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President Obama approves large uranium shipment to Iran: Could be used for nuclear weapon

In my estimation, President Obama has given up on the hundred year old effort, first by France and the UK and then after WWII the U.S., to keep the peace in the Middle East. Aside from the constant tribal flare ups which the U.S. didn't bother with, there is the much larger millennial conflict between Persians and Arabs that is now turbocharged by the Shia-Sunni divide.

Instead of the U.S. trying to keep that confrontation contained like it did when Saddam fought Khomeini for nearly ten years, and from going nuclear, Obama is now quite satisfied with their keeping each other in check without our involvement. ISIS then is the fighting force of the Sunni Arabs that is balancing the Shia Iranian Revolutionary Guards.

From Associated Press:

Iran is to receive a huge shipment of natural uranium from Russia to compensate it for exporting tons of reactor coolant, diplomats say, in a move approved by the outgoing U.S. administration and other governments seeking to keep Tehran committed to a landmark nuclear pact.

Two senior diplomats said the transfer recently agreed by the U.S. and five other world powers that negotiated the nuclear deal with Iran foresees delivery of 116 metric tons (nearly 130 tons) of natural uranium. U.N. Security Council approval is needed but a formality, considering five of those powers are permanent Security Council members, they said.

Uranium can be enriched to levels ranging from reactor fuel or medical and research purposes to the core of an atomic bomb. Iran says it has no interest in such weapons and its activities are being closely monitored under the nuclear pact to make sure they remain peaceful.

Tehran already got a similar amount of natural uranium in 2015 as part of negotiations leading up to the nuclear deal, in a swap for enriched uranium it sent to Russia. But the new shipment will be the first such consignment since the deal came into force a year ago.

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Obama's miscalculation, however, may be that the conflict and calculus are essentially religious. Moreover, as Bernard Lewis, one of the most knowledgeable scholars of the Middle East wrote some four years ago in these pages, the clerics in Iran believe they've entered the apocalyptic period of their history and thus actually using nuclear weapons to bring matters to a head with a Shia victory is not out of the question.

Indeed, Lewis said that "the mullahs 'are religious fanatics with an apocalyptic mindset. In Islam, as in Christianity and Judaism, there is an end-of-times scenario—and they think it's beginning or has already begun.' So 'mutually assured destruction is not a deterrent—it's an inducement'."

There is a very interesting redrawing of boundaries of the Middle East taking place that seems to be going unnoticed. I believe it is happening in preparation of Iran getting its nuclear weapons, the Arabs following them, and then it becoming more difficult to solve old problems.

Notice how in the North of Arabia, in Lebanon and Syria running through to Iraq and Iran, there have been powers under Iranian Shia influence, namely Hezbollah and Syria, and parts of Iraq. ISIS, which is Sunni and I am betting an instrument of the Arabs, has now taken huge chunks of those territories. So to the North the Arab Sunnis are consolidating their positions. But on the South in Yemen the Iranians have now taken over.


I fear that what we are seeing is a redrawing of the battle lines of the millennial Persia-Arab conflict, now turbocharged by a Shia-Sunni religious divide. We may be on the threshold of a monumental war some five or ten years down the road, a war with nuclear weapons, and a major disruption to the world’s oil supplies.

I’ve written elsewhere describing in some detail how I hypothesize that George W. Bush went into Iraq precisely to try to avoid a deterioration of the situation as now seems to be happening. If you study a map you’ll see that in 2003 NATO, with Asian support, had Iran surrounded, which I believe was to guarantee their security from Arab encroachment and thus get them to stop their nuclear program, and they did for a while until the Democrats in 2006-2008 made it clear that if they came to power any such deal would be off.

Up until Obama took office that scenario was consistent with past Western policy, both European and American going back to the end of the first World War. Obama changed that entirely and gave Iran a free run in the Middle East. It is therefore not surprising that the Arabs have now made overtures to Russia.

We need to go on the offensive. Last summer Obama said disdainfully that playing Whac-A-Mole was not productive and that the US would no longer be doing it. Yet, Obama's removal of troops from the Middle East has exposed the country to danger.

Playing Whac-A-Mole was actually a strategy to take the fight to the terrorists and keep them in their caves so they wouldn't have a free run at us. It worked for G.W. Bush but now look at the strength and freedom of action to mount attacks that ISIS and its franchised terrorists have gained.

Do we wait for them to come here or do we take the fight to them? I say we get the before they do us.

The United States once supported Iran having nuclear power technology.

Eisenhower was the first to provide nuclear technology to Iran in the 50’s with a 2MW nuclear reactor fuelled by enriched uranium. This led a decade later to a full blown program to install 23 nuclear power reactors in Iran that would have provided around $300 billion(2012 dollars) in orders for western companies. But this was all under the Shah.

When the Khomeini led revolution came into power all these dreams of lavish nuclear reactor orders vanished.

When the Iranians saw that the U.S. resolve on preventing rogue states such as North Korea from obtaining nuclear weapons was non-existent and saw the Saudi funded Pakistan bomb program produce its device, the Iranians realized that they could produce their own bomb without much risk of attack.

The last time the U.S. had a chance to affect the development of nuclear bomb technology in Iran was 2009 when the Green Movement posed a serious political threat to the Supreme Leader. There were several covert programs ready to be initiated by the US to help this movement overthrow the theocracy, but Obama wouldn’t support it either because he was intellectually incapable of grasping its significance or had other motives.

Either way, Obama stood by as the leaders of that movement were systematically “disappeared”.

There’s also another aspect to why this agreement was inevitable.

During the sanctions, Germany maintained active trade with Iran becoming its largest trading partner. Given that the EU is struggling economically, not to mention the US, the prospect of releasing all this pent up demand for western trinkets and the money it would produce among all EU countries is simply too great.

What makes this all dangerous over the long run is the trajectory its following is much the same as that which was followed when Nazi Germany was building its war machine. The U.S. and other western countries were competing to get Nazi orders to help their struggling companies during that time of economic stagnation.

History seems to be repeating itself again with only the nature of the fanatics having changed, but fanatics still.

It’s really astonishing. Prior to Hassan Rouhani being elected president of Iran, the leadership of that country shouted its hatred of the west generally and of the U.S. specifically at the top of its collective voice; and had been doing so for a generation. One man three micrograms more moderate than Ali Khamenei, and not a patent psychotic, is allowed by the hard-line leadership to be elected and the experience of an entire generation is to be put aside.

Why?

Ali Khamenei, facing a balance-of-payments and currency crisis; and faced with the demands of all the regional destabilizing activities in which Iran in intimately involved in funding and guiding; and seeing general western foreign policy drift, particularly with regard to the Middle East and North Africa; wound up Hassan Rouhani, set him on the chessboard and told him “offer a gambit — let’s see how far we get”.

Astonishingly, the gambit was taken up. Why?

For 6 years it has not been the policy of the U.S. that Iran’s march to nuclear weapons be “leashed”, but that we would not tolerate nuclear weapons in the hands of Iran, a policy re-validated by President Obama just this year. Yet, the latter very clearly has now morphed into the former, and in just a few months.

Why?

Clearly, President Obama is retreating from the Middle East and North Africa, as he’s materially retreated from Asia, South America and Eastern Europe . Obama was never particularly attentive to the Pacific Rim countries. It’s all about better focusing on and funding domestic free cheese factories and Band-Aid dispensaries.

If this is suffered to stand, it could become the most obvious gambit that succeeded in geopolitical history. And have us wondering what happened first to our regional allies, then to what was going to be a friendly Iran, once they have as many warheads and delivery vehicles as Israel.

The critical flawed assumption underlying these negotiations is that the Iranians will act in a “rational” way in the sense that western democracies define “rational.” The Iranian definition of “rational” is fundamentally different from ours.

For Iran, it may be “rational” to destroy Israel, even if the consequence is that much of Iran will also be destroyed. The Iranians therefore don’t negotiate with the objectives we attribute to them.

Perhaps the best example of this is North Korea, which is starving its people in order to maintain a million plus man army (over 5% of its population), nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles. That is irrational in any common understanding of the word, but to the North Korean government it makes sense.

The sanctions were hurting Iran, but they probably weren’t impeding the nuclear weapons program. Iran’s concern was primarily that its people and commercial sector were being so harmed by the sanctions that the mullahs feared their own people would turn against them.

The sanctions will now be eased, allowing the Iranian civilian/commercial sectors some respite, and, perhaps after a short pause to keep the inspectors happy (Iran will disclose to the inspectors only the facilities the west already knows about), covertly ramp up the weapons program.

What did this bad deal with Iran over its nuclear program actually accomplish? Nothing.

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