Summary: The wardrums continue to beat, building support for a US attack on Iran. This is a status report, with at the end some excellent links to further information.
The battle continues hot and heavy, as factions in Washington strive to shape the US citizenry’s view of Iran. Leaks and lies, authoritative statements and rumors. A repeat of the pre-invasion info ops warning about Iraq’s nukes. We uncritically chear and boo on command, as peasants should.
- Recent news and studies
- Other interesting articles and reports (especially useful!)
- FM’s forecast and recommendations
- Afterword and For More Information on the FM site
(1) Excerpts from Recent news and studies
Excerpts appear for these articles:
- “Intelligence Agencies Say No New Nukes in Iran“, Newsweek, 16 September 2009 — “Secret updates to White House challenge European and Israeli assessments.
- “Iran admits secret uranium enrichment plant“, Guardian, 25 September 2009
- “Why Iran confessed to secret nuclear site built inside mountain“, The Guardian, 25 September 2009
- SecDef Robert Gates on CNN’s “State of the Nation”, 27 September 2009
(a) “Intelligence Agencies Say No New Nukes in Iran“, Newsweek, 16 September 2009 — “Secret updates to White House challenge European and Israeli assessments. Excerpt:
The officials, who asked for anonymity when discussing sensitive information, said that U.S. intelligence agencies have informed policymakers at the White House and other agencies that the status of Iranian work on development and production of a nuclear bomb has not changed since the formal National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) on Iran’s “Nuclear Intentions and Capabilities” in November 2007. Public portions of that report stated that U.S. intelligence agencies had “high confidence” that, as of early 2003, Iranian military units were pursuing development of a nuclear bomb, but that in the fall of that year Iran “halted its nuclear weapons program.” The document said that while U.S. agencies believed the Iranian government “at a minimum is keeping open the option to develop nuclear weapons,” U.S. intelligence as of mid-2007 still had “moderate confidence” that it had not restarted weapons-development efforts.
(b) “Iran admits secret uranium enrichment plant“, Guardian, 25 September 2009:
Iran sent a letter to Mohamed ElBaradei, the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), on Monday, saying it had established a second pilot uranium enrichment plant, parallel to the one monitored by the IAEA in Natanz.
(c) “Why Iran confessed to secret nuclear site built inside mountain“, The Guardian, 25 September 2009:
The Qom uranium enrichment plant first appeared in 2006, in grey satellite photographs of the sort the world has become familiar with through the long years of the Iran crisis.
North-east of the mosques of Qom, the theological heart of Iran, the revolutionary guard had established an anti-aircraft missile battery at the base of the mountain, western officials said.
As intelligence analysts tried to discover what the missiles were there to protect, satellite imagery began to reveal intensive activity at the side of the mountain. “There was extensive excavation and construction work under way,” a western official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
… A senior US administration official described the site as “a very heavily protected, very heavily disguised facility”. The official added: “We’ve been aware of this facility for several years; we’ve been watching the construction, we’ve been building up a case so that we were sure that we had very strong evidence, irrefutable evidence, that the intent of this facility was as an enrichment plant.”
At some point this summer, US, British and French intelligence agencies were able to corroborate the information they had, and concluded that the Qom site was an enrichment plant. “We believe that it’s not yet operational. We think it’s most likely at least a few months, perhaps more, from having all of the centrifuges installed and being capable of operating if the Iranians made a decision to begin operating it,” the senior American official said.
… the plant, which intelligence reports say is set to start operation next year, could be set up for advanced domestically developed centrifuges that enrich uranium at much higher speed and efficiency than the decades old P-1 type centrifuges acquired on the black market and in use at Natanz.
(d) SecDef Robert Gates on CNN’s “State of the Nation”, 27 September 2009:
The reality is, there is no military option that does anything more than buy time. The estimates are one to three years or so. And the only way you end up not having a nuclear capable Iran is for the Iranian government to decide that their security is diminished by having those weapons as opposed to strengthened. So I think, as I say, while you don’t take options off the table, I think there’s still room left for diplomacy.
(2) Other interesting articles and reports
- Spying on the Bomb: American Nuclear Intelligence from Nazi Germany to Iran and North Koreaby Jeffrey T. Richelson, Norton, 702 pp (2006)
Online articles (I esp recommend the first two listed):
- “The Spread of Nuclear Weapons: More May Better“, Kenneth Waltz, Adelphi Papers #171 (London: International Institute for Strategic Studies, 1981)
- “The Secrets of the Bomb“, Jeremy Bernstein, New York Review of Books, 25 May 2006 — About nuclear intelligence.
- “Study on a Possible Israeli Strike on Iran’s Nuclear Development Facilities“, Anthony H. Cordesman and Abdullah Toukan, Center for Strategic & International Studies, 16 March 2009
- “”They’re baaaaack….”, Stephen M. Walt, blog of Foreign Policy, 11 September 2009 — About those advocating war with Iran.
- “Iran’s New Nuclear Site: Much Ado About Nothing“, Jeremy R. Hammond, Foreign Policy Journal, 27 September 2009
- “The Iranian Nuclear Program, Sanctions, and the Lessons of Iraq“, Bernard Finel at his blog, 28 September 2009
More recent news:
- “Nuke Agency Says Iran Can Make Bomb“, AP, 18 September 2009
- “CIA Chief: Iranian Leaders Debating Nuclear Weapons“, Voice of America, 18 September 2009
- “Iran Tests Short-Range Missiles Before Nuclear Talks“, Wall Street Journal, 28 September 2009
Stratfor’s articles — free registration required:
- Iran, U.S.: The Intelligence Problem, 4 September 2009
- Iran: The Significance of a Second Site, 25 September 2009
- Iran Sanctions: An Introduction, 22 September 2009
- Iran Sanctions, Part 1: The Nuts and Bolts , 23 September 2009
- Iran Sanctions, Part 2: FSU Contingency Plans, 24 September 2009
- Iran Sanctions, Part 3: Preparing for the Worst, 25 September 2009
(3) FM’s forecast and recommendations
A prediction (aka guess): Neither the US nor Israel will attack Iran. We may levy sanctions, but they will be even less effective than those against South Africa. Esp if still in place when the global economy recovers and oil prices scream higher.
- Make a maximum effort to get better intelligence about Iran.
- Attempt to develop links to factions inside Iran.
- Keep the public dialog cool; constant waving of the big stick makes us look weak.
- Use diplomatic tools to encourage and discourage Iran (to join the nonproliferation club and end its nuke program, respectively)
Originally published at Fabius Maximus and reproduced here with the author’s permission.