Iran and Nuclear Latency

When you tool around the blogosphere and the news sites, the discourse about Iran’s nuclear program is maddeningly contradictory. But I think a single hypothesis can account for all the known facts. These are:

1. Iran is making a drive to close the fuel cycle and to be capable of independently enriching uranium to at least the 5 percent or so needed for energy reactors and also to the 20 percent needed for its medical reactor.

2. Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei gave a fatwa in 2005 that no Islamic state may possess or use atomic weapons because they willy nilly kill masses of innocent civilians when used, which is contrary to the Islamic law of war (which forbids killing innocent non-combatants).

3. Iranian officials have repeatedly denied that they are working on a nuclear bomb or that they aspire to have one.

4. US intelligence agencies are convinced that Iran has done no weapons-related experiments since 2003, and that it currently has no nuclear weapons program.

5. Israel forcefully maintains that Iran’s nuclear program is for weapons and has repeatedly threatened to bomb the Natanz enrichment facilities.

6. Iran recently announced a new nuclear enrichment facility near Qom.

Those who insist that Iran is trying to get a bomb have a difficult time explaining why Khamenei forbids it as un-Islamic and why the president and others all deny it. It is possible that they are lying, but their denials at least have to be noted and analyzed. The skeptics also have to explain away why the 16 US intelligence agencies say after exhaustive espionage and investigation that there is no weapons program now and that there hasn’t been one for some time.

Those who agree with the CIA and the Defense Intelligence Agency, as well as with the International Atomic Energy Agency, that there is no evidence for Iran having a nuclear weapons program have to explain Iran’s insistence on closing the fuel cycle and being able to enrich uranium itself.

The answer I propose, which explains all the anomalies elegantly and concisely, is that Iran is seeking nuclear latency. Latency is the possession of a nuclear energy program and of reactors, which would allow the production of an atomic bomb on short notice if an extreme danger to national autonomy reared its ugly head. Nuclear latency is sometimes called the ‘Japan option,’ because given its sophisticated scientific establishment and enormous economy, Japan could clearly produce a nuclear weapon on short notice if its government decided to mount a crash program.

The reason for the construction of the Qom facility, in this reading, would be that the Natanz facility is too easily bombed or struck with missiles. Moreover, the Israelis and some Americans have repeatedly threatened to strike it. A nuclear enrichment program such as that at Natanz, which is subject to being wiped out by a military strike, cannot truly provide nuclear latency. The Qom facility was necessary in the regime’s eyes if the latency strategy was to be preserved.

The regime has every reason to maintain latency and no reasons to go further and construct a nuclear device. The latter step would attract severe international sanctions.

I was on an email list where someone expressed suspicion of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei’s 2005 fatwa against the possession and use of nuclear weapons by an Islamic state.

One suggestion was that Khamenei is not a real Shiite jurisprudent and has eschewed having followers inside Iran. But, no, Khamenei is a mujtahid or independent jurist and has the standing to issue a fatwa or considered ruling on the law.. A mujtahid may always decline to accept muqallidun or followers, which Khamenei appears to have done for Iranian nationals, without that affecting his legitimate right to issue fatwas. The theory of ijtihad or independent jurisprudential reasoning holds that the law inheres in the reasoning processes of the jurisprudent; whether the jurisprudent has followers or not is irrelevant to the discovery of the law in a particular instance. Moreover, as rahbar or supreme leader,, Khamenei’s pronouncements on such matters might even be seen as a hukm or standing command. Finally, since he sets policy on such matters, what difference, in any case, would it make what exact jurisprudential standing his fatwas enjoy?

The only real question is whether he is lying and insincere. That would be a dangerous ploy on his part, in a state premised on Islamic jurisprudence, as Fareed Zakaria has pointed out.

As for the general Islamic law of war, it forbids killing innocent non-combatants such as women, children and unarmed men; ipso facto it forbids deploying nuclear weapons. It was suggested that Iran has chemical weapons and that these would as much violate the stricture above as nuclear warheads. I do not agree that Iran has a chemical weapons program, but in any case chemical weapons have for the most part been battlefield weapons used against massed troops or in trenches. Having such a program does not imply intent to kill innocent civilians. Whereas making a bomb does imply such intent and is therefore considered by most Muslim jurisprudents incompatible with Islamic law.

Khamenei seems to me to have decided some time ago on a policy of nuclear latency, for two reasons. Nuclear reactors lend Iran a hope of energy independence. Iran produces 3.8 million barrels per day of petroleum and uses about 2 mn. b/d itself. It is likely that soon Iran will use up all of its daily petroleum production, leaving it without the petroleum income windfall upon which its government depends. At that point, Khamenei fears, Iran would be dragooned back into the neo-liberal, America-centric order that had dominated Iran under the shah. Second, nuclear latency would help fend off aggressive attempts at regime change by the Western powers or Israel.

Nuclear latency has all the advantages of actual possession of a bomb without any of the unpleasant consequences, of the sort North Korea is suffering.

Even if my thesis that Iran seeks nuclear latency were accepted, isn’t there a chance that in the future the leaders of the Islamic Republic might seek a weapon?

Scott Sagan noted in one of his essays that one impetus to seek an actual bomb is regime and national pride in the country’s modernity. But this motivation does not exist in the case of Iran, since the Islamic Republic is a critic of the alleged horrors of modernity and because it defines nuclear bombs as shameful, rather than something to boast about.

Moreover, latent nuclear states sometimes give up their latency and foreswear even a nuclear option. Brazil and Argentina mothballed their programs in the 1980s, either because they saw each other as insufficiently threatening or because their move to democratic rule lessed the power of the military-industrial complex in each country that had been plumping for nukes (Sagan thinks it is the latter).

The problem for the West is that nuclear latency is not illegal under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. And conveniently for Khamenei, nuclear latency is not incompatible with Islamic law. That is why the US and its close allies have to pretend that Iran is actually going for a bomb, despite the lack of good evidence for serious weaponization; they are using this pretense as a way to attempt to forestall a Japan option, which is what they really object to, since it is a geostrategic game changer for the region in and of itself. Unfortunately for them, the General Assembly is unconvinced, and China and Russia are reluctant.

(I apologize to regular readers that comment posting is temporarily down.)

End/ (Not Continued)

Posted in Uncategorized | 33 Responses | Print |

33 Responses

  1. Many prominent westerners and heads-of-state are campaigning heavilly for a vast expansion of nuclear power production to allow for vast cutbacks in fossil fuel use to combat the Climate Crisis. If Iran was savvy, they would invoke this line very publicly.

    It's been very clear to me that the US Empire has no case against Iran, so its efforts are essentially terrorism, which is what we would expect from the only state ever to be convicted of that crime by the World Court.

    Related in a tangetal manner is the development noted here: "The Demise of the Dollar

    "In a graphic illustration of the new world order, Arab states have launched secret moves with China, Russia and France to stop using the US currency for oil trading."

  2. I find it difficult to accept that "Islamic law of war … forbids killing innocent non-combatants such as women, children and unarmed men". Many innocent people have been killed by Muslims and Iran or Iranians are reported to support suicide bombings in Israel.

    Presumably, the bombers and their supporters argue that no one is truly innocent if their country is your enemy and presumably the 9/11 hijackers argued the same.

    If it is the case that anyone can be considered a legitimate target, what Islamic law actually says is surely irrelevant.

  3. While I tend to agree that the present regime is probably only seeking "nuclear latency", there are still some serious, unanswered issues. Khamenei is no nuclear physicist, or military strategist; and as we know from the American experience, the military bureaucracy, and the military-industrial complex (which in Iran includes a network of Revolutionary Guards-owned industrial facilities) is skilled and patient in waiting out recalcitrant political leaders (JFK, Jimmy Carter, Obama?) who do not share their ultimate ambitions, and at sabotaging any unwanted "peacenik" initiatives.

    Iran's current enrichment program makes no sense as an energy alternative for when their oil runs out (their newly-discovered gas reserves will last much longer). The Natanz facility (even with the new Qom facility) is not nearly large enough to fuel a serious nuclear electricity-generation program, and even if it were, Iran doesn't have nearly enough yellowcake to produce enough LEU to power it. Iran has only a modest stock of yellowcake (imported under the Shah), and their own uranium mines are a negligible source.

    Even if a network of electricity-generation nuclear reactors were under construction (there is only one, currently), and the Natanz facility were expanded to 50,000 or so centrifuges, Iran would have to import yellowcake on a large scale (there are reports the Iranians are aiding Chavez' Venezuela to explore for uranium). But that would make no sense economically, as Sweden and several other countries with sizable nuclear-power programs have concluded: the world is awash with uranium and LEU-producers, and it's much less expensive to simply import LEU from one of the several competing foreign sources (all eager for the business).

    On the other hand, Iran's enrichment facilities and yellowcake reserves are adequate for a modest nuclear-weapon program; Iran is known to have purchased various components whose only use would be in warhead design or fabrication; and their missile program is developing a formidable, nuclear-capable MRBM, the Sejil-2 (though there is so far no definitive evidence that they are developing a nuclear warhead for it; they have developed several conventional warheads, including a cluster-bomb type).

    So there are good reasons for the world (both potential foes, and friends of Iran) to want Iran to put these doubts to rest, by making its nuclear program completely transparent to the IAEA, and answering detailed questions about its previous (and possibly continuing) warhead-design research. Let us hope that the meeting in Geneva last week was the first step in that direction.

  4. As long as the US/Israel can prevent a lack of real information being known, the US/Israel can tell everyone what to think and what to fear. Thus far, the US/Israel has been very successful doing this regarding Iran.

  5. Dear Prof. Cole, I think your perspective is somewhat skewed by the fact that in the last few years the U.S. has been forced to acknowledge Iran's right to a civilian program, e.g. to maintain the nuclear reactor at Bushehr.

    You forget, however, that this right was recognized only recently because the U.S. was not left with much of choice. It is Iran's enrichment of uranium that earned it such recognition.

    The normal state of affairs for many years was for the West to oppose and obstruct a civilian program of any sort. What changed this was Iran's enrichment of uranium, which has given it enormous leverage.

    Take the medical reactor fuel that the West has agreed to give Iran. This concession would have never been approved if Iran had not been enriching its own uranium.

    There is thus an explanation other than latency. Iran has had the experience of being under sanctions while its enemy, Saddam, received the support of the West and Russia during the Iran-Iraq war. Iran simply cannot trust the West and Russia to not withhold nuclear fuel shipments in order to blackmail it.

  6. Israel's push to bombard Iran has nothing to do with the atomic bomb,(It would take Iran a very long time to match Israel's atomic bomb arsenal.)
    It has to do with eliminating an impediment to Israel expansion.
    It's deadly wrong for the commercial press to continue to suppress open discussion on the matter.

  7. Recent report from George Friedman at STRATFOR said
    "Two major leaks occurred this weekend over the Iran matter.

    In the first, The New York Times published an article reporting that staff at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the U.N. nuclear oversight group, had published an unreleased report saying that Iran was much more advanced in its nuclear program than the IAEA had thought previously. According to the report, Iran now has all the data needed to design a nuclear weapon. The article added that U.S. intelligence was re-examining the National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) of 2007, which had stated that Iran was not actively pursuing a nuclear weapon.

    The second leak occurred in the British daily The Times, which reported that the purpose of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s highly publicized secret visit to Moscow on Sept. 7 was to provide the Russians with a list of Russian scientists and engineers working on Iran’s nuclear weapons program."

    Based on past reading on your blog, I suspect both "leaks" were false, and that the US leak was from neocons still in the government seeking both to aid the Israelis and to undermine President Obama's diplomatic initiatives. The report presented these leaks as likely true and suggested that President Obama must now either establish sanctions or bomb Iran — which hardly seems to be the necessary conclusion even if the reports were true.

    The past administration would not have stood idly by while members of the military or intelligence services publicly undermined their efforts — in fact they took action to remove and silence the intelligence community members who disagreed with the move to war with Iraq, and they constantly urged everyone to support the "office" of the President or be labeled a traitor. Now we have Republican members of Congress openly wondering whether President Obama is a natural citizen and traveling to foreign countries to directly contradict President Obama's foreign policy! So much for respecting the office. These "leaks" seem to be more of the same.

  8. Per Mr Cole… "As for the general Islamic law of war, it forbids killing innocent non-combatants such as women, children and unarmed men"

    So if I understand your logic Islamic law forbids killing innocents in times of war. However terrorism thru stateless proxies in other countries is completely acceptable as well as killing your own who protest rigged elections.

    Please, please saying this regime is trustworthy and respectful of human life is not possible by even the most skeptical.

  9. .
    What are the qualitative differences between a national leader like Iranian President Ahmadinejad openly advocating that Israel vanish from the page of time, on the one hand,
    and a national leader like US Senator Lindsey Graham, on the other hand, advocating a US first-strike aggressive war against Iran to destroy an unbuilt future nuclear facility ?

    an avid student of Middle Eastern belligerency

  10. Perhaps, like the U. S., Iran is only seeking energy independence.

  11. Very well put.

    You assert that having nuclear latency is nearly as valuable as having an actual weapon.

    I agree, but you don't explain exactly why, and it may not be obvious.

    If Iraq had gotten a Japan option, then over the months-long period that the US was amassing an invasion force in Kuwait in late 2002, early 2003, Hussein at that point would have produced a weapon.

    What that means is that if the US believed Hussein could build a weapon, it would never have massed its troops for an invasion as that would have been a waste of time since they'd have to disband once Iraq announced or even hinted its nuclear weapon was complete.

    (Despite a program of calculated deception, there was no doubt at all in the minds of US military planners that Hussein could not field a nuclear weapon.)

    An Iranian nuclear latency or Japan option would render Iran invasion-proof. And take forcible regime change off the table permanently. It would also provide a lot of deterrence for any plan to even attack Iran from the air.

    John Bolton went on Jon Stewart's daily show and said that if Serbia had been nuclear capable, the West would not have been able to get regime change. Bolton is right, but I wonder if he realizes how that sounds to Iranian planners.

    The first Israeli nightmare is not that Iran will bomb Tel Aviv or Jerusalem, but that once Iran knows it will not be invaded or even bombed, it will feel free to offer more support to the Palestinians and to pressure Egypt and other Arab countries to do the same.

    The second Israeli nightmare is that once Egypt and Saudi Arabia see that Iran has achieved immunity to US bombings or invasion without making unpopular concessions to the project of Zionism, they will want the same deterrence. Once they get it, their domestically costly policies of cooperation with Israel will be less useful. These countries, whose cooperation Israel needs to remain viable as a Jewish state may follow the wishes of their people and become more hostile to Zionism.

    (Contrary to reports of rivalry with Iran, Iran has publicly offered to share its nuclear technology with any Muslim state. Saudi or Egyptian nuclear latency threaten Israel and make those states less dependent on the US, which is good from Iran's point of view.)

    Knowledgeable supporters of Zionism, such as France's Sarkozy, Israel's Netanyahu and many US political figures are lying, not mistaken but lying, when they declare the danger of Iran getting a nuclear weapon.

    The threat of an Iranian bomb is more emotionally compelling than the threat of an Iranian "Japan option". An Iranian bomb is also illegal unless Iran leaves the NPT, while a Japan option is not.

    But the true threat, and everybody knowledgeable knows it, is that Iran gets a Japan option.

  12. Thank you for restating the supposed conundrum of the Iranian nuclear program. That this is not already clear is due to the enthusiasm of American news media to continually paint Iran as an opponent. Long term predictions of the decline of Iranian oil reserves and an increase of its domestic consumption mandate an Iranian policy of alternate energy production. Israel is intent upon casting latency into a one per cent doctrine. If nuclear energy production is the Good Thing that American corporations espouse, there is no reason, certainly no legal reason, Iran should not pursue nuclear power unimpeded, and in fact with international support. The international problem of how to assure control of nuclear materials then can rightfully take center stage. But Israel, due to its unreported, uncontrolled, and unmonitored nuclear program and weaponry, does not want this. Effective international knowledge and control of ALL national nuclear programs is the underlying problem that is not being addressed. That process must begin first with the largest undeclared holder of nuclear material and weaponry, Israel, and extend to all other mideast nuclear nations. In terms of international nuclear safety, Iran is several steps down on the list.

  13. Another point you don't mention is the in-a-way humorous attempts by the US and its allies to rewrite or at least re-interpret the NPT to pretend it forbids nuclear latency.

  14. "As for the general Islamic law of war, it forbids killing innocent non-combatants such as women, children and unarmed men; ipso facto it forbids deploying nuclear weapons."

    Just curious — is Pakistan, to the extent that it is a state at all and not just an elastically bounded hothouse for some of the best and a lot of the worst (e.g., A.Q. Khan) humanity has to offer, an Islamic state? How do the interpretations of the Q'ran treat the addressing of external concerns like the Bomb-sickness that mobilized all that Indian intellectual energy and national treasure?

  15. To what extent might Iran's actions/propaganda on this issue be explained by the same paranoia that made Saddam Hussein act and issue statements that misled the intelligence community into thinking Iraq had greater military capability than it had?

    Iran clearly feels threatened by Israel, and with good reason. Iran also seems to have a bit of inferiority complex, I think contributing to the government's heavy-handed treatment of it's own citizens: the government wishes to project a powerful and decisive image to its own citizens as cover for the precarious position it actually thinks it is in.

    To what extent does Khamenei find Ahmadinejad a useful stooge because of Ahmadinejad's bluster? That bluster keeps foreign intelligence guessing about Iran's true intent, and forces foreign governments to accord Iran more respect than Khamenei perhaps believes it would get if he were honest about Iran's non-militaristic aims.

  16. Thx for the analysis, especially the jurisprudence rules. I would be interested in how those rules interact with 'house at peace' vs realm of war' doctrines, in the Shiite construct.

    It would seem that Mr. Nijad's supporters are applying 'realm of war' rules to internal regime security. Khomeini reortedly killed rival grand ayatollahsin 1979, and Khameini wears that mantle. Governments do lie and kill, for many reasons.

    'Nuclear weapons latency' is implied in a functional enrichment cycle. A military strike or industrial accident could take a centrifuge cascade offline for years. For latency to be a deterrant, weapons grade uranium (plutonium in Japan's case) must be produced and rendered to usable metal. Pakistan accumulated enough for multiple weapons before demonstrating in a rapid series of tests, at multiple test sites.

    The overt threats by nuclear Israel and Bush-Cheney to attack Iran, the strategic situation vis a nuclear armed Arabia-Pakistan alliance, these tell me that there is immense pressure inside of Iran to harness the diplomatic-military power of the atom.

    Weapons proliferation proceeded slowly last century due to the huge cost of producing the fuel. Unfortunately the european centrifuge designs stolen and re-sold by AQ Kahn reduce the cost of enrichment perhaps to 1/60 of the cold war era.

    I can name a half dozen countries that for strategic reasons should have internal advocates for a nuclear arms. What military doesn't want the worlds most cost-effective killing device?

    Re the moral depravity of threatening to nuke cities, we've provided the Iranians with purely military targets in the nuclear armed navy task forces that overtly threaten their Gulf and Indian Ocean borders. Obama hasn't taken a military strike off the table, nor can anyone guarantee what the next admin in Washington, or the current one in Israel will do.

  17. Thanks for the breakdown, as I'd been wondering about the "Japan option" in regards to Iran and it's intentions. It does seem to meet many of their desires (stated or implied).

    In an aside, I would expect that an increased move to solar power would also benefit Iran, especially considering their sunlight availability. Use more oil for export (revenue), decrease their dependence before the eventual decline, and foster their standing in the increasing environmental movement (see improved relations with Europe).

  18. To possess "nuclear latency," then, is to have both the capacity to make and the will to use (despite what the Supreme Leader may say to the contrary) a nuclear weapon — in response to some trigger = geopolitical circumstance. I can think of several reasons why the West in general, and ISRAEL in particular would have various concerns about IRAN embracing this "JAPAN" doctrine. Unmentioned, but certainly implied is that to achieve this capability one must have the intellectual property to build and use/deliver a nuclear device. Even if the Iranian leaders were to comply with all the so-called "safeguards", the international regulations and inspections, etc of its physical works ~ and that's a big IF, Juan, seeing as how at least 50% of the Iranian people, themselves do not embrace the credibility of their own leaders ~ IRAN's nuclear weapons intellectual property would be transferable, even if their capacity were not used, and their devices did not "exist," thus. The challenge of "Non-Proliferation" nowadays is not just containment of brick -and- mortar works and the physical devices they do (or could, e.g. JAPAN, with latency) produce, but also about the dissemination of WMD assembly and delivery savoir faire, e.g. PAKISTAN ~ which is how we got here / why we're talking about IRAN today, n'est-ce pas? imho, "the JAPAN deterrence doctrine" is nothing more than latent MADness.

  19. I would say to moonrider that it's very difficult to build up a civilian nuclear energy program given the level and longevity of the economic war being waged againt Iran. If normal economic intercourse was available to Iran, they would likely have several nuclear power stations operational. Iran's NatGas potential remains undeveloped for the same reason.

    The one operational reactor Iran has was given to it by the USA during the Shah's reign of terror for the production of medical isotopes, which it's still used for.

    And Gareth Porter's investigation seems to have uncovered Olli Heinonen as a CIA mole within the IAEA's Safeguards Department carrying out the Black Propaganda campaign over Iran's nuclear program.

    The bottom line is that the UNSC must get off Iran's back and onto Israel's, which is clearly a criminally inhumane country much worse than Myanmar or even North Korea.

  20. Given the Fox News "bomb them now, or soon?" question re Iran enrichment, it's easy for the peace party to fall into a line of reasoning that we don't have to bomb them, because Iran won't go all the way to testing and weaponizing fission bombs.

    As US voters, we need to face our own problem more directly, which is the LBJ-cum-neocon idea that we 'need' to militarily attack that which we don't like, even if it's on the other side of the globe.

    As a sovereign state, Iran has the right under UN and NPT treaty rules to develop a full nuclear fuel cycle. Coupla housekeeping rules there to allow anti-weapons inspectors, but there it is.

    Likewise, any NPT signatory has the right to withdraw from the NPT protocols on six month notice and excercise their sovereign right to nuclear defense. Caveat there that catching up to Israel, India or Pakistan would take decades, and trillion$.

    Under our UN Charter, even the USA is prohibited from waging wars of choice, against countries that pose no direct threat to us. Same for Israel. . Hard to believe, we do it so often. If Israel has a problem with Hezbollah and Lebanon, they need to cut a deal locally, or take it to the UN.

    Is Iranian support for armed ops in their region a problem? Sure. But the same can be said for Israel and the US.

    If we want to put an end to proliferation, which is a big, big project, it is the sellers and traders of the tech that should be the major concern. That would be Pakistan-China, and Israel-France-USA.

  21. 11:59 AM, Anonymous

    your question is against the facts.

    1)Saddam Hussein DID NOT act and issue statements that misled the intelligence community into thinking Iraq had greater military capability than it had, so called "intelligence community" lied to support Western imperialism and Zionism in their goal to ruin Iraq by EVERY means possible

    2)USA and Israel openly threat to bomb Iran, not mentioning their other very unfreandly acts, including terrorism. Given their history of agression, Iran would be unsane NOT to try and protect itself

    So, real question here: Where you were last 5 years, when those facts became near unversal knowlege?

  22. Do you have any evidence whatsoever that Iran is pursuing nuclear latency? (Note: your article mistakenly says they already have it which is clearly false).

    Your only argument appears to be that there's no other explanation for Iran "closing the fuel cycle", but another explanation is obvious and noted in the article: Iran wishes to have energy independence.


  23. The US and Israel have had since 1979 to attack Iran; They have not attacked, and since the death of Saddam, Iran has no real enemies. Either the Mullahs are paranoid or they intend aggression.

    Iran's ballistic missile program includes several missiles that are only good for delivering nuclear warheads. They have re-entry vehicles that can maneuver around missile defenses. Such a ballistic missile is a weapon, pure and simple. A missile without a WMD has no strategic significance, and Iran knows this.

    And they hid their program from the IAEA in order to advance nuclear medicine?

    See this on the Shahab-3 missile for example.

    Or see this on the newer Sajjil-2 missile.

  24. I see a lot of argument to the effect that I don't believe Iran's programs are peaceful, therefore they aren't peaceful. supported by flimsy and illogical supposition. So, here's one for you'll to think about:

    Iran could want a nuclear reactor program to train its engineers to become nuclear reactor engineers, thereby exporting energy in the form of electricity in exchange for oil.

    Yeh, that's it.

  25. Iran: Most Ruthless Generals in Charge of Institutions of Suppression
    Source: Rooz Online

    On Sunday the Islamic Republic supreme leader issued a decree appointing Brigadier General Mohammad Reza Naghdi as commander of the Basij and Hossein Taeb to head the intelligence division of the Islamic Passdaran Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC)

    link to

  26. Juan, your notion of nuclear latency is a good possibility that explains all of the known information, although anything is possible. I wonder if national pride – nukes make you somebody – along with a possible need to assert sovereignty.

    I'm not convinced that latency has no risks for the latent nation. After all, look at the threats against Iran. To continue with the program still scares people – this is the logic of nuclear proliferation. And the very possibility of Iraq possessing nukes helped convince the American people to support invasion. But it would do everyone some good to try to look at things through the eyes of the Iranian government: accurately understanding their point of view is critical to figuring out how to deal with it, rather than fighting phantoms of one's own imagination.

  27. "Islamic Republic: The Future of an Illusion"//Beginning of the End
    Ahmad Sadri speaking at Emory University seminar

    The seminar titled "Iran 2009 Election: Precursors, Observations, and Consequences" was held in Atlanta, Georgia on August 29, 2009. Dr. Sadri is Professor Sociology and Anthropology and Gorter Chair of Islamic World Studies at Lake Forest College.

    link to

  28. The "domestic power + nuclear latency" argument makes a lot of sense. Perhaps as alternative is "domestic power + a huge bargaining chip".

    The Iranians do seem prepare to agree arrangements ensuring they have no capacity to make a nuke, for example moving some of the fuel cycle to Russia, in exchange for the right deal.

    Perhaps they're just holding out for the right deal and making "hey – look at our lovely new centrifuges" noises every-so-often to up the pressure and maximise their take?

    Nuclear latency doesn't seem to offer the same security as, say, a security guarantee underwritten by Europe and Russia.

  29. If Iran were seeking nuclear latency then why would they offer to open their nuclear program to joint US operation, and why would they be willing to impose additional restrictions on the program far beyond their legal obligations? (see link to

    Why would they agree-in-principle to send out their stash of low-enriched uranium?

    Here's what the Iranians say about nuclear weapons:

    We do not think a nuclear Iran would be stronger. The leader of the country [Ayatollah Ali Khamanei] has issued an edict saying having a nuclear weapon is not allowed – this is a government principle. We have come to the conclusion that the best security for Iran is to have the Middle East free of weapons of mass destruction. If we have weapons of mass destruction we are not going to use them – we cannot. We did not use chemical weapons against Iraq.

    Secondly, we do not feel any real threat from our neighbours. Pakistan and the Persian Gulf, we have no particular problems with them, nor with Afghanistan. The only powerful country is Russia in the north, and no matter how many nuclear weapons we had we could not match Russia.

    Israel, our next neighbour, we do not consider an entity by itself but as part of the US. Facing Israel means facing the US. We cannot match the US.

    (More: link to

  30. Israel has the bomb and for many reasons I don't think they should give up the bomb. I do think that Israel should come clean about their nuclear program and submit themselves to international scrutiny and the regulatory agencies that most other modern, civilized nuclear states subscribe to. Insofar as the issue of disarmament goes, let them keep their bomb — their strategic bomb is not what's killing palestinians or invading Lebanon, it's their tactical conventional weapons that are doing this! We should forget about START and nuclear non-proliferation and give everybody a M.A.D. bomb capability because it's inevitable. We should focus on TART, Tactical Arms Reduction Talks. If we want to reduce the violence in the middle east, we should reduce the region's armor and airforces. Nukes and strategic weapons aren't the problem! Tanks and cannons and airplanes and helicopters are the problem!

  31. So what?
    140 countries now have the basic technical capacity to produce nuclear weapons. Over 40 countries have the materials and knowhow to build nuclear weapons quickly, a capacity that is referred to as “rapid break-out”. These countries include Japan, North Korea, Iran, South Korea and Australia.

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