside Fort Detrick, and he could walk to work.
He was active in the community, volunteering with the Red Cross and serving as the musician at his Roman Catholic church. He showed off his music skills at work, too, playing songs he had written about friends who were moving to new jobs.
In the weeks before his death, Dr. Ivins’ behavior became increasingly erratic. At a group counseling session at a psychiatric center he announced that he had bought a bulletproof vest and a gun as he contemplated killing his co-workers at the nearby Army research laboratory.
Re: "state actor"?
Reply #179 on:
January 02, 2010, 02:56:42 PM »
Quote from: ccp on January 02, 2010, 11:40:45 AM
Does anyone know what he is talking about by this phrase?
Does this mean someone who works for the State Dept., the government in general, or an actor like J.W. Booth?
He means the support of a nation-state, like Iraq or Syria to name a few potentials.
WSJ: False START
Reply #180 on:
January 04, 2010, 07:51:37 PM »
The Obama Administration continues to negotiate with the Russians over a new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (Start), but one big question is whether it can get the result through the U.S. Senate. A group of Senators is telling the White House that it will have little or no chance of success unless it also moves ahead with nuclear-warhead modernization.
The warning comes in a recent letter from 40 Republican Senators and Independent-Democrat Joe Lieberman reminding the President of his legal responsibility under the National Defense Authorization Act of 2010 to present budget estimates for modernizing U.S. nuclear forces along with any new Start pact.
The Senators are following the suggestions of the important, but too little publicized, recommendations of last year's Perry-Schlesinger commission on the safety and operations of the U.S. nuclear arsenal. The bipartisan report noted, among other things, that the U.S. needs new warheads and nuclear research facilities. President Obama, in his utopian antinuclear mode, has opposed a new warhead despite widespread support for it at the Pentagon, from Defense Secretary Robert Gates on down.
Mr. Obama would be wise to take the warning seriously because he'll need 67 Senate votes to approve any arms-control treaty. Without modernization, it's unlikely that Senators will vote for the significant and probably unwise reductions in U.S. nuclear delivery vehicles that Mr. Obama is negotiating with the Russians.
However, we're not surprised to hear that the President is getting contrary political advice from his Vice President, Joe Biden, who is arguing that the White House should try to get the 67 votes on Start's merits alone. He wants to delay any nuclear modernization decision, holding it out as a carrot to offer Senators in return for ratifying the separate Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. The Senate rejected the test ban pact when Bill Clinton submitted it in 1999, but Mr. Obama hopes to do better with 60 Senate Democrats backed by his global disarmament agenda.
This wouldn't be the first time Mr. Biden has misjudged a vital security issue—recall his proposal to split Iraq into three parts. The deteriorating U.S. nuclear arsenal is emerging as a big security problem, and Start won't be an easy sell even with the money for warhead upgrades. Mr. Obama could have simply renewed the 1991 Start treaty and pocketed an early diplomatic victory. Instead, he has sought something more ambitious in support of his larger disarmament dreams, and the Russians are demanding a hard bargain in return.
.The U.S. has already agreed to steep cuts in its military arsenal, even before the Administration has come out with its Nuclear Posture Review and weapons modernization plan. Last week, Russian strongman Vladimir Putin raised the ante by saying he now wants the U.S. to abandon missile defenses as part of a new Start pact. The Obama Administration's decision to downsize missile defense sites in Poland and the Czech Republic seems to have only emboldened the Russians to push for bigger concessions.
Another issue is verification. With Start's expiration December 5, Russia has pulled inspectors from a factory that's building the next generation of Russian ICBMs and scaled back electronic monitoring—called telemetry—of missile production and movements. The U.S. is trying to undo some of this in negotiations, but Senators will want to make sure that any fix isn't merely cosmetic. If the U.S. is going to reduce its missile and warhead numbers, we need to know what the Russians have in their arsenal.
The stakes here aren't merely whether Mr. Obama can get his treaties ratified; they concern the credibility of the U.S. nuclear umbrella. Mr. Obama says he wants to stop nuclear proliferation but he will only encourage it if our allies begin to believe that the U.S. arsenal is either too small or too unreliable to protect them. Japan has already raised concerns, and with Mr. Obama unable or unwilling to stop either North Korean or Iranian nuclear ambitions, such worry will only spread.
Grand speeches about a world without nuclear weapons are crowd-pleasers at the U.N., but the U.S. Senate has an obligation to inspect the fine print before it ratifies any reduction in U.S. defenses. Senators shouldn't begin to consider a smaller arsenal until the Obama Administration takes the steps to ensure that our remaining weapons will work if we need them
Reply #181 on:
January 04, 2010, 08:01:38 PM »
Re: Nuclear War, WMD issues
Reply #182 on:
January 12, 2010, 10:07:44 AM »
Iran: Nuclear Scientist Killed
Stratfor Today » January 12, 2010 | 1041 GMT
The scene of the explosion that killed Iranian nuclear scientist Massoud Ali-Mohammadi outside his home Jan. 12 in TehranAn Iranian nuclear scientist was killed Jan. 12 in an IED explosion in the Iranian capital. According to the early details, Massoud Ali-Mohammadi was killed around 7:30 a.m. local time near his home in northern Tehran’s upscale district of Qeyterieh with a bomb that some report was hidden in a trashcan and others state was part of a booby-trapped motorcycle. Authorities in Tehran identified Ali-Mohammadi as a professor of nuclear physics at Tehran University. There are reports he may have been affiliated with the country’s controversial nuclear program, but his exact importance with respect to the nuclear program remains unclear.
This is also not the first time that an Iranian nuclear scientist has been killed in mysterious circumstances. Three years ago, a noted Iranian nuclear scientist, Ardeshir Hassanpour, was killed. At the time, STRATFOR had learned that the Israeli intelligence service Mossad was behind the assassination. Indeed, even this time around, Iranian officials have pointed fingers at the Jewish state. It is, however, too early to tell if that is the case.
Assassinations of individual scientists and even defection or kidnapping of others are not unprecedented. Furthermore, there have been bombings in recent months that have targeted senior military commanders of the country’s elite military force, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. The timing of this attack (the first involving the use of an IED against a nuclear scientist), however, comes at a time of considerable domestic unrest and increasing international pressure on Iran to accept an enrichment compromise or face potential military action on the part of the United States or Israel.
Today’s attack will provide the pretext for Iranian authorities to crack down even harder on opponents at home who are already accused of collaborating with foreign enemies of the state. More importantly, it will make Tehran even more intransigent on the nuclear issue as the Islamic republic cannot be seen as caving into pressure, especially not from the West and Israel. The killing of the scientist also places considerable pressure on Iran to engage in retaliatory action.
Hit was by the IRANIANS?
Reply #183 on:
January 13, 2010, 06:06:29 AM »
Caroline Glick says the scientist in question was preparing to defect to the US and was hit pre-emptively by the Iranian regime:
Re: Nuclear War, WMD issues
Reply #184 on:
January 13, 2010, 08:46:24 AM »
Or, Israel hit him and this is disinfo.
Scott Ritter, Pedophile?
Reply #185 on:
January 14, 2010, 08:25:24 AM »
I could doubtless find a more appropriate place to post this piece, but Ritter made so much noise about WMD issue several years back that I figured this topic would best allow folks to reasses his credibility.
Sex sting in Poconos nets former chief U.N. weapons inspector
By Andrew Scott
Pocono Record Writer
January 14, 2010 12:00 AM
A former chief United Nations weapons inspector is accused of contacting what he thought was a 15-year-old girl in an Internet chat room, engaging in a sexual conversation and showing himself masturbating on a Web camera.
Scott Ritter of Delmar, N.Y., who served as chief U.N. weapons inspector in Iraq from 1991-98 and who was an outspoken critic of the second Bush administration in the run-up to the war in Iraq, is accused of contacting what turned out to be a Barrett Township police officer posing undercover as a teen girl.
Read the Affidavit of Probable Cause
WARNING: Extremely Graphic Content
The police affidavit gives the following account:
Officer Ryan Venneman was posing as 15-year-old "Emily" in an online chat room when he was contacted by someone using the name "Delmarm4fun." This person, later identified as Ritter, told "Emily" he was a 44-year-old male from Albany, N.Y.
"Emily" told Ritter she was a 15-year-old girl from the Poconos, at which point Ritter asked for a picture other than the one "Emily" had posted on her account. Ritter then sent her a link to his Web camera and began to masturbate on camera.
"Emily" asked Ritter for his cell phone number, which he provided.
Ritter again asked "Emily" how old she was. Told she was 15, Ritter said he didn't realize she was 15 and turned off his webcam, saying he didn't want to get in trouble.
Ritter told "Emily" he had been fantasizing about having sex with her, to which she replied: "Guess you turned it off ..."
Ritter then said: "You want to see it finish," reactivated his
webcam and continued masturbating and ejaculated on camera.
The online conversation occurred in February 2009, but the investigation lasted until November, when Ritter was charged, because police had to undergo the lengthy process of obtaining court orders to get Ritter's cell phone and computer information.
Ritter is awaiting his next appearance in Monroe County Common Pleas Court. He waived his right last month to a preliminary hearing and is free on $25,000 unsecured bail.
The Pocono Record's attempts to reach Ritter at his New York home and his attorney, Todd Henry, were unsuccessful.
This is not the first time Ritter has been in such trouble.
According to reports, Ritter was charged in a June 2001 Internet sex sting in New York, but that case was dismissed.
He had been charged with attempted child endangerment after arranging in an online chatroom to meet what he thought was a 16-year-old girl at a Burger King restaurant. The girl turned out to be an undercover policewoman.
Ritter said the criminal charge was a smear campaign in response to his criticizing U.S. policy in the Middle East.
The New York Post reported Ritter had been caught in a similar case involving a 14-year-old girl in April 2001, but that he was not charged.
In 1998, Ritter resigned from the United Nations Special Commission weapons inspection team and has been the most outspoken critic of U.S. policy toward Baghdad.
Ritter first made headlines in 1997 when, as a senior UNSCOM member, he was accused by Iraq of being an American spy himself. Now a consultant, he is the author of "Frontier Justice: Weapons of Mass Destruction and the Bushwhacking of America" and "Endgame: Solving the Iraq Problem Once and For All."
Re: Nuclear War, WMD issues
Reply #186 on:
January 14, 2010, 08:36:28 AM »
I had always theorised that the Iraqis stung him and flipped him.
AQ & WMD: A Timeline, I
Reply #187 on:
February 03, 2010, 07:26:03 AM »
Al Qaeda's Pursuit of Weapons of Mass Destruction
The authoritative timeline.
BY ROLF MOWATT-LARSSEN | JANUARY 25, 2010
In 1998, al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden declared that acquiring and using weapons of mass destruction (WMD) was his Islamic duty -- an integral part of his jihad. Systemically, over the course of decades, he dispatched his top lieutenants to attempt to purchase or develop nuclear and biochemical WMD. He has never given up the goal; indeed, in a 2007 video, he repeated his promise to use massive weapons to upend the global status quo, destroy the capitalist hegemony, and help create an Islamic caliphate.
Since the mid-1990s, al Qaeda's WMD procurement efforts have been managed at the most senior levels, under rules of strict compartmentalization from lower levels of the organization, and with central control over possible targets and the timing of prospective attacks. The modus operandi has been top-down -- more similar to the 9/11 attacks than to more recent bottom-up efforts, like the attempted bombing of Flight 253. For instance, al Qaeda deputy chief Ayman al-Zawahiri personally shepherded the group's ultimately unsuccessful efforts to set off an anthrax attack in the United States.
Al Qaeda concentrated its efforts on nuclear devices in the run-up to the September 11, 2001 attacks. Based on the timing and nature of its WMD-related activity in the 1990s, al Qaeda hoped to use such weapons in the United States during an intensified campaign following the 9/11 attacks. There is no indication that the fundamental objectives that lie behind its WMD intent have changed over time.
Al Qaeda seems to have failed in its mission to successfully detonate WMD due to its overpowering interest in such big-casualty, big-impression attacks. The organization has not pursued simpler, cheaper, and easier-to-use technologies, like crude toxins and poisons, with anything like the same fervor. To be sure, experimentation with and training in such agents was standard fare in al Qaeda's camps in Afghanistan before 9/11. But bin Laden and his top associates left the initiative to lower-ranking planners and individual cells. Once, Zawahiri even canceled a planned attack on the New York City subway in lieu of "something better" that never materialized.
But just because "something better" has never materialized, and just because the threat of WMD terrorism has been used to political ends, does not mean that WMD are not a threat. This chronology provides the knowable extent of al Qaeda's interest in, plans to obtain, and efforts to use the world's most deadly weapons.
1988: Osama bin Laden founds al Qaeda. Other founding members include Jamal al-Fadl, Abu Ayoub al-Iraqi, Ayman al-Zawahiri, and Dr. Fadhl al-Masry.
Winter 1990 - Spring 1991: Bin Laden and his associates relocate to Khartoum, Sudan.
Feb. 26, 1993: A car bomb is detonated under the World Trade Center in New York City. According to Federal Judge Kevin Duffy, the goal of al Qaeda mastermind Ramzi Youssef was to "engulf the victims trapped in the North Trade Tower in a cloud of cyanide gas." The explosion incinerates the gas, greatly decreasing the number of casualties. Five people die.
Late 1993 - early 1994: Al Qaeda tries to acquire uranium in Sudan to use in a nuclear device. This is the first evidence of bin Laden's plans to purchase nuclear material for an improvised nuclear device.
Evidence of this attempted transaction comes from Fadl, who defected from al Qaeda in 1996 and became a source for the FBI and CIA. He testifies in court that former Sudanese President Saleh Mobruk attempted to help al Qaeda acquire uranium of South African origin. Fadl says he heard later that the uranium, which al Qaeda acquired for $1.5 million and was tested in Cyprus, was "genuine."
1996: Zawahiri, leader of the Egyptian Islamic Jihad (which later merged into al Qaeda), is detained and released by the state security service in Russia. There is unconfirmed speculation that Zawahiri was seeking nuclear weapons or material there.
May 21, 1996: Abu Ubeida al-Banshiri, a founder of al Qaeda, dies in a ferry accident on Lake Victoria. According to testimony from senior al Qaeda officials, he was seeking nuclear material in southern Africa.
May 1996: Al Qaeda's leadership relocates to Afghanistan.
Early 1998: Zawahiri's Egyptian Islamic Jihad (EIJ) merges with al Qaeda. Zawahiri and EIJ bring technological know-how about chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear weapons to the more ideological al Qaeda. Zawahiri takes control of nuclear and biological weapons development for the whole organization.
Before this time, high-ranking al Qaeda members had held internal discussions about the wisdom and efficacy of pursuing chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear interests. 1998 marked the year when systematic and programmatic efforts began.
Feb. 23, 1998: Bin Laden issues a fatwa against the United States, saying, "The ruling to kill the Americans and their allies -- civilians and military -- is an individual duty for every Muslim who can do it in any country in which it is possible to do it."
Aug. 7, 1998: Al Qaeda initiates simultaneous suicide truck-bomb attacks at the U.S. embassies in Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania, and Nairobi, Kenya. At least 230 civilians, mostly locals, die. The FBI places bin Laden on its "10 most wanted" list and starts monitoring al Qaeda closely.
Aug. 20, 1998: The United States destroys the Al-Shifa pharmaceutical factory in Khartoum, Sudan, based on suspicions that the plant might be producing the nerve agent VX for the Sudanese government and al Qaeda.
Dec. 24, 1998: Osama bin Laden states in an interview with Time's Rahimullah Yusufzai: "Acquiring [WMD] for the defense of Muslims is a religious duty."
1999-2001: Al Qaeda training camps in Afghanistan conduct basic training courses in chemical, biological, and radiological weapons for hundreds of extremists. Abu Khabab al-Masri, a chemist and top bomb-maker, and Abu Musab al-Suri (better known as Setmariam), a Spanish citizen born in Syria, conduct the training courses at the Durante and Tarnak farms.
Setmariam is captured in a raid in Pakistan on Nov. 3, 2005. The outspoken proponent of using chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear weapons in attacks against the United States tells authorities that al Qaeda had made a mistake by not utilizing WMD on Sept. 11, 2001.
Early 1999: Zawahiri recruits a midlevel Pakistani government biologist with extremist sympathies, Rauf Ahmed, to develop a biological weapons program. He is provided with a laboratory in Kandahar, Afghanistan.
Early 1999: The head of Jemaah Islamiyah (JI), an al Qaeda-associated militant Islamist group based in southwest Asia, introduces an ex-Malaysian Army captain and California Polytechnic State University (better known as CalPoly) graduate, Yazid Sufaat, to Zawahiri.
Zawahiri starts a second, independent, parallel program to the al Qaeda Afghanistan program, with Sufaat at the helm. Neither program knows of the existence of the other; each reports to Zawahiri independently. This collaboration between al Qaeda and JI is likely the first instance of Islamist terrorist groups jointly developing WMD.
The Afghanistan program, headed by Ahmed, acquires equipment and sets up labs. Sufaat, a more trusted JI member, focuses on developing the anthrax pathogen. He has been described as the "CEO" of al Qaeda's anthrax program.
1999-2001: Al Qaeda's Abdel Aziz al-Masri conducts nuclear-related explosive experiments in the desert. He is an explosives expert and chemical engineer by training, reportedly self-taught on things nuclear.
January 2001: Pakistani nuclear scientists with extremist sympathies create the humanitarian nongovernmental organization Umma Tameer e Nau (UTN). Bashiruddin Mahmood, the former head of Pakistan's Khushab plutonium reactor, is its chair; the former head of Pakistan's Inter-services Intelligence directorate, Hamid Gul, is on its board.
Mahmood is later forced into retirement due to concerns about his extremist sympathies and reliability. He pens controversial books predicting an imminent apocalypse, offering a radical interpretation of the Quran.
June 2001: Sufaat hosts a meeting of the 9/11 attackers in Kuala Lumpur. Sufaat provides a false Malaysian address for Zacarias Moussaoui, who was arrested shortly before 9/11, to help him travel to the United States.
Before Aug. 2001: UTN's Mahmood discreetly offers to construct chemical, biological, or nuclear weapons programs for al Qaeda and the Libyan government. The United States gathers intelligence on the offers and passes it to the Libyan intelligence service office in London. The head of the London office later confirms to the United States that Libya will have no dealings with UTN.
August 2001: Zawahiri personally inspects Ahmed's completed laboratory in Kandahar. He separately meets with Sufaat for a weeklong briefing on the reportedly successful efforts to isolate and produce a lethal strain of anthrax.
Summer 2001: Mohammed Atta, an organizer and leader of the Sept. 11 attacks, allegedly meets with WMD figures, including al Qaeda's Adnan Shukrijumah. According to the FBI, Shukrijumah cases targets in New York City for possible attacks; he is later associated with multiple nuclear and "dirty bomb" plots.
A person fitting Atta's description seeks to apply for a loan to purchase a crop duster in Florida, and is refused. After 9/11, the FBI approaches every U.S. crop duster company, searching for links to terrorists.
Summer 2001: The United States detains Abderraouf Yousef Jdey, who traveled with Moussaoui from Canada into the United States. Moussaoui is detained with crop duster manuals in his possession; Jdey has biology textbooks. They might have been involved in planning a second wave of attacks for immediately after 9/11.
Sept. 11, 2001: Nineteen members of al Qaeda board two passenger planes in the United States, hijacking them and piloting them into the two towers of the World Trade Center in New York. Nearly 3,000 die.
September 2001: Al Qaeda breaks camp. Most senior operatives and their families flee Afghanistan in anticipation of an imminent U.S. invasion.
Oct. 7, 2001: The United States launches Operation Enduring Freedom, invading Afghanistan to neutralize and destroy al Qaeda and bin Laden.
Oct. 23, 2001: Pakistani intelligence services detain a long list of UTN members and associates, at the request of the U.S. government.
Sometime this month, George Tenet, the director of the CIA, meets with President Pervez Musharraf of Pakistan regarding the threat posed by UTN and the evidence that al Qaeda might be building chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons programs. Musharraf reportedly responds, "Men in caves can't do that."
Still, Musharraf agrees to work with the U.S. government to out and arrest Pakistani scientists cooperating with al Qaeda. Musharraf and Pakistan's intelligence services follow through with the promise.
AQ & WMD: A Timeline, II
Reply #188 on:
February 03, 2010, 07:26:35 AM »
1990s-2001: A nuclear weapons network run by the father of the Pakistan nuclear weapons program, Abdul Qadeer Khan, supplies Iran, North Korea, and Libya with nuclear technologies and know-how. Nuclear bomb designs are found on the computer of a European supplier working with the Khan network. Al Qaeda reportedly contacts associates of Khan for assistance with their weapons program. The Khan network rejects them, for unknown reasons.
Nov. 7, 2001: Bin Laden states in an interview with Pakistani journalist Hamid Mir, "I wish to declare that if America used chemical or nuclear weapons against us, then we may retort with chemical and nuclear weapons. We have the weapons as a deterrent."
In the same interview, Zawahiri states, "If you have $30 million, go to the black market in central Asia, contact any disgruntled Soviet scientist, and a lot of dozens of smart briefcase bombs are available. They have contacted us, we sent our people to Moscow to Tashkent to other central Asian states, and they negotiated and we purchased some suitcase bombs."
Nov. 14, 2001: U.S. President George W. Bush meets with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Crawford, Texas. Bush presents a briefing on the proliferation threat posed by UTN. Bush asks Putin if he is certain that all Russian nuclear weapons and materials are secure. Putin responds that he can only vouch for the safety of nuclear materials since he gained power.
November 2001: Pakistan arrests Mahmood and many other members of UTN. Mahmood confesses that he met with bin Laden around a campfire that summer in Pakistan. He says they discussed how al Qaeda could build a nuclear device. He drew a very rough sketch of an improvised nuclear device, but advised bin Laden that it would be too hard to develop weapons-usable materials for it. Bin Laden reportedly said, "What if I already have them?"
November 2001: A search of UTN's Kabul office produces documents containing crude chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear-related plans, including hand-written notes in Arabic and Internet-related searches.
December 2001: Malaysian authorities arrest Sufaat, the JI leader working with al Qaeda on nuclear weapons. Pakistani authorities arrest Ahmed, his Afghan counterpart, at his home in Islamabad. Ahmed confesses his involvement in the project and provides substantiating evidence.
January 2002: U.S. and Egyptian forces capture al Qaeda senior operative Ibn al-Shaykh al Libi. During interrogation by Egyptians, al Libi claims al Qaeda operatives received chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear weapons training in Baghdad. He claims several small containers of nuclear material were smuggled into New York City by the Russian mafia. Al Libi later recants this statement.
March 2002: Russian special services assassinate Chechen leader Ibn al-Khattab, using poison, the kind of weapon he hoped to use against high-level Russian targets.
March 28, 2002: U.S. and Pakistani forces capture al Qaeda leader Abu Zubaydah in Faisalabad, Pakistan. During interrogation, he reveals a plot by an American associate of al Qaeda, Jose Padilla, to explode a "dirty bomb" in the United States. Padilla is subsequently identified and arrested in Chicago.
Spring 2002: In Khartoum, Sudan, a CIA officer meets with two senior al Qaeda associates, Mubarak al-Duri and Abu Rida Mohammed Bayazid, in a brokered arrangement. The CIA officer attempts to determine whether they were involved in al Qaeda's nuclear and biological weapons programs.
Bayazid, a founding member of al Qaeda, graduated from the University of Arizona with an advanced degree in physics. He was directly involved in al Qaeda's attempt to purchase uranium in 1993 and 1994. Al-Duri, an agronomist, also received his degree at the University of Arizona. He told the CIA officer, "Killing millions [of you] is justifiable by any means.... It is your doing. You made us what we are."
Summer 2002: Al Qaeda leaders in Saudi Arabia begin planning attacks against the royal family and Saudi oil assets. Nuclear and biological weapons-related references begin to appear in communications between top-level al Qaeda leaders and the Saudi cell.
Summer 2002: With bin Laden's blessing, al Qaeda issues two fatwas to justify an escalation of terrorism. One authorizes attacks on infidels other than Americans, including the Saudi royal family. The other justifies the use of WMD. Al Qaeda-associated extremists start to case Saudi targets, including the city of Ras al-Tanura and facilities belonging to oil giant Aramco.
June 2002: Extremists under Zarqawi's command conduct crude chemical and biological training and experiments in a remote camp, Khurmal, in northeastern Iraq. The commanders include men who served with Zarqawi at the Herat camp. Zarqawi has close ties with al Qaeda, but is an independent operator who never swore loyalty (bayat) to bin Laden.
July 10, 2002: Al Qaeda spokesman Sulayman Abu Ghayth al-Libi, under "house arrest" in Iran, says al Qaeda's fatwa justifies the use of WMD to kill four million Americans.
August 2002: CNN runs an exposé on al Qaeda's late-1990s experiments with crude toxins and poisons. Abu Khabab al-Masri led the gruesome efforts, testing the lethality of cyanide creams, ricin, mustard, sarin, and botulinum. A tape shows al Qaeda associates gassing dogs to death. Al-Masri later laments that his students did not take the training to heart by using the toxic weapons in terrorist attacks.
September - December 2002: Zarqawi associates infiltrate Turkey, Britain, Spain, Italy, France, Sweden, Germany, and other countries. They begin coordinating and planning ricin and cyanide attacks via a loose association of cells.
Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney receive briefings on the Zarqawi network's activities and plans to attack with poisons and toxins. Over the course of several briefings, U.S. knowledge of the extent of the network grows from a handful of terrorists in one country to dozens of extremists in 30 countries.
Jan. 5, 2003: In a bloody raid on a safehouse, Britain arrests seven extremists plotting to use ricin poison on the London Underground. This represents the first in a wave of arrests of Zarqawi-network terrorists in Britain, continental Europe, and beyond. The arrests confirm intelligence reports, producing forensic evidence of planning for crude-poison and toxin attacks.
January - March 2003: Zarqawi-associated operatives are arrested, disrupting ricin and cyanide attacks, in Britain, Spain, Italy, and France.
Feb. 5, 2003: U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell gives a speech to the U.N. Security Council, naming the Herat camp leadership, including Zarqawi. He identifies poison-attack cells across Europe.
February - March 2003: Zarqawi returns to Baghdad to prepare for an insurgency to meet the U.S. invasion of Iraq.
March 1, 2003: 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (KSM) is captured in Pakistan. Confronted with the evidence found during the raid, KSM confirms some details of al Qaeda's nuclear and biological weapons programs. He later recants some of his testimony.
March 2003: Zawahiri calls off an attack that had been planned against the New York City subway system, in lieu of "something better." Al Qaeda associates from Bahrain had cased the subway system in December 2002 and planned an attack with a homemade cyanogen gas-releasing device called a "mobtaker."
March-May 2003: Al Qaeda Saudi senior operative Abu Bakr communicates with Iran-based al Qaeda senior members, including the chief of operations. They plan to purchase three "Russian nuclear devices." An unidentified Pakistan specialist is enlisted to verify the goods.
May 21, 2003: Radical Saudi cleric Nasir al-Fahd writes a fatwa justifying the use of WMD. Another radical cleric, Ali al-Khudair, endorses it.
May 28, 2003: The Saudi intelligence agency makes a series of arrests in a campaign to neutralize al Qaeda in Saudi Arabia and eliminate its capacity to mount attacks. Al-Fahd is arrested. Cyanide is found in an al Qaeda safehouse in Riyadh.
June 26, 2003: An Armenian citizen, Garik Dadayan, is caught with 170 grams of highly enriched uranium on the Georgia-Armenia border. This is allegedly a sample of a larger cache, due to be sold to an unknown customer, possibly in the Middle East.
Aug. 13, 2003: Riduan Isamuddin, the head of JI, is arrested. He provides confirmation of his role in the anthrax program.
After August 2003, it is not possible to extend the chronology without excluding considerable information that is sensitive or classified. Even though the passage of time has enabled more of the story of al Qaeda's WMD efforts to be told, much detail remains too sensitive to reveal, even in the years covered by this chronology. It is not the author's intent to reveal information that might frustrate efforts to identify and neutralize al Qaeda's ongoing efforts to develop weapons of mass destruction. Rather, it is his hope that an accurate portrayal of a compact period in the recent past would enable the reader to develop an understanding of the intensity of al Qaeda's interest in WMD, as well as an appreciation for the U.S. government's response to it.
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Rolf Mowatt-Larssen is a senior fellow at Harvard Kennedy School's Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs. Prior to his appointment at Harvard, he led the government's efforts at the Department of Energy and the Central Intelligence Agency to find and track potential nuclear terrorists and to prevent a nuclear terrorist attack on the U.S. An expanded version of this introduction and timeline are available here.
Reply #189 on:
February 09, 2010, 07:01:49 PM »
Seems like it is just a matter of time doesn't it?
Iran will start the race in the Middle East I guess.
Everyone wants to be the big kid on the block.
I always felt Indians felt some shame in the poverty and third world status of their country.
Lets not think nucs will not be a source of "pride".
What is the answer?
****Associated Press Writer Muneeza Naqvi, Associated Press Writer – Sun Feb 7, 7:39 am ET
NEW DELHI – India again successfully test-fired a nuclear-capable missile Sunday that can hit targets across much of Asia and the Middle East, a defense ministry press release said.
It was the fourth test of the Agni III missile, the statement added. The first attempt in 2006 failed, but the last two tests were successful.
"The Agni III missile tested for the full range, hit the target with pinpoint accuracy and met all the mission objectives," the press release added.
India's current arsenal of missiles is largely intended for confronting archrival Pakistan. The Agni III, in contrast, is India's longest-range missile, designed to reach 3,000 kilometers (1,900 miles) — putting China's major cities well into range, as well as Middle Eastern targets.
India's homegrown missile arsenal already includes the short-range Prithvi ballistic missile, the medium-range Akash, the anti-tank Nag and the supersonic Brahmos missile, developed jointly with Russia.
The missile was launched from Wheeler Island off the eastern state of Orissa on Sunday morning.
The test appeared unlikely to significantly raise tensions in the region.
Nuclear-armed neighbors India and Pakistan usually notify each other ahead of such missile launches, in keeping with an agreement between the two nations. India and Pakistan have fought three wars since they gained independence from Britain in 1947.
The two sides began talks aimed at resolving their differences over the Himalayan region of Kashmir and other disputes in 2004. India put the peace process on hold soon after terrorist attacks in Mumbai in November 2008, which India blamed on the Pakistan-based militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba.
India recently offered to restart peace talks, though Pakistan has yet to formally accept.****
Reply #190 on:
February 10, 2010, 02:04:06 PM »
The Jihadist CBRN Threat
February 10, 2010
By Scott Stewart
In an interview aired Feb. 7 on CNN, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said she considers weapons of mass destruction (WMD) in the hands of an international terrorist group to be the largest threat faced by the United States today, even bigger than the threat posed by a nuclear-armed Iran. “The biggest nightmare that many of us have is that one of these terrorist member organizations within this syndicate of terror will get their hands on a weapon of mass destruction,” Clinton said. In referring to the al Qaeda network, Clinton noted that it is “unfortunately a very committed, clever, diabolical group of terrorists who are always looking for weaknesses and openings.”
Clinton’s comments came on the heels of a presentation by U.S. Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. In his Annual Threat Assessment of the U.S. Intelligence Community on Feb. 2, Blair noted that, although counterterrorism actions have dealt a significant blow to al Qaeda’s near-term efforts to develop a sophisticated chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) attack capability, the U.S. intelligence community judges that the group is still intent on acquiring the capability. Blair also stated the obvious when he said that if al Qaeda were able to develop CBRN weapons and had the operatives to use them it would do so.
All this talk about al Qaeda and WMD has caused a number of STRATFOR clients, readers and even friends and family members to ask for our assessment of this very worrisome issue. So, we thought it would be an opportune time to update our readers on the topic.
Realities Shaping the Playing Field
To begin a discussion of jihadists and WMD, it is first important to briefly re-cap STRATFOR’s assessment of al Qaeda and the broader jihadist movement. It is our assessment that the first layer of the jihadist movement, the al Qaeda core group, has been hit heavily by the efforts of the United States and its allies in the aftermath of 9/11. Due to the military, financial, diplomatic, intelligence and law enforcement operations conducted against the core group, it is now a far smaller and more insular organization than it once was and is largely confined geographically to the Afghan-Pakistani border. Having lost much of its operational ability, the al Qaeda core is now involved primarily in the ideological struggle (which it seems to be losing at the present time).
The second layer in the jihadist realm consists of regional terrorist or insurgent groups that have adopted the jihadist ideology. Some of these have taken up the al Qaeda banner, such as al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) and al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), and we refer to them as al Qaeda franchise groups. Other groups may adopt some or all of al Qaeda’s jihadist ideology and cooperate with the core group, but they will maintain their independence for a variety of reasons. In recent years, these groups have assumed the mantle of leadership for the jihadist movement on the physical battlefield.
The third (and broadest) component of the jihadist movement is composed of grassroots jihadists. These are individuals or small groups of people located across the globe who are inspired by the al Qaeda core and the franchise groups but who may have little or no actual connection to these groups. By their very nature, the grassroots jihadists are the hardest of these three components to identify and target and, as a result, are able to move with more freedom than members of the al Qaeda core or the regional franchises.
As long as the ideology of jihadism exists, and jihadists at any of these three layers embrace the philosophy of attacking the “far enemy,” there will be a threat of attacks by jihadists against the United States. The types of attacks they are capable of conducting, however, depend on their intent and capability. Generally speaking, the capability of the operatives associated with the al Qaeda core is the highest and the capability of grassroots operatives is the lowest. Certainly, many grassroots operatives think big and would love to conduct a large, devastating attack, but their grandiose plans often come to naught for lack of experience and terrorist tradecraft.
Although the American public has long anticipated a follow-on attack to 9/11, most of the attacks directed against the United States since 9/11 have failed. In addition to incompetence and poor tradecraft, one of the contributing factors to these failures is the nature of the targets. Many strategic targets are large and well-constructed, and therefore hard to destroy. In other words, just because a strategic target is attacked does not mean the attack has succeeded. Indeed, many such attacks have failed. Even when a plot against a strategic target is successfully executed, it might not produce the desired results and would therefore be considered a failure. For example, the detonation of a massive truck bomb in a parking garage of the World Trade Center in 1993 failed to achieve the jihadists’ aims of toppling the two towers and producing mass casualties, or of causing a major U.S. foreign policy shift.
Many strategic targets, such as embassies, are well protected against conventional attacks. Their large standoff distances and physical security measures (like substantial perimeter walls) protect them from vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices (VBIEDs), while these and other security measures make it difficult to cause significant damage to them using smaller IEDs or small arms.
To overcome these obstacles, jihadists have been forced to look at alternate means of attack. Al Qaeda’s use of large, fully fueled passenger aircraft as guided missiles is a great example of this, though it must be noted that once that tactic became known, it ceased to be viable (as United Airlines Flight 93 demonstrated). Today, there is little chance that a flight crew and passengers of an aircraft would allow it to be seized by a small group of hijackers.
Al Qaeda has long plotted ways to overcome security measures and launch strategic strikes with CBRN weapons. In addition to the many public pronouncements the group has made about its desire to obtain and use such weapons, we know al Qaeda has developed crude methods for producing chemical and biological weapons and included such tactics in its encyclopedia of jihad and terrorist training courses.
However, as STRATFOR has repeatedly pointed out, chemical and biological weapons are expensive and difficult to use and have proved to be largely ineffective in real-world applications. A comparison of the Aum Shinrikyo chemical and biological attacks in Tokyo with the March 2004 jihadist attacks in Madrid clearly demonstrates that explosives are far cheaper, easier to use and more effective in killing people. The failure by jihadists in Iraq to use chlorine effectively in their attacks also underscores the problem of using improvised chemical weapons. These problems were also apparent to the al Qaeda leadership, which scrapped a plot to use improvised chemical weapons in the New York subway system due to concerns that the weapons would be ineffective. The pressure jihadist groups are under would also make it very difficult for them to develop a chemical or biological weapons facility, even if they possessed the financial and human resources required to launch such a program.
Of course, it is not unimaginable for al Qaeda or other jihadists to think outside the box and attack a chemical storage site or tanker car, or use such bulk chemicals to attack another target — much as the 9/11 hijackers used passenger- and fuel-laden aircraft to attack their targets. However, while an attack using deadly bulk chemicals could kill many people, most would be evacuated before they could receive a lethal dose, as past industrial accidents have demonstrated. Therefore, such an attack would be messy but would be more likely to cause mass panic and evacuations than mass casualties. Still, it would be a far more substantial attack than the previous subway plot using improvised chemical weapons.
A similar case can be made against the effectiveness of an attack involving a radiological dispersion device (RDD), sometimes called a “dirty bomb.” While RDDs are easy to deploy — so simple that we are surprised one has not already been used within the United States — it is very difficult to immediately administer a lethal dose of radiation to victims. Therefore, the “bomb” part of a dirty bomb would likely kill more people than the device’s “dirty,” or radiological, component. However, use of an RDD would result in mass panic and evacuations and could require a lengthy and expensive decontamination process. Because of this, we refer to RDDs as “weapons of mass disruption” rather than weapons of mass destruction.
The bottom line is that a nuclear device is the only element of the CBRN threat that can be relied upon to create mass casualties and guarantee the success of a strategic strike. However, a nuclear device is also by far the hardest of the CBRN weapons to obtain or manufacture and therefore the least likely to be used. Given the pressure that al Qaeda and its regional franchise groups are under in the post-9/11 world, it is simply not possible for them to begin a weapons program intended to design and build a nuclear device. Unlike countries such as North Korea and Iran, jihadists simply do not have the resources or the secure territory on which to build such facilities. Even with money and secure facilities, it is still a long and difficult endeavor to create a nuclear weapons program — as is evident in the efforts of North Korea and Iran. This means that jihadists would be forced to obtain an entire nuclear device from a country that did have a nuclear weapons program, or fissile material such as highly enriched uranium (enriched to 80 percent or higher of the fissile isotope U-235) that they could use to build a crude, gun-type nuclear weapon.
Indeed, we know from al Qaeda defectors like Jamal al-Fadl that al Qaeda attempted to obtain fissile material as long ago as 1994. The organization was duped by some of the scammers who were roaming the globe attempting to sell bogus material following the collapse of the Soviet Union. Several U.S. government agencies were duped in similar scams.
Black-market sales of military-grade radioactive materials spiked following the collapse of the Soviet Union as criminal elements descended on abandoned Russian nuclear facilities in search of a quick buck. In subsequent years the Russian government, in conjunction with various international agencies and the U.S. government, clamped down on the sale of Soviet-era radioactive materials. U.S. aid to Russia in the form of so-called “nonproliferation assistance” — money paid to destroy or adequately secure such nuclear and radiological material — increased dramatically following 9/11. In 2009, the U.S. Congress authorized around $1.2 billion for U.S. programs that provide nonproliferation and threat reduction assistance to the former Soviet Union. Such programs have resulted in a considerable amount of fissile material being taken off the market and removed from vulnerable storage sites, and have made it far harder to obtain fissile material today than it was in 1990 or even 2000.
Another complication to consider is that jihadists are not the only parties who are in the market for nuclear weapons or fissile material. In addition to counterproliferation programs that offer to pay money for fissile materials, countries like Iran and North Korea would likely be quick to purchase such items, and they have the resources to do so, unlike jihadist groups, which are financially strapped.
Some commentators have said they believe al Qaeda has had nuclear weapons for years but has been waiting to activate them at the “right time.” Others claim these weapons are pre-positioned inside U.S. cities. STRATFOR’s position is that if al Qaeda had such weapons prior to 9/11, it would have used them instead of conducting the airline attack. Even if the group had succeeded in obtaining a nuclear weapon after 9/11, it would have used it by now rather than simply sitting on it and running the risk of it being seized.
There is also the question of state assistance to terrorist groups, but the actions of the jihadist movement since 9/11 have served to steadily turn once quietly supportive (or ambivalent) states against the movement. Saudi Arabia declared war on jihadists in 2003 and countries such as Yemen, Pakistan and Indonesia have recently gone on the offensive. Indeed, in his Feb. 2 presentation to the Senate committee, Blair said: “We do not know of any states deliberately providing CBRN assistance to terrorist groups. Although terrorist groups and individuals have sought out scientists with applicable expertise, we have no corroborated reporting that indicates such experts have advanced terrorist CBRN capability.” Blair also noted that, “We and many in the international community are especially concerned about the potential for terrorists to gain access to WMD-related materials or technology.”
Clearly, any state that considered providing WMD to jihadists would have to worry about blow-back from countries that would be targeted by that material (such as the United States and Russia). With jihadists having declared war on the governments of countries in which they operate, officials in a position to provide CBRN to those jihadists would also have ample reason to be concerned about the materials being used against their own governments.
Efforts to counter the proliferation of nuclear materials and technology will certainly continue for the foreseeable future, especially efforts to ensure that governments with nuclear weapons programs do not provide weapons or fissile material to jihadist groups. While the chance of such a terrorist attack is remote, the devastation one could cause means that it must be carefully guarded against.
Re: Nuclear War, WMD issues
Reply #191 on:
February 11, 2010, 12:12:46 PM »
For Israel the threat are probably the opposite.
Israel is screwed.
Iran's regimes intentions could not be more clear.
Could a miracle occur and there be a topple of the present regime?
Otherwise war is the only way Jews in Israel will survive IMO.
Again the world idles while Jew haters prepare for war with fanatical arming.
Where are you now Soros? Of all people.
Successful Laser v. Ballistic Missile Test
Reply #192 on:
February 12, 2010, 10:41:06 AM »
Some profound implications here:
U.S. successfully tests airborne laser on missile
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A U.S. high-powered airborne laser weapon shot down a ballistic missile in the first successful test of a futuristic directed energy weapon, the U.S. Missile Defense Agency said on Friday.
The agency said in a statement the test took place at 8:44 p.m. PST (11:44 p.m. EST) on Thursday /0444 GMT on Friday) at Point Mugu's Naval Air Warfare Center-Weapons Division Sea Range off Ventura in central California.
"The Missile Defense Agency demonstrated the potential use of directed energy to defend against ballistic missiles when the Airborne Laser Testbed (ALTB) successfully destroyed a boosting ballistic missile" the agency said.
The high-powered Airborne Laser system is being developed by Boeing Co., the prime contractor, and the U.S. Missile Defense Agency.
Boeing produces the airframe, a modified 747 jumbo jet, while Northrop Grumman supplies the higher-energy laser and Lockheed Martin is developing the beam and fire control systems.
"This was the first directed energy lethal intercept demonstration against a liquid-fuel boosting ballistic missile target from an airborne platform," the agency added.
The airborne laser weapon successfully underwent its first in-flight test against a target missile back in August. During that test, Boeing said the modified 747-400F aircraft took off from Edwards Air Force Base and used its infrared sensors to find a target missile launched from San Nicolas Island, California.
The plane's battle management system issued engagement and target location instructions to the laser's fire control system, which tracked the target and fired a test laser at the missile. Instruments on the missile verified the system had hit its mark, Boeing said.
The airborne laser weapon is aimed at deterring enemy missile attacks and providing the U.S. military with the ability to engage all classes of ballistic missiles at the speed of light while they are in the boost phase of flight.
"The revolutionary use of directed energy is very attractive for missile defense, with the potential to attack multiple targets at the speed of light, at a range of hundreds of kilometers (miles), and at a low cost per intercept attempt compared to current technologies," the U.S. Missile Defense Agency said.
(Reporting by Jim Wolf and David Alexander, Editing by Sandra Maler)
POTH: BO/WH "rethinking" US policy
Reply #193 on:
March 01, 2010, 07:03:02 AM »
WASHINGTON — As President Obama begins making final decisions on a broad new nuclear strategy for the United States, senior aides say he will permanently reduce America’s arsenal by thousands of weapons. But the administration has rejected proposals that the United States declare it would never be the first to use nuclear weapons, aides said.
Mr. Obama’s new strategy — which would annul or reverse several initiatives by the Bush administration — will be contained in a nearly completed document called the Nuclear Posture Review, which all presidents undertake. Aides said Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates will present Mr. Obama with several options on Monday to address unresolved issues in that document, which have been hotly debated within the administration.
First among them is the question of whether, and how, to narrow the circumstances under which the United States will declare it might use nuclear weapons — a key element of nuclear deterrence since the cold war.
Mr. Obama’s decisions on nuclear weapons come as conflicting pressures in his defense policy are intensifying. His critics argue that his embrace of a new movement to eliminate nuclear weapons around the world is naïve and dangerous, especially at a time of new nuclear threats, particularly from Iran and North Korea. But many of his supporters fear that over the past year he has moved too cautiously, and worry that he will retain the existing American policy by leaving open the possibility that the United States might use nuclear weapons in response to a biological or chemical attack, perhaps against a nation that does not possess a nuclear arsenal.
That is one of the central debates Mr. Obama must resolve in the next few weeks, his aides say.
Many elements of the new strategy have already been completed, according to senior administration and military officials who have been involved in more than a half-dozen Situation Room debates about it, and outside strategists consulted by the White House.
As described by those officials, the new strategy commits the United States to developing no new nuclear weapons, including the nuclear bunker-busters advocated by the Bush administration. But Mr. Obama has already announced that he will spend billions of dollars more on updating America’s weapons laboratories to assure the reliability of what he intends to be a much smaller arsenal. Increased confidence in the reliability of American weapons, Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. said in a speech in February, would make elimination of “redundant” nuclear weapons possible.
“It will be clear in the document that there will be very dramatic reductions — in the thousands — as relates to the stockpile,” according to one senior administration official whom the White House authorized to discuss the issue this weekend. Much of that would come from the retirement of large numbers of weapons now kept in storage.
Other officials, not officially allowed to speak on the issue, say that in back-channel discussions with allies, the administration has also been quietly broaching the question of whether to withdraw American tactical nuclear weapons from Europe, where they provide more political reassurance than actual defense. Those weapons are now believed to be in Germany, Italy, Belgium, Turkey and the Netherlands.
At the same time, the new document will steer the United States toward more non-nuclear defenses. It relies more heavily on missile defense, much of it arrayed within striking distance of the Persian Gulf, focused on the emerging threat from Iran. Mr. Obama’s recently published Quadrennial Defense Review also includes support for a new class of non-nuclear weapons, called “Prompt Global Strike,” that could be fired from the United States and hit a target anywhere in less than an hour.
The idea, officials say, would be to give the president a non-nuclear option for, say, a large strike on the leadership of Al Qaeda in the mountains of Pakistan, or a pre-emptive attack on an impending missile launch from North Korea. But under Mr. Obama’s strategy, the missiles would be based at new sites around the United States that might even be open to inspection, so that Russia and China would know that a missile launched from those sites was not nuclear — to avoid having them place their own nuclear forces on high alert.
But the big question confronting Mr. Obama is how he will describe the purpose of America’s nuclear arsenal. It is far more than just an academic debate.
Some leading Democrats, led by Senator Dianne Feinstein of California, chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, have asked Mr. Obama to declare that the “sole purpose” of the country’s nuclear arsenal is to deter nuclear attack. “We’re under considerable pressure on this one within our own party,” one of Mr. Obama’s national security advisers said recently.
But inside the Pentagon and among many officials in the White House, Mr. Obama has been urged to retain more ambiguous wording — declaring that deterring nuclear attack is the primary purpose of the American arsenal, not the only one. That would leave open the option of using nuclear weapons against foes that might threaten the United States with biological or chemical weapons or transfer nuclear material to terrorists.
Page 2 of 2)
Any compromise wording that leaves in place elements of the Bush-era pre-emption policy, or suggests the United States could use nuclear weapons against a non-nuclear adversary, would disappoint many on the left wing of his party, and some arms control advocates.
“Any declaration that deterring a nuclear attack is a ‘primary purpose’ of our arsenal leaves open the possibility that there are other purposes, and it would not reflect any reduced reliance on nuclear weapons,” said Daryl G. Kimball, the executive director of the Arms Control Association. “It wouldn’t be consistent with what the president said in his speech in Prague” a year ago, when he laid out an ambitious vision for moving toward the elimination of nuclear weapons.
Mr. Obama’s base has already complained in recent months that he has failed to break from Bush era national security policy in some fundamental ways. They cite, for example, his stepped-up use of drones to strike suspected terrorists in Pakistan and his failure to close the Guantánamo Bay detention facility by January as Mr. Obama had promised.
While Mr. Obama ended financing last year for a new nuclear warhead sought by the Bush administration, the new strategy goes further. It commits Mr. Obama to developing no new nuclear weapons, including a low-yield, deeply-burrowing nuclear warhead that the Pentagon sought to strike buried targets, like the nuclear facilities in North Korea and Iran. Mr. Obama, officials said, has determined he could not stop other countries from seeking new weapons if the United States was doing the same.
Still, some of Mr. Obama’s critics in his own party say the change is symbolic because he is spending more to improve old weapons.
At the center of the new strategy is a renewed focus on arms control and nonproliferation agreements, which were largely dismissed by the Bush administration. That includes an effort to win passage of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, which was defeated during the Clinton administration and faces huge hurdles in the Senate, and revisions of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty to close loopholes that critics say have been exploited by Iran and North Korea.
Mr. Obama’s reliance on new, non-nuclear Prompt Global Strike weapons is bound to be contentious. As described by advocates within the Pentagon and in the military, the new weapons could achieve the effects of a nuclear weapon, without turning a conventional war into a nuclear one. As a result, the administration believes it could create a new form of deterrence — a way to contain countries that possess or hope to develop nuclear, biological or chemical weapons, without resorting to a nuclear option.
Reply #194 on:
March 02, 2010, 10:08:28 AM »
U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates and President Barack Obama are debating the final details of the latest U.S. Nuclear Posture Review (NPR), which informs a broad spectrum of Pentagon plans, March 1. Though the fundamental strategic balance is unlikely to change, the NPR and the ongoing negotiations with Russia over a replacement for the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty will bear considerable watching.
U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates is meeting with President Barack Obama on March 1 to discuss final options for the U.S. Nuclear Posture Review (NPR). The NPR has seen several delays and was previously slated to be released alongside the 2010 Quadrennial Defense Review and Ballistic Missile Defense Review on Feb. 1. Now expected to be released mid-March, the NPR is almost certainly largely complete, with the final issues being hammered out between the state and defense departments and the White House.
There reportedly has been some disagreement between the Pentagon and the White House over the review, centered on a draft that the White House criticized as too much of a continuation of the status quo. The precise details of what Gates and Obama are discussing March 1 are currently unclear, but it appears to be the White House’s intention to press the Pentagon on wording about the circumstances under which the United States might consider using nuclear weapons and on warhead reductions. Though the exact scale of those reductions remains unclear, the White House appears to be pushing for more of a seminal document and less of the status quo. But large reductions will have to come from somewhere other than the operationally deployed arsenal.
The operationally deployed arsenal is thought to have already been reduced to below 2,200 strategic warheads in conformity with the Strategic Offensive Reductions Treaty (SORT), signed in Moscow in 2002. The bulk of any further reductions in the arsenal are expected to come mostly from weapons held in reserve in storage. While the exact size and composition of the operationally deployed strategic deterrent and reserve stockpile poses some technical questions, most of the fat has already been trimmed from the operationally deployed arsenal, and large reductions beyond the 1,700-2,200 warheads stipulated by SORT seem unlikely at this point.
The 1,700-2,200 figure supposedly originated in the Pentagon in the first place, representing a figure the military felt comfortable with. Negotiations with Moscow on a replacement for the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START), which lapsed in December 2009, are taking place concurrently with the NPR discussions. Further reductions in the size of the U.S. arsenal per the NPR are unlikely to impress Moscow, which is happy with a largely symbolic reduction below the SORT-stipulated numbers. Negotiators on the START replacement already reportedly have settled on around 1,600 operationally deployed warheads — a figure both the Pentagon and the Kremlin likely are comfortable with.
Russia is watching the U.S. NPR process closely, but not for a shift on warhead numbers. Issues likely to be in the final NPR — continued emphasis on ballistic missile defenses (BMD), which Russia opposes; Russia’s perception of the precise language of the circumstances under which Washington will consider using nuclear weapons and increasing emphasis on non-nuclear deterrence capabilities that, in the Kremlin’s eyes, would alter the strategic balance — will affect START negotiations as well. Russia is not simply waiting on the NPR to put ink to paper; there remain important areas of disagreement, like the U.S. BMD systems specifically slated for former Warsaw Pact countries and the availability of test and telemetry data on new weapon systems (which Russia is developing, but the United States is not).
And yet the NPR is also something of a non-issue. At the end of the day, the United States will retain the most robust and reliable nuclear deterrent in the world, and publicly released nuclear doctrine aside, will retain the ability to use nuclear weapons at its discretion when its national interests are threatened.
Both the United States and Russia have an interest in sustaining a bilateral, long-term nuclear arms control regime. The NPR will support that, and despite some points to still be settled, a START replacement is likely to be inked eventually as well.
BO narrows our policy regarding nuke use
Reply #195 on:
April 05, 2010, 09:08:37 PM »
Breaking News Alert
The New York Times
Mon, April 05, 2010 -- 8:15 PM ET
Obama Limits When U.S. Can Use Nuclear Weapons
WASHINGTON -- President Obama said Monday that he was
revamping American nuclear strategy to substantially narrow
the conditions under which the United States would use
nuclear weapons, even in self defense.
The strategy eliminates much of the ambiguity that has
deliberately existed in American nuclear policy since the
opening days of the Cold War. For the first time, the United
States is explicitly committing not to use nuclear weapons
against non-nuclear states that are in compliance with the
Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, even if they attacked the
United States with biological or chemical weapons, or
launched a crippling cyberattack.
Re: Nuclear War, WMD issues
Reply #196 on:
April 05, 2010, 09:34:23 PM »
And thus the Obama doctrine of pre-emptive surrender is born. Yay.
Re: Nuclear War, WMD issues
Reply #197 on:
April 05, 2010, 11:26:42 PM »
Reply #198 on:
April 06, 2010, 08:45:54 AM »
By JONATHAN WEISMAN And PETER SPIEGEL
WASHINGTON—The Obama administration will release a new national nuclear-weapons strategy Tuesday that makes only modest changes to U.S. nuclear forces, leaving intact the longstanding U.S. threat to use nuclear weapons first, even against non-nuclear nations.
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The Obama administration will release a new national nuclear-weapons strategy Tuesday that makes only modest changes to U.S. nuclear forces.
.But the new policy will narrow potential U.S. nuclear targets, and for the first time makes explicit the goal of making deterrence of a nuclear strike the "sole objective" of U.S. nuclear weapons, a senior Obama administration official said Monday.
Also for the first time, nations complying with their nuclear non-proliferation obligations that attack the U.S. or its allies with chemical or biological weapons will no longer be threatened with nuclear retaliation, the official said. But the president will make clear they would "face the prospect of a devastating conventional attack," the official said.
The document, known as the Nuclear Posture Review, is the first rethinking of the U.S. nuclear strategy since President George W. Bush released his revised policies three months after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. It does offer clearer assurances that non-nuclear nations complying with nuclear proliferation accords will not be targeted, and it moves toward additional safeguards against accidental nuclear launches. But more dramatic changes, contemplated just weeks ago, were shelved after President Barack Obama secured a nuclear arms-control treaty with Russia that will shape the U.S. arsenal for the next decade.
Vote: Should the U.S. declare it will not use nuclear weapons first?
.The release of the review will kick off a lengthy series of defense-policy events that Mr. Obama hopes will further his aims of countering the proliferation of nuclear weapons and materials, and of isolating Iran.
On Thursday, he and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev will sign a treaty cutting deployed U.S. and Russian nuclear arsenals by 30%.
Meanwhile, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Tuesday that Russia reserves the right to withdraw from its new arms-control treaty with the U.S. if it decides the planned U.S. missile-defense shield threatens its security, the Associated Press reported. Mr. Lavrov said Russia will issue a statement outlining the terms for such a withdrawal after Messrs. Obama and Medvedev sign the treaty, AP reported.
"Russia will have the right to opt out of the treaty if qualitative and quantitative parameters of the U.S. strategic missile defense begin to significantly effect the efficiency of Russian strategic nuclear forces," Mr. Lavrov told the AP.
Next week, more than 40 heads of state convene in Washington for a summit on counter-proliferation, which will lead to efforts at the United Nations to tighten economic sanctions against Iran to choke off its nuclear ambitions. Next month, Mr. Obama will try to use the first U.N. review of the Non-Proliferation Treaty in five years to toughen the treaty and isolate two of its scofflaws, Iran and North Korea.
"Release of nuclear posture review will set the stage," said a U.S. official involved in proliferation issues.
To many arms-control advocates, the review is likely to be a disappointment. "It's a status quo document, I think, in virtually every respect," said Bruce Blair, president of World Security Institute and co-coordinator of Global Zero, a disarmament group.
With Senate approval needed for the pact with Russia to cut nuclear arsenals, administration officials did not want to commit to dramatic changes in nuclear policy that opponents could use to build opposition to the treaty, Mr. Blair said. Republican Senate aides said they expected a document they could embrace.
But the administration official said the "adjustments" in the U.S. position narrow any contingencies for a nuclear strike. The document will say "there remains a narrow range of contingencies in which the option of using nuclear weapons can play a role in deterring large-scale conventional, chemical or biological attack," he said. But it will add that Washington "will continue to move" toward "making nuclear deterrence the sole objective" of the arsenal. The adjective "sole" has become a key measurement in diplomatic circles where U.S. nuclear forces have long been seen as an impediment to stopping nuclear proliferation.
The document will more clearly say the U.S. will not attack non-nuclear nations that have signed and are complying with the U.N. nonproliferation treaty, according to officials familiar with it. That effectively narrows the potential U.S. nuclear targets to the eight declared nuclear powers, as well as Iran and possibly Syria, said Joseph Cirincione, president of the Ploughshares Fund, an arms-control group. U.S. officials consider those two nations to be not fully compliant with the nonproliferation treaty.
The nuclear strategy will not take U.S. nuclear weapons off submarines, bombers and missiles that could fire them at a moment's notice. But the administration will recommend changes to the nuclear command structure that would make accidental launches more unlikely, officials said. They will also call for fortifying U.S. nuclear launch systems, so military officials would not believe they have to launch a nuclear strike out of fear that an incoming attack would destroy the U.S. response capacity.
For the first time, the strategy makes counter-proliferation the highest priority of nuclear policy makers.
The new strategy will emphasize reducing reliance on the role of nuclear weapons in deterrence, and will commit to accelerating the deployment of non-nuclear deterrent capabilities, such as missile defenses and the forward deployment of U.S. forces to trouble spots.
But the administration backed away from language that its allies in the arms-control community believed they would secure. Officials considered detailing their goals for the next round of arms talks with Russia, including controls on battlefield tactical nuclear weapons, dismantling mothballed warheads and reducing total deployments to 1,000 warheads a side, down from the 1,550 limit in the new treaty. But the new doctrine will not contain such specifics, nor will it adopt language threatening nuclear attack only against nuclear threats.
"The United States should be able to clearly state that the only purpose we hold nuclear weapons for is to deter the use of nuclear weapons," said Daryl Kimball, executive director of the Arms Control Association. "There is no conventional threat out there that we cannot counter with our overwhelming conventional forces."
—Jay Solomon contributed to this article.
Write to Jonathan Weisman at
and Peter Spiegel at
Re: Nuclear War, WMD issues
Reply #199 on:
April 06, 2010, 07:37:21 PM »
Tuesday, April 06, 2010
It's bad enough that President Obama is about to sign a new START agreement with Russia--an accord that is little more than a gift to Moscow. But Mr. Obama is now making matters far worse with his "Nuclear Posture Review," which further weakens our deterrent capabilities.
Previewing his new policy for the court stenographers at The New York Times, the president set limits on how the U.S. might use nuclear weapons, even in self-defense. Mr. Obama said the United States would commit "to not using nuclear weapons against non-nuclear states that adhere to non-proliferation treaties--even if those countries attack the U.S. with chemical or biological weapons."
While stopping short of a "no first use" policy, the Obama doctrine clearly constrains our potential employment of nuclear weapons. In his interview with the Times, the president said one of his goals is to "move towards less emphasis on nuclear weapons, to make sure that our conventional weapons capability is an effective deterrent in all but the most extreme circumstances.”
Some of those "circumstances" could include rogue states like Iran and North Korea. Mr. Obama's policy makes exceptions for those adversaries. Pyongyang has already demonstrated a limited nuclear capability while Iran is working actively to develop nuclear weapons. The President says our revised posture will "set an example" for the rest of the world, and persuade more nations to curb their nuclear programs.
It's tempting to ask just how well that example is working. North Korea has threatened both the U.S. and South Korea with nuclear attacks, and even shared their technology with Syria. Apparently, Pyongyang is unconcerned about our "example," or the potential for American nuclear retaliation. And the pace of Iran's nuclear program has only accelerated over the past year, suggesting that Iran has little fear of the administration and its nuclear policies.
But the decline in our nuclear forces goes well beyond our political statements, and how they play in places like Iran and North Korea. Mr. Obama is telegraphing how he would use nuclear weapons, eliminating the policy "ambiguity" that has kept enemies guessing--and served us well--for more than 60 years.
Equally distressing, President Obama remains committed to a continuing erosion in our nuclear capabilities. As former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Frank Gaffney observes:
I believe that the most alarming aspect of the Obama denuclearization program, however, is its explicit renunciation of new U.S. nuclear weapons — an outcome that required the president to overrule his own defense secretary. Even if there were no new START treaty, no further movement on the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, and no new wooly-headed declaratory policies, the mere fact that the United States will fail to reverse the steady obsolescence of its deterrent — and the atrophying of the skilled workforce needed to sustain it — will ineluctably achieve what is transparently President Obama’s ultimate goal: a world without American nuclear weapons.
Given the outlines of Mr. Obama's policy, it's hard to disagree. Not only will our nuclear forces grow smaller in the coming years, they will also become less capable, with the president mandating a "procurement holiday" for that category of weapons, and the infrastructure and produces them.
Additionally, the newly-negotiated Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) will take a further toll on our deterrent capabilities, by cutting the number of warheads (to 1,500 for both the U.S. and Russia) and placing limits on delivery systems. By agreeing to that provision, Mr. Obama and his security team essentially traded away an American strength.
Two decades after the Cold War ended, the U.S. is the only global power with a true nuclear "triad," consisting of land-based ICBMs, sub-launched ballistic missiles and long-range nuclear bombers. Reaching treaty goals means the United States will surrender some of its advantage in those latter categories. Russia, on the other hand, has only a token ballistic missile fleet and a handful of long-range bombers. Clearly, the U.S. must make most of the cuts to comply with the new agreement.
It's also worth noting that some of the American bombers facing elimination are dual-capable systems, designed for nuclear strike missions and extended-range conventional sorties. Writing at the American Thinker, Thomas Lifson speculates that Russia's real goal wasn't a reduction in nuclear weapons, but rather, a decrease in our global, precision-strike capabilities. With fewer dual-capable bombers in the inventory, it will be more difficult to mount "shock and awe" campaigns in the future and inject U.S. power in areas that Moscow wants to dominate.
No matter how you slice it, the new START agreement (and Mr. Obama's revised nuclear posture statement) are bad policy, pure and simple. After a year in the Oval Office, the commander-in-chief still has a myopic view of the world, believing that nuclear weapons can simply be wished or negotiated away. In reality, President Obama is sewing the seeds of a new arms race. Allies in eastern Europe and the Far East (think Taiwan) that have long counted on the American nuclear umbrella will now be tempted to developed their own weapons, deducing (correctly) that the U.S. may be unwilling or unable to protect them.
Sad to say, but the new treaty and nuclear posture statement represent the worst security policy since the United States signed the Kellogg-Briand pact back in 1928. That was the agreement that "prohibited war as an instrument of national policy," except in matters of self-defense. You know how that one worked out.
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