Archive for September, 2009

Former congressman says getting evenhanded legislation past the Israel lobby was like ‘pulling teeth from a rhinocerous without anesthesia’

Former congressman says getting evenhanded legislation past the Israel lobby was like ‘pulling teeth from a rhinocerous without anesthesia’

http://mondoweiss.net/2009/04/former-congressman-says-getting-evenhanded-legislation-past-the-israel-lobby-was-like-pulling-teeth.html

Another War (for Israel) in the Works

Another War  in the Works

http://original.antiwar.com/roberts/2009/09/28/another-war-in-the-works/

Does anyone remember all the lies that they were told by then-president Bush and the “mainstream media” about the grave threat to America from weapons of mass destruction in Iraq? These lies were repeated endlessly in the print and TV media despite the reports from the weapons inspectors, who had been sent to Iraq, that no such weapons existed.

The weapons inspectors did an honest job in Iraq and told the truth, but the mainstream media did not emphasize their findings. Instead, the media served as a Ministry of Propaganda, beating the war drums for the U.S. government.

Now the whole process is repeating itself. This time the target is Iran.

As there is no real case against Iran, Obama took a script from Bush’s playbook and fabricated one.

First the facts: As a signatory to the Non-Proliferation Treaty, Iran’s nuclear facilities are open to inspection by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which carefully monitors Iran’s nuclear energy program to make certain that no material is diverted to nuclear weapons.

The IAEA has monitored Iran’s nuclear energy program and has announced repeatedly that it has found no diversion of nuclear material to a weapons program. All 16 U.S. intelligence agencies have affirmed and reaffirmed that Iran abandoned interest in nuclear weapons years ago.

In keeping with the safeguards agreement that the IAEA be informed before an enrichment facility comes online, Iran informed the IAEA on Sept. 21 that it had a new nuclear facility under construction. By informing the IAEA, Iran fulfilled its obligations under the safeguards agreement. The IAEA will inspect the facility and monitor the nuclear material produced to make sure it is not diverted to a weapons program.

Despite these unequivocal facts, Obama announced on Sept. 25 that Iran has been caught with a “secret nuclear facility” with which to produce a bomb that would threaten the world.

The Obama regime’s claim that Iran is not in compliance with the safeguards agreement is disinformation. Between the end of 2004 and early 2007, Iran voluntarily complied with an additional protocol (Code 3.1) that was never ratified and never became a legal part of the safeguards agreement. The additional protocol would have required Iran to notify the IAEA prior to beginning construction of a new facility, whereas the safeguards agreement in force requires notification prior to completion of a new facility. Iran ceased its voluntary compliance with the unratified additional protocol in March 2007, most likely because of the American and Israeli misrepresentations of Iran’s existing facilities and military threats against them.

By accusing Iran of having a secret “nuclear weapons program” and demanding that Iran “come clean” about the nonexistent program, adding that he does not rule out a military attack on Iran, Obama mimics the discredited Bush regime’s use of nonexistent Iraqi “weapons of mass destruction” to set up Iraq for invasion.

The U.S. media, even the “liberal” National Public Radio, quickly fell in with the Obama lie machine. Steven Thomma of the McClatchy Newspapers declared the non-operational facility under construction, which Iran reported to the IAEA, to be “a secret nuclear facility.”

Thomma, reported incorrectly that the world didn’t learn of Iran’s “secret” facility, the one that Iran reported to the IAEA the previous Monday, until Obama announced it in a joint appearance in Pittsburgh the following Friday with British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and French President Nicolas Sarkozy.

Obviously, Thomma has no command over the facts, a routine inadequacy of “mainstream media” reporters. The new facility was revealed when Iran voluntarily reported the facility to the IAEA on Sept. 21.

Ali Akbar Dareini, an Associated Press writer, reported, incorrectly, over AP: “The presence of a second uranium-enrichment site that could potentially produce material for a nuclear weapon has provided one of the strongest indications yet that Iran has something to hide.”

Dareini went on to write that “the existence of the secret site was first revealed by Western intelligence officials and diplomats on Friday.” Dareini is mistaken. We learned of the facility when the IAEA announced that Iran had reported the facility the previous Monday in keeping with the safeguards agreement.

Dareini’s untruthful report of “a secret underground uranium enrichment facility whose existence has been hidden from international inspectors for years” helped to heighten the orchestrated alarm.

There you have it. The president of the United States and his European puppets are doing what they do best – lying through their teeth. The U.S. “mainstream media” repeats the lies as if they were facts. The U.S. “media” is again making itself an accomplice to wars based on fabrications. Apparently, the media’s main interest is to please the U.S. government and hopefully obtain a taxpayer bailout of its failing print operations.

Dr. Mohamed ElBaradei, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, a rare man of principle who has not sold his integrity to the U.S. and Israeli governments, refuted in his report (Sept. 7, 2009) the baseless “accusations that information has been withheld from the Board of Governors about Iran’s nuclear program. I am dismayed by the allegations of some Member states, which have been fed to the media, that information has been withheld from the Board. These allegations are politically motivated and totally baseless. Such attempts to influence the work of the Secretariat and undermine its independence and objectivity are in violation of Article VII.F. of the IAEA Statute and should cease forthwith.”

As there is no legal basis for action against Iran, the Obama regime is creating another hoax, like the nonexistent “Iraqi weapons of mass destruction.” The hoax is that a facility, reported to the IAEA by Iran, is a secret facility for making nuclear weapons.

Just as the factual reports from the weapons inspectors in Iraq were ignored by the Bush regime, the factual reports from the IAEA are ignored by the Obama regime. Like the Bush regime, the Middle East policy of the Obama regime is based in lies and deception.

Who is the worse enemy of the American people, Iran or the government in Washington and the media whores who serve it?

Read more by Paul Craig Roberts

Article printed from Antiwar.com Original: http://original.antiwar.com

URL to article: http://original.antiwar.com/roberts/2009/09/28/another-war-in-the-works/

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WMD All Over Again:

http://original.antiwar.com/giraldi/2009/09/30/wmd-all-over-again/

U.S. Is Seeking a Range of Sanctions Against Iran (courtesy of AIPAC on behalf of Israel)

http://america-hijacked.com/2009/09/28/u-s-is-seeking-a-range-of-sanctions-against-iran-courtesy-of-aipac-on-behalf-of-israel/

Grossman Confirmed as FBI Target in Espionage Investigations

Grossman Confirmed as FBI Target in Espionage Investigations
 
 
FBI Whistleblower says Neocons Negotiated Iraq Invasion with Foreign Agents in Summer 2001:

http://america-hijacked.com/2009/09/25/fbi-whistleblower-says-neocons-negotiated-iraq-invasion-with-foreign-agents-in-summer-2001/

Wolfowitz: Confront Tehran now in pursuit of a nuclear-free world

Of course the AEI/PNAC (Israel first) Neocon Wolfowitz wants a confrontation with Iran (read Dr. Stephen Sneigoski’s ‘The Transparent Cabal’ book for more about his nefarious war for Israel agenda which already has 5,000 Americans dead in Iraq with thousands more maimed/wounded):

Confront Tehran now in pursuit of a nuclear-free world

By Paul Wolfowitz

http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/d75d1d86-ab91-11de-9be4-00144feabdc0,dwp_uuid=be75219e-940a-11da-82ea-0000779e2340.html?nclick_check=1

Published: September 27 2009 23:16 | Last updated: September 27 2009 23:16

Barack Obama has displayed extraordinary flexibility in his approach to Iran’s nuclear programme. He has supported Iran’s “right to a peaceful nuclear energy programme”, declared his willingness to meet unconditionally and extended his own deadlines for Iran to begin serious negotiations. He has maintained that position despite Iran’s bellicose rhetoric and despite congressional pressure for sanctions.

Although it has produced no positive response from Tehran, the Obama administration’s flexibility has clearly demonstrated that the obstacle to resolving the Iranian nuclear issue is not a US refusal to negotiate. Even under the Bush administration, the US participated regularly in multilateral talks with Iran. But if there was any ambiguity about the previous administration’s willingness to negotiate, there has been none whatsoever about the Obama administration.

Last week’s revelation of a covert uranium enrichment facility makes it clear that Iran’s rulers are pursuing nuclear weapons. Common sense suggested this long ago. Iran’s proven reserves of natural gas are the world’s second largest (after Russia) and four times those of the US. With two-thirds of those reserves still undeveloped, expensive nuclear power plants are a waste of resources. Even for nuclear energy, it would be cheaper to purchase reactor fuel rather than enrich uranium. Most tellingly, why would Iran be developing long-range ballistic missiles if its nuclear intentions were peaceful? And why build a covert centrifuge plant that is too small to be of commercial use and at a military base? As a senior official of the Obama administration said last week: “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.”

In 1994, proponents of the Framework Agreement with North Korea argued that Pyongyang would not cheat because the risks of being caught were too great. As it turned out, even the chances of being caught were not great and the consequences proved to be negligible. When the Clinton administration found signs of a secret facility in 1998, it was unable to prove it, perhaps because the North Koreans had cleaned up the site (as the Iranians are probably doing now). Definitive proof of North Korea’s centrifuge programme did not come to light until 2002, but when charged with this violation, Pyongyang rapidly broke out of the 1994 restrictions, reprocessed the previously “safeguarded” plutonium and tested a nuclear device. Faced with the prospect that North Korea could always do something worse, the US kept making concessions in order to resume negotiations.

Iran has said that it simply aspires to follow the Japanese model of peaceful nuclear development, but that is not as reassuring as it sounds. In 2002, Ichiro Ozawa, now general-secretary of Japan’s new ruling party, said: “We have plenty of plutonium in our nuclear power plants, [enough to] produce 3,000 to 4,000 nuclear warheads.” Given Japan’s decidedly peaceful foreign policy, those stockpiles do not occasion great fears. No one expects Japan to kick out International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors and abrogate safeguards as North Korea did. The same cannot be said of Iran, which is steadily accumulating its own break-out capability by producing low-enriched uranium. Thus, any agreement that allows Iran continued enrichment of uranium is likely to repeat the unsatisfactory experience with North Korea, in which violations are followed by new concessions to bring the violator back to the negotiating table.

Normally even the toughest sanctions would be unlikely to persuade Tehran to abandon its pursuit of nuclear weapons. The Iranian economy is far less vulnerable to sanctions than North Korea and Iran’s rulers have shown that they care little if their people suffer. However, circumstances in Iran are no longer normal. The push for reform in Iran that began with the protests against June’s election fraud offers an opportunity to bring the Iranian people into the debate about the true costs of their rulers’ nuclear ambitions.

To do so, the world must talk less about Iran’s right to peaceful nuclear energy and more about how the regime is wasting the people’s resources. It means doing what we can to support the forces of reform in Iran, both symbolically and practically. Unfortunately, it also means bringing home to the Iranian people that they will pay an increasingly high price for their rulers’ nuclear ambitions. That means the toughest possible sanctions, and soon. Time is running out. The suggestion that Iran can avoid sanctions without abandoning uranium enrichment, simply by opening its illegal facilities to inspection, will be interpreted by Tehran as a sign of weakness. Even this approach may not be enough to persuade Israel not to act on its own, but at least it offers some prospect of success. And it is more than Israel’s security that is at risk. Iran’s Arab neighbours are also deeply worried that nuclear weapons would embolden Iran’s support for terrorism, subversion and even conventional military aggression. Americans need to consider that nuclear weapons might embolden Tehran to provide sanctuary to al-Qaeda or other terrorists. Or, more catastrophically, even to provide them covertly with nuclear weapons.

The pursuit of a nuclear-free world involves substantial risks. Those risks could only be justified if they eliminate the threat of terrorists acquiring nuclear weapons and the threat of a nuclear war between regional powers. Iran is a crucial test of whether the path to a nuclear-free world is a realistic one or simply a dangerous pipe dream.

The writer is a Visiting Scholar at the American Enterprise Institute

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Another War in the Works:

http://america-hijacked.com/2009/09/29/another-war-in-the-works/

Don’t Israel’s nuclear weapons count?

Don’t Israel’s nuclear weapons count?
Netanyahu has what he wants to keep up the idea of his plucky, vulnerable little state

http://license.icopyright.net/user/viewFreeUse.act?fuid=NTA5NDc0OA%3D%3D

Yasmin Alibhai-Brown, September 28, 2009

Influential Europeans – including many Muslims – recently debated freedom of expression with the Danish editor who commissioned the cartoons of Prophet Mohammed which led to riots. Held in Berlin, it was a good, at times blazing, debate.

Freedom of expression, we were given to understand, is one of the valves in Europe’s heart that must remain open to keep our continent alive and healthy. In good faith I exercise that freedom in this column. Let us see if readers and interest groups will support my right to write what follows even if they violently disagree with my observations.

From past experience I bet many will find that impossibly hard. They will denounce me as an enemy within, a rule-breaker of unspoken rules, bringing up stuff that must be left buried in the name of peace and justice. I see no reason to comply. This week shows us how such doublethink and doublespeak pulls the world towards Armageddon.

Leaders of the rich nations have turned their fire on Iran, quite rightly. On Friday came news that the Islamic Republic had been building a secret uranium enrichment plant near Qom. Then the junta fired test missiles, to prove that the bearded ones have really big willies. Unlike Iraq under Saddam, there are, in Iran, nuclear developments that could lead to weapons of mass destruction. It is not an immediate but a future danger, say credible intelligence experts and indeed Barack Obama himself.

Suddenly the president has got uncharacteristically belligerent, instructing Iran to open up all its nuclear facilities for inspection if it wants to avoid “a path that is going to lead us to confrontation”. In May, Obama stood in Washington with the hawkish Benjamin Netanyahu, who we were told was there to seek assurances that there would be no shift from the conventional US position of total and unconditional support for Israel’s policies right or wrong, known and clandestine.

On Thursday the US, China, Britain, France, Russia and Germany meet in Geneva and, by that time, Iran will be expected to submit to international scrutiny. As a supporter of the now crushed and broken reformers in Iran, I back the ultimatum to the fanatic and bellicose Iranian President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. But what about that camel in the room? The one we all see but can’t point out? What about the only power in the Middle East, also fanatic and aggressive, which has a vast stockpile of weapons enough to obliterate the region? Listen people, we need to talk about Israel. And soon. Like now.

I have been in contact with a young Iranian woman who wore a green scarf and lipstick on the streets of Tehran, whose uncle is currently being tortured in prison there for demonstrating against the results of the election. Somehow she escaped from the country and is in Britain briefly before going on to the US to make a new life. Let us call her M.

Nobody could hate Ahmadinejad more than M; she hates the whole regime, the treacherous leaders who betrayed the people. When she speaks she often gets asthmatic. But yet, but yet, she finds her passions rising for her country this week because of fears of military strikes by Israel and the manifestly unfair way that Israel is indulged. “I will go back if they attack my country, even if they put me to jail,” M says. “That is my duty. Israel is the enemy of peace and America gives them money to get more arms. I don’t want Iran to have these terrible weapons, but Israel must also be stopped.”

The big powers are moving tentatively towards global de-nuclearisation, taking small but significant steps to show they do want everyone to pitch in. Obama’s decision to shelve the European defence missile programme shows serious intent, so too Gordon Brown’s announcement that Britain would cut down from four to three its Trident missile-carrying submarines. There was a moment this spring, albeit fleeting, when Rose Gottemoeller, an assistant secretary of state and Washington’s chief nuclear arms negotiator, asked Israel to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, thus breaking the 40-year-old silence and US complicity in its accumulated, un-inspected arsenal. Her reasonable appeal provoked apoplexy in a nation that assumes special, indeed exceptional, treatment.

In the 1960s, Israel successfully hid its weapons from US inspectors. In 1986, Israeli nuclear technical assistant Mordechai Vanunu revealed information about the concealed stockpiles and has been punished ever since. Hubristic Israel no longer cares to deny that it has hundreds of atom and hydrogen bombs and devastating biological “tools”. Netanyahu has been warning he will destroy the Iranian sites if his country feels the danger is real. Now he has just what he wanted – another crisis in the Middle East, to keep up the idea of plucky, vulnerable, endangered little Israel.

Alarmingly, even the liberal Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz is on side. History has made too many Israelis fear all humanity in perpetuity and that fear brings out the worst in that nation. It has predictably rejected the long, sober, unbiased UN report on the last assault on Gaza chaired by Richard Goldstone. He accused Hamas of crimes against Jewish civilians and charged Israel with grave crimes, the breaking of the Geneva convention, punishing and terrorising unarmed civilians.

I have some images of these victims sent to me by a Jewish pro-Palestinian activist. Children turned to ash, blistered mothers weeping, and on and on. There still is no respite for the hungry and dying in Gaza. If Israel can mete out such treatment and not be called to account, just think what the state feels entitled to do to Iran.

The Israeli human rights activist Gideon Spiro bravely asks that his country be subject to the same rules as Iran and all others in the Middle East: “Rein in Israel, compel it to accept a regime of nuclear disarmament and oblige it to open all nuclear, biological and chemical facilities and missile sites to international inspection.” The US has leverage because it maintains and funds Israel. If Obama shies away from this, there can be no moral justification to go for Iran or North Korea or any other rogue state. And the leader whose election and dreams gave hope to millions thereby hastens the end of the world.

y.alibhaibrown@independent.co.uk

[y.alibhaibrown@independent.co.uk]

How Israel would destroy Iran’s nuclear programme

http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1085619.html

 

How Israel would destroy Iran’s nuclear programme

By Reuven Pedatzur

 

Israeli government ministers and Knesset members who will help make the decision about whether to attack Iran’s nuclear facilities do not have to wait any longer for a preparatory briefing by the Israel Air Force.

They can read about all the possible scenarios for a strike on Iran, and about the potential risks and chances of success, in a study by Abdullah Toukan and Anthony Cordesman of the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington.

Never before has such an open, detailed and thorough study of Israel’s offensive options been published. The authors of the 114-page study meticulously gathered all available data on Israel’s military capabilities and its nuclear program, and on Iran’s nuclear developments and aerial defenses, as well as both countries’ missile inventory.

After analyzing all the possibilities for an attack on Iran, Toukan and Cordesman conclude: “A military strike by Israel against Iranian nuclear facilities is possible … [but] would be complex and high-risk and would lack any assurances that the overall mission will have a high success rate.”Additional challenges
But the challenges facing the IAF do not end there. Iran has built a dense aerial-defense system that will make it hard for Israeli planes to reach their targets unscathed. Among other things, the Iranians have deployed batteries of Hawk, SA-5 and SA-2 surface-to-air missiles, plus they have SA-7, SA-15, Rapier, Crotale and Stinger anti-aircraft missiles. Furthermore, 1,700 anti-aircraft guns protect the nuclear facilities – not to mention the 158 combat aircraft that might take part in defending Iran’s skies. Most of those planes are outdated, but they may be scrambled to intercept the IAF, which will thus have to use part of its strike force to deal with the situation.
No Syrian response
Iran would also, almost certainly, retaliate against Israel directly. It might attack targets here with Shahab-3 ballistic missiles, whose range covers all of Israel. A few might even be equipped with chemical warheads. In addition, the Iranians could use Hezbollah and Hamas to dispatch waves of suicide bombers into Israel. The Second Lebanon War showed us Hezbollah’s rocket capability, and the experience of the past eight years has been instructive regarding Hamas’ ability to fire Qassams from the Gaza Strip.

The first problem the authors point to is intelligence, or more precisely, the lack of it. “It is not known whether Iran has some secret facilities where it is conducting uranium enrichment,” they write. If facilities unknown to Western intelligence agencies do exist, Iran’s uranium-enrichment program could continue to develop in secret there, while Israel attacks the known sites – and the strike’s gains would thus be lost. In general, the authors state, attacking Iran is justified only if it will put an end to Iran’s nuclear program or halt it for several years. That objective is very difficult to attain.

Intelligence agencies are also divided on the critical question of when Iran will deliver a nuclear weapon. Whereas Israeli intelligence maintains it will have the bomb between 2009 and 2012, the U.S. intelligence community estimates it will not happen before 2013. If the Israeli intelligence assessment is accurate, the window for a military strike is rapidly closing. It is clear to everyone that no one will dare attack Iran once it possesses nuclear weapons.

Since Iran has dozens of nuclear facilities dispersed throughout its large territory, and since it is impossible to attack all of them, Toukan and Cordesman investigated the option of hitting only three, which “constitute the core of the nuclear fuel cycle that Iran needs to produce nuclear weapons grade fissile material.”

Destroying these three sites ought to stall the Iranian nuclear program for several years. The three are: the nuclear research center in Isfahan, the uranium-enrichment facility in Natanz, and the heavy water plant, intended for future plutonium production, in Arak. It is doubtful whether Israel would embark on an offensive with such major ramifications just to strike a small number of facilities, when it is not at all clear that this will stop Iran’s nuclearization for a significant length of time.

The study analyzes three possible flight routes and concludes that the optimal and most likely one is the northern one that passes along the Syria-Turkey border, cuts across the northeastern edge of Iraq and leads into Iran. The central route passes over Jordan and is shorter, but would not be chosen for fear of political trouble with the Jordanians. Using the southern route, which passes over Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Iraq, might likewise lead to political entanglements.

To prevent the aircraft being detected en route to Iran, the IAF would use advanced technology to invade and scramble communication networks and radar devices in the countries over which the F-15s and F-16s fly, so even though dozens of planes would pass through the countries’ airspace, they will not be detected. According to the authors, the IAF used this technology in the raid on the Syrian nuclear reactor in Dayr az-Zawr, in September 2007. A hacker system was installed on two Gulfstream G550 aircraft that the IAF bought in recent years.

A strike mission on the three nuclear facilities would require no fewer than 90 combat aircraft, including all 25 F-15Es in the IAF inventory and another 65 F-16I/Cs. On top of that, all the IAF’s refueling planes will have to be airborne: 5 KC-130Hs and 4 B-707s. The combat aircraft will have to be refueled both en route to and on the way back from Iran. The IAF will have a hard time locating an area above which the tankers can cruise without being detected by the Syrians or the Turks.

One of the toughest operational problems to resolve is the fact that the facility at Natanz is buried deep underground. Part of it, the fuel-enrichment plant, reaches a depth of 8 meters, and is protected by a 2.5-meter-thick concrete wall, which is in turn protected by another concrete wall. By mid-2004 the Iranians had fortified their defense of the other part of the facility, where the centrifuges are housed. They buried it 25 meters underground and built a roof over it made of reinforced concrete several meters thick.

The Iranians use the centrifuges to enrich uranium, which is required in order to produce a nuclear bomb. There are already 6,000 centrifuges at the Natanz facility; the Iranians plan to install a total of 50,000, which could be used to produce 500 kilos of weapons-grade uranium annually. Building a nuclear bomb takes 15-20 kilograms of enriched uranium. That means that the Natanz facility will be able to supply enough fissile material for 25-30 nuclear weapons per year.

Because the Natanz facility is so important, the Iranians have gone to great lengths to protect it. To contend with the serious defensive measures they have taken, the IAF will use two types of U.S.-made smart bombs. According to reports in the foreign media, 600 of these bombs – nicknamed “bunker busters” – have been sold to Israel. One is called GBU-27, it weighs about 900 kilos and it can penetrate a 2.4-meter layer of concrete. The other is called GBU-28 and weighs 2,268 kilos; this monster can penetrate 6 meters of concrete and another layer of earth 30 meters deep. But for these bombs to penetrate ultra-protected Iranian facilities, IAF pilots will have to strike the targets with absolute accuracy and at an optimal angle.

 

However, all these obstacles are nothing compared to the S-300V (SA-12 Giant) anti-aircraft defense system, which various reports say Russia may have secretly supplied to Iran recently. If the Iranians indeed have this defense system, all of the IAF’s calculations, and all of the considerations for and against a strike, will have to be overhauled. The Russian system is so sophisticated and tamper-proof that the aircraft attrition rates could reach 20-30 percent: In other words, out of a strike force of 90 aircraft, 20 to 25 would be downed. This, the authors say, is “a loss Israel would hardly accept in paying.”

If Israel also decides to attack the famous reactor in Bushehr, an ecological disaster and mass deaths will result. The contamination released into the air in the form of radionuclides would spread over a large area, and thousands of Iranians who live nearby would be killed immediately; in addition, possibly hundreds of thousands would subsequently die of cancer. Because northerly winds blow in the area throughout most of the year, the authors conclude that, “most definitely Bahrain, Qatar and the UAE will be heavily affected by the radionuclides.”

The difficulty involved in an IAF strike would become a moot point if ballistic missiles wind up being used instead of combat aircraft. The Iranians cannot defend against ballistic missiles. The study lays bare Israel’s missile program and points to three missile versions it has developed: Jericho I, II and III. The Jericho I has a 500-kilometer range, a 450-kilogram warhead, and can carry a 20-kiloton nuclear weapon. Jericho II has a 1,500-kilometer range, and entered service in 1990. It can carry a 1-megaton nuclear warhead. Jericho III is an intercontinental ballistic missile with a range of 4,800-6,500 kilometers, and can carry a multi-megaton nuclear warhead. The study says the latter was expected to enter service in 2008.

The authors apparently do not insinuate that Israel will launch missiles carrying nuclear warheads, but rather conventional warheads. By their calculation it will take 42 Jericho III missiles to destroy the three Iranian facilities, assuming that they all hit their marks, which is extremely difficult. It is not enough to hit the target area: To destroy the facilities it is necessary to hit certain points of only a few meters in size. It is doubtful the Jerichos’ accuracy can be relied on, and that all of them will hit those critical spots with precision.

The study also analyzes the possible Iranian response to an Israeli strike. In all likelihood the result would be to spur Iranians to continue and even accelerate their nuclear program, to create reliable deterrence in the face of an aggressive Israel. Iran would also withdraw from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, which until now has enabled its nuclear program to be monitored, to a certain degree, through inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency. An Israeli strike would immediately put a stop to the international community’s attempts to pressure Iran into suspending development of nuclear weapons.

 

Hezbollah launched 4,000 rockets from South Lebanon during the Second Lebanon War, and their effect on northern Israel has not been forgotten: Life was nearly paralyzed for a whole month. Since then the Lebanese organization’s stockpile was replenished and enhanced, and it now has some 40,000 rockets. Israel does not have a response to those rockets. The rocket defense systems now being developed (Iron Dome and Magic Wand) are still far from completion, and even after they become operational, it is doubtful they will prove effective against thousands of rockets launched at Israel.

An Israeli strike on Iran would also sow instability in the Middle East. The Iranians would make use of the Shi’ites in Iraq, support Taliban fighters and improve their combat capabilities in Afghanistan. They also might attack American interests in the region, especially in countries that host U.S. military forces, such as Qatar and Bahrain. The Iranians would probably also attempt to disrupt the flow of oil to the West from the Persian Gulf region. Since the United States would be perceived as having given Israel a green light to attack Iran, American relations with allies in the Arab world could suffer greatly. Toukan and Cordesman believe, however, that Iran’s ally Syria would refrain from intervening if Israel strikes Iran’s nuclear facilities.

Regarding a possible time frame for an Israeli strike, the authors cited factors that could speed up the decision in this matter. By 2010 Iran could pose a serious threat to its neighbors and Israel, because it would have enough nuclear weapons to deter the latter and the United States from attacking it. Iran’s inventory of effective ballistic missiles capable of carrying nonconventional warheads could also be an incentive. The fear that the country will procure the Russian S-300V aerial-defense system (if it has not done so already) might also serve as an incentive for a preemptive strike.

So what should Israeli policy makers conclude from this American study? That an IAF strike on Iran would be complicated and problematic, and that the chance of it succeeding is not great. That they must weigh all of the far-reaching ramifications that an Israeli strike on Iranian nuclear facilities would have, and that they must not be fooled by promises, should any be made, by Israel Defense Forces officers who present the attack plan as having good odds for success.

One of the conclusions from Toukan and Cordesman’s study is that it is questionable whether Israel has the military capability to destroy Iran’s nuclear program, or even to delay it for several years. Therefore, if the diplomatic contacts the Obama administration is initiating with Iran prove useless, and if in the wake of their expected failure the American president does not decide to attack Iran, it is likely that Iran will possess nuclear weapons in a relatively short time. It seems, therefore, that policy makers in Jerusalem should begin preparing, mentally and operationally, for a situation in which Iran is a nuclear power with a strike capability against Israel.

This is the place to emphasize Israel’s mistake in hyping the Iranian threat. The regime in Tehran is certainly a bitter and inflexible rival, but from there it’s a long way to presenting it as a truly existential threat to Israel. Iran’s involvement in terror in our region is troubling, but a distinction must be made between a willingness to bankroll terrorists, and an intention to launch nuclear missiles against Israel. Even if Iran gets nuclear weapons, Israel’s power of deterrence will suffice to dissuade any Iranian ruler from even contemplating launching nuclear weapons against it.

It is time to stop waving around the scarecrow of an existential threat and refrain from making belligerent statements, which sometimes create a dangerous dynamic of escalation. And if the statements are superfluous and harmful – then this is doubly true for a strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities.

Of course, none of this contradicts the possibility of taking covert action to hamper the Iranians’ program and supply routes. When the IAF destroyed the Osirak reactor in Baghdad in 1981, the “Begin doctrine” came into being, which holds that Israel will not let any hostile country in the region acquire nuclear weapons. The problem is that what could be accomplished in Iraq more than two decades ago is no longer possible today under the present circumstances in Iran.

The continual harping on the Iranian threat stems from domestic Israeli politics and a desire to increase investment in the security realm, but the ramifications of this are dangerous when you analyze expected developments in Iran’s ballistics: It is impossible for Israel to ignore Iran’s capacity to hit it, and Jerusalem must shape a policy that will neutralize that threat.

In another year, or three years from now, when the Iranians possess nuclear weapons, the rules of the strategic game in the region will be completely altered. Israel must reach that moment with a fully formulated and clear policy in hand, enabling it to successfully confront a potential nuclear threat, even when it is likely that the other side has no intention of carrying it out. The key, of course, is deterrence. Only a clear and credible signal to the Iranians, indicating the terrible price they will pay for attempting a nuclear strike against Israel, will prevent them from using their missiles. The Iranians have no logical reason to bring about the total destruction of their big cities, as could happen if Israel uses the means of deterrence at its disposal. Neither the satisfaction of killing Zionist infidels, nor, certainly, the promotion of Palestinian interests would justify that price. Israeli deterrence in the face of an Iranian nuclear threat has a good chance of succeeding precisely because the Iranians have no incentive to deal a mortal blow to Israel.

Therefore, all the declarations about developing the operational capability of IAF aircraft so they can attack the nuclear facilities in Iran, and the empty promises about the ability of the Arrow missile defense system to contend effectively with the Shahab-3, not only do not help bolster Israel’s power of deterrence, but actually undermine the process of building it and making it credible in Iranian eyes.

The time has come to adopt new ways of thinking. No more fiery declarations and empty threats, but rather a carefully weighed policy grounded in sound strategy. Ultimately, in an era of a multi-nuclear Middle East, all sides will have a clear interest to lower tension and not to increase it.

Nuclear Debate Brews: Is Iran Designing Warheads?

Nuclear Debate Brews: Is Iran Designing Warheads?

This article is by William J. Broad, Mark Mazzetti and David E. Sanger.

WASHINGTON — When President Obama stood last week with the leaders of Britain and France to denounce Iran’s construction of a secret nuclear plant, the Western powers all appeared to be on the same page.

Behind their show of unity about Iran’s clandestine efforts to manufacture nuclear fuel, however, is a continuing debate among American, European and Israeli spies about a separate component of Iran’s nuclear program: its clandestine efforts to design a nuclear warhead.

The Israelis, who have delivered veiled threats of a military strike, say they believe that Iran has restarted these “weaponization” efforts, which would mark a final step in building a nuclear weapon. The Germans say they believe that the weapons work was never halted. The French have strongly suggested that independent international inspectors have more information about the weapons work than they have made public.

Meanwhile, in closed-door discussions, American spy agencies have stood firm in their conclusion that while Iran may ultimately want a bomb, the country halted work on weapons design in 2003 and probably has not restarted that effort — a judgment first made public in a 2007 National Intelligence Estimate.

The debate, in essence, is a mirror image of the intelligence dispute on the eve of the Iraq war.

This time, United States spy agencies are delivering more cautious assessments about Iran’s clandestine programs than their Western European counterparts.

The differing views color how each country perceives the imminence of the Iranian threat and how to deal with it in the coming months, including this week’s negotiations in Geneva — the first direct talks between the United States and Iran in nearly 30 years.

In the case of the plant outside Qum, designed for uranium enrichment, some nuclear experts speculate that it is only part of something larger. But a senior American official with access to intelligence about it said he believed the secret plant was itself “the big one,” but cautioned that “it’s a big country.”

This distinction has huge political consequences. If Mr. Obama can convince Israel that the exposure of the Qum plant has dealt a significant setback to the Iranian effort, he may buy some time from the Israelis.

The officials spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were discussing classified intelligence assessments.

Uranium enrichment — the process of turning raw uranium into reactor or bomb fuel — is only one part of building a nuclear weapon, though it is the most difficult step. The two remaining steps are designing and building a warhead, and building a reliable delivery system, like a ballistic missile.

American officials said that Iran halted warhead design efforts in 2003, a conclusion they reached after penetrating Iran’s computer networks and gaining access to internal government communications. This judgment became the cornerstone of the 2007 intelligence report, which drew sharp criticism from Europe and Israel, and remains the subject of intense debate.

Disagreeing with the Americans, Israeli intelligence officials say they believe that Iran restarted weapons design work in 2005 on the orders of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the supreme leader. The Americans counter that the Israeli case is flimsy and circumstantial, and that the Israelis cannot document their claim.

German intelligence officials take an even harder line against Iran. They say the weapons work never stopped, a judgment made public last year in a German court case involving shipments of banned technology to Tehran. In recent interviews, German intelligence agencies declined to comment further.

Rolf Mowatt-Larssen, the former head of intelligence at the Department of Energy and a nuclear expert who worked for the C.I.A., said that the apparent differences of opinion among the world’s intelligence agencies might boil down to differences of interpretative style, or what he called “tradecraft.”

“It’s often tradecraft that gets us bollixed up,” he said in an interview. “It comes down to interpreting the same data in different ways, in looking at the same information and coming up with different conclusions.”

Some Israeli and European officials say the Americans are being overly cautious, having been stung by the Iraq intelligence debacle. The Americans deny this, insisting they are open-minded. One American intelligence official said the view of Iran’s weapons design program, “like every analytic judgment, is constantly checked and reassessed in light of new information, which comes in all the time.”

Each country bases its view on a combination of satellite imagery, human spies and electronic eavesdropping. And they do not necessarily share it all with one another or with the International Atomic Energy Agency, an investigative arm of the United Nations.

This has created plenty of bad blood with the United Nations agency. The departing chief of the I.A.E.A., Mohamed ElBaradei, recently argued that the case for urgent action against Iran was “hyped.” He acknowledged, however, that Iran has refused, for two years, to answer his inspectors’ questions about evidence suggesting that it was working on weapons design.

Now some European powers who fought with President George W. Bush over the evidence on Iraq — and were later vindicated by the failure to find unconventional weapons — are pressing Dr. ElBaradei to reveal what his agency has collected on its own, through regular inspections in Iran.

“Why doesn’t he provide us with the annexes of his report?” Bernard Kouchner, France’s foreign minister, asked last month, referring to material United Nations inspectors are believed to have compiled for internal discussions. Mr. Kouchner said those annexes contained “elements which enable us to ask questions about the reality of an atomic bomb. There are issues of warheads, of transport.”

Western intelligence officials now want to determine whether there are even more secret enrichment sites. Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates dodged the question of whether there were additional sites during a television appearance over the weekend. Washington has said there may be more than a dozen sites involved in the nuclear program, though there have been no public indications as to what they are used for.

Graham Allison, the author of “Nuclear Terrorism” and a Harvard professor who focuses on proliferation, said he could not conceive of Iran’s building only one such site.

“How likely is it that the Qum facility is all there is? Zero. A prudent manager of a serious program would certainly have a number of sites,” he said.

After all, Mr. Allison said, the lesson Iran took away from Israel’s destruction of an Iraqi reactor more than 25 years ago is to spread facilities around the country.

Souad Mekhennet contributed reporting from Frankfurt.

Excellent analysis of folly of Obama (pandering to Zionism) policy on Iran and need for US-Iran strategic realignment

Excellent analysis of folly of Obama (pandering to Zionism) policy on Iran and need for US-Iran strategic realignment:

September 29, 2009
Op-Ed Contributors

How to Press the Advantage With Iran

By FLYNT LEVERETT and HILLARY MANN LEVERETT

TEHRAN’S disclosure that it is building a second uranium enrichment plant near the holy city of Qum has derailed the Obama administration’s already faltering efforts to engage with Iran. The United States will now cling even more tightly to the futile hope that international pressure and domestic instability will induce major changes in Iranian decision-making.

Indeed, the meeting on Thursday in Geneva of the United Nations Security Council’s five permanent members and Germany with Iran (the “five plus one” talks) will not be an occasion for strategic discussion but for delivering an ultimatum: Iran will have to agree to pre-emptive limitations on its nuclear program or face what Secretary of State Hillary Clinton calls “crippling” sanctions.

However, based on conversations we’ve had in recent days with senior Iranian officials — including President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad — we believe it is highly unlikely Iran will accept this ultimatum. It is also unlikely that Russia and China will support sanctions that come anywhere near crippling Iran. After this all-too-predictable scenario has played out, the Obama administration will be left, as a consequence of its own weakness and vacillation, with extremely poor choices for dealing with Iran.

Because President Obama assembled a national security team that, for the most part, did not share his early vision for American-Iranian rapprochement, his administration never built a strong public case for engagement. The prospect of engagement is still treated largely as a channel for “rewarding” positive Iranian actions and “punishing” problematic behavior — precisely what Mr. Obama, as a presidential candidate, criticized so eloquently about President George W. Bush’s approach.

At the United Nations General Assembly last week, President Obama used language reminiscent of Mr. Bush’s “axis of evil” to identify Iran and North Korea as the main threats to international peace and vowed to hold them “accountable.” In Geneva, we can expect the United States to demand that Iran not only accept “concrete” limitations on further nuclear development but also demonstrate the peaceful nature of its nuclear program to avoid severe sanctions.

This approach prompted Mr. Ahmadinejad, during a meeting last week, to declare that Iran does not believe Americans are “serious” about strategic cooperation. He argued that, when Iran had previously agreed to limit its nuclear development — as when it suspended uranium enrichment from 2003 to 2005 — Western powers offered nothing in return, and instead sought to “restrict our rights even further.”

This was more than a diplomatic failure by the West — it was also a serious blow to the credibility of reform-minded politicians in Iran. Is it a surprise, then, that no candidate in Iran’s recent presidential election supported renewed unilateral restrictions on its nuclear program? Mr. Ahmadinejad has now reiterated that it should be possible to cooperate with Washington to resolve the nuclear issue, but only in the context of a broader strategic understanding — something the Obama administration has not accepted.

Absent some agreement with Washington on its long-term goals, Iran’s national security strategy will continue emphasizing “asymmetric” defense against perceived American encirclement. Over several years, officials in both the reformist government of Mohammad Khatami and the conservative Ahmadinejad administration have told us that this defensive strategy includes cultivating ties to political forces and militias in other states in the region, developing Iran’s missile capacity (as underscored by this weekend’s tests of medium-range missiles), and pushing the limits of Tehran’s nonproliferation obligations to the point where it would be seen as having the ability and ingredients to make fission weapons. It seems hardly a coincidence that Iran is accused of having started the Qum lab in 2005 — precisely when Tehran had concluded that suspending enrichment had failed to diminish American hostility.

American officials tend to play down Iranian concerns about American intentions, citing public messages from President Obama to Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran’s supreme leader, as proof of the administration’s diplomatic seriousness. But Tehran saw these messages as attempts to circumvent Iran’s president — another iteration, in a pattern dating from Ronald Reagan’s Iran-Contra scandal, of American administrations trying to create channels to Iranian “moderates” rather than dealing with the Islamic Republic as a system. President Ahmadinejad underscored this point to us by noting that Mr. Obama never responded to his congratulatory letter after the 2008 United States election — which, he emphasized, was “unprecedented” and “not easy to get done” in Iran.

The Obama administration’s lack of diplomatic seriousness goes beyond clumsy tactics; it reflects an inadequate understanding of the strategic necessity of constructive American-Iranian relations. If an American president believed that such a relationship was profoundly in our national interests — as President Richard Nixon judged a diplomatic opening to China — he would demonstrate acceptance of the Islamic Republic, even as problematic Iranian behavior continued in the near term.

After taking office in 1969, Nixon directed the C.I.A. to stop covert operations in Tibet and ordered the Navy to stop its regular patrols of the Taiwan Strait even while China was supplying weapons to kill American soldiers in Vietnam. President Obama has had several opportunities to send analogous signals to Tehran — such as ending Bush-era covert programs against Iran — but has punted.

Unfortunately, the Obama administration was enticed by the prospect of regime-toppling instability in the aftermath of Iran’s presidential election this summer. But compared to past upheavals in the Islamic Republic’s 30-year history — the forced exile of a president, the assassination of another, the eight-year war with Iraq and the precipitous replacement of Ayatollah Khomeini’s first designated successor, Ayatollah Hussein Ali Montazeri, with Ayatollah Khamenei — the controversy over this year’s election was hardly a cataclysmic event.

Furthermore — and notwithstanding the comment by President Dmitri Medvedev of Russia that sanctions are “sometimes inevitable” — the Obama administration’s focus on mustering support for effective economic penalties is delusional. For three years, Moscow has given just enough on sanctions to keep the nuclear issue before the Security Council, because Russian officials calculate that is the best way to constrain unilateral American action. But Russia has consistently watered down any sanctions actually authorized. Senior Russian diplomats continue to say that Moscow has not agreed to support any specific additional measures. Moscow may well acquiesce to a marginal expansion of existing sanctions, but it will not accept substantial costs to its own economic and strategic interests by supporting significantly tougher steps.

China may also agree to a marginal expansion of existing sanctions, but will not endorse measures that hurt important Chinese interests. An Obama administration proposal that Saudi Arabia “replace” the oil China now imports from Iran completely misreads Beijing’s energy security calculus.

China is not only continuing to buy large amounts of Iranian oil, Chinese energy companies are also now developing substantial investment positions there — justifiably confident that Washington will not sanction Chinese firms over energy investments in Iran. Chinese military officials are particularly focused on the potential for Iranian hydrocarbons to come to China through pipelines running across Central Asia, rather than through seaborne routes vulnerable to American naval interdiction. Iran is the only Persian Gulf country that can offer China such diversification of supply sources and transit routes.

The Obama administration may hope that even an ineffective quest for “crippling” sanctions will hold the line against those in Washington and elsewhere advocating a military strike on Iran’s weapons program. That is sadly reminiscent of our experiences at the State Department and the National Security Council in the Bush administration, when officials who opposed the Iraq war championed “smart sanctions” and tighter containment of Saddam Hussein’s regime as the alternative course. Such calls did nothing to change Mr. Hussein’s calculations, and were overwhelmed by the exaggerated allegations of Iraq’s renewed efforts to build nuclear weapons.

 

INSTEAD of pushing the falsehood that sanctions will give America leverage in Iranian decision-making — a strategy that will end either in frustration or war — the administration should seek a strategic realignment with Iran as thoroughgoing as that effected by Nixon with China. This would require Washington to take steps, up front, to assure Tehran that rapprochement would serve Iran’s strategic needs.

On that basis, America and Iran would forge a comprehensive framework for security as well as economic cooperation — something that Washington has never allowed the five-plus-one group to propose. Within that framework, the international community would work with Iran to develop its civil nuclear program, including fuel cycle activities on Iranian soil, in a transparent manner rather than demanding that Tehran prove a negative — that it’s not developing weapons. A cooperative approach would not demonize Iran for political relationships with Hamas and Hezbollah, but would elicit Tehran’s commitment to work toward peaceful resolutions of regional conflicts.

Some may say that this is too high a price to pay for improved relations with Iran. But the price is high only for those who attach value to failed policies that have damaged American interests in the Middle East and made our allies there less secure.

Flynt Leverett is the director of the Iran project at the New America Foundation and a professor of international affairs at Pennsylvania State University. Hillary Mann Leverett is the president of a political risk consultancy. Both are former National Security Council staff members.

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Another War in the Works:

http://america-hijacked.com/2009/09/29/another-war-in-the-works/

Beating the Drums for War:

http://america-hijacked.com/2009/09/14/beating-the-war-drums-for-iran/

Obama: Iran Is on Notice, Won’t Rule Out Military Action

http://america-hijacked.com/2009/09/25/obama-iran-is-on-notice-won%e2%80%99t-rule-out-military-action/

 

U.S. Is Seeking a Range of Sanctions Against Iran (courtesy of AIPAC on behalf of Israel)

September 28, 2009

U.S. Is Seeking a Range of Sanctions Against Iran

WASHINGTON — The Obama administration is scrambling to assemble a package of harsher economic sanctions against Iran over its nuclear program that could include a cutoff of investments to the country’s oil-and-gas industry and restrictions on many more Iranian banks than those currently blacklisted, senior administration officials said Sunday.

The administration also is seeking to build a broader coalition of partners for sanctions so that it may still be able to act against Iran even if China and Russia were to veto harsher measures proposed in the United Nations Security Council.

“There are a variety of options still available,” Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, speaking on CNN’s “State of the Union,” said of the potential list of targets for Iranian sanctions, notably in energy equipment and technology. He called it “a pretty rich list to pick from.”

Administration officials began describing what new sanctions might look like with a critical face-to-face meeting between the United States and Iran just four days away. The Americans are expected to press their demand for quick access and blueprints to a newly disclosed Iranian nuclear site.

In pushing for more stringent sanctions, the administration wants to accomplish two potentially irreconcilable goals: forcing Iran back to negotiations over its nuclear program — which the United States and its Western allies suspect is meant to create a weapon — while at the same time winning the support of Russia and China, which are eager to preserve their significant economic ties to Iran.

For now, administration officials said, the United States was not likely to win support for an embargo on shipments of gasoline or other refined fuel to Iran. The European allies, one official said, view this as a “blunt instrument” that could hurt ordinary Iranians, inflame public opinion and unite the country behind the government of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, whose legitimacy within Iran has remained under a cloud since his June 12 re-election that opponents claim was rigged.

American efforts to marshal worldwide pressure against Iran have gained traction since the revelation last Friday that Iran was operating a clandestine nuclear site.

Even Israel, which has long warned that a military strike might be the only effective response to Iran’s ambitions, now seems satisfied to let President Obama play out his strategy of offering to talk while threatening to impose painful measures if those talks go nowhere.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel telephoned the House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, and five other influential lawmakers on Thursday and Friday to urge the United States to pursue “crippling sanctions” against Iran, according to Israeli officials and people close to the lawmakers.

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said on the CBS program “Face the Nation” that the administration was exploring how to “broaden and deepen sanctions.” Existing sanctions, she acknowledged, have been “leaky,” but the United States had learned from its experience with North Korea how to assemble a broad coalition behind punitive measures.

Still, the administration faces an uphill battle, both because of the nature of the countries it must persuade and because of changes inside Iran, particularly its disputed election and the ensuing protests.

“Sanctions out of the blue for punishment purposes, as much as I think they deserve it, probably don’t serve any useful purpose in resolving the issue,” said Thomas R. Pickering, a former under secretary of state who has held informal negotiations with the Iranians.

Administration officials acknowledge it will be difficult to persuade Russia to agree to harsh, long-term sanctions against Iran, whatever the assurances that the Russian president, Dmitri A. Medvedev, gave last week to Mr. Obama. China, these officials say, is even less dependable, given its reliance on Iranian oil and its swelling trade ties with Iran.

Iran has proved resilient to sanctions, having weathered them in one form or another since the Islamic Revolution in 1979. And the political upheaval there creates a new complication: Western countries do not want to impose measures that deepen the misery of ordinary people, because it could help the government and strangle the fragile protest movement.

Citing those fears, the French foreign minister, Bernard Kouchner, said last Monday he was opposed to an embargo of refined fuel products. Another senior Western diplomat said such a measure was not likely to be on the menu of options, even though sanctions experts say it is probably the most effective short-term cudgel.

At a dinner in New York last week, the night before he addressed the United Nations, Mr. Ahmadinejad told his guests he would “warmly welcome” additional sanctions because it would only make his country more self-sufficient, according to a person who was there.

“For sanctions to work, they not only have to be multilateral, but there has to be international solidarity over a prolonged period of time,” said Ray Takeyh, an Iran expert at the Council on Foreign Relations who was until last month a senior adviser to the Obama administration.

Mr. Takeyh said that he was skeptical that sanctions alone would alter Iran’s long-term behavior. But he said he would not be surprised if Iran came to the meeting on Thursday with an offer to allow inspectors to visit the secret uranium enrichment plant near the holy city of Qum.

That would fall well short of the administration’s demand that Iran hand over blueprints for the plant or produce key people involved in its design. But it might be enough to weaken solidarity, said Mr. Takeyh, who noted that the Iranians “tend to be tactically adroit.”

Iran’s missile tests on Sunday were interpreted by administration officials as a message to the West after the disclosure of the nuclear site. The missiles had a range of 90 to 125 miles, according to state-run television. Iran plans to fire two medium-range Shahab-1 and Shahab-2 missiles on Monday, the state-run Fars agency reported.

In assessing the threat posed by Iran, some countries still focus on economics. China has interests in Iranian oil and gas reserves that potentially total close to $100 billion, according to experts. It needs Iranian cooperation to tap those reserves and move the fuel to China.

Russia, a neighbor of Iran, is more intertwined with it than any other world power, and has more concerns about upsetting relations. That partly explains why it has sought to dilute the impact of previous sanctions on Iran.

Political changes in Iran have also made it less vulnerable to some sanctions. Among the most common is to deny visas to senior officials to travel to Europe or the United States. But the new generation of Iranian leaders is a product of an Islamic theocracy, and is less likely to care about travel restrictions, experts say.

“They don’t want to go shopping for their wives in Paris; they don’t want to go visit their bank accounts in Geneva,” said Danielle Pletka, an expert in the Middle East at the American Enterprise Institute. “That reduces the leverage the international community has over them.”

Ethan Bronner contributed reporting from Jerusalem, Michael Wines from Beijing, and Nazila Fathi from Toronto.

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Another War in the Works:

http://america-hijacked.com/2009/09/29/another-war-in-the-works/

Beating the Drums for War:

http://america-hijacked.com/2009/09/14/beating-the-war-drums-for-iran/

Obama: Iran Is on Notice, Won’t Rule Out Military Action

http://america-hijacked.com/2009/09/25/obama-iran-is-on-notice-won%e2%80%99t-rule-out-military-action/

 

SAUDIS WILL LET ISRAEL BOMB IRAN NUCLEAR SITE

Saudis Will Let Israel Bomb Iran Nuclear Site:

http://www.express.co.uk/posts/view/130251/Saudis-will-let-Israel-bomb-Iran-nuclear-site