Holding Carnegie to Account for War-Mongering Dressed Up as “Analysis” of Iran’s Nuclear Program

Many (including us) have sought to push back against the rampant misinformation and analytic nonsense that passes for mainstream reporting and analysis on the Iranian nuclear issue.  But the misinformation (disinformation?) and nonsense continues—as exemplified by the recent “study” by Karim Sadjadpour and Ali Vaez, Iran’s Nuclear Odyssey:  Costs and Risks, published by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace (CEIP).  Late last week, our colleague at Iran Affairs, Cyrus Safdari, published a wonderfully sharp critique of Iran’s Nuclear Odyssey.  While we encourage everyone to read it at Iran Affairs, we think it deserves the widest possible circulation, and therefore are pleased to re-post it below:   

By Cyrus Safdari, from www.iranaffairs.com

While I applaud the conclusion that the US has to take a more realistic stance with respect to Iran’s enrichment program, the material on the nuclear program itself is, frankly, egregiously inaccurate and amounts to a series of bile-spitting non-sequiturs and outright falsehoods that should not have been published with the imprimatur of the CEIP.  I won’t bore anyone with a page-by-page criticism, though there is in fact something worthy of criticism on every page, but all-in-all their arguments are the same gripes that have been tossed around in exile circles for a while now and are often contradicted within the same report.  The contradictions are not highlighted but are instead artfully evaded, and we are also presented with footnotes to sources that either do not support the assertions they’re cited for, or even contradict them. 

I’ll just limit myself to 5 issues and will save the funniest bit for the last:

1- The authors repeatedly emphasize that the size of Iran’s uranium deposits and the capacity of the facilities at Natanz are insufficient to support a totally independent domestic nuclear fuel program—leaving out that the Iranians have repeatedly stated that they did not plan to rely exclusively on domestic fuel to power their nuclear program, but had developed the program as bargaining chip and a hedge against price increases and foreign cut-offs.  In fact, Mr Salehi specifically made this point in an interview published in the Financial Times in 2004: 

“Natanz, with all its vastness, can supply only one reactor for a year.  We are to construct seven reactors, we are starting the bid for the twin reactor in Bushehr in a year’s time, so for that one we need to buy our uranium from outside…We say that for other plants we are going to buy our fuel from outside, but we are not going to become hostage to their wishes.  Once they know we can develop our own enrichment, then they will enter into bargaining with us—like any other country.” (SOURCE: http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/52c8d7b8-027c-11d9-a968-00000e2511c8.html#axzz2QjGRroFt)

2- The most egregious section is entitled Concealment (1984-2002) on page 8, in which the authors go to great lengths to characterize Iran’s nuclear program as being secret and having military aims.  They claim matter-of-factly that the motivation for the decision to restart the nuclear program was for it to serve as a “deterrence option” in the face of Saddam, and then they go to great lengths making a connection between AQ Khan and the program as proof of the military nature of the program.  Strangely, the evidence they provide for this matter-of-fact statement about a military motivation is footnote 38, an opinion piece written by Rasool Nafisi in the Iranian.com in 2006, which in no way supports their assertions of fact.  (In his article, Mr Nafisi in turn refers to correspondence between Commander Rezai and Ayatollah Khomeini in 1988, in which Rezai stated that Iran could not hope to win the war with Iraq unless there was a massive—and totally unrealistic—increase in Iran’s armaments including nuclear weapons.  Khomeini did not take this seriously, and as Mr Nafisi himself writes in the article, some have latched onto this correspondence and spin it as the long-sought evidence of Iran’s nuclear weapons aims.) 

Sajadpour and Vaez also claim that “Iran’s uranium enrichment program was thus born in secret” and assert that the facility in Natanz was “clandestine”, and that China had provided nuclear material to Iran in secret, etc. etc.  Reality begs to differ with all of this.  First of all, Iran was not legally required to formally declare the facility at Natanz when the ISIS/MEK “exposure” of the site occurred, and the same applies to the heavy water project.  And while the timeline as presented by the authors shows a large gap in Iran’s enrichment program between 1979 when “work was suspended” and 1986 when the AQ Khan “Doctor No” character is introduced, there was in fact a lot more going on—events which, when not deliberately ignored, paint an entirely different image than the impression the authors’ try to convey. 

For example, In April 1979 Fereydun Sahabi, then Deputy Minister of Energy and Supervisor of the Atomic Energy Organization, specifically stated in an interview that while the nuclear program would be cut back, the Iranian “Atomic Energy Organization’s activities regarding prospecting and extraction of uranium would continue.”  In fact, far from reinvigorating a “secret” nuclear program in the late 1980 as a deterrent to Saddam, Iranian national radio reported the discovery of Uranium in Dec 1981, March 1982, and again in Jan 1985. 

The 1982 national radio broadcast specifically quoted the director of Isfahan nuclear technology center, Mr Saidi, as stating quite explicitly that Iran was going to import the necessary technology to develop the enrichment program, too.  

Furthermore, Mark Hibbs, one of the consultants in this report, wrote in Nuclear Fuel magazine in 2003 that the Iranians and the IAEA had intended to launch a joint program to develop enrichment facilities in Iran but that the US stopped the IAEA from doing so in 1983.  The motivations for the Iranians going to AQ Khan was thus not due to secret military aims as this report seeks to imply, but because the US had systematically obstructed Iran’s efforts to obtain the civilian nuclear technology that it was entitled to have under the NPT.  (While the authors mention the US interference in multiple Iranian nuclear contracts with foreign nations, they pretend not to notice that this contradicts their own thesis of a “secret” nuclear program in Iran.) 

Further information missing from this report is the fact that IAEA officials had visited Iran’s uranium mines at the invitation of the Iranians in 1992.  And while the authors mention that US pressure ended Iran-Sino nuclear cooperation, they fail to mention that Iran told the IAEA in 1996 that they would complete the uranium conversion facility by themselves, and that the Iranians formally declared the facility to the IAEA in 2000—almost three years prior to the dramatic MEK/ISIS “exposure” of Iran’s supposedly “secret” nuclear program. 

I won’t continue debunking the finer points in this section, but all of this information is a matter of public record (the Iranian radio broadcasts were translated by the BBC World Service and can be obtained on Lexis.)  Therefore, I consider the authors’ presentation of such a one-sided and contra-factual narrative of events as evidence of bad faith and an agenda which taints the rest of the report, too. 

3- The authors go on quite a bit about the supposed lack of attention paid to alternative energy sources in Iran, for example by repeatedly emphasizing the potential for natural gas.  They fail to mention that Iran has massively increased its consumption of natural gas in recent years, and in fact today more than 75% of Iran’s electricity comes from natural gas.  Furthermore they leave out hydroelectric power, which currently accounts for about 3% of Iran’s electricity production, and that Iran has invested heavily in constructing some of the largest hydroelectric dams in the world.  Thus, to characterize Iran as mono-maniacally pursuing nuclear power is simply inaccurate and false.  In fact, if anything the sanctions have harmed Iran’s development of alternative energy sources—in addition to investing in wind power, Iran is a manufacturer exporter of wind energy turbines, for example, but has had a hard time obtaining the material used for the rotors due the sanctions.  Indeed much of the “costs” that the authors attribute to Iran’s nuclear program are actually costs of the sanctions and not the nuclear program itself, but while they insist that Iran should abandon its nuclear program, lifting sanctions is apparently beyond the pale.  Here, I am not interested in debating the economics of nuclear power, as I am sure you can ask 10 economists and get 13 answers.  Ultimately, as an investigation by a Foreign Affairs Select Committee of the British Parliament concluded, “arguments as to whether Iran has a genuine requirement for domestically-produced nuclear electricity are not all, or even predominantly, on one side” and neither the US or any other country has a right to tell Iran how to run its own economy, especially at the point of a gun barrel. 

4- In criticizing Bushehr, the authors repeatedly use “Chernobyl “as a scare word, never mind that the reactor at Chernobyl was fundamentally of an entirely different design than the sort of light-water reactor used at Bushehr which has an excellent safety record and is used worldwide.  They also repeatedly refer to the UAE and Germany as a model for Iran, but leave out quite a few facts. Let us put aside the fact that Germany and the UAE are very fundamentally different countries and cannot be compared to Iran, whether in terms of economic development, strategic considerations or energy demand.  The media often report that Germany has phased out nuclear power and has instead substituted renewable sources (specifically, solar power) but in fact Germany has already started to experience energy shortfalls, which have been compensated for by non-renewable sources such as natural gas imports, a significant increase in coal power (making up for 80% of the shortfall, according to Wikipedia) and nuclear-generated electricity from the Czech Republic.  And, while the US “123 Agreement” with UAE does indeed require the UAE to “renounce” (as the authors put it) enrichment or reprocessing of nuclear material (thus earning the agreement the “Gold Standard” label in non-proliferation circles) in fact the agreement is only limited to US-origin nuclear material, and furthermore the agreement specifically allows the UAE to renegotiate the deal in the future.  Countries more comparable to Iran have not agreed to give up enrichment as part of a bilateral 123 Agreement with the US, and recently S Korea stopped negotiations over their renewal of their 123 Agreement with the US over this issue.  In short, the UAE deal is not only not a model for Iran, it isn’t even a model for other countries.  As one arms control wonk pointed out recently, far from serving as a Gold Model, the UAE agreement is little more than “a sui generis case unlikely to be replicated that creates a misleading impression about U.S. leverage over certain partners.” (SOURCE: http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2012/08/01/it_s_not_as_easy_as_1_2_3

5- And finally, we come to a bit of comedy.  According to the authors, the fact that the US and Israel released the Stuxnet virus on Iran and assassinated nuclear scientists there is proof that Iran can’t be relied upon to run a nuclear program which safeguards nuclear material from non-state actors who are presumably out to steal Iran’s enriched uranium.  Here, the authors site an AP article as proof of an impending disaster at Bushehr due to Stuxnet (footnote 195.)  However, if you actually read the AP report cited, you’d see that that it has been misrepresented.  According to the AP article cited, the report in question was issued by “a nation closely monitoring Iran’s nuclear program”—Russians, Israelis, Chinese?—and the report itself actually stated that “such conclusions were premature and based on the ‘casual assessment’ of Russian and Iranian scientists at Bushehr.”  The AP article then goes on to quote a cyber-security experts and Russian nuclear experts stating that Stuxnet could not in fact have damaged Bushehr.

But aside from that, the argument itself is weirdly illogical on several counts.  First of all, the US and Israel, which everyone assumes were behind Stuxnet and the assassinations, are not “non-state actors.”  Furthermore, nuclear scientists in any country tend to die when bombs are attached to their cars, and Stuxnet went on to wreak havoc well beyond Iran’s borders (in fact by some accounts Iran wasn’t even the primary victim of the virus).  But what I am really curious to know is what the authors think these mythical non-state actors can do with stolen Iranian enriched uranium because, aside from tossing it at someone’s head, the stuff isn’t actually particularly dangerous.  It has low-level radioactivity, but certainly cannot be used for a bomb. In gaseous form, it is highly corrosive—but so is Fluorine, an industrial gas which can be purchased commercially far more easily.  Of course once irradiated, fuel rods made from enriched uranium are highly radioactive, but in the case of any attempted theft of the stuff the first victim would be the fool who tried to steal it. 

As I said, I am not going to bore anyone with debunking what is a series of half-baked claims that are hardly new or interesting, especially since it doesn’t seem that too many people have actually read the entire report.  The more interesting question for me is what role the Carnegie Endowment had in vetting this report before it was published under their name.  After the Iraq war, the Washington Post and New York Times submitted a weak mea culpa for misleading their readers about “WMDs in Iraq” (even though particularly in the case of the New York Times, the lessons learned were quickly forgotten as Michael Gordon once again pushed out scaremongering articles consisting of a long series of anonymous government official quotes, etc.) but there has been no real accounting for the role of the think tanks in pushing that nonsense.  I am not aware of any academic study of the role of think tanks in that fiasco, and don’t expect to see it now but if such an academic study is undertaken, this report by Mr Vaez and Sadjadpour should serve as Exhibit A of one-sided and inaccurate, agenda-driven reports published under the guise of scholarship.  Where is the peer review?  Where is the balance?  Where is the accountability?

Flynt Leverett and Hillary Mann Leverett

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33 Responses to “Holding Carnegie to Account for War-Mongering Dressed Up as “Analysis” of Iran’s Nuclear Program”

  1. kooshy says:

    I read the very interesting Telegraph article FYI had linked earlier which I recommend reading, what was very interesting for me, was the very public and openly admittance, by main European states of being clients of the US state, as an accepted destiny, incapable of changing.

    “One witness puts the problem like this: “There was not the faintest chance that President George W Bush’s Republican advisers and Israeli allies would allow him to look benignly on such a deal. On the contrary, if the Europeans were to defy American wishes, they would be letting themselves in for a transatlantic row to end all rows.”
So when they came back to the negotiating table one hour later they were studiously non-committal. They spoke highly of the Iranian offer, but asked for time so that their governments could consider it. “

    And when Sir John Sawers took the Iranian offer back to London it was very quickly forgotten. According to Foreign Office sources, Tony Blair intervened to make sure that it went no further. Later Sir John explained to Seyed Hossein Mousavian, spokesman of the Iranian nuclear negotiation team, why the offer could not be taken up. “Washington would never tolerate the operation of even one centrifuge in Iran,” he told Mr Mousavian, according to the latter’s memoirs.

    “The US and its European clients are driven by a different compulsion: the humiliation and eventual destruction of Iran’s Islamic regime.”

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/middleeast/iran/10007603/Iran-how-the-West-missed-a-chance-to-make-peace-with-Tehran.html

  2. Sakineh Bagoom says:

    I’d like to take this opportunity to welcome our American friends of this forum to a total “Police State”. This is a state where a “lock down” of entire cities and their suburbs is possible. This is a state where a routine police apprehension of a criminal suspect, shuts whole cities, their transportation and public venues. This is a state where the mantra of “be afraid, be very afraid” is the new norm. This is state where the commander in chief has a kill list, and can target any of its citizens, anywhere in the world. This is state where if you are called a terrorist your Miranda right will not be read to you, telling you, you may remain silent.
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2013/apr/20/boston-marathon-dzhokhar-tsarnaev-mirnada-rights
    I wonder how long this state has been under planning till its full implementation was possible. The same planning that it took for the 2100 page Patriot act to be trotted out a few days after the 2001 atrocities?

  3. Smith says:

    Wonderfully written debunking piece. I have not read the Carnegie report and will not either by wasting my time on such drivel but here are some points:

    1- Iran has per official Iranian reports some 35000 to 40000 tonnes of proven uranium reserves. That is enough to power a dozen Bushehr size and type nuclear plants for almost two decades. With reprocessing the spent fuel, this timeline can be doubled, which basically means the life time fuel supply for a dozen Bushehr type nuclear reactors.

    Alot of nuclear power generating countries do not even have this much uranium supply. Take the example of Japan, Germany, UK, Sweden, South Korea etc etc. These nations who have built and are building nuclear power stations have for long depended on colonial, imperial, white fascism instruments of power to steal uranium from other countries for their nuclear power and nuclear weapons programs.

    Take the example of Niger, one of the poorest countries of the world supplying French nuclear program with uranium. One has to look at facts and figures to understand the shamelessness of these white fascists. Niger is a a country with life expectancy of 48, is among the nations with highest infant/child mortality rates and maternal mortality ratio. A country where 65% of people live on less than a dollar a day. A country whose average per capita food calorie consumption is 1960 among the lowest in the world. A country wherein the literacy rate is 18% and there is only one doctor for every 50,000 people. Half of the population lives on unsafe drinking water. There is one television set for every 100 people and one vehicle for every 200 people. Its largest “trading” partners are France and US. That is if we can categorize colonial exploitation as trade.

    But that is not all. The per capita energy consumption of Niger is one percent of what French use (Niger has the lowest per capita energy consumption in the world, the people there are the closest human beings are to animals with regard to energy consumption). And the French are the most dependent for their energy on nuclear power and uranium (three quarters of French electricity is produced by nuclear power plants). Where does French uranium come from? Of course from Niger. Since France does not have uranium deposits. They have to enslave a nation in Africa to keep their high quality of life. God forbid the day, the people of Niger try to use their uranium in their own nuclear power plants in Niger. If even the people of Niger try that, French will bomb them and rape their babies till they give up such dreams. This planet is here to satisfy the stomach and genitals of white men as per prevalent western thoughts. The rest of humanity are here to aid the evil satisfaction of this race.

    2- Now of course, the supreme Iranian culture and its high regard for humanity will not allow Iranians to ever contemplate stealing from other nations children in order to power up Iranian homes. This is just not possible and thinkable in Iran. For example despite the fact that Iran owns 15% of a uranium mine in Namibia another African nation living in extreme poverty with lowest life indicators, Iran has not yet received a single gram of that uranium.

    In fact that mine is being emptied by another western company that is not only stealing the share of Namibia but also that of Iran. In fact Namibia has only a 3% share in the profits of the mine. And Namibia is not even entitled to receive that 3% in uranium but in the form of worthless paper money and without even having the authority to look at the accounting books. They just receive a pittance from their white masters from occasionally. Again God forbid the day, the people of Namibia ever dream about using their uranium in their own nuclear reactors. That day will never come since if ever they even show the signs of these kind of dangerous dreams, the western nations will rape each and every baby in that land and then bomb them till they give up such dreams. Forever.

    3- In this world, Iran will never have access to world’s uranium reserves. It is almost impossible to imagine a day that Iran will be allowed to buy uranium in a free and fair world uranium market. Iran is even being denied to buy medicines let alone uranium. So, is the excuse that Iran can not obtain uranium and therefore it should not have nuclear technology, a valid one? Should Iran close down its nuclear technology program?

    Well, no, thankfully, Iran has many options. One solution is that Iran uses its uranium reserves more efficiently so that it would not need to import uranium at all. The light water reactors eg. the Bushehr nuclear reactor use the uranium in a most inefficient way. The fast liquid metal cooled breeder reactors have extremely high efficiencies with superb uranium economics. If Iran starts a program developing a national fast breeder reactor and uses it as the template for its nuclear power program, the Iranian uranium reserves will last much longer.

    For instance it will be possible for Iran to fuel one hundred nuclear reactors each with 1000 MWe power for more than 300 years using only the uranium from Iranian deposits. Of course the white men are going to say, Iran does not have the technology and the smarts/intelligence for developing such reactors and they are going to also pressurize Iran on the fact that these kind of reactors produce lots of plutonium. But to say that Iranian uranium reserves are not enough to run a nuclear power program is not scientifically true. Iran has many other options too.

    Another Iranian option would be the search for more uranium reserves. The world’s largest uranium reserve in Australia was not known 30 years ago. Iran is a vast country and who knows maybe we hear some day about the discovery of a large uranium deposit in Iran rivaling that of Australia’s. Iran can not stop its acquisition of nuclear technology knowledge just because it has not yet hit the biggest uranium find. Iran can not be Namibia or Niger.

    Yet another good option for Iranian program would be the search for thorium reserves, which have not yet been undertaken. This is another kind of material that can be “bred” in special reactors to produce fissile uranium. In fact Indians having been in a similar situation as that of Iran with regard to their small uranium reserves, did not stop their nuclear program but rather searched for thorium, found lots of it in India and have been working on their own thorium reactors. India did not stop its nuclear program because they did not have enough uranium. They rather accelerated it and even made nuclear weapons.

    And yet, there is another option. One good thing about nuclear power plants is the fact that they use very little fuel by weight. In fact almost all of the operational cost of a nuclear power plant comes from the installation of the plant, its maintenance and paying the salaries of the plant crew. The price of uranium fuel is such a small part of plant operation that it is not even routinely included in feasibility studies of these plants. And this brings us to the world’s largest uranium deposit which Iran has complete legal access to.

    The world’s largest uranium reserve is not in land. It is the dissolved uranium in the ocean water. Roughly more than 4.5 billion tonnes of dissolved uranium is deposited in ocean waters. Iran has direct access to this body of waters. With current technologies (mostly developed by Japanese and Americans), it is possible to recover this uranium at a price that is 5 times that of uranium recovery from the high quality land deposits and just 2 times the cost of uranium from low quality land deposits. With on going research and applying economies of scales, it is possible to imagine that in near future, uranium extraction from ocean water might become even cheaper and more environmentally friendly than using land deposits specially taking into account the fact that uranium prices from land deposits are increasing in today’s world.

    But even at current prices and technologies, this is feasible for Iran since Iran is cut off from international market of uranium. As said earlier the uranium price does not affect the nuclear power plant economics by much and currently the white men do not operate their reactors on ocean uranium since they can steal it for free from the black men. But since Iranians will never steal from another person, it is economical for Iranians to start uranium recovery from Persian Gulf and Arabian sea waters. Using the sea water uranium to power fast breeder reactors and with application of nuclear waste reprocessing, can provide the total world energy requirement for more than 5 billion years (till the sun dies). Iran has a long coastline. And 5 billion years is a long time. So I do not see any uranium problem for Iran.

    4- Chernobyl was a RBMK reactor. Graphite moderated with a positive void coefficient. Bushehr is a VVER type reactor. There is no comparison at all. That is if one knows even the elementary physics. This does not mean, no accident is possible. Accidents happen and can happen anywhere. But an accident in a VVER reactor is not going to be a devastating one like in the RBMK types. Furthermore if the white man is allowed to make mistakes and mess up the planet so should be the black/brown/yellow men. If nuclear power is bad, this should be banned globally with the first nations to give up their nuclear power stations being the ones with the richest racist histories. Iran is way down the line. So stop talking about Iran.

    5- Iran bought some nuclear technologies from Pakistan. This is allowed under NPT. Iran has every right to buy technologies from anyone in the world. In fact the biggest proliferators of nuclear weapons are western countries. Just look at the nuclear bomb technology sharing between UK and US. Just look at the trident nuclear missiles made in US and sold to UK. Iran and Pakistan have done nothing wrong. The nuclear apartheid and this “reason” so often given in western media that because the seller and the buyer are both not as white as Europeans and therefore are not allowed to do this or that is pathetic. Such fascist colonial reasoning has to stop.

  4. Smith says:

    From the article:

    “In fact, if anything the sanctions have harmed Iran’s development of alternative energy sources—in addition to investing in wind power, Iran is a manufacturer exporter of wind energy turbines, for example, but has had a hard time obtaining the material used for the rotors due the sanctions. ”

    That is so true. Iran actually was interested to buy 1.2 MW wind turbines from western countries under a ToT agreement. Iran was denied even to buy them without ToT. US went to great lengths to deny Iran having a wind power industry. Now Iran manufactures 0.66 MW wind power turbines but these are not optimally efficient as the 1.2 MW ones. Though it has been said in Iranian media that the R&D on 1.2 MW variant is progressing.

    Another example is that of geothermal power stations. Iran has some good potential for geothermal power generation because of its geology. Iran was interested to buy the advanced technology from Iceland. US intervened to deny Iran. Then Iran went to UN and requested access to this technology. UN referred Iran to New Zealand. Again US intervened to make sure that Iran is not given the technology for geothermal power stations. Iran then started to build a geothermal power stations using its local know how based on old technologies which are not as efficient but still is a starting point.

    The primary aim of western civilization is to keep Iran weak, backward and dependent. It has nothing to do with nuclear weapons or nuclear technology.

  5. nico says:

    James Canning says:
    April 21, 2013 at 5:56 pm

    “Nico,

    If you are aguing that Iran can stockpile 20U in whatever amounts it chooses, and no end up with a blockade, I think you are very mistaken.”

    The west just could do nothing serious to stop Iran nuclear drive.

    The sanctions worth nothing as stated by Iran SL who rebuffed US direct talks.
    A blockade shall trigger WWIII. Iran is ready for it and announced much transparently.
    It is up the west now.

  6. Neo says:

    Sakineh Bagoom says: April 21, 2013 at 7:27 pm

    Well said, Sakineh. I came across a priceless ‘justification’ for this unabashed American barbarism (a love for inequality and imperial domination in the name of ‘order’) in an article by Robert Kaplan of Stratfor just a few days ago. He would truly make Hitler proud.

    Quote:

    “The best sort of inequality is hegemony. Whereas primacy, as Kang explains, is about preponderance purely through military or economic power, hegemony “involves legitimation and consensus.” That is to say, hegemony is some form of agreed-upon inequality, where the dominant power is expected by others to lead. When a hegemon does not lead, it is acting irresponsibly.”

    http://www.stratfor.com/weekly/anarchy-and-hegemony

  7. imho says:

    fyi says:
    April 18, 2013 at 9:29 pm

    “…Intolerance is a sign of fear and lack of confidence….”

    so true!

  8. nico says:

    James Canning says:
    April 21, 2013 at 5:56 pm

    “Nico,

    If you are aguing that Iran can stockpile 20U in whatever amounts it chooses, and no end up with a blockade, I think you are very mistaken.”

    If you argue that Iran will bow to the West rotten policies and intellectually bankrupt values, I think you are very mistaken.

    http://www.presstv.ir/detail/2013/04/22/299609/obama-nuke-uturn-10bn-set-for-b61s/

    “US President Barack Obama is accused of making a U-turn on his nuclear disarmament pledges as his administration plans to allocate billions of dollars for upgrading its atomic arsenal in Europe.”

    “The plan to give new tail fins to nearly 200 B61 gravity bombs stored in Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, Italy and Turkey would give them new mission and new capabilities. The bombs could be delivered by stealth F35 fighter-bombers. ”

    http://www.latimes.com/news/world/worldnow/la-fg-wn-cameron-britain-nuclear-arsenal-20130404,0,5139172.story

    “Cameron is committed to replacing the aging Trident fleet, an endeavor estimated to cost at least $150 billion, even as his Conservative government enacts the most draconian spending cuts Britain has seen in a generation, much of it directed at the social welfare system.”

  9. imho says:

    http://news.yahoo.com/hagel-israel-us-see-exactly-same-iran-threat-084103356–politics.html;_ylt=A2KJ2UjG5nRR1T4AjijQtDMD

    $ 10 billion arms deal. This is the prize for US after the last nuclear talk failure. But this deal requires some years to materialize leaving the status quo that once Nico suggested the US is after. It is also a bone for Israel and Persian Gulf monarchies to lick for some time.

    After W. and the empire’s financial tsunami, US is realistically getting back to the father Bush’s policy of fighting wars with other people’s money (Libya, Syria, Mali) but Hagel also said that while US and Israel see the same threat, they have some differences on the timing. Talking few words of differences in a visit to an ally is more significant than saying loudly Iran is a threat and repeating the official policy.

  10. nico says:

    James Canning says:
    April 21, 2013 at 5:56 pm

    “Nico,

    If you are aguing that Iran can stockpile 20U in whatever amounts it chooses, and no end up with a blockade, I think you are very mistaken.”

    WOW, impressive results of the west crippling sanctions !

    http://www.economywatch.com/economic-statistics/year/2014/

    GDP growth forecast 2014
    - Iran : 4,2 %
    - EU : 1,8 %
    - US : 2,7 %
    - Japan : 1,5%
    - SK : 4%

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_public_debt

    Public Debt as % of GDP 2012 estimate (IMF)
    - Iran : 11 %
    - EU : 82 %
    - US : 107 %
    - Japan : 240 %
    - SK : 34%

    It is common knowledge that above 80% of debt a country is considered unsolvent.
    It does mean that the debt interest may still be reimbursed for years.
    However the weight of the debt is such that the capital shall never be reimbursed and the debt hole can only be dug deeper year after year.
    The deeper the debt hole is the more the economic readjustment is violent.

    The western debt crisis in the making could only have 2 outcomes.
    Decades of depression with no end in sight and low economic growth like the Japan example, or, a economic Krach that would send shockwaves in the globalized world economy.

    Well it seems Iranian economy still has potential, while the western one is really in crisis.

    But maybe a naval blockade of Iran with its security consequences in the ME shall be the way for the westeren economy to recover !

  11. nico says:

    All,

    What does it mean ?

    http://old.mehrnews.com/en/newsdetail.aspx?NewsID=1820477

    “Ali Saeed Asiri, Saudi ambassador in Beirut, who is holding many meeting and activities with Lebanese officials and extensive consultations in the country to form a new government, said that “If Hezbollah officials want [travel to Saudi], Saudi Arabian doors are open for an official meeting.”

    This days we hear information concerning Lebanon’s Hezbollah being dragged in the Syrian conflict.
    We have information of coordinated moves between the Syrian armed forces and the Hezbollah to fight against the rebels in Syrian territory near the border.
    We have additional information regarding the Hezbollah leader being in Iran for consultation and “negotiation”.

    Is there something at play ?

  12. imho says:

    nico says:
    April 18, 2013 at 4:29 pm

    “However the first issue is the “tide”.
    I mean the current process in the ME is of historical proportion. It is part of the wider change of balance from the western hemisphere to the eastern one.”

    The world is moving and the balance changing as you say but I’m not sure which tide are you referring to. If this is the so-called Arab String it has nothing to do with the decay of US empire (which is real but for other reasons). Evidences as I said before suggest that this whole uprising has been setup by US itself with Obama giving the GO in his Cairo speech. This is a change of policy from Bush’s neocons to the Obama’s Brzezinski’ doctrine of instability with still the same objectives and targets which are Russia and China, in short Eurasia.

    Mubarak was against the current western dealing with Iran and he must have been replaced anyway. Then came Tunisia and Libya, two secular systems changed to Islamist emirates exporting Jihadis Salafis to the upcoming battlegrounds which is now Syria. Then it’ll be the Jordan’s turn and so on.

    Following (from an Israeli source – be aware of disinformation!) suggests that Russian intelligence informed FBI of the two Chechen brothers before Boston bombings. Why Americans didn’t follow Russian advices remains a question for our imagination.

    http://www.debka.com/article/22916/Boston-terror-focuses-Hagel-ME-trip-on-Syria-al-Qaeda—instead-of-Iran

    Extract:

    For more than two years, Russian President Vladimir Putin has maintained that sympathy is not his motive for propping up Bashar Assad’s regime in Damascus, but the certainty that his fall will release a swarm of al Qaeda jihadists on Damascus and other Syrian towns. From there, they will spread out through the southern Russian Caucasus and then leap on Moscow and other key Russian cities.
    By aiding Assad, Moscow is therefore protecting Russia, says Putin, echoing the argument US President George W. Bush put forward when he defended the US invasion of Iraq in 2003 as necessary to protect American cities from terror.

    As an army of law enforcement officers from across America descended five days later on the Watertown backyard and the boat in which Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was cowering, President Obama phoned President Putin and thanked him for his “cooperation [unspecified] in the investigation into the Boston Marathon bombings.”

    This conversation stemmed from the Russian intelligence request to the FBI in 2011 to look into the older Tsarnaev brother, Tamerlan’s ties with Muslim terrorist groups in the Caucasus, who at that time decided to pledge allegiance to al Qaeda. In the face of the US agency’s indifference to its alert, Russian intelligence placed the two brothers under close surveillance – certainly dogging Tamerlan’s footsteps during the six months he spent visiting Dagestan and Chechnya last year – and presumably also in America. Upon his return, he was not placed on the FBI watch list.
    The Russian agency was therefore in exclusive possession of the very intelligence the FBI sought for identifying the terrorists who perpetrated the bombings in Boston and their associates, whether inside or outside America.
    The Russian president’s “cooperation” with the US inquiry was therefore invaluable.
    According to debkafile’s counterterrorism and military sources, Putin’s quid pro quo for this assistance is not yet known, but it will certainly relate to the Syrian conflict rather than the Iranian issue.
    Damascus, as well as Tehran and al Qaeda, have been intently watching the US-Russian trade-off in the wake of the Boston event in order to calculate which way to jump and how it will serve their objectives.
    The al Qaeda menace may therefore find itself challenged more strongly than before by the Iran-Syria-Hizballah lineup – joined most recently by the Shiite-led Iraqi government, which has begun sending Shiite fighters to the Syrian front.

    End of extract

    I linked here some time ago a paper from William Engdahl on overall US strategy in encircling Russia and China and the goal of their destabilization by Islamist forces. Considering recent events, it is well worth reading – at least much more than papers from usual ding dang propaganda like Carnegie End. for “war”. (I mean, of course those papers must be read with critical eyes, as done so outstandingly by Cyrus Safdari – thank you Cyrus!)

    http://www.engdahl.oilgeopolitics.net/print/Dagestan%20Syria%20comes%20to%20Russia.pdf

  13. nico says:

    All,

    The Syrian crisis is all about the geopolitical control of energy routes.
    It fully explains the involvement of Turkey well beyond the US incluence.
    It also explain the role of Russia and Iran with each countries interest to control the gas routes to Europe.
    Such routes will shape the power sharing in the region for the decade to come.
    At this step Iran is a head above the other actors.

    Timeline of the energy routes projects. (Compare to the timeline of the Syrian crisis)

    2009 : Qatar seeks gas pipeline to Turkey (through Syria)
    http://www.thenational.ae/business/energy/qatar-seeks-gas-pipeline-to-turkey

    Late 2010 : Syria, Iran’s Arab ally, is driving to build a grandiose new energy alliance across the Middle East, and beyond, aimed at thrusting the economically troubled state back into a regional leadership role.
    http://www.upi.com/Business_News/Energy-Resources/2011/01/06/Syrias-Assad-pushes-Four-Seas-Strategy/UPI-98471294335880/#ixzz2RCOYt2Qk

    July 2011 : Iraq, Iran, Syria Sign $10 Billion Gas-Pipeline Deal
    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424053111903591104576467631289250392.html

    I tanslated below a french text providing an summary of what is at stake in Syria :
    (my apoligies for any translation clusiness)

    Text from René Dzagoyan 24th of January 2013
    “From the overthrow of Mossadegh by the CIA and the British in 1953 to the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003 by the same ones, the history taught us that the energy challenges were never strangers to regime changes in the Middle East. However, the international press, particularly French, took away the Syrian conflict from this gold rule.
    By a fortunate exception, under the effect of an irrepressible humane impulse, Turkey and Qatar, duly supported by the Western countries, with the first chief France, would work there for the establishment of the democracy without any other ulterior motive that the happiness of the people.
    That Turkey is today a prison with open sky for lawyers and journalists, that Qatar is anything else only one feudal autocracy where the simple expression of a political thought is a blasphemy against God himself, does not induce any doubt as for the humanism of their ideology or the purity of their intentions.
    However, the simple examination of the regional data is enough to put in perspective the Syrian conflict within the framework which it should never have left: that of the war for energy.

    Let’s return to fundamentals: with the progressive drying up of oil, the only fuel of substitution available in abundance is the gas. This resource is primarily located in three countries: Russia, with 45’000 trillions of m3 of proven reserves, approximately 25% of world reserves, Iran, 27’000 trillions, or 15% of world reserves, and Qatar, 26,000 trillions, 15% of world reserves too.
    The three of them, these Gas giants control more than half of the worldwide production.
    To run out its colossal stocks, Russia does not fail customers: its systems of gas pipelines run of Tatarstan to Britain and China to Turkey, which draws there 70% of the 38 billion m3 necessary to its operation, the rest coming mainly from Iran.

    However, considering the growth of its industry, Ankara forsees for 2025 a consumption from 80 to 90 billion m3, that is to say more than twice its present needs. Where to find them?
    To draw it from Russian stock would increase Turkey dependence with respect to the empire of the tsars, and would illico burden its regional expansion; to tap Iran’s would have the same effects, not counting the dissatisfaction with the Americans. Remain Qatar. But between Doha and Ankara, there is not the shade of a gas pipeline. That’s no problem!

    In August 2009, qatari Sheikh Al-Thani and Abdullah Gül agreed on the need for drawing a large pipe between Doha in Ankara. Two possible passages: by Iraq, especially north with the hands of the Kurds, option strongly disadvised; or by Syria, directed by Bachar El-Assad.
    This last would undoubtedly readily have yielded the passage to them, were not the frowns of its principal military, economic and financial, support: Moscow, which would hardly have appreciated that its protected opens the gas valves with one of its competitors, Qatar, to feed one of its main customers, Turkey, and Europe by connection to the European gas pipeline Nabucco still to be born.
    To dare to request Assad was thus without question with Moscow hoping to kill Nabucco in the egg by finishing its own pipeli in northern Turkey: South Stream. It was also to be unaware of Iran, this “devil” of State which, since Mossadegh, stubbornly makes a point of controlling its oil. Also is about to tighten the last bolt of its Iran-Iraq-Syria gas pipeline of 25 million m3/jour for the same destinations.

    Stuck between Putin and Ahmadinéjad, both decided to keep their monopoly on European supplies, poor Bachar had hardly the choice but to refuse the passage to the pipeline dreamed by the turco-qatari couple. The Ugly Duckling! By its stubbornness, here is Turkey and Europe forced in spite of them to still remain dependent on only Russia, or worse, of Iran.
    A leader, all Syrian it is, who constrain Europe to beg its energy to these two reluctant states European eternal values, can be only one bad democrat. And if it persists in its disastrous alliances, it can be only one horrible tyrant. One with only a zest of morality should judge that such horrible tyrant only deserves to be overthrown.

    That the French authorities, in spite of the obvious control of rebels by the islamist fanatics, in spite of the proven involvement of Turkish soldiers in managing the rebellion, in spite as of assumed exactions of the religious minorities, spread the fable of a fight of the Syrian people for his freedom, can only be understood by long time shared interests between France and Qatar.
    Total oil company, present in Qatar since 1936, is one of the main operators in the exploitation of Qatar resources , while Qatar, third shareholder of Total, holds nearly 17% of Vivendi, 13% of the Group Lagardere, 5% of Véolia, without speaking of other small sugar such as the PSG (Paris soccer Team). To defend the interests of Qatar, it is to defend the interests of France and conversely. The song is known, repeated with leisure by government spokesman.

    But the danger is not anymore in this policy where one is ready to sell France in the name of the crossed interests, because that is now a fact. It is the idea that France and Europe have of themselves and of their role toward peoples expecting from them a spark of virtue. To want to replace the force of the values by that of the pipelines, our democracies are quite simply likely to become sad liarcracies.”

  14. nico says:

    imho says:
    April 22, 2013 at 8:46 am

    “The world is moving and the balance changing as you say but I’m not sure which tide are you referring to.”

    The tide I am refering to is the change of the balance of power from the western “white” hemisphere to eastern “yellow and brown” hemisphere as would be put by Smith.

    I am sure it comes at no surprise to you than China is the new superpower challanging the US.
    And I am sure that you understand that Iran policy is in right line with the anti-colonial movement in MENA with such father as Mossadegh, Nasser and that is totally consistent with the emancipation movement wich gave birth to the NAM.

    The Arab spring has marginal impact right now. For now it only destabilizes the region and it is the occasion to redraw the card of power.
    Whether it will be to Western adavantage, other power such as Iran adavantage or to aborigenal adavantage remain to be seen.

    To be frank Iran is not in the same league as the other MENA countries.
    Iran is fighting at global stage with other world power.
    Iran has the capacity to help redraw the alliances in central Asia to the adavantage to continental Asian powers such as Russia and China with such alliances as SCO.

    The Arab spring for now has no such influence.

  15. nico says:

    Mr Canning,

    Truly a friendly move from Hague.
    UK blocks Shell paying Iran oil debt in food, medicine.

    http://news.yahoo.com/uk-blocks-shell-paying-iran-oil-debt-food-150224090–finance.html;_ylt=AkC48._U02Sh1wdacSNm6Z.1qHQA;_ylu=X3oDMTQwMHFhMXF0BG1pdANUb3BpY3MgQ29sbGVjdGlvbiBMaXN0BHBrZwM0MTkzMzBkYS0xMmM0LTM5ODktODJlZi05NzM5OTQ2ZWMxNzgEcG9zAzcEc2VjA3RvcF9zdG9yeQR2ZXIDMDY4ZDExNDEtYWI1ZS0xMWUyLWJmZmQtMjZiZWU0ZGMwZDQ0;_ylg=X3oDMTJ2cWJrbTZmBGludGwDdXMEbGFuZwNlbi11cwRwc3RhaWQDMmY2YzlkOTYtZDkxMC0zNGZmLTg3MzQtOWUzNTcyZDBiOGQ2BHBzdGNhdAMEcHQDc2VjdGlvbnMEdGVzdANRRV9UZXN0;_ylv=3

    And so much for sanction relief.

    British Foreign Secretary says The European Union should focus on implementing its current sanctions against Iran rather than imposing new measures for the moment.

    “We must maintain (current) sanctions pressure, not proposing new ones,” he told reporters ahead of a meeting of EU foreign ministers in Luxembourg.

    http://old.mehrnews.com/en/newsdetail.aspx?NewsID=1820512

  16. nico says:

    Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, and Iran explained in one picture.
    http://i48.tinypic.com/33x7crn.jpg

    Add to that the Russian Interest in blocking transcaspian pipeline…

    All is said.

  17. nico says:

    Another interesting article. Even the views are on the longer run.
    It should also add up to my previous answer to IMHO.

    Are Syria and Pakistan Pieces of the Puzzle for Assembling a Mega Gas Pipeline to China?
    http://www.globalresearch.ca/are-syria-and-pakistan-pieces-of-the-puzzle-for-assembling-a-mega-gas-pipeline-to-china/5331299

    “It was estimated in 2007 that approximately 96.3 percent of the amount of projected natural gas which would be “imported by continental Europe would be controlled by Russia, Iran, and Syria under such an arrangement” (Ibid., emphasis added).

    By the same token, the interests of the United States and its NATO and Arab petro-sheikhdom allies in Syria can be articulated hence:

    The transformation of Syria into a client state would not only help erode the Resistance Bloc [comprised of the Palestinians, Iran, Lebanon, Syria, and Iraq], but it would give control over the Levantine energy corridor in the Eastern Mediterranean to Israel and the NATO powers. A direct land bridge would connect Israel and Turkey, and Iran would be cut off from its smaller Levantine allies in Lebanon and Palestine, which would weaken their resistance to Israel. The Mediterranean Sea would become a full NATO lake and a north-south energy transit route in the Levant would fall under Atlanticist control. The Levantine Basin, extending from Gaza to Alexandretta, has several large natural gas reserves that have been the subjects of regional tensions over extraction and ownership rights. Israel has been at odds with both Lebanon and the Palestinians in Gaza over the issue. Both Iran and Russia — the world’s two largest proprietors of natural gas — have interests in these natural gas reserves and have been involved in projects to help Lebanon and Syria exploit and develop their gas reserves. With control of Syria or parts of a fractured Syria secured, these natural gas reserves would totally be encompassed by the Atlantic Alliance and the Iranians and Russian would be pushed out (Nazemroaya 2012:324-325).

    The geo-political reality in Syria also worked against the Nabucoo Pipeline and Turkish interests.”

    “In summary, the Iran-Iraq-Syria Pipeline and the Iran-Pakistan Pipeline are fragments of the same grand Eurasian natural gas pipeline that are being weaved together like a carefully crafted Persian carpet. This gives added context to the conflict in Syria. It also helps explain the positions of countries like Qatar and Turkey that want regime change in Damascus. This is also one of the reasons that the European Union has unilaterally sanctioned the Iran LNG Company (ILC) in 2012, just before Iran began its LNG exports”

    “Instability in Syria and Pakistan: Washington’s Attempts to Strangle China

    Ultimately, in context of Eastern Mediterranean natural gas supplies, Syria is about China, just like the present “Second Scramble for Africa” that has targeted Sudan, Libya, and Mali. In this regard NATO’s war on Libya and the siege against Syria are two fronts in the same war, which is aimed at neutralizing the Chinese. The same goes for the internal crises in Pakistan.”

    “If the Iran-Iraq-Syria Pipeline and Iran-Pakistan Pipeline are connected and end up supplying China, it will amount to a major blow against the primacy of the United States. The US aims to upset the completion of either project. Washington’s tensions with Tehran over the Iranian nuclear energy project should therefore also be viewed from a paradigm that also has this in mind.”

  18. fyi says:

    ith says:
    April 22, 2013 at 12:34 am

    I think the only practical way forward for Iranians is the construction of large heavy-water reactors.

    Once the 40-MW Arak reactor becomes operational, Iranians could use it to scale up to 400 MW for Darkhovin.

    The standard of living in Iran is going to deteriorate over the coming years as state subsidies will be removed from more and more sectors of the economy. Paradoxically, employment and inflation will go down as people will be forced to take on more than one job to survive and capital is channeled to support production rather than consumption from abroad.

    Iranians must assume that the economic war against them will continue for years and plan accordingly.

    It will take supreme national effort to eviscerate these sanctions, no doubt.

  19. nico says:

    Mister Canning,

    So much for the West being controlled by the zionists…

  20. James Canning says:

    Nico,

    As a net consumer of oil and gas, China benefits if Iran sells more gas rather than less gas.

    Chances of a gas pipeline being built to China via Pakistan are rather low. China is foucsing on oil and gas pipelines crossing Burma (Myanmar).

  21. James Canning says:

    nico,

    Who is arguing that “the West is controlled by the Zionists”?

    I have argued that European countries need to take a more energetic posture regarding resolving Israel/Palestine problem, due to obvious problems in the US related to Israel lobby.

  22. James Canning says:

    Nico,

    I have stated time and again that if Iran does not resolve the nuclear dispute, there will be more sanctions. And still more.

    Perhaps the Iranian governemnt thinks it is better to endure an embargo on Iranian oil exports, as advocated by FYI.

  23. nico says:

    James Canning says:
    April 22, 2013 at 3:38 pm

    “As a net consumer of oil and gas, China benefits if Iran sells more gas rather than less gas.”
    Mmmm, I need to think about that one, it is rather complex remark and I am not sure to be that smart.

    “Chances of a gas pipeline being built to China via Pakistan are rather low. China is foucsing on oil and gas pipelines crossing Burma (Myanmar).”
    For sure, China like EU or any other country is counting on a single pipeline and a single source.

  24. nico says:

    James Canning says:
    April 22, 2013 at 3:40 pm

    “nico,

    Who is arguing that “the West is controlled by the Zionists”?

    I have argued that European countries need to take a more energetic posture regarding resolving Israel/Palestine problem, due to obvious problems in the US related to Israel lobby.”

    Obvious lie.
    You implied time and again that Zionism is the main driving force behind Western policies in ME.

  25. nico says:

    James Canning says:
    April 22, 2013 at 3:43 pm

    “Nico,

    I have stated time and again that if Iran does not resolve the nuclear dispute, there will be more sanctions. And still more.

    Perhaps the Iranian governemnt thinks it is better to endure an embargo on Iranian oil exports, as advocated by FYI.”

    I am pleased that you admit that the West should pursue their failed policy and continue their 20 years blunder.

  26. fyi says:

    James Canning says:
    April 22, 2013 at 3:43 pm

    It is better for Iran to endure the oil embargo since that embargo is helping the Iranian balance of payments as well as enouraging internal production – something that was extremely difficult to encourage in the face of the consumerism of Iranians and the availability of cheap imports from Iran.

    All these adjustements are quite painful but there is no other way.

    De Gaulle, whose name I hope you have heard, stated: “To be a powerful country, you have to act like one.”

    That is what Iranians are doing and with very little effort on their part they also have thwarted various cherished initiatives of Mr. Obama.

  27. fyi says:

    nico says:
    April 22, 2013 at 12:31 pm

    This is the work of decades and I believe that it will come to pass.

    But in the short to medium terms (6 months to 5 years) Iran is in the same situtation as she was in 1980s during the Iran-Iraq War years.

  28. Sineva says:

    fyi says:
    April 22, 2013 at 12:32 pm
    Are there any british assets in iran that the government can seize in lieu of payment

  29. Sineva says:

    nico says:
    April 22, 2013 at 4:07 pm
    nico says:
    April 22, 2013 at 4:09 pm
    nico says:
    April 22, 2013 at 4:19 pm
    I agree with all you`ve said

  30. James Canning says:

    fyi,

    I think Obama would like to pull all US troops out of Afghanistan, if he could be sure the Democrats would not take the blame if the Taliban returns to power in Kabul.

    You don’t want US troops out of Afghanistan?

    If all Iranian oil exports by sea are blocked, the adverse effects on the Iranian economy will be severe.

  31. James Canning says:

    Nico,

    I have said time and time again I think the sanctions policy against Iran is ill-conceived, foolish, counter-productive, etc etc etc etc.

    I have said many times the US should restore normal relations with Iran. Israel lobby prevents it. Full stop.