- Hopefully, its folly will prevent it. Otherwise, expect
severe repercussions, including a considerable counterattack and disruption
of regional oil supplies, further impacting a troubled global economy.
So why consider it, given the December 2007 US National Intelligence Estimate
- "We judge with high confidence that in fall 2003,
Tehran halted its nuclear weapons program; (perhaps it never had one);
we also assess with moderate-to-high confidence that Tehran at a minimum
is keeping open the option to develop nuclear weapons..." True or
not, dozens of nations may consider one, for defense, not offense in a
hostile world, America and Israel the main aggressors, threatening humanity
with their weapons of mass destruction.
- The NIE also said:
- "We assess with moderate confidence Tehran had not
restarted its nuclear program as of mid-2007, but we do not know whether
it currently intends to develop (them).
- Tehran's decision to halt its nuclear weapons program
suggests it is less determined to develop (them) than we have been judging
- Expect a new NIE update later this summer, hopefully
with similar conclusions, then Director of National Intelligence Admiral
Dennis Blair saying so to Congress before his dismissal, perhaps why he
was sacked, a "mistake" his successor, General James Clapper,
won't make, but what's coming isn't certain, given influential forces on
both sides in America, the same ones arguing them for years. Yet beyond
saber-rattling rhetoric and sanctions, the administration's position is
- Posturing and Provocations
- Besides Washington and Israeli rhetoric, the Security
Council (on June 9) imposed new sanctions on Iran, followed by America
and EU nations adding others, banning transfers of refining, liquefaction,
and liquid natural gas technology as well as on trade, finance, Iranian
banks, transport, and against the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC).
- In addition, some large western insurers won't cover
Iranian shipping, deputy manager of the Iranian company Sea Pars, Mohammad
Rounaghi, saying "most ports will refuse them entry if they are not
covered for possible damages."
- Not according to Mohammad Hussein Dajmar, Islamic Republic
of Iran Shipping Lines (IRISL) saying, "The world has many ports.
We will sail to those nations that want to do business with us," among
them China, Russia, India, Venezuela, and Brazil, important trading partners.
- In early May, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad attended
the UN Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) review conference, affirming
his nation's compliance, IAEA inspections confirming it, its chief, Yukiya
Amano, saying Tehran hasn't diverted nuclear materials for weapons, though
he can't "confirm that all nuclear material is in peaceful activities,"
a contradiction on its face.
- In contrast, non-signatories Israel, India and Pakistan
are nuclear outlaws. In addition, in 1970, when NPT was implemented, (189
nations are now parties), the five acknowledged powers - America, Russia,
China, Britain and France - agreed to stringent safeguards for their commercial
programs in return for progressively dismantling existing stockpiles. To
date, there's little change, America asserting the preemptive right to
use them against any perceived threat, a clear NPT violation and danger
to global stability.
- In his January 27 State of the Union address, Obama said:
- "the international community is more united, and
the Islamic Republic of Iran is more isolated....as Iran's leaders continue
to ignore their obligations, there should be no doubt: They....will face
growing consequences. That is a promise" - so far, just rhetoric and
sanctions, and according to Council for Foreign Relations senior fellow
for Middle Eastern Studies, Steven A. Cook, in a June 9, 2009 Foreign Policy
op-ed, if Israel(i) (and by inference Washington) leaders were going to
strike, they would not be broadcasting it to the world."
- They're saber-rattling instead, reports saying Washington
is stockpiling bunker-buster bombs in Diego Garcia (about 1,000 miles south
of India). In addition, Egypt let an Israeli submarine and 11 US warships,
including an aircraft carrier, sail through the Suez Canal to the Red Sea.
A deliberate provocation ahead of a planned false flag attack? It bears
watching as events are fluid, the most recent House Resolution 1553 on
- "Expressing Support for the State of Israel's right
to defend Israeli sovereignty, to protect the lives and safety of the Israeli
people, and to use all means necessary to confront and eliminate nuclear
threats posed by the Islamic Republic of Iran, including the use of military
force if no other peaceful solution can be found within reasonable time
to protect against such an immediate and existential threat to the State
- It was referred to committee, endorsed by nearly one-third
of House Republicans, but not by Defense Secretary Robert Gates, Joint
Chiefs Chairman Mike Mullen, or other top Pentagon officials.
- Former National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski
told the Senate that a domestic terrorist attack might be falsely blamed
on Iran, and Rep. Ron Paul said he's concerned about "a contrived
Gulf of Tonkin-type incident....to gain popular support for an attack on
Iran." Russian analyst Alexei Vlasov disagrees, saying a "military
operation on Iran" is just rumor.
- The UK-Based Oxford Research Group (ORG)
- ORG advocates for "non-military resolution of global
conflict(s), combin(ing) in-depth political and technical expertise (with)
serious analysis, dialogue and change."
- In July, it published a Paul Rogers Briefing Paper titled,
"Military Action Against Iran: Impact and Effects," concluding
- "military action....should be ruled out as a means
of responding to (Iran's) possible nuclear weapons ambitions. The consequences
of such an attack would lead to a sustained conflict and regional instability
that would....unlikely....prevent (Tehran's) eventual acquisition....and
might even encourage it" for self-defense.
- ORG believes US action is unlikely, but Israel's belligerence
has increased, at least rhetorically, given its own voices on both sides,
saner ones knowing the folly. Worrisome, however, is the IDF's improved
strike capabilities, its "newly developed ability to conduct major
attacks" with long-range aircraft, drones and improved tanker aircraft
as well as "the probable availability of support facilities in north-east
Iraq and Azerbaijan....increas(ing its) potential for action against Iran."
- Israeli extremists say Iran is a threat, despite no confirming
evidence, Tehran calling its commercial program legitimate. So do dozens
of other nations, America and Israel included, despite continued rhetorical
- In February 2006, ORG published a study titled, "Iran,
Consequences of a War," analyzing its possible outcomes, assuming
- "any military action by the United States or Israel
would have as its function the inflicting of severe damage on Iran's nuclear
installations and medium-range missile programmes (sic), while, in the
case of the United States, endeavoring to pre-empt any damaging Iranian
- It also assumed no attempted regime change, just an action
to destroy Iran's nuclear sites, supportive research, and retaliation capability,
knowing Tehran "would have methods of responding....includ(ing) disruption
of Gulf oil production and exports, (and by supporting) insurgents in Iraq
(and) Southern Lebanon....A military operation against Iran....would set
in motion a complex and long-lasting confrontation. It follows that (it)
should be firmly ruled out and alternative strategies developed."
- Today, ORG thinks an American attack is less likely,
Israel posing a greater threat. Yet with November congressional elections
approaching, neocon and other right-wing circles claim Iran is "a
much greater threat to US regional and global interests than Iraq ever
was." However, in March 2003, it was believed "if we get Iraq
right, we won't have to worry about Iran," suggesting a convincing
victory would cow Teheran into submission.
- Iraq, however, is far from "right," and won't
ever be under occupation. Attacking Iran compounds it disastrously, yet
right-wing US hardliners and the Israeli Lobby want it. "While the
Obama administration seems unlikely at present to consider military action,
its rhetoric has certainly become far tougher," so far confined to
posturing and sanctions.
- Israel's Military Posture
- Besides a nuclear capability of 200 or more warheads,
it can deliver them by aircraft, surface-to-air missiles, and possibly
submarine-launched cruise missiles. "Israel currently has three German-built
Dolphin-class submarines with two more" to be delivered in 2012.
- In 1981, Israel destroyed Iraq's Osiraq reactor, and
in September 2007 attacked a suspected (not proved) Syrian nuclear site.
Using long-range versions US F-15 and F-16 aircraft (the F-15I Ra'am and
F-16I Sufa), some reportedly with conformal fuel tanks for increased range,
and backup tanker planes, Iran is within reach.
- In addition, "Israel has been a leading developer
of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), used mainly for intelligence, surveillance,
target acquisition, and reconnaissance (ISTAR), the Hermit 450" a
deployable variant armed with Hellfire missiles with an endurance up to
20 hours. A new UAV, the Eitan, is Israel's largest - "a 4,000 Kg
high-altitude drone with a range of over 7,400 km (4,600 miles), an endurance
of 36 hours, and a maximum payload of 2,000 kg."
- Israel has also been involved in various operations in
Iraq, especially training Kurdish commandos in the northeast, close to
the Iranian border.
- Besides its considerable military program, America supplies
billions of dollars in annual aid, including state-of-the-art weapons and
technology. It's acknowledged that Israel needs Washington's consent to
attack, unilaterally or collaboratively. Doing so would involve over-flying
US-controlled air space, likely via Iraq.
- Despite being oil and gas rich, Iran wants (and is entitled
to) a commercial nuclear capability for electricity - along with 30 other
countries as of June 2010, including America, Canada, 15 European nations,
Brazil, Argentina, South Africa, India, Pakistan, Taiwan, Japan and China,
their programs encouraged, not opposed. Iran, alone, incurs hostility because
of its suspected (not verified) military ambitions.
- For years, Israel claimed Tehran is a year or two away
from acquiring capability, the CIA waffling in its estimate, director Leon
Panetta recently telling ABC News enough uranium is now available for two
bombs, and within two years Iran will be able to deliver them. However,
others inside the Agency disagree, and kidnapped Iranian scientist Shahram
Amiri said Iran has no nuclear weapons program, despite high pressure to
get him to say so.
- At best, "all that can be said is that Iran is slowly
developing the technologies and personnel (to) handle a range of nuclear-related
systems." If it wants a nuclear arsenal, "three to seven years
from now might be an appropriate estimate, the seven-year period being
the time required to produce perhaps six usable weapons."
- However, no evidence shows intent, despite rhetoric suggesting
otherwise. In addition, at this time, Iran's fuel cycle is under safeguards.
If not, it "would set off a major international alert many months
before (it) would be able to convert the material into a weapon,"
or be able to have shadow facilities for large quantities of fuel through
mining, milling, uranium conversion, enrichment, fabrication and weaponization.
- Iran does have an ongoing ballistic missile program,
ranging from short to long-range solid fuel systems. Until recently, its
longest was the Shahab-3 able to hit targets up to 1,000 km away, short
of reaching Israel. It's also developed a longer-range 1,600 km capability
Ghadr-1 missile able to strike the Jewish state, but it's believed few
so far have been produced.
- Ahead may be more powerful solid fuel ballistic missiles,
the Sajjil, able to reach targets up to 2,400 km away and carry a similar
payload to the Ghadr-1. Tests have been conducted, but no reliable reports
confirm deployments. It's estimated five years will be required to produce
Sajjils in large numbers, Iran believing it needs a strong defense knowing
"regimes to the east (Afghanistan) and west (Iraq) of it were terminated
by large-scale (US) military action," Washington and Israel suggesting
Tehran may be next.
- If so, likely targets would be the following:
- -- uranium enrichment plants, including their scientific
and technical staff, especially near Natanz, Iran's main enrichment facility;
- -- the Esfahan uranium conversion facility;
- -- nuclear research and development locations in Tehran,
near Arak, and the new Bushehr Nuclear Power Plant control systems, not
the reactors to prevent regional contamination;
- -- factories making supportive equipment, especially
involved in centrifuge production;
- -- military bases with missiles capable of striking Israel,
including their personnel, research, development and production facilities;
- -- physics, engineering, electronics and related university
departments, and their staff, with curricula related to nuclear and missile
- Overall, the likely strategy would be to destroy Iran's
nuclear and missile capabilities and prevent attempts to resuscitate them.
The "end result would be an attack with a very broad effect,"
causing widespread casualties, including in Tehran.
- If Israel attacks, it might first strike Hezbollah in
Lebanon to prevent its retaliatory response. "There have been reliable
reports that the (IDF has) developed comprehensive plans for....an all-out
assault on the party's arsenals, command centres, commercial assets and
strongholds throughout the country." Hezbollah may, in fact, expect
one preemptively and is prepared to respond.
- On July 22, the Jerusalem Post reported a planned IDF
drill as part of extensive preparations for possible war with Hezbollah
and Syria, the army preparing missile attacks on main roads and bases as
well as infantry and armored force invasions, anticipating south Lebanon
the main battleground, Hezbollah's stronghold with command centers and
- If attacked, Iran will also respond, including by withdrawing
from NPT under Article X provisions based on "extraordinary events
related to the subject matter of this treaty (that) have jeopardized the
supreme interests of its country." In addition, prioritizing nuclear
weapons development to deter future attacks would be likely, including
in below-ground secret facilities, reportedly under construction.
- Other actions, over time, might include the following:
- -- missile attacks against Israeli and US forces in Iraq;
- -- Straits of Hormuz blockage to disrupt oil shipments,
causing a sharp rise in prices, "potentially catastrophic" on
a weak global economy;
- -- attacks on western Gulf oil production, processing
and transportation facilities - essentially soft targets despite greater
- -- support for Iraq and Afghanistan resistance fighters.
- The Iranian public and Arab street would be supportive,
perceiving Israel as a US client state, and Washington a regional menace.
- "Perhaps the most important aspect of an Israel(i)
attack (is) that it would almost certainly be the beginning of a long-term
process of regular air strikes to further prevent the development of nuclear
weapons and delivery systems," Israel and Washington believing once
initiated, "it could not easily stop." Over time, Iran would
respond accordingly, embroiling the entire region in conflict with catastrophic
- At the same time, expect the unexpected, perhaps involving
Lebanon, Syria, and regional state responses, depending on a protracted
conflict's instability - not preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons;
in fact, likely encouraging it.
- These "dangerous consequences (clearly) militate
against military action," leaving two alternative paths:
- -- more robust diplomacy for peace and the prospect of
a nuclear-free Middle East; and/or
- -- accept an eventual nuclearized Iran, using it to start
"a process of balanced regional denuclearisation," knowing the
risks - an unwilling Israel and the possibility it will encourage regional
proliferation, a certainty if Israel and/or Washington attacks Iran.
- The catastrophic consequences of doing so makes avoiding
it essential. The alternative is unthinkable.
- A Final Comment
- Author/political critic Webster Tarpley sees the worst
in his July 21 article titled, "Obama Is Preparing to Bomb Iran,"
saying we approached this abyss in summer 2007, escaped, and now face it
again, quoting Zbigniew Brzezinski's remarks before the Senate Foreign
Relations Committee in February 2007 saying:
- "If the United States continues to be bogged down
in a protracted bloody involvement in Iraq, the final destination....is
likely to be a head-on conflict with Iran and with much of the (Islamic)
world....at large. A plausible scenario for a military collision....involves
Iraqi failure to meet benchmarks; followed by accusations of Iranian responsibility
for (it); then by some provocation in Iraq or a terrorist act in the US
blamed on Iran; culminating in a 'defensive' US military action against
Iran that plunges a lonely America into a spreading and deepening quagmire
eventually ranging across Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, and Pakistan."
- His lengthy article makes the case for war, concluding
that "aggressive forces inside the United States think they have a
much freer hand" than earlier, the Brzezinski cooler head faction
losing ground to extremist neocons, strengthened by the possibility of
General David Petraeus elected president in 2012.
- He also believes the new National Intelligence Estimate
(NIE), when released, will be "fixed around the desired war policy,"
coming likely during "the dark of the moon," perhaps an October
7 surprise. His advice - it's time for "persons of good will (to)
get active, (otherwise) radioactive."
- Hopefully, cooler heads will prevail, avoiding a regional
or possible world war, perhaps to divert attention from the deepening economic
- Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at
email@example.com. Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com
and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the
Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays
at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs
are archived for easy listening.