Active Nuclear Arsenals and Iran’s Absence

These are some of the countries that say they are afraid of Iran. Between them they have thousands of deadly atomic weapons.

But note that Iran has no nuclear weapon, no nuclear weapon program, and no prospect of a nuclear weapon for at least 10 years (according to the US National Intelligence estimate) even if they decided they wanted one, which SecDef Leon Panetta says they have not. Iranian supreme theocrat, Ali Khamenei, has given a fatwa that nuclear bombs are forbidden in Islamic law, and it is likely that Iran does not want to construct an actual nuclear weapon.

45 Responses

  1. Nuclear weapons aren’t like battleships or infantry battalions. Having superiority in nuclear weaponry doesn’t actually protect you against other countries that have nuclear weapons. That’s why President Obama is so interested in negotiating nuclear arms reduction, and has proposed big cuts in the American arsenal. The only reliable way to protect yourself against nuclear attack is abolition.

    it is likely that Iran does not want to construct an actual nuclear weapon

    So, your theory about why they’re doing things like building facilities in hollowed out mountains and enduring global sanctions rather than simply buying enriched uranium from Russia is…what?

    • You are very clever, to attempt to switch the conversation from the 400 atomic bombs Israel has stockpiled and Israel’s ability to deliver them to Iran, and the 5,800 active nuclear warheads in the US, and the American ability to deliver them to Iran, to Iran putting its civilian enrichment program where it cannot be bombed by Israel or the US, which have both threatened to do so.

      • Actually, Professor, I didn’t switch the conversation the slightest bit. If you go back to your post, you’ll notice that it begins with the statement These are some of the countries that say they are afraid of Iran. Between them they have thousands of deadly atomic weapons and proceeds to depict a chart comparing the nuclear arsenals of different countries. If you don’t want a conversation about the security concerns of nuclear powers involving comparisons of their capabilities, then perhaps that wasn’t the best content to put on your web site.

        to Iran putting its civilian enrichment program where it cannot be bombed by Israel or the US, which have both threatened to do so

        Because I’m so very helpful, I highlighted the unsupported assumption you included in an attempt to define your conclusion. Obviously, the United States and Israel aren’t threatening to bomb Iran’s nuclear program because they think it’s purely a civilian effort – a impression that isn’t exactly refuted by Iran’s decision to harden their facilities against military attack.

        So, anyway, was there going to come some point where you would respond to the question about when a country seeking only nuclear power generation would be willing to endure international pariah status, painful sanctions, a covert spy war, and threats of military attack, just so they could enrich their own uranium instead of importing the stuff ready-made?

        • Because they would likely be subject to “painful sanctions, a covert spy war, and threats of military attack” regardless of what they were doing.

          After seeing what happened to Iraq, they likely suspect that we’d just move the goalpost so that they could never meet our demands.

          The neoconservatives were shouting “On to Tehran!” before the dust had even settled from the Iraq invasion.

          Or more famously “Everybody wants to go to Baghdad. Real men want to go to Tehran.”

      • And you are dodging the question, probably because you have no answer you’d be willing to put your name to. I don’t think that’s clever at all.

        to Iran putting its civilian enrichment program where it cannot be bombed by Israel or the US, which have both threatened to do so

        Because I’m so very helpful, I highlighted the unsupported assumption you included in an attempt to define your conclusion. Obviously, the United States and Israel aren’t threatening to bomb Iran’s nuclear program because they think it’s purely a civilian effort, but because they think it’s a military program – a impression that isn’t exactly refuted by Iran’s decision to harden their facilities against military attack.

        Which goes directly to my point about the American, Israeli, and European nuclear arsenals not actually being a good reason for those countries not to be afraid of a hostile country getting nukes.

        So, anyway, was there going to come some point where you would respond to the question about why a country seeking only nuclear power generation would be willing to endure international pariah status, painful sanctions, a covert spy war, and threats of military attack, just so they could enrich their own uranium instead of importing the stuff ready-made?

        • I’ve been reading some of your posts, both later and earlier than this one because they are good. However, I just have to say that I think Informed Comment has been very consistent in its views of the situation in Iran. Juan Cole has written many times that Iran seems to be going for the capacity to build a nuclear bomb but will most likely stop just short of that. I understand there are other countries, including Japan, that are in that position.

          So the issue is very particular around this country at this time. I comes down to whether the US and Israel and Western Europe can live with the ambiguity that ‘capacity’ vs. ‘deployment’ requires, an ambiguity that to me seems less dangerous then the fact of Russian ICBMs targeted at US cities, and vice verse, in the Cold War (and still posing significant risk). And whether the risks of a pre-emptive strike against Iran are more or less harmful. I’d also point out that the whole Middle East is asked to accept Israel’s refusal to sign the non-proliferation treaty or to verify/deny its nuclear arsenal of scores or hundreds of nublear armed missiles.

          I think these things explain Iran’s plans to fortify their facilities. It would be naive to think Iran does not seek the capacity to build nuclear weapons, and it is clear that Western policy leaves no room for this. As Israel says, there is a point of no return beyond which it will not let Iran go. But it is exactly that point where compromise between ‘equals’ may have the best opportunity to succeed. The West could offer incentives, such as US diplomatic recognition, to maintain that ‘capacity’ status quo vs. actual deployment. In the meantime, after Iraq and Syria and a sanctions regime imposed when even American intelligence says Iran has not made a decision on deploymn, it would be irrational for Iran not to decentralize and fortify its nuclear facilities at this point.

          I think this responds to part of the back-and=forth between you and Cole, although I didn’t necessarily think the intent of your comments on Iran was to ‘change the subject.’

          Finally, I don’t think you can underestimate Iranian nationalism and Western fear of it. After all, the 1953 Mosaddegh coup came in the wake of the democratic post-war Iranian government’s attempts to nationalize the oil industry, a goal overwhelmingly supported by the Iranian people that was finally fulfilled only with the 1979 revolution. 99% of Americans probably don’t know that the CIA sponsored that coup. But it’s part of Iranian history: Iranians learn about it in elementary school.

        • RBTL,

          Juan Cole has written many times that Iran seems to be going for the capacity to build a nuclear bomb

          He certainly hasn’t written anything of the sort lately. Take a look at this post; he’s been arguing quite forcefully that Iran is absolutely not engaged in any work towards nuclear weapons capability – indeed, he seems to find it quite important that the most powerful politician in Iran has said that they aren’t – and keeps denouncing such a suspicion as baseless.

          It would be naive to think Iran does not seek the capacity to build nuclear weapons

          Yes, it would. Very much so.

          I agree with you, quite strongly, that the west and even Israel don’t face a real threat from an Iranian nuke. Iran hasn’t launched an offensive war in well over two centuries. It’s quite clear to me that Iran has a very great interest in having a deterrent. I think we can live with it, just as we lived a Chinese nuke. That’s the argument that we Iran doves should be making, and I fear that the decision to push the naive position will, once it becomes impossible to maintain that claim, discredit the entire anti-Iran-war argument.

        • I have said many times that Iran is likely seeking a break-out capability or the Japan option, but doesn’t want actually to construct a warhead short of an immediate invasion threat.

        • “He certainly hasn’t written anything of the sort lately. Take a look at this post; he’s been arguing quite forcefully that Iran is absolutely not engaged in any work towards nuclear weapons capability – indeed, he seems to find it quite important that the most powerful politician in Iran has said that they aren’t – and keeps denouncing such a suspicion as baseless.”

          Right. Lately Cole has been pushing back hard against a media blitz suggesting that Iran is building a nuclear bomb. I won’t argue semantics over ‘capability’ vs. ‘capacity’ or the timing of remarks. What is the thrust of the two opposite approaches to dealing with Iran? What backs each up? This is what Sec. Def. Panetta said in Congressional testimony today, quoted on NBC and in WaPo online:

          “Panetta, the former CIA director, said U.S. intelligence shows that Iran is continuing its uranium enrichment program. “But the That is the red line that would concern us and that would ensure that the international community, hopefully together, would respond,” he said.” Panetta, too, is saying Iran is not engaged in work towards a nuclear capability and openly says Iran has not made that decision, although an independent enrichment program for radio-isotopes would run parallel to enrichment needed for a nuclear weapon.

          Panetta once again botched the Administration’s communications on a major issue of war and peace. Last week he announced Israel is thinking of bombing Iran in the Spring. That fed the war hysteria. He backtracks on that and goes father today to push back on the hysteria he helped whip up. The Administration also downplayed Iran’s big nuclear announcement today. It didn’t change anything. Iran is enriching Uranium, almost to 20% but is nowhere near the 95% enrichment to make a bomb. Its ballistic missile program was seriously damaged by the recent explosion.

          So far the sanctions are against what the US believes the Iranian leadership intends to do, although “intelligence does not show that they’ve made the decision to proceed with developing a nuclear weapon.”

          Talk to people. Many think Iran HAS a nuclear weapon already. Many think that weapon is a danger to the US as well as Israel. Many are sick of hearing how dangerous Iran is night after night on the news and, although it’s not their main priority, would passively support air strikes against Iran – without considering the consequences.

          In that situation, those who differ need to strip down the facts to their basic, hard elements. Even Panetta does: his ‘red line’ is based on material developments, while Netanyahu bases his conclusions on what he believes Iran intends to do – the subjective side.

          One of two things is going on:
          1. Obama is using sanctions to keep Israel from bombing Iran.
          2. Obama is playing out all options before giving a ‘green light’ for Israel to attack.

          At last Congress is beginning to give the President some political cover. See Ellison (d-MN)-Jones (r-NC) letter.

        • CORRECTION Panetta quote:

          “Panetta, the former CIA director, said U.S. intelligence shows that Iran is continuing its uranium enrichment program. “But the intelligence does not show that they’ve made the decision to proceed with developing a nuclear weapon. That is the red line that would concern us and that would ensure that the international community, hopefully together, would respond,” he said.’

    • Here are a few not necessarily great, but plausible, reasons for enduring sanctions:

      - National pride
      - Rounding up domestic support/rallying the troops/solidification of power
      - Internal political rivalry preventing compromise (think Obama!)
      - Profiteering from sanctions in the absence of foreign trade/competition

      • Those would all be good reasons why Iran would want to plow ahead even when there are sanctions in place, but they don’t provide an explanation of why Iran would start down a path that is likely to lead to sanctions.

        “We’re going to act in a manner that leads others to think we’re engaged in a nuclear weapons program, even though we’re not, so that our country will be subject to sanctions, international condemnation, and possibly worse, because that’s good politics.”

        Well, maybe, but it seems a little far-fetched. What country has deliberately brought down such consequences on itself, without there being a substantive national interest to be gained?

        • Sanctions have been in place in one form or another since the 1979 Islamic revolution. In fact Iran’s justification for acquiring nuclear technology from the international “black market” was the embargo on nuclear technology imposed by the west. Under the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty, to which Iran is a signatory, the IAEA is committed to assist member states in developing peaceful nuclear programs. Iran was denied any such assistance. You could argue that they brought this upon themselves by taking American diplomats hostage in 1980, but then you would get yourself into a perpetual back-and-forth argument going back to the 1953 CIA-sponsored coup that reinstated the Shah!! The bottom line is there are no wining arguments here and picking a fight with Iran on such a lousy pretext would be far more reckless and destructive than what was done in Iraq.

        • Jahan,

          in one form or another is doing an awful lot of work in that sentence. The recent sanctions regime is certainly a big deal to the Iranian government.

          In fact Iran’s justification for acquiring nuclear technology from the international “black market” was the embargo on nuclear technology imposed by the west.

          But at this point, they have a standing offer from Russia to supply them with uranium and help them with a civilian nuclear power program – and yet they choose to push ahead. The Iranian regime has shown itself to be quite rational in acting in its self-interest, so I have trouble believing that they are choosing to do so for reasons of feelings, unmoored from their national interest – particularly since they have such an obvious national interest in developing a nuclear deterrent, and sped up their programs after the Iraq War.

          The bottom line is there are no wining arguments here and picking a fight with Iran on such a lousy pretext would be far more reckless and destructive than what was done in Iraq.

          I certainly agree with you on the policy, but we can’t be reasoning backwards and assuming facts based on their convenience for making that argument. That’s what the Iraq hawks did.

        • Pretty obviously, Joe, they started because there was this superpower that invaded and occupied two of the neighbours and then kept looking them in the eye muttering “regime change”. Had I been on Iran’s National Security Council I’d have been thumping the desk yelling “nukes now, whatever the cost!”. There was an overpowering national interest to be gained

          And, yes, once you start down that road your generals alone would never let you discard those glittering new toys, anymore than the US ones did in 1946 or the Chinese did at the end of the Sino-Soviet split.

        • Derrida Derider,

          Pretty obviously, Joe, they started because there was this superpower that invaded and occupied two of the neighbours and then kept looking them in the eye muttering “regime change”.

          Indeed. I can’t understand why Professor Cole and others find this so implausible.

        • Didn’t all the good warmongerers tell us that Saddam Hussein was acting as though he was engaged in a nuclear weapons program in ’03, when in fact he wasn’t? Who needs facts, when we feel like killing more Moslems?

    • Curious, for a reality-based person (maybe that phrase is a carry-over from participating over at dailyKos?). Do you have some reality-based, verifiable facts (rather than fear-based speculations) about “facilities,” presumably BOMB-BUILDING FACILITIES, in “hollowed out mountains”?

      It’s easy, isn’t it, I know ‘cuz I’ve looked, to find a ton of webbery that “confirms” the Narrative, about how those sneaky Persians are conspiring to Threaten Israel and the Region and the Stability of the Whole World?

      Not that the species is not in serious jeopardy from the whole set of mental and emotional and economic and political processes that are at work in the world, profitably getting each little tribal unit or giant nation to arm itself to the teeth and set itself to work constantly seek for that first-strike or “dominance” “edge,” in all those “scenarios” being “played out,” whether around some campfire or on all that war-gaming software on all those War Department-and-Enemy computers, simulations (with the obvious limitations of same) being quizzed constantly by all those uniformed and contracted hegemonists that are apparently too stupid to figure out what WOPR learned, that the only way to win is not to play the game…

      • Do you have some reality-based, verifiable facts (rather than fear-based speculations) about “facilities,” presumably BOMB-BUILDING FACILITIES, in “hollowed out mountains”?

        You’re welcome to peruse the IAEA’s reports on your own. It’s generally considered bad form to pick and choose when you are and are not going to take international weapons inspectors’ reports seriously based on whether you like what they’re saying.

        BTW, I didn’t write anything about “bomb-making facilities,” or threats to the stability of the world, or threats to Israel. If you’re responding to me, kindly respond to what I write, instead of inventing arguments that you find easier to deal with. Again, it’s considered good form.

        BTW, this little pose you strike of having some lofty insight into the human condition is as tedious as it is baseless.

        • The thing about netversations is that neither of us gets to write the rules. Don’t like what I have to say? Find it “tedious?” Maybe don’t like or disagree with my notions and points? Then, to borrow an old adage, just change the channel. Or toss some more adjectives my way. After all, simply by virtue of the geography of our births, you and I are nominally “on the same side…”

          And I did read the November IAEA report, and various critiques of it, and I would hope “we” don’t hang another “yellowcake” multi-trillion-dollar “dysinvestment,” with a lot of death and destruction and incalculable consequences, on what many, and by my reading very reasonably, call a partisan document.

          It’s not about “liking” or “disliking” what the document says. It’s about trying to honestly understand what’s in the wind, and do, as a little insignificant individual who spends 45 hours a week earning a living, and too many hours doing this peering through the fog of bitwords, what “our” “intelligence analysts” are supposed to do, full-time, for money: to try to figure out what I need to worry about for the sake of my grandchildren, and nudge the Juggernaut a tiny bit away from the cliff.

    • It is indeed a brilliant idea to rely on the benevolence other countries to provide the fuel you hope to build your country’s future on. Specially if they’ve put you under a decades-long embargo and now you can’t even steadily pump your own oil out of the ground.

      And what better business partner than Russia as you so brightly realized? They certainly have proven they can be trusted by not flip-flopping a dozen times on their paid commitment to build the Bushehr reactor, and by their prompt delivery of the S300 missile system for which they got paid years ago by Iran.

      Does that answer your question?

      • To further the argument of the reliability of the Russians as partners, consider their proximity to Iran. The Russians would no doubt like to have their hands on the rudder of their powerful, Islamic nation on their fractious border with Georgia, the Black Sea and the Caucasus. That way they could exert unrivaled pressure on Iran both overtly and covertly to further their own aims in the region, including but not limited to halting Islamic resistance to the reassertion of Russian dominance.

        • I meant to say “have their hands on the rudder of the economy of their powerful Islamic neighbor”. Sorry for the poor typing.

      • Does that answer your question?

        No, because it only considers one side of the equation. All of the suboptimal (from the Iranian point of view) outcomes you describe – do you actually think that they are worse than the status quo, and the possible future, for Iran?

  2. Juan, I concur with your statement and would add that the level of “terrorism” the US and Israel has employed against Iran is impressive, from invading its air space on the light end to assassinating its scientists at the more extreme end.

    Further, considering that the US has mangled almost all the countries around Iran and the number of military bases around it, one would be remiss in not considering what sort of deterrent would be necessary to keep Iran from being next in line.

    So what do Iran’s neighbor’s think? recent polls of citizens, not puppet governments show overwhelming support for Iran’s nuclear deterrent. I wonder why?

    • Certainly, the logic of Iran wanting a nuclear deterrent is impeccable.

      But for some reason, we’re not supposed to conclude that what looks for all the world like Iran, quite rationally, pursuing such a deterrent is actually Iran pursuing a deterrent.

      It has to be something else because shut up, warmonger, that’s why. After all, a government leader said they weren’t, and we can take him at his word.

      • If you, like some others out there, believe it is a rational decision for Iran to build nuclear weapons given the carnage the US and Israel have unleashed upon its neighbors, then perhaps instead of arguing with us here, you should be writing to your congressmen and President asking them why they won’t stop the provocations and threats that have forced Iran to pusrsue this “rational” policy of deterrence via nuclear arms.

        If, on the other hand, you think–like I do– that actually building nuclear weapons is patently idiotic compared to the perfectly legal alternative of developing the know-how to produce defensive technologies in case your enemies actually materialize their aggresive intents by bombing or invading your country, then, you’ll find that the assessments of those like the IAEA and the US intelligence who believe there is no sign of military diversion of the Iranian nuclear program actually make perfect sense.

        You see, in either case, a far more intriguing question is then: how much ideological zeal and/or lobby money did it take to get virtually everyone on CNN, The New York Times, the Wall Street Journal and Huffington Post to constantly debate the best way to attack Iran as if it weren’t the most criminally insane idea one could think of.

        • If you, like some others out there, believe it is a rational decision for Iran to build nuclear weapons given the carnage the US and Israel have unleashed upon its neighbors, then perhaps instead of arguing with us here, you should be writing to your congressmen and President asking them why they won’t stop the provocations and threats that have forced Iran to pusrsue this “rational” policy of deterrence via nuclear arms.

          I think you are missing the distinction between what is rational for Iran’s interests, and what is rational and best for the world at large. There are numerous examples, from the Tragedy of the Commons to the guy who moves out of the city and takes on a 70 mile commute in order to get away from air pollution, of the actions of an individual actor being rational for him given a set of circumstances, but irrational in the aggregate.

          It is both rational for Iran to want a deterrent, and for the global community to want to stop nuclear proliferation. Until we get to the point of a verifiable nuclear abolition regime, I don’t see any way around this clash of legitimate, rational interests.

  3. Yes and yet none of the countries listed – with the exception of North Korea – has ever been a state sponsor of terrorism.

    • @ John Caddidy
      Do you think that America and Russia have not openly acted in ways that fit the definition of supporting (or being) terrorists, including drones, assassinations, supporting of “resistance fighters”? (That is not to mention Israel or the UK’s clandestine operations or Pakistan period)

      • To John Burnham:

        Sorry, but no sale. It doesn’t fit the category. You might very well disagree with their policies – I thought the butchery in Chechnya, for instance, was monstrous. But you know very well what I’m talking about. Something along the lines of the explosives planted at the Jewish community center in Argentina qualifies as state-sponsored terror. Drone deployment or such goes back to the state that deploys them.

    • Maybe so. But almost all of them are state perpetrators of major wars of aggression with long and dark histories of ethnic cleansing, colonialism, aggressive interventionism and utter disregard for the human rights of the peoples they subjugated through wars. (Native Americans, East-Indies, Algeria, Vietnam, Palestine, Iraq, Lebanon, are just a few examples.)

      So according to your logic, the most powerful imperial powers hold the moral high ground because they were too mighty to have to resort to terrorism to subjugate those they wished to oppress.

      • Also because those powers are the ones that get to define terrorism. If logical people are able to define terrorism, those powers are very clearly terrorists.

    • Russia, Pakistan, and China all sponsored terrorist groups while they were nuclear powers.

      Notably, they didn’t pass any nukes to them.

      • This is what happens when you make good and bad team names instead of moral absolutes.

        It’s only “terrorism” when somebody we don’t like does it.

        • Um, actually, Pakistan was our ally when they were supporting terrorists.

          Pointing out that the word is misused isn’t the same thing as demonstrating that it is meaningless.

  4. WaPo 2/11/12: “Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu criticized economic sanctions against Iran as ineffective and warned that any military strike against the country’s nuclear facilities would inflame the region while doing little to curb Iran’s ambitions…”

    “I am telling you, a military strike is a disaster,” Davutoglu told a gathering at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a Washington think tank. “It should not be an option.”

    I wish more Americans knew that:

    1. Iran has signed the NPT which grants them in paragraph IV the “inalienable right” to develop nuclear technology for power generation and medical imaging isotopes. It is an easy google, see for yourself. Iran is not going to surrender their legal rights under the treaty.

    2. Iran’s nuclear generation and enrichment facilities are currently under the constant inspection of the IAEA including the Qom facility. This inspection includes 24/7 video surveillance.

    3. There is no allegation by the IAEA that ANY enriched uranium has been diverted from its surveillance.

    4. There is no allegation that Iran has enriched any uranium beyond the 20% required for medical imaging isotopes, whereas enrichment to around 95% is required for any weaponization purposes, or that there is any violation of their NPT treaty obligations.

    5. “Might”, “could”, and “maybe” are not good reasons for another war that would certainly result in vast chaos from Lebanon to Pakistan militarily and politically.

    6. Iran with no nuclear weapons is zero military threat against nuclear superpower Israel.

    7. Israel has not signed the NPT and is in possession of hundreds of nuclear warheads. More importantly, it possesses the most advanced delivery systems in the world including nuclear powered ballistic missile firing submarines. A nation with zero nuclear weapons does not attack one with hundreds.

    8. Even if (a hypothetical) Iran did some day acquire a nuclear weapon (to secure itself from vicarious nuclear attack) it could never use it against Israel because of the intertwined nature of the Palestinian and Israeli populations. Al-Aqsa Mosque, the third holiest site in world Islam is in Jerusalem and they would never risk its destruction.

    9. A war initiated by Israel would spread to our interests in about half an hour. Prices for petroleum would certainly skyrocket to who knows what level, collapsing our fragile economy like a house of cards. Same for the whole world’s economy for the same reasons.

    10. So if we really want all the hugely negative consequences, just raise your hands now. If not, this had better be prevented or it will be the capper that puts us in the crapper for good.

    • “A war initiated by Israel would spread to our interests in about half an hour.”

      Of course, which is EXACTLY the motive the Israelis would have for initiating the war. Bibi and co know perfectly well that they do not have the capacity to stop Iran getting nukes on their own (leaving aside the question of whether Iran is actually doing that – the important thing here is that the Israelis BELIEVE they do). But if they can entangle the US into a war with Iran the USAF will do the job for them.

      That’s their whole strategy, and the only reason they haven’t started the war yet is because they could not be certain even Bush was dumb enough to be their dupe, and they know Obama certainly isn’t (hence their distaste for him). But if a naive Republican who has made all sorts of tough guy noises in the campaign gets elected, then watch out …

  5. Still waiting for Obama to publicly and explicitly denounce an unprovoked attack on Iran. Folks, it’s the right thing to do.

    • Better, D King, it’s the SMART thing to do – see my previous comment. Israel won’t attack unless it thinks that it can implicate the US in the attack.

  6. This whole fear mongering about Iran and it’s nuclear capabilities is just a smoke screen for what is really bothering the US. Iran has instituted an oil bourse and is selling oil in denominations other than the US petrodollar: gold, rupee, yuan, euros, rubles etc. The US is petrified (pun intended) that this trend will escalate and the petrodollar will be discarded and the US will no longer be able to print money at will with no domestic consequences. Saddam Husein (remember him) was selling oil in other than US petrodollars until Iraq was controlled by the US and then the sale of oil was returned to the petrodollar. There were no weapons of mass distruction unless you consider selling oil in other than petrodollars a weapon of mass distruction (of the US economy) which the US might have considered it to be.

  7. I live in iran and I have served a term in military and with my insights and domestic knowledge I can assure you that Iran has absolutely no intention of attacking any countries. Our military is only for self defense. We have had a long history of being invaded by hostile countries like the US and Russia for our strategic location on the map and our natural resources. We have been bullied and threatened because all we wanted was independence.
    That is where you are accused of global terrorism and barbarism while invasion
    of countries by murdering their civilians becomes war against terrorism!

  8. I have to agree that there has to be more to the crisis with Iran than simply the nuclear program. The tightening of sanctions by people like those in the EU and President Obama are not doing that simply as a favor to Israel. There are apparently a lot of people in the world outside of Israel who fear the Iranians. Perhaps this includes the influential, petrodollar-rich Gulf States like Saudi Arabia. If so, why do they fear Iran? Is the Sunni-Shia split a major factor? I have read that the Iranians are encouraging active proseltyzing among Sunni Muslims and others, even though in at least some Muslim Middle Eastern states that is against the law. Or are they afraid of the Iranians stirring up their Shi’ite minorities? As I understand it, there has always been a rivalry between Shi’ite Iran and the Sunni Arab states for leadership of the Muslim world. Thus, the real struggle between Iran and the rest of the Muslim world is essentially ideological in a way that the Western powers don’t really fathom.

  9. The question was raised about why Iran wants its own uranium-enrichment program in light of the harsh sanctions imposed against it. Trita Parsi in A Single Roll of the Dice adrresses this issue, noting that Iran had previously been burned by France, which was supposed to enrich uranium for Iran’s nuclear program but then never delivered. Parsi suggests that France’s role in the 2009 negotiations in Geneva and Vienna led to mistrust. Iran did subsequently agree to allow Turkey to hold its enriched uranium in “escrow” while the fuel pads needed for its research reactor were enriched to the 20 percent level. By that time, however, Parsi argues that the U.S. had succeeded in getting Russia and China to agree to UN sanctions and was no longer interested in diplomacy with Iran.

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