Friday, March 20, 2009
AS OBAMA BLINKS, IRAN & MOHSEN FAKRIZADEH SMILE !
Graham Allison, a Harvard professor and an authority on nuclear terrorism stated: “If you can build a nuclear reactor in SYRIA without being detected for 8 years, how hard can it be to sell a little plutonium to Osama bin Laden?”
Allison’s derogatory remarks on the intelligence ability of the US was not without reason. For 8 years, the US had its eyes peeled at non-existent Iraqi nuclear reactors – and the Syrian one was just a few kilometers away from the Iraqi border.
The American stupor was broken one day in late April 2007 when Meir Dagan, the chief of Mossad called the White House and asked for an urgent meeting with NSA Stephen Hadley. In May 2007, thanks to the work of Israeli agents, Dagan spread out a treasure trove of photos taken from inside the “facility”, inside the curtain walls where satellites could not penetrate. What they showed solved the mystery of Al-Kibar. Dagan also pulled out a photo of two men standing near the Syrian nuclear complex – Ibrahim Othman: the head of the Syrian Atomic Energy Commission and on his left was Chon Chibu: North Korean scientist who managed the production of fuel at North Korea’s main nuclear weapons site at Yongbyon.
What surprised the Americans was that the innards of the Syrian nuclear plant bore a striking resemblance to the reactor at North Korea’s main nuclear complex. A carbon copy, in fact.
On September 6th 2007, the Israeli F-15s crossed into Syria soon after midnight, screaming undetected over the desert, headed for their target deep in the Euphrates valley. They traversed 2/3 of the country, barely setting off air defenses that the Syrians had paid Russia millions to construct. In minutes they swooped over the tiny town of Al-Kibar and left a pile of concrete and rubble. They had splintered apart a baseball-diamond field-sized building that the Syrians had been working on in deepest secrecy.
The Syrians, embarrassed, denied the incident at first and later tried to say that the planes hit empty buildings. However, US satellite images from above told a completely different story.
As North Korea itself gets ready to test its ballistic missile in the next few days, there is intense speculation whether the US or the Japan will try to shoot it down, and if so at what stage, or if at all? The best kept secret in all this, is the nuclear stockpile that Japan has. Will come to this another day.
Dr A.Q. Khan’s connection to the North Korean nuclear program as well as the Iranian ones are well documented. The Libyan operation took the lid off the lucrative deals.
North Korea’s dear leader learnt that even if he had no food grains to feed his people, if he put nuclear missiles on his roof it would be a brilliant survival strategy. The strategy: “If the rest of the world, specially its neighbours didn’t bring him oil, gas and take out food, he would blow the place sky high.” The amazing thing was that this strategy was working; the neighbors did not want any trouble. (See any similarities here with Pakistan’s strategy?)
The Iranians, a proud nation and an ancient civilization, surely needed the nuclear bomb – it was the ultimate symbol of self reliance. Moreover, Pakistan had nuclear arsenal and it being a Sunni nation – Pakistan’s bomb was called the de-facto Sunni bomb. Saudi Arabia looked at Pakistan’s nuclear assets as its own and as I have shown in an earlier article the very close military relationship that Saudi Arabia has with Pakistan.
There were voices from Pakistan that made Iran even more nervous. Al Qaeda leadership safely ensconced in Pakistan due to ISI’s hospitality (covert & overt), came out with a statement that Hezbollah is its enemy as it is a Shia force.
And (have touched on this earlier) Pakistan Army together with Osama bin Laden, targeted the largely Shia controlled Northern Areas & Gilgit and forcibly killed and changed demographics of the area. In 1988, as a Brigadier charged with suppressing a Shia revolt in Pakistan occupied Gilgit-Baltistan, Gen Musharraf used Islamist 'irregulars' from the North West Frontier Province, under the command of OSAMA BIN LADEN, to execute a campaign of pillage, arson, rape and slaughter, in which hundreds of Shia were killed. These Islamist irregulars were Sunni hardliners – the ISI formed Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan (SSP) – from where LeJ (Lashkar e Jhangvi) was later formed.
Thereafter, Gen Musharraf was intrinsic to the 'demographic re-engineering' of the illegally occupied region, through which large numbers of Pashtun and Punjabi 'outsiders' were forcibly settled there, to alter the existing demographic balance that overwhelmingly favoured the Shias. After decades of this policy, while Shias continue to maintain a slim - though diminishing - majority, the proportions have been altered from 1:4 in their favour, to 3:4.
Dera Ismail Khan- one of the southern Districts of the North West Frontier Province of Pakistan has become the slaughterhouse for the Shia community. The banned Sipah-e-Sahaba has indiscriminately killed dozens of innocent Shias including women and children. The venomous anti-Shia organizations like Lashkar-e-Jhangvi have no remorse in killing Shias in their mosques, whereas Lashkar-e-Taiba has stated that they will not kill Shias while they are praying in their mosques (but outside mosques – ok to kill !).
Iran has been noting with growing disquiet the increased Talibanisation of Pakistan and the increased attacks on the Shia community as a direct function of this.
Iranian diplomats have been killed off and once Iran & Afghanistan were very close to war when Taliban was in control of Afghanistan.
September 15th 1998: "Iran must know that if the soil of Afghanistan is attacked, we will target Iranian cities and the entire responsibility will rest with Iranian authorities," Taliban spokesman Wakil Ahmed told the independent Afghan Islamic Press.
The last thing Iran wants is nuclear blackmail from a Sunni nation – or even a threat from a rag tag bunch of Deobandi/Wahabbi Sunni mindless warriors threaten the great nation of Iran.
Just as the Israelis had, in another spectacular attack, bombed Saddam’s nuclear reactor Osirak in 1981, Saddam Hussein bombed Iran’s nuclear site at Bushehr. Saddam was not about to allow the mullahs to obtain nuclear fuel ahead of him. Unfortunately for Iran, Pakistan beat them to it.
Iran wanted the “bomb” desperately and it came to realize that Dr A Q Khan is on the market. For him Shia – Sunni did not matter – only dollars mattered and an ego massage. Later in 1994, two officials from Iran’s Revolutionary Guards showed up at the Dubai office of Dr A Q Khan with suitcases stuffed with US $ 3 million in cash – a partial payment – and left with detailed plans for the P-2 and with parts that fit an older model. The Iranians were angry at the inferior equipment, but it was better than nothing and it helped kick start their program.
The Iranians went about their job efficiently. On a frigid Monday morning in Vienna in late February 2008, Olli Heinonen summoned ambassadors and experts from a dozen countries into the boardroom of IAEA. While presenting, he saved Project 111 for the last.
The first slide was a status report on Project 111 written in Farsi. The opening page bore an epigraph which when translated read: “Fate changes no man, unless he changes fate.” The remainder of the slides, also in Farsi, detailed work on how to design a warhead so that it could be placed in the nose cone of Iran’s most sophisticated long range missile, the Shahab-3.
One of hardest documents for the Iranians to explain was a chronology showing the arc of a missile’s flight. It indicated when the altitude meters would be switched on, when the detonators on the warhead would be fired, and it showed the warhead exploding at about 600 meters above the ground.
Heinonen’s message was clear. No one would detonate a conventional weapon at that height, but as any nuclear weapon designer would attest, that it is roughly the height at which an atomic bomb, detonated over a city, can do the most damage.
Obviously the Iranians had moved far ahead from the suitcase days, and the Americans were in a bind. The Israelis were preparing to launch attacks but the countries most apoplectic were neither the US nor Israel, they were Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Egypt. They clearly stated that if Iran possessed nuclear weapons, they too would restart their programs – some dormant, some semi-active.
The message to the US was clear. The Iranians are not building the bomb to attack Israel – because if they did, Iran will be obliterated not only by Israel but by US too (Hillary Clinton was at her polite best – when she said: “I want the Iranians to know that if I’m the president we will attack Iran,” Clinton said. “In the next ten years, during which they might foolishly consider launching an attack on Israel, we would be able to totally obliterate them).”
No Hillary, Iran does not want to nuke Israel. Iran wants to possess the nuke so that:
1. The US / Israel does not attack it or tries to bring in regime change through coercive means
2. To counter the Sunni bomb of Pakistan
3. To counter Talibanization of Pakistan – the threat to Iran grows manifold
4. To bargain better with the civilized world
5. To take control of middle eastern affairs and reaffirm its rightful place in the region.
Iran came to realize pretty early that US does not mess with nations who have nukes – however small the quantity of nukes or however small the nation – otherwise the noose on Saddam is a constant reminder of what US can do if countries do not have nukes.
For India : With apologies to Israel, it is in India’s interest that Iran have this Shia bomb. Iran and India have been traditional allies over centuries (barring minor instances). The Shia bomb is an excellent counterfoil to the Sunni bomb. Also US’s position in the middle east becomes tenuous if Egypt, Turkey and Saudi Arabia embark on nuclear weapons. This does not harm India’s interests, but it does harm the interests of US and Europe.
One must recall that US’s wink allowed Pakistan to develop the nukes and we should return the compliment to them. Let them deal with this. Iran will not let go of its nuclear ambitions, and why should it? If Pakistan has the nukes, then Iran must have nukes too.
INDIAN HAS TO GET ITS ACT TOGETHER:
The United States thwarted a suspect shipment from North Korea to Iran by persuading the Indian government to deny clearance for the North Korean flight to travel through Indian airspace,.
Nine weeks after the flight was diverted in August, the Bush administration removed North Korea from the State Department’s list of state sponsors of terrorism in a bid to salvage an accord to end Pyongyang’s nuclear programs.
U.S. officials suspect the North Korean plane, an Ilyushin-62 jet owned by the North Korean state airline, was carrying sophisticated technology — such as ballistic missile parts — that could be used in a program for weapons of mass destruction.
The jet stopped in Burma on Aug. 7 and sought permission to cross Indian airspace to reach Iran. India is not part of the U.S.-led Proliferation Security Initiative, but officials in New Delhi agreed to a U.S. request to deny access.
“This was very, very important,” said a senior U.S. official, speaking on the condition of anonymity because the incident involved U.S. intelligence. “It was frankly a success that we stopped North Korea from doing this."
Surely India should be pursuing its foreign policy for its own interests first. As I have stated earlier, the US did not favours to India as it allowed nuclear proliferation to go on unabated by Pakistan.
Obama is trying diplomacy – it is a welcome gesture but it will not slow down Iranian efforts at bomb making in the least. But good relations with Iran does open up alternate supply routes to NATO in Afghanistan (discussed earlier).
I wish Mohsen Fakrizadeh – the Iranian military scientist sitting atop the entire nuclear project and his team “godspeed”.
STRATFOR is reporting in its latest article:
"The danger of having such a program is that the United States — or some other country — might attack and destroy the associated facilities. Therefore, the North Koreans created a high level of uncertainty as to just how far along they were on the road to having a nuclear device and as to how urgent the situation was, raising and lowering alarms like a conductor in a symphony. The Iranians are following the same strategy. They are constantly shifting from a conciliatory tone to an aggressive one, keeping the United States and Israel under perpetual psychological pressure. The Iranians are trying to avoid an attack by keeping the intelligence ambiguous. Tehran’s ideal strategy is maintaining maximum ambiguity and anxiety in the West while minimizing the need to strike immediately. Actually obtaining a bomb would increase the danger of an attack in the period between a successful test and the deployment of a deliverable device.
What the Iranians get out of this is exactly what the North Koreans got: disproportionate international attention and a lever on other topics, along with something that could be sacrificed in negotiations. They also have a chance of actually developing a deliverable device in the confusion surrounding its progress. If so, Iran would become invasion- and even harassment-proof thanks to its apparent instability and ideology. From Tehran’s perspective, abandoning its nuclear program without substantial concessions, none of which have materialized as yet, would be irrational. And the Iranians expect a large payoff from all this."
One of the commentators RAY said "Iran has been threatening recently that it will conduct its petro-transactions in Euros instead of the tanking dollars. If that happens, and if fellow OPEC nations follow suit, US will suffer an economic disaster, much worse than what is happening right now. Iran is being "convinced" by the US president to follow the norms and not rebel against the dollar. If Iran complies, some economic sanctions will be lifted and the threat of war taken away. Otherwise it will suffer the same fate as Iraq (Saddam actually implemented his petrotransactions in Euros. That is the main reason for invasion).
I apreciate the Iranian people, their culture, their cuisine, their movies. And India should quickly get back into the trio of friendship that existed : Iran, Russia, India – the original backers of the Northern Alliance in Afghanistan.
Navroz Mubarak !
(Note: Most of the above material sourced from David Sanger's book: The Inheritance)