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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 3/10/10

Iran: Will She or Won't She?

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Will Iran build a nuclear device or won't she? The truthful answer is: No one knows. This is likely true of President Obama and Iran's president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. The signals from the Islamic republic are conflicting and change weekly, or even daily at times. This, however, does not preclude an examination of the issue.

Perhaps, a more accurate question is: Does Iran have the capability to build a nuclear device? Still another crucial question remains, a question that is vital to every person living on the planet. What are Israel's contingency plans? To put it more plainly, will Israel attack Iran?

A little known factor in all of this, particularly in the West due to lack of media coverage, is that on August 9, 2005, Iran's Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, issued a fatwa that the production, stockpiling and use of nuclear weapons are forbidden under Islam and that Iran shall never acquire these weapons. The text of the fatwa has not been released although it was referenced in an official statement at a meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in Vienna. I am one of but a handful of American writers who has mentioned this in past articles. Apparently, notwithstanding religious factors, the Supreme Leader is well aware that the construction and possible completion of a nuclear weapon will make Iran a target, a bull's-eye for the Israeli Air Force, possibly even the American Air Force. However, the latter is extremely unlikely under current conditions.

On Feb. 18, the IAEA reported concerns over Iran's intentions. Warren Strobel of McClatchy Newspapers reports, "The United Nations' nuclear watchdog said Thursday that there are signs Iran is trying to develop a nuclear warhead that would fit atop a missile, its bluntest assertion to date questioning Tehran's claims to have an exclusively peaceful nuclear program."

Strobel continues, "In a report on Iran's nuclear activities, the International Atomic Energy Agency said it has collected 'broadly consistent and credible information' about Iran's suspected military nuclear research. 'Altogether, this raises concerns about the possible existence in Iran of past or current undisclosed activities related to the development of a nuclear payload for a missile,' it said."

Then comes a revealing statement. "The information in question comes from European, U.S. and Israeli intelligence agencies ..." These are not exactly disinterested parties, nor are they unbiased on the issue, particularly Israel. Actually, the IAEA's report contained nothing new, only concern. Put a different way, the IAEA doesn't know either.

Why is one reminded of another time and place? During the latter half of 2002 and the early part of 2003, the President of the United States, his National Security Advisor, the Vice-President, the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Defense, the CIA Director, members of Congress, and others, including the press, were hammering home to the American public that another nation in the Middle East had Weapons of Mass Destruction. It was a blitzkrieg campaign and it was successful. When the U.S. and Bush's coalition aggressively attacked Iraq, the majority of American public opinion was soundly behind the aggression. No WMD's were ever found. The war started by the Bush administration will soon experience its seventh anniversary. The war still has no end game. The public has since learned that the term, pre-emptive war, so favored by Bush and his advisors, is not only an oxymoron but a very tragic event. America, heretofore a glimmering example of democracy and freedom, became a pariah. Hopefully, our current and future leaders will never allow this to happen again.

I bring all this up because if Israel attacks Iran, the U.S. will be drawn in. Due to the close relationship between the U.S. and Israel, if Israel attacks Iran, it will be assumed by Iran and nearly every nation on Earth, including our traditional allies, that the U.S. gave at least tacit approval to the attack. In other words, some may assume the U.S., forgetting or ignoring the lessons of wars past and present, launched an aggressive action upon another country by proxy. It is within the realm of possibility they may be right if such an attack occurs.

The issue of Israeli intentions will be covered in a moment, but first the question -- does Iran have the capability to build a nuclear weapon? Once again, the answer to this question is mixed. Israeli intelligence is convinced that Iran is doing so. Iranian leaders, including Ahmadinejad, say they are not. They say their development of uranium is for peaceful purposes only. Despite all the conflicting reports, perhaps, some answers are out there.

Recently, Ahmadinejad announced that Iran, unable to get fuel rods from the West for its U.S.-built reactor, which makes medical isotopes, had begun to enrich its own uranium to 20%. White House press secretary Robert Gibbs had a rather interesting reply to that bold statement. "He [Ahmadinejad] says many things, and many of them turn out to be untrue. We do not believe they have the capability to enrich to the degree to which they now say they are enriching."

Noting that the official U.S. position is that Iran is building a nuclear bomb, resulting in U.N. sanctions and urging more stringent sanctions, Gibbs' comment begs a question. If Iran is incapable of enriching uranium to 20% commercial use, how can it possibly enrich uranium to 90%, or weapons grade?

More to the point, the Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS) supports Gibbs' viewpoint. According to a report recently issued by David Albright and Christina Walrond of the ISIS, "Iran's problems in its centrifuge programme are greater than expected. ... Iran is unlikely to deploy enough gas centrifuges to make enriched uranium for commercial nuclear power reactors (Iran's stated nuclear goal) for a long time, if ever, particularly if (U.N.) sanctions remain in force."

So,the White House press secretary and the ISIS seem to agree. Iran's enrichment capabilities are not nearly as daunting as many are led to believe. Was Gibbs speaking on his own, giving his private opinions? That's not the way it works. White House press secretaries are told what to present to the press and their personal opinions are immaterial and unknown to the press and the public.

The ISIS' report continues in a rather interesting way. ISIS insists, however, that "Iran may still be able to build a bomb. Yet, to do that, Iran would have to divert nearly all of its low-enriched uranium at Natanz, now under U.N. watch, to a new cascade of centrifuges, enrich that to 90 percent, then explode a nuclear device. Should Iran do that, however, it would have burned up all its bomb-grade uranium, and would lack enough low-enriched uranium for a second test. And Tehran would be facing a stunned and shaken Israel with hundreds of nukes and an America with thousands, without a single nuke of its own." There is little reason to elaborate on that analysis.

All this notwithstanding, the last I heard Israel is convinced that Iran is building a nuclear device to be mounted on one of her missiles capable of reaching every major city in Israel. The Jewish Republic is justified in its fear. Israel, the most powerful nation in the Middle East, is about the size of New Jersey, the U.S.'s fifth smallest state. The distance between Tel Aviv on the Mediterranean coast, one of the most vital of Israel's cities, and Jerusalem on the West Bank is 63 kilometers, roughly 39 miles.

Tel Aviv is the main financial center of Israel. Its destruction via an Iranian nuclear device would dismantle Israeli society and economy. Picture a nuclear bomb descending upon New York, making 9/11 peanuts by comparison, and one can visualize the fears that Israelis have. On the other hand, due to the diminutive nature of Israel, she is quite vulnerable. The vast majority of her citizens live in her ten largest cities. In retaliation for Israel's attack on nuclear sites, Iran may unleash her conventional missiles and ground attack aircraft on Israeli cities. Israel would be a target-rich environment, and cities can be devastated by conventional means; ask the elders of Berlin and Tokyo.

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Sandy Shanks Social Media Pages: Facebook page url on login Profile not filled in       Twitter page url on login Profile not filled in       Linkedin page url on login Profile not filled in       Instagram page url on login Profile not filled in

I am the author of two novels, "The Bode Testament" and "Impeachment." I am also a columnist who keeps a wary eye on other columnists and the failures of the MSM (mainstream media). I was born in Minnesota, and, to this day, I love the Vikings (more...)
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