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!