Good news from Iran

There’s a bit of cheery news from Iran this morning. Iran is nearing the completion of its nuclear fuel cycle program:

TEHRAN, Iran — President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Tuesday that Iran would soon celebrate completion of its nuclear fuel program and claimed the international community was ready to accept it as a nuclear state.

Iran has been locked in a standoff with the West over its nuclear program. The United States and its European allies have been seeking a U.N. Security Council resolution imposing sanctions on Tehran for refusing to suspend uranium enrichment.

I’ve posted pretty extensively on this subject over the last few years. My position on Iran’s nuclear development program is that I believe that the Iranians are actively developing nuclear weapons; I believe that they’re likely to acquire them sooner rather than later; I believe aggressive military force at the level that we’re willing and able to exert on Iran is imprudent and, worse, won’t achieve the objective of eliminating (or, possibly, even delaying) the Iranians’ development program; I believe that the U. S. and Iran need to treat each other’s interests in the region with more respect and negotiate; and I believe that we should be actively working to deter Iran from developing and using nuclear weapons. I can’t say I find a great deal of solace in this announcement.

On a marginally related note Iran has been known for some time to be harboring high-ranking and Al-Qaeda figures and, apparently, cultivating a positive relationship with Iran with them:

Iran is seeking to take control of Osama bin Laden’s al-Qa’eda terror network by encouraging it to promote officials known to be friendly to Teheran, The Daily Telegraph can reveal.

According to recent reports received by Western intelligence agencies, the Iranians are training senior al-Qa’eda operatives in Teheran to take over the organisation when bin Laden is no longer leader.

Rumours have been circulating about the state of his health for several months. Bin Laden, 49, who is known to suffer from kidney problems that require regular dialysis, has not appeared in one of his videotapes for more than two years, prompting speculation that he is dead.

A leaked report from the French intelligence service, the DGSE, in September suggested bin Laden, who has a $25 million price on his head, had died of typhoid earlier this year.

Even if he is still alive, intelligence officials are working on the assumption that his ability to control the organisation has been severely diminished, and that most of the day-to-day running is being undertaken by Ayman al-Zawahiri, bin Laden’s Egyptian-born number two.

Iran has always maintained close relations with al-Qa’eda, even though the Shia Muslim state is known to have many ideological and strategic differences with the terror group’s Sunni leadership.

Western intelligence officials now believe that Iran is trying to cultivate a new generation of al-Qa’eda leaders who will be prepared to work closely with Teheran when they eventually take control.

Recent intelligence reports from Iran suggest the Iranians are particularly keen to promote Saif-al-Adel, a notorious al-Qa’eda operative who is wanted in the United States for his alleged role in training several of the September 11 hijackers.

More on the links between Iran and al-Qaeda from Dan Darling at Winds of Change.

While we’re connecting dots, al-Qaeda apparently has plans to attack the UK using a nuclear weapon:

British intelligence officials believe that al-Qaida is determined to attack the UK with a nuclear weapon, it emerged yesterday. The announcement, from an officially organised Foreign Office counter-terrorism briefing for the media, was the latest in a series of bleak assessments by senior officials and ministers about the terrorist threat facing Britain.

UK officials have detected “an awful lot of chatter” on jihadi websites expressing the desire to acquire chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear weapons.

Asked whether there was any doubt that al-Qaida was trying to gain the technology to attack the west, including the UK, with a nuclear weapon, a senior Foreign Office counter-terrorism official said: “No doubt at all.”

The official explained: “We know the aspiration is there, we know the attempt to get material is there, we know the attempt to get technology is there.”

Hopefully, the plan is more aspirational than operational.

Have a nice day!

8 comments… add one
  • geezer Link

    Dave, this is one of the blogball’s many charms; you guest, and sometimes we follow.

    I left this comment on your OTB post about Iran, and hope you don’t mind my leaving it here, slightly edited.

    Iran is an enemy, period. What’s more, along with Israel, we are Iran’s main enemy. Exactly what negotiation would result in anything resembling the “peaceful” coexistence between the West and Communism from the 40s to the 90s? Our present time couldn’t be any more 1930s if we all stopped watching TV and went back to being huddled around the family radio.

    Not that I’m hot for it, but it becomes increasingly clear what Iran’s leadership really seems to crave is a good ass kicking (if I hear “whuppin’ one more time this week, I won’t be responsible for my actions.) If the Israelis don’t move first, I’m convinced Dubya will get the Dems on board before he does anything militarily.

  • Not at all, geezer, feel free to look around while you’re here.

    I agree that Iran is an enemy. Our countries have been at war for the last 25 years (we just haven’t acknowledged the fact). I think that Carter should have responded much more forcefully than he did in 1979, specifically, he should have moved to defend the embassy immediately rather than to preserve the lives of the embassy staff. Hard on the embassy staff but there it is. That’s the difference between presidents and lay ministers.

    Since then they’ve connived at the deaths of our Marines and sailors in Beirut, declared war, and convinced a good proportion of their people that our government is behind everything from the disappearance of Jimmy Hoffa to decreases in the rainfall.

    I think the preponderance of the evidence (as my many posts suggest) drives one to the conclusion that they’re developing nuclear weapons (or, like Saddam, think they’re developing nuclear weapons).

    I do not believe we have the political will to engage in the level of military activity that would be effective in eliminating Iran’s nuclear weapons development program. Aerial bombardment wouldn’t do it and even if it would the collateral damage would be horrific. Their development sites are hardened and located in population centers. And we don’t know where all their development sites are or what their relative importance might be.

    A land invasion is the only activity that could achieve the objective and I don’t believe we have the political will to do it.

    The Israelis won’t act, either. This isn’t Osirak, the Israelis themselves aren’t the same as the Israelis of the 1960’s or 1970’s, and to engage in an aerial bombardment they’d need to cross either Turkish, Iraqi, or Saudi air space. They won’t get a greenlight and if we turned a blind eye there would be no material difference between the Israelis doing it or our doing it.

    So what’s left is negotiation. Not our strong suit nor a guarantee but probably the only real alternative before us.

  • Dave, you see the problem, yet you don’t see it.

    Once they have the nukes, the Iranian leadership will use them. At the least, they are instruments for extortion — and Iran will play a much higher stakes game than NKor. But it’s altogether likely they will attempt to nuke Israel and New York, that other center of world Jewry.

    Negotiation will only give us the impression that we’re doing something about this. When Iran is ready, it will act, no matter what its negotiators say in the meantime. Lies are weapons of war.

    I say this with regret, but war is the only alternative, because war is what Iranian leaders want. We can have the actual conflict sooner, at a time of our choosing, or later, at a time of their choosing. Which would you prefer?

  • War with what army, Mr. Sullivan?

    We’re straining to keep up our current deployments. Are there a half dozen mystery divisions hidden away somewhere no one’s told us about?

    Please, let us not go down the Rumsfeld rabbit hole of easy, precision, from-the-air, home for lunch, warfare again. We stink at killing mobile missile sites from the air. We couldn’t do it in Gulf 1 and the Israelis couldn’t do it in Lebanon. So unless someone can tell me how we’re going to ship oil through the Persian Gulf without the tacit consent of the Iranians, I’m going to think we need ground forces available. A lot of ground forces.

    So, if we’re serious about going after Iran, we’re going to need a bigger army. Tell me how we’re going to do that. Should the president — sitting at 31% — make an appeal to the nation?

    This is fantasy at this point.

  • M. Takhallus. It’s my contention that US has never lacked for forces in Iraq. The notion that more were needed is nonsense. The Iraq campaign went awry because the rules of engagement too often forbade use of available force, for fear of collateral damage and bad publicity.

    Tacit consent of Iranians? I think not. The US has three carrier groups in the Persian Gulf at this time. I must reiterate — the forces are available. Casus belli will be supplied by Iran, soon enough.

  • Mr. Sullivan:

    I would have liked a much more aggressive posture in Iraq. I would have preferred an imposed government, as we did with Japan. But it’s silly to pretend that in addition to more will we didn’t also need more men. We needed overwhelming force. Sorry, but Colin Powell was right, and Rummy was wrong.

    As for carrier battle groups: take out your map of the Persian Gulf. Understand that the Iranians have excellent anti-ship missiles available. Understand that we have no effective means to take out the missile launchers, and that oil tankers are very big, very slow targets that burn beautifully. If the Iranians start sinking tankers, the tankers won’t enter the Gulf. That means most Saudi, Kuwaiti, Iraqi and Iranian oil will stop until the Iranians decide to let it go through.

    If we’re going after Iran we’ll need regime change which means ground forces which we simply do not have. We have roughly 700,000 soldiers and marines, plus guard and reserves. We are straining to keep up with current deployments. So the 300,000 or 400,000 men we’d need to ensure regime change in Iran, and occupy the country, and secure the coastline so that we can ensure safe passage of oil, simply do not exist.

    Even if we had the men and the equipment we would need months to place them in the Gulf, during which time the Iranians would be aware of what was coming. They could decide to shut off the oil flow while we’re still busy surging men to Kuwait and Qatar and Iraq. Their Shiite friends would almost certainly cut our supply line to Baghdad.

    What you’re talking about is a fantasy. We would need a lot bigger army. And so long as Mr. Bush is in charge we won’t get a bigger army because he lacks the political credibility to make that happen.

  • Enlightenment Link

    Yeah, speaking of the “war on terror”, let’s take a look at some of the details of the event that precipitated it, as America’s foreign policy is wrapped around it ever since.

    One thing that struck me as odd in the days after 9/11 was Bush saying “We will not tolerate conspiracy theories [regarding 9/11]”. Sure enough there have been some wacky conspiracy theories surrounding the events of that day. The most far-fetched and patently ridiculous one that I’ve ever heard goes like this: Nineteen hijackers who claimed to be devout Muslims but yet were so un-Muslim as to be getting drunk all the time, doing cocaine and frequenting strip clubs decided to hijack four airliners and fly them into buildings in the northeastern U.S., the area of the country that is the most thick with fighter bases. After leaving a Koran on a barstool at a strip bar after getting shitfaced drunk on the night before, then writing a suicide note/inspirational letter that sounded like it was written by someone with next to no knowledge of Islam, they went to bed and got up the next morning hung over and carried out their devious plan. Nevermind the fact that of the four “pilots” among them there was not a one that could handle a Cessna or a Piper Cub let alone fly a jumbo jet, and the one assigned the most difficult task of all, Hani Hanjour, was so laughably incompetent that he was the worst fake “pilot” of the bunch, with someone who was there when he was attempting to fly a small airplane saying that Hanjour was so clumsy that he was unsure if he had driven a car before. Nevermind the fact that they received very rudimentary flight training at Pensacola Naval Air Station, making them more likely to have been C.I.A. assets than Islamic fundamentalist terrorists. So on to the airports after Mohammed Atta supposedly leaves two rental cars at two impossibly far-removed locations. So they hijack all four airliners and at this time passengers on United 93 start making a bunch of cell phone calls from 35,000 feet in the air to tell people what was going on. Nevermind the fact that cell phones wouldn’t work very well above 4,000 feet, and wouldn’t work at ALL above 8,000 feet. But the conspiracy theorists won’t let that fact get in the way of a good fantasy. That is one of the little things you “aren’t supposed to think about”. Nevermind that one of the callers called his mom and said his first and last name (“Hi mom, this is Mark Bingham”), more like he was reading from a list than calling his own mom. Anyway, when these airliners each deviated from their flight plan and didn’t respond to ground control, NORAD would any other time have followed standard operating procedure (and did NOT have to be told by F.A.A. that there were hijackings because they were watching the same events unfold on their own radar) which means fighter jets would be scrambled from the nearest base where they were available on standby within a few minutes, just like every other time when airliners stray off course. But of course on 9/11 this didn’t happen, not even close. Somehow these “hijackers” must have used magical powers to cause NORAD to stand down, as ridiculous as this sounds because total inaction from the most high-tech and professional Air Force in the world would be necessary to carry out their tasks. So on the most important day in its history the Air Force was totally worthless. Then they had to make one of the airliners look like a smaller plane, because unknown to them the Naudet brothers had a videocamera to capture the only known footage of the North Tower crash, and this footage shows something that is not at all like a jumbo jet, but didn’t have to bother with the South Tower jet disguising itself because that was the one we were “supposed to see”. Anyway, as for the Pentagon they had to have Hani Hanjour fly his airliner like it was a fighter plane, making a high G-force corkscrew turn that no real airliner can do, in making its descent to strike the Pentagon. But these “hijackers” wanted to make sure Rumsfeld survived so they went out of their way to hit the farthest point in the building from where Rumsfeld and the top brass are located. And this worked out rather well for the military personnel in the Pentagon, since the side that was hit was the part that was under renovation at the time with few military personnel present compared to construction workers. Still more fortuitous for the Pentagon, the side that was hit had just before 9/11 been structurally reinforced to prevent a large fire there from spreading elsewhere in the building. Awful nice of them to pick that part to hit, huh? Then the airliner vaporized itself into nothing but tiny unidentifiable pieces most no bigger than a fist, unlike the crash of a real airliner when you will be able to see at least some identifiable parts, like crumpled wings, broken tail section etc. Why, Hani Hanjour the terrible pilot flew that airliner so good that even though he hit the Pentagon on the ground floor the engines didn’t even drag the ground!! Imagine that!! Though the airliner vaporized itself on impact it only made a tiny 16 foot hole in the building. Amazing. Meanwhile, though the planes hitting the Twin Towers caused fires small enough for the firefighters to be heard on their radios saying “We just need 2 hoses and we can knock this fire down” attesting to the small size of it, somehow they must have used magical powers from beyond the grave to make this morph into a raging inferno capable of making the steel on all forty-seven main support columns (not to mention the over 100 smaller support columns) soften and buckle, then all fail at once. Hmmm. Then still more magic was used to make the building totally defy physics as well as common sense in having the uppermost floors pass through the remainder of the building as quickly, meaning as effortlessly, as falling through air, a feat that without magic could only be done with explosives. Then exactly 30 minutes later the North Tower collapses in precisely the same freefall physics-defying manner. Incredible. Not to mention the fact that both collapsed at a uniform rate too, not slowing down, which also defies physics because as the uppermost floors crash into and through each successive floor beneath them they would shed more and more energy each time, thus slowing itself down. Common sense tells you this is not possible without either the hijackers’ magical powers or explosives. To emphasize their telekinetic prowess, later in the day they made a third building, WTC # 7, collapse also at freefall rate though no plane or any major debris hit it. Amazing guys these magical hijackers. But we know it had to be “Muslim hijackers” the conspiracy theorist will tell you because (now don’t laugh) one of their passports was “found” a couple days later near Ground Zero, miraculously “surviving” the fire that we were told incinerated planes, passengers and black boxes, and also “survived” the collapse of the building it was in. When common sense tells you if that were true then they should start making buildings and airliners out of heavy paper and plastic so as to be “indestructable” like that magic passport. The hijackers even used their magical powers to bring at least seven of their number back to life, to appear at american embassies outraged at being blamed for 9/11!! BBC reported on that and it is still online. Nevertheless, they also used magical powers to make the american government look like it was covering something up in the aftermath of this, what with the hasty removal of the steel debris and having it driven to ports in trucks with GPS locators on them, to be shipped overseas to China and India to be melted down. When common sense again tells you that this is paradoxical in that if the steel was so unimportant that they didn’t bother saving some for analysis but so important as to require GPS locators on the trucks with one driver losing his job because he stopped to get lunch. Hmmmm. Further making themselves look guilty, the Bush administration steadfastly refused for over a year to allow a commission to investigate 9/11 to even be formed, only agreeing to it on the conditions that they get to dictate its scope, meaning it was based on the false pretense of the “official story” being true with no other alternatives allowed to be considered, handpicked all its members making sure the ones picked had vested interests in the truth remaining buried, and with Bush and Cheney only “testifying” together, only for an hour, behind closed doors, with their attorneys present and with their “testimonies” not being recorded by tape or even written down in notes. Yes, this whole story smacks of the utmost idiocy and fantastic far-fetched lying, but it is amazingly enough what some people believe. Even now, five years later, the provably false fairy tale of the “nineteen hijackers” is heard repeated again and again, and is accepted without question by so many Americans. Which is itself a testament to the innate psychological cowardice of the American sheeple, i mean people, and their abject willingness to believe something, ANYTHING, no matter how ridiculous in order to avoid facing a scary uncomfortable truth. Time to wake up America.

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