A.Q. Khan, the creator of Pakistan's nuclear weapons program boasted in a recent television interview that he and other senior Pakistani officials, eager to see Iran develop nuclear weapons, years ago guided that country to a proven network of suppliers and helped advance its covert efforts. -- Washington Post
American intelligence agencies have concluded in recent months that Iran has created enough nuclear fuel to make a rapid, if risky, sprint for a nuclear weapon. -- The New York Times
All in all, the totality of Iran's moves make clear that Iran is not interested in using its nuclear program as a bargaining chip to gain all manner of goodies from the West. It is planning to use its nuclear program as a means of becoming a nuclear power. And it wishes to become a nuclear power because it wishes to wage war against its enemies. -- Jewish World Review
Why bombing Iran's nuclear sites will not be easy
By Chicago Geopolitics Examiner, Michael Hughes
Amidst the rhetoric of Israel and/or the U.S. conducting airstrikes against Iran’s nuclear facilities is lost the reality that this will be a monumentally difficult feat to accomplish, a fact of existence that is supported by a recent analysis by STRATFOR global intelligence. ["A fact of existence"? - Really? I'll add my two cents to the author's comments before his conclusion.]
Not only do we lack sufficient human intelligence gathering assets on the ground to effectively decipher truth from fiction because of Iran’s superior deception operations, but both the U.S. and Israel currently lack the technology to target and strike hardened sites that have been well-hidden due to Iran’s advantageous topography. Iran also has a number of geopolitical remedies and countermeasures at its disposal as a deterrent. Not to say that it is utterly impossible, but the point is airstrikes should probably be a course of last resort – an option exercised only after a risk assessment that fully accounts for these difficulties weighed against the direct and indirect negative consequences of such actions.
STRATFOR’s geopolitical analysis also points out that Iran has likely learned valuable lessons from history:
Tehran watched how the international community — the United States and Israel in particular — dealt with Saddam Hussein’s efforts to develop weapons of mass destruction. The lessons of Israel’s strike on Iraq’s Osirak nuclear reactor in 1981 and the series of U.S. air campaigns from Operation Desert Storm in 1991 to Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003 were not lost on Iran. In pursuing its nuclear efforts, Tehran has sought not only to harden key facilities and build more redundancy into its program but also to obscure those efforts and deceive those who are watching. -- http://www.stratfor.com/node/145068
Tehran has distributed components of its nuclear program across a country four times the size of Iraq and Iran’s mountainous terrain makes it easier to hide nukes than it is under a desert. Iran has likely designed its nuclear bunkers around documented U.S. bunker-busting technologies. The U.S. currently has its 30,000 pound Massive Ordnance Penetrator (MOP) in development that can penetrate up to 200 feet of reinforced concrete, but it will not be deployable until the summer of 2010. And it is hard to speculate whether the U.S. will have the high-volume expedient production capacity required to destroy numerous facilities sprinkled across the country in a timely manner.
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Iran Deception Operations
What is missed in the constant talk of bombing facilities is the fact that the number one way to degrade a nuclear program is by taking out human beings - individual scientists and engineers who have the expertise to design and build nuclear weapons. In order to achieve this end, human intelligence gathering is critical.
America has, hands down, the most superior space-based reconnaissance intelligence systems in the world, however, on-the-ground human intel is required to identify and uncover the nature of nuclear facilities buried deep beneath mountains where satellite technology can’t reach. The U.S. human-source network in Iran is weak, especially considering the U.S. lost on-the-ground awareness in Iran in 1979 with the fall of the Shah, thus we are vulnerable to Iran’s adept deception and counter-intelligence programs:
Overall, Iran has invested considerable effort in obscuring the true nature and status of its nuclear program, almost certainly pushing beyond efforts to physically conceal its facilities to actively and creatively generating misinformation about it. The challenge for an air campaign, then, is not simply tracking down the hidden facilities but dealing with the fact that any one piece of intelligence on the Iranian program may not be accurate at all.
So sophisticated is Iran’s intelligence system that some suggest Iran was able to use deception operations to help push the U.S. towards invading Iraq:
More recently in Iraq, Tehran has been able to effectively utilize its Shiite proxies to ensure Shiite consolidation of the government in Baghdad. Despite having had no official diplomatic relations with the United States since 1979, Iran was able to manipulate matters as far away as Washington. Ahmed Chalabi, an Iraqi Shiite politician in exile who was in close contact with the architects of the invasion of Iraq within the Bush administration, was used by Iran to channel intelligence about Iraq’s efforts to develop weapons of mass destruction to the administration that fit its case for war. Tehran did not orchestrate the war, but it certainly pushed information to Washington that supported the case for war. [Contrary to lame-stream-media intel, Saddam really had many chemical and biological WMDs, my good friend (who witnessed the ordinance while serving in Iraq) divulged while sitting in my living room yesterday.]
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Iran’s Retaliatory Advantages
Iran has a number of retaliatory options that must be considered including the fact that they “sit astride one of the world’s biggest energy bottlenecks, Iran could mine the Strait of Hormuz and target supertankers with anti-ship missiles.” Iran also has the capability to influence and destabilize Iraq along with leveraging its Shiite proxies such as Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in Gaza to inflict damage in Israel.
[As suspected, the author's last two sentences in this concluding paragraph reveal him to be yet another brainwashed Obama supporter from Chicago. This article was reprinted solely for the intel the author quoted from Stratfor.]
Despite U.S. air power and world-class satellite intelligence capabilities, it would be foolhardy to believe the U.S. could take out Iran facilities whenever it fancies. Iran’s ability to misinform with their own world-class deception operations, combined with its challenging topographical profile and asymmetric capabilities to inflict damages in many parts of the world, the U.S. and Israel should think twice about incendiary language about bombing campaigns because the lack of results from brazen and fruitless airstrikes could be demoralizing. The benefits of setting back Iran’s nuclear program by ten years might be offset by the costs to do so in terms of military spending, direct and indirect loss of life, and, not of least importance, the loss of political capital. -- ###
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My condolences to the Israeli people. The worst-case scenario has been made manifest. Obama has pussy-footed on Iranian foreign policy long enough to give Tehran nuclear weapons capability while at the same time disrupting relations with Israel, essentially leaving them to deal with Iran on their own. It now rests on one of the smallest nations in the Middle East to nuclear disarm one of the largest. It won't be easy but, for its very survival, Israel must, at all cost, stop Iran's nightmare before Christmas. - c
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John McCain: "You know that old Beach Boys song? 'Bomb Iran?'"
Whoulda, coulda, shoulda...