March 15, 2006
Iran - Israel's Air Strike Options
(This article appeared on MSNBC's HARDBALL "Hardblog")
Israeli Air Force B707 tanker refueling an F-15I
Let's assume that Iran has exhausted the world’s patience over its “peaceful nuclear energy” research program - a program most analysts believe is a cover for a nuclear weapons program. Israel has indicated in clear terms that it will not permit Iran to acquire nuclear weapons. What are Israel's options to derail the program?
Most analysts agree that Israel does not have the capability to strike all of the sites associated with the program - estimates range between 12 and more than 20 locations. With limited power projection capabilities, Israeli intelligence analysts will determine the critical portions of the program - the key elements that if destroyed will slow down the effort. In 1981, the Israeli air force successfully crippled the Iraqi nuclear program with a daring daylight air raid on the key element of that program – the French-built Osirak reactor at At-Tuwaythah, just south of Baghdad. The single most critical element In the Iranian program is thought to be the centrifuge facility at Natanz (also known as the Esfahan enrichment facility).
The Natanz facility is a challenging target. The heart of the facility is the centrifuge area, located in an underground, hardened structure. The Iranians are fully aware of Israeli capabilities and no doubt have studied what the Israelis did to the Iraqi program a quarter century ago. They are also aware of the demonstrated capability of the American-made precision-guided penetrating munitions ("bunker busters") in the Israeli inventory. The Iranian program has been dispersed all over the country; the facilities have been built with American and Israeli capabilities in mind and are protected by modern Russian air defense systems.
Aside from the difficult nature of the target itself is its geographic location in relation to Israel. The straight-line distance between Israel and Natanz is almost 1000 miles. (At-Tuwaythah was only 600 miles). Since the countries do not share a common border, Israeli aircraft or missiles must fly through foreign - and hostile - airspace to get to the target.
The least risky method of striking Natanz is with Israel's medium range ballistic missiles, the Jericho II or III. Details on the exact capabilities of these systems are unknown, but it is believed that the Israeli missiles can reach Natanz. However, to travel that far, the missiles will have a limited warhead weight, probably less than 1000 pounds. It is doubtful that these warheads will be able to penetrate far enough underground to achieve the desired level of destruction. That points to an attack by the Israeli air force's American-made fighter-bomber aircraft as the most likely option. The Israelis have 25 F-15I Ra'am (Thunder) and about 30 F-16I Sufa (Storm) jets.
Israeli Air Force F-15I
How will the aircraft fly from their bases in Israel to a target located 200 miles inside Iran? There are two realistic ways to get there – either through Saudi Arabia or Iraq, possibly even using Jordanian airspace as well. Either route is a one-way trip of about 1200 miles. Even though Turkey and Israel have had a defense agreement since 1996, using Turkish airspace is not likely politically and would require the attacking aircraft to fly over 1000 miles inside Iranian airspace. It is also doubtful that the Israelis would jeopardize operational security by consulting with the Turks.
Possible Flight Routes
The Saudi Arabia option (red). The strike aircraft depart southern Israel, enter Saudi airspace from the Gulf of ‘Aqabah or Jordan, fly 800 miles of Saudi airspace to the Persian Gulf and then 300 miles into Iran. Although the Israelis traversed Saudi airspace when they attacked the Iraqi facility in 1981, Saudi Arabia and Jordan have since significantly upgraded their air defense capabilities and share information with each other.
Since the Israeli air force does not operate stealth aircraft, there is a reasonable expectation that at some point the aircraft will be detected over Saudi Arabia, either by ground based radar or the AWACS airborne radar platforms. Whether Saudi defenses could - or would - be able to stop the Israelis is uncertain. Perhaps the Saudis would turn a blind eye and claim ignorance - after all, a nuclear-armed Iran is a potential threat to the Kingdom as well.
The Iraq option (blue). The strike aircraft depart southern Israel, cross 300 to 400 miles of Saudi airspace or a combination of Jordanian and Saudi airspace, and enter Iraqi airspace as soon as possible, continue across 500 miles of Iraq to the Persian Gulf and then on to the target. Entering Iran from Iraqi airspace would create too much of political firestorm. As it is, the use of Iraqi airspace will require the cooperation of the United States. Although Iraq is a sovereign nation, its skies are controlled by the American military. That said, allowing Israeli aircraft to ingress from Iraq is likely out of the question.
Either of these options carries the risk that once the actual attack on the facility is made, the viability of the return route is in jeopardy – all forces in the area will be on alert. The planners may opt to go to the target one way and back home via another.
The limiting factor in Israeli planning is the great distance to the target. Can Israel’s fighter-bombers conduct this mission without refueling? Combat radius - the distance an aircraft can fly and return without refueling - is difficult to calculate, and depends on weapons payload, external fuel tanks, mission profile, etc. It is even more difficult when dealing with Israeli aircraft because they will not release performance data on their assets.
The best "guestimate" of the combat radius of the F-15I and F-16I, outfitted with conformal fuel tanks, two external wing tanks and a decent weapons load, is almost 1000 miles. Either of the two possible flight routes above is about 200 miles further than that. To make up for the shortfall, the aircraft could be fitted with an additional external fuel tank, but this will require a reduction in the weapons load. Given the accuracy of the weapons in the Israeli inventory, that might not be problematic. However, if the aircraft are detected and intercepted, the pilots will have to jettison the tanks in order to engage their attackers. Dropping the tanks will prevent the aircraft from reaching their target.
Air refueling. This raises the question of air refueling? This is a limitation for the Israelis. While Israel has a large air force, its focus has been on the Arab countries that surround it. In recent years, it has sought the capability to project power against a target over 1000 miles away. To do this, Israel has acquired five B707 tanker aircraft. However, the tankers would have to refuel the fighters in hostile airspace. The B707 is a large unarmed aircraft and would be very vulnerable to air defenses.
Israeli Air Force B707 and F-15I fighter-bombers
Looking at the two scenarios, air refueling over Saudi Arabia (red route) would be very risky. It would have to be done at low altitude to evade detection and will probably be at night. Using Iraqi airspace (blue route) will be somewhat less difficult as altitude will not be an issue.
Of course, the tankers would have to get to Iraqi airspace and back. The use of Turkish airspace for the tanker aircraft to enter Iraq is probably not an option for the same reasons that it is not an option for the fighters – political sensitivities on the part of the Turks and operational security considerations on the part of the Israelis. Another possibility is American cooperation – allow the Israelis to stage their tankers from an American air base in Iraq. These tankers could fly to Iraq though international airspace around the Arabian Peninsula and over the Persian Gulf. It would be too far for them to return to Israel without landing to refuel, otherwise the Israelis could refuel the fighters over the Gulf.
American participation? There are other possibilities, from allowing Israeli fighters to land and refuel at U.S.-controlled bases in Iraq, to having U.S. Air Force tankers refuel the Israeli aircraft over Iraq. A diplomatic nightmare, maybe, but certainly a military possibility.
U.S. Air Force KC-135 refuels an Israeli Air Force F-16I
Theoretically, the Israelis could do this, but at great risk of failure. If they decide to attack Natanz, they will have to inflict sufficient damage the first time - they probably will not be able to mount follow-on strikes at other facilities.
When all the analyses are done, there is only one military capable of the sustained widespread air operations required to eliminate Iran's nuclear weapons research program - the United States. Again, a diplomatic nightmare, but certainly a military possibility.
(Thanks to Colonel Rick Pyatt, USAF-Ret for his assistance on this article.)
posted by Rick Francona @ 11:39 PM
Either way, it's gonna be risky. However, if they pull it off it would be worth the risk.
One Isreali F-15 with a 5 megatonne fission-fusion warhead and the on Tehran and the problem goes away...
They could just use jerichos if they wanted to go nuclear
Couldn't we sent a buttload of cruise missles? Just curious? I am not a military expert.
"U.S. Limited In Iran War Options"
U.S. Limited In Iran War Options: Experts by Katherine Gypson Mar 27, 2006
WASHINGTON, March 23, 2006 (UPI) -- The Iranian nuclear crisis has become a hot and cold guessing game of hysteria and euphoria, experts say.
In the past two weeks, President George W. Bush has said that the United States would show Iran "what's right or wrong about their activities in Iraq," prompting Iran's Ayatollah Ali Khamenei to approve of the talks but warn that Iran will not be "bullied" into backing down on the development of nuclear materials.
The latest issue of The National Interest, from the Nixon Center, a Washington think tank, looks at the concurrent euphoria and hysteria of the Iranian crisis from several different perspectives and asks how the United States can develop an effective strategy in response.
Ray Takeyh, a senior fellow at the Council for Foreign Relations and author of the upcoming book "Hidden Iran; Paradox and Power in the Islamic Republic," told a Nixon Center panel Thursday that Iran viewed relations with the United States just as it would approach "any other pernicious, intrusive imperial country." He attributed this attitude to the rise to power of the war generation, those who grew up during the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq War and who now view the United States with a mixture of distrust and passivity.
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's "curious" approach to diplomacy must be viewed in the context of the United States' central position in Iranian political narratives and the national imagination, Takeyh said.
The 1953 CIA coup which overthrew Iranian Prime Minister Mohammed Mossadeq was the starting point for a system of beliefs that continued until the 1980s, when the stalemate of the Iraq-Iran war led many Iranians to believe that "outside superpowers were propping up Saddam (Hussein)'s regime."
There is a certain "stylistic formation" to many of Ahmadinejad's public statements, giving the sense that the issue of uranium enrichment is merely a vehicle for asserting Iran's regional ambitions in opposition to the European powers and the United States, Takeyh said.
"There are issues where they will negotiate but not acquiesce. If the purpose of the Security Council negotiations is to stop the fuel cycle, then you are not going to get it," he said.
Col. Patrick Lang, former director of Middle East Intelligence at the Defense Intelligence Agency, agreed. "Unless there a lot of bargaining carrots, Iran will feel as though they are abandoning an essential part of themselves," he said.
Such an attitude has left the United States bereft of bargaining options for use with Iranians. The Bush administration has bet millions of dollars on overseas broadcasting, hoping to foment a regime change from within Iran.
"There is opposition sentiment within Iran but no viable opposition force,"
Takeyh said. "There is this assumption that the Iranian public is apathetic because it is information starved. It's not -- it's just apathetic." Takeyh mentioned a variety of factors for Iranian public sentiment, among them economic factors and lack of political freedoms. "More broadcasting pumped into the country may give them more information but it will not lead to revolution," he said.
Lang analyzed the United States' military options by laying out several scenarios. The insertion of a major ground force invasion of Iran, he said, was made "unthinkable," due to domestic American political considerations and the strain on an overburdened U.S. military. It was also ruled out because the geographic reality of Iran would make it a logistical nightmare.
"No real army can be sustained on air transportation," Lang said.
The idea of a large commando operation has been floated as a military option but Lang dismissed "the idea that a bunch of guys with machine guns and a bunch of planes" could affect the desired degree of damage on the Iranian nuclear program as "just silly."
Lang said that the Israelis lacked the military equipment needed to undertake the best of the options -- an air campaign against possible uranium enrichment sites. "The United States is the only country in the world that has capability of carrying out the estimated thousand strike sorties needed to destroy the Iran's nuclear program," he said.
"The objective has to be not to destroy the program, but to set it back a desired number of years," Lang said.
Redundancy programs and decoys were cost-prohibitive and the United States must assume that Iran was assuming that there would be an air strike and is taking these precautions, he said.
Lang said that even if the air strikes were successful, the attacks would become a galvanizing force for both Shia and Sunni terrorist groups. "Iran is the world's largest state sponsor of terror," he said. "There is no reason to think that they would not respond."
Takeyh said the negotiations over nuclear enrichments had worked to Ahmadinejad's advantage, changing an issue of contention with the West into a matter of Iranian nationalistic pride.
"If the nuclear threat becomes even more serious then I think you will see U.S. and Israeli diplomacy get even more creative," he said.
"I don't think that this is a program that they are developing in order to give it up for deals," he said."
Katherine Gypson is a UPI Correspondent
Copyright 2006 by United Press International
Cruise missiles do not have the payload and penetration to destroy hardened and buried facilites such as the enrichment facility at Natanz. Cruise missiles could destroy some of the Iranian targets that are above ground though.
Sunday, Mar. 26, 2006
Will This Man Get The Bomb?
As the world weighs how to contain Iran and its fiery President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, TIME assesses the potential threat of a nuclear Iran
By JOHANNA MCGEARY
Let's start with a simple proposition: no one wants Iran to have the Bomb. The country doesn't actually possess nukes yet, but much of the world suspects that it is hell-bent on building them under the cover of its nuclear-energy program--and the loose-cannon bluster of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad only reinforces that conviction. That's why diplomats and nuclear watchdogs in the U.S., Europe and other parts of the world have spent so much time trying to stop Iran's nuclear program in its tracks.
So far, however, the joint diplomatic offensive hasn't produced much in the way of results. The Bush Administration's National Security Strategy, issued this month, names Iran the most challenging "single country" to U.S. interests, leaving open the possibility of pre-emptive strikes against Iran's nuclear program. The U.S. and Europe have persuaded Russia and China to join them in reporting Iran's failure to cooperate with international demands to the U.N. Security Council, but both countries oppose punitive action such as economic sanctions. The U.S. spent last week pushing the five permanent members of the Security Council to sign on to a British-drafted statement urging Iran to open its books and lab doors to intrusive international inspections. But the plan met resistance from Russia, which wants to avoid Security Council involvement altogether. "It's a fundamental problem," says a senior U.S. official. U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice telephoned Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov but made little headway. She plans to visit Berlin, Paris and Britain this week in an effort to hammer out a statement that can win unanimous backing in the Security Council. Meanwhile, Tehran has sped up research work on the uranium enrichment that lies at the heart of the dispute. Diplomats who have been briefed on Iran's program by international inspectors say the country has developed the ability to enrich uranium, the first step on the pathway to the Bomb. "They're progressing much faster than we thought they would," says a knowledgeable U.S. official. "They seem to know what they're doing."
There lies the deadlock. The U.S. and Iran have shown a faint willingness to lower the temperature, by agreeing to hold talks over Iranian interference in Iraq. But it's unclear whether Tehran hopes to use the talks over Iraq as a way to open the subject of nukes--or to distract the West's attention from it. Ali Larijani, Iran's top nuclear negotiator, told TIME that the regime may be open to compromise on the nuclear issue. "If there is a proposal that the rights of Iran can be secured to some extent for the present time and the other rights through negotiations, we are open to that." Yet the Bush Administration doesn't expect the Iraq discussions will lead to a breakthrough on the nuclear front. National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley dismisses Iran's overture as "simply a device by the Iranians to divert pressure that they are feeling in New York."
The willingness of the U.S. and Europe to make a deal has always been compromised by Iran's unpredictability. At this point, there are few outside Tehran who consider its behavior anything but destabilizing, if not sinister. The West is operating on the assumption that the Iranians are trying to develop the technology and expertise required for building a bomb as rapidly as possible--and that given the regime's support for terrorism, its stated desire to destroy Israel and the prospect of a new arms race in the Middle East, the world can't afford to let them succeed. Yet there is still nothing close to unanimity on what that means in practice. History has already shown how difficult it is to curb the nuclear ambitions of a state that is determined to get the Bomb. Witness the examples of India, Pakistan and North Korea, all of which have openly defied international strictures against acquiring nuclear weapons. With so much bluster on all sides, here is a breakdown of the issues at the heart of Iran's showdown with the West--and what is at stake for the world in the outcome.
What Does Iran Want?
THAT DEPENDS ON WHOM YOU ASK. WHAT IS clear is that Iran has pursued a nuclear program for decades, ever since the U.S. first fed the Shah's appetite for reactors. Experts generally believe that Tehran has coveted the Bomb as well. Under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, signed by Iran in 1968, the country is legally entitled to build reactors and make enriched uranium fuel as a source of energy, as long as it abides by treaty rules and allows the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to monitor what it is doing. Iran has consistently denied that it intends to scale up fuel-grade enriched uranium into the purer weapons-grade component of a bomb. Iranians say they have the same rights as other countries to technology and are just looking out for their long-term energy future.
The trouble is, almost no one believes that's all Iran is after. Iran had concealed clandestine efforts to make enriched uranium from IAEA inspectors for two decades, until its secret lab at Natanz was exposed by an exile opposition group in 2002. Iran eventually owned up to the deception, telling the IAEA that since the West had denied Iran reactors for decades, it had to go underground to become self-sufficient in fuel. The revelations led the IAEA to put seals on Iran's test centrifuges while Britain, France and Germany tried to negotiate guarantees that Iran's nuclear program could never be shifted to weapons production--an effort that the U.S. backed after initial hesitation. But those talks collapsed in January when Iran refused to abandon its insistence that it retain the rights to proceed with enrichment. The Iranians broke the seals on their most sensitive equipment and vowed to press ahead. According to diplomats and U.S. officials, experts from the IAEA have reported that Iran is on the verge of assembling and operating a 164-centrifuge cascade, machinery that has peaceful applications but can also eventually be used to make fuel for a bomb.
To this day, Iranian officials assert that their uranium-enrichment activities are purely for energy or research purposes rather than military ones. "There's no place for nuclear weapons in our national security doctrine," Larijani told TIME. He points out that Supreme Leader Ayatullah Ali Khamenei has issued a fatwa forbidding the use of nuclear weapons. But such claims were undermined again in January when the IAEA reported an administrative link between a uranium-conversion program known as Green Salt and efforts to weaponize missiles that, for the first time, appeared to show an attempt to harness the nuclear program for military purposes.
Is Iran Close To Getting the Bomb?
NOT NECESSARILY. UNDERPINNING THE current air of crisis is uncertainty about how soon Iran could manage bomb production. Western intelligence on the intentions and capabilities of nuclear aspirants is notoriously unreliable. Thus far, the IAEA says, Iran has the knowledge but not the capacity to make weapons. Some experts say that if Iran's enrichment facilities became fully operational, they could churn out enough material to construct two bombs a year. John Negroponte, Director of National Intelligence, said recently that "Iran, if it continues on its current path, will likely have the capability to produce a nuclear weapon within the next decade." What is already worrisome is that once Iran has the fissile material to make a bomb, it would have ready ways to threaten to use it. In 2004 Iran unveiled the Shahab-3 missile, with a range long enough to reach Israel and southern Europe. At the military parade in which it was first shown, one of the missiles carried the scrawl WIPE ISRAEL OFF THE MAP!
For years Iran alternately hid its activities and negotiated with the West over their scope. Over the past three years, both sides have focused on rebuilding confidence rather than provoking confrontation, but those overtures have lately all but vanished amid Iran's increasingly provocative behavior.
Why Is Iran Picking a Fight?
MANY IRANIANS POINT TO THE POLITICAL ambitions of Ahmadinejad. The hard-line President who just squeezed past more experienced candidates to take office has seized on the nuclear issue to cement his claim to power, according to some top government advisers. He can bypass the ruling clerics by appealing to the street, framing the right to nuclear energy as a populist cause and the centerpiece of his campaign to restore revolutionary ideals--and solidify his base in the military and revolutionary apparatus. That requires a return to the 1980s atmosphere of siege, rallying Iranians by whipping up animosity toward a common enemy, the West. To a generation forged in the heat of revolution and war, diplomacy is akin to slow surrender. "He's using the nuclear issue," says a Tehran political science professor, "to send a message to the Iranian people that he's tough, capable of standing up for Iran and fundamentally different from his soft predecessors."
Ahmadinejad's confrontational approach is reportedly causing consternation within Iran's clerical establishment, especially at the Supreme National Security Council, in which ultimately the decisions on the nuclear issue are made. In a recent TIME interview in Tehran, Larijani extended an olive branch of sorts to the Bush Administration, saying Iran could agree to direct talks with Washington on nuclear and other issues. "You have differences of views with us. Having differences of view does not mean animosity," he said. "We have no problems negotiating ... provided that Mr. Bush does not harangue us." The U.S. has ruled out direct nuclear talks.
Despite such conciliatory rhetoric from some Iranian officials, it is likely that many of the mullahs still dream of a robust nuclear program--if Iran had the capacity to make a bomb, it would get the respect it deserves. That conforms with Iran's self-image as a nation whose glorious past and potential greatness are undermined by implacable enemies such as the U.S. According to experts inside and outside the country, the regime sees bargaining over its nuclear rights as a way to recast the strategic balance in the region in Iran's favor, to gain stature and recognition of the Islamic Republic as a powerful geopolitical player. A history of invasions has left Iran wary of its neighbors, especially now that it is encircled by countries that possess atom bombs--Russia, Pakistan and India as well as Israel. Now that U.S. troops occupy two next-door states, Iran's leaders see the nuclear card as a way to buy security guarantees for the country and survival for the regime. It wants Washington to stop pushing "regime change" and accept the existence of an Iranian Islamic Republic. But even as Iranian officials deny that they plan to build a bomb, they point out that once North Korea tested a nuclear device, Western threats against Pyongyang ceased.
One reason Iran is acting up may be that its leaders see this as a moment when the game of brinkmanship is tilted in its favor. The country is in a nationalist mood; for the man in the street, more concerned with economic issues, the appeal is simple: If other countries can have nuclear power and atom bombs, why can't we? High oil prices and an overstretched U.S. military combine to lessen the West's capacity to react. So too, Iran's leaders think, does Iran's influence with the Shi'ite majority in Iraq and the newly elected Hamas leaders in the Palestinian territories. Getting loud and ugly about Israel earns Iran credibility and support in the Muslim world. And the regime may have decided that thumbing its nose at the nonproliferation treaty and at IAEA inspections is worth the international disapprobation, gambling that its extensive commercial ties with Russia and China will insulate it from punitive Security Council measures.
What Iran seems to be playing for, above all, is time. The longer it can string out the diplomatic process, the further it can proceed down the road toward completing the fuel cycle. It is possible that Iran may even agree to suspend uranium enrichment at some point in the near future, knowing that it has already created new facts on the ground. If the regime were then to change its mind again, says Mark Fitzpatrick, a longtime veteran of the U.S. State Department who is now at London's International Institute for Strategic Studies, "it would resume from a new starting point, with uranium conversion up and running and the enrichment process under way."
What Are the U.S.'s Options?
MISTRUST OF IRAN'S INTENTIONS HAS soured the Bush Administration and the Europeans on any deal that would allow Tehran to retain enrichment capacities. U.S. attitudes have hardened in response to Ahmadinejad, and Washington seems to have little interest in any grand bargain that would offer the theocratic regime security guarantees. Thus diplomacy for the moment is centered on the U.N. But even if Iran fails to accept demands that it submit to involuntary inspections, the challenge of reaching consensus on sanctions with real teeth could take months, if it can be achieved at all. The search is already on for selective embargoes that might stand a chance of passage. "It's not going to be oil for food," says a Bush Administration official. "I don't have a clue as to what they are, but fine minds are working on trying to sort out what could get support." Still, Washington's allies know that it's tough to design economic restrictions that will hurt the regime without hurting the Iranian people and realize how effectively Iran's leaders could use blunderbuss penalties to unify the nation behind them.
The bleak outlook for diplomacy fuels speculation that the U.S. and Israel might use military force to destroy Iran's nuclear facilities. While the military option is "never off the table," officials in both capitals say contingency plans for an air strike "are not under active consideration as an option now." Most experts say only that the U.S. has the air power and long-range fueling capability to carry out the multiple attacks that would be required to inflict serious damage on Iran's nuclear facilities--but they acknowledge that the U.S. military already has its hands full in Iraq and Afghanistan. Although some in the Middle East fear that Israel might attempt to repeat its 1981 solo raid on Iraq's incipient nuclear bomb, a senior Israeli intelligence officer says, "We won't act alone. Why should we? It's a global problem."
The costs of a military strike would well outweigh the benefits. That would be no simple raid but a major military operation taking several weeks, akin to the opening onslaught on Iraq in 2003. Not just the nuclear sites but Iran's air defenses and retaliatory machinery as well would have to be destroyed. The collateral damage in Iranian casualties from the attacks or radioactive fallout could be severe, as could the political backlash against moderates and opponents of the existing regime. And then, how much would Iran's nuclear ambitions be set back? "You can't bomb know-how," says IAEA chief Mohamed ElBaradei. A U.S. analyst guesses "at best, two to four years." And, he adds, "while we went to war, Iran would not sit idle. It would strike back at a time and place of its own choosing"--including sponsoring attacks on U.S. and British troops in Iraq and perhaps even terrorist strikes inside the U.S. and Europe.
Is there a way out? The most encouraging fact about the standoff is that neither side has much to gain from precipitating a military confrontation. At the same time, it is unlikely that the major differences over Iran's nuclear intentions can be resolved in a way that is wholly satisfying to both Iran and the West. The most realistic hope for Washington and its allies may lie in using diplomatic measures to delay Tehran's nuclear development long enough to allow for the emergence of a more moderate Iranian leadership that could be persuaded to abandon its nuclear dreams. But if those efforts fail, this U.S. President, or the next one, may confront a sobering choice: live with the reality of a nuclear Iran, or take the risk of attacking it. All of which leads to another, simple proposition: get ready for the world to become a more dangerous place.
With reporting by Scott MacLeod, Elaine Shannon/Washington, Helen Gibson/London, Azadeh Moaveni/Tehran, Aaron J. Klein, Andrew Purvis/Berlin, Reported by Matthew Cooper, Simon Robinson/ Jerusalem
Copyright © 2006 Time Inc. All rights reserved.
You sure about that? Could have sworn we had air launched ones we used in desert fox. Of course it's not like the media ever gets things right all the time (nor is my memory THAT great)
didn't we develop nuclear tipped tomahawk bunker buster cruise missles?
The Clock is Ticking, But How Fast?
By David Albright and Corey Hinderstein
The Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS)
March 27, 2006
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) privately briefed permanent members of the UN Security Council and Germany in mid-March that Iran was almost ready to start putting uranium gas into a group of 164 centrifuges at the Natanz uranium enrichment site. Iran is now on the verge of mastering a critical step in building and operating a gas centrifuge plant that would be able to produce significant quantities of enriched uranium for either peaceful or military purposes. However, Iran can be expected to face serious technical hurdles before it can produce significant quantities of enriched uranium.
Following the briefing, anonymous US officials quickly started to distort what the IAEA had said. These officials told journalists on a not for attribution basis that this action by Iran represented a significant acceleration of its enrichment program. US officials called several journalists to tell them that in the briefing IAEA officials were “shocked,” “astonished,” “blown-away” by Iran’s progress on gas centrifuges, leading the United States to revise its own timeline for Iran to get the bomb. In fact, IAEA officials have said they were not surprised by Iran’s actions. Although Iran’s pace is troubling and requires concerted diplomatic effort to reverse, it was also anticipated by other experts, including those at ISIS.1 A senior IAEA official told the Associated Press that these US statements came “from people who are seeking a crisis, not a solution.”
Recent comments by US officials about Iran’s timeline to nuclear weapons differ from official, community-wide US intelligence assessments. In testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee on February 2, 2006, John Negroponte, Director of National Intelligence, stated that Iran is judged as probably having neither a nuclear weapon nor the necessary fissile material for a weapon. He added that if Iran continues on its current path, it “will likely have the capability to produce a nuclear weapon within the next decade." The basis for this estimate remains classified, although press reports state that Iran’s lack of knowledge and experience in running large numbers of centrifuges is an important consideration. Most interpret Negroponte’s remark to mean that Iran will need 5-10 years before it possesses nuclear weapons.
Government estimates of the amount of time Iran needs to get its first nuclear weapon are subject to a great deal of uncertainty. Many questions about Iran’s technical nuclear capabilities and plans are unknown, and the IAEA has been unable to verify that Iran has fully declared its nuclear activities. Iranian denials that it has any intention to produce highly enriched uranium (HEU) or build nuclear weapons are viewed with skepticism. Nonetheless, there is no evidence of any decision by Iran to build a nuclear arsenal, let alone any knowledge of an official Iranian schedule for acquiring nuclear weapons.
Estimates of Iran’s nuclear capabilities, accomplishments, and timelines need far greater public and Congressional scrutiny than they are currently receiving. This scrutiny becomes even more important as those in the Bush Administration who favor confronting Iran and pressing for regime change may be hyping up Iran’s nuclear threat and trying to undermine intelligence assessments that Iran is several years from having nuclear weapons.
To understand the assumptions, key information, and uncertainties driving estimates of these timelines, we have developed two “worst-case” estimates of the time Iran would need to build its first nuclear weapon. In both of these estimates, which cover the most likely scenarios, Iran appears to need at least three years before it could have enough HEU to make a nuclear weapon. Given the technical difficulty of the task, it could take Iran much longer.
Iran Breaks the Suspension
Iran’s actions appear aimed at rapidly installing and running gas centrifuges. In early January 2006, Iran removed 52 seals applied by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) that verified the suspension of Iran’s P-1 centrifuge uranium enrichment program. The seals were located at the Natanz, Pars Trash, and Farayand Technique sites, Iran’s main centrifuge facilities. On February 11, Iran started to enrich uranium in a small number of centrifuges at Natanz, bringing to a halt Iran’s suspension of uranium enrichment that had lasted since October 2003. A few days earlier, Iran moved to end its implementation of the Additional Protocol, an advanced safeguards agreement created in the 1990s to fix traditional safeguards’ inability to provide adequate assurance that a country does not have undeclared nuclear facilities or materials.
After removing seals, Iran started to substantially renovate key portions of its main centrifuge research and development facility, the Pilot Fuel Enrichment Plant (PFEP) at Natanz. Iran began construction on the PFEP in secret in 2001, and it installed up to 200 centrifuges in 2002 and 2003. The PFEP is designed to hold six 164-machine cascades, groups of centrifuges connected together by pipes, in addition to smaller test cascades, for a total of about a thousand centrifuges.
At Natanz and Farayand Technique, Iran quickly restarted testing centrifuge rotors and checking centrifuge components to determine if they are manufactured precisely enough to use in a centrifuge. By early March, Iran had restarted enriching uranium at the pilot plant in 10- and 20-centrifuge cascades.
Iran has also moved process tanks and an autoclave, used to heat uranium hexafluoride into a gas prior to insertion into a centrifuge cascade, into the underground Fuel Enrichment Plant (FEP) at Natanz. The FEP is the main production facility and is designed to hold eventually 50,000-60,000 centrifuges. Iran also told the IAEA that it intends to start the installation of the first 3,000 P1 centrifuges in the underground cascade halls at the FEP in the fourth quarter of 2006.
The Uranium Conversion Facility (UCF) at Isfahan has continued to operate since its restart in August 2005, following the breakdown in the October 2003 suspension. By late February 2006, Iran had produced about 85 tonnes of uranium hexafluoride. With roughly 5 tonnes of uranium hexafluoride needed to make enough HEU for a nuclear weapon, this stock represents enough natural uranium hexafluoride for over 15 nuclear weapons. Although this uranium hexafluoride contains impurities that can interfere with the operation of centrifuges and reduce their output, most IAEA experts believe that Iran can overcome this problem and believe this problem has been overblown in the media. Iran is known to be working to improve the purity of its uranium hexafluoride. If necessary, Iran could use its existing stock of impure material, if it had no other material. It could take additional steps to purify this uranium hexafluoride, or it could use the material in its own centrifuges and experience reduced output and a higher centrifuge failure rate.
Iran’s Next Major Technical Hurdle to Building a Centrifuge Plant
A key part of the development of Iran’s gas centrifuge program is the operation of the 164-machine cascade at the PFEP at Natanz. The installation of the first test cascade was finished in the fall of 2003, but it never operated with uranium hexafluoride prior to the suspension of October 2003.
Iran has needed to take several steps before it could introduce uranium hexafluoride into this cascade. It first had to repair or replace any damaged centrifuges. According to IAEA reports, about 30% of the centrifuges crashed or broke when the cascade was shut down at the start of the suspension. In addition, Iran disconnected some of the pipes and exposed the pipes to humidity which could have caused corrosion. After making necessary repairs, Iran must finish connecting all the pipes, establish a vacuum inside the cascade, and finish preparing the cascade for operation with uranium hexafluoride. Progress on these steps was central to the IAEA briefing in mid-March.
If Iran does not encounter any significant problems, Iran could then carefully introduce uranium hexafluoride into the cascade and start enriching uranium. Iran would want to operate the cascade for several months to ensure that no significant problems develop and gain confidence that it can successfully enrich uranium in the cascade. Problems could include excessive vibration of the centrifuges, motor or power failures, pressure and temperature instabilities, or breakdown of the vacuum. Iran may also want to test any emergency systems designed to shut down the cascade without losing many centrifuges in the event of a major failure. Absent major problems, Iran is expected to need roughly six months to one year to demonstrate successful operation of this cascade and its associated emergency and control systems.
Once Iran overcomes the technical hurdle of operating its test cascade, it can duplicate it and create larger cascades. Iran would then be ready to build a centrifuge plant able to produce significant amounts of enriched uranium either for peaceful purposes or for nuclear weapons. However, Iran may encounter additional problems when it tries to build and operate a plant.
Developing an answer to how soon Iran could produce enough HEU for a nuclear weapon is complicated and fraught with uncertainty. Beyond the technical uncertainties, several other important factors are unknown. Will Iran develop a nuclear weapons capability but produce only low enriched uranium for nuclear power reactors and not any highly enriched uranium? Will Iran withdraw from the NPT, expel inspectors, and concentrate on building secret nuclear facilities? What resources will Iran apply to finishing its uranium enrichment facilities? Will there be military strikes against Iranian nuclear sites? Will the regime change fundamentally in the next several years?
Before developing a timeline, it is necessary to estimate how much HEU Iran would need to make a nuclear weapon. Iran could be expected initially to build a crude, implosion-type fission weapon similar to known designs. In 1990, Iraq initially planned to use 15 kilograms of weapon-grade uranium (HEU containing more than 90 percent uranium 235) in its implosion design. An unclassified design using almost 20 kilograms was calculated in a study co-authored by Theodore Taylor and Albright in about 1990. Thus, an Iranian nuclear weapon could be expected to need about 15-20 kilograms of weapon-grade uranium. A larger quantity of HEU is needed than the exact amount placed into the weapon because of inevitable losses during processing, but such losses can be kept to less than 20 percent with care. Thus, for the estimates presented here, a crude fission weapon is estimated to require 15-20 kilograms of weapon-grade uranium, where most losses would be recycled into successive weapons.
Clandestine Centrifuge Plant
Iran’s most direct path to obtaining HEU for nuclear weapons is building a relatively small gas centrifuge plant that can make weapon-grade uranium directly from natural uranium. If Iran built such a plant openly, it would be an acknowledgement that it seeks nuclear weapons. As a result, Iran is likely to pursue such a path in utmost secrecy, without declaring to the IAEA the facility and any associated uranium hexafluoride production facilities. Without the Additional Protocol in effect, however, the IAEA would face a difficult challenge discovering such a clandestine facility, even as Iran installs centrifuges at Natanz to produce low enriched uranium. The IAEA has already reported that it can no longer monitor effectively centrifuge components, unless they are at Natanz and within areas subject to IAEA containment and surveillance. Alternatively, Iran may feel less assured about successfully deceiving the inspectors and proceed with such a plant only after withdrawing from the NPT and asking inspectors to leave. In either case, there is little chance that U.S. or European intelligence agencies would detect this facility.
The key to predicting a timeline is understanding the pace and scope of Iran's gas centrifuge program, in particular the schedule for establishing a centrifuge plant that would hold about 1,500 centrifuges. This capacity is sufficient to make more than enough HEU for one nuclear weapon per year.
Each P1 centrifuge has an output of about 3 separative work units (swu) per year according to senior IAEA officials.2 From the A. Q. Khan network, Iran acquired drawings of a modified variant of an early-generation Urenco centrifuge. Experts who saw these drawings assessed that, based on the design's materials, dimensions, and tolerances, the P1 in Iran is based on an early version of the Dutch 4M centrifuge that was subsequently modified by Pakistan. The 4M was developed in the Netherlands in the mid-1970s and was more advanced than the earlier Dutch SNOR/CNOR machines. Its rotor assembly has four aluminum rotor tubes connected by three maraging steel bellows.
With 1,500 centrifuges and a capacity of 4,500 swu per year, this facility could produce as much as 28 kilograms of weapon-grade uranium per year, assuming a tails assay of 0.5 percent, where tails assay is the fraction of uranium 235 in the waste stream. This is a relatively high tails assay, but such a tails assay is common in initial nuclear weapons programs. As a program matures and grows, it typically reduces the tails assay to about 0.4 percent and perhaps later to 0.3 percent to conserve uranium supplies.
By spring 2004, Iran had already put together about 1,140 centrifuge rotor assemblies, a reasonable indicator of the number of complete centrifuges.3 However, only about 500 of these rotors were good enough to operate in cascades, according to knowledgeable senior IAEA officials. The November 2004 IAEA report stated that from the spring to October 10, 2004, Iran had assembled an additional 135 rotors, bringing the total number of rotors assembled to 1,275. As mentioned above, a large number of these rotors are not usable in an operating cascade.
Iran is believed to have assembled more centrifuges prior to the suspension being re-imposed on November 22, 2004. Without more specific information, it is assumed that Iran continued to assemble centrifuges at a constant rate, adding another 70 centrifuges, for a total of 1,345 centrifuges. However, the total number of good centrifuges is estimated at about 700.
Iran has enough components for up to 5,000 centrifuges, according to senior diplomats in Vienna. However, other senior diplomats said that Iran may not have 5,000 of all components, and many components are not expected to pass quality control. In total, Iran is estimated to have in-hand enough good components for at least an additional 1,000 to 2,000 centrifuges.
If Iran decided to build a clandestine plant in early 2006, it could assemble enough additional usable centrifuges for this plant of 1,500 centrifuges by the end of this year or early next year. It would only need to assemble at its past rate, or about 70-100 centrifuges per month, to accomplish this goal.
In the meantime, Iran would need to identify a new facility where it could install centrifuge cascades, since it is unlikely to choose Natanz as the location of a secret plant. It would also need to install control and emergency equipment, feed and withdrawal systems, and other peripheral equipment. It would then need to integrate all these systems, test them, and commission the plant. Iran could start immediately to accomplish these steps, even before the final testing of the 164 machine cascade at Natanz, but final completion of the clandestine plant is highly unlikely before the end of 2007.
Given another year to make enough HEU for a nuclear weapon, where some inefficiencies in the plant are expected, and a few more months to convert the uranium into weapon components, Iran could have its first nuclear weapon in 2009. By this time, Iran is assessed to have had sufficient time to prepare the other components of a nuclear weapon, although the weapon may not be small enough to be deliverable by a ballistic missile.
This result reflects a worst-case assessment, and Iran can be expected to take longer. Iran is likely to encounter technical difficulties that would delay bringing a centrifuge plant into operation. Factors causing delay include Iran having trouble in the installation of so many centrifuges in such a short time period, or Iran taking longer than expected to overcome difficulties in operating the cascades as a single production unit or commissioning the secret centrifuge plant.
Break-Out Using FEP
Iran has stated its intention to start installing centrifuges in late 2006 in its first module of 3,000 centrifuges in the underground halls of FEP at Natanz. This module would give Iran another way to produce HEU for nuclear weapons, even though the module is being designed to produce low enriched uranium. Once Iran has an adequate stock of LEU, the time to produce enough HEU for a nuclear weapon in this facility could be dramatically shortened.
At above rates of centrifuge assembly, and assuming that Iran has or can produce enough P1 centrifuges and associated equipment, Iran could finish assembling 3,000 centrifuges for this module sometime in 2008. Although cascades would be expected to be built before all the centrifuges are assembled, Iran will probably need at least another year to finish this module, placing the completion date in 2009 or 2010. Unexpected complications could delay the commissioning date. On the other hand, Iran could accelerate the pace by manufacturing, assembling, and installing centrifuges more quickly. Given all the difficult tasks that must be accomplished, however, Iran is unlikely to commission this module much before the start of 2009.
If Iran decided to make HEU in this module, it would have several alternatives. Because of the small throughput and great operational flexibility of centrifuges, HEU for nuclear weapons could be produced by reconfiguring the cascades in the module or batch recycling where the cascade product is used as feed for subsequent cycles of enrichment in the same cascade.
Reconfiguration could be as straightforward as connecting separate cascades in series and selecting carefully the places where new pipes interconnect the cascades. This Iranian module is unlikely to be composed of only one cascade. Because of the risk that whole cascades can fail following the failure of a few centrifuges, a unit with 3,000 centrifuges would likely be composed of several cascades, each making LEU. In such a case, reconfiguration may not even require the disassembly of the individual cascades, and it could be accomplished within days. In this case, the loss of enrichment output can be less than ten percent, although the final enrichment level of the HEU may reach only 80 percent, sufficient for use in an existing implosion design albeit with a lower explosive yield. With a reconfigured plant, and starting with natural uranium, 20 kilograms of HEU uranium could be produced within four to six months. If Iran waited until it had produced a stock of LEU and used this stock as the initial feedstock, it could produce 20 kilograms in about one to two months.
Batch recycling would entail putting the cascade product back through the cascade several times, without the need to change the basic setup of the cascade. Cascades of the type expected at Natanz could produce weapon-grade uranium after roughly five recycles, starting with natural uranium. Twenty kilograms of weapon-grade uranium could be produced in about six to twelve months. If the batch operation started with an existing stock of LEU, the time to produce 20 kilograms of weapon-grade uranium would drop to about one to two months.
Whether using batch recycling or reconfiguration, Iran could produce in 3,000 centrifuges at Natanz enough HEU for its first nuclear weapon in less than a year. Iran could do so in considerably less than a year, if it used an existing stock of LEU as the initial feed. It is likely that Iran would operate the module to make LEU so that any production of HEU would be expected to happen quickly.
Using either break-out approach, Iran is not likely to have enough HEU for a nuclear weapon until 2009. This timeline is similar to that outlined in the clandestine plant scenario. In addition, technical obstacles may further delay the operation of the module in the FEP.
The international community needs to be committed to a diplomatic solution that results in an agreement whereby Iran voluntarily forswears having any deployed enrichment capability. Looking at a timeline of at least three years before Iran could have a nuclear weapons capability means that there is still time to pursue aggressive diplomatic options, and time for measures such as sanctions to have an effect, if they become necessary.
It is vital to understand what Iran has accomplished, what it still has to learn, and when it will reach a point when a plan to pursue nuclear weapons covertly or openly could succeed more quickly than the international community could react. Although these estimates include significant uncertainties, they reinforce the view that Iran must foreswear any deployed enrichment capability and accept adequate inspections. Otherwise, we risk a seismic shift in the balance of power in the region.
I don't think Israel will hit Iran.
I'm not even sure such a mission is possible. Too much real estate between the two contries for a tactical air strike with a high probibility of success IMO/FWIW. Longer distance=more that can/will go wrong.
I just don't see Israel cutting off the Iranian threat with one tactical airstrike. It would be nice though.
The nuclear-tipped tomahawks utilized a W80 warhead IIRC is a dial-a-yield airburst delivery.
If you want to smash Iran's hardest facility, you need to use a laydown or penetrating warhead in the Megaton+ range, preferably one would use multiple weapons to increase the destruction, multiple weapons going off with in seconds of each other is more devastating than one huge weapon. The remains of the area would be off-limits to humans for many years as it would be highly contaminated with extremely lethal isotopes, sure would suck to be down wind.
Turkey period. Whoever wrote that is an idiot.
I've read tens iof articles on this and all but one concluded turkey for poltical and military reasons.
It's just not sexy enough for newsmedia consumption so they ignore reality. no one cares about turykey here. Iran and Saudi are 'sexy'.
We aren't going to nuke them.... and no other variant of cruise missile has the requisite level of penetration. We would use B-2's and a shit load of bunker busters if we were to engage in an air campaign against Iran.
Turkey is within Iranian missile range. Their PAC-3 won't be enough to protect them from Iranian retaliation with Shahab-3's. Furthermore, Iran can cause the Turks a great deal of pain by assisting the PKK. Iran is notorious for using proxies to do its bidding... Iran would not be above using a mutually beneficial alliance with the PKK to screw over turkey. As of late... Iran has been helpful to Turkey regarding the PKK; that could change very quickly should Turkey aid Israel. Turkey Knows this.
P.S. If Iran attacked Turkey... NATO, comprised of mostly European countries, would of course fail to take any action in its defense. Politics would deadlock action.
I'll see what I can post from what I read....
Fool Me Twice
By Joseph Cirincione
March 27, 2006
I used to think that the Bush administration wasn’t seriously considering a military strike on Iran, because it would only accelerate Iran’s nuclear program. But what we're seeing and hearing on Iran today seems awfully familiar. That may be because some U.S. officials have already decided they want to hit Iran hard.
Does this story line sound familiar? The vice president of the United States gives a major speech focused on the threat from an oil-rich nation in the Middle East. The U.S. secretary of state tells congress that the same nation is our most serious global challenge. The secretary of defense calls that nation the leading supporter of global terrorism. The president blames it for attacks on U.S. troops. The intelligence agencies say the nuclear threat from this nation is 10 years away, but the director of intelligence paints a more ominous picture. A new U.S. national security strategy trumpets preemptive attacks and highlights the country as a major threat. And neoconservatives beat the war drums, as the cable media banner their stories with words like “countdown” and “showdown.”
The nation making headlines today, of course, is Iran, not Iraq. But the parallels are striking. Three years after senior administration officials systematically misled the nation into a disastrous war, they could well be trying to do it again.
Nothing is clear, yet. For months, I have told interviewers that no senior political or military official was seriously considering a military attack on Iran. In the last few weeks, I have changed my view. In part, this shift was triggered by colleagues with close ties to the Pentagon and the executive branch who have convinced me that some senior officials have already made up their minds: They want to hit Iran.
I argued with my friends. I pointed out that a military strike would be disastrous for the United States. It would rally the Iranian public around an otherwise unpopular regime, inflame anti-American anger around the Muslim world, and jeopardize the already fragile U.S. position in Iraq. And it would accelerate, not delay, the Iranian nuclear program. Hard-liners in Tehran would be proven right in their claim that the only thing that can deter the United States is a nuclear bomb. Iranian leaders could respond with a crash nuclear program that could produce a bomb in a few years.
My friends reminded me that I had said the same about Iraq—that I was the last remaining person in Washington who believed President George W. Bush when he said that he was committed to a diplomatic solution. But this time, it is the administration’s own statements that have convinced me. What I previously dismissed as posturing, I now believe may be a coordinated campaign to prepare for a military strike on Iran.
The unfolding administration strategy appears to be an effort to repeat its successful campaign for the Iraq war. It is now trying to link Iran to the 9/11 attacks by repeatedly claiming that Iran is the main state sponsor of terrorism in the world (though this suggestion is highly questionable). It is also attempting to make the threat urgent by arguing that Iran might soon pass a “point of no return” if it can perfect the technology of enriching uranium, even though many other nations have gone far beyond Iran’s capabilities and stopped their programs short of weapons. And, of course, it is now publicly linking Iran to the Iraqi insurgency and the improvised explosive devices used to kill and maim U.S. troops in Iraq, though Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Peter Pace admitted there is no evidence to support this claim.
If diplomacy fails, the administration might be able to convince leading Democrats to back a resolution for the use of force against Iran. Many Democrats have been trying to burnish a hawkish image and place themselves to the right of the president on this issue. They may find themselves trapped by their own rhetoric, particularly those with presidential ambitions.
The factual debate during the next six months will revolve around the threat assessment. How close is Iran to developing the ability to enrich uranium for fuel or bombs? Is there a secret weapons program? Are there secret underground facilities? What would it mean if small-scale enrichment experiments succeed?
Fortunately, we know more about Iran’s nuclear program now than we ever knew about Iraq’s (or, for that matter, those of India, Israel, and Pakistan). International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspectors have been in Iran for more than 3 years investigating all claims of weapons-related work. The United States has satellite reconnaissance, covert programs, and Iranian dissidents providing further information. The key now is to get all this information on the table for an open debate.
The administration should now declassify the information it used to estimate how long it will be until Iran has the capability to make a bomb. The Washington Post reported last August that this national intelligence estimate says Iran is a decade away. We need to see the basis for this judgment and all, if any, dissenting opinions. The congressional intelligence committees should be conducting their own reviews of the assessments, including open hearings with independent experts and IAEA officials. Influential groups, such as the Council on Foreign Relations, should conduct their own sessions and studies.
An accurate and fully understood assessment of the status and potential of Iran’s nuclear program is the essential basis for any policy. We cannot let the political or ideological agenda of a small group determine a national security decision that could create havoc in a critical area of the globe. Not again.
Joseph Cirincione is director for non-proliferation at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.
A little info on GLockguy40, He's a Iranian muslim who's pops up here every once in a while to post tons of articles about how we SHOULD"NT attack Iran by posting all these BS articles written by appeasers. Just keep that in mind. When i sot down all his arguments he called me an assclown who did'nt know what he was talking about. But his motives for this are clear, he wants his Umma to get the Bomb. (When i say umma i mean the Hate Aisha Umma not the other 90% umma we all know and love) I wonder how much money the Iranians give to agent-provocotuers to sow "doubt" on internet sites by posting chicken little and appeasement articles???? The great line i hear from libtards is "oh they are at LEAST 10 years away from getting the bomb so why do anything?" This is what the Mullahs hope and pray for, for us to belive that horseshit. Stall for time...... stall for time......... stall for time. The other great card is the "this is Iraq all over again, the neo-cons are crazy" one they play so well. And lastly if you'll read the articles close enough you'll see something that comes straight out of the Koran, the whole "O a great chastisement awaits the Jews and Cristians who...." attack Iran, notice all the mention of Blowback if we strike them? Veiled threats from your friendly terrorist supporter.
PS - Hezbollah sucks big hard pig dick! My Christian lebanese friend told me he personally killed tons of "them" during the civil war, and liked it. And my Isreali friend Said that they are going to wipe Hezbullshit off the map.
Again... you ramble off at the mouth and know nothing about which you speak. Again... if anyone was to check my past posts.... you will see... I advocated bombing Iran over 2 years ago, prior to the start of their enriching of uranium or their uranium conversion. So you can spread all the lies and deceptions you want... but you will not get me to personally attack you so that my thread gets locked.
Second, you always troll my threads and claim that I am a supporter of both the mullahs and the "umma", which is total bullshit. I want to see those bastards hang for what they have done to the Iranian people. As for the umma, the Arabs are scared shitless of the Iranians getting the bomb... so 90+% of the "umma" is against it you moron!!!!
P.S. You never shotdown an argument of mine in your life. You never support any of your arguments with any kind of evidence... whereas I support mine with documented expert opinion and cold hard facts. You have no idea how to make a point... yet alone prove me wrong.
Only time who tell who is right or wrong on this issue, until then it's all speculation.
Lies such as the following:
I do not want Iran to get the bomb, both due to the harm it could do to the strategic balance in the region, as well as the follow on proliferation it may cause. It would be bad enough to see Iran with the bomb, but this situation has the potential to make us see a nuclear capable Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Turkey, etc. etc. The middle east is already crazy enough, but when you throw nukes into the mix, it could make the world an extremely scary place.
These two statements, in the context which you posted them, indicated that they were directed at me. If you are now clarifying that they were not directed at me, that is fine..... however, you would do well to make your intentions clear next time.
Accusing someone of being a terrorist supporter is no laughing matter and something that everyone should take very seriously. The same is true of accusing one of being an agent of a foreign government. I love my country and personally believe all traitors should have their balls lit on fire and then be shot.
I have no love for anyone who uses terrorism. Therefore, I would have no problem seeing them wiped off the map. I never said anything to suggest otherwise.
For the record, the manner in which you responded to my post from the start, calling me a "muslim" and "iranian", created the context that I was working in the Mullahs' interest and that I was working for the "umma" which you referred to. You may now claim otherwise... however, everyone here knows what your intention was. You use personal attacks, bigotry and assumptions as a means to try to discredit opinions you don't agree with. That is no way to win an agrument and reflects poorly on your character, not mine.
Oh, you mean articles written by traitors like:
Francona is a retired military intelligence officer who served several years in the Middle East, including duty as an advisor on the Iraqi military leadership to General Norman Schwarzkopf, commander-in-chief of the U.S. Central Command during the Gulf War. He also was the general’s personal Arabic interpreter during Operation Desert Storm when U.S. and coalition forces liberated Kuwait from Iraqi occupation. www.hdforum.org/past/francona.htm
Or the article pulled from Colonel W. Patrick Lang's blog:
Colonel W. Patrick Lang is a retired senior officer of U.S. Military Intelligence and U.S. Army Special Forces (The Green Berets). He served in the Department of Defense both as a serving officer and then as a member of the Defense Senior Executive Service for many years. He is a highly decorated veteran of several of America’s overseas conflicts including the war in Vietnam. He was trained and educated as a specialist in the Middle East by the U.S. Army and served in that region for many years. He was the first Professor of the Arabic Language at the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York. In the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) he was the “Defense Intelligence Officer for the Middle East, South Asia and Terrorism,” and later the first Director of the Defense Humint Service.” For his service in DIA, he was awarded the “Presidential Rank of Distinguished Executive.” This is the equivalent of a British knighthood. He is an analyst consultant for many television and radio broadcasts. turcopolier.typepad.com/about.html
David Albright and Corey Hinderstein
David Albright, a physicist, is President of the Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS) in Washington, D.C. He directs the project work of ISIS, heads its fundraising efforts, and chairs its board of directors. In addition, he regularly publishes and conducts scientific research. He has written numerous assessments on secret nuclear weapons programs throughout the world.
Albright cooperated actively with the IAEA Action Team from 1992 until 1997, focusing on analyses of Iraqi documents and past procurement activities. In June 1996, he was the first non-governmental inspector of the Iraqi nuclear program. On this inspection mission, Albright questioned members of Iraq's former uranium enrichment programs about their statements in Iraq's draft Full, Final, and Complete Declaration.
He received a 1992 Olive Branch Award for a series of articles he wrote, along with Mark Hibbs, on the Iraqi nuclear weapons program for the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. He is also a Bulletin contributing editor and has been a guest editor of special editions of the magazine.
Albright has testified many times on nuclear issues before the U.S. Congress. He has spoken to many groups, technical workshops and conferences, briefed government decision- makers, and trained many government officials in non-proliferation policy making.
Corey Gay Hinderstein is Deputy Director at the Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS), a Washington D.C.-based research organization whose efforts focus on stopping the spread of nuclear weapons and bringing about greater transparency of nuclear activities worldwide. ISIS's projects integrate technical, scientific, and policy research in order to build a sound foundation for a wide variety of efforts to reduce the threat posed by nuclear weapons to U.S. and international security.
Her work includes key research and analytical contributions to state-specific proliferation assessments and case studies. Hinderstein's efforts have included assessments of nuclear activities in Iraq, Algeria, Taiwan, and North Korea. As part of her contribution to ISIS's state specific proliferation analyses, Hinderstein analyzes high-resolution satellite imagery in order to identify and assess potential nuclear weapon-related facilities. She also supports United Nations activites including negotiations of the Fissile Material Cutoff Treaty and the review process of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT).
Also from leftist sources like TIME magazine and Yahoo! News.
Yes... I quote all the leftist propaganda.
As for the Fool Me Twice article written by Joseph Cirincione.... he is an recognized expert in the field of non-proliferation and is highly regarded by policy-makers on both sides of the isle. You can knock his opinion, but he knows what he is talking about. My posting it doesn't make me a traitor to this country, it means I'm willing to put up the statements of experts who have our policy-makers ears.
Just do like in many films: Send Chuck Norris + Commandos
I actually chuckled at that
Iran's spies watching us, says Israel
By Con Coughlin Defence and Security Editor, on Israel's northern border
Iran has set up a sophisticated intelligence gathering operation in southern Lebanon to identify targets in northern Israel in the event of a military confrontation over its controversial nuclear programme.
Senior Israeli military commanders say Iran has spent tens of millions of pounds helping its close ally, Hizbollah, the Shia Muslim militant group that controls southern Lebanon, to set up a network of control towers and monitoring stations along the entire length of Israel's border with south Lebanon.
Some of the new control towers, which are made of reinforced concrete and fitted with bullet-proof reflective glass, are less than 100 yards from Israeli army positions and are clearly visible for long stretches along Israel's border.
"This is now Iran's front line with Israel," a senior Israeli military commander said. "The Iranians are using Hizbollah to spy on us so that they can collect information for future attacks. And there is very little we can do about it."
The Israeli military has reported a significant increase in Hizbollah activity in southern Lebanon since Syria came under intense international pressure to withdraw its forces from the area last year following the assassination of the Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri.
Israeli military officers report that teams of Iran's Revolutionary Guards travel regularly to southern Lebanon to help train local Hizbollah fighters in terrorist tactics. Tensions between Iran and Israel have intensified dramatically since the election last summer of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as Iran's new leader. Israel has repeatedly threatened to take military action to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons, and the new Iranian government has responded by calling for Israel's destruction.
Senior Israeli military officers believe Iran is deliberately exploiting the power vacuum caused by Syria's withdrawal to intensify pressure on Israel's northern border.
Hizbollah is aware that Israel is keen to maintain friendly relations with the new government in Lebanon and believes it can act freely in southern Lebanon without provoking retaliatory strikes from Israel.
Officers report a sharp increase in border incidents between Hizbollah fighters and Israeli units on the northern border, with the main flash points located at the disputed Druze village of Ghajar, which is divided by the border between Israel and Lebanon, and Mount Dov, which Hizbollah also claims should be part of Lebanon.
The situation is now regarded as so serious that many senior Israeli officers openly admit to missing the restraining influence of Syria over Hizbollah.
"When the Syrians were in Lebanon it was easy for us to control Hizbollah," said an officer with Israel's northern command. "If things got too tense we could put pressure on Damascus and the Syrians would act quickly to calm things down."
Although the Lebanese government technically controls the border area, its military is not considered strong enough to control Hizbollah, which takes its orders directly from Teheran.
"Iran is playing a very dangerous game of cat and mouse on our northern border and it could easily spiral out of control at any moment," said the officer.
In recent weeks Hizbollah sent unmanned aircraft on reconnaissance missions over the border to photograph sensitive Israeli military installations. The spy planes returned to base before being detected by air defence systems.
In addition to providing intelligence-gathering and communications equipment, Iran has also equipped Hizbollah with improved weapons and ammunition to launch attacks against Israel, including heavy mortars and rockets with a range of up to 30 miles.