Given what we know or should know by this time, we would be foolish not to take Iran’s claims and threats with utmost seriousness. Everything points to a dangerous rogue regime intent on establishing its hegemony in the Middle East, working assiduously against Western interests, and unafraid to unleash real devastation upon the world. Russian strategist Major-General Vladimir Dvorkin, head of the Moscow-based Center for Strategic Nuclear Forces, believes that in the near future Iran “will most likely be able to threaten the whole of Europe.” Articles 19 and 20 of the IAEA Board of Governors Report for November 19, 2008, are unambiguous and are still as pertinent today as they were two years ago:
19. Regrettably, as a result of the lack of cooperation by Iran in connection with the alleged studies and other associated key remaining issues of serious concern, the Agency has not been able to make substantive progress on these issues. … Unless Iran provides such transparency, and implements the Additional Protocol, the Agency will not be able to provide credible assurance about the absence of undeclared nuclear material and activities in Iran.
20. Contrary to the decisions of the Security Council, Iran has not suspended its enrichment related activities, having continued the operation of PFEP and FEP and the installation of new cascades and the operation of new generation centrifuges for test purposes. … [Note: FEP=Fuel Enrichment Plant; PFEP =Pilot Fuel Enrichment Plant.]
The report, incidentally, made nonsense of the statement regarding Iran’s nuclear intentions that the newly elected head of the IAEA, Yukiya Amano, gave to Reuters news agency on July 3, 2009: “I don’t see any evidence in IAEA official documents about this.” One may speculate where in the solar system Mr. Amano resides — perhaps on one of those idyllic, vegan worlds we recall from first generation Star Trek episodes. We recall too that several of these worlds were duly obliterated.
Several months earlier, the Arabic/English Kuwaiti daily Al-Siyassa for July 29, 2008, reported that Iran is building a secret nuclear complex near the southwestern city of Ahwaz, which was not mentioned in the Geneva negotiations with the IAEA. The report reproduces an intercepted letter of April 7, 2008, from the office of the Revolutionary Guards, who are patrolling the site, ordering that “the construction work in this project must be carried out under absolute secrecy.”
On September 12, 2008, the Daily Telegraph reported that Iran had transferred sufficient quantities of uranium from its conversion facility at Isfahan to make up to six atom bombs. As Ronen Bergman in his shocking 2008 book The Secret War with Iran makes utterly clear, quoting Pakistani nuclear scientist Iftikhar Khan Chaudry who was privy to the Pakistan-Iran nuclear partnership, “It is also apparent that Iran intends to utilize a nuclear weapon — in the future when a nuclear weapon would be operational — against the State of Israel.” The discovery of the secret nuclear installation, called Fordo, excavated into a mountain near the city of Qom reinforces Bergman’s revelations. More reinforcement arrived soon after. An internal Iranian technical document, obtained by the London Times, alleges that as early as 2007 Iran had acquired uranium deuteride, or UD3, “a neutron initiator to trigger the chain reaction that gives a nuclear weapon its devastating power.”
The IAEA now believes that Iran is on the way to developing a nuclear payload for a ballistic missile cone. The IAEA has also noted that the Shihab-3 ballistic missile is being adapted to explode 650 meters above target, appropriate only for nuclear warheads, and that Iran is engaged in a process to convert uranium Yellowcake into Green Salt, necessary for nuclear weapons cores. In fact, Iran has now produced its first batch of 20% enriched uranium. The Telegraph for March 28, 2010, reports that Iran appears to have started construction on “two Qom look-alikes.” On April 9, 2009, Iran announced the development of a “third generation” centrifuge, capable of doubling the enrichment output of its predecessor. And on May 31, 2010, the IAEA reported that Iran possesses sufficient nuclear fuel to render two nuclear missiles operational.
William R. Graham, reporting from his post as chairman of the Congressional Commission to Assess the Threat to the United States from Electromagnetic Pulse Attack, testified that Iran has already conducted electromagnetic pulse missile tests from frigates in the Caspian Sea. Additionally, Graham draws attention to Iranian military writings that “explicitly discuss a nuclear EMP attack that would gravely harm the United States.”
As Ryan Mauro points out, “an electromagnetic pulse attack … could potentially fry all electronic components for thousands of miles.” Given the American administration’s gelatinous foreign policy, outreach to enemies, and its abdication from critical spheres of influence, it has now become an especially vulnerable target. Such an attack, which could be launched undetectably from, say, a nondescript barge in the Pacific, would devastate the United States and send it reeling back into the 19th century. The American president thus far appears serenely unperturbed by the possibility of an EMP wipeout. Perhaps he should be reminded that it would deprive him of the use of his teleprompters. A reading of William Forstchen’s One Second After might jog his mind a little.
Iran claims it is enriching uranium for the purpose of producing medical isotopes, yet it has refused to suspend its enrichment program in return for these very radioisotopes which the U.S., Russia, and France have agreed to supply in exchange for compliance.
Additionally, Iran lacks the technical capacity to run a medical isotope reactor. Meanwhile all the talk about “sanctions with teeth” is having no discernible effect and the “teeth” we are talking about are probably dentures anyway. The fourth UN sanctions resolution of June 9, 2020, with Russian and Chinese backing, is devoid of muscular provisions and will not persuade Iran to alter its course. Indeed, they allow Russia and China to continue trading with Iran, which means, realistically speaking, that nothing much has been accomplished except that the international community can save a little face while losing most of its leverage.
These are nothing more than “a parody of sanctions,” writes Jerusalem Post columnist Sarah Honig, which do not strike at Iran’s Achilles’ heel, the need for refined petroleum products. The sanctions, she continues, “will lend an appearance of an international mobilization to curb Iran’s nuclear weapons ambitions, but in actuality will achieve nothing.” But “even if severe sanctions are imposed,” says Israeli (once-revisionist) historian Benny Morris, “they likely won’t have time to have serious effect before Iran succeeds at making a bomb.”
Many in the West seem to have gone soft on Iran. Kenneth Timmerman observes that President Obama, despite the passage of the Iran Refined Petroleum Sanctions Act, “continues to resist efforts by Congress to impose mandatory sanctions on companies selling refined petroleum products to Iran.” The Los Angeles Times confirms Timmerman’s observation, reporting that the Obama administration is “pushing in the opposite direction” of House and Senate bills “that would punish companies that sell refined petroleum products to Iran or help the country’s oil industry” — measures that, in any case, would be nonbinding on other countries.
In permitting Iran to march toward nuclear acquisition and offering no support to the popular resistance there against a savage mullocracy, Obama has reneged on the presidential commitment to defend America’s interests, to forestall a nuclear arms race in the Middle East, and to maintain the strong regional influence the United States is currently ceding to the Iranian leadership.
It is almost impossible to understand how this man thinks. Perhaps columnist Caroline Glick is on to something when she writes that “mere politics is irrelevant to Obama. … It doesn’t bother him that his policies have endangered the Middle East and the world as a whole.” Obama is preoccupied with transforming America, “even if it means abetting war. He will push on with his transformative change even if it means that Iran becomes a nuclear power.” We recall, too, that on March 10, 2009, the president’s director of national intelligence, Dennis Blair, claimed before the Senate Armed Services, with the evident approval of the administration, that Iran is not a nuclear threat. Blair’s recent resignation changes nothing; Obama remains as clueless as ever and his administration continues to stumble toward disaster. IAEA reports, as we have seen — Yukiya Amano’s earlier skepticism not withstanding — indicate that Iran is now capable of assembling a nuclear bomb.
Nevertheless, far too many of us still refuse to take the “Iranian file” seriously. As Thomas Sowell remarked in a recent interview, “If terrorists with nuclear weapons don’t focus your mind, nothing will. Yet, not only are we doing nothing, we’re doing clever, elaborate nothing. We’re going to the United Nations, we’re holding conferences. There are resolutions being passed. You know — a lot of busy work — none of which has the slightest chance of deterring Iran from getting nuclear weapons.” Similarly, former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton warned that “there are no incentives that will dissuade Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons.”
There is little doubt that, if it is not decisively stopped, Iran will reach its goal and bring its Manhattan Project to completion, the balance of power in the Middle East will shift dramatically, and a nuclear firestorm will become a distinct possibility. We should remember that apart from North Korea, Iran is the only country in the world that has actually threatened to use nuclear weapons. It has made very clear its intention to eliminate Israel by nuclear holocaust. We should not be under any illusion regarding the sanity of the Iranian leadership, whether we are thinking of its council of infallible mullahs or its political and military commissariat.
If Ahmadinejad prevails, the Twelfth Imam, who brings a new “world order” in fire and brimstone, may not remain in occultation for much longer. According to the Iranian newspaper Kargozaran, Cabinet Secretary Majid Doostali has explained that “just as Imam Zaman’s occultation had a prelude and a main period, his return too has a prelude and a main period,” and that Ahmadinejad’s administration “was the prelude to the return.” According to Rooz Online Iran, the president of the Islamic Management Scientific Society at the Qom Seminary School, one Hojjatoleslam Sammameddin Ghavani, has even proposed the establishment of a “‘Ministry of Waiting’ to facilitate the arrival of the Hidden Imam. Ahmadinejad has announced that the Imam Zaman would emerge from occultation within two years — the period of waiting.” Hard-line Ayatollah Mohammad Baqer Kharrazi, leader of the Hizballah Party, points to the creation of a Greater Iran, including Israel, Iraq, and Saudi Arabia, as a prelude to the reappearance of the Mahdi.
Skeptical Westerners who would pass this off as merely a quaint belief not to be taken seriously should put on their considering caps, unlike Richard Armin’s cobbler in Foole upon Foole who takes his off — never a good idea if one does not wish to descend into folly. But the cobblers proliferate among us. In Radical Islam: Medieval Theology and Modern Politics, historian Emmanuel Sivan warns of precisely this menace in his discussion of Shi’a belief and thought, its vision of an “ideal, legitimate state to be instituted by its leader,” the Hidden Imam.
Over the course of history, he writes, a “minority of Shi’ites, quite substantial and dangerous at times, would move from pessimistic idealism to an optimistic brand of the same approach — the imam’s arrival is imminent, God’s kingdom is bound to be brought upon earth by this messiah (mahdi), and one should help precipitate its descent by armed revolt.” Ahmadinejad’s intention appears to be to accelerate the Mahdi’s arrival by initiating an act of apocalyptic violence. According to many reports, Ahmadinejad has even widened a boulevard in Tehran to welcome the Mahdi on his return (Newsweek, The Elephant Bar, InvestigateMagazine, etc.).
In a December 7, 2009, interview with Al-Arabiya TV, Ahmadinejad reasserted his conviction, blaming the United States for blocking the return of the Mahdi. “We have documented proof that they believe that a descendant of the prophet of Islam will rise in these parts and he will dry the roots of all injustice in the world,” he said. To blithely assume that Ahmadinejad does not intend to act on his words is sheer, self-destructive madness. As Louis Rene Beres, author of Force, Order and Justice and a respected consultant on nuclear terror, writes, “Tehran’s new nuclear status could coincide with an unshakable leadership belief in the Shi’ite apocalypse. Here, Israel would face … a ‘suicide state.’”
From the perspective of Frank Gaffney, former U.S. assistant secretary of defense for international security policy, not only Israel but all of us are at risk. The Iranian regime “is convinced, according to its theology, that bringing back the twelfth Imam, the Mahdi, the messiah figure, is their highest purpose, and in order to do that, according to their religious beliefs, something very much like the apocalypse needs to take place. It seems to me the height of folly to think you’ll be able to dissuade them from pursuing that end, perhaps by starting a nuclear war.”
He goes on: “If we think we can deter mullahs who are committed to an apocalyptic, messianic program, we’re kidding ourselves.” Nor should we ignore the fact that Iran continues to advance its missile technology. According to Reza Kahlili, a former CIA agent who infiltrated the Revolutionary Guards and has just released his memoir A Time to Betray, Iran is perfecting a new delivery system, the R-27, which brings almost all of Europe and much of Asia within its range. As if this were not a sobering enough thought, a report by the U.S. Department of Defense tabled in Congress on April 19, 2010, warns that Iranian ICBMs may reach American shores by 2015.
There are many observers and commentators — cobblers all — who believe that Iran has a natural right to nuclear development. (See, for example, Max Rodenbeck writing in The New York Review of Books, Harvard professor Patrice Higonnet’s Attendant Cruelties, John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt’s The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy, Juan Cole of the University of Michigan speaking on MSNBC, Slavoj Zizek, now director of the Birbeck Institute at the University of London, who argues in an article for the webzine In These Times, entitled “Give Iranian Nukes a Chance,” that Iran has a right to nuclear defense against “the global hegemony of the United States,” and innumerable others.)
These pundits contend that it is time to stop hitting on Iran. They argue as well that a strike against Iran’s nuclear installations would result in far more damage than allowing Iran to proceed toward nuclear capability. For example, the Jerusalem Post’s token lefty Larry Derfner believes it would be riskier to attack Iran’s nuclear installations than to contain its nuclear arsenal. He also assumes that MAD (Mutual Assured Destruction) would be effective. Like so many of the like minded, what he fails to understand is that if he is wrong, then it’s quite simply game, set, match. George Friedman, lead writer at Stratfor Global Intelligence, similarly cautions that a military strike against Iran would be counterproductive, blocking the Strait of Hormuz and sending oil prices through the roof — in the current economic downturn, an especially unpleasant scenario. He suggests the alternative of an alliance between the U.S. and Iran to contain Sunni insurgence, along the lines of FDR’s compact with Stalin to oppose Nazi Germany and Nixon’s entente with China to counterbalance the Soviet Union.
Aside from the fact that Friedman’s recommendations are completely daffy — an alliance between the U.S. and Iran is just not on the books — what he leaves out of his geopolitical equation is the manifestly irrational, theocratic nature of the Iranian regime. As nuts as Stalin and Mao may have been, they were still rational actors on the international stage. The same cannot be said for Ahmadinejad and his boss, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Reza Kahlili assures us that Khamenei “has private prayers with the Mahdi. It’s all crazy talk but they take it seriously.” This is also why the strategy of actually containing Iran, whether through a buildup of regional alliances or the construction of a missile shield, is fundamentally flawed. It would neither mitigate the anti-Western shift in the regional balance of power nor prevent Iran from arming its proxies with nuclear devices. Besides, just how effective is a missile shield?
Meanwhile, our soi-disant “authorities” pay no heed to Iran’s oft-proclaimed intentions — from Ayatollah Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani’s twice-uttered threat to launch a nuclear attack against Israel to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s threatening to “wipe Israel off the map” in, as he later elaborated, “one storm.” The original statement delivered in Farsi at the “World without Zionism” conference, held in Tehran on October 26, 2005, translates literally as: Israel “must be erased from the page of time.” Such statements rather obviously belie Iran’s claims that its nuclear technology is geared to peaceful purposes. And the call for Israel’s elimination is constantly renewed. Those who think the devastation would stop at Israel’s doorstep should think again, if they wish to be in a position ever to think again.
Nobody in his right mind is hitting on Iran. But those who have followed developments in that country, who have studied the theology that animates its regime, who have read the dispatches and listened to the proclamations, who have tracked its advancements in nuclear enrichment and missile technology, and who understand its shrewdness in constantly deferring a diplomatic solution to the nuclear stalemate know that the time is fast approaching to actually hitting Iran. This means targeting its nuclear facilities via precision air strikes. The refusal to act with vigor and determination will lead to an irreversible situation in which we will all be the losers. There is no talking cure possible; the dialogue process is plainly ineffectual as it putters along the mottled tarmac of international diplomacy, taking us nowhere. And as for the much-vaunted sanctions, they will be about as useful, to quote the poet Irving Layton, as “tits on a bull.”
The inescapable fact is that if Iran gets its way, the world will be a far worse place than it is at present. Regrettably, what we have here is a lose-lose situation. But the choice that confronts us is: which option is, so to speak, least worst. I believe the answer is clear.