Washington’s Third Option Against a Nuclear Iran

A Nuclear Iran

A Nuclear Iran

By Raymond Tanter
February 16, 2015 – 1:39 pm

Washington’s Third Option Against a Nuclear Iran

Jay Solomon and Carol Lee, two widely respected reporters of The Wall Street Journal, wrote last week on Iran as both a nuclear threshold state and a rogue regime. On Feb. 13, Solomon and Lee said that Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei sent a new letter to President Obama.

That letter was in response to one sent by President Barack Obama in October 2014 that linked progress in the nuclear talks with cooperation between Washington and Tehran against the Islamic State (also called ISIS). According to these journalists, an unnamed Iranian diplomat informed them that Obama had sent a letter that raised the possibility of what I would call an American-Iranian entente cordiale to counter the Islamic if a nuclear deal is secured. Khamenei was supposedly “respectful” but noncommittal on the Obama offer to cooperate against the Islamic State.

Congressional pushback against a bad deal in the bilateral nuclear talks between Tehran and Washington plus expected failure of the multilateral Geneva talks could invigorate Hill pressure on the administration for reversion to the prior international consensus of zero right to enrich uranium gas on Iranian soil and zero breakout time before Tehran can dash for the bomb before inspectors can detect its moves. During July 2014, moreover, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton exclaimed that allowing Iran to have “any enrichment will trigger an arms race in the Middle East,” a signal that she favored the zero-enrichment option.

There also is growing support for tough measures against Iran in general. They include: ballistic missile constraints and zero collusion of Washington with Tehran in the fight against the Islamic State. Anticipate the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations under the leadership of Chairman Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) and Ranking Member Bob Menendez (D-NJ) to hold hearings that put the heat on Team Obama for tying the nuclear talks to an informal alignment with Iran against ISIS.

Mainstream media will continue to expose the administration’s concessions to Iran, as in recent editorials of the Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post. In the context of strong pressure from the Hill, expect to find more advocacy for the idea of regime change from within, e.g., by explicitly recognizing Iranian dissidents in a broad coalition that rejects rule by the ayatollahs.

Iran as a Nuclear Threshold State and as a Revolutionary Rogue Regime

Nuclear threshold states include Brazil and Japan. They opt for nuclear-arms restraint despite significant nuclear capabilities. Although they present challenges, they are not rogue states; hence, there is less concern if their capabilities lead to acquisition of the bomb. They lack sufficient political toxicity.

Rogue regimes contain the lethal elements, which make the combination with being a threshold nuclear state so dangerous. Such regimes do not play by the rules of the international game. Three such principles are state sponsorship of international terrorism, proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, and use of proxies to destabilize other nations. Iran is in violation of all three.

Iran uses state-sponsored terrorism and covert arms transfers to destabilize other nations near and far (Iran in Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Morocco, Latin America, especially Argentina, and in the United States); Iran engages in proliferation of weapons technology to third parties (Iran and North Korea proliferate with each other — uranium enrichment for plutonium reprocessing); and Tehran employs proxies to hide its covert takeover of other nations (Iran-backed Houthis in Yemen and Iran’s Hezbollah in Lebanon).

On Feb 11, the House Committee on Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Terrorism, Nonproliferation, and Trade held a hearing, “State Sponsor of Terror: The Global Threat of Iran.” During the hearing, a bipartisan group of lawmakers expressed deep concern about Tehran’s sponsorship of terrorism.

Why is the Islamic Republic of Iran such a miscreant? It is because the regime is run by ayatollahs intent on spreading the virus of its 1979 Revolution in Iran while posing as a normal state with which we can do business. As former State Department official and now Council on Foreign Relations Senior Fellow for Middle Eastern Studies, Ray Takeyh, states in the Sept-Oct 2012 issue of The National Interest, “The Islamic Republic is different from its revolutionary counterparts in that the ideology of its state is its religion.”

Because of this central role of religious-based ideology in the authoritarian nature of Iran, traditional means of influence based on national interest calculations have little prospect of success. Hence, increasingly scholars and policymakers are paying more attention to bringing about regime change from within spearheaded by dissidents to avoid a choice between bombing Iran and living with a nuclear-armed Iran. Ivan Sascha Sheehan, a specialist at the University of Baltimore “unpacks” this soft revolution approach and applies it to Iran.

In view of these ideological imperatives, the evolution of the current nuclear talks with Iran is instructive. They began in 2004 and 2005 with the EU-Three (France, Germany, and Britain) and were reinforced by six U.N. Security Council Resolutions that denied Iran to enrich uranium. The original goal of the multilateral approach was to deny Iran a capability to develop a military nuclear option. Talks now are mostly a bilateral negotiation between Tehran and Washington over the scope of Iran’s nuclear capability. “The impact of this approach will be to move from preventing proliferation to managing it,” according to former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger on Jan. 29, 2015, before the Senate Committee on Armed Services. Under the chair of Sen. McCain (R-Ariz.), also expect pushback-type hearings against concessions by the administration.

Iran’s ideological stance trumps national interest bargaining and succeeds in getting recognition of a supposed “right to enrich.” Tehran weakens the resolve of multilateral proposals, leaving current talks to be about such issues as how many enrichment centrifuges Iran can possess, e.g., from some 19,000 now to about 7,000, supposedly in a preliminary “deal” negotiated by Tehran and Washington, according to Israel Times of Jan. 31.

In summary, there is no need for cooperation with Iran against the Islamic State, and it is a recipe for expanding Tehran’s revolutionary toxicity to Iraq and Syria. Rather than choosing between bombing Iran and living with a nuclear armed Iran, there is a third way: encouraging a soft revolution in Iran via a coalition of like-minded dissidents. An Iran without the Islamist taint might be in the same category of states like Brazil and Japan, whose nuclear aims are not tarnished by extremist ideology.

Pakistan Counters Obama’s Move (Ezekiel 17)

Islamabad- Pakistan has started lobbying to join the Nuclear Group, sources said.

The sources said that it has been decided at the highest level to establish contacts with all the 49 members of the Nuclear Group, to seek their support to join the club. According to the sources, consultations will also be made with friend countries, before taking any decision to sign the Nuclear Proliferation Treaty.

The sources said that during his recent telephonic conversation with US President Barrak Obama, Prime Minister Nawaz Shari also expressed his desire to join the nuclear club. After joining the club, Pakistan will have to take stringent measures to stop nuclear proliferation.

Pakistan and India, if succeed in getting membership of the nuclear club, they will be accepted as nuclear powers and they will be in a position to import uranium for peaceful and civilian nuclear purposes. The uranium could also be utilized to produce energy and medical purposes.

Babylon The Great Is Great No More (Ezekiel 17)

Obama has weakened US globally
Babylon The Great
Published: Mon, February 16, 2015 @ 12:00 a.m.
By John Bolton

Los Angeles Times

Any administration’s national security strategy written for public consumption inevitably involves platitudes, vacuous rhetoric and self-congratulation. But the strategy announced last week for President Barack Obama’s final two years in office sets new records in all these categories. As a sleep aid, it cannot be underestimated. Indeed, diverting attention from America’s rapidly deteriorating global strategic posture was likely a prime objective, as were his answers at last week’s news conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

In her defense of the strategy, National Security Adviser Susan Rice criticized “alarmism” by Obama’s critics, arguing in a speech that we do not face “existential” threats as we did in World War II and the Cold War. That’s true, but no thanks to Obama’s policies, which have weakened the United States and in coming years will encourage aggressors rather than deter them. The president fails to grasp that the function of statecraft is precisely to be alert to small threats and crises and to prevent them from growing to existential levels.

Detachment from reality

Obama’s national security strategy is most noteworthy for its detachment from reality. In a personal introduction, the president preens about reducing American forces in Iraq and Afghanistan from approximately 180,000 in 2009 to roughly 15,000 today. Then, ironically echoing his predecessor, he asserts that we are “leading over 60 partners in a global campaign to degrade and ultimately defeat” Islamic State. Left unsaid is that Iraq has collapsed as a viable state, and that Islamic State, a threat equal to or worse than al-Qaida, now controls large portions of Iraq’s territory. What is left over is an Iranian vassal. The prognosis for Afghanistan is little better.

These debacles are presented as achievements. In fact, I believe Islamic State would fall swiftly in the face of strong military measures and political efforts to divorce Sunni Arabs in Iraq and Syria from its sway. Instead, Iraq is devolving into a new terrorist state, as other countries in the region, from Libya to Yemen, descend into chaos and anarchy.

Obama claims we are “in lockstep with our European allies” in opposing Russian aggression in Ukraine, but Merkel and French President Francois Hollande are actively negotiating with Moscow, while Washington appears to be sidelined. Meanwhile, NATO is badly divided over whether to provide Kiev military aid.

Nonetheless, Obama writes that “the question is never whether America should lead, but how we lead.” His truly Orwellian notion that “leading from behind” is actually leadership would warm Big Brother’s heart. Sadly, our global adversaries are not deceived.

The security strategy’s detachment from reality is most egregiously displayed in its discussion of the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, and specifically Iran’s nuclear-weapons program. Obama is proud he is reducing America’s nuclear capabilities, even as he admits that threats posed by “irresponsible states or terrorists” using nuclear weapons are the gravest America faces.

Unfortunately, the idea that diminished U.S. capabilities will in some way induce those “irresponsible states or terrorists” to modify their own behavior seems chilling and palpably inaccurate.

‘Interim’ deal

On Iran, Obama says that the 2013 “interim” deal (agreed to by the U.N. Security Council’s five permanent members and Germany) “has halted the progress of Iran’s program.” This is flatly untrue and as a basis for policy, it almost certainly obscures a growing “existential” threat for America and our allies. It assumes we know everything about Iran’s nuclear-weapons program, which is a dramatically unrealistic characterization for both the extent of, and our confidence in, the information we actually possess.

There is simply no evidence that Iran has done anything other than make temporary, easily reversible concessions regarding uranium already enriched to reactor-grade levels. Nothing in the interim agreement even addresses the likelihood of Iran’s efforts to weaponize highly enriched uranium and to develop a plutonium nuclear-weapon option.

Like its bureaucratic predecessors from every administration, the 2015 national security strategy will soon lie forgotten on dusty shelves. Unfortunately, however, Obama’s ongoing, accelerating failures will bedevil America for decades to come.

John Bolton, former U.S. ambassador to the U.N., is a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute. He wrote this for the Los Angeles Times. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

– See more at: http://www.vindy.com/news/2015/feb/16/obama-has-weakened-us-globally/#sthash.FjgWIk1A.dpuf

The Australian Nuclear Horn (Daniel 7:7)

Risk Of Australian Uranium In Indian Nuclear Weapons Spark Worries

Australian the Nuclear Horn

Australian the Nuclear Horn

By Reissa Su on February 16 2015 3:29 AM

Australian uranium might end up in the hands of India as part of the country’s nuclear weapons program. Two experts on nuclear power believe the concessions agreed between the two nations could lead to this scenario.

Ronald Walker, a former Australian ambassador and chairman of the international Atomic Energy Agency, said the Abbott government’s deal to sell the country’s uranium to India has “drastically changed” Australia’s longstanding policy on safeguards. He added that the agreement has risked countries playing with nuclear weapons, reports The Guardian.

Risk of nuclear weapons building

Walker told a hearing of the parliamentary joint standing committee on treaties that deal with India is different from Australia’s 23 other uranium export deals. He believes the uranium agreement between Australia and India will only cause damage to the non-proliferation regime.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott has signed a deal to transform Australia into a “long-term” supplier of uranium to India. The agreement was finalised in New Delhi in Sept. 2014 but the committee has yet to approve the terms of the deal.

John Carlson, the head of the Australian Safeguards and Non-Proliferation Office between 1989 and 2010, shares the same view with Walker. He said it would be inexcusable for Australia to push through with the agreement. According to the provisions of the deal, Australian material can be used to make unsafeguarded plutonium that may potentially end up in India’s nuclear weapon program.

However, a senior foreign affairs official defended the deal and argued that India has unique circumstances. He said any deviation from the standard agreement would achieve the same results based on policy but in different ways.

Walker cited specific and new wording on the issue of whether India needed to seek Australia’s permission to enrich the country’s uranium imports. He said the wordings were open to interpretation that Australia has agreed to give prior consent if India decides to proceed with high-level enrichment. Walker warned that highly enriched uranium can be used to create nuclear weapons and generate energy.

Nuclear power for economic development

Walker explained that in Australia’s current agreement with India, Australia does not claim to withhold or withdraw consent if dissatisfied. Both Walker and Carlson support the uranium exports to India to reduce the use of fossil fuels and promote economic development through generation of nuclear power. Carlson had pointed out that the safeguards of the deal with India were more lenient compared to the deals Australia had with China, Japan and the U.S.

Advocates of the deal believe in promoting the use of nuclear energy against climate change. Mr Abbott said in December 2014 that nuclear power should be used to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions. He added that global warning has made the issue of generating nuclear power worth revisiting.

Russia Ready To Go Nuclear? (Daniel 7:7)

Putin: Will he go nuclear?
The Ukraine crisis has turned into a potentially apocalyptic nuclear stand-off as President Vladimir Putin primes Russia for conflict with the West. But how scared should we really be?

Earlier this month, as fighting raged in eastern Ukraine between pro-Russian rebels and forces loyal to the Western-backed government in Kiev, Dmitry Kiselyov, the pugnacious, middle-aged journalist who heads Russia’s main state news agency, gazed defiantly into a TV studio camera. “What is Russia preparing for?” he asked. As if in reply, the director cut to an ominous backdrop image of an intercontinental ballistic missile emerging from an underground launch silo.
“During the era of political romanticism, the Soviet Union pledged never to use nuclear weapons first,” Kiselyov told the audience of Vesti Nedeli, his current affairs show, one of the country’s most widely watched programmes. “But Russia’s current military doctrine does not.” He paused briefly for effect. “No more illusions.”
There was nothing out of the ordinary about this reminder that Russia reserves the right to use nuclear weapons in response to a “threat” to its statehood. Since the start of the crisis in Ukraine, which has massive geostrategic importance for Russia, state-controlled TV has engineered an upsurge in aggressive anti-Western sentiment, with Kiselyov as the Kremlin’s top attack dog.
Last spring, as Washington warned of sanctions over Russia’s seizure of the Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea, Kiselyov boasted about his country’s fearsome nuclear arsenal. “Russia is the only country in the world realistically capable of turning the US into radioactive ash,” he declared.
Some 5,500 lives have been lost in the almost year-long conflict in Ukraine, where pro-Russian rebels in the east have carved out two self-declared “people’s republics”. The crisis was sparked by the February 2014 overthrow of Ukraine’s pro-Russian president, Viktor Yanukovych, in what Kremlin officials say was a coup orchestrated by the US. In addition, President Vladimir Putin has spoken of what he called a “Nato legion” fighting alongside the Ukrainian army.

While there is no proof that Nato forces are in action in Ukraine, US officials have suggested that Washington could supply weapons to Kiev to assist its battered army. The proposal sparked a furious response: Viktor Zavarzin, of Russia’s defence committee, warned of the “irrevocable consequences” of such a move.

In turn, the West has accused Russia of providing both troops and weaponry to the rebels, a charge Putin has consistently denied.

A ceasefire thrashed out by the leaders of Russia, Ukraine, France and Germany – the second attempt to bring peace to the devastated region – was set to come into effect today at one minute past midnight.

Amid these tensions, Kiselyov is not the only one pushing the possibility of nuclear confrontation with the West. Russia’s Zvezda TV channel, owned by the defence ministry, has also been preparing its audience for the worst. “Russia and the US are on the verge of nuclear war,” read a headline on its website last week. The article cited an analyst from the Moscow-based Politika think tank,

Vyacheslav Nikonov, which said a nuclear exchange between the two former Cold War-era foes was increasingly likely because the US wanted Russia to “disappear” as an independent country. “This is not in our plans,” he said.

Russia has the world’s largest stockpile of nuclear weapons, with 8,400 warheads compared with a US total of 7,500. A day after last week’s peace talks in Belarus, Russia’s nuclear forces staged large-scale exercises, soon after navy nuclear combat drills in the Arctic. All of which causes concern in the West. Michael Fallon, the UK Defence Secretary, said earlier this month that he was worried Russia had “lowered its threshold” for the use of nuclear weapons, while “integrating nuclear with conventional forces in a rather threatening way.”

The prospect of nuclear war is also being talked up by pro-Kremlin movements. In a clip posted online last month, a Kalashnikov-wielding member of the Moscow-based, pro-Kremlin National Liberation Movement (NOD) vows global nuclear devastation in the event of the defeat of Russia’s interests in Ukraine. “If we lose, we will destroy the whole world,” intones a young NOD activist named Maria Katasonova. She sweeps a circle with her arm, and the screen is filled with a virtual image of an explosion as the planet is consumed in an atomic inferno.

“Russians will not sit by and watch as their country’s sovereignty is threatened by the US,” Katasonova told The Sunday Telegraph last week. “If our country is in genuine danger, we really will use nuclear weapons.”

Katasonova is a follower of Alexander Dugin, a hardline nationalist thinker who has called for the destruction of the US. Dugin – described as “Putin’s brain” by the respected US-based Foreign Affairs journal – is something of a fanatic. He combines political activities with occultism, and often speaks of his belief that the world must be “brought to an end”.

So what’s going on? Is Moscow really preparing its people for the unthinkable – nuclear confrontation? Or is all this simply North Korean-style bluff and bluster? How many minutes are left until the Kremlin’s doomsday clock strikes midnight?

“It is, of course, a disgrace and an embarrassment to my country that such things are being said on national television,” said Lev Ponomaryov, a veteran human rights activist and Soviet-era dissident. “But statements about nuclear war are mainly for domestic consumption. In particular, they are directed at the more radical, nationalist members of society – those who have been fighting as volunteers in Ukraine, or support the rebels there.”

While Putin denies that regular Russian troops are fighting in Ukraine, he has hailed the hundreds, if not thousands, of apparent volunteers who have travelled to what the rebels call “Novorossiya” – “New Russia”. A number of these fighters have become folk heroes back home; in particular, Igor Strelkov, the ultra-conservative enthusiast who spent much of last year commanding rebel forces in Ukraine’s Donbass region.

“I think these people frighten the Kremlin even more than they scare me,” said Ponomaryov. “The authorities are afraid that they could one day turn their weapons against them, and the government will do anything to keep them on side.”

State television’s war rhetoric is not confined to the nuclear. In recent days, one Kremlin-run channel has discussed how long it would take for Russian tanks to “reach Berlin”, while in east Ukraine, bloody and bruised government soldiers were abused by a notorious rebel commander in front of Russian television cameras.

But state-run media’s fever-pitch, anti-Western TV programming is not only pandering to the radicals, it is also creating them. “Nationally televised broadcasts, such as those presented by Dmitry Kiselyov, have scared people, and led to increased hostility in society,” said Lev Gudkov, who heads the independent, Moscow-based Levada-Center polling agency. “We have seen a drastic change in the collective consciousness of the Russian people over the last year or so.”

The figures are startling. The number of Russians who believe their country and the US are now mutual enemies has increased tenfold in a year to 42 per cent, according to an opinion poll. The total professing a negative attitude to the US has almost doubled.

The statistics are backed by everyday incidents, from the racist image of a banana-munching President Barack Obama laser-beamed on to the wall of the US embassy in Moscow, to the T-shirts with slogans hailing Russia’s nuclear missiles, on sale across the country.

“Of course I don’t want an atomic war with the West,” said Yegor Denisov, a twentysomething computer programmer. “But we have to defend ourselves from our enemies. And this,” he said, gesturing at the ballistic missile on his newly bought T-shirt, “will help us do that.”

Although state media broadcasts have clearly had a pernicious influence on society, putting the country on a war footing and boosting Putin’s approval ratings, Peter Pomerantsev, a UK journalist who worked in Russian TV in the 2000s, believes they are mainly intended for a Western audience.
“I wouldn’t take these statements about nuclear war literally,” said Pomerantsev, whose book, Nothing is True and Everything is Possible, dissects the Kremlin’s media manipulation tactics. Talk of impending nuclear conflict is “one of Putin’s mind-benders”, part of what he called an attempt to convince the West that the former KGB officer is this “crazy, unpredictable” leader whom it would be advisable not to push too far.

But the lines between fantasy and reality can all too often get blurred.

“There is always the danger that games somehow slip into reality – you start off playing with these narratives, and you end up stumbling into a real conflict,” said Pomerantsev.

The Kremlin’s masters of reality have uncorked the atomic genie. It is to be hoped they show the same aptitude when it comes to putting it back in the bottle.

Follow Marc on Twitter: @marcbennetts1