In analyzing the government of Iran’s nuclear ambitions it is difficult to get beyond all the superheated rhetoric to look at let alone understand the facts. We have a certain degree of faith in our leaders that transcends statistical polls and gives both pundits and the public alike reason to pause before questioning complex foreign policy matters. Some might say it is that need to pause and willingness to believe that led the United States into its War with Iraq.
And now Israel faces an enemy with a very bad history and a large ambition to transform itself into a full and muscular member of the nuclear club. Everyone was talking at AIPAC about how Israel and the U.S. government are on/need to be on the same page when it comes to stopping Iran’s nuclear development through sanctions if possible and coordinated military action if not including an Israeli Prime Minister and an American President:
The IAEA; the International Atomic Energy Agency has been increasingly worried by the activity of Iran and its efforts to block inspections of its nuclear program. In a recent IAEA report dated February 24, 2012 it states in the summary that;
“Since the Director General’s November 2011 report (GOV/2011/65), contrary to the relevant resolutions of the Board of Governors and the Security Council, Iran continues to carry out uranium enrichment activities and has: increased the number of cascades being used to produce UF6 enriched to 5% U-235; increased the number of cascades being used to produce UF6 enriched to 20% U-235; and is preparing additional cascades at Fordow (FFEP) and Natanz (FEP). Iran has also announced its intention to install three new types of centrifuge at Natanz (PFEP) for R&D purposes.” 1.
Since there are multiple nuclear manufacturing/research facilities in Iran; with those that have been publicly identified at Arak, Bonab, Bushehr, Isfahan, Natanz, Qom, Parachin, Ramsar and Tehran plus a number of established uranium mines, (with many of the facilities hidden and reinforced well beneath the surface), the task of eliminating an impending nuclear threat militarily is complex at best with Iran some 1000 miles from Israel. 2.
The more one looks into the issue the more one recognizes that even as the United States and eventually the European Community, (in July), increases sanctions against Iran, it continues in kind to increase its development of enriched uranium which in combination with its military expansion makes it likely that it will have all the components for a nuclear capability before the end of 2012.
There has been an assessment by serious military leaders such as the U.S. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Martin Dempsey that Iran is a rational actor:
But as with so much of the talk it requires an in depth explanation just to approach the real meaning Dempsey placed on such a controversial statement. In a March 8, 2012 article by CNN Correspondent Fareed Zakaria, (who did the original interview), he postulates that;
“A rational actor is not necessarily a reasonable actor or one who has the same goals or values that you or I do. A rational actor is someone who is concerned about his survival….
In an essay in the Washington Monthly, former senior U.S. intelligence official Paul Pillar writes, “More than three decades of history demonstrate that the Islamic Republic’s rulers, like most rulers elsewhere, are overwhelmingly concerned with preserving their regime and their power – in this life, not some future one.” 3
While all of this diplomacy is going on Israel killed a leader of Islamic Jihad in Gaza, Zuhair al-Qaissi in an air strike on Friday that has effectively ended the Hudna, (temporary calm), and created a firestorm of over 100 Qassam and Grad rockets fired into the Negev at Israeli population centers including Ashkelon, Ashdod and Beer Sheva that have resulted in a number of injuries to civilians which in turn have resulted in targeted air attacks from Israel that have killed 15 including 10 members of Islamic Jihad.
As the leadership of the PA and the PLO watch the carnage from Ramallah the question remains; Is peace between Israelis and Palestinians possible in 2012 and would a substantive peace agreement between the two parties help to defang the nuclear ambitions of Iran?
It seems that in a post negotiation, post UN period where communication let alone trust between the Israel and Palestinian governments as well as their people is nearly non-existent it is essential for international leaders to do all that is in their power to prevent not only a nuclear Iran, but the requirement to take military action that in itself will change the Middle East forever.
- IAEA Report; Implementation of the NPT Safeguards Agreement and relevant provisions of Security Council resolutions in the Islamic Republic of Iran, February 24, 2012(http://isis-online.org/uploads/isis-reports/documents/IAEA_Iran_Report_24February2012.pdf)
- BBC Report on Iran’s Nuclear Sites, January 9, 2012 (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-11927720)