Level-Headedness on Iran

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The flurry of hope and skepticism that proposed talks with Iran will lead anywhere are dominating the news, even here in Athens.
While China and Russia have joined the roster of nations offering Iran a “tough love” package of incentives and punishments regarding its nuclear program, China and Russia’s commitment to the “sticks” part of the equation remains weak, and Iran will continue to try and split the five UN Security Council members.
It is important news that Bush has agreed to a plan that might secure direct negotiations between the US and Iran, something he had never felt comfortable agreeing to before — according to a former senior level State Department official.
But one thing for those — like me — who have been calling for direct negotiations to remember is that Iran does want nuclear weapons. They want them to balance power in the Middle East with Israel and to fill a security void left by the collapse of Iraq and the perceived weakness of the United States. Iran also wants the nukes because it perceives it to be a great power — and all great powers either have nukes or have the ability to create them, as the case in Japan.
Iran also thinks that nukes will provided itself a “shield” to protect itself while it still supports extra-territorial terrorism through various other sponsored outfits in other countries.
We need to realize that Iran is typically a shrewd maximizer of its strategic interests, and this may make it very hard to dissuade Iran from its current course. It can happen, but the price paid will be a high one in terms of what Iran might accept in a new “grand bargain”.
More on this later. I am flying to Vancouver today and will check in from there.
— Steve Clemons

Comments

39 comments on “Level-Headedness on Iran

  1. Nell says:

    I believe that Iran wants nuclear weapons. They want them for the same reason as any other country in the world today: nuclear weapons are the only sure deterrent against a military strike by the United States.

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  2. richard power says:

    Of course, no sane person would want yet another state, particularly one under the control of religious extremists to gain nuclear weapons. But the consensus on this issue, however bi-partisan it is (and nothing with the current regime in Beltwayistan can be truly bi-partisan), lacks credibility in the light of our double standards toward Pakistan (which has nukes now, and sold the technology to North Korea, etc.) and Saudi Arabia (which funded the Sunni bomb, and intel sources say may have a few tucked away on its own soil). Both of these “allies” are compromised at every level by Al Qaeda and its sympathizers. How can we fight a war against terrorism ass backwards? How can we stop nuclear proliferation ass backwards? But then again the stated aims and world views of Bin-Laden/Zawahiri and Bush/Cheney are really the same — perennial war.

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  3. richard power says:

    Of course, no sane person would want yet another state, particularly one under the control of religious extremists to gain nuclear weapons. But the consensus on this issue, however bi-partisan it is (and nothing with the current regime in Beltwayistan can be truly bi-partisan), lacks credibility in the light of our double standards toward Pakistan (which has nukes now, and sold the technology to North Korea, etc.) and Saudi Arabia (which funded the Sunni bomb, and intel sources say may have a few tucked away on its own soil). Both of these “allies” are compromised at every level by Al Qaeda and its sympathizers. How can we fight a war against terrorism ass backwards? How can we stop nuclear proliferation ass backwards? But then again the stated aims and world views of Bin-Laden/Zawahiri and Bush/Cheney are really the same — perennial war.

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  4. Pissed Off American says:

    Sometimes it is fairly hard to separate Steve’s comments from the official script. At times, it is as though he has come full circle right back into these criminal’s laps. Arguing a false premise, (that Iran poses a nuclear threat, now or in the near future), one gets the idea that he is actually ADVANCING the arguments oozing out of the Oval Office.
    Gee Steve, what if “direct negotiations”, if attempted, “fail” in the same manner that the negotiations “failed” with Iraq???? Are you advocating trusting the Bush Administration to display the same level of “diplomacy” they used there??? Are you then going to advocate doing Israel’s bidding, sending OUR kids to die on IRANIAN sand, dying for a false justification to engage this nation in war??? Look, Steve, how many times to these criminal sons of bitches have to lie to us before you see the light and stop drooling this kind of BS??
    BTW, why SHOULD’NT Iran seek nuclear weapons, considering that these crazy fascist bastards in Washington have shown the world that we hold ourselves above international law, are willing to ignore MAD, are actively pursuing a greater nuclear arsenal, and believe we have the right, divinely inspired, to attack other nations pre-emptively??? Who’s the REAL terrorists here? The REAL threat to stability in the Middle East??? Iran? Ask a mother or two in Fallujah or Haditha if they agree. I doubt they’ll concur.

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  5. km4 says:

    RichF post at 05:49 PM is superb and best one on this thread. Well done !

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  6. RichF says:

    Re the above post. It pains me to baldly state my meaning, which can at least where I was raised, border on a disrespect of our host. Whom I do respect.
    Specifically, Steve’s commitment to civil exchange among folks of all stripes and persuasions is refreshing and invaluable.
    So I know you’re strong enough, Steve, to take the frank views as a sign of respect, as intended.
    That said, isn’t it true . . . that since the U.S. is the first country to really adopt “preemptive” war since you-know-who used it (Germany) in the 20th Century — isn’t it true that nuclear weapons are to Iran what the Maginot Line was to France?
    Isn’t it true that Iran’s policy is clearly designed around a justifiable self-defense, against an unstable and overtly hostile aggressor? One that has departed from the rule of law at home, and abroad? Isn’t that much true?
    Operating with the available facts is a small, meager expectation; it’s a low bar.
    To say Iran’s nucular aims are a matter of ego, or merely a means to safely project terrorism beyond its borders — malevolently — is to fail to avail oneself of the facts at hand.
    A little pragmatic American empathy is in order here. Put yourself in Iran’s shoes — you’d want nukes too. We’ve already had the babies-tossed-fron-incubators story: the phony claim that Iran decreed Jews shall wear yellow cloth, etc., has already been debunked. Let’s not add to the willful misrepresentation that state-sponsored terrorism is the root motivation for seeking nuclear weapons.
    There’s no doubt Iranians know how to play power politics. But THAT’s not the prime motivations here. Is it.
    To rebalance regional power — of course. Not that it would be brilliant for Iran to get sucked into Iraq. But it doesn’t matter if we’re talking longbows or trebuchets, if Pakistan and everyone else has got ’em, survival is the issue and everything else is secondary. Unlike Bush, Iran could honestly say their “first obligation is to protect the [Iranian] people.” Iran can say it faces a real threat. Unlike Bush.
    Bush has an overriding obligation to uphold the Constitution by living up to, enacting, and adhering to that Constitution — in the process of defending the country… from real threats.
    To fail to do that — is to claim that you had to destroy America in order to save America. “We had to bomb the village in order to save it.” It’s fundamentally less-than-stable reasoning. It puts the rash back in rationale. We had to make the American people afraid in order to win the “War” on Terror. Bush is merely maintaining the conditions that allow him to break the law and remain in power. You gotta have Orwellian thinkin to persuade yourself this makes any sense as compared to our Founding Fathers. NONE of THEM said to King George III ‘Protect me first and foremost against all risk and potential injury and death — here, quick! Take my rights as an English Citizen and lock ’em in the Tower of London! Eek!” King George V be forced to remember free men know the choice is “Give me Liberty or give me Death!”
    It may well be that Bush’s Big Stick of Apocolyptic Preemptive War is a functional threat, and only that. But that’s not what the available facts tell us. It may be that the heft of other nations and Bush’s empty military quiver forces him to a real Third Way solution. But it’ll come from other parties — not Bush. It’s just not what he wants.
    2008 . . . . and 32%
    What would Jesus do?
    What would Pat Robertson do?
    What would Thomas Paine do?

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  7. RichF says:

    Steve,
    (disclaimer: You’ve had some great posts over the past months. I noted you’d gotten some unfair & off-base criticism.) So:
    The reasons you state as motivating Iran’s desire to obtain nuclear weapons are incorrect.
    Or partly incorrect. Of course they want nukes to balance power in the Middle East — but in Southwest Asia as well (see end of comment).
    You are incorrect to say Iran wants nukes “because it perceives itself to be a great power” — for reasons of egoism. By some measures, Iran may already be a great power — who’s to say?
    Factually speaking, though, no nation can ward off illegitimate invasion by a nuclear power without the trump card of nuclear weapons. The Bush Loophole. “Great power” status, as you well know, is beside the point. As is any vanity of any kind.
    Factually speaking, Iran has EVERY reason to believe that Bush is capable of a “preemptive” invasion, without evidence, without provocation, without honesty — without reason — and without a formal Congressional Declaration of War. Without taking any heed of rational cost-benefit calculation. Without any legitimacy at all.
    Iraq PROVED that to Iran, right next door. They couldn’t miss it. Bush’s handling of Iraq proved that to YOU too, Steve.
    MOST IMPORTANT, Iran knows Bush WILL sabotage any “negotiations” in order to claim Iran is somehow not negotiating in good faith. To claim Iran is violating some inherently dubious (considering their ‘application’) rule.
    I FLATLY predict that when those negotiations do not produce Bush’s desired end-product, Bush will ensure the ‘negotiations’ fail, sabotaging talks while blaming it on Iran. Just as he did in the UN-Iraq process (– which was transparent as hell, btw — Bush telegraphed his punch).
    And the talks WILL fail. Because Bush’s end-product is nonnegotiable: by Condi Rice’s own words, Bush is literally demanding that Iran hand over their own sovereignty. Bush’s publicly stated position is literally that Iran will follow orders — or there will be consequences. If you find this analysis confusing, you need to re-check Bush Admin statements. Rice stated that if Iran does not knuckle under, other means would be used. Bush is not there to talk. We already know that Bush will not negotiate; he will ensure the talks fail. (Unless it’s a bluff — but that’s not consistent with past behavior patterns.)
    Why do I say “follow orders”? That’s Bush’s literal stance. These are JOHN BOLTON’s words, pre-Iraq invasion, screaming on national TV that Germany and France “should just shut up and follow orders!” I kid you not.
    And we all know the validity of preemptive war after Germany’s actions during the 20th century. As uncomfortable as you might be with that, there’s little difference in its use or results. Fruit of a poisoned tree. It’s why the Constitution demands a Congressional Declaration of War — not an after-the-Exec-Order check mark that inverts the process and the original intent.
    Steve, you are INCORRECT when you claim Iran wants nukes as a shield for projecting terrorism. Iran wants nukes as a shield to protect itself against illegitimate invasion by the U.S. & Bush. Iran wants nuclear weapons for self-defense.
    Second, an open fallacy here is that projecting terrorism somehow distinguishes Iran from other countries. You can argue all night and day about who spilled whose milk first — and impress no one. Nations use state-sponsored terrorism all the time: America’s own use of the Salvador option is but one of many policies and actions. Sy Hersh reported U.S. Seals and covert ops squads have been in Iran for many months conducting a variety of missions. Is that not provocation? Is that not terrorism. (The U.S. has already used the death squad option in El Salvador, Latin America, Vietnam, and Iraq.)
    Add to that U.S. behavior to & in Iraq, and Steve Clemons has only one real question to answer for his remaining career: Which is the real rogue state? Iran? Or the United States?
    Steve, I’ll match responsible centrist-moderate credentials with you any day. Iran is arming itself in in self-defense. That is their sovereign right.
    Bush may ultimately be pushed hard by China, Russia, etc., to another endpoint. But as much as I’ve admired your work, and your approach, Steve, your assertions about Iran’s motivation in seeking nukes are less than forthright. With all due respect, issues of sovereignty, law, and Bush’s track record outweigh this demonization of Iran as a malevolent force. Even you know that.
    [below is how we agree Iran’s seeking to restore balance of power]
    With a nuclear Pakistan to the east, a nuclear Israel to the west, Russia and the formerly Soviet “-Stans” collectively to the north, and the American nuclear-equipped navy offshore to the south…
    … who wouldn’t want to restore some semblance of equilibrium in the region? YOU would do that same thing, STeve, were you in Iran’s position. So would we all. The refusal to recognize that much is a refusal to live by quintessential American character or to uphold the rule of law. The betrayal has been of American political-legal contract/trust.
    On the basis of the raw facts alone, Iran has every reasonable and objective motivation for restoring that balance of power.

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  8. EasyE says:

    BLIX WARNS AGAINST REGIME CHANGE
    Herald Sun – 2 June 2006 http://www.heraldsun.news.com.au/common/story_page/0,5478,19337405%255E1702,00.html
    THE former chief UN weapons inspector in Iraq, Hans Blix, today warned against any military attempt at regime change to resolve the nuclear crises surrounding Iran and North Korea.
    Both countries figured prominently in a report from the Weapons of Mass Destruction Commission that Mr Blix presented to UN Secretary General Kofi Annan.
    The 14-member international commission – set up by Sweden in 2003 to probe ways of reducing the dangers from nuclear, biological and chemical weapons – argued that any negotiations with Iran and North Korea had to consider their security concerns.
    “In such states, incentives to acquire nuclear weapons may be reduced by offers of normal relations and assurances that military intervention or subversion aimed at regime change will not be undertaken,” the report said.
    In the case of Iran, Mr Blix, who chairs the commission, said it was also important to recognise the depth of national pride in nuclear accomplishment.
    “There is very much a question of prestige here … and I think that the other side negotiating with them would do well to take that into account, as well as issues of security,” he told reporters at the UN’s New York headquarters.
    The commission report generally decried the stagnation of global nuclear disarmament efforts and offered a list of 60 recommendations, topped by a call for all governments to accept the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) that was agreed 10 years ago.
    It also urged all nuclear states to reduce their arsenals and halt the production of plutonium and highly enriched uranium for nuclear weapons.
    And it firmly rejected the idea that nuclear weapons were only dangerous in the hands of rogue governments.
    “The commission does not accept that argument,” Mr Blix said.
    “These weapons are dangerous in anybody’s hands, although that doesn’t exclude that some could be more reckless than others.”
    In his preface to the report, Mr Blix urged Washington to take the initiative in bringing the CTBT into force and negotiating a treaty to halt fissile material production.
    “In both these areas, the US has the decisive leverage,” he said.
    “If it takes the lead, the world is likely to follow. If it does not take the lead, there could be more nuclear tests and new nuclear arms races.”
    The report was welcomed by several non-governmental organisations dealing with disarmament issues.
    John Burroughs, executive director of the New York-based Lawyers’ Committee on Nuclear Policy, welcomed the case made for a return to multilateralism in US policy on nuclear weapons.
    “The problems of existing arsenals, potential spread and potential acquisition by terrorists are all linked,” Mr Burroughs said. “The problems can be solved only by a comprehensive approach leading to elimination of all weapons.”

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  9. EasyE says:

    IRAN: A MANUFACTURED CRISIS
    By David Peterson
    June 1, 2006
    Is it within the right of the Security Council to impose demands upon UN member states that not only violate treaties and conventions, international law and World Court decisions”but also the UN Charter according to whose “functions and powers” the Security Council presumably acts?
    The answer, of course, is no. Nor is the question merely academic. Because at a meeting of six global powers scheduled to be held in Vienna perhaps as early as June 1, representatives of the five Permanent Members of the Council (Britain, China, France, the Russian Federation, and the United States) plus Germany very well could finalize an agreement on Iran’s nuclear program that makes UN Charter- and Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty-violating demands on Iran. Should this or any subsequent meeting among these powers produce a draft Security Council resolution that calls upon Iran to surrender its “inalienable right” under Article IV.1 of the NPT “to develop research, production and use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes without discriminati on” (1970),[1] along with enforceable, Chapter VII-type penalties in case Iran resists their orders, the UN Charter and the NPT will have been overthrown, and the current crisis greatly heightened”all in the name of maintaining “international peace and security.”
    The position of Tehran with respect to its nuclear program has been repeated almost daily since last August 1, when Tehran stated that “no incentive would be sufficient to compromise Iran’s inalienable right to all aspects of peaceful nuclear technology,” and informed the International Atomic Energy Agency that it had decided to resume uranium enrichment at Esfahan. “As this right is inalienable’,” Tehran explained, “it cannot be undermined or curtailed under any pretext. Any attempt to do so would be an attempt to undermine a pillar of the Treaty and indeed the Treaty itself.”[2] Then just days ago, Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki told a gathering of the 114-member Non-Aligned Movement in Malaysia that any agreement must “recognize the essential right of Iran to have nuclear technology.”[3] A final declaration adopted by the NAM on May 30 “reaffirmed” this right. And in the same spirit, added that “states’ choices and decisions in the field of peaceful uses of nuclear technology and its fuel cycle policies must be respected,” and that “any attack or threat of attack against peaceful nuclear facilitiesconstitutes a grave violation of international law.”[4]
    Washington’s position also has been expressed many times in recent months. Perhaps most forcefully by UN Ambassador John Bolton, who in early March asserted point-blank the American demand that “no enrichment in Iran is permissible.”[5]
    There is no doubting that as a signatory to the NPT, Iran enjoys the right to engage in every phase of the nuclear fuel cycle, including uranium enrichment of the kind it had been clandestinely researching for most of the past two decades, and reportedly accomplished in early April”the two conditions being that in concealing its activities, Iran was in breach of its Safeguards Agreement to the NPT,[6] and that such activity must be for peaceful purposes. When Iran’s President announced the “historic moment” during a nationally televised address on April 11, he was quite explicit about its civilian end-use: “[T]he nuclear fuel cycle has been completed at laboratory scale and uranium enrichment for nuclear power plants was achieved,” Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said.[7] Never once has the Islamic Republic of Iran (1979-) asserted an intent to develop or acquire nuclear weapons. In fact, Iran’s clerical leadership has consistently rejected nuclear weapons as contrary to Islamic custom and law. And Tehran long has advocated the creation of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East”yet another NPT-related goal (Article VII), reiterated by the Secretary-General of the League of Arab States while visiting Beijing on May 30.[8] What is more, not one of the IAEA’s 17 (or so) written reports to its Board of Governors has ever produced serious evidence to the contrary”not even the reports dated February 27 and April 28 of this year, the release of which has been accompanied by the referral of Iran’s nuclear dossier to the Security Council.[9] Indeed, for its strongest case today, the IAEA has adopted a Mad Hatter’s logic to the effect that it is unable to confirm the absence of undeclared nuclear material and activities inside Iran–a sop to every state that seeks to keep the issue of Iran’s nuclear program at the front and center of the global stage. To repeat the irresistible Rumsfeldian line from the Secretary of Defense’s days hawking the ballistic missile threat to the United States back in the 1990s: The absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. Therefore, Iran’s nuclear program poses a grave threat to international peace and security. Say no more.
    Similarly, there is no doubting that as a signatory to the NPT, Washington’s rejection of Iran’s “inalienable right” not only places Washington in violation of the treaty, but also in violation of its obligations as well. Article IV.2 of the NPT calls on parties to the treaty to share their material and technological expertise with non-nuclear weapons parties “with due consideration for the needs of the developing areas of the world””again, the one caveat being for peaceful purposes. But far more important to five of the six states now bartering over the fate of Iran’s nuclear program, Article VI imposes an obligation on nuclear weapons parti es “to pursue negotiations in good faith on effective measures relating to cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date and to nuclear disarmament, and on a treaty on general and complete disarmament under strict and effective international control.” To date, I am unaware of any serious effort on the part of Britain, France, Russia, China, and in particular the United States to uphold their Article VI obligations. Although it is unimaginable that these five states will ever find their nuclear dossiers hauled before the Security Council”the absolute vetoes they enjoy as Permanent Members of the Council be ing one of the major constitutional flaws of the international order[10]”who in all honesty believes that the fabled “international community” for which the Permanent Five serve as proxies is outraged over its failure to confirm the absence of undeclared nuclear material or activities inside Iran?
    At this stage in the dangerous and escalating, largely U.S.-manufactured, and wholly unnecessary “crisis” over Iran’s nuclear program, the question the world ought to ask is not whether Iran intends to develop nuclear weapons, and therefore poses a Chapter VII-type threat to international peace and security. Quite the contrary. The crucial question is whether the United States, as the most belligerent and serially aggressive power in the world today, will be able to use its considerable influence over the three peripheral belligerents (Britain, France, and Germany) to bribe and cajole both China and Russia into enforcing from the floor of the Security Council the NPT-violating principle that “no enrichment in Iran is permissible”?
    “They are trying to turn the denial of rights of developing states into an international standard,” in the words of Iran’s Foreign Minister before the Non-Aligned Movement in Malaysia. “Even more dangerous is their effort to turn nuclear disarmament, which has a serious priority for the international community and NAM, into a secondary issue.”[11]
    What responses Britain, France, Germany, and especially China and Russia summon will ultimately go a long way toward deciding whether the American crimes of Afghanistan and Iraq are extended to Iran.
    David Peterson is an independent researcher and writer in Chicago.
    Article from Counterpunch
    http://www.counterpunch.org/peterson06012006.html
    Notes
    1. Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (1970-),
    2. Note Verbal No. 350-1-17/928 (IAEA INFCIRC/648), August 1, 2005, pp. 4-5
    3. In Eileen Ng, “Iran’s FM plays down incentive plan for suspending uranium enrichment,” Associated Press, May 29.
    4. For these excerpts from the Putrajaya Declaration, see “Non-aligned nations back Iran’s nuclear program,” Japan Economic Newswire, May 30.
    5. In “No uranium enrichment permissible’ for Iran”US envoy,” Agence France Presse, March 6.
    6. For a summary of IAEA findings with respect to Iran’s clandestine work on the nuclear fuel cycle through October, 2003, see Implementation of the NPT Safeguards Agreement in the Islamic Republic of Iran (GOV/2005/67), pars. 4-8 and pars. 42-52, September 2, 2005.
    7. In Anton La Guardia, “Has Iran reached nuclear point of no return?” Daily Telegraph, April 12, 2006
    8. “Arab League chief calls for nuclear-free Middle East,” Xinhua, May 31, 2006.
    9. See Implementation of the NPT Safeguards Agreement in the Islamic Republic of Iran (GOV/2006/15), ; and Implementation of the NPT Safeguards Agreement in the Islamic Republic of Iran (GOV/2006/27).
    10. Significantly, none of the Security Council “reforms” proposed by the UN Secretary-General have gone so far as to eliminate the absolute veto of the Permanent Five members of the Security Council. See In Larger Freedom: Toward Security, Development, and Human Rights for All, March, 2005, pars. 251-258 . Also see David Peterson, “‘In Larger Freedom’ I,” ZNet, March, 2005.
    11. In P. Vijian, “IAEA Fails To Detect Misuse Of Nuclear Material, Says Iran,” Malaysian National News Agency, May 30

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  10. den valdron says:

    “exegesis” Wow, I’m going to have to look that up.
    You’re right, I don’t speak Farsi. English is often almost too much for me. On the other hand other people do speak Farsi, and there do seem to be some discrepancies towards how Ahminajad is translated, depending on the agenda of the translator.
    In point of fact, speaking English somewhat, I would have to point out that you yourself do seem to be confusing the issue somewhat. You conflate nuclear power with nuclear weapons,
    “leave no doubt of Iran’s ‘sovereign right’ to obtain nuclear technological capacity.”
    This indeed is the Iranian position, and they’ve never said anything else. On the other hand, they have always explicitly said they are not seeking nuclear weapons and have no discernible nuclear weapons program. You’re shading one into the other, reinforcing a fundamentally weak case by erasing a very real distinction.
    There is a legal and practical distinction between nuclear power and nuclear weapons. Generally speaking, there are many nations that employ or possess nuclear power or nuclear capacity. Very few of them go to nuclear weapons.
    “If, as I assert, the nuclear non-proliferation treaty permits peaceful and civilian use of nuclear power…”
    If I assert? God man, do your homework. Go google the treaty, it should be on the public record. There’s no uncertainty about it. The non-proliferation treaty is specifically concerned about the proliferation of nuclear weapons and attempts to draw rules for allowing peaceful civilian nuclear weapons.
    The whole point of the treaty is that countries which are signatory are specifically exchanging or abandoning nuclear weapons ambitions, in exchange for support and development of civilian and peaceful nuclear power. The idea is that if you sign the treaty and make those promises, you will have an easier time and more opportunities to develop civilian nuclear capacity because you’ve shown yourself to be … civilized.
    Do your homework. Did you think I was kidding when I said that?
    And for the record, many of the countries which are signatories to the treaty have nuclear programs. These signatories may well include Argentina, Brazil, Italy, etc.
    And while I appreciate your comment that perhaps the treaty should be revised to restrict nuclear power to ‘law abiding democracies’, I don’t think that’s realistic on any number of grounds… particularly the difficulty of defining ‘law abiding’ and ‘democracies’. It’s entirely possible that Iran might well qualify where the United States might not. Do you really want to open that can of worms?
    And you can’t just ‘make up’ International Laws and decide to enforce them in the way you think they should read. That’s not law at all, that’s just the same old ‘might makes right’ nonsense.
    You are correct in a limited sense that at some points there was a resistance to international inspections. But this issue is resolved, everyone is playing nice. So…. So what? Dead letter. Ancient history. Not relevant.
    And lets see, hunting through your letter. I assert that Iran has no connection to Al Quaeda. And you contradict this by asserting that there is a connection, and that Iran imprisons Al Quaeda members, executes them, hates them, etc., and that the feeling is mutual? That’s your connection? Whatever dude, whatever.
    And I notice that you go out of your way to misrepresent my position. You seem to be asserting that I am okay with an Iran armed with nuclear weapons. By making this assertion and mischaracterizing my position, you seek to put me in an untenable position, arguing for nuclear armed mullahs. Sorry, no dice.
    My position is very simple. There is no credible evidence that Iran is pursuing nuclear weapons. Period. That the evidence is that Iran’s activities in pursuing nuclear power is both civilian and lawful.
    Let me elaborate on my position. The best estimates are that Iran is as much as 10 years away from a nuclear weapon, were it actually pursuing one. Wild and wooly estimates may place it as soon as two years. No estimates suggest any immediacy. Even were Iran to acquire a nuclear weapon, a single one without delivery systems would do them no good. So you would need at least five years to develop both a credible minimal stockpile and adapt viable delivery systems. The ‘threat’ such as it is, if 7 to 15 years off. The immediacy of the threat is nothing but hysteria and anyone who looks knows this.
    It is unlikely that Ahminajad will remain in place for such a long period. Indeed, given Iran’s constitutional frameworkd, it is impossible. There is ample opportunity to control the potential problem through a wide range of diplomatic and economic initiatives.
    So the discussion is not in any realistic or credible way about nuclear mullahs posing a threat to the world.
    Now go forth and sin no more.

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  11. Roberto Eder says:

    Hi Steve,
    I also disagree with one of your enumerations of motives of Iran in pursuing nuclear technology. You say that Iran is a sponsor of “terrorism.” Where is the evidence? For that matter, there is evidence that the United States is an enemy of democracy. It fomented the coup that overthrew the democratically elected Mossadegh in Iran some fifty years ago. It fomented the coup in Chile that overthrew Allende. It is bellicose towards the democratically elected leaders of Venezuela and Bolivia. And so on ad nauseam. The government of the United States is the danger to world peace, not the solution. And when Bush & Co. say that Iran is a sponsor of world terrorism, we should not put up with it without evidence. Sorry to lump you with that ilk (Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rice) but please produce the evidence.
    Roberto in Utah

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  12. steve duncan says:

    “Assuming your assertion is correct, however, the treaty should be revised to permit only law-abiding democracies to have such access to nuclear technology.”
    Posted by PUBLIUS at June 2, 2006 02:13 PM
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    Well, I guess that means the U.S. has to start dismantling its nuclear programs……..

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  13. PUBLIUS says:

    Den Valdron’s paraphrases:
    3) “would likely lead to”
    4) An Iranian bomb in the hands of a totalitarian religious fundamentalist government would be PERILOUS – not “bad”.
    5) Military action has not been advised. Forceful and competent diplomacy has. We have no reason to have confidence in the current management team’s skill in international relations, hence the importance of the November elections. Read the article by Sorensen. Do your homework.

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  14. Carroll says:

    Well of course Steve…….
    “But one thing for those — like me — who have been calling for direct negotiations to remember is that Iran does want nuclear weapons. They want them to balance power in the Middle East with Israel and to fill a security void left by the collapse of Iraq and the perceived weakness of the United States. Iran also wants the nukes because it perceives it to be a great power — and all great powers either have nukes or have the ability to create them, as the case in Japan.”
    …..and what is wrong with Iran wanting nukes? It is sitting there with Israel,the most bellicose state in the region, who has nuclear warheads and who has been calling for the destruction of Iran for decades. So?
    And please remember that the entire ME adventure has NOTHING to do with SECURITY for the US, NOTHING to do with SPREADING DEMOCRACY, NOTHING to do with “BALANCING” POWER….it is about ISRAEL AND THE US BEING THE “SOLE” POWER, MILITARY AND ECONOMIC,IN THE ME.
    Uncle Sugar Daddy Don is clearing out the other gangs and seizing a new “bizness” for his favorite Israeli nephew.

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  15. PUBLIUS says:

    Response to Den Valdron:
    Point taken on mischaracterizing Steve’s findings on Iran’s intentions. I did not have time to perform an exegesis of his analysis and deliberately left room for flexible interpretation. Steve does say Iran “wants” nuclear weapons. I do not read or speak Farsi and suspect you do not. Several published statements translated into English by Ahmadinejad disclose refusal to foreclose the possibility of acquiring nuclear weapons, conflate the greatness of the Iranian nation with possession of nuclear weapons and leave no doubt of Iran’s “sovereign right” to obtain nuclear technological capacity. Nuclear power is like fire. Once you have it, you have it.
    If, as you assert, the nuclear non-proliferation treaty permits civilian and peaceful use and development of nuclear energy, it would be helpful for you to provide evidence validating this assertion. It is odd that nations such as Argentina, Brazil, India, Pakistan, Austria, Italy and so many others have not availed themselves of this ostensibly universal privilege. Assuming your assertion is correct, however, the treaty should be revised to permit only law-abiding democracies to have such access to nuclear technology. That is where the relevance of public international law is crucial. Moreover, the IAEA has encountered severe difficulty in ITS legally conferred right to inspect Iran’s nuclear facilities, so there you have unambiguous violation of Iran’s legal obligations in this matter. Hence, the support of the European powers at this stage in confronting Iran. Yes, treaties are indeed law whether you consider that trite or not.
    Ahmadinejad explicitly condemns liberal democracy in his letter to President Bush. Islamic totalitarians do not believe in individual freedom. Do your homework. Read Usama bin Laden’s fatwa at the link provided. Notice that it is addressed to “all Muslims”, not Shia Muslims, not Sunni Muslims – “all Muslims.” Your comfort in the benevelence of an Iran sporting nuclear arms is misplaced.
    An analyst of the Iran situation recently commented on the BBC – among other points – that an attack on Iran would consolidate alliances that would surmount whatever tensions currently exist between Al Qaeda and the Iranian regime.
    You assert Iran has no connection to Al Qaeda. Usama bin Laden disagrees. Read his fatwa again. Carefully. One of UBL’s sons has reportedly been imprisoned or taken refuge in Iran.
    You confidently look into your crystal ball and find that an Iran ruled by totalitarian religious fundamentalists and who have called for “wiping Israel off the pages of time” would be a peacable nation with the possession of nuclear weaponry. (Whatever one’s view of the influence of Israel in American foreign policy formulation, any attack on Israel by Iran would with certainty require and result in American involvement.) Realists do not share your sanguine findings in that crystal ball – peacable impoverished, third world historical conduct by Iran or not.
    A world with numerous nuclear military powers is a more dangerous world with heightened risk. Everyone can agree with that. A world with more numerous nuclear military powers ruled by religious fundamentalists and totalitarians is vastly more dangerous. All realists can agree on that. Ergo, an Iran in possession of nuclear arms is in no way in the interest of world peace and security or in America’s interests.

    Reply

  16. steve duncan says:

    Using nuclear weapons would result in more nations pursuing same. Should Bush venture militarily into Iran I fear there would be a terrible price to be paid.
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    Of all the enemies to public liberty, war is perhaps the most to be dreaded because it comprises and develops the germ of every other.
    – James Madison
    No nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare.
    – James Madison
    If Tyranny and Oppression come to this land, it will be in the guise of fighting a foreign enemy.
    – James Madison
    All men having power ought to be mistrusted.
    – James Madison

    Reply

  17. Den Valdron says:

    Publius acknowledges that all that stuff about Iraqi wmd’s was just a pack of stinking lies. But this time, ignore the smell, they’re telling the truth. Yes they are. And the check is in the mail. And he won’t come in your mouth.

    Reply

  18. Den Valdron says:

    PUBLIUS position, if I may paraphrase is:
    1) The absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.
    2) Ahminajad has announced that Iran intends to pursue a civilian nuclear program.
    3) A civilian nuclear program might lead to a military nuclear program.
    4) An Iranian bomb would be bad.
    5) Gotta nuke em all right NOW!
    6) Donald Rumsfeld is a pretty smart guy when the heroin kicks in.

    Reply

  19. PUBLIUS says:

    EasyE:
    No. The non-existence of WMD in Iraq was a known known in March 2003, contrary to what the Bush administration and their friends in the Establshment Media led the American public to believe. Anyone interested in the facts may wish to start doing some research of the international press, BBC first and foremost, others if you have fluency in languages. The yellowcake story was fraudulent on its face, and one would be hard pressed to find sources outside the United States who took it seriously. We are living in a fictional reality under this administration and with the quality of “news” product being transmitted on the televised airwaves. Yet more reason for progressives to monitor the work of the FCC. Contact the Columbia Journalism Review here http://www.cjrdaily.org/ if you would like them to dissect the quality of journalistic examination of facts concerning Iranian problem facing the nation. They have done excellent work in the past but may need prodding to focus attention on this subject. Same for Media Matters: http://mediamatters.org/

    Reply

  20. Den Valdron says:

    Publius writes:
    “Steve is correct to point out the POSSIBILITY that Iran MAY WELL BE seeking to obtain nuclear weaponry, and that IF TRUE…”
    So, what we have here is a series of compound maybes. There is a possibility that something might be happening, maybe, potentially, hypothetically, whatever…
    Besides which, it misinterprets Steve, because he’s clearly saying Iran “does want” and is on a “current course” apparently seeking nuclear weapons. Publius, acknowledging that Steve is pulling it out of his ass, offers up a diligent series of maybe and hypotheticals. But where do these possibilities lead…
    “CANNOT be tolerated… WOULD KILL any liberals”
    Notice how the certainties have changed? We go from positing a possibility, to the dead certain outcome of that possibility. It’s a cute way of short circuiting the analytical process. Pose a hypothetical, and then go straight to a committed outcome.
    I love this part:
    “It is fairly reasonable to say that Iran is in violation of their obligations under relevant nuclear non-proliferation treaties.”
    NO NO NO! Iran is a signatory to the non-proliferation treaty. The treaty allows for civilian and peaceful use and development of nuclear energy *including* the development of fuel enrichment programs. IRAN IS WELL WITHIN THE LEGAL PARAMETERS OF THE TREATY, AND THERE HAS BEEN NO SERIOUS PROVEABLE ALLEGATIONS OR EVIDENCE OF BREACH. WHAT THEY ARE CURRENTLY DOING, THEY ARE ENTITLED TO DO AND HAVE EVERY LEGAL RIGHT TO DO.
    The issue is not that they are violating any treaty. Rather, the issue for the United States is that it opposes fuel enrichment because of the potential for this civilian/peaceful application to be turned to military purposes. It’s one of those dual use things.
    Go out and do your fucking homework.
    “Treaties are law.”
    Trite.
    “Therefore there has been a violation of public international law.”
    A lie married to a trite proposition gives birth to a trite lie. I’m thoroughly unimpressed.
    “Today’s Iran is a real potential threat to the world…”
    Mmm hmmm. And how many countries has Iran invaded or attacked since, oh, say 1979? Answer: Zero. Their one war was a war of self defense. They have no connection to Al Quaeda. They support the Palestinians in Israel’s occupied territories, they support Hezbollah in Lebanon, and they supported oppressed Shiite minorities outside their borders.
    The ‘threat to the world’ remark should either be supported or should be dismissed outright as hysteria.
    How many countries has the US attacked directly or indirectly since 1979. Hmmmm… Iran (failed rescue, 1979), Russian occupied Afghanistan (the Mujahedin jihad), Iran again (supporting and encouraging Iraq’s invasion) Nicaragua (Contra war, 1980-1989), Honduras (1980-1989, violent internal purging), Guatemala (1980-1989, supported genocide against Indians), El Salvador (1980-1989, civil war), Grenada (1980’s), Libya (fighter jet incidents, air strikes and attempted assassination of Quadaffi) Lebanon (An Israel supporting operation under the guise of peacekeeping, followed by reprisals against civilian villages after the marines bombing), Panama (1990, Invasion), the Gulf War (1992), Kosovo (military intervention), Somalia (peacekeeping mission gone cowboy), Sudan (air strike), Afghanistan (air strike), Afghanistan (invasion), Iraq (invasion), Yemen (selected assassination with predator drone), Pakistan (border incidents), Venezuala (coup attempt), Haiti (regime change), Syria (stated policy of regime change, support for Israel air raids), Iran (stated policy of regime change). Are you seeing a pattern here?
    But the issue isn’t whether the US likes to throw its weight around, or bomb other countries or overthrow their governments or maintain corrupt governments against their own people.
    The issue is Iran. What have they done lately to anyone. There’s just not much there. Certainly there isn’t much to support “threat to the world.”
    So justify the comment, or withdraw it.
    “The Bush administration has destroyed American credibility in the eyes of our allies and enemies…”
    Sad to say, but the Bush administration still maintains credibility with gullible Americans. There’s a reason the rest of the world doesn’t believe your country. Your government lied, your government lied a lot, and on this one, your government is continuing to lie.
    And the hell of it is, they aren’t even very good lies.
    They are crap lies. They’re shit lies. They’re transparently bulbous, obviously stinking, patently foolish and unsupported lies. They’re obvious lies.
    This is not tolerable. I insist you go out and believe in better lies.

    Reply

  21. EasyE says:

    Does that mean accusations of Iraqi WMD and pursuit of yellowcake in Niger were “unknown unknowns”?

    Reply

  22. PUBLIUS says:

    RUMSFELD’S TRUTH
    The absence of cystalline proof that Iran is developing nuclear technological capacity is no proof of its non-existence. However, heads of state are generally to be taken at their word, and Ahmadinejad has publicly stated his desire for Iran to become a nuclear power. Civilian nuclear capability can easily be converted over time into military nuclear capability. No sane person one wants an Iran ruled by mullahs to have nuclear weapons or capability.
    Here is a rare wise statement by Donald Rumsfeld:
    “Reports that say that something hasn’t happened are always interesting to me, because as we know, there are known knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns – the ones we don’t know we don’t know.”
    – Donald Rumsfeld
    Department of Defense news briefing, February 12, 2002

    Reply

  23. EasyE says:

    It’s time to question how “LEVEL-HEADED” (???) sources of these assertions really are. Appears more like ulterior motives working us toward conflict.

    Reply

  24. PUBLIUS says:

    Steve is correct to point out the possibility that Iran may well indeed be seeking to obtain nuclear weaponry and that this – if true – cannot be tolerated by the world community or by the United States. Islamic totalitarians with nuclear weapons would kill any liberals opposed to their murderous plans.
    Amplifying the earlier response to Steve Duncan’s question regarding the legality or illegality of Iran’s actions, it is fairly reasonable to say that Iran is in violation of their obligations under relevant nuclear non-proliferation treaties. Treaties are law. There has therefore been a violation of public international law. The media (televised especially) – due to ineptitude or sycophancy – and the administration out of disdain for public international law choose not to speak of this aspect of the overall problem for the reasons explained yesterday.
    The sad reality is that a coalition of democracies probably should be organized to thwart or destroy Iran’s nuclear development efforts. Iran is not India (the world’s largest and very pluralistic democracy). Today’s Iran is a real potential threat to the world. Iraq has not been since 1992. The Bush administration has destroyed American credibility in the eyes of our allies and our enemies. Iran looks at the disaster in Iraq and smirks with confidence that the U.S. would never dare attempt what it attempted there, even though any attempt at regime change in the Middle East should have started with Iran if ever endeavored.
    Here’s what a former advisor to John F. Kennedy on the Cuban Missile Crisis has to say on this:
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/theodore-c-sorensen-and-adam-frankel/bush-and-iran-lessons-fr_b_22042.html
    Sorensen uses the same JFK quotation on the value of forceful diplomacy cited in the strategic report published on March 20th.
    All of this may be irrelevant. Negroponte was interviewed this morning on the BBC and made it abundantly clear that military action is on the table. Reports are circulating that the treaty- required reductions in US/Russian strategic weapons has resulted in conversion of strategic nuclear weapons into tactical nuclear weapons. If there is an attack this fall against Iran, by all accounts, tactical nuclear weapons will be necessary. Others have commented ably on the superb logic of the timing of such an intervention and the short-term benefits to the Bush administration that would flow from such an action.

    Reply

  25. km4 says:

    Once again, if Bushco attacks Iran I wouldn’t be suprised if Russia and China counter with military assistance but more importantly financial options in the case of China ( with a very high probabilty that will inflict major damage to US economy like with higher interest rates ) because the stakes and vested interests are just that enormous.

    Reply

  26. Den Valdron says:

    I think, Steve, that you overstep yourself with your assertion of the Iranians motivations.
    The reality is that there is no evidence whatsoever that the Iranians actually have a nuclear weapons program of any sort. *No Evidence Whatsoever.*
    The reality is that the enrichment activities complained of are *absolutely legal* under the UN and under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation treaty.
    The reality is that the Mullahs have issued a Fatwa *against* nuclear weapons calling them anti-islamic. Perhaps this is just politics and posturing, but the Iranians take their religion seriously, and a major reversal of a religious position which purports to be the unchangeable will of Allah would be extremely problematic.
    In short, I see little to no support for you assertion of Iran’s motivations and agendas. Or at least, not from the actual Iranians words and actions.
    It strikes me that your assertions come from two sources. “Common sense” in that this just makes so much sense to believe, that well golly, it must be true. That worked really well for Iraq’s wmd’s.
    Alternately, you are receiving your information on Iran and its motivations, not from objective sources, but from Washington insiders with definite agendas regarding Iran, and that you are deliberately or inadvertently perpetuating that agenda.

    Reply

  27. sdemetri says:

    Interesting post on this link mentioned by segfault:
    http://www.armscontrolwonk.com/1083
    /irans-march-2003-offer
    “Iran’s plans to enrich uranium involved no subterfuge until the US prevented it. In fact IAEA inspectors visited Iran’s uranium mines in 1992, and the discovery of uranium was openly announced in 1982, and in 1983 the US prevented the IAEA from entering into technical cooperations with Iran to develop the fuel cycle. That’s when Iran started going underground. So, if anyone has violated the NPT, it is the US. And while Iran was forced to resort to subterfuge to obtain centrifuge parts which resulted in breaches of their safeguards agreements (not the same as NPT violations) the IAEA determined that none of the undeclared activity was related to a weapons program. Finally, note that several other countries have been caught conducting secret nuclear experiments—S. Korea, Egypt among them—and yet no one is claiming that they magically lost their rights under the NPT. The IAEA and the NPT have remedying mechanisms, and Iran has abided by them according to the IAEA. Iran has even exceeded its NPT obligations in many instances. However, nothing in the NPT or the IAEA Charter or Statutes permit the US/EU to deprive other NPT signatories of their rights. And in fact the Iranians have specifically offered to allow more stringent inspections of their enrichment plants despite your statement. And as for the economics, the Stanford Research Institute advised the Shah that Iran had to diversify its energy resources in the 1970s, and nothing has changed since then except that Iran’s oil has been depleted even more whilst Iran’s population has tripled, making diversification even more necessary.
    Finally, take a look at http://iranaffairs.typepad.com and see how Iran’s nuclear program started under the Shah, with the support and participation of the same countries that now object to it.”
    Very curious about this question of where all parties stand with regard to international law.

    Reply

  28. EasyE says:

    Appears that TWN is in GWB/Neocon camp with regard to Iran situation. There are plenty of credible sources that contradict the “Iran wants nuclear weapons” notion. This arrogant and imperialistic mindset got us into Iraq and will no doubt get us into Iran. U.S. should be prepared to negotiate without pre-conditions. On the issue of “punishments”, let’s be consistent on our policy and hold others up to the same standards—Pakistan, India, Israel.

    Reply

  29. erichwwk says:

    segfault writes:
    “But one thing for those — like me — who have been calling for direct negotiations to remember is that Iran does want nuclear weapons. They want them to balance power in the Middle East with Israel and to fill a security void left by the collapse of Iraq and the perceived weakness of the United States. Iran also wants the nukes because it perceives it to be a great power — and all great powers either have nukes or have the ability to create them, as the case in Japan.
    Iran also thinks that nukes will provided itself a “shield” to protect itself while it still supports extra-territorial terrorism through various other sponsored outfits in other countries.
    I would love to know how you can be so sure about such details of the intentions of the Iranian leaders.”
    I too would like Steve to share these details. I personally find this reasoning preposterous, and all too reminiscient of the Iraq “intelligence”.
    Reminds me of the 4WD classification. One group sees 4WD as a means to get out of trouble; the other as a means to get into trouble.
    What group does Steve C. believe best represents the CIA, NSA, and the US military in general?
    *************************************************
    “Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities” — Voltaire
    “Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, signifies in the final sense a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed.”– President Dwight D. Eisenhower, April 16, 1953.
    “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.” – Albert Einstein

    Reply

  30. chophouse says:

    Like Steve Duncan, I’ve been curious as well as to why this is never discussed. Yesterday on NPR I heard that Iran ‘claims’ it has the right to enrichment. However in true he said-she said fashion that passes as reporting these days, that was it. No explanation of the ‘claim’, no mention of the U.S. reasoning why this isn’t so.
    The only argument I’ve seen addressing this was a NYT article by David Sanger (reprinted in the Denver Post yesterday) that says, “The United States insists that Iran gave up that right by deceiving inspectors for 18 years”.
    So that frames the issue. How about some reasoned argument around the US claim that it was a right, but has now been forfeited?

    Reply

  31. steve duncan says:

    I’ll risk getting tagged as redundant here and repeat a plea for Steve c. or anyone else to respond to this previous thread’s query:
    I see very little discussion of whether what Iran is doing in their nuclear programs is in fact illegal or in direct violation of any treaties or other international agreements. I don’t hear Bush or Rice or anyone else ever cite specific violations of specific international laws when denouncing Iran’s nuclear work. Steve, can you clear this up a bit?

    Reply

  32. Will Stein says:

    Iran’s demand that we “respect our right” to have a ‘peaceful’nuclear energy program probably seems as sensible to them as America’s insistance on protecting our access to the world’s oil at any cost.

    Reply

  33. Hoplite says:

    Level-headedness on Iran?
    With Al Dawa and the Supreme Council of the Islamic Revolution of Iraq (two Iranian based fundamentalist Shiite factions) holding the reins of power in Iraq are you sure that is the actually case?
    Members of the Iraq govt are speaking out against the US.
    Members of the Iraq govt are speaking in defense of Iran.
    What leverage has the US attained thru Iraq?
    US is trying to put a good face on the greatest loss in its military history.

    Reply

  34. segfault says:

    Sorry, Fixed link: I don’t know the book but it is pretty much the standard view

    Reply

  35. segfault says:

    I have read that Iraq actually did not start a nuclear weapons program until AFTER the bombing of the Osirak reactor. This is the thesis of a new book—-unfortunately I do not recall the title. I’m sure another reader can help me out.
    I don’t know the book but it is pretty much the standard view, so I guess most books but the neocon ones will do. (“The bomb in my garden” is a book that may make this point)
    Between the inspectors spending years on top of these weapons (Literally, in bulldozers to be precise), the extensive involvement of known western suppliers and the wide international attention, there can’t be that many secrets left of Iraqi weapons programs.
    But one thing for those — like me — who have been calling for direct negotiations to remember is that Iran does want nuclear weapons. They want them to balance power in the Middle East with Israel and to fill a security void left by the collapse of Iraq and the perceived weakness of the United States. Iran also wants the nukes because it perceives it to be a great power — and all great powers either have nukes or have the ability to create them, as the case in Japan.
    Iran also thinks that nukes will provided itself a “shield” to protect itself while it still supports extra-territorial terrorism through various other sponsored outfits in other countries.
    I would love to know how you can be so sure about such details of the intentions of the Iranian leaders. Especially while the rest of us a trying hard to make sense of a Pakistani military higher up statement on the one hand and a fatwa on the other. I don’t even know for certain the leaders want nukes (Yes, I to have an idea… thats besides the point), and here you know why they want them?
    You must have some great sources…
    I am not kidding, you better have great sources because there must be plenty of Iranian Chalabi`s among the many Iranian O`reilly` s
    Like I have suspicions about the mullahs I suspect Liz and other Cheney`s want to add Iran to the list of Georgia, Ukraine, Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon, Belarus (postponed after Russian gas games), an Syria (work in progress).
    Just think about how many people you need for all those weird mistranslations (everyone:regime change -> wipe of map, cnn:right to a nuclear energy -> right to nuclear weapons (I kid you not!)), the cockroach cartoons in state run papers and the many stories in the western press about how minorities are suddenly under more (always nazi like) pressure than before….
    There must be a lot of Iranian Chalabi`s out there in the US. We know the US military hangs out with all the wrong people inside Iran. And so does Liz Cheney, though not inside Iran.
    This is the thing Rice should worry about. She can never convince the Cheney`s. And she cant stop them from doing whatever it is they are doing. Rice may not know what is going on, until the Iranians tell her, or she reads it in the paper.
    Oh, and for there to be any deal the Iranian expect this stuff to stop (Note the order of Irans aim and the order of internal and external relations, I wonder if the mullahs care more about holding on to Iran than they do about Israel)
    But hey, speculation is easy. I do know the Iranian leadership really wants an independent nuclear energy program, thats all I know for sure. http://iranaffairs.typepad.com/iran_affairs/2006/05/blasts_from_the.html

    Reply

  36. crazed says:

    If the United States were to study the matter carefully, honestly, and openly, looking far enough into the future to recongnize long-term consequences, it might conclude that nuclear weapons as well as civilian and military nuclear power are too dangerous and poisonous to use.
    Imagine what consistent domestic and foreign policies would look like if we determined that we and the world need to put down the warheads and step away from the reactors before someone else gets hurt.

    Reply

  37. John Wilson says:

    In Vancouver will you have time to be
    ‘coffee – able?’
    Gor a place where a small crowd gan gather?

    Reply

  38. Jerome Gaskins says:

    I feel you, and GWB’s crew, are wrong about Iran backing away from pursuing civilian nuclear technology. The US has no right to demand that any country accept our judgement that they do not deserve its benefits, and I sincerely hope and pray that Iran continues pressing its rights under the NPT treaty.
    Yes, we will look foolish for losing this “battle”, but it’s only a battle to those who cannot accept that they do not have dominion over the world.

    Reply

  39. marky says:

    Actually, Iran may only need ambiguity about having nuclear weapons. One or two weapons give them no military strength relative to Israel or the US, but if Iran is thought to have such weapons, an invasion may be deemed to risky.
    I have read that Iraq actually did not start a nuclear weapons program until AFTER the bombing of the Osirak reactor. This is the thesis of a new book—-unfortunately I do not recall the title. I’m sure another reader can help me out.

    Reply

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