The big question concerning Iran is just how close they are to having a nuclear weapon. Some officials assure us that it will require 5-10 years before they produce a bomb. Making such a confident assertion is strange for at least three reasons.
1. Our intelligence people admit that they lack human intelligence from inside Iran which is essential for an accurate assessment - so how can they make such a confident estimate? Is politics driving this assertion?
2. Our intelligence has been critically wrong before. We did not even know how close the former Soviet Union was to economic collapse before they imploded. Our intelligence people were surprised to learn that Saddam Hussein was within a year of the atom bomb after the first Gulf War in 1991. And our intelligence failed again before 9/11.
3. Hasn't anyone noticed that it is taking Iran an inordinately long time to produce their first bomb? They began seeking the bomb about 1980. It is now some 27 years later and we are told they may need another 5-10 years!! All of the other nuclear powers took far less time. The U.S., Russia, China, England, France, Israel, Pakistan, India and North Korea, all produced their bomb in far less than 27 years.
One might argue that Iran in 1980 was very backward in the technology needed to produce the bomb. But there are also other important factors that work in Iran's favor. Note that Pakistan and North Korea were not high tech societies before they developed the bomb and they achieved that in a short time. Iraq's Osirak reactor was destroyed in 1981 by Israel and yet ten years later Saddam Hussein was within a year of his first bomb. After the war U.S. intelligence was surprised to discover just how close Saddam was and this was yet another intelligence failure on our part.
Iran has ample oil revenues to fund nuclear research and development. Iran could draw on the expertise of A.Q. Kahn the Pakistani nuclear scientist who was involved in proliferating nuclear expertise among other Muslim regimes. Iran is receiving nuclear expertise from Russia and now from North Korea. Iran has been able to buy commercial technology from European countries that, while ostensibly non-sensitive, can still be used to build important parts of the nuclear infrastructure. America built its first nuclear bomb in less than 5 years using 1940's technology. Today Iran can employ technology that is far more advanced.
Iran has gone to great lengths to disperse, protect and hide their nuclear program. It has been reported that they have facilities deep underground with walls of concrete and lined with metal that can completely hide their spinning centrifuges from detection by our most sensitive satellites.
The inordinately long time it is taking Iran to go nuclear suggests other possibilities that should at least be considered. Iran may already have produced their first bomb(s) and may have already acquired nuclear weapons from rogue elements inside the former Soviet Union. If that is true it would also make sense for Iran to keep all this secret. They could be operating two independent programs. The public program we hear about and which is the subject of contention and negotiation and which serves as a diversion. And the totally secret program which is hidden inside Iran and perhaps also in other Muslim countries such as Syria and Sudan.
It would make sense for Iran to keep their early progress secret lest it trigger a powerful international response before they are ready At the least they could face draconian sanctions instead of the limited ones now in force. It could also trigger a military response from America and or Israel which would then destroy Iran's nuclear program before it became fully developed. While the world is focused on halting the program we know about, we may be totally blind to the one we don't know about. History shows that nations can sometimes succeed in implementing great deceptions against their adversaries.
During the Cold War with the former Soviet Union our military planners tried to anticipate various scenarios, no matter how far fetched, that could threaten national security and to plan possible responses. Mindful of the 9/11 Commissions' warning about our failure to be prepared for the 9/11 attack due to ‘a lack of imagination', perhaps we should try on the following scenario for size.
In the near future President Bush feels it is too dangerous to wait any longer before confronting Iran. He issues an ultimatum to Iran. He demands that they open up all of their nuclear facilities and allow the dismantling of anything related to a weapons program or face military attack on those facilities. With two U.S. carrier task forces plus NATO contingents nearby, Iran knows this is no bluff.
In response Iran issues their own ultimatum to America and Europe. It might read as follows:
"The Islamic Republic of Iran has long prepared for the time when America, the Great Satan, would dare to issue such an arrogant ‘ultimatum'. You should know better than to threaten us. We have told you repeatedly that our determination is unshakable and not subject to bribes nor threats of any kind. Our faith in Allah is total. We are strong and willing to die for our cause. We know that your society is weak and cannot endure pain. Even if you destroy Iran there are nearly 1.5 billion Muslims in the world who will become even more enraged against you and even more determined to wage jihad until the final victory of Islam over the Crusaders.
"Over the years we have installed many sleeper cells in both America and in western Europe. Your open borders made it easy to place our agents. They are equipped with chemical, biological and nuclear devices. They remain invisible to you because they are easily hidden inside the Muslim communities and with ample funds from us they need not seek work or other forms of public exposure. There has been no attack inside America since 9/11 because we chose to wait and not because your security is so good. Striking sooner would have been premature before we were fully prepared.
"Your modern infrastructure makes your society highly vulnerable to attack from within. We have studied all of your weak points and are capable of wreaking havoc on any scale, and sustained over any time period, that we choose. We can attack your electric grid, your gas pipe lines, your communications, your food supply, your financial networks, and much more. We can cause panic and terror that will greatly compound the physical damage. It would not be just one blow at one spot but many blows, in many places, over weeks and even months. We built a navy that can attack oil tankers on the international sea lanes and well as oil facilities in the Middle East. We can collapse the economies of the West which depend so much on oil. We will demolish your infrastructure. We will demolish your national self-confidence. You will live in chaos and in permanent fear of us.
"You are in no position to issue an ultimatum to us. We Muslims can hurt you far more than you can hurt us. It is we who now issue our ultimatum to you. You will promptly begin the total withdrawal of all U.S. and European forces from all Middle East countries. Europe and America will cease all trade and all aid to the Zionist entity that occupies the holy land of Palestine. Europe and America will facilitate the resettlement of all Jews from occupied Palestine. If you like Jews so much then you can move them to your countries. You must warn the Zionist entity that they must totally disarm their military including their nuclear weapons. Their disarming and their resettlement elsewhere is their only chance to survive. If Iran is attacked by the Zionists then Iran will attack Jews globally and also attack with full force inside America. You will have to choose how many American cities, and how many American lives, you are willing to lose to defend your Zionist friends. We strongly suspect that your answer will be "none".
The above ‘ultimatum' from Iran may strike some people as fantasy and nonsense. It is easy to dismiss, to ignore and to be in denial. Perhaps such a threat is unlikely but we have already been told that Iran is preparing the capability for a nuclear Electro Magnetic Pulse (EMP) attack where a single nuclear bomb, launched from a ‘civilian' ship off shore and detonated 200 miles above the U.S., could burn out our delicate electronic circuits and paralyze the nation. If any part of the preceding scenario is possible shouldn't we be giving this our full attention?
Rachel Neuwirth, an internationally recognized, political commentator and analyst. She specializes in Middle Eastern Affairs with particular emphasis on Militant Islam and Israeli foreign policy. She has been published in prominent news papers of (more...