World

Physics in action: Iran's potential energy vs. Israel's kinetic

The Deproliferator

deproliferatorIf Israel and Iran are playing rock, scissors, paper with their nuclear-weapons programs, Israel wins hands down. Kinetic beats potential energy to the punch and Israel is already armed.

On August 3, the Times of London published a story titled Iran is ready to build an N-bomb — it is just waiting for the Ayatollah’s order. (Since the Times is a Murdoch paper the reader is advised to proceed at his own risk.) The Times team writes:

Iran has perfected the technology to create and detonate a nuclear warhead and is merely awaiting the word from its Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, to produce its first bomb, Western intelligence sources have told The Times.

The sources said that Iran completed a research programme to create weaponised uranium in the summer of 2003 and that it could feasibly make a bomb within a year of an order from its Supreme Leader.

To call that news might be a stretch. Isn’t it consistent with what many of us already believe? It’s not nuclear weapons, per se, that Iran seeks, but the capability to produce them. Should push come to shove, Iran would then ramp up their manufacture. That’s if it sees the shove coming.

The trouble is that Israel is not only capable of staging an attack, but willing and ready to launch its planes, like, yesterday. According to an August 7 report on YNet. . .

. . . after the opposition riots broke out in Iran following June’s presidential election results, Israel asked the US government for a green light to strike the country’s nuclear facilities, along with other vital facilities in Iran.
 
The paper [Kuwait’s al-Jarida] quoted a “US diplomatic source located in Jerusalem”, [who] added that the Obama administration ignored the Israeli request, that was sent by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, with President Shimon Peres’s signature as well.

Should this story be true, it’s as if by not responding, Obama was allowing Israel’s impetuosity to pass and saving Netanyahu et al from embarrassing themselves further.

Alas, attempting to strike Iran while it’s in a state of chaos seems like something Israel — or any state — would do with a perceived enemy. In a sidelight, according to Trita Parsi in Treacherous Alliance: The Secret Dealings of Israel, Iran, and the U.S., during his first term as prime minister, Netanyahu, intent on ending the Oslo Peace Process, actually opposed demonizing Iran.

Meanwhile, Israel not only developed nuclear weapons without signing the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT), but somehow got the United States to become complicit in covering up its existence. The latest predicament caused by this deceit is to President Obama’s call for a nuclear security summit next March. On August 11 Josh Gerstein reported for Politico:

Obama told leaders at the G-8 summit in July that he planned to ask the heads of 25 to 30 countries to come to Washington to discuss securing nuclear stockpiles. The final invites haven’t gone out yet, and one key question for Obama is this: Does he ask Israel to attend, or not? …

Invite Israel, and open its leaders up to questions about the country’s widely reported nuclear weapons program — which the Israelis have long refused to discuss. 

But leave out Israel, and the Middle Eastern nations [present] would feel compelled to point to Israel’s [nuclear-weapons program] as a source of instability in the region.

Gerstein secured a quote from Elliott Abrams, the Bush National Security Council aide who first made a name for himself withholding information from Congress during the Iran-Contra Affair investigation.

“It’s very complicated. … Israel doesn’t want any international discussion of its alleged nuclear program.”

Israel’s unacknowledged program may be an 800-pound gorilla in Washington’s living room, but it’s not complicated to Iran. It’s Iran that signed the NPT and professes an intention to develop nuclear energy for peaceful purposes only. Iran may have nuclear-weapon lust in its heart, but it’s innocent until proven otherwise by the International Atomic Energy Agency.

But, like Israel and the United States, Iran usually finds a way to shoot itself in the foot. On July 30 an authoritative piece by Roger Cohen titled The Making of an Iran Policy was published in the New York Times magazine. In a passage mostly ignored, he wrote:

It is possible that Ahmadinejad will bring moderates into his government, to be formed in August, with a similar conciliatory aim. One key indicator will be whether he keeps Saeed Jalili, described to me as a chief architect of the clampdown, as his nuclear negotiator.

One and the same? Doesn’t Tehran realize the message that sends (to anyone who happened to be paying attention to Cohen’s article, that is)? The Obama administration can’t help but wonder if Tehran is likely to be as unyielding in nuclear negotiations as it’s been with the post-election uprising. Indeed, Cohen wrote:

If [Ahmadinejad does keep Jalili], talks are probably a waste of time.

Thus far, while Ahmadinejad has been busy forming his new government, there are no indications that he plans to cut his close friend Jalili loose.

3 replies »

  1. I wonder sometimes, will we just keep dancing around the old maypole until it’s ashes ashes we all fall down, or could something bring everyone to the table in a moment of startling honesty so that the world can really deal with the situation and the implications of everyone’s nuclear games?

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