Iran and the Bomb 3

The International Atomic Energy Agency has written a report stating that Iran can now make the bomb and is now developing a missile delivery system.

VIENNA — Experts at the world’s top atomic watchdog are in agreement that Tehran has the ability to make a nuclear bomb and is on the way to developing a missile system able to carry an atomic warhead, according to a secret report seen by The Associated Press.The document drafted by senior officials at the International Atomic Energy Agency is the clearest indication yet that the agency’s leaders share Washington’s views on Iran’s weapon-making capabilities.It appears to be the so-called “secret annex” on Iran’s nuclear program that Washington says is being withheld by the IAEA’s chief.The document says Iran has “sufficient information” to build a bomb. It says Iran is likely to “overcome problems” on developing a delivery system.

A Daily Telegraph report has more:

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the Supreme Leader of Iran, has always publicly denied any ambition to build a weapon. But the IAEA report says that he wanted to acquire nuclear weapons as long ago as 1984, when he served as president. He allegedly told a meeting of senior officials that a “nuclear arsenal would serve Iran as a deterrent in the hands of God’s soldiers”.

Emanuele Ottolenghi also writes in Standpoint about the Iranian nuclear programme and the West’s possible response:

The American report was a game changer. It declared that Tehran had “halted its nuclear weapons programme” in autumn 2003. It suggested that Iran had suspended its military programme “primarily in response to increasing international scrutiny and pressure resulting from exposure of Iran’s previously undeclared nuclear work.”

There were many caveats to this judgment, buried in the footnotes and intervening text, but the headline was that Iran no longer pursued nuclear weapons. The report undermined any residual credibility to the threat of US military action. Diplomacy was the only option left. George W. Bush endorsed it — and a new proposal was delivered to Iran with the signature of the Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, in June 2008. President Obama picked up where Bush left off, and made engagement with Iran a centrepiece of his new foreign policy. Then, recently, Obama’s Secretary of State Hillary Clinton offered a nuclear umbrella to US allies in the region, as if to suggest that the US was now resigned to a nuclear Iran.

The answer came recently, in two separate reports that were leaked to the press. Last March, a German intelligence report was submitted to Germany’s Constitutional Court to back the conviction of a German-Iranian businessman accused of supplying Iran with technology for its nuclear programme. The defence had cited the NIE to suggest that the transaction, which occurred in 2007, could not have been used to supply Iran’s military programme, given that the latter had been halted four years before. The court upheld the conviction based on the intelligence, which contradicted the NIE — the weapons programme, the German spies said, had never been suspended. A more recent report, published in July in The Times, cited Western intelligence sources as suggesting that Iran had indeed halted its weapons programme in 2003 but only because by then it had been successfully completed.

If the report is accurate, it answers the question the NIE did not address. Iran stopped its nuclear weaponisation programme in 2003 because its strides had far outpaced the enrichment programme. The decision to suspend had nothing to do with the invasion of Iraq or with the much-vaunted secret negotiations between the US and Iran that were ongoing in Paris at the time. It mattered little that IAEA inspectors had started snooping around the recently exposed nuclear installations. Rather, Iran had finished the weaponisation part of the programme before it had completed perfecting a delivery system and mastering the enrichment process.

Iran’s decisions have never been influenced by offers and incentives. The only thing that has ever mattered to Tehran was time. The only reason Iran might still be willing to negotiate is again time: if it still needs time to complete its goal of nuclear weapons capability. US engagement will not change this. Iran can build a bomb, has been busy building one and has never even considered changing its mind.

There are some analysts who believe that the theory of Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD) will prevent war between Israel and Iran. IMED believe this to be completely untrue. Iran’s autocratic regime is not rational, and the concept of self-destruction in the name of religious self-sacrifice is not just likely; it is expected. After all, praise and encouragement of suicide bombers is not an uncommon sight in Iran.

This excellent article by Shmuel Bar explains the need to negate the (apparently) comforting theory of MAD:

The countries of the Middle East will probably be more predisposed than the Cold War protagonists to brandish their nuclear weapons, not only rhetorically but through nuclear alerts or nuclear tests, leading to escalation. Once one country has taken such measures, the other nuclear countries of the region would probably feel forced to adopt defensive measures, leading to multilateral escalation. However, such multilateral escalation will not be mitigated by Cold War-type hotlines and means of signalling and none of the parties involved will have escalation dominance. This and the absence of a credible second-strike capability may well strengthen the tendency to opt for a first strike.

True, we may safely assume that the leaders and peoples of the Middle East have no desire to be the targets of nuclear blasts. However, the inherent instability of the region and its regimes, the difficulty in managing multilateral nuclear tensions, the weight of religious, emotional and internal pressures and the proclivity of many of the regimes in the region towards military adventurism and brinkmanship do not bode well for the future of this region once it enters the nuclear age.

For news on Iran and the nuclear programme, visit IMED’s blog – also look out for our campaign against the Iranian nuclear programme, coming soon in the UK.

  • An Islamic regime armed with the nuclear bomb in Iran is probably the most dangerous thing in the world. This can not happen. The Iranian regime armed with the bomb will blackmail the rest of the world at every whim.

  • Alejandro

    These facts have been taken out of context. Look at it this way. Due to lack of republican support, America is unable to do the proper thing by disarming its nuclear nuclear weaponry, thereby setting an example for other nations such as Iran. So now the closest thing we can do is to allow Iran and all other countries to have nuclear weaponry, so that we no one country can have an unfair advantage over another. This is the way to world peace.

    • So funny but hey it is so real in Obama's world