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Nuclear War, WMD issues
Topic: Nuclear War, WMD issues (Read 106867 times)
Re: Nuclear War, WMD issues
Reply #300 on:
May 11, 2014, 10:27:34 AM »
Thanks for that GM, EMP may well be the cutting edge of coming conflicts. Certainly we are woefully unprepared and such an attack could be quite devastating.
Re: Nuclear War, WMD issues
Reply #301 on:
May 11, 2014, 11:48:14 AM »
Quote from: Crafty_Dog on May 11, 2014, 10:27:34 AM
Thanks for that GM, EMP may well be the cutting edge of coming conflicts. Certainly we are woefully unprepared and such an attack could be quite devastating.
Our grid is woefully vulnerable and without it, the loss of life incredible.
Russia to build more nuke reactors for Iran?
Reply #302 on:
May 22, 2014, 07:57:38 PM »
POTH on Iran's detonators
Reply #303 on:
May 24, 2014, 09:28:47 AM »
Iran Is Providing Information on Its Detonators, Atomic Agency Says
By DAVID E. SANGER and WILLIAM J. BROADMAY 23, 2014
WASHINGTON — For six years, international nuclear inspectors have been demanding that Iran turn over evidence of experiments that they suspect could have been part of a secret effort to solve the complex science of detonating a nuclear weapon.
On Friday, the International Atomic Energy Agency, the monitoring arm of the United Nations, said that it was finally beginning to see the information it had long sought — but that Iran insisted that the detonators were for non-nuclear purposes.
The disclosure was buried in a report by the atomic agency that detailed major progress Iran had made in diluting most of its stockpile of medium-enriched uranium, nuclear fuel that the West has long feared could be converted relatively quickly into weapons-grade material. Getting Iran to dilute that uranium was perhaps the biggest single accomplishment of the interim deal struck last year, creating room for the current negotiations, which hit their first major roadblock last week.
While there were no details in the report about what data Iran had supplied on what are called “exploding bridge wire detonators,” the disclosure that a substantive discussion had begun with the agency suggested a significant change in tactics in Tehran. For years Iranian officials have refused to answer questions about what the agency blandly calls “possible military dimensions” of Iran’s program. The Iranians have claimed the queries are based on what they call Western fabrications of evidence and lies propagated by the C.I.A.
But inside American and European intelligence agencies, the detonator issue is just one of many questions about a suspected secret weapons-design program buried inside university laboratories and institutes. The suspicions were heightened nearly a decade ago, when evidence emerged from a laptop computer smuggled out of the country by an Iranian scientist recruited by Western intelligence agencies. The data he provided included diagrams, videos and other results that appeared to strongly suggest interest in weapons design.
While much of the work ended in 2003, there are disagreements in the intelligence agencies of different countries about whether, and how intensely, it was resumed. The negotiations over the evidence of weapons work have been taking place on a separate track from the talks between Iran and the major powers about its nuclear enrichment program. While the atomic agency inspectors are permitted to visit fuel production areas daily, the Iranians continue to block access to the scientist that the United States, Israel and others say ran many of the main weapons-research operations, Mohsen Fakrizadeh.
Some other Iranian researchers believed involved in the program have been assassinated in recent years, in operations that have been attributed to Israel. Israeli officials have never confirmed or denied responsibility.
The atomic agency’s report was issued at a moment when negotiators have reached a roadblock with Iran over how much it is willing to dismantle its nuclear fuel-making infrastructure. American officials want Iran to reduce the number of centrifuges — the machines that purify uranium — to around 4,000 from the current 19,000. The Iranians want to expand the number, over time, to roughly 50,000, saying they need such capacity to produce fuel for civilian reactors yet to be built.
In the meantime, though, Iran is complying with all the elements of its interim agreement. The report of the atomic agency, issued from its Vienna headquarters to member states, showed that Iran had “halted nuclear activities in the areas of greatest proliferation concern and rolled back its program in other key areas,” said an analysis from the Arms Control Association, an advocacy group in Washington.
The detonators that Iran began discussing with the atomic agency were invented during the Manhattan Project, the American-led effort to build the first atomic bomb during World War II. The detonators are similar to blasting caps: an electric current fires them off. But they use a much higher voltage and the timing of the explosion can be far more precise, allowing a number to fire more or less simultaneously.
While they are used in nuclear devices, they are also essential in mining and rocketry, as well as explosive welding and metal forming. The atomic agency said that at a May 20 meeting Iran had provided “additional information and explanations,” including documents, to substantiate its claim that it had tested the detonators for “a civilian application.”
The detonators are one of seven different technologies the atomic agency said, in a 2011 report, that Iran was believed to have investigated.
The report said the agency was assessing Iran’s information. “It is important,” the report added, “that Iran continues to engage with the agency to resolve all outstanding issues” related to the nuclear program.
US vulnerable to EMP attack?
Reply #304 on:
August 04, 2014, 07:41:59 AM »
Re: Nuclear War, WMD issues
Reply #305 on:
August 04, 2014, 11:36:37 AM »
Thanks for that BD. This is a subject that deserves our attention IMHO.
The Growing Threat from an EMP Attack
Reply #306 on:
August 13, 2014, 07:23:44 AM »
The Growing Threat From an EMP Attack
A nuclear device detonated above the U.S. could kill millions, and we've done almost nothing to prepare.
By R. James Woolsey And Peter Vincent Pry
Aug. 12, 2014 7:14 p.m. ET
In a recent letter to investors, billionaire hedge-fund manager Paul Singer warned that an electromagnetic pulse, or EMP, is "the most significant threat" to the U.S. and our allies in the world. He's right. Our food and water supplies, communications, banking, hospitals, law enforcement, etc., all depend on the electric grid. Yet until recently little attention has been paid to the ease of generating EMPs by detonating a nuclear weapon in orbit above the U.S., and thus bringing our civilization to a cold, dark halt.
Recent declassification of EMP studies by the U.S. government has begun to draw attention to this dire threat. Rogue nations such as North Korea (and possibly Iran) will soon match Russia and China and have the primary ingredients for an EMP attack: simple ballistic missiles such as Scuds that could be launched from a freighter near our shores; space-launch vehicles able to loft low-earth-orbit satellites; and simple low-yield nuclear weapons that can generate gamma rays and fireballs.
The much neglected 2004 and 2008 reports by the congressional EMP Commission—only now garnering increased public attention—warn that "terrorists or state actors that possess relatively unsophisticated missiles armed with nuclear weapons may well calculate that, instead of destroying a city or a military base, they may gain the greatest political-military utility from one or a few such weapons by using them—or threatening their use—in an EMP attack."
The EMP Commission reports that: "China and Russia have considered limited nuclear-attack options that, unlike their Cold War plans, employ EMP as the primary or sole means of attack." The report further warns that: "designs for variants of such weapons may have been illicitly trafficked for a quarter-century."
During the Cold War, Russia designed an orbiting nuclear warhead resembling a satellite and peaceful space-launch vehicle called a Fractional Orbital Bombardment System. It would use a trajectory that does not approach the U.S. from the north, where our sensors and few modest ballistic-missile defenses are located, but rather from the south. The nuclear weapon would be detonated in orbit, perhaps during its first orbit, destroying much of the U.S. electric grid with a single explosion high above North America.
In 2004, the EMP Commission met with senior Russian military personnel who warned that Russian scientists had been recruited by North Korea to help develop its nuclear arsenal as well as EMP-attack capabilities. In December 2012, the North Koreans successfully orbited a satellite, the KSM-3, compatible with the size and weight of a small nuclear warhead. The trajectory of the KSM-3 had the characteristics for delivery of a surprise nuclear EMP attack against the U.S.
What would a successful EMP attack look like? The EMP Commission, in 2008, estimated that within 12 months of a nationwide blackout, up to 90% of the U.S. population could possibly perish from starvation, disease and societal breakdown.
In 2009 the congressional Commission on the Strategic Posture of the United States, whose co-chairmen were former Secretaries of Defense William Perry and James Schlesinger, concurred with the findings of the EMP Commission and urged immediate action to protect the electric grid. Studies by the National Academy of Sciences, the Department of Energy, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and the National Intelligence Council reached similar conclusions.
What to do?
Surge arrestors, faraday cages and other devices that prevent EMP from damaging electronics, as well micro-grids that are inherently less susceptible to EMP, have been used by the Defense Department for more than 50 years to protect crucial military installations and strategic forces. These can be adapted to protect civilian infrastructure as well. The cost of protecting the national electric grid, according to a 2008 EMP Commission estimate, would be about $2 billion—roughly what the U.S. gives each year in foreign aid to Pakistan.
Last year President Obama signed an executive order to guard critical infrastructure against cyberattacks. But so far this administration doesn't seem to grasp the urgency of the EMP threat. However, in a rare display of bipartisanship, Congress is addressing the threat. In June 2013, Rep. Trent Franks (R., Ariz.) and Rep. Yvette Clark (D., N.Y.) introduced the Secure High-voltage Infrastructure for Electricity from Lethal Damage, or Shield, Act. Unfortunately, the legislation is stalled in the House Energy and Commerce Committee.
In October 2013, Rep. Franks and Rep. Pete Sessions (R., Texas) introduced the Critical Infrastructure Protection Act. CIPA directs the Department of Homeland Security to adopt a new National Planning Scenario focused on federal, state and local emergency planning, training and resource allocation for survival and recovery from an EMP catastrophe. Yet this important legislation hasn't come to a vote either.
What is lacking in Washington is a sense of urgency. Lawmakers and the administration need to move rapidly to build resilience into our electric grid and defend against an EMP attack that could deliver a devastating blow to the U.S. economy and the American people. Congress should pass and the president should sign into law the Shield Act and CIPA as soon as possible. Literally millions of American lives could depend on it.
Mr. Woolsey is chairman of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and a former director of the CIA.Mr. Pry served on the EMP Commission, in the CIA, and is the author of "Electric Armageddon" (CreateSpace, 2013).
Chlorine used repeatedly in Syria
Reply #307 on:
September 10, 2014, 10:52:50 AM »
Major renewal in nuclear arms
Reply #308 on:
September 24, 2014, 02:39:37 PM »
WSJ: The Senate and Iran's Bomb
Reply #309 on:
February 07, 2015, 03:38:08 PM »
The Senate and Iran’s Bomb
Obama rejects a role for Congress that it has long played on arms control.
Feb. 6, 2015 6:47 p.m. ET
The ghost of Scoop Jackson is hovering over the Obama Administration’s troubles with the Senate and its nuclear negotiations with Iran. Senator Henry M. “Scoop” Jackson, a respected national-security Democrat from Washington state, was often a thorn in the side of Presidents who were negotiating arms-control agreements with the Soviet Union in the 1970s. President Obama wishes Senate critics such as Democrat Robert Menendez and Republican Bob Corker would simply get their noses out of the deal. This President needs a history lesson: Senate involvement in arms-control agreements goes back at least 50 years.
Threatening vetoes of anything the Senate sends him on Iran, President Obama seems to think his job is to negotiate nuclear arms agreements unilaterally, while the Senate’s job is to keep its mouth shut.
It was never thus.
The idea of nuclear-arms agreements negotiated by an Administration with little or no input from Congress is a relatively recent phenomenon. The Clinton Administration unilaterally negotiated the 1994 Agreed Framework with North Korea to stop its construction of nuclear reactors. The George W. Bush Administration followed, producing five sets of Six-Party Talks with North Korea. They all fell apart because the North Koreans cheated by continuing to test nuclear devices and develop missiles capable of delivering a bomb.
The Obama negotiation with Iran is called P5+1, which asks everyone to believe that the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council, plus Germany, can be trusted to put Iran’s nuclear genie to sleep. That arms-control model may appeal to the Nobel Peace Prize committee, but it should not impress U.S. Senators.
The Senate’s experience with nuclear-arms control dates at least to the Kennedy Presidency in 1963 and the Limited Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, which emerged after eight years of negotiations with the Soviet Union. Like virtually all Soviet-era arms agreements, that deal was a formal treaty and subject to the Constitution’s treaty-making process: The President may commit the U.S. to a treaty with the advice and consent of two-thirds of the Senate. The Senate ratified the Kennedy test ban 80-19.
With a few exceptions, that public process was followed for decades. The agreements were openly debated by Senators with input, pro and con, by national-security specialists from inside and outside the government.
The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty was negotiated during the Johnson Presidency and ratified under Richard Nixon in 1969. Nixon then undertook negotiations for the first Strategic Arms Limitation Talks (SALT I). That produced the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, which the Senate ratified 88-2. SALT I never became a formal, permanent treaty. It was a temporary deal, lasting five years, and Nixon submitted it to Congress for approval by votes in both the Senate and House.
President Obama’s Iran deal sounds like Nixon’s temporary interim SALT accord. But while Nixon understood the need to get Congress’s formal approval, the Obama White House refuses to note even the existence of Mr. Corker’s proposed up-or-down vote on an Iran deal.
When the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan in 1979 and amid the Iranian hostage crisis, President Carter withdrew the SALT II treaty with the Soviets, knowing the Senate would never ratify it. During the Reagan years, Senators were preoccupied with nuclear verification and compliance. How, the Senators asked, would we know if the Soviets were cheating, and what would we do about it if they did cheat?
As the Reagan team pressed in 1987 for ratification of the INF treaty on medium-range nuclear weapons, Senator Sam Nunn, then the Democratic chairman of the Armed Services Committee, said, “We are going to have a major debate on verification, in the context of both this agreement and the next one.” Leading national-security figures testified in hearings, all of it covered and debated in major newspapers and television. It was a valuable exercise in American governance. The Senate ratified INF in May 1988, 93-5.
George H.W. Bush concluded the START treaty on longer-range nuclear weapons in 1991, which the Senate also ratified, as it did START II in 1996 under Bill Clinton.
Barack Obama’s Iran project is the outlier in the history of arms control. His insistence that no one may interfere in his negotiations has only increased misgivings in Congress about the details. If Mr. Obama were pursuing the traditional route to gain approval of an Iran agreement, exposing it to formal public debate and a vote, there would have been no need for Speaker John Boehner to invite Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to address Congress.
Details matter. The Defense Intelligence Agency in its annual threat assessment last February said, “In addition to its growing missile and rocket inventories, Iran is seeking to enhance lethality and effectiveness of existing systems with improvements in accuracy and warhead designs.”
Missile delivery systems and warhead design were make-or-break issues during arms agreements with the Soviet Union. In Mr. Obama’s negotiations with Iran, they are virtually non-subjects.
Senators Menendez, Corker and Mark Kirk have led the effort for more accountability on an Iranian arms deal. President Obama’s response is a threat to veto any advice or consent the Senate may enact that doesn’t simply assent to whatever he signs. What an irony that his unilateral point man is former Senate Foreign Relations Chairman John Kerry .
This new Senate needs to re-establish its traditional role in letting the American people know what is in—and what is not in—these deals with the next generation of nations seeking nuclear bombs.
Popular on WSJ
WaPo exposes Obama's disastrous incipient deal with Iran
Reply #310 on:
February 15, 2015, 10:11:59 AM »
WSJ: Iran goes nuke in 10 years
Reply #311 on:
February 24, 2015, 11:27:46 AM »
GENEVA—The U.S. and Iran are exploring a nuclear deal that would keep Tehran from amassing enough material to make a bomb for at least a decade, but could then allow it to gradually build up its capabilities again.
Such a deal would represent a significant compromise by the U.S., which had sought to restrain Tehran’s nuclear activities for as long as 20 years. Tehran has insisted on no more than a 10-year freeze.
The possible compromise on the table appears closer to Tehran’s timeline. While it would add some years in which the Iranian nuclear program continues to be closely monitored and constrained, Iran would be able to increase its capacity to enrich uranium, and thus get closer to bomb-making capability again.
Critics in Congress and in Israel quickly attacked the prospect of a 10-year time frame as inadequate.
After four days of talks in Geneva, a senior U.S. official on Monday said there had been welcome progress toward a deal, while giving no specifics about its timeline.
The U.S. has been pushing for a freeze that would establish a period of time during which Iran would remain at least 12 months away from being able to fuel an atomic bomb—a so-called breakout period. Asked if Iran must accept that breakout period through the lifetime of an accord, the person signaled that may not be necessary.
“We have always said that we would have a one-year breakout time for a double-digit number of years and that remains the case,” the official said.
That suggests a period of as little as 10 years. When pressed, the official declined to elaborate. Such a compromise could allow Iran to portray the major restrictions on its nuclear program at home as lasting only 10 years—an upper limit Iranian officials have mentioned before. Iran says its nuclear program is a purely civilian, peaceful one.
It also could break the impasse over how many centrifuges—machines for enriching uranium—Tehran would be allowed under a deal. If Iran can expand its activities, it could start with fewer centrifuges and then be allowed to operate more over time. The U.S. and its global partners could argue that Tehran’s activities will remain under significant international oversight and with some constraints for much longer.
U.S. lawmakers have said they’re going to closely scrutinize any agreement with Tehran and try to force a vote in Congress on it. A deal that allows Tehran to maintain a sizable capacity to enrich uranium, and to eventually be freed to pursue a broader nuclear program, is expected to face fierce opposition. The Obama administration maintains that it doesn’t need congressional approval for the deal because it isn’t a treaty, although Congress would have to vote to lift some of the sanctions it has imposed on Iran over the years.
Sen. Bob Corker (R., Tenn.) said in an interview that a 10-year time frame wasn’t long enough to truly curb Tehran’s nuclear ambitions.
“If you’re going to do all of this and then just end up with a 10-year agreement, you just really haven’t accomplished near what people had hoped,” said Mr. Corker, who chairs the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
Such a time frame would be “very concerning,” he added. “About the time they’re beginning to do what they should be doing, they’d be out from under the regime.”
The Israeli government has been a leading critic of the talks, which Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday warned were destined to end in a “dangerous” deal.
On Monday, Israeli Intelligence Minister Yuval Steinitz said Israel considers the negotiations “totally unsatisfactory” because it would allow Iran to be “extremely close” to a “dangerous breakout program.” Referring to the latest suggested compromise, he said, “for a 10-year delay [in Iran’s nuclear program] you are sacrificing the future of Israel and the U.S., and the future of the world.”
Mr. Netanyahu will travel to Washington next week to make his case against the diplomacy. He is due to deliver a speech to Congress on March 3, at the same time U.S. and Iranian diplomats will be back in Europe seeking to advance work on a deal. The two sides are aiming to complete a framework deal by late March and have a full, detailed agreement by a June 30 deadline.
U.S. lawmakers have threatened to impose fresh sanctions on Iran if the March deadline is missed—a step that could scuttle the diplomacy.
The talks in Geneva were attended by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and, for the first time, by U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz. They met Sunday evening and Monday with Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif and the head of Iran’s atomic agency Ali Akbar Salehi.
Both sides said the expansion of the negotiations to other top-level officials aimed at cutting through the remaining complex issues.
“These were very serious, useful and constructive discussions. We have made some progress though we still have a long way to go,” the senior U.S. official said.
Mr. Zarif was quoted by Iranian state media as saying: “We have made progress on some topics to some extent, but there is still a long way to go before reaching a final deal.”
Russia’s deputy foreign minister and chief Iran negotiator, Sergei Ryabkov, reflected a palpable sense of optimism around the decade long talks. “Confidence is growing a deal can be reached,” he said.
Iran negotiates over the future of its nuclear program with the U.S., France, the U.K., Germany, Russia and China.
Western officials said a phased structure could apply in other areas as well, such as when international sanctions on Iran will be lifted, or when Iran could resume nuclear research. Still, Western diplomats insisted that real differences remained.
The concerns about Iran’s research work are a threat to any agreement on the enrichment issue. If Tehran is able to develop far more powerful centrifuges, Iran would be able to produce enough nuclear material for a bomb in less than a year.
“The U.S. has gone a long way” toward accepting Iran’s position, said David Albright, who heads the Institute for Science and International Security, a think tank that has advised Congress. “If they don’t address these issues in some way, then this deal isn’t doable.”
—Joshua Mitnick in Tel Aviv and Michael R. Crittenden in Washington contributed to this article.
Write to Laurence Norman at
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Last Edit: February 24, 2015, 11:35:55 AM by Crafty_Dog
Re: Nuclear War, WMD issues
Reply #312 on:
February 25, 2015, 06:55:27 AM »
First if anyone actually believes it will take Iran 10 yrs to get a bomb must not have been reading the news the last 10 yrs.
If anyone thinks we will be able to contain them for 10 yrs must also have not been reading anything the last decade.
This reminds me of the handling of our economy. Keep throwing money at the debt and hope we can keep pushing off the inevitable because something totally unforeseen or unexpected will miraculously come out of know where to save us.
Nonetheless the Dem party will naturally rally round their guy to promote this as some sort of gigantic ingenious breakthrough giving the Nobel Peace Prize winner infinite praise and a earned monument in the pantheon of the world's great leaders.
What credibility here?
Reply #313 on:
February 25, 2015, 10:26:56 AM »
The deal, not the speech, is the problem
Reply #314 on:
February 27, 2015, 06:09:06 PM »
White House-Netanyahu Rift Isn’t Over the Speech, but the Deal
By Gerald F. Seib
Updated Feb. 27, 2015 2:55 p.m. ET
As Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu heads to Washington for a controversial speech to Congress next week, the immediate problem isn’t that he and the Obama administration disagree. At the moment, the problem actually is that they seem to agree on this: As things stand now, the Israeli leader is virtually certain to oppose and try to block the deal the U.S. is negotiating with Iran over its nuclear program.
That is a change, and a significant one, from just a few months ago, when it seemed possible there could be a negotiated deal that both Mr. Netanyahu and President Barack Obama could embrace, if not exactly love. This change is why Mr. Netanyahu thinks it’s worth undermining his entire relationship with an American president by making a speech the White House didn’t know about and fumed about once it became known. And it’s why the White House has taken on Mr. Netanyahu so directly.
In short, the real sticking point isn’t the speech; the sticking point is the deal.
All of which raises a broader question: Does it have to be this way, or is there still hope of closing the rift? Despite all the tension, the possibility of common ground may not have disappeared entirely.
But first consider the immediate situation in Washington, where the controversy in coming days will be more about a speech rather than the substance of the Iran question. By now, the saga is well known. Republican House Speaker John Boehner went around the Democratic White House to invite Mr. Netanyahu to speak to a joint session of Congress about the threat from Iran. The speech will come two weeks before Mr. Netanyahu is running for a new term at home, and three weeks before the deadline for the talks the U.S. and five other world powers are holding with Iran over a possible deal to curb its nuclear program.
The White House was miffed. Very. But not, as is commonly assumed, simply because the speech represented a breach of diplomatic protocol, in which world leaders deal with each other rather than through their countries’ respective opposition parties.
The deeper cause for concern within the administration was a feeling that the speech means Mr. Netanyahu has concluded that there is no version of the deal currently being negotiated with Iran that he can endorse—and that he is embarked on a strategy of using his strong connections with Republicans in Congress to find a way to use the legislative branch to block an agreement negotiated by the executive branch.
“He’s advocating against any deal. That’s just not diplomacy,” a senior administration official said. “And he’s not putting forward an alternative deal.”
Little that Mr. Netanyahu has done in recent weeks suggests otherwise. He said this week that it appears the “world powers” negotiating with Iran “have given up” on their commitment to stop Iran from getting a nuclear weapon.
In a nutshell, here’s the substantive disagreement. The administration believes the deal it’s negotiating will reduce Iran’s capacity to enrich uranium so much that Tehran’s leaders would need a year to break out of the agreement and produce enough fissile material to build a bomb—sufficient time to allow the U.S. and its allies to stop any such breakout. Mr. Netanyahu thinks that the residual enrichment capability granted Iran would still leave it as a threshold nuclear state, and would in any case be too large to adequately monitor and inspect with any certainty.
There was a time, not long ago, when Mr. Netanyahu appeared to be pleased enough with the economic pressure the U.S. and the West were putting on Iran that he thought it might produce a deal he considered good enough. By all appearances, that’s what has changed.
Is there any alternative to this impasse? Dennis Ross, a Middle East diplomat under several American presidents, including Mr. Obama, thinks there might be. He suggests a new kind of anywhere, any-time inspections regime, enshrined in both a deal and legislation passed by Congress. If that legislation also mandated explicit consequences for Iranian violations, including use of military force, it might create the kind of American assurance Mr. Netanyahu could accept.
“There is a way to bridge the difference,” Mr. Ross says. Next week, though, that may be hard to see.
Write to Gerald F. Seib at
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Kerry's deal gets even worse
Reply #315 on:
February 27, 2015, 06:24:35 PM »
Iran on the Nuclear Edge
Official leaks suggest the U.S. is making ever more concessions.
Secretary of State John Kerry testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Feb. 25, 2015, before the House Appropriations subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations and Related Agencies. ENLARGE
Secretary of State John Kerry testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Feb. 25, 2015, before the House Appropriations subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations and Related Agencies. Photo: Associated Press
Feb. 27, 2015 6:44 p.m. ET
Secretary of State John Kerry told Congress this week that no one should pre-judge a nuclear deal with Iran because only the negotiators know what’s in it. But the truth is that the framework of an accord has been emerging thanks to Administration leaks to friendly journalists. The leaks suggest the U.S. has already given away so much that any deal on current terms will put Iran on the cusp of nuclear-power status.
The latest startling detail is Monday’s leak that the U.S. has conceded to Iran’s demand that an agreement would last as little as a decade, perhaps with an additional five-year phase-out. After that Iran would be allowed to build its uranium enrichment capabilities to whatever size it wants. In theory it would be forbidden from building nuclear weapons, but by then all sanctions would have long ago been lifted and Iran would have the capability to enrich on an industrial scale.
On Wednesday Mr. Kerry denied that a deal would include the 10-year sunset, though he offered no details. We would have more sympathy for his desire for secrecy if the Administration were not simultaneously leaking to its media Boswells while insisting that Congress should have no say over whatever agreement emerges.
The sunset clause fits the larger story of how far the U.S. and its allies have come to satisfy Iran’s demands. The Administration originally insisted that Iran should not be able to enrich uranium at all. Later it mooted a symbolic enrichment capacity of perhaps 500 centrifuges. Last July people close to the White House began talking about 3,000. By October the Los Angeles Times reported that Mr. Kerry had raised the ceiling to 4,000.
Now it’s 6,000, and the Administration line is that the number doesn’t matter; only advanced centrifuges count. While quality does matter, quantity can have a quality all its own. The point is that Iran will be allowed to retain what amounts to a nuclear-weapons industrial capacity rather than dismantle all of it as the U.S. first demanded.
Mr. Kerry also says that any deal will have intrusive inspections, yet he has a habit of ignoring Iran’s noncompliance with agreements it has already signed. Last November he insisted that “Iran has lived up” to its commitments under the 2013 interim nuclear agreement.
Yet even then Iran was testing advanced centrifuge models in violation of the agreement, according to a report from the nonpartisan Institute for Science and International Security. In December the U.N. Security Council noted that Iran continued to purchase illicit materials for its reactor in Arak, a heavy-water facility that gives Tehran a path to a plutonium-based bomb.
The International Atomic Energy Agency reported last week that Iran was continuing to stonewall the U.N. nuclear watchdog about the “possible military dimensions” of its nuclear program. On Tuesday an exiled Iranian opposition group that first disclosed the existence of Tehran’s illicit nuclear sites in 2002 claimed it had uncovered another illicit enrichment site near Tehran called “Lavizan-3.” The charge isn’t proven, but Iran’s record of building secret nuclear facilities is a matter of public record.
As for the idea that the IAEA or Western intelligence agencies could properly monitor Iran’s compliance, a report last year from the Pentagon’s Defense Science Board is doubtful. “At low levels associated with small or nascent [nuclear] programs, key observables are easily masked,” the board noted.
This is significant since the Administration insists that any deal will give the U.S. at least one year to detect and stop an Iranian “breakout” effort to build a bomb. Iran’s ballistic missile programs aren’t even part of the negotiations, though there is no reason to build such missiles other than to deliver a bomb.
The Administration’s emerging justification for these concessions, also coming in leaks, is that a nuclear accord will become the basis for a broader rapprochement with Iran that will stabilize the Middle East. As President Obama said in December, Iran can be “a very successful regional power.”
That is some gamble on a regime that continues to sponsor terrorist groups around the world, prop up the Assad regime in Syria, use proxies to overthrow the Yemen government, jail U.S. reporter Jason Rezaian on trumped-up espionage charges, and this week blew up a mock U.S. aircraft carrier in naval exercises near the Strait of Hormuz.
Given how bad this deal is shaping up to be, it’s not surprising that U.S. allies are speaking out against it. “We prefer a collapse of the diplomatic process to a bad deal,” one Arab official told the Journal last week. Saudi Arabia has also made clear that it might acquire nuclear capabilities in response—precisely the kind of proliferation Mr. Obama has vowed to prevent.
No wonder many in Congress want to hear Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu next week. They look at all of this public evidence and understandably fear that the U.S. is walking into a new era of nuclear proliferation with eyes wide shut.
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Krauthammer: The Fatal Flaw
Reply #316 on:
March 02, 2015, 11:47:51 AM »
Grand Ayatollah gives clear indication of Iran's plans
Reply #317 on:
March 07, 2015, 10:02:34 AM »
CNSNews.com) - In a speech delivered last month to commanders and other personnel in the Iranian Air Force, whom he described as “officials who have very sensitive occupations,” Grand Ayatollah Ali Khamenei—Iran’s Supreme Leader and commander in chief—boasted that Iran had enriched uranium to the 20-percent level.
At the same time, the Supreme Leader noted that his government had agreed to shut down its production of 20-percent enriched uranium “for a while” in its effort to reach a deal with United States and other foreign powers that would include lifting the sanctions now imposed on his country.
“It was a very great achievement to produce 20-percent uranium,” the ayatollah told a Feb. 8 Iranian Air Force gathering, according to a transcript posted on his website.
“Those who are experts on this matter know that producing 20 percent from 5 percent is much more significant than producing uranium which is higher than 20 percent,” he said. “However, our youth and our committed scientists did so.”
A report published last month by the Congressional Research Service explains why Iran’s efforts to produce uranium enriched to the 20 percent level is a problem.
“LEU used in nuclear power reactors typically contains less than 5% uranium-235,” said CRS, “research reactor fuel can be made using 20% uranium-235; HEU used in nuclear weapons typically contains about 90% uranium-235.”
“Iran’s production of LEU enriched to the 20% level has caused concern because such production requires approximately 90% of the effort necessary to produce weapons-grade HEU, which, as noted, contains approximately 90% uranium-235,” said CRS.
“Tehran argues that it is enriching uranium for use as fuel in nuclear power reactors and nuclear research reactors,” said CRS.
In his speech to the Air Force commanders, the ayatollah followed his assertion that Iran had been able to enrich uranium to the 20 percent level by accusing the U.S. and its allies of being “greedy” in negotiations for a nuclear deal and asserting that the “Iranian nation will not submit to greed and tyranny.”
The audience of Air Force commanders and other personnel responded to this with a chant, according to an English-language transcript produced by BBC Worldwide Monitoring and available through Nexis.
“Allah Akbar [God is great],” they chanted, according to the BBC transcript. “Khamenei is the leader. Death to the enemies of the leadership. Death to America. Death to England. Death to hypocrites. Death to Israel.”
Director of National Intelligence James Clapper has testified in Congress that Iran has the technical capability to build a nuclear weapon and that whether it does so will be personally decided by Ayatollah Khamenei.
“Clearly, Tehran has the scientific, technical and industrial capacity to produce them, so the central issue is its political will to do so,” Clapper told the Senate Armed Services Committee on April 18, 2013. “Such a decision, we believe, will be made by the Supreme Leader, and at this point we don't know if he'll eventually decide to build nuclear weapons.”
Then-Armed Services Chairman Carl Levin asked Clapper: “Have they made a decision, in your assessment, to produce nuclear weapons?”
“They have not,” said Clapper. “We continue to hold that they have not yet made that decision. And that decision would be made singly by the Supreme Leader.”
Clapper echoed this assessment in another Senate Armed Services Committee hearing held last week.
“Iran will face many of the same decision points in 2015 as it did in 2014,” he said. “Foremost is whether the Supreme Leader will agree to a nuclear deal. He wants sanctions relief but, at the same time, to preserve his options on nuclear capabilities.”
“We believe the supreme leader would be the ultimate decision maker here,” Clapper said. “As far as we know, he's not made a decision to go for a nuclear weapon.
“I do think they certainly want to preserve options across the capabilities it would take to build one,” Clapper said. “But right now they don't have one, and have not made that decision.”
At a background briefing sponsored by the White House on Sept. 25, 2009, “senior administration officials” explained that Iran had twice been caught secretly constructing a facility for enriching uranium—first at Natanz and then at Qom. One of the officials at this briefing explained why the administration believed the second facility appeared particularly designed to produce enriched uranium not for peaceful use but for a weapon.
“[T]he Iranian nuclear issue first became public back in 2002, when it was revealed that Iran was building a secret underground enrichment facility, which we now know as the Natanz facility,” a senior administration official said at that briefing. “Once the Iranians were caught building the secret underground enrichment facility with centrifuge machines in it, they were forced to declare the facility, to allow the IAEA inspectors to inspect the facility and to place it under safeguards.”
“So the obvious option for Iran would be to build another secret underground enrichment facility, and our intelligence services, working in very close cooperation with our allies, for the past several years have been looking for such a facility,” said the senior administration official. “And not surprisingly, we found one. So we have known for some time now that Iran was building a second underground enrichment facility. And as the president mentioned this morning, it's located [at Fordo] near the city of Qom, a very heavily protected, very heavily disguised facility.”
“Our information is that the facility is designed to hold about 3,000 centrifuge machines,” said this senior administration official. “Now, that's not a large enough number to make any sense from a commercial standpoint. It cannot produce a significant quantity of low-enriched uranium. But if you want to use the facility in order to produce a small amount of weapons-grade uranium, enough for a bomb or two a year, it's the right size. And our information is that the Iranians began this facility with the intent that it be secret, and therefore giving them an option of producing weapons-grade uranium without the international community knowing about it.”
Another problematic Iranian nuclear project is a heavy-water reactor it is building at Arak.
“Iran is constructing a heavy water-moderated reactor at Arak, which, according to Tehran, is intended to produce radioisotopes for medical use,” said the CRS report published last month.
“The Arak reactor is a proliferation concern because heavy water reactors produce spent fuel containing plutonium better suited for nuclear weapons than plutonium produced by light water moderated reactors,” said the CRS report.
In his speech last month to his Air Force commanders, Ayatollah Khamenei first stressed that he supported a nuclear deal that is “workable.” He then went on to praise Iran’s achievement in enriching uranium to the 20 percent level and hailed the construction of the Arak reactor and the Fordo uranium enrichment facilty.
“I want to say that first of all, I consent to an agreement that is workable,” said the ayatollah, according to the translation of his speech posted on his official website. “Of course, I do not mean a bad agreement. The Americans constantly repeat, 'We believe that making no agreement is better than making a bad one.' We too have the same opinion. We too believe that making no agreement is better than making an agreement that is to the disadvantage of national interests, one that leads to the humiliation of the great and magnificent people of Iran.”
In mentioning that the Arak and Fordo facilities had been closed—which was done as part of the temporary agreement (or “Joint Plan of Action”) that Iran made with the United States, France, the United Kingdom, German, Russia and China, the ayatollah stressed that these facilities were closed “for now”---according to the translation posted on his own website.
“The Iranian side has done whatever it could to reach an agreement,” the ayatollah said. “It has done many things: it has stopped developing enrichment machines. Well, it deemed it necessary to stop these machines for a while. It has stopped producing 20-percent uranium which is a very great feat. It was a very great achievement to produce 20-percent uranium.”
“Those who are experts on this matter know that producing 20 percent from 5 percent is much more significant than producing uranium which is higher than 20 percent,” said the ayatollah. “However, our youth and our committed scientists did so.
"In any case," he said, "the Iranian side stopped this because negotiations required it. The Iranians have closed the Arak Factory--which was a very great achievement and a very important innovation in the area of technology--for now. They have closed--for now--Fordo which is one of the best innovations made by our domestic forces for the sake of ensuring the security of our centrifuges. They have achieved so many great tasks. Therefore, the Iranian side has acted in a reasonable way. It has acted according to the requirements of negotiation."
Toward the end of his speech, the ayatollah indicated that his over-arching goal is to have sanctions lifted from Iran.
“Everything that is done is for the sake of taking the weapon and option of sanctions away from the enemy's hands,” he said.
“However, if they fail to make such an agreement, the people of Iran, officials, the honorable administration and others have many different options,” the ayatollah said.
“By Allah's favor,” he said, “the people of Iran will show on the 22nd of Bahman, that those who want to humiliate the people of Iran will face their counterblow.”
According to the BBC, 22nd of Bahman—or February 11—is the anniversary of the Iranian Revolution.
At this point in the BBC transcript of the speech, the audience of Iranian Air Force commanders and other personnel repeated the chant they had made earlier in the speech: “Allah Akbar. Khamenei is the Leader. Death to the enemies of the leadership. Death to America. Death to England. Death to hypocrites. Death to Israel.”
Re: Nuclear War, WMD issues
Reply #318 on:
March 07, 2015, 02:33:57 PM »
If it isn't obvious by now that there is only one way to stop them?
Re: Nuclear War, WMD issues
Reply #319 on:
March 08, 2015, 10:30:23 AM »
Quote from: ccp on March 07, 2015, 02:33:57 PM
If it isn't obvious by now that there is only one way to stop them?
Our president doesn't want to stop them.
Not sure that I agree with this
Reply #320 on:
March 10, 2015, 05:02:26 AM »
The Senate’s Iran Distraction
Republicans should focus on persuading the American people.
March 9, 2015 7:39 p.m. ET
President Obama ’s looming nuclear deal with Iran may be the security blunder of the young century, and Congress should vote on it. Which is why it’s too bad that Republican Senators took their eye off that ball on Monday with a letter to the government of Iran.
Forty-seven of the 54 GOP Senators signed the open letter addressed to “the Leaders of the Islamic Republic of Iran.” The letter explained to Tehran’s non-democratic rulers that “under our Constitution,” while the President negotiates international agreements, “Congress plays the significant role of ratifying them.”
Mr. Obama predictably denounced the letter as an attempt to undermine the talks, which are reaching their third deadline. “I think it’s somewhat ironic to see some members of Congress wanting to make common cause with the hardliners in Iran,” he told reporters. “It’s an unusual coalition.”
Equating elected Senators with the Revolutionary Guard Corps is itself a political stunt, but that’s how Mr. Obama plays. He also partly brought this intervention on himself by freezing out Congress and declaring that he’ll veto any attempt to vote on the pact. As usual, he wants to rule by executive fiat.
The problem with the GOP letter is that it’s a distraction from what should be the main political goal of persuading the American people. Democratic votes will be needed if the pact is going to be stopped, and even to get the 67 votes to override a veto of the Corker-Menendez bill to require such a vote. Monday’s letter lets Mr. Obama change the subject to charge that Republicans are playing politics as he tries to make it harder for Democrats to vote for Corker-Menendez.
The security stakes couldn’t be higher if Mr. Obama enables a new age of nuclear proliferation, and Republicans need to keep focused on a critique of the deal’s substance. Giving Mr. Obama a meaningless letter to shoot at detracts from that debate.
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Re: Nuclear War, WMD issues
Reply #321 on:
March 10, 2015, 07:39:46 AM »
Someone called into the Mark Levin radio broadcast and brought up an excellent point. The US government has severe restrictions on peaceful use of nuclear power here in our country yet they support the use of nuclear power in Iran.
Anyone see a contradiction?
Re: Nuclear War, WMD issues
Reply #322 on:
March 10, 2015, 10:16:15 AM »
Quote from: ccp on March 10, 2015, 07:39:46 AM
Someone called into the Mark Levin radio broadcast and brought up an excellent point. The US government has severe restrictions on peaceful use of nuclear power here in our country yet they support the use of nuclear power in Iran.
Anyone see a contradiction?
Isn't that a great observation!
Iran responds to letter from Senators
Reply #323 on:
March 10, 2015, 01:49:52 PM »
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif called the open letter from 47 U.S. Republican senators to Iranian leaders on the nuclear negotiations a “propaganda ploy” and suggested the senators do not understand the U.S. Constitution.
The Iranian foreign ministry posted a summary of Zarif’s comments on the letter, paraphrasing him expressing astonishment that lawmakers would write to leaders of a foreign country:
He pointed out that from reading the open letter, it seems that the authors not only do not understand international law, but are not fully cognizant of the nuances of their own Constitution when it comes to presidential powers in the conduct of foreign policy.
“In our view, this letter has no legal value and is mostly a propaganda ploy,” Zarif said.
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif arrives to the Iraqi capital Baghdad on February 24, 2015 to hold a press conference with Arab country's officials. (Sabah Arar/AFP/Getty Images)
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif arrives in the Iraqi capital of Baghdad, Feb. 24, 2015. (Sabah Arar/AFP/Getty Images)
The foreign minister said that “according to international law, Congress may not modify the terms of the agreement at any time as they claim, and if Congress adopts any measure to impede its implementation, it will have committed a material breach of U.S. obligations.”
“The authors may not fully understand that in international law, governments represent the entirety of their respective states, are responsible for the conduct of foreign affairs, are required to fulfill the obligations they undertake with other states and may not invoke their internal law as justification for failure to perform their international obligations,” Zarif said.
“Change of administration does not in any way relieve the next administration from international obligations undertaken by its predecessor in a possible agreement about Iran’s peaceful nuclear program,” he said. “I wish to enlighten the authors that if the next administration revokes any agreement with the ‘stroke of a pen,’ as they boast, it will have simply committed a blatant violation of international law.”
The foreign minister referred to the senators as one of the “political pressure groups.”
“It is very interesting that while negotiations are still in progress and while no agreement has been reached, some political pressure groups are so afraid even of the prospect of an agreement that they resort to unconventional methods, unprecedented in diplomatic history,” Zarif said, according to the foreign ministry.
Almost half the Senate and nearly every Republican on Monday placed their name on the letter warning Iranian leaders that it’s the role of Congress to approve international treaties, and that any executive agreement reached could be undone by the next president.
“We will consider any agreement regarding your nuclear-weapons program that is not approved by the Congress as nothing more than an executive agreement between President Obama and Ayatollah Khamenei,” they wrote in the letter to Iran. “The next president could revoke such an executive agreement with the stroke of a pen and future Congresses could modify the terms of the agreement at any time.”
President Barack Obama on Monday accused those who signed the letter of making “common cause” with Iranian hardliners.
“I think it’s somewhat ironic to see some members of Congress wanting to make common cause with the hardliners in Iran,” Obama said.
Vice President Joe Biden on Monday night issued a statement blasting the Republicans, saying the letter was “expressly designed to undercut a sitting president in the midst of sensitive international negotiations” and “beneath the dignity” of the Senate.
Stratfor: Nuclear Deterrence is Relevant Again
Reply #324 on:
March 15, 2015, 10:38:36 AM »
Nuclear Deterrence Is Relevant Again
March 13, 2015 | 01:11 GMT
U.S. Adm. William Gortney, commander of the North American Aerospace Defense Command, warned Congress in written testimony Thursday of the threat posed by Russian bombers and missiles. Having written yesterday about the uncertainty in Moscow surrounding the status of Russian President Vladimir Putin, we deemed it worthwhile to consider Gortney's testimony more seriously than we might under other circumstances.
Gortney wrote: "Russian heavy bombers flew more out-of-area patrols in 2014 than in any year since the Cold War. We have also witnessed improved interoperability between Russian long-range aviation and other elements of the Russian military, including air and maritime intelligence collection platforms positioned to monitor NORAD responses." The patrols help to train Russian air crews, but some are "clearly intended to underscore Moscow's global reach and communicate its displeasure with Western policies, particularly with regard to Ukraine."
"Russia is progressing toward its goal of deploying long-range, conventionally-armed cruise missiles with ever increasing stand-off launch distances on its heavy bombers, submarines and surface combatants," Gortney said. "Should these trends continue, over time NORAD will face increased risk in our ability to defend North America against Russian air, maritime, and cruise missile threats."
What is a Geopolitical Diary? George Friedman Explains.
We are again focusing on the changing concerns and rhetoric of all parties. Statements such as this would have been unthinkable a few years ago. While we understand that the head of NORAD is charged with monitoring the threats — and that may distort his outlook — and while we accept that testimony to Congress involves the important matter of the budget, it is still important to take this statement seriously.
The question is how seriously? The Russians still have their nuclear capability from the Cold War. We will assume that at least some, perhaps most, of the missiles and warheads have been maintained in operational condition. In any case, the Russians retain a nuclear intercontinental ballistic missile capability, and can strike the United States, with the only counter being a strike on Russia.
A Russian Foreign Ministry official reminded the world of this fact in a comment to Russian media outlet Interfax on Wednesday. Referencing Moscow's right to deploy nuclear weapons in Crimea, Mikhail Ulyanov, head of the ministry's Department on Arms Control, said, "I don't know if there are nuclear weapons there now. I don't know about any plans, but in principle Russia can do it."
It has long been taken for granted that the nuclear balance was not relevant, and indeed it hasn't been. During the Cold War, the most likely scenario for the use of nuclear weapons would have been that the Soviets would have attacked Germany, overwhelming it and moving toward the channel ports. With no conventional option for the United States in response, the United States would have lived up to its pledge to protect Europe with nuclear weapons.
There were other scenarios for nuclear war, including the spasmodic launching of all missiles in each arsenal. That was unlikely, however, because it invoked mutual assured destruction. It was never clear to us why a nuclear strike at the Soviet Union would have stopped a Soviet advance, or why it would not have triggered a spasmodic Russian strike. Indeed, it was never clear that the United States would have used nuclear weapons under any circumstances. Charles de Gaulle used to argue that the United States could not be relied on to risk American cities to protect Europe. He may well have been right.
For Russia's part, there were also discussions of using nuclear weapons to facilitate a conventional advance. Russian ground forces during the Cold War practiced intensively, and in fact still do occasionally, on operating in contaminated areas following a nuclear strike that would have severely weakened enemy positions. In such a case, of course, a conventional conflict would quickly have escalated by inviting a nuclear response from the United States.
The point of it all was that the Soviets could not be certain of what the Americans would do in response to a nuclear strike, so the U.S. nuclear threat served, along with other factors, to deter a Soviet invasion. The Russians are now concerned, rightly or wrongly, that a U.S. presence in Ukraine might threaten Russia's territorial integrity. The U.S. response — that the United States does not intend to insert massive force into Ukraine in the first place, and in the second place does not intend to invade Russia — does not soothe Russian war planners. They see the United States much as the United States sees Russia: unpredictable, ruthless and dangerous.
To assure themselves that they can deter the United States, particularly given their conventional weaknesses, they have several times publicly reminded the Americans that in engaging Russia, they are engaging a peer nuclear adversary. The various missions that Gortney has cited simply represent an extension of that capability.
We have come a long way to reach the point where Russia chooses to assert its strategic nuclear capability, and where the commander of NORAD regards this capability as a significant risk. But the point is that we have come far indeed in the past year. For the Russians, the overthrow of the government in Ukraine was a threat to their national security. What the Russians did in Ukraine is seen as a threat at least to U.S. interests.
In the old Cold War, both sides used their nuclear capability to check conventional conflicts. The Russians at this point appear to be at least calling attention to their nuclear capability. Unconnected to this, to be sure, is Putin's odd absence. In a world where nuclear threats are returning to prominence, the disappearance of one side's commander-in-chief is more worrisome than it would be at other times.
Why Nucleaer Utopians are wrong
Reply #325 on:
March 16, 2015, 10:12:36 AM »
Why the ‘Nuclear Utopians’ Are Wrong
Unilaterally reducing or eliminating America’s nuclear arsenal will not make the world a safer place.
An unarmed Trident II D5 missile launches from USS Nevada. ENLARGE
An unarmed Trident II D5 missile launches from USS Nevada. Photo: Getty Images/Stocktrek Images
Keith B. Payne
March 15, 2015 6:17 p.m. ET
A debate over the future of the U.S. nuclear arsenal is at a pivotal moment. Last month the Obama administration proposed a budget that calls for modernization of the “nuclear triad” of missiles, submarines and bombers. This is crucial because since the end of the Cold War the U.S. nuclear arsenal has been cut by 80% and after decades of neglect each leg of the triad is aging.
Nevertheless, the Defense Department’s $15.9 billion nuclear modernization budget for fiscal year 2016, up slightly from 2015, has met strong disapproval from analysts and others whom I call nuclear utopians. This group insists that the U.S. should delay or skip modernization, make further deep reductions in the U.S. nuclear arsenal, or even eliminate it.
By contrast, nuclear realists believe that, given the belligerence of Russia and China and their buildup of nuclear forces, prudence now demands that the U.S. modernize and make no further reductions below those already scheduled in the 2010 New Start Treaty. The congressional defense-budget hearings now under way will have far-reaching implications for U.S. national security and international order.
Nuclear utopians tend to believe that international cooperation, not nuclear deterrence, has prevented nuclear war since World War II. As Rose Gottemoeller, U.S. undersecretary of state for arms control, claimed in a speech last month: “We have been spared that fate because we created an intricate and essential system of treaties, laws and agreements.” The U.S. can lead the world toward nuclear reductions, the utopian thinking goes, by showing that Washington no longer relies on nuclear weapons and seeks no new capabilities.
This U.S. example, says George Perkovich of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, will “induce parallel” behavior in others. But if the U.S. attributes continuing value to nuclear weapons by maintaining its arsenal, says Stephen Young of the Union of Concerned Scientists, “other countries will be more inclined to seek” them. In short, the U.S. cannot expect others to forgo nuclear weapons if it retains them.
Nuclear realists respond that the U.S. already has cut its tactical nuclear weapons from a few thousand in 1991 to a few hundred today, while deployed strategic nuclear weapons have been cut to roughly 1,600 accountable weapons from an estimated 9,000 in 1992, with more reductions planned under New Start. Robert Joseph, a former undersecretary of state for arms control, notes that these reductions “appear to have had no moderating effect on Russian, Chinese or North Korean nuclear programs. Neither have U.S. reductions led to any effective strengthening of international nonproliferation efforts.”
Realists point out that foreign leaders base their decisions about nuclear weaponry largely on their perceived strategic needs, not in response to U.S. disarmament. Thus a close review of India by S. Paul Kapur, a professor at the Naval Postgraduate School, concluded that “Indian leaders do not seek to emulate U.S. nuclear behavior; they formulate policy based primarily on their assessment of the security threats facing India.”
The same self-interested calculation is true for those nuclear and aspiring nuclear states that are of security concern to the U.S. They seek nuclear weapons to coerce their neighbors, including U.S. allies, and to counter U.S. conventional forces to gain a free hand to press their regional military ambitions.
Moreover, many U.S. allies have given up the nuclear option because America protects them with a “nuclear umbrella.” Some allies, including the Japanese and South Koreans, have said that if the U.S. nuclear umbrella loses credibility, they may consider getting their own. Further U.S. reductions may thus inspire nuclear proliferation.
Nuclear utopians and realists also perceive international relations differently. Utopians see an orderly system that functions predictably and increasingly amicably. Based on this perception they make two confident predictions.
The first is that U.S. deterrence will work reliably even with a relatively small nuclear arsenal, or even nuclear zero. In 2010 the authors of an essay in Foreign Affairs predicted confidently that a U.S. capability to retaliate “against only ten cities” would be adequate to deter Russia.
A second prediction is that differences between the U.S. and Russia or China will be resolved without regard to nuclear threats or capabilities. The 2012 report by the Global Zero Commission claimed that, “The risk of nuclear confrontation between the United States and either Russia or China belongs to the past, not the future.”
Nuclear realists have no confidence in these predictions. Before the nuclear age, great powers periodically came into intense conflict, and deterrence relying on conventional forces failed to prevent catastrophic wars. Since 1945, however, a powerful U.S. nuclear arsenal appears to have had a decisive effect in deterring the outbreak of World War III and containing regional crises and conflicts. Further deep U.S. reductions now would likely increase the risks of war, possibly including nuclear war.
Today as for millennia, international relations are fluid, unpredictable and dangerous. Russia’s shocking aggression in Europe is a cold reminder of this reality. In January prominent Russian journalist Alexander Golts warned, “The West has forgotten how it had used nuclear deterrence to coexist with the Soviet Union. Now it will have to open up that playbook once more.”
Further erosion of the U.S. nuclear arsenal would take decades to reverse, create fear among key allies, and inspire foes to challenge an America that appears less able to deter conflicts, nuclear or otherwise, in the hard times ahead. These are the stakes in the current debate over nuclear modernization.
Mr. Payne is the director of the Graduate School of Defense and Strategic Studies at Missouri State University, and a former deputy assistant secretary of defense.
Baraq's Iran Jam
Reply #326 on:
March 16, 2015, 10:22:22 AM »
Obama’s Iran Jam
The White House wants the U.N. to vote but not the U.S. Congress.
March 15, 2015 6:44 p.m. ET
One unfortunate side effect of last week’s letter from 47 GOP Senators to Iran is that it has helped the White House and its media friends obscure the far more important story—the degree to which President Obama is trying to prevent Congress from playing any meaningful role in assessing his one-man Iran deal.
Administration officials are huffing about Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton’s “unconstitutional” letter, but it’s only a letter and Congress has the right to free speech. If a mere letter from a minority of the Senate has the power to scuttle a deal with Iran, as Mr. Obama suggests it might, then maybe the deal is too fragile to be worth doing.
The real constitutional outlier here is Mr. Obama’s attempt to jam Congress so it’s irrelevant. That’s clear from a remarkable exchange of letters between Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Bob Corker and White House chief of staff Denis McDonough.
Mr. Corker wrote March 12 asking the President to clarify comments by Vice President Joe Biden and others that an Iran deal could “take effect without congressional approval.” He also asked about media reports that “your administration is contemplating taking an agreement, or aspects of it, to the United Nations Security Council for a vote,” while threatening to veto legislation that would require Congress to vote.
Mr. McDonough replied for the President on the weekend in a letter that can only be described as an affront to Congress’s constitutional prerogatives. The chief of staff asked Mr. Corker to further delay his bipartisan legislation that would require a Senate vote within 60 days on any Iran deal. “The legislation would potentially prevent any deal from succeeding by suggesting that Congress must vote to ‘approve’ any deal, and by removing existing sanctions waiver authorities that have already been granted to the President,” he wrote.
So Mr. McDonough says Congress has “a role to play,” whatever that is, as long as it doesn’t interfere with what Mr. Obama wants. And once Congress grants Mr. Obama a waiver, it can never take that away even if Congress concludes that the President is misusing it.
The larger context here is that Mr. Obama is trying to make his Iran deal a fait accompli before Congress has any say. His plan is to strike a deal and submit it to the U.N. Security Council for approval, hemming in Congress. He’ll then waive some Iran sanctions on his own, while arguing that anyone who opposes the deal wants war.
Mr. McDonough’s letter includes a long list of previous agreements that “do not require congressional approval.” But the examples he cites are either minor accords or have had substantial bipartisan support. There is no precedent in the nuclear era for a President negotiating such a major arms-control accord without Congressional assent.
Mr. Obama might have avoided this showdown with Congress if he hadn’t treated America’s elected representatives as little more than a public nuisance. His minions have disclosed more details of the Iran talks to the media than to Congress. It’s little wonder that few Members of either party trust his negotiating skill or security judgment.
Mr. Corker has 65 supporters for his legislation, and he has already delayed it through March 24 at the request of Democrats. If he delays it any more, he risks conceding Mr. Obama’s desire to make Congress the irrelevant equivalent of the Iranian parliament.
Baraq sabotaged Bush's negotiations with Iran
Reply #327 on:
March 18, 2015, 12:28:57 AM »
Goldberg on the Letter of the 47
Reply #328 on:
March 18, 2015, 07:01:58 AM »
It has been an Iranian tradition since 1979 to end Friday prayers with chants of "Death to America!"
In a purely rational world, that would be all one needed to know that Iran is not a reliable negotiating partner. Alas, we do not live in such a world. But there's more evidence. Iran, according to our State Department, has been the chief exporter of terrorism for the last three decades. It has worked closely with al-Qaida, facilitating its attacks on America and our allies. Most of the Sept. 11 hijackers traveled through Iran with the help of the Iranian government. U.S. judges have ruled that Iran was an accomplice in the 1998 U.S. Embassy bombings in East Africa and the Sept. 11 attacks. During the Iraq war, Iran was responsible for numerous American deaths.
And it's not like any of this is ancient history. Indeed, in 2012, the Treasury Department designated the Iranian Ministry of Intelligence and Security as a major promoter of terrorism and violator of human rights.
Right now, via its brutal proxies, Iran is manipulating events on the ground in four Arab capitals -- Baghdad, Beirut, Damascus and Sanaa. Whatever success there has been against the Islamic State in Saddam Hussein's hometown of Tikrit has been thanks to Iranian advisors operating in Iraq and the Shiite Muslim militias they control. On Sunday's "Meet the Press," retired Adm. Mike Mullen, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said he fears Iran more than Islamic State.
So, obviously, the greatest villain in the world today is ... Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.). He led the effort to get 46 other senators to sign a letter to the Iranian government explaining that any deal with Iran would require congressional approval.
The New York Daily News branded them all "TRAITORS" on its front page. Isn't it amazing how even vaguely questioning the patriotism of liberals is an outrage beyond the borders of acceptable debate, but branding 47 GOP senators "traitors" is treated as at least forgivable bombast? Retired Maj. Gen. Paul Eaton told the Washington Post they aren't traitors, they're merely "mutinous," revealing Eaton's shocking ignorance of our constitutional structure. Yes, Obama is the commander in chief of the armed forces, but he is not the commander in chief of the co-equal legislative branch.
Petitions are circling to have the senators carted off to jail under the Logan Act -- which bars unauthorized citizens from negotiating with foreign governments -- a ridiculously antiquated law that would never survive Supreme Court scrutiny today.
Moreover, if the Logan Act were taken seriously, many of the lions of the Democratic Party, including Ted Kennedy, Patrick Leahy, Nancy Pelosi and Robert Byrd, would have ended their careers behind bars. Why, John Kerry -- who recently denounced the Cotton letter as "unconstitutional" -- could show Cotton around the federal penitentiary, given Kerry's egregious meddling in Nicaragua during the Reagan administration.
Now, I should say that I think the senators made a mistake. They should have written an open letter to President Obama. The Iranians would still have gotten the message, but the White House and the punditocracy would have found it more difficult to rationalize their insane hissy fit. And contrary to countless outlets reporting that the Republicans "sent" this letter to the ayatollahs, they didn't send it anywhere. It was posted on Cotton's website.
The more important point here is that no one disagrees with the content of the letter because it is accurate. The White House had to admit that Cotton was right; the deal as it stands would be a "nonbinding" agreement. And, therefore, as the letter explains, "The next president could revoke such an executive agreement with the stroke of a pen."
(In fact, Obama did pretty much exactly that with an agreement struck between Israel and the United States about settlement growth in Palestinian territories.)
This premature admission is politically inconvenient for the Obama administration because it wants to get the United Nations to approve the deal, making it a fait accompli. It hoped to get to that point without anyone noticing.
The Cotton letter is not mutinous or traitorous or unconstitutional. It is inconvenient, and apparently being inconvenient in the age of Obama is all it takes to be called unpatriotic.
Re: Nuclear War, WMD issues
Reply #329 on:
March 19, 2015, 01:35:39 AM »
I recall not long ago when dissent was the highest form of patriotism. Or so we were told.
Obama releases secret report on Israel's nukes
Reply #330 on:
March 26, 2015, 03:50:05 AM »
*Subject: **US Reveals Israel's Nuclear Program*
*_US Declassifies Document Revealing Israel's Nuclear Program_*
Obama revenge for Netanyahu's Congress talk? 1987 report on Israel's
top secret nuclear program released in unprecedented move.
By Ari Yashar, Matt Wanderman
First Publish: 3/25/2015, 8:00 PM
In a development that has largely been missed by mainstream media, the
Pentagon early last month quietly declassified a Department of Defense
top-secret document detailing Israel's nuclear program, a highly
covert topic that Israel has never formally announced to avoid a
regional nuclear arms race, and which the US until now has respected
by remaining silent.
But by publishing the declassified document from 1987, the */US
reportedly breached the silent agreement to keep quiet on Israel's
nuclear powers for the first time ever, detailing the nuclear program
in great depth./*
The timing of the revelation is highly suspect, given that it came
as*_tensions spiraled out of control_*
Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and US President Barack Obama ahead of
Netanyahu's March 3 address in Congress, in which he warned against
the dangers of Iran's nuclear program and how the deal being formed on
that program leaves the Islamic regime with nuclear breakout
Another highly suspicious aspect of the document is that while the
Pentagon saw fit to declassify sections on Israel's sensitive nuclear
program, it _kept sections on Italy, France, West Germany and other
NATO countries classified_, with those sections blocked out in the
The 386-page report entitled "Critical Technological Assessment in
Israel and NATO Nations" gives a detailed description of how Israel
advanced its military technology and developed its nuclear
infrastructure and research in the 1970s and 1980s.
Israel is "developing the kind of codes which will enable them to make
hydrogen bombs. That is, codes which detail fission and fusion
processes on a microscopic and macroscopic level," reveals the report,
stating that in the 1980s Israelis were reaching the ability to create
bombs considered a thousand times more powerful than atom bombs.
The revelation marks a first in which the US published in a document a
description of how Israel attained hydrogen bombs.
The report also notes research laboratories in Israel "are equivalent
to our Los Alamos, Lawrence Livermore and Oak Ridge National
Laboratories," the key labs in developing America's nuclear arsenal.
Israel's nuclear infrastructure is "an almost exact parallel of the
capability currently existing at our National Laboratories," it adds.
"As far as nuclear technology is concerned the Israelis are roughly
where the U.S. was in the fission weapon field in about 1955 to 1960,"
the report reveals, noting a time frame just after America tested its
first hydrogen bomb.
Institute for Defense Analysis, a federally funded agency operating
under the Pentagon, penned the report back in 1987.
Aside from nuclear capabilities, the report revealed Israel at the
time had "a totally integrated effort in systems development
throughout the nation," with electronic combat all in one "integrated
system, not separated systems for the Army, Navy and Air Force." It
even acknowledged that in some cases, Israeli military technology "is
more advanced than in the U.S."
Declassifying the report comes at a sensitive timing as noted above,
and given that the process to have it published was started three
years ago, that timing is seen as having been the choice of the
US journalist Grant Smith petitioned to have the report published
based on the Freedom of Information Act. Initially the Pentagon took
its time answering, leading Smith to sue, and a District Court judge
to order the Pentagon to respond to the request.
Smith, who heads the Institute for Research: Middle East Policy,
reportedly said he thinks this is the first time the US government has
officially confirmed that Israel is a nuclear power, a status that
Israel has long been widely known to have despite being undeclared.
Iran as Lucy pulls the football on Obama-Kerry as Charlie Brown
Reply #331 on:
March 26, 2015, 04:04:06 AM »
Erasing Israel off the map in non-negotiable
Reply #332 on:
March 31, 2015, 07:35:39 PM »
The commander of the Basij militia of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards said that “erasing Israel off the map” is “nonnegotiable,” according to an Israel Radio report Tuesday.
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Militia chief Mohammad Reza Naqdi also threatened Saudi Arabia, saying that the offensive it is leading in Yemen “will have a fate like the fate of Saddam Hussein.”
Naqdi’s comments were made public as Iran and six world powers prepared Tuesday to issue a general statement agreeing to continue nuclear negotiations in a new phase aimed at reaching a comprehensive accord by the end of June.
In 2014, Naqdi said Iran was stepping up efforts to arm West Bank Palestinians for battle against Israel, adding the move would lead to Israel’s annihilation, Iran’s Fars news agency reported.
“Arming the West Bank has started and weapons will be supplied to the people of this region,” Naqdi said.
“The Zionists should know that the next war won’t be confined to the present borders and the Mujahedeen will push them back,” he added. Naqdi claimed that much of Hamas’s arsenal, training and technical knowhow in the summer conflict with Israel was supplied by Iran.
The Basij is a religious volunteer force established in 1979 by the country’s revolutionary leaders, and has served as a moral police and to suppress dissent.
In January, a draft law that would give greater powers to the Basij to enforce women’s compulsory wearing of the veil was ruled unconstitutional.
The force holds annual maneuvers, sometimes with regular Iran units.
Jonathan Beck and AFP contributed to this report.
Does a missed deadline matter?
Reply #333 on:
April 02, 2015, 07:23:43 AM »
In the Iran Talks, Does a Missed Deadline Matter?
April 1, 2015 | 22:11 GMT
The Obama administration has slipped past self-imposed deadlines and minced words over red lines before. Although certainly an embarrassment for the White House, another missed deadline in the seemingly never-ending Iran nuclear negotiations — which stretched beyond the latest deadline of March 31 — may not matter much in the end.
From Iran's point of view, it was a deadline to be exploited, not one to fret over. Iranian leaders, including Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, had expressed misgivings about a framework agreement, insisting that the deal is not done until all core issues are resolved in a final deal. The White House imposed the March deadline to prove to Congress that enough progress was being made to hold off on sanctions. Still, a dodged deadline and a diluted progress report are unlikely to calm dissenters in Congress. Even if a bill calling for additional sanctions in the event of a violation of an agreement makes its way through Congress, it will be vetoed in the Oval Office. Congress overturning that veto is a less likely prospect.
What is a Geopolitical Diary? George Friedman Explains.
Ironically, the U.S. congressmen vehemently threatening more sanctions are working in Iran's favor in this stage of the negotiating process. The more effort the U.S. negotiating team has to put into keeping Iran at the table, the more leverage Iran has in the talks. So, as the plethora of leaks on Monday all pointed toward the drafting of an agreement, Tehran strategically dropped a bombshell at the last minute. It said that while it would agree to reduce the number of operational centrifuges to 6,000 — going against the supreme leader's earlier demand for at least 10,000 centrifuges to remain in operation — it would pull back on an earlier concession to ship its low-enriched nuclear fuel to Russia.
This is a classic negotiating tactic: One party throws up a flare, panic ensues and once all sides return to the table, any further concessions from the instigator appear that much more generous. The next three months will be filled with such twists as the window for negotiations narrows.
In Iran's neighborhood, states like Saudi Arabia do not have the luxury of betting against the United States and Iran and have to prepare for the worst. The developing U.S.-Iranian relationship is what has driven Saudi Arabia into action in leading its Sunni allies against Iran across multiple fronts, with Yemen now in the spotlight.
Israel may also be upset at the United States for negotiating what it considers a bad deal with Iran, but it cannot deny that the upsurge in Sunni determination to contain Iran is a good thing. For example, Sudan's recruitment into the Saudi-led alliance had been months in the making, but the end result is that Iran has lost a critical conduit to supply arms to militant groups like Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad through supply routes that run from Port Sudan up through the Sinai Peninsula to the Gaza Strip. So long as Hamas struggles to replenish its weapons, including long-range rocket components, Israel has less to worry about.
Egypt is another beneficiary of the Saudi-led "Decisive Storm" operation. The White House never abandoned its close relationship with Cairo, but it became entangled politically by branding the deposal of former Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi a coup and demanding steps toward democracy before resuming aid. While the United States was trying to maintain its political correctness, Russia took the opportunity to court Egypt with military and energy deals, trying to broadcast the message that Washington's role had been filled in the Middle East.
Cairo simply used the attention from Moscow to bargain with Washington, waiting for the politics to become conducive enough to normalize relations with the United States with the understanding that a relationship with Washington would matter much more than one with Moscow. Egypt has yet to reschedule its elections, yet its participation in the Yemen operation gave the White House the justification it needed to show that Cairo is still a key Arab ally worthy of a dozen F-16 fighter jets that are now being delivered.
Much will be made of a missed deadline in Lausanne. Doubts will be cast over a potential agreement. But it is important to keep some perspective. This deadline over an interim agreement did not mean much to Iran in the first place. Progress, however uneven, is being made in the nuclear negotiations, and a U.S.-Iranian understanding is already having reverberations across the region.
VDH: Munich haunts negotiations
Reply #334 on:
April 02, 2015, 10:24:36 AM »
Yet another fatal flaw
Reply #335 on:
April 02, 2015, 07:41:50 PM »
STratfor's predictions over time
Reply #336 on:
April 04, 2015, 01:14:24 PM »
Chronology: The Evolution of an Iranian Nuclear Deal
April 3, 2015 | 08:59 GMT
Iranian women sitting in a car flash the "V for Victory" sign as they celebrate on Valiasr street in northern Tehran, April 2. (ATTA KENARE/AFP/Getty Images)
Editor's Note: In light of the announcement that Iran and the six world powers reached a framework deal after double overtime negotiations in Lausanne, Switzerland, this chronology includes some of the pivotal analyses identifying the steps toward an eventual accord. The April 2 deal paves the way for a binding agreement in three months, once the finer details have been worked out.
Kicking Over the Table in the Middle East
April 2, 2015: The United States and Iran, along with other members of the Western negotiating coalition, reached an agreement whose end point will be Iran's monitored abandonment of any ambition to build nuclear weapons, coupled with the end of sanctions on Iran's economy. It is not a final agreement. That will take until at least June 30. There are also powerful forces in Iran and the United States that oppose the agreement and might undermine it. And in the end, neither side is certain to live up the deal. Nevertheless, there has been an agreement between the Great Satan and a charter member of the Axis of Evil, and that matters. But it matters less for what it says about Iran's nuclear program, or economic sanctions, than for how it affects the regional balance of power, a subject we wrote on in this week's Geopolitical Weekly.
Iran Reaches an Agreement With the West
April 2, 2015: After double overtime negotiations in Lausanne, Iran and the six world powers announced a framework deal that largely covers the key sticking points of a nuclear agreement, leaving the technical details to be worked out over the next three months. Though there are several critical ambiguities in the joint statement, on the whole this statement is highly favorable to Iran. The careful wording was designed to enable Iranian President Hassan Rouhani to sell this deal at home and could help stave off U.S. congressional dissent in the months leading up to the June 30 deadline — though this deal will not depend on congressional approval for implementation.
Washington Turns Mistrust Into a Virtue in Negotiations
Feb. 4, 2015: More than two weeks after Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif took a 15-minute stroll in Geneva with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, Iran's hard-line journalists and politicians are still lambasting the foreign minister for the seemingly innocuous move. As parliament grilled him, Zarif defended himself by arguing he had just taken a midnight flight followed by five hours of intense negotiations and needed fresh air. His opponents, however, charged him with "trampling the blood of martyrs" and of displaying a level of intimacy appropriate only for lovers or "partners of international thievery."
A Financially Stressed Rouhani Takes on His Opponents
Jan. 13, 2015: The coming week will be an important one for Iran's relations with the United States. With just six weeks to go before the deadline in the nuclear negotiations, Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif will travel to Geneva to meet with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on Jan. 14. The two will discuss ways to speed up the negotiating process, and then U.S. and Iranian negotiating teams will spend Jan. 15-17 working out technical details of the agreement. Finally, on Jan. 18, Iran will meet with the permanent members of the U.N. Security Council and Germany to round out this stage of the negotiation.
Iran's Presidential Camp Goes on the Offensive
Jan. 5, 2015: Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has managed to undermine his right-wing opponents, who primarily are led by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. This progress could mature into a more sustainable lead for Rouhani's pragmatic conservatives, provided the president can demonstrate that his policy of negotiating with the United States has strengthened the Islamic republic. If Rouhani fails to show progress, his present gains will dissipate, and Iran's conservatives could also resurge.
Stratfor's 2015 Annual Forecast
Jan. 12, 2015: An understanding between Washington and Tehran will endure this year and Iran will maintain limits on enrichment activity while the United States gradually eases sanctions, relying principally on executive power to do so. Lower oil prices will constrain Iran, as will the prospect of Iran becoming a more politically viable energy alternative to Russia. These limits will help underpin this negotiation. However, the political complexities surrounding this process, along with technical constraints, mean the Iranian energy sector is unlikely to see a revival this year that significantly increases the amount of Iranian oil on the market.
The U.S.-Iran Talks Transcend the Nuclear Issue
Nov. 24, 2014: The second deadline to reach a final agreement on Iran's controversial nuclear program has expired, with both Iran and the six world powers agreeing on a second extension that gives them seven months to reach a comprehensive agreement. The United States and Iran were not expected to reach a final agreement by the Nov. 24 deadline. What is more important is that the negotiations have reached a point where both sides have an interest in continuing discussions until they reach a settlement. In the long run, the nuclear issue is not as important for either side as the regional dynamics are.
Stratfor's Third-Quarter Forecast
July 8, 2014: Iran and Western powers face a looming deadline to either reach a negotiated settlement on Iran's nuclear program or agree to continue negotiations. We do not expect Iran and the P-5+1 group (the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany) to reach a final agreement by the initial deadline of July 20, but both sides will demonstrate enough progress in the negotiations to continue to work toward a comprehensive settlement. U.S. President Barack Obama will rely on his executive authority to reduce sanctions pressure on Iran, including relaxing enforcement of current trade and financial sanctions, in order to help Tehran's negotiating team maintain enough leeway within Iran to continue talks. Iranian energy exports could grow slowly toward the end of the quarter as Iran and its large Asian customers take advantage of the minor sanctions relief, but we still do not expect a wholesale lifting of oil sanctions on Iran or significant Western investment into Iran's energy sector this year.
In Nuclear Talks, Iran Resists Russian Advances
July 2, 2014: As foreign diplomats arrived in Vienna on July 2 for the sixth round of talks between representatives of Iran and P-5+1 countries, key sticking points remained unresolved. Ahead of the July 20 deadline, the most important topics are the future of Iran's uranium enrichment program, concerns about the heavy-water plutonium reactor in Arak and the extent to which the United States and the European Union will roll back sanctions. The P-5+1 is composed of the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Russia, China and Germany, but it is Russia that will be the key player to watch as the talks progress. Moscow wants to improve its relationship with Iran to undermine the potential new balance of power in the Middle East, a balance that would free up U.S. resources and allow Washington to counter Russian influence. While recent Russian outreaches to the Iranians are unlikely to prevent a transitional agreement with Washington in the coming weeks, Iran will continue to exploit the U.S.-Russia split to enhance its negotiating position against the United States.
The Meaning of Iran
Jan. 29, 2014: The nuclear talks with Iran have two meanings. For those highly skeptical of the process the talks are, or should be, about nuclear weapons — and about preventing Iran from obtaining them. For the Obama administration, which is committed to the process, the nuclear issue is partly a pretext, something that must be finessed, in order to reach a strategic understanding with Iran.
Could a Detente With the U.S. Change Iran?
Jan. 23, 2014: The preliminary agreement over Iran's nuclear program is nearing implementation. But for all that has been said about how a rapprochement will affect bilateral ties, it is worth noting how it will affect each country individually. Since September, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has often said he wants to repair ties with the United States. This is partly because the stakes are higher for the Islamic republic, which could change fundamentally if Tehran normalized relations with Washington.
Strategic Reversal: The United States, Iran and the Middle East
Jan. 5, 2014: Efforts to achieve a comprehensive agreement between Iran and the United States will remain at center stage in 2014. Stratfor founder and Chairman George Friedman predicted this outcome in Chapter 7 of his 2011 book, The Next Decade. To give our subscribers a more comprehensive look at the geopolitical realities that produced the current state of affairs and that will continue to steer the detente process, Stratfor republishes that chapter in its entirety.
Detainees as a Bargaining Chip in U.S.-Iranian Negotiations
Dec. 19, 2013: The resurfacing in Iranian and U.S. media of the case of missing U.S. citizen Robert Levinson offers a small but revealing snapshot of the ongoing thaw of ties between Washington and Tehran. In a news conference Dec. 17, Iranian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Marzieh Afkham reiterated Iran's claim that Levinson is no longer in the country. Afkham went on to mention Iran's concern over Iranian detainees in the United States — a sign that Tehran may be pursuing a prisoner swap with Washington as part of broader negotiations.
Next Steps for the U.S.-Iran Deal
Nov. 25, 2013: What was unthinkable for many people over many years happened in the early hours of Nov. 24 in Geneva: The United States and the Islamic Republic of Iran struck a deal. After a decadelong struggle, the two reached an accord that seeks to ensure that Iran's nuclear program remains a civilian one. It is a preliminary deal, and both sides face months of work to batten down domestic opposition, build convincing mechanisms to assure compliance and unthread complicated global sanctions.
U.S., Iran: Why They Will Now Likely Negotiate
Aug. 2, 2013: Diplomatic relations between Tehran and Washington will improve after Iran's new president assumes office Aug. 4, ending months of speculation over whether Iran and Washington will find accommodation in their nuclear standoff. In fact, in recent weeks both sides have expressed interest in resuming bilateral nuclear talks. Those talks never took place simply because Iran never had to participate in them. Its economy was in decent shape despite the sanctions, its regional geopolitical position had been secure and its domestic political environment was in disarray. But now things are different. Tehran is devoting an unsustainable amount of resources to Syrian President Bashar al Assad in his fight against the Syrian rebellion. And while economic sanctions have not yet forced Iran to the negotiating table, Iranian leaders will likely choose to engage the United States voluntarily to forestall further economic decline. The inauguration of President-elect Hassan Rouhani provides an ideal opportunity for them to do so.
Iran Lays the Groundwork for Negotiations
Nov. 6, 2012: In a press conference Saturday night, Iranian lawmaker Mohammad Hassan Asafari spoke about Tehran's willingness to suspend its efforts to enrich uranium to 20 percent. Saudi-owned Al Arabiya apparently misquoted Asafari, reporting that Iran had suspended uranium enrichment as a goodwill gesture ahead of the yet-to-be-scheduled resumption of the P-5+1 (the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany) nuclear talks with Iran. On Sunday, however, Asafari clarified on the English-language website of Iran's state-owned Press TV that the country had in fact not halted 20 percent enrichment, but he maintained that Tehran — in exchange for an easing of economic sanctions — would accept enriched uranium from abroad to supply its five-megawatt Tehran Research Reactor for civilian use.
Timing Is Critical for Nuclear Talks
Oct. 23, 2012: Emerging conditions have created a framework for serious negotiations to develop between Iran and the United States. The dialogue would not only address the issue of Iran's nuclear program but also include broader issues, such as Syria and Afghanistan, and the core issue of what level of recognition the United States is willing to give to an Iranian sphere of influence in the region. Over the past several weeks, Stratfor has carefully tracked the signs pointing to this dialogue as Iran — using Turkey as a facilitator — has attempted to feel out a dialogue with Washington. The pieces appear to be falling in place, but there is still the matter of getting past the U.S. election before any bold moves are attempted by either side to carry the conversation forward.
Iran's Nuclear Program and Its Nuclear Option
Nov. 8, 2011: Details and specifics of the forthcoming International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) report on the Iranian nuclear program continued to leak out over the weekend, with the formal report expected later this week. The growing rhetoric about Iran — including talk from certain Israeli and American corners about an air campaign against Iran — had already begun to intensify in anticipation of the report, which will say more explicitly than previous IAEA assessments that Iran is indeed actively pursuing a nuclear weaponization program.
Thinking About the Unthinkable: A U.S.-Iranian Deal
March 1, 2010: The United States apparently has reached the point where it must either accept that Iran will develop nuclear weapons at some point if it wishes, or take military action to prevent this. There is a third strategy, however: Washington can seek to redefine the Iranian question. As we have no idea what leaders on either side are thinking, exploring this represents an exercise in geopolitical theory. Let's begin with the two apparent stark choices.
Reply #337 on:
April 05, 2015, 02:18:26 AM »
POTH: Two versions
Reply #338 on:
April 05, 2015, 10:17:36 AM »
WASHINGTON — Negotiators at the nuclear talks in Switzerland emerged from marathon talks on Thursday with a surprisingly detailed outline of the agreement they now must work to finalize by the end of June.
But one problem is that there are two versions.
The only joint document issued publicly was a statement from Mohammad Javad Zarif, Iran’s foreign minister, and Federica Mogherini, the European Union foreign policy chief, that was all of seven paragraphs.
The statement listed about a dozen “parameters” that are to guide the next three months of talks, including the commitment that Iran’s Natanz installation will be the only location at which uranium is enriched during the life of the agreement.
But the United States and Iran have also made public more detailed accounts of their agreements in Lausanne, and those accounts underscore their expectations for what the final accord should say.
A careful review shows that there is considerable overlap between the two accounts, but also some noteworthy differences — which have raised the question of whether the two sides are entirely on the same page, especially on the question of how quickly sanctions are to be removed. The American and Iranian statements also do not clarify some critical issues, such as precisely what sort of research Iran will be allowed to undertake on advanced centrifuges during the first 10 years of the accord.
“This is just a work in progress, and those differences in fact sheets indicate the challenges ahead,” said Olli Heinonen, the former deputy director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency.
Obama administration officials insist that there is no dispute on what was agreed behind closed doors. But to avoid time-consuming deliberations on what would be said publicly, the two sides decided during Wednesday’s all-night discussions that each would issue its own statement.
American officials acknowledge that they did not inform the Iranians in advance of all the “parameters” the United States would make public in an effort to lock in progress made so far, as well as to strengthen the White House’s case against any move by members of Congress to impose more sanctions against Iran.
“We talked to them and told them that we would have to say some things,” said a senior administration official who could not be identified under the protocol for briefing reporters. “We didn’t show them the paper. We didn’t show them the whole list.”
The official acknowledged that it was “understood that we had different narratives, but we wouldn’t contradict each other.”
No sooner were the negotiations over on Thursday, however, than Mr. Zarif posted to Twitter a message that dismissed the five-page set of American parameters as “spin.”
In an appearance on Iranian state television Saturday, Mr. Zarif kept up that refrain, saying that Iran had formally complained to Secretary of State John Kerry that the measures listed in the American statement were “in contradiction” to what had actually been accepted in Lausanne.
Mr. Zarif, however, did not challenge any nuclear provisions in the American document. Instead, he complained that the paper had been drawn up under Israeli and congressional pressure, and he restated Iran’s insistence on fast sanctions relief, including the need to “terminate,” not just suspend, European Union sanctions.
David Albright, the president of the Institute for Science and International Security and an expert who has closely monitored the nuclear talks, said that Mr. Zarif and President Hassan Rouhani of Iran may be engaged in their own spin to camouflage the significance of the concessions they made.
“Iran conceded a considerable amount in this deal, and Zarif and Rouhani may want to break the news back home slowly,” Mr. Albright said.
Assuming that was the Iranians’ motivation, Mr. Albright noted a potential downside to the tactics.
“When negotiations resume, Iran may believe it created additional room to backtrack on its commitments, assuming the U.S. is right about what was agreed in the room,” he added.
A review of the dueling American and Iranian statements show that they differ in some important respects. The American statement says that Iran has agreed to shrink its stockpile of uranium to 300 kilograms, a commitment the Iranian statement does not mention.
The Iranian statement emphasizes that nuclear cooperation between Iran and the six world powers that negotiated the agreement will grow, including in the construction of nuclear power plants, research reactors and the use of isotopes for medical research. That potential cooperation is not mentioned in the American statement.
The American statement says that Iran will be barred from using its advanced centrifuges to produce uranium for at least 10 years. Before those 10 years are up, Iran will be able to conduct some “limited” research on the centrifuges. The Iranian version omits the word “limited.”
In other cases, the two sides agree on some measures, but explain the implications very differently. In an important compromise, Iran will be allowed to convert its Fordo underground nuclear installation to a science and technology center.
In explaining this provision, the American statement notes that almost two-thirds of the centrifuges at Fordo will be removed and that none of those that remain will be used to enrich uranium for 15 years. The provision, Obama administration officials assert, carries no serious risk for the United States but will enable the Iranians to save face.
The Iranian statement stresses that the deal means that more than 1,000 of the centrifuges will be kept there, though it suggests only several hundred will be in operation to produce industrial or medical isotopes. As reported by Iranian journalists, Abbas Araqchi, the country’s deputy foreign minister, said that the modifications made at the Fordo installation could be rapidly reversed if the United States did not hold up its end of the deal.
The starkest differences between the American and Iranians accounts concern the pace at which punishing economic sanctions against Iran are to be removed. The Iranian text says that when the agreement is implemented, the sanctions will “immediately” be canceled.
American officials have described sanctions relief as more of a step-by-step process tied to Iranian efforts to carry out the accord.
“We fully expected them to emphasize things that are helpful in terms of selling this at home,” said a second Obama administration official, who was granted anonymity to discuss the deliberations. “We believe that everything in our document will not need to be renegotiated.”
But with three months of hard bargaining ahead, some experts worry that the lack of an agreed-upon, detailed public framework can only complicate the negotiations — and may even invite the Iranians to try to relitigate the terms of the Lausanne deal.
“I think it is a troubling development,” said Ray Takeyh, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, who has been critical of the Obama administration’s handling of the talks. “They will exploit all ambiguities with creative interpretations.”
Apparantly EMP weapons are in multiple arsenals
Reply #339 on:
April 05, 2015, 10:30:27 AM »
"Not on my watch"? True, its on the next Prez's watch
Reply #340 on:
April 07, 2015, 12:19:12 PM »
Baraq admits Iran goes nuke in 13 years.
Serious Read: Kissinger and Shultz on Obama-Kerry's nuke deal
Reply #341 on:
April 08, 2015, 10:56:28 AM »
The Iran Deal and Its Consequences
Mixing shrewd diplomacy with defiance of U.N. resolutions, Iran has turned the negotiation on its head.
By Henry Kissinger And George P. Shultz
Updated April 7, 2015 7:38 p.m. ET
The announced framework for an agreement on Iran’s nuclear program has the potential to generate a seminal national debate. Advocates exult over the nuclear constraints it would impose on Iran. Critics question the verifiability of these constraints and their longer-term impact on regional and world stability. The historic significance of the agreement and indeed its sustainability depend on whether these emotions, valid by themselves, can be reconciled.
Debate regarding technical details of the deal has thus far inhibited the soul-searching necessary regarding its deeper implications. For 20 years, three presidents of both major parties proclaimed that an Iranian nuclear weapon was contrary to American and global interests—and that they were prepared to use force to prevent it. Yet negotiations that began 12 years ago as an international effort to prevent an Iranian capability to develop a nuclear arsenal are ending with an agreement that concedes this very capability, albeit short of its full capacity in the first 10 years.
Opinion Journal Video
Editorial Page Editor Paul Gigot on President Obama’s preference to cut Congress out of the Iran nuclear deal, and the implications for future Congresses. Photo credit: Getty Images.
Mixing shrewd diplomacy with open defiance of U.N. resolutions, Iran has gradually turned the negotiation on its head. Iran’s centrifuges have multiplied from about 100 at the beginning of the negotiation to almost 20,000 today. The threat of war now constrains the West more than Iran. While Iran treated the mere fact of its willingness to negotiate as a concession, the West has felt compelled to break every deadlock with a new proposal. In the process, the Iranian program has reached a point officially described as being within two to three months of building a nuclear weapon. Under the proposed agreement, for 10 years Iran will never be further than one year from a nuclear weapon and, after a decade, will be significantly closer.
Inspections and Enforcement
The president deserves respect for the commitment with which he has pursued the objective of reducing nuclear peril, as does Secretary of State John Kerry for the persistence, patience and ingenuity with which he has striven to impose significant constraints on Iran’s nuclear program.
Progress has been made on shrinking the size of Iran’s enriched stockpile, confining the enrichment of uranium to one facility, and limiting aspects of the enrichment process. Still, the ultimate significance of the framework will depend on its verifiability and enforceability.
Negotiating the final agreement will be extremely challenging. For one thing, no official text has yet been published. The so-called framework represents a unilateral American interpretation. Some of its clauses have been dismissed by the principal Iranian negotiator as “spin.” A joint EU-Iran statement differs in important respects, especially with regard to the lifting of sanctions and permitted research and development.
Comparable ambiguities apply to the one-year window for a presumed Iranian breakout. Emerging at a relatively late stage in the negotiation, this concept replaced the previous baseline—that Iran might be permitted a technical capacity compatible with a plausible civilian nuclear program. The new approach complicates verification and makes it more political because of the vagueness of the criteria.
Under the new approach, Iran permanently gives up none of its equipment, facilities or fissile product to achieve the proposed constraints. It only places them under temporary restriction and safeguard—amounting in many cases to a seal at the door of a depot or periodic visits by inspectors to declared sites. The physical magnitude of the effort is daunting. Is the International Atomic Energy Agency technically, and in terms of human resources, up to so complex and vast an assignment?
In a large country with multiple facilities and ample experience in nuclear concealment, violations will be inherently difficult to detect. Devising theoretical models of inspection is one thing. Enforcing compliance, week after week, despite competing international crises and domestic distractions, is another. Any report of a violation is likely to prompt debate over its significance—or even calls for new talks with Tehran to explore the issue. The experience of Iran’s work on a heavy-water reactor during the “interim agreement” period—when suspect activity was identified but played down in the interest of a positive negotiating atmosphere—is not encouraging.
Compounding the difficulty is the unlikelihood that breakout will be a clear-cut event. More likely it will occur, if it does, via the gradual accumulation of ambiguous evasions.
When inevitable disagreements arise over the scope and intrusiveness of inspections, on what criteria are we prepared to insist and up to what point? If evidence is imperfect, who bears the burden of proof? What process will be followed to resolve the matter swiftly?
The agreement’s primary enforcement mechanism, the threat of renewed sanctions, emphasizes a broad-based asymmetry, which provides Iran permanent relief from sanctions in exchange for temporary restraints on Iranian conduct. Undertaking the “snap-back” of sanctions is unlikely to be as clear or as automatic as the phrase implies. Iran is in a position to violate the agreement by executive decision. Restoring the most effective sanctions will require coordinated international action. In countries that had reluctantly joined in previous rounds, the demands of public and commercial opinion will militate against automatic or even prompt “snap-back.” If the follow-on process does not unambiguously define the term, an attempt to reimpose sanctions risks primarily isolating America, not Iran.
The gradual expiration of the framework agreement, beginning in a decade, will enable Iran to become a significant nuclear, industrial and military power after that time—in the scope and sophistication of its nuclear program and its latent capacity to weaponize at a time of its choosing. Limits on Iran’s research and development have not been publicly disclosed (or perhaps agreed). Therefore Iran will be in a position to bolster its advanced nuclear technology during the period of the agreement and rapidly deploy more advanced centrifuges—of at least five times the capacity of the current model—after the agreement expires or is broken.
The follow-on negotiations must carefully address a number of key issues, including the mechanism for reducing Iran’s stockpile of enriched uranium from 10,000 to 300 kilograms, the scale of uranium enrichment after 10 years, and the IAEA’s concerns regarding previous Iranian weapons efforts. The ability to resolve these and similar issues should determine the decision over whether or when the U.S. might still walk away from the negotiations.
The Framework Agreement and Long-Term Deterrence
Even when these issues are resolved, another set of problems emerges because the negotiating process has created its own realities. The interim agreement accepted Iranian enrichment; the new agreement makes it an integral part of the architecture. For the U.S., a decade-long restriction on Iran’s nuclear capacity is a possibly hopeful interlude. For Iran’s neighbors—who perceive their imperatives in terms of millennial rivalries—it is a dangerous prelude to an even more dangerous permanent fact of life. Some of the chief actors in the Middle East are likely to view the U.S. as willing to concede a nuclear military capability to the country they consider their principal threat. Several will insist on at least an equivalent capability. Saudi Arabia has signaled that it will enter the lists; others are likely to follow. In that sense, the implications of the negotiation are irreversible.
If the Middle East is “proliferated” and becomes host to a plethora of nuclear-threshold states, several in mortal rivalry with each other, on what concept of nuclear deterrence or strategic stability will international security be based? Traditional theories of deterrence assumed a series of bilateral equations. Do we now envision an interlocking series of rivalries, with each new nuclear program counterbalancing others in the region?
Previous thinking on nuclear strategy also assumed the existence of stable state actors. Among the original nuclear powers, geographic distances and the relatively large size of programs combined with moral revulsion to make surprise attack all but inconceivable. How will these doctrines translate into a region where sponsorship of nonstate proxies is common, the state structure is under assault, and death on behalf of jihad is a kind of fulfillment?
Some have suggested the U.S. can dissuade Iran’s neighbors from developing individual deterrent capacities by extending an American nuclear umbrella to them. But how will these guarantees be defined? What factors will govern their implementation? Are the guarantees extended against the use of nuclear weapons—or against any military attack, conventional or nuclear? Is it the domination by Iran that we oppose or the method for achieving it? What if nuclear weapons are employed as psychological blackmail? And how will such guarantees be expressed, or reconciled with public opinion and constitutional practices?
For some, the greatest value in an agreement lies in the prospect of an end, or at least a moderation, of Iran’s 3½ decades of militant hostility to the West and established international institutions, and an opportunity to draw Iran into an effort to stabilize the Middle East. Having both served in government during a period of American-Iranian strategic alignment and experienced its benefits for both countries as well as the Middle East, we would greatly welcome such an outcome. Iran is a significant national state with a historic culture, a fierce national identity, and a relatively youthful, educated population; its re-emergence as a partner would be a consequential event.
But partnership in what task? Cooperation is not an exercise in good feeling; it presupposes congruent definitions of stability. There exists no current evidence that Iran and the U.S. are remotely near such an understanding. Even while combating common enemies, such as ISIS, Iran has declined to embrace common objectives. Iran’s representatives (including its Supreme Leader) continue to profess a revolutionary anti-Western concept of international order; domestically, some senior Iranians describe nuclear negotiations as a form of jihad by other means.
The final stages of the nuclear talks have coincided with Iran’s intensified efforts to expand and entrench its power in neighboring states. Iranian or Iranian client forces are now the pre-eminent military or political element in multiple Arab countries, operating beyond the control of national authorities. With the recent addition of Yemen as a battlefield, Tehran occupies positions along all of the Middle East’s strategic waterways and encircles archrival Saudi Arabia, an American ally. Unless political restraint is linked to nuclear restraint, an agreement freeing Iran from sanctions risks empowering Iran’s hegemonic efforts.
Some have argued that these concerns are secondary, since the nuclear deal is a way station toward the eventual domestic transformation of Iran. But what gives us the confidence that we will prove more astute at predicting Iran’s domestic course than Vietnam’s, Afghanistan’s, Iraq’s, Syria’s, Egypt’s or Libya’s?
Absent the linkage between nuclear and political restraint, America’s traditional allies will conclude that the U.S. has traded temporary nuclear cooperation for acquiescence to Iranian hegemony. They will increasingly look to create their own nuclear balances and, if necessary, call in other powers to sustain their integrity. Does America still hope to arrest the region’s trends toward sectarian upheaval, state collapse and the disequilibrium of power tilting toward Tehran, or do we now accept this as an irremediable aspect of the regional balance?
Some advocates have suggested that the agreement can serve as a way to dissociate America from Middle East conflicts, culminating in the military retreat from the region initiated by the current administration. As Sunni states gear up to resist a new Shiite empire, the opposite is likely to be the case. The Middle East will not stabilize itself, nor will a balance of power naturally assert itself out of Iranian-Sunni competition. (Even if that were our aim, traditional balance of power theory suggests the need to bolster the weaker side, not the rising or expanding power.) Beyond stability, it is in America’s strategic interest to prevent the outbreak of nuclear war and its catastrophic consequences. Nuclear arms must not be permitted to turn into conventional weapons. The passions of the region allied with weapons of mass destruction may impel deepening American involvement.
If the world is to be spared even worse turmoil, the U.S. must develop a strategic doctrine for the region. Stability requires an active American role. For Iran to be a valuable member of the international community, the prerequisite is that it accepts restraint on its ability to destabilize the Middle East and challenge the broader international order.
Until clarity on an American strategic political concept is reached, the projected nuclear agreement will reinforce, not resolve, the world’s challenges in the region. Rather than enabling American disengagement from the Middle East, the nuclear framework is more likely to necessitate deepening involvement there—on complex new terms. History will not do our work for us; it helps only those who seek to help themselves.
Messrs. Kissinger and Shultz are former secretaries of state.
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To be read in conjunction with each other
Reply #342 on:
April 09, 2015, 12:56:05 AM »
New footage from the Israeli Navy showcases the most advanced submarine in the IDF's arsenal: the Dolphin-class INS Tanin (Crocodile). The nuclear-capable submarine boasts an array of sophisticated weaponry, as well as the latest in intelligence-gathering technology. It stands at a whopping 68 meters long, compared to 57.3 meters on average for other submarines. "The submarine will receive more long-term missions, and for a greater amount of time, than submarines" the IDF possesses, one navy officer explained, adding that as a result the Navy had "extended by several days our ability to operate silently and secretly in enemy territory." The submarine's commander, Lieutenant Colonel "G", echoed those sentiments, adding that as a result of the sensitive nature of the missions it will be undertaking only the most elite navy personnel will be operating it. "Even the smallest mistake by a soldier could foil the mission in the best-case scenario, and in the worst case reveal the submarine and leave it vulnerable to attack," he said.
Sailors worked closely with the defense ministry, intelligence agencies, the air force and other elite IDF units, he added. Commander of Haifa naval base General David Salamah explained the importance of Israel's submarine fleet to national security. Israel's submarines regularly operate "deep within enemy territory", he noted. "We are talking about a major upgrade to the navy and the entire IDF, in the face of the challenges posed to the State of Israel."
WSJ: The Liberal Way of Lying
Reply #343 on:
April 13, 2015, 08:56:37 PM »
April 13, 2015 7:33 p.m. ET
Sometime in the 1990s I began to understand the Clinton way of lying, and why it was so successful. To you and me, the Clinton lies were statements demonstrably at variance with the truth, and therefore wrong and shameful. But to the initiated they were an invitation to an intoxicating secret knowledge.
What was this knowledge? That the lying was for the greater good, usually to fend off some form of Republican malevolence. What was so intoxicating? That the initiated were smart enough to see through it all. Why be scandalized when they could be amused? Why moralize when they could collude?
It always works. We are hardly a month past Hillary Clinton’s Server-gate press conference, in which she served up whoppers faster than a Burger King burger flipper—lies large and small, venial and potentially criminal, and all of them quickly found out. Emails to Bill, who never emails? The convenience of one device, despite having more than one device?
It doesn’t matter. Now Mrs. Clinton is running for president, and only a simpleton would fail to appreciate that the higher mendacity is a recommendation for the highest office. In the right hands, the thinking goes, lying can be a positive good—as political moisturizer and diplomatic lubricant.
What the Clintons pioneered—the brazen lie, coyly delivered and knowingly accepted—has become something more than the M.O. of one power couple. It has become the liberal way of lying.
Consider this column’s favorite subject: the Iran deal. An honest president might sell the current deal roughly as follows.
“My fellow Americans, the deal we have negotiated will not, I am afraid, prevent Iran from getting a bomb, should its leaders decide to build one. And eventually they will. Fatwa or no fatwa, everything we know about their nuclear program tells us it is geared toward building a bomb. And frankly, if you lived in a neighborhood like theirs—70 million Shiites surrounded by hundreds of millions of Sunnis—you’d want a bomb, too.
“Yes, we could, in theory, stop Iran from getting the bomb. Sanctions won’t do it. Extreme privation didn’t stop Maoist China or Bhutto’s Pakistan or Kim’s North Korea from building a bomb. It won’t stop Iran, either.
“Airstrikes? They would set Iran back by a few years. But even in a best-case scenario, the Iranians would be back at it before long, and they’d keep trying until they got a bomb or we got regime change.
“Fellow Americans, how many of you want to raise your hands for more Mideast regime change?
“So here’s the deal with my deal: It never was about cutting off Iran’s pathways to a bomb. Let’s just say that was an aspiration. It’s about managing, and maybe slowing, the process by which they get one.
“I know that’s not what you thought I’ve been saying these past few years—all that stuff about all options being on the table and me not bluffing and no deal being better than a bad deal. I said this for political expedience, or as a way of palliating restive Saudis and Israelis. You feed the dogs their bone.
“But if you’d been listening attentively, you would have heard the qualifier ‘on my watch’ added to my promises that Iran would not get the bomb. And what happens after I leave office? Hopefully, the Supreme Leader will be replaced by a new leader cut from better cloth. Hopefully, too, this marathon diplomacy will open new patterns of U.S.-Iranian cooperation. But if neither thing happens we’d be no worse off than we are today.
“That’s why getting a deal, any deal, is more important than the deal’s particulars when it comes to sanctions relief, inspections protocols and so on. The details only matter insofar as they make the political medicine go down. What counts is that we’re sitting at the table together, speaking.”
A speech along these lines would have the virtues of intellectual integrity and political honesty. It would improve the quality, and perhaps the tenor, of our foreign-policy discussions. The argument might well lose—the U.S. tool kit of coercion is not so bare, the benefit of diplomacy isn’t so great, the threat of a nuclear Iran isn’t so manageable and Americans aren’t that eager to roll over for the ayatollah. But at least we would have a worthwhile debate.
Question for Mrs. Clinton: Does she think the U.S. should gently midwife Iran’s nuclear birth or violently abort it? If she wants to be president, our former top diplomat could honor us with a detailed answer.
In the meantime, let’s simply note what the liberal way of lying has achieved. We are on the cusp of reaching the most consequential foreign-policy decision of our generation. We have a deal whose basic terms neither side can agree on. We have a president whose goals aren’t what he said they were, and whose motives he has kept veiled from the public.
Maybe the ayatollah will give him his deal, and those with the secret knowledge will cheer. As for the rest of us: Haven’t we learned that we’re too stupid to know what’s for our own good?
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Putin flips of Obama-Kerry
Reply #344 on:
April 14, 2015, 08:22:42 AM »
Russian Missiles for the Ayatollah
Vladimir Putin blows a raspberry at Obama.
April 13, 2015 7:15 p.m. ET
Vladimir Putin blew a geopolitical raspberry at the Obama Administration on Monday by authorizing the sale of Russia’s S-300 missile system to Iran. The Kremlin is offering the mullahs an air-defense capability so sophisticated that it would render Iran’s nuclear installations far more difficult and costly to attack should Tehran seek to build a bomb.
Feeling better about that Iranian nuclear deal now?
The origins of this Russian sideswipe go back to 2007, when Moscow and Tehran signed an $800 million contract for delivery of five S-300 squadrons. But in 2010 then-President Dmitry Medvedev stopped the sale under pressure from the U.S. and Israel. The United Nations Security Council the same year passed an arms-embargo resolution barring the sale of major conventional systems to the Tehran regime.
That resolution is still in effect, but the Kremlin no longer feels like abiding by it. With the latest negotiating deadline passed and without any nuclear agreement in place, Moscow will dispatch the S-300s “promptly” to the Islamic Republic, according to the Russian Defense Ministry.
So much for the White House hope that the West could cordon off Russia’s aggression against Ukraine while working with Mr. Putin on other matters. Russia and the West could disagree about Crimea and eastern Ukraine, the thinking went, but Washington could still solicit the Kremlin’s cooperation on the Iranian nuclear crisis.
State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki dismissed news in February that Russia’s state-run weapons conglomerate Rostec had offered Tehran the Antey-2500—an upgraded version of the S-300 system. “It’s just some reports,” she said. White House spokesman Josh Earnest similarly boasted in March of how “international unanimity of opinion has been critical to our ability to apply pressure to Iran.”
Now Mr. Obama wants to delegate responsibility for enforcing his nuclear deal with Iran to the United Nations, which means that the Russians will have a say—and a veto—there, too. Think of this missile sale as a taste of what’s to come.
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Re: Nuclear War, WMD issues
Reply #345 on:
April 20, 2015, 04:33:40 PM »
April 19, 2015 5:36 p.m. ET
Give Ayatollah Ali Khamenei credit for knowing his opposition. Two weeks ago the Supreme Leader declared that Western sanctions had to be lifted immediately as a condition of a nuclear deal. And sure enough, on Friday President Obama said Iran would get significant sanctions relief immediately upon signing a deal.
The Ayatollah knows that Mr. Obama wants an agreement with Iran so much that there’s almost no concession the President won’t make. So why not keep asking for more?
Keep in mind that the talks began with the U.S. and its European partners demanding that Iran dismantle its nuclear program. But to persuade the Ayatollah to accept the recent “framework” accord, Mr. Obama has already conceded that Iran can keep enriching uranium, that it can maintain 5,060 centrifuges to do the enriching, that its enriched-uranium stockpiles can stay inside Iran, that the once-concealed facilities at Fordow and Arak can stay open (albeit in altered form), and that Iran can continue doing research on advanced centrifuges.
All of these concessions are contrary to previous U.S. positions, and we’re no doubt missing a few. But none of that was enough for the Ayatollah, who quickly asserted two new deal-breaking objections: immediate sanctions relief, and no inspections under any circumstances of Iran’s military sites.
The White House has insisted that sanctions relief would be phased out based on Iranian compliance with the accord. Iranian negotiators quickly denied they had agreed to any such thing. At first White House spokesman Josh Earnest dismissed this as mere face-saving domestic politicking inside Iran. But then the Ayatollah weighed in with his demand for immediate sanctions relief, adding to reinforce the goodwill that the Obama Administration was “lying” and had “devilish” intentions.
On Friday Mr. Obama nonetheless turned the other cheek and suggested a compromise on sanctions relief is likely. White House sources whispered to reporters that the immediate windfall to Iran could be between $30 billion and $50 billion from access to frozen offshore Iranian accounts.
Mr. Obama even suggested at a press conference that sanctions relief wasn’t really that large an issue as long as the U.S. could reimpose sanctions if Iran cheats. “Our main concern here is making sure that if Iran doesn’t abide by its agreement that we don’t have to jump through a whole bunch of hoops in order to reinstate sanctions,” the President said. He added that this “will require some creative negotiations.”
It sure will. How “snap-back” sanctions would work is far from clear. The U.S. framework summary concedes that charges of cheating would go to a so far unspecified “dispute resolution process” that sounds like some kind of international committee.
That surely means foot-dragging by West Europeans who won’t want to interfere with their new commercial business with Iran, and it probably gives Russia and China an opportunity to take Iran’s side. As former secretaries of state Henry Kissinger and George Shultz argued recently on these pages, the U.S. would then be the isolated nation, not Iran.
The word “snap-back” in any such arrangement is spin to sell a deal, not a realistic description of the process. Mr. Obama nonetheless said on Friday that “I’m confident” the negotiations on sanctions “will be successful.” Look for more U.S. concessions on sanctions as the June deadline approaches.
As for inspections, a senior commander in Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps reiterated Sunday that all military sites are off-limits. Iran’s news agency reported that General Hossein Salami, the Guards’ deputy leader, said such inspections would be “selling out” to the enemy. “Iran will not become a paradise of spies. We will not roll out the red carpet for the enemy,” he said.
This contradicts the U.S. summary of the framework accord, which claims that U.N. inspectors would have access to any “suspicious sites.” It didn’t say only non-military suspicious sites. Mr. Obama has already conceded that the inspectors would need Iran’s permission to visit certain sites, rather than having on-demand and immediate access. If military sites are off-limits, then those sites are where Iran would do the cheating when it wants to. The entire inspections regime would be an act of Western self-deception.
These latest events reinforce a conclusion that the Iranian talks are heading toward a deal that confers Western blessing on Iran as a nuclear-threshold state. Tehran will retain the facilities and means to develop a bomb at the moment of its choosing. The main question now is how many more concessions the Ayatollah will squeeze from a U.S. President he believes is desperate for a deal.
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China activates MIRV program
Reply #346 on:
May 17, 2015, 07:14:06 PM »
China Making Some Missiles More Powerful
By DAVID E. SANGER and WILLIAM J. BROADMAY 16, 2015
WASHINGTON — After decades of maintaining a minimal nuclear force, China has re-engineered many of its long-range ballistic missiles to carry multiple warheads, a step that federal officials and policy analysts say appears designed to give pause to the United States as it prepares to deploy more robust missile defenses in the Pacific.
What makes China’s decision particularly notable is that the technology of miniaturizing warheads and putting three or more atop a single missile has been in Chinese hands for decades. But a succession of Chinese leaders deliberately let it sit unused; they were not interested in getting into the kind of arms race that characterized the Cold War nuclear competition between the United States and the Soviet Union.
Now, however, President Xi Jinping appears to have altered course, at the same moment that he is building military airfields on disputed islands in the South China Sea, declaring exclusive Chinese “air defense identification zones,” sending Chinese submarines through the Persian Gulf for the first time and creating a powerful new arsenal of cyberweapons.
Many of those steps have taken American officials by surprise and have become evidence of the challenge the Obama administration faces in dealing with China, in particular after American intelligence agencies had predicted that Mr. Xi would focus on economic development and follow the path of his predecessor, who advocated the country’s “peaceful rise.”
Secretary of State John Kerry arrived in Beijing on Saturday to discuss a variety of security and economic issues of concern to the United States, although it remained unclear whether this development with the missiles, which officials describe as recent, was on his agenda.
American officials say that, so far, China has declined to engage in talks on the decision to begin deploying multiple nuclear warheads atop its ballistic missiles.
“The United States would like to have a discussion of the broader issues of nuclear modernization and ballistic missile defense with China,” said Phillip C. Saunders, director of the Center for the Study of Chinese Military Affairs at National Defense University, a Pentagon-funded academic institution attended by many of the military’s next cadre of senior commanders.
“The Chinese have been reluctant to have that discussion in official channels,” Mr. Saunders said, although he and other experts have engaged in unofficial conversations with their Chinese counterparts on the warhead issue.
Beijing’s new nuclear program was reported deep inside the annual Pentagon report to Congress about Chinese military capabilities, disclosing a development that poses a dilemma for the Obama administration, which has never talked publicly about these Chinese nuclear advances.
President Obama is under more pressure than ever to deploy missile defense systems in the Pacific, although American policy officially states that those interceptors are to counter North Korea, not China. At the same time, the president is trying to find a way to signal that he will resist Chinese efforts to intimidate its neighbors, including some of Washington’s closest allies, and to keep the United States out of the Western Pacific.
Already, there is talk in the Pentagon of speeding up the missile defense effort and of sending military ships into international waters near the disputed islands, to make it clear that the United States will insist on free navigation even in areas that China is claiming as its exclusive zone.
Hans M. Kristensen, director of the Nuclear Information Project at the Federation of American Scientists, a policy research group in Washington, called the new deployments of Chinese warheads “a bad day for nuclear constraint.”
“China’s little force is slowly getting a little bigger,” he said, “and its limited capabilities are slowly getting a little better.”
To American officials, the Chinese move fits into a rapid transformation of their strategy under Mr. Xi, now considered one of the most powerful leaders since Mao Zedong or Deng Xiaoping. Vivid photographs, which were released recently, of Chinese efforts to reclaim land on disputed islands in the South China Sea and immediately build airfields on them, underscored for White House policy makers and military planners the speed and intensity of Mr. Xi’s determination to push potential competitors out into the mid-Pacific.
That has involved building aircraft carriers and submarines to create an overall force that could pose a credible challenge to the United States in the event of a regional crisis. Some of China’s military modernization program has been aimed directly at America’s technological advantage. China has sought technologies to block American surveillance and communications satellites, and its major investments in cybertechnology — and probes and attacks on American computer networks — are viewed by American officials as a way to both steal intellectual property and prepare for future conflict.
The upgrade to the nuclear forces fits into that strategy.
“This is obviously part of an effort to prepare for long-term competition with the United States,” said Ashley J. Tellis, a senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace who was a senior national security official in the George W. Bush administration. “The Chinese are always fearful of American nuclear advantage.”
American nuclear forces today outnumber China’s by eight to one. The choice of which nuclear missiles to upgrade was notable, Mr. Tellis said, because China chose “one of few that can unambiguously reach the United States.”
The United States pioneered multiple warheads early in the Cold War. The move was more threatening than simply adding arms. In theory, one missile could release warheads that adjusted their flight paths so each zoomed toward a different target.
The term for the technical advance — multiple independently targetable re-entry vehicle, or MIRV — became one of the Cold War’s most dreaded fixtures. It embodied the horrors of overkill and unthinkable slaughter. Each re-entry vehicle was a miniaturized hydrogen bomb. Each, by definition, was many times more destructive than the crude atomic weapon that leveled Hiroshima.
In 1999, during the Clinton administration, Republicans in Congress charged that Chinese spies had stolen the secrets of H-bomb miniaturization. But intelligence agencies noted Beijing’s restraint.
“For 20 years,” the C.I.A. reported, “China has had the technical capability to develop” missiles with multiple warheads and could, if so desired, upgrade its missile forces with MIRVs “in a few years.”
The calculus shifted in 2004, when the Bush administration began deploying a ground-based antimissile system in Alaska and California. Early in 2013, the Obama administration, worrying about North Korean nuclear advances, ordered an upgrade. It called for the interceptors to increase in number to 44 from 30.
While administration officials emphasized that Chinese missiles were not in the system’s cross hairs, they acknowledged that the growing number of interceptors might shatter at least some of Beijing’s warheads.
Today, analysts see China’s addition of multiple warheads as at least partly a response to Washington’s antimissile strides. “They’re doing it,” Mr. Kristensen of the Federation of American Scientists said, “to make sure they could get through the ballistic missile defenses.”
The Pentagon report, released on May 8, said that Beijing’s most powerful weapon now bore MIRV warheads. The intercontinental ballistic missile is known as the DF-5 (for Dong Feng, or East Wind). The Pentagon has said that China has about 20 in underground silos.
Private analysts said each upgraded DF-5 had probably received three warheads and that the advances might span half the missile force. If so, the number of warheads China can fire from that weapon at the United States has increased to about 40 from 20.
“It’s been a long time coming,” said Jeffrey Lewis, an expert on Chinese nuclear forces at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey. In an interview, he emphasized that even fewer of the DF-5s might have received the upgrade.
Early last week, Mr. Kristensen posted a public report on the missile intelligence.
Beijing’s new membership in “the MIRV club,” he said, “strains the credibility of China’s official assurance that it only wants a minimum nuclear deterrent and is not part of a nuclear arms race.”
Sen. Lindsay Graham: Much more is needed to stop Iran from going nuke
Reply #347 on:
May 18, 2015, 12:16:51 PM »
May 17, 2015 5:53 p.m. ET
The Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act is now on its way to the White House for a reluctant signature by President Obama. He was forced to accept, by overwhelming votes in both chambers, Congress’s constitutional role in reviewing any nuclear deal with Iran and the lifting of any congressionally imposed sanctions. Now the hardest work begins.
The president must either negotiate an agreement that will permanently prevent an untrustworthy Iranian regime from acquiring nuclear weapons—or walk away. If he instead commits to a plan that will lead to a nuclear Iran, Congress must stop it.
Iran is the greatest sponsor of terrorism in the Middle East and the world. It is openly committed to the destruction of Israel. It sits at the nexus of nearly every major global threat: the Syrian crisis, the rise of ISIS, the resurgence of al Qaeda, the crisis in Iraq that threatens gains won with U.S. blood, the chaos in Yemen that is adding to the threat of an all-out regional war, and renewed weapons trade with Russia’s Vladimir Putin.
To allow this pariah nation to acquire nuclear weapons and the ability to deploy them against us and our allies—and to share them with radical Islamic organizations—would constitute an incalculable threat to our national security and an existential threat to Israel. It would set off a nuclear-arms race that would virtually guarantee a regional war with global implications.
Alarmingly, our negotiators and the Iranians have offered wildly differing interpretations of the negotiated framework. On every principle, Iran insists it will never accept our terms. Serious questions remain about how this deal can prevent a nuclear Iran.
Will international sanctions be lifted before proof that Iran is in compliance? How and when would sanctions be restored if there are violations? Can we have a good faith agreement with a regime that for decades has lied and cheated, and still has never come clean about its past efforts to weaponize nuclear technology? Will Iran be required to demonstrate changed behavior—with respect to its nuclear ambitions and its sponsorship of terrorism?
I am proposing eight principles to ensure we get the right answers and achieve a sound, enforceable deal.
• Iran must not be allowed an enrichment capability greater than the practical needs to supply one commercial reactor. The Iranians should have access to peaceful nuclear power, but the infrastructure should be aligned to support the needs of a single nuclear reactor.
• Closure of all hardened and formerly secret sites. Iran must come clean on all outstanding issues raised by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), particularly concerning the possible military dimensions of Iran’s civilian nuclear program. The history of Iran’s nuclear program has been marked by deception. Sites like Fordow have no role in an Iranian civilian program. Iran must account for the full inventory of centrifuges, production facilities for components, the total number of components, assembly workshops and storage depots for centrifuges.
• Anytime, anywhere inspections of all Iranian military and nonmilitary facilities. Iran shouldn’t have veto power over when inspectors visit its facilities, including the ability of independent parties to monitor and report on Iran’s compliance.
• Sanctions relief and access to funds currently in escrow must be phased in and fully conditioned on IAEA certification that Iran is in full compliance and has demonstrated sustained compliance over time. Allowing Iran access to these tens of billions of dollars in funds before it has fulfilled its portion of the agreement is unacceptable.
• There must be an explicit process for the “snapback” re-imposition of sanctions if Iran violates the deal. It took years to impose the sanctions, which brought Iran to the negotiating table.
• Iran must not be allowed to conduct research and development on advanced centrifuges. Mastery of this technology will allow Iran to reduce its breakout time toward a nuclear weapon.
• Removal of all enriched uranium from Iran. There is no need for Iran to possess a large stockpile of low enriched uranium or any highly enriched uranium. With the exception of the small amounts enriched to 3.5% that will be created as part of Iran’s civilian enrichment process, all enriched uranium must be shipped out of Iran.
• Certification by the president that, before any restrictions on Iran’s nuclear program are lifted, Iran has changed its aggressive behavior in the region and no longer meets the qualifications to be designated a state sponsor of terrorism.
These eight principles have bipartisan support and largely reflect President Obama’s negotiating position at the start of the process (demonstrating how far he has strayed from his original intentions). Adhering to these eight principles will ensure that Iran never acquires nuclear weapons or has the means to spread nuclear technology to radical Islamic groups.
Above all, they will reassert American leadership in the Middle East, and preserve our national security, and the security of Israel and other allies in the region. Any deal that does not adhere to them will fail, with dire consequences for global security.
Mr. Graham, a Republican, is a U.S. senator from South Carolina.
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Peter Maggio 7 minutes ago
I wonder. Is Lindsey Graham a warmonger because he was teased all his life about his first name?
Robert Grow 26 minutes ago
Obama and his many fans want a planet where power is more evenly distributed, and western nations, particularly the US, no longer can exercise dominance. We need to empathize more with the aspirations of the third world and the Islamic world. We also need to accept responsibility for our many sins and do penance. If this means the destruction of our country, well, we had it coming. It's what our fellow Americans voted for, twice!
The next election can't come soon enough, but there's no guarantee much will change.
William Schmauss 28 minutes ago
And Senator, what are you going to do when the Iranians don't agree, or agree and then cheat as they have on everything else? Are you willing to bomb their sites or help the Israelis bomb them? Invade? exactly how are you going to stop them, as sure as the sun comes up tomorrow they will never willingly let go of their nuclear ambitions.
WSJ: Everything is awesome
Reply #348 on:
May 19, 2015, 04:39:10 PM »
Everything Is Awesome, Mideast Edition
It takes a special innocence to imagine that the chaos unfolding in the Middle East can be put right.
By Bret Stephens
May 18, 2015 7:08 p.m. ET
Ben Rhodes, President Obama’s deputy national security adviser, has been offering a reassuring view of the Iranian nuclear deal in the face of some Arab skepticism. “If you can diplomatically and peacefully resolve the nuclear issue in a way that prevents Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon,” he told reporters last week, “we believe that will lead to a much more stable region.” Mr. Rhodes also contends that with a deal “there will be no need to see [a] regional arms race.”
So what’s more frightening: That Mr. Rhodes believes what he’s saying? Or that he does not?
Just for Mr. Rhodes’s benefit, here’s a refresher course on stability and the arms race in the Middle East since April 2, 2015, the day Mr. Obama announced his framework nuclear agreement with Iran.
April 2: Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif immediately accuses the U.S. of “spin” and contradicts Mr. Obama’s key claims regarding the terms of the deal.
April 12: A Swedish think tank reports that Saudi Arabia registered the biggest increase in defense spending in the world.
April 13: Moscow says it will deliver the S-300 air-defense system to Tehran. Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei later boasts that the U.S. “can’t do a damn thing” militarily against Iran.
April 14: Iran announces agreements with Russia and China to build additional nuclear reactors.
April 17: Iran dispatches an armed convoy of ships, believed to be destined to resupply pro-Iranian Houthi rebels in Yemen in contravention of a U.N. arms embargo. The convoy turns back after the U.S. deploys an aircraft carrier to the region to shadow the ships.
April 20: Jason Rezaian, the American-born Washington Post reporter imprisoned in Iran since July, is charged with espionage, “collaborating with hostile governments” and “propaganda against the establishment.”
April 20: The British government informs the U.N. panel monitoring sanctions on Iran that it “is aware of an active Iranian nuclear procurement network” associated with two Iranian companies that are under international sanctions.
April 22: Saudi Arabia resumes airstrikes in Yemen despite administration pressure to maintain a cease fire.
April 28: Iran seizes the 837-foot long Maersk Tigris, a Marshall Islands flagged cargo ship with 34 sailors aboard, as it transits the Strait of Hormuz along an internationally recognized route. The ship is released a week later after Maersk pays a fine of $163,000.
April 29: Former Saudi Intelligence Minister Turki al Faisal tells a conference in Seoul that the kingdom will match Iran’s nuclear capabilities with its own. “Whatever the Iranians have, we will have, too.” The prince also accuses Mr. Obama of going “behind the backs of the traditional allies to strike the deal.”
May 8: Reuters reports that inspectors have discovered traces of sarin gas at an undeclared military research site near Damascus. The report puts paid to administration boasts that its diplomacy effectively solved the Syrian chemical crisis.
May 11: Saudi Arabia’s King Salman withdraws from the Arab summit meeting with Mr. Obama. The king of Bahrain follows suit, preferring instead to attend a horse show with Britain’s Queen Elizabeth.
May 13: Reuters reports “the Czech Republic blocked an attempted purchase by Iran this year of a large shipment of sensitive technology usable for nuclear enrichment after false documentation raised suspicions.”
May 14: Iranian patrol boats fire upon a Singapore-flagged oil tanker with machine guns as it transits the Strait of Hormuz. The ship makes it safely to Dubai.
May 17: Citing senior U.S. officials, the Sunday Times reports that “Saudi Arabia has taken the ‘strategic decision’ to acquire ‘off-the-shelf’ atomic weapons from Pakistan.”
Also on May 17, Islamic State fighters in Iraq seize the city of Ramadi, the capital of Anbar Province. This is after Mr. Obama crowed in February that “our coalition is on the offensive, ISIL is on the defensive, and ISIL is going to lose.” Now the Iraqi government will turn to Shiite paramilitaries under Iranian control to try to retake the city, further turning the Baghdad government into an Iranian satrap.
I recount these events not just to illustrate the distance between Ben Rhodes’s concept of reality and reality itself. It’s also a question of speed. The Middle East, along with our position in it, is unraveling at an astonishing pace. Reckless drivers often don’t notice how fast they’re going until they’re about to crash.
We are near the point where there will be no walking back the mistakes we have made. No walking away from them, either. It takes a special innocence to imagine that nothing in life is irreversible, that everything can be put right, that fanaticism yields to reason and facts yield to wishes, and that the arc of Mideast history bends toward justice.
Ben Rhodes, and the administration he represents and typifies, is special.
French won't sign without military site inspections
Reply #349 on:
May 27, 2015, 07:12:57 PM »
It is getting so bad that we are to the soft side of the French
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