End the Bush-Obama Fecklessness: Destroy Iran’s Nuclear Facilities Now

The Obama administration and Iran’s rulers, spurred by the latter’s alleged “pragmatic” wing, appear to be rushing headlong towards a final agreement on November 24, 2014, which would validate Iran’s right to enrich uranium for putative non-military uses, and also provide the global jihad-promoting Shiite theocracy extensive relief from economic sanctions. This mutually desired outcome was strongly hinted at by both U.S. Under Secretary for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman during an October 23, 2014 speech, and the recent public statements of key Iranian regime advisors.

Indeed, reports surfaced this past week that President Obama himself has made direct, supplicating overtures to Iran’s head Shiite theocrat, Ayatollah Khamenei, linking U.S.-Iranian “cooperation” in fighting the Islamic State Sunni jihadists, to reaching a final nuclear agreement November 24, per the so-called “P5 +1” (= the U.S., Britain, France, Russia, China, i.e., the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council, plus Germany) negotiations process. At a post-midterm elections press conference, 11/5/14, Mr. Obama openly expressed his endorsement of the apparently forthcoming nuclear deal with Iran:

I think that we’ll be able to make a strong argument to Congress that this is the best way for us to avoid a nuclear Iran, that it will be more effective than any other alternatives we might take, including military action.

Pace Mr. Obama’s and his advisers’ “arguments”—a toxic brew of willful, dangerous delusion, ignorance, and cynicism—the diplomatic processes they are aggressively pursuing will inevitably yield an Iran armed with nuclear weapons. Thus within two days of the U.S. President’s latest roseate pronouncement, a tocsin of looming calamity was sounded in the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) report released Friday, 11/7/14.

Even the centerpiece of touted P5 +1 negotiations’ “success,” curtailment of Iran’s uranium enrichment program, was questioned by the IAEA, which noted the Islamic Republic was continuing activities “which are in contravention of its obligation to suspend all enrichment-related activities.” The IAEA report further observed that contrary to its relevant commitments, “Iran has not suspended work on all heavy water related projects.” Most ominously, the IAEA report highlighted Iran’s failure to cooperate and resolve “outstanding issues related to possible military dimensions to Iran’s nuclear program.” Specifically, the IAEA expressed its remaining concern,

about the possible existence in Iran of undisclosed nuclear related activities involving military related organizations, including activities related to the development of a nuclear payload for a missile.

As a concrete example of Iran’s ongoing defiance, the IAEA cited unresolved questions (which date back to the IAEA’s 11/8/2011 report, paragraphs 38-45) pertaining to nuclear weapons detonation research, such as “detonator development and the initiation of high explosives and associated experiments.” Regarding the Parchin facility—long known as a center for weapons triggering research and development, which allegedly (per the IAEA’s own 11/8/2011 assessment) includes possessing the design for an implosion-type nuclear weapon, and experimental efforts to construct a nuclear warhead—the 11/7/14 IAEA report added it

has observed through satellite imagery that the construction activity that appeared to show the removal/replacement or refurbishment of the site’s two main buildings’ external wall structures appears to have ceased. This activity is likely to have further undermined the Agency’s [IAEA’s] ability to conduct effective verification. 

Albeit with decided understatement, the IAEA’s 11/7/14 report came to this rather dire conclusion:

the Agency is not in a position to provide credible assurance about the absence of undeclared nuclear material and activities in Iran, and therefore to conclude that all nuclear material is in peaceful activities.

Panglossian assessments notwithstanding, the most rational and feasible alternative to the axiomatic, but unacceptable consequence of feckless Obama, and before that George W. Bush Administration policies, are coordinated U.S. military strikes which target and destroy Iran’s four essential nuclear facilities: the uranium enrichment compounds at Natanz and Qom (/Fordow); the uranium conversion hub at Isfahan; and Iran’s plutonium-producing reactor, (still) being constructed at Arak. Consistent with the IAEA’s ongoing concerns about “undeclared nuclear material and activities in Iran” (including, perhaps, at Khondab?), it must be underscored that three of these four sites—the Natanz and Qom uranium enrichment facilities, and the heavy-water, plutonium producing Arak reactor—were each developed clandestinely. Moreover, August 14, 2002, early in the Bush II Administration, it was revealed publicly that two of these secret nuclear sites, Natanz and Arak, were already under construction. Former Bush and Obama Administration Defense Secretary Robert Gates’ published (January, 2014) memoir, as first reported by the Washington Post’s Walter Pincus, discloses how President Bush, some five years after the revelations about Natanz and Qom, was convinced by Gates to forestall a pre-emptive Israeli attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities, and the (absurd) “geo-strategic rationale” for this executive decision:

Gates writes that his most effective argument was that an Israeli attack on Iran that overflew Iraq would endanger what the surge had achieved with Baghdad. Bush then ‘emphatically said he would not put our gains in Iraq at risk,’ according to Gates (p. 193).”

Finally, just prior to leaving office, the George W. Bush Administration negotiated a November 17, 2008  “SOFA” (status of forces agreement) with our “Iraqi allies” which, as per Article 27, paragraph 3 (“Iraqi land, sea and air shall not be used as a launching or transit point for attacks against other countries.”) prohibited the US from attacking, for example, Iranian nuclear production facilities, from Iraqi bases and airspace.

The case for limited, targeted military strikes on Iran’s four known nuclear facilities has been made with pellucid cogency by Georgetown University International Relations Professor, and expert on Iran’s nuclear program, Matthew Kroenig. In his dispassionate May, 2014, study, A Time to Attack, Kroenig elucidates the profoundly destabilizing threat posed by an Iran armed with nuclear weapons:

From Iran , a revisionist and risk-acceptant state, we can expect...reckless behavior. Iran will almost certainly be willing to risk nuclear war in future geopolitical conflicts, and this will mean that it will be able on occasion to engage in successful nuclear coercion. It also means that, in playing these games of brinkmanship, it will increase the risk of a nuclear exchange.

Kroenig then outlines the tactical obstacles military strikes on Iran’s four established nuclear facilities would confront, from the relative ease of attacking the surface Isfahan and Arak sites, to the difficulty of targeting the underground Natanz and Qom complexes.

…Isfahan and Arak are above ground and therefore are easy military targets. We [the U.S.] could easily destroy these facilities using air- or sea-launched cruise missiles, launched from U.S. B-52 bombers operating outside Iranian airspace or U.S. warships in the Persian Gulf.

Natanz is buried under seventy feet of earth and several meters of reinforced concrete, and Qom is built into the aide of a mountain and is therefore protected by 295 feet of rock. To destroy these sites we would need to use the Nassive Ordnance Penetrator, or MOP. The MOP weighs 30,000 pounds and according to open source reporting, is capable of penetrating up to 200 feet before exploding. Some simple arithmetic (200 feet is greater than 70+ feet) suggests that Natanz doesn’t stand a chance. It is unlikely that the MOP could penetrate into the enrichment chamber of Qom in a single shot (295 feet is greater than 200 feet), but we could simply put subsequent bombs in the crater left from a previous bomb and thus eventually tunnel our way in. Putting multiple bombs in the same hole requires a fair bit of accuracy in our targeting, but we can do it. In addition to destroying their entrances, exits, ventilation heating and colling systems, and their power lines and sources. The MOP can only be carried on the U.S. B-2 stealth bomber. Since it can be refueled in midair, the B-2 can be sent on a roundtrip mission from U.S. bases in Missouri and Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean to its targets in Iran and back home again without stopping. The B-2 could also be escorted by stealthy U.S. F-22 fighters, or F-16s, to protect it against fighter aircraft.

This relatively limited, and very brief campaign consisting of “a barrage of cruise missiles and bombing sorties,” Kroenig observes, plausibly conducted in one night,

would almost certainly succeed in its intended mission and destroy Iran’s key nuclear facilities.

Citing four historical precedents where pre-emptive bombing of nuclear facilities achieved the goal of non-proliferation, decisively—“Nazi Germany during World War II, Iran during the Iran-Iraq War, Iraq several times in the 1980s, 1990s, and 2000s, and Syria in 2007”—Kroenig concludes by enumerating the multiple benefits which would accrue from similarly destroying Iran’s known nuclear installations:

There is absolutely no doubt that a strike on Iran’s nuclear facility would significantly set back Iran’s nuclear progress and create a real possibility that Iran would remain non-nuclear for the foreseeable future.

Moreover…[a] strike…would stem the spread of nuclear weapons in the Middle East and bolster the nonproliferation regime around the world.

Furthermore, a U.S. strike would also strengthen American credibility. We declared many times that we were prepared to use force if necessary to stop Iran from building nuclear weapons. A strike would demonstrate that we mean what we say and say what we mean and that other countries, friends and foes alike, would be foolish to ignore America’s foreign policy pronouncements.

Complementary Delusions Across the Ideological Spectrum, and Bipartisan Inertia on Destroying Iran’s Nuclear Facilities

The question arises as to why more than 12-years after the August 14, 2002 revelations about Iran’s Natanz and Arak nuclear installations—6-years under the Bush II Administration, and another 6-years (and counting) during the Obama Administration—sound, practical geostrategic arguments, and actions, such as those advocated by Professor Kroenig, have been dismissed. My own study, published March, 2014 (Iran’s Final Solution For Israel: The Legacy of Jihad and Shi’ite Islamic Jew-Hatred in Iran), examined at some length, the origins of this tragic, yet entirely avoidable failure of imagination, and will, rooted in intellectual sloth, and cowardice.

The so-called “P5 +1” interim agreement with Iran was announced on November 24, 2013, amidst great fanfare, and giddy expectations of continued diplomatic success. Putatively, these negotiations were going to eliminate Iran’s ability to produce nuclear weapons, and constrain the regime’s hegemonic aspirations, including its oft-repeated bellicose threats to destroy the Jewish State of Israel.

Less than three months later, punctuated by cries of “down with the U.S.”—and “Death to Israel”—Iranians took to the streets en masse, February 11, 2014, commemorating the 35th anniversary of the 1979 Islamic putsch, which firmly re-established Iran’s legacy of centuries of Shiite theocracy, transiently interrupted by the 54-year reign (r. 1925-1979) of the 20th century Pahlavi Shahs.

Many alarming developments since the P5 +1 deal was announced epitomize the abject failure of a delusive and dangerous policymaking mindset I dubbed, “The ‘Trusting Khomeini’ Syndrome,” in Iran’s Final Solution For Israel. This “Syndrome” is named after infamous Princeton International Law Professor Richard Falk’s February 16, 1979 essay, “Trusting Khomeini,” dutifully published in the The New York Times. The parlous denial—born of willful doctrinal and historical negationism—evident in Falk’s February, 1979 essay, now shapes formal U.S. policy toward Iran, merely updated as “Trusting Khamenei,” Iran’s current “Supreme Leader,” Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who succeeded Ayatollah Khomeini. I further maintain that conservative “Iran experts” have evolved complementary delusive attitudes in their hagiographies of the so-called “Green Movement,” and the Iranian leader they designated as its “spiritual” inspiration, the late Ayatollah Montazeri (d. December, 2009)—a “Trusting Montazeri” syndrome. The sine qua non of these crippling mindsets—bowdlerization of Islam—currently dominates policymaking circles, running the gamut from Left to Right.

Iran’s backward “revolution” in 1978-1979 simply returned Iranian society to its longstanding status as a Shiite theocracy (i.e., from 1501/1502, to 1925; interrupted between from 1722-1795, after an Afghan invasion in 1719, subsequent  Ottoman and Russian forays, and internecine struggle, combined with Nadir Shah’s [(r. 1734-1747] religious “experimentation”), following a relatively brief flirtation with Westernization and secularization under Pahlavi rule from 1925 to 1979.

Sharia supremacism—in its Twelver Shiite guise—was the fervent motivation for the Shiite theocracy established by Iran’s first Safavid Shah Ismail I, at the outset of the 16th century. This belief system—which was always redolent with Islamic Jew-hatred in Safavid Iran, and across a 500-year continuum, ever since— remains the guiding ideology in the “Khomeini revival” (and post-Khomeini) era, at present.

Intentionally obfuscating apologetics, aside, Sharia, Islamic law, whether Sunni or Shiite, is not merely holistic, in the general sense of all-encompassing, but totalitarian, regulating everything from the ritual aspects of religion, to personal hygiene, to the governance of a Muslim minority community, Islamic state, bloc of states, or global Islamic order. Clearly, this latter political aspect is the most troubling, being an ancient antecedent of more familiar modern totalitarian systems. Specifically, Sharia’s liberty-crushing and dehumanizing political aspects feature: open-ended jihadism to subjugate the world to a totalitarian Islamic order; rejection of bedrock Western liberties—including freedom of conscience and speech—enforced by imprisonment, beating, or death; discriminatory relegation of non-Muslims to outcast, vulnerable pariahs, and even Muslim women to subservient chattel; and barbaric punishments which violate human dignity, such as amputation for theft, stoning for adultery, and lashing for alcohol consumption. Regarding post-Khomeini Revolution Iran, and its “Guardianship of the Jurist” application of the Sharia, Yale Professor Abbas Amanat acknowledged that,

The doctrine of the “Guardianship of the Jurist” was informed above all by a Shi’i legal mindset that was essentially alien to modern notions of plurality and democratic leadership.

Moreover, during interactions with non-Muslims, Shiites add strict doctrinal adherence to the odious concept of “najis,” the physical as well spiritual “impurity” of the infidel, which results in a series of dehumanizing practices directed toward these “infidels.” The British scholar, E.G. Browne provided this eyewitness account of how najis regulations impacted non-Muslims—mirroring centuries of their continuous application—through the end of the 19th century:

While I was in Yezd [a center of Zoroastrian culture, 170 miles southeast of Isfahan] a Zoroastrian was bastinadoed [beaten with a cudgel on the soles of the feet] for accidentally touching with his garment some fruit exposed for sale in the bazaar, and thereby, in the eyes of the Musulmans [Muslims], rendering it unclean and unfit for consumption by true believers [i.e., the Muslims]

The contemporary Iranian Shiite theocracy has revitalized the ugly doctrine—and practice—of najis.

The shared, mainstream Sunni and Shiite doctrine on jihad is the validating context in which Iran’s 1979 Constitutional provision on its self-proclaimed “Ideological Army,” must be evaluated. Iran’s expressed aggressive, hegemonic aspirations in this foundational document— animated by the ideology of jihad—are self-evident. Thus, invoking one of the Koran’s key verses sanctioning jihad war, Koran 8:60, the 1979 Iranian Constitution declares:

In the formation and equipping of the country’s defense forces, due attention must be paid to faith and ideology as the basic criteria. Accordingly, the Army of the Islamic Republic of Iran and the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps are to be organized in conformity with this goal, and they will be responsible not only for guarding and preserving the frontiers of the country, but also for fulfilling the ideological mission of jihad in God’s way; that is, extending the sovereignty of Allah’s law throughout the world (this is in accordance with the Koranic verse “Prepare against them whatever force you are able to muster, and strings of horses, striking fear into the enemy of Allah and your enemy, and others besides them” [8:60]).

Khomeini’s Iran has indeed embraced jihad “as a central pillar of faith and action,” demonstrated notably by the unending campaign of vilification and proxy violence (via Hezbollah, in particular) against the “Zionist entity,” Israel. This struggle epitomized what Khomeini’s Iran viewed as its “sacred struggle to cleanse the region and the world of Muslim and non-Muslim infidel blasphemy.”

A compelling illustration of how well the U.S. Department of State once understood the true nature of jihad as a normative Islamic institution—circa 1880—was provided by Edward A. Van Dyck, then US Consular Clerk at Cairo, Egypt. Van Dyck prepared a detailed report in August, 1880 on the history of the treaty arrangements (so-called “capitulations”) between the Muslim Ottoman Empire, European nations, and the much briefer U.S.-Ottoman experience. Van Dyck’s report—written specifically as a tool for State Department diplomats— opens with an informed, clear, and remarkably concise explanation of jihad and Islamic law:

In all the many works on Mohammedan law no teaching is met with that even hints at those principles of political intercourse between nations, that have been so long known to the peoples of Europe, and which are so universally recognized by them. “Fiqh,” as the science of Moslem jurisprudence is called, knows only one category of relation between those who recognize the apostleship of Mohammed and all others who do not, namely Djehad [jihad[; that is to say, strife, or holy war. Inasmuch as the propagation of Islam was to be the aim of all Moslems, perpetual warfare against the unbelievers, in order to convert them, or subject them to the payment of tribute, came to be held by Moslem doctors [legists] as the most sacred duty of the believer. This right to wage war is the only principle of international law which is taught by Mohammedan jurists;

Confirming that present day Iranian foreign policy remains animated by jihad, less than three weeks after the November 24, 2013 announcement of the P5 +1  interim agreement, during an interview which aired December 11, 2013, Iranian Middle East analyst Mohammad Sadeq al-Hosseini, provided a candid assessment of the negotiations. El-Hosseini, a former political advisor to both Iran’s alleged reformist ex-President Khatami, and the Khatami regime’s erstwhile Minister of Culture and Islamic Guidance, Ata’ollah Mohajerani (also deemed a “moderate”), underscored the ancient Islamic doctrinal bases for the contemporary Iranian theocracy’s geo-politics. Invoking the armistice “Treaty of Hudaybiyya” agreement between Muhammad and the 7th century pagan Quraysh tribe of Mecca, which Islam’s prophet-warrior unilaterally abrogated as soon Muhammad’s jihadist forces achieved the military superiority needed to vanquish his Meccan foes, el-Hosseini declared:

This is the Treaty of Hudaybiyya in Geneva, and it will be followed by a “conquest of Mecca.”

Consistent with Muhammad’s tactical formulation when waging jihad, “War is deceit” (from the canonical hadith “traditions” of the Muslim prophet), the Islamic doctrine of sacralized dissimulation, “takiya,” or “kitman” (“concealment”; “disguise”), el-Hosseini also noted,

Incidentally, for your information, when you conduct political negotiations with Iran, you lose even when you think you have won. The [Iranians] have raised the level of uranium enrichment far beyond the level they really needed, so that when the level would be lowered, they would emerge victorious

El-Hosseini, in his December 11, 2013 discussion, further insisted the Geneva deal augured America’s eventual jihad conquest during Iran’s ongoing “fierce war with Americans on all levels.” While this claim appears dubious, at present, El-Hosseini contended, appositely, that the agreement marked near-term U.S. capitulation to Iran’s oft-repeated threat to destroy Israel by jihad—including via nuclear weapons.

Obama had to make a great retreat. He was forced to accept a handshake from President Rohani [Rouhani], whom he considered a kind of Gorbachev or Sadat, so that the day would not come when he would be forced to kiss the hands of [Secretary General of Lebanese Hezbollah]Hassan Nasrallah and [Supreme Leader of Iran] Imam Khamenei, so that they would hold their fire in the great war that was prepared to annihilate Israel.

Eighteen months earlier (on June 6, 2012), Iran’s Fars News agency published an interview with el-Hosseini during which he quoted sura (chapter) 59, verse 14 of the Koran, a reference to Muhammad’s brutal, sanguinary jihad conquests of Arabian (especially Medinan) Jewry, that concluded with the capture of Jews’ final refuge at the Khaybar oasis:

This matter is exactly the meaning of the Koranic verse, “They will not fight against you all together except in fortified cities, or from behind walls.”… The circumstances of Khaybar [are present today as well, because the Jews are fighting] from behind a wall. This means that they have reached the limit of their capabilities and options, and are no longer willing to leave their homes. Consider that Israel is a small and very narrow coastal country and does not have the strategic or geopolitical ability to defend itself, and it could disappear at any moment. These people could flee en masse. As [Yahya Rahim] Safavi said, under circumstances of all-out war, a million Israelis will flee the occupied territories [i.e., Israel] in the first week [of the war]. This is no exaggeration.

Amir Taheri’s pellucid, if trenchant December 16, 2013 analysis exposed how U.S. (and European) diplomacy was easy prey for Iran’s negotiations jihad, “Three Card Monte” tactics:

Having claimed that he had halted Iran’s nuclear project, Secretary of State John Kerry might want to reconsider. He and his European colleagues, like many of their predecessors, may have fallen for the diplomatic version of the Three Card Monte played by the mullahs since they seized power in 1979. Khomeinist diplomacy has never aimed at reaching agreement with anyone. Instead, the regime regards negotiations as just another weapon in the jihad for ensuring the triumph of “true Islam” across the globe. The regime can’t conceive of give-and-take and compromise even with Muslim nations, let alone a bunch of “Infidel” powers. If unable to impose its will on others, the regime will try to buy time through endless negotiations. In Three Card Monte, suckers stay in the game in the hope of getting it right next time. A similar hope ensures outsiders’ participation in Khomeinist diplomacy’s version of the trick.

Historian Robert Conquest identified a salient feature of the delusive mindset of apologists for Soviet era Communist totalitarianism shared by today’s useful idiots for totalitarian Islam—willing intellectual and ethical blindness.

[A] con job needs a con man and a sucker. In their case many suckers even managed not to take in what they saw with their own eyes, or rather somehow to process unpleasantness mentally into something acceptable…Mindset seems too strong a word: these were minds like jelly, ready for the master’s imprint…[T]his was an intellectual and moral disgrace on a massive scale.