The Russian Nuclear Horn Displays Its Might (Dan 7:7)

Russian Navy Carries Out Mock Attack on Nuclear Submarine

BY    3/19/15 AT 10:37 AM
Russian submarine

A view shows Russia’s nuclear-powered submarine Yekaterinburg at a Russian navy base in Murmansk region March 16, 2011. ANDREI PRONIN/REUTERS

The ‘strike and search group’, as the Russian Ministry of Defence referred to it, from the navy’s Northern Fleet comprised of Tu-142 ‘Bear’ naval aviation reconnaissance bombers and Il-38 ‘Dolphin’ maritime patrol jets as well as two small anti-submarine ships and support vessels.
“During the exercise crews from the anti-submarine vessels successfully completed fire of the RBU – 6000 reaction engine-bomb installation and also utilized torpedo capabilities,” the Ministry of Defence said.
The Barents Sea is located between Russia and both mainland Norway and the Norwegian island territories of of Svalbard have access to it. Russia’s interests in the Barents Sea have previously prompted Oslo to insist it supplements NATO submarines in the region with its own.
In 2012 Norwegian defence minister Espen Barthe Eide said he did not believe Norway “would ever be without its own submarines because we have such large seas with Russia as its neighbour”.
Meanwhile Russia announced it has commissioned two more submarines to be built by 2020, one of which is nuclear powered, in celebration of today’s military holiday – Submariner’s Day.

These drills have unsettled some of its European neighbours already. Lithuania reported yesterday that it had intercepted 11 Russian jets near its airspace, which flew with their tracking devices switched off and without giving warning of the route they would undertake.

Iran’s New Generation Of Nuclear Talent (Daniel 8:3)

Iran’s Physicists

Tehran University of Technology

19 March 2015

The Iran University of Science and Technology in Tehran was founded in 1929 as a school of engineering. It became a general technological institute in 1972. It now has more than a dozen departments with thousands of undergraduate and postgraduate students. Few if any American universities have a more complete list of undergraduate physics courses. Looking at the faculty reveals an interesting split. The senior professors all did much of their degree work abroad. One of them for example was an undergraduate at Columbia. The junior faculty, including one woman, all did their degree work in Iran. In another generation, it may be that all of Iran’s physicists will have been educated in Iran. No other country in the Middle East would show a demographic like this. Taken in the large this means that Iran has a serious scientific infrastructure, which must be taken into account in any negotiations over its nuclear programme. The notion that the country can be negotiated into a scientific stone age is nonsense.
I am going to take a quick detour to Libya. In 1968, King Idris made the country a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. When Colonel Gaddafi took over the following year he did not change this treaty status. Indeed Libya began a modest development in peaceful nuclear activities. This did not last long; on a state visit to China in 1970 Gaddafi made an unsuccessful attempt to buy nuclear weapons. He then tried both India and Pakistan and had a go at enriching uranium. What characterised the Libyan programme throughout was the lack of a real scientific infrastructure. In the 1980s, the Pakistani metallurgist A.Q. Khan began selling nuclear secrets. In the late 1990s Gaddafi bought the package which included plans and parts to build centrifuges. When he decided to give the programme up in 2003, even with the aid of foreign scientists the Libyans had succeeded in building only one centrifuge.
On 21 January 2004, a large delegation of British and American intelligence agents as well as representatives of the International Atomic Energy Association (IAEA) assembled to examine what the Libyans had turned over and decide what to do with it. Two of them, one British and one American, were escorted to a small office. Two large bags containing documents were brought in to be inspected. The first one contained detailed plans for constructing a nuclear weapon that the Chinese had successfully tested and flown in a medium range ballistic missile on 27 October 1966. There were notations in Chinese on the diagrams. They are now stored in a classified storage vault somewhere in the US.
Now back to Iran. It is well known that Iran bought Khan’s centrifuge package, and what they did with it is also obvious: 18,000 functioning centrifuges. What is not obvious is whether they bought the rest of the package. They will not allow the IAEA to inspect anything that directly relates to the military aspects of their program. In a 2011 report the IAEA wrote:
In an interview in 2007 with a member of the clandestine nuclear supply network, the Agency was told that Iran had been provided with nuclear explosive design information. From information provided to the Agency during that interview, the Agency is concerned that Iran may have obtained more advanced design information than the information identified in 2004 as having been provided to Libya by the nuclear supply network.
Much discussion has come out of the negotiations concerning matters such as uranium enrichment. Nothing, at least that I have read, has come out on how to put the genie of knowledge back into the bottle. I think it more than likely that Iran has these designs and has probably improved on them. It just takes a small group of talented physicists working in a few offices to do so. That is what happened in Pakistan. This makes it all the more urgent that whatever agreement is reached – if one is ever reached – strictly limits the fissile material available to implement the plans. I am not very optimistic.

India’s Second Strike Ability Troubles Pakistan (Dan 8)

Going nuclear at sea

Written by Iskander Rehman | Posted: March 19, 2015 4:11 am |

Almost six years ago, in Visakhapatnam, Gursharan Kaur, wife of then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, cracked a coconut on the hull of India’s first nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarine (SSBN). Subsequently named the INS Arihant or “destroyer of enemies”, the vessel was the result of decades of efforts by India’s nuclear scientists. For many years, bureaucratic languor, technical challenges and chronic difficulties in nuclear reactor miniaturisation appeared to ensure that progress would be painstakingly slow. Indeed, at one stage, it became unclear whether the project would see the light of day.
In August 2013, when the Arihant’s nuclear reactor finally went critical, the event was thus widely hailed, both in India and abroad, as a major technological and symbolic milestone. Currently undergoing sea trials, the Arihant is destined to be the first vessel in a flotilla of up to five indigenously produced SSBNs, and it has been reported that a sister vessel, the INS Aridhaman, is nearing completion. Since the Pokhran-II series of nuclear tests in 1998, the Indian government has repeatedly iterated its desire to attain a credible minimum nuclear deterrent, structured around what nuclear strategists refer to as a triad, that is, a mixture of aircraft, land-based mobile missiles and naval assets. India’s nuclear doctrine states that it is a no-first-use power, and it is in this light that one must view the importance attached to the sea-based leg of its nuclear deterrent.
Indeed, the survivability and overall resiliency of India’s nuclear arsenal has become a growing concern for military planners in New Delhi, particularly as Beijing continues to make rapid advances in missile, space and cyber technology. Nuclear submarines, provided they are sufficiently quiet, are still considered to be the most survivable of nuclear platforms, due to their mobility and discretion. Placing nuclear assets underwater puts them at a safer distance from a crippling first strike. The development of the Arihant and its successors therefore constitutes the next logical step in Delhi’s quest for an assured retaliatory capability.
It is important to note, however, that while the launch of India’s first indigenous SSBN constitutes a great accomplishment, it is also only the first step in what promises to be a long and onerous process. India’s naval nuclear journey has only just begun.
Going forward, the Indian navy will face three sets of nuclear challenges. The first set is in the technological domain, as the navy struggles to acquire the capability for continuous at-sea deterrence. The second set of difficulties will need to be addressed within the navy itself, as its officers begin to grapple with the importance of their service’s new nuclear role. Finally, Indian naval planners will also have to contend with their Pakistani counterparts’ development of what can best be described as a “naval nuclear force-in-being”.
When the Arihant is finally commissioned, it will be fitted with 12 Sagarika K-15 submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs). The Sagarika, however, only has a strike radius of about 750 to 800 km, which many analysts rightly consider inadequate. Indeed, with such a short range, the Arihant could not reach Islamabad, let alone China’s strategic centres. The DRDO is currently working on two longer-range SLBMs: the 3,500-km range K-4, which recently underwent a successful test launch from an underwater pontoon, and the 5,000-km range K-5, which is still in the design phase. According to sources, the Arihant is fitted with four universal tube launchers, which can each carry either three K-15 missiles or one K-4 missile. Observers have raised questions, however, over the compatibility of the K-4’s height with the submarine’s 10.4-m hull. If the length of the K-4 cannot be shortened, the Arihant may need to be retrofitted with a hydrodynamic outer development, or “bump.” Even if the DRDO’s engineers do succeed in squeezing the K-4 aboard, the missile’s range remains somewhat unsatisfactory. It would require India’s nuclear submariners to operate on the northeastern fringes of the Bay of Bengal in order to effectively target China’s major metropolises, rather than within the more sanitised waters abutting India’s eastern seaboard. The K-5 is rumoured to stand at a height of about 12 m, which rules out its deployment aboard the Arihant. The second major technological limitation is that of the Arihant’s nuclear reactor. Reportedly based on first- or second-generation Soviet technology, the 83-megawatt pressurised water reactor has a short refuelling cycle, thus limiting the length of the Arihant’s deterrent patrols.
In short, in order to enjoy an effective sea-based deterrent with regard to China, India will need to deploy larger SSBNs with greater missile carriage capacity and more powerful nuclear reactors. The fourth planned submarine in the series is projected to possess such characteristics, but it may take more than a decade for it to be successfully developed and launched, and even longer for it to be commissioned. While India’s submarine fleet has been taking shape, Delhi has also conducted a series of test firings, starting in 2000, of Dhanush-class short-range ballistic missiles from surface ships. For the time being, however, it appears that the Dhanush programme is merely a stopgap measure until the SSBN fleet comes into full fruition.
Second, history has shown that all newly nuclear navies face some difficult tradeoffs. As India’s SSBN fleet gradually grows in size and importance, the challenge will be to ensure that the navy’s new nuclear role develops alongside, rather than to the detriment of, its conventional missions. As in all nuclear navies, a debate will no doubt unfold within the service as to how many resources and platforms should be devoted to the ballistic missile submarine fleet’s protection. Tough decisions may need to be made, particularly if India’s underwater environment becomes more contested. India’s nuclear command and control procedures will also almost certainly undergo a revision, as the SLBMs will be canisterised and ready for launch, rather than de-mated.
Finally, India’s naval and nuclear planners will also have to contend with the progressive materialisation of a nuclearised Pakistani navy — albeit one with much less orthodox characteristics and undergirded by a very different nuclear posture. Indeed, Islamabad aims to eventually disperse nuclear-tipped cruise missiles across a variety of naval platforms, ranging from surface ships in the short term to conventional diesel-electric submarines in the long term. Unlike India, Pakistan’s naval nuclear ambitions are fuelled primarily by the sense of a growing conventional imbalance in the maritime domain. By nuclearising — or by appearing to nuclearise — a large portion of their fleet architecture, Pakistani military planners hope to neuter India’s growing naval power, inject ambiguity and acquire escalation dominance in the event of a limited conflict at sea. Since Independence, Indian naval officers have been accustomed to operating within a purely conventional maritime setting. Dealing with such a prospective adversary will no doubt necessitate a fundamental rethinking of the navy’s operational concepts. Perhaps more importantly, it will also require an effort on the part of both countries to further institutionalise the maritime component of their relations so as to ensure that in future, isolated incidents don’t spiral out of control.
The writer, a nonresident fellow in the South Asia Programme at the Atlantic Council, is author of the report ‘Murky Waters: Naval Nuclear Dynamics in the Indian Ocean’.

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Iran Playing The Long Game With Yazdi (Daniel 8:3)

The Mullahs’ Contrasting World Visions

The Obama administration has built its Iran policy on the hope of “positive change” in the domestic balance of power within the Iranian regime. How realistic is that hope? One answer came last Monday when Iran’s top political mullahs met behind closed doors in Tehran

Mullahs of Iran
London, Asharq Al-AwsatAs Iran and the United States resume talks on a deal for Iran’s nuclear program, there are conflicting signals from Tehran regarding the Islamic Republic’s strategy.
Last Monday a group of 80 or so mullahs gathered behind closed doors in Tehran and elected a new head of a shadowy body named The Assembly of Experts.

So, why should anyone in Iran, even less in the outside world, be interested in such an esoteric exercise?

The answer is because in the current context of Iranian politics this was quite an important event.
But before we see why, let us first see what the assembly is supposed to do, and who is the man now responsible for heading it for the next year.

The assembly consists of 86 senior mullahs representing all of Iran’s provinces and has the power to appoint or dismiss the “Supreme Guide” and to supervise his performance in office and, when necessary, hold him to account.

Under Iran’s Khomeinist constitution, the “Supreme Guide” represents God’s sovereignty on earth and is given immense powers, more than any other head of state anywhere in the world. Several articles of the Khomeinist Constitution, approved in 1979, make it clear that the “Supreme Guide” is also the leader of all Muslims throughout the world, whether they like it or not.

Theoretically at least, the Khomeinist “Supreme Guide” can decide what Islam is and is not at any given time. Whatever he says is regarded as Fasl Al-Khitab (the closing of the debate), unless, of course, the Assembly of Experts overrules him, something that has never happened before.

In more practical terms, the “Supreme Guide” controls the purse strings of the Islamic Republic, one of the richest in the Muslim world. (Over the past three decades the “Supreme Guide” has supervised the expenditure of almost 1 trillion US dollars’ worth of Iranian oil income.) He must give final approval to the national budget and is the commander-in-chief of all armed and security forces. Every ministerial, gubernatorial and ambassadorial appointment must receive his assent. Though elected by universal suffrage, The president of the Islamic Republic cannot assume office without a decree signed by the “Supreme Guide.”

As Roland Dumas, France’s foreign minister in the 1980s, once put it, in the Islamic Republic the “Supreme Guide” is “everything.” “Other officials are actors playing roles such as ministers, ambassadors, etc.”

 A composite identity

But who is the new head or president of the Assembly of Experts?

He is Ayatollah Mohammad Yazdi, an 84-year-old member of the assembly and one of the few prominent revolutionary mullahs who have managed to combine a clerical career with a high-profile political position.

Yazdi has a composite identity. His surname indicates that his family hailed from the great historic city of Yazd on the edge of the Iranian desert, and one of the last spots in Iran to convert to Islam.
Even today, Yazd, where the largest fire temple in the world is located, is regarded by Zoroastrians all over the world as their “holy” city.

And, yet, Yazdi, who was born in Esfahan, hardly ever lived in his ancestral hometown. However, he could not be regarded as a genuine Esfahani either because while still in his teens he moved to Qom, a center of Shi’ite clerical studies, where he trained to become a mullah. There, his teachers included eminent figures such as Ayatollahs Golpayegani, Mar’ashi-Najafi and Ruhollah Khomeini, the future founder of the Islamic Republic.

His refusal to be identified with any city or province in Iran has earned him the sobriquet of khaneh-bedoush (vagabonds) from his adversaries. He has been elected member of the Islamic Majlis, the Khomeinist parliament, and the Assembly of Experts from such diverse places as Qom, Tehran and even Kermanshah, a largely Kurdish province he had never even visited.

When the mullahs seized power in 1979, Yazdi, still in his forties then, was clearly undecided about the course his career should take. He decided to hedge his bets by playing on both tables. On the political side he became a founding member and leader of the Society of Combatant Clergy, a grouping of mullahs seeking governmental office. He acted as Interim Friday Prayer leader for Tehran and managed to become a member of the Council of the Guardians of the Constitution, a star chamber-like organ that could veto laws passed by the parliament.

At the same time, however, he used his newly won prominence to establish himself as a teacher of theology in Qom with the aim of elevating his rank from a mere Hojjat Al-Islam ( Proof of Islam) to that of a full-fledged Ayatollah (Sign of God).

Over the years his investment in the theological aspect of his career produced important dividends including his elevation to the post of president of the Association of Qom Teachers of Theology, a grouping of pro-government mullahs with much political clout within the regime.

A master of career management, Yazdi succeeded in securing a finger in every pie without becoming exposed to the rough-and-tumble of political struggles. All along he cultivated the friendship of a slightly younger mullah: Hojjat Al-Islam Ali Husseini Khamenei, the future Grand Ayatollah, Imam and “Supreme Guide.”

Profitable friendship

Investment in his friendship with Khamenei provided a big dividend when in 1989, soon after Khomeini’s death, Yazdi was appointed Islamic Chief Justice, one of the top five positions in the Khomeinist system, which he held for 10 years.

Yazdi’s victory last Monday came as a surprise to many, especially because he had not even hinted at being a candidate until an hour before the secret session started.

This was unexpected,” said Masha-Allah Shams Al-Waezeen, a Tehran analyst close to the defeated candidate Ali-Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani. “I was genuinely surprised that Yazdi won.”

Yazdi’s win was overwhelming. He collected almost twice as many votes as Rafsanjani: 47 to 24, revealing the failure of months of campaigning by the Rafsanjani faction to promote their candidate as “the inevitable winner.”

Yazdi says he had not revealed his intention to become a candidate to anyone until the time the session started. “Our system is not like what they do in infidel countries where they organize election campaigns,” he says. “In our system the Hidden Imam approaches the hearts concerned and advises them on what course to take.”

Yazdi’s claim means that he had not informed Khamenei about his intention to stand for election. Is that credible?

We may never know the full answer.

However, most analysts agree that Khamenei’s candidate had been Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi Shahroudi, who did stand in the first round of the voting but decided to withdraw when it became clear he would not win in the second round. Thus, even if Yazdi had not obtained Khamenei’s approval in advance, it is clear that Khamenei supporters switched their votes to him in the second round.

That Khamenei must be happy about Yazdi’s victory became clear on Tuesday when the “Supreme Guide” commented on the results of the election.

“The past and present achievements of Ayatollah Yazdi show that he is eminently suitable for the task he has been chosen for,” Khamenei said.

Yazdi must have doubly enjoyed his victory because Rafsanjani, the man he defeated, had been one of his oldest and most bitter political enemies.

Despite deep political differences, the two men share many points in common. They belong to the same generation, Rafsanjani being a year or two younger. Both come from medium-rich farming families from the edge of the great Iranian desert (Rafsanjani is from Bahreman, near Kerman). Both wear white turbans, indicating their “pure” Iranian origin.

Mullahs who claim Arab ancestry through the Shi’ite Imams wear black turbans. Both Yazdi and Rafsanjani have tried to develop a double politico-religious career. The difference is that Yazdi has emphasized the religious aspect of his career while Rafsanjani has focused on the political side of his.

Yazdi has always claimed a religious title while Rafsanjani started using the title of Ayatollah just over a decade ago. Yazdi’s theological claims are more credible than Rafsanjani’s if only because the former does run a theological course in Qom while Rafsanjani has never taught any religious course.

 Business and corruption

Both Rafsanjani and Yazdi are successful businessmen, having amassed immense fortunes since the revolution in 1979.

At different times both men have been accused of corruption. In 2009, then-president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, in a live television debate, accused Rafsanjani and his family of acting like a local version of the Mafia and claimed to have “a mountain of evidence” to prove the charge. He never did. The Rafsanjani faction retaliated when Abbas Palizdar, a member of the Judicial Committee of the Islamic Majlis, accused Yazdi of corruption and money laundering. He, too, provided no evidence.
Since accusing political rivals of corruption is standard practice in most Middle Eastern countries, the charges made against both Yazdi and Rafsanjani must be taken with a pinch of salt.

What is certain, however, is the deep difference that exists between the two men’s approaches to the role of religion in politics.

Yazdi seems to be genuinely convinced that politics, and in fact everything else, should be in the service of religion, albeit the official version presented by the Islamic Republic. In contrast, Rafsanjani believes that religion should be in the service of politics. In Yazdi’s view the mosque should control the state.

In Rafsanjani’s view the state, especially in its “pure Muhammadan version” would be in the driving seat.

There is one more important difference between the two men.

Rafsanjani seems to take a good part of the regime’s religious discourse with a pinch of salt. For example, he treats as mere metaphor the claim that God created the entire universe only for the Ahl Al-Bayt (The members of the House of the Prophet Muhammad). In contrast Yazdi, in his speeches and writings, insists on the literal truth of traditions.

For Rafsanjani, religion is a mechanism for controlling the uneducated masses through a code of ethics imposed by the state. For Yazdi, religion is for everyone, educated or uneducated, rich or poor.

Often regarded as the godfather of the so-called “Reformist” faction, Rafsanjani favors openness to the outside world as long as that does not threaten the mullahs’ hold on power.

The former president has learned English and sent his children to study abroad, including in Canada, Belgium and Great Britain. During his two terms as president of the Islamic Republic, Rafsanjani steered the regime through a number of diplomatic storms with the European Union while also seeking a dialogue with successive US administrations.

Secret channel to Washington

Rafsanjani has always been interested in normalizing relations with the United States. In the 1980s he opened a secret channel with the Reagan administration in Washington and sent his son Mehdi to forge a deal with Lt. Col. Oliver North, then a junior US presidential adviser.

In contrast Yazdi has often warned against the “danger of contamination” in developing contacts with the “infidel” world.

As a leading member of the Society of Combatant Clergy, Yazdi opposed Rafsanjani’s candidacy on both occasions when the latter was elected president. Later, Yazdi also opposed the presidential candidacies of both Mohammad Khatami and Hassan Rouhani, mid-ranking mullahs regarded as protégés of Rafsanjani.

Yazdi has also played a key role in vetoing Rafsanjani’s candidacy for a seat in the Islamic Majlis and, more recently, the presidency.

“For Rafsanjani religion is a business,” says Ahmad Khavarani, an Iran analyst. “For Yazdi, however, his business is religion.”

During the controversial presidential election of 2009, Yazdi supported Mahmoud Ahmadinejad while Rafsanjani threw his weight behind Mir Hossein Mousavi, a former adversary. When the losing candidates claimed massive fraud, Rafsanjani endorsed their claim while Yazdi dubbed it as part of a fitna (sedition) plotted by Israel and the US.

All that shows that the choice the Assembly of Experts faced was a clear one between a strategy of closing the chapter of the Islamic Revolution in favor of normalization at home and abroad on the one hand, and seizing the opportunity to create an “Islamic superpower” led by Iran on the other.

While Rafsanjani’s discourses are peppered with jeremiads about dangers facing the Khomeinist regime, Yazdi’s tone remains triumphant. Rafsanjani warns that unless Iran changes course it would be heading for big trouble.

In contrast, Yazdi insists that Iran’s only credible adversary, the United States, is “in terminal decline” and that the Islamic Republic’s “spectacular victories in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and Yemen” indicate “a strategic shift in the balance of power at least on a regional scale.”

Interestingly, Yazdi may be outflanked by mullahs even more radical, and more starry-eyed, about Iran’s promised domination of the Middle East, than himself.

 Surprise victory

Thus, Yazdi may appear as a centrist between Rafsanjani, the advocate of compromise, and Ayatollah Mohammad Taqi Mesbah-Yazdi, who calls for “exporting the revolution” to all Muslim majority countries. (Mesbah-Yazdi is no relation of Mohammad Yazdi.)

But what is the significance of Yazdi’s surprise victory?

Pro-Rafsanjani analysts seek to minimize the importance of Yazdi’s election with two arguments.

The first, advanced by Sadegh Zibakalam, a columnist for pro-Rafsanjani daily Sharq (The East) in Tehran, is that Yazdi is elected for only one year since the whole of the Assembly of Experts will be up for election in February 2016.

“We don’t know who will secure a majority next year, Zibakalam says. “ It would be unwise to write off Rafsanjani.”

Rafsanjani himself has gone even further by claiming that he continues to wield “real influence” in the assembly.

“The real task of the assembly is to choose the next Supreme Guide whenever the occasion arises,” he said last week. “At such a moment I will have my say as a member of the assembly. I don’t need to be president of the Assembly to have my say.”

Other commentators, however, dismiss Rafsanjani’s analysis as wishful thinking.

“The main message of this election is that hardliners refuse to loosen the grip on power in key state entities,” says Hussein Rassam, a former political analyst for the British Embassy in Tehran. “And when the day comes, chances of a hardliner successor to Ayatollah Khamenei continue to remain strong for now.”

In more immediate terms, Yazdi’s election is a setback for President Barack Obama’s policy on Iran, which is predicated on helping the so-called “moderates” capture all levers of power in Tehran and gradually guiding the Islamic Republic towards normality.

Obama has hinted that he believes such a course would take around 10 years to be completed, the period fixed for the nuclear deal being negotiated with Tehran.

During that decade, Khamenei, now aged 76 and reportedly in poor health, may bow out of stage or be pushed to exit it by the Rafsanjani faction. Sources of recent widespread rumors about Khamenei’s “impending demise” have now been traced back to individuals close to the Rafsanjani faction, speculating over sequels of an operation for prostate cancer carried out on the “Supreme Guide.”

Scenario for change

The scenario that the Rafsanjani faction is trying to sell to Obama runs something like this: Rafsanjani takes over the Assembly of Experts thus holding a Damocles sword above Khamenei’s head. In 2016, the Rafsanjani faction wins a majority in both the Assembly of Experts and the Islamic Majlis while still holding the presidency through Rafsanjani’s protégé Rouhani.

Rafsanjani has publicly stated on a number of occasions that he has always favored a collegiate leadership system in which the function of the “Supreme Guide” is assumed by a group of three to five mullahs.

Such a reform would heighten the profile of the elected president of the Republic by letting him function as a genuine head of the executive branch of government while also allowing the Islamic Majlis to operate as a genuine legislature. The Council of the Guardians of the Constitution would be merged with the Expediency Council which Rafsanjani has chaired for almost 20 years.

Rafsanjani’s supporters have always seen him as an Iranian version of Deng Xiaoping, the Chinese Communist leader who helped lead the People’s Republic out of its revolutionary crisis and towards political normality and economic development. Rafsanjani has often highlighted his pragmatism, hinting that he is prepared to sacrifice ideology to the exercise of power. In 1989, when he had been elected president, soon after Khomeini’s death he surprised many by saying that he and many other political mullahs were prepared to drop their traditional clothes and wear “ordinary suits” if that were necessary for “serving the people.”

Rafsanjani wrote a biography of Mirza Taqi Khan Amir-Kabir, a 19th century prime minister, whom he regarded as his ideal political model. Amir-Kabir is chiefly remembered for trying to introduce Western sciences and rules of government to Qajar Iran in the face of stiff opposition from reactionary mullahs. Rather than trying to build up a clerical profile, Rafsanjani used the media to promote himself as “The General of Construction,” emphasizing economic development rather than religious piety.

Thus, Rafsanjani’s scenario for change includes a gradual toning down of the regime’s religious themes in favor of a new discourse highlighting economic growth, scientific advancement and social reform.

Yazdi, in contrast, believes that downgrading religious themes could lead to the inevitable downfall of the regime.

If people want economic growth and scientific and technological achievements why should they seek such things from the mullahs rather than economists and scientists?

 In any case, for Yazdi what matters above all is building a society based on religious values and governed by the Islamic Shari’a. “We did not make a revolution for economic reasons,” he says. “Our revolution was prompted by our people’s thirst for Islam.”

Rafsanjani’s scenario has always suffered from a number of flaws. First, there is no guarantee that Khamenei could be easily scripted out. By all accounts he remains the single most popular figure of the regime within its increasingly narrow support base. In any election organized by this regime and thus closed to “outsiders,” Khamenei or almost anyone he supports would win against anyone fielded by the Rafsanjani faction.

Also, there is no reason why Khamenei should not survive a banal prostate cancer. If he lives as long as Khomeini did, Khamenei would still have at least another 10 years to go, the same length of time envisaged by Obama in his quest for a deal with the mullahs.

Hamid Zomorrodi, a Tehran analyst, believes that Yazdi’s election on Monday shows that the first wheel of the change machine marketed by Rafsanjani has come loose.

“Even if Obama boosts the position of the Rafsanjani faction by giving it the semblance of a ‘diplomatic victory,’ there is no guarantee that other wheels of this ramshackle machine would not also come off in 2016,” he said.

Amir Taheri was the executive editor-in-chief of the daily Kayhan in Iran from 1972 to 1979. He has worked at or written for innumerable publications, published eleven books, and has been a columnist for Asharq Al-Awsat since 1987. Mr. Taheri has won several prizes for his journalism, and in 2012 was named International Journalist of the Year by the British Society of Editors and the Foreign Press Association in the annual British Media Awards.

It Should Be Called Hot Start Doctrine (Rev 15:2)

India’s Cold Start Doctrine gives Pakistan sleepless nights

Posted on  Mar 18 2015 – 2:42pm  by  <a href="; style="-webkit-transition: background-color, color; border: 0px; font-style: normal; font-weight: normal; margin: 0px; outline-style: none; padding: 0px; transition: background-color, color; vertical-align: baseline;" title="

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What does India’s Cold Start Doctrine mean for the lay man ?
South Asia and in particular the Indian sub-continent is perhaps the last hold-out spot for the conventional battlefield scenario, the kind recorded in literary documentation down the ages. India has two or rather three blocks with their armored divisions in columns, one formation along the Indus valley and the other on either sides of the Himalayas.
India’s military might stretches to meet threats from two simultaneous fronts. On the western side from Pakistan and on the eastern front from China. For a big and huge working democracy like India, securing its territorial borders since its inception in 1947 has been the number one priority.
India was now ready to set it eyes beyond it immediate shores to safeguard its interest and asset across the world. India felt bolder and safer after acquiring thermo-nuclear capability.
India’s bitter lesson of terrorist attacks from Pakistan
But as it turned out, that was not the case in the coming years especially in the months following the Parliament attack in New Delhi in December 2001 and again in November 2008 when Pakistani terrorist attacked Mumbai. In both cases, Pak backed terrorists had stepped up their assault against India, on Indian soil and in the absence of a working model of a tri-forces military doctrine under an elected leadership, India’s image took a beating.
Under this concept, neutralizing Pakistan inside the first 72 hours of the offensive was the primary objective. The ‘Cold Start Doctrine’ is based on SPEED, FAST MOBILIZATION of armored strike divisions & retaining the element of SURPRISE. All this appears to be a story from a fairy tale but this is now a stark reality for Pakistan.
India now has an acknowledged military doctrine. The ‘Cold Start Doctrine’ was not an overnight concept. It came about with a bitter lesson the authorities had learnt in the aftermath of the Parliament attack in 2001. The Armed forces since 2004, with many military drills being conducted have now perfected the mobilization of half a million troops in less than 48 to 72 hours.
With the onslaught of the co-ordination between the Army and the Air Force under the ‘Cold Start Doctrine’, the Indian Navy is highly capable of enforcing a total naval blockade of Pakistan within 48 hours of the first attack. This will leave the country without the most important commodity that is needed to fight a war, and i.e. OIL.
Foreign and Indian Military analyst point out that it is an apt time for India to assert its Naval power to claim the entire Indian Ocean area as it inches closer towards a ‘Blue Water Navy’.
Setbacks during the Parliament Attack and Troop Mobilization
Orders were given to mobilize half a million troops during operation ‘Parakram’ in 2001. Indian forces were dispatched, some up to the linear positions along the western border with Pakistan. Not many of us know that soon after the parliament attack, all three Chiefs of Staff had called upon the then Prime Minister Mr. Vajpayee and sought his permission to attack Pakistan. The plan was to slice Pakistan into two separate units from its middle and Mr. Vajpayee had turned down the plan.
Operation ‘Parakram’ brought to light some bitter truths. As against a given timeline of 48 to 72 hours for mobilization of troops, India took full three weeks (21 days) to move Army columns from various locations across the country. By the time India’s strike force took position along the Indo-Pak border, the element of ‘SURPRISE’ had evaporated. Pakistan had got all the time to bring its forces closer to the Indian border.
Operation ‘Parakram’ had failed.
Failure of Operation ‘Parakram’ made Pakistan bolder and inspired it to carry on more attack on Indian soil and that’s what it exactly did in 2008 when Pakistani terrorist attacked India’s financial capital Mumbai.
Making the ‘Cold Start Doctrine’ a deadly reality for Pakistan
There is an URGENT need for a unified command integrating the Army, Navy and the Air Force. For a successful and a decisive military doctrine, a unified command of all the three forces is a must.
Apart from the visible disconnect between politicians and military leaders, there has also been an inter-services rivalry which has crippled a series of modernization projects in the past. The story in the country’s Military Doctrine is no different. The Indian Air Force believes that it is a much superior force and plays a decisive role in the outcome of a war. The Navy which does not operate within India’s territorial boundaries but is deployed away from the countries shores always has a different line on the terms of engagement.
India does not have a Tri-Services Military Doctrine.
A Military Doctrine for China
A new strike force comprising of about 90,000 troops is being raised only to counter the Chinese forces. This strike force will be deployed predominantly in Arunachal Pradesh which China claims in its entirety.
India has learnt many of it military lessons the hard way, particularly those that came in the aftermath of the 1962 war with China, a military engagement that went horribly wrong in all possible ways.
Defence experts say that apart from the traditional theatres of war which are Land, Sea and Air, two more dimensions have been added, SPACE and CYBER war. Wars of the future it is said will take place in another less visible but more lethal realm. Expect the first salvo to be fired by an advancing army in the Cyber World followed closely by the Space dimension.
India’s Military Transformation
In order for India to acquire an Asian Super Power Military status, it needs the most important task to be completed at an early date for a viable military doctrine. At the centre of all this is the need to establish a Tri-Services Military Command Structure to effectively use Military Force against an adversary like Pakistan or China.
The deadly ‘Cold Start Doctrine’ which is in existence with the Indian Military has the capability to cut Pakistan into half within the first 72 hours and make it surrender unconditionally. Now can you imagine what would a TRI-SERVICES Cold Start Doctrine’ do to a country like Pakistan.