World War Stakes at Hand
The Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) was founded in Shanghai on June 15, 2001, as a challenge to U.S.-NATO in south central Asia. SCO currently has six full members — China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. Afghanistan, India, Iran, Mongolia and Pakistan are the observer states, and its dialogue partners include Belarus, Sri Lanka and Turkey.
The Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) is an intergovernmental military alliance which was signed on 15 May 1992. On 7 October 2002, the Presidents of Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia and Tajikistan signed a charter founding the CSTO.
Towards a Global Conflagration, we point to the very real danger of a horrendous cataclysm – if Western governments persist in their drumbeat for war in the Persian Gulf. Russia and China are fully aware that a war on Iran is a stepping stone towards a broader war.
Russia and China Would Consider An Attack On Iran – Or Syria – As An Attack On Their National Security
The Russian government, in a recent statement, has warned the US and NATO about an attack on Iran.
The escalating conflict around Iran should be contained by common effort, otherwise the promising Arab Spring will grow into a “scorching Arab Summer,” says Dmitry Rogozin, Russia’s deputy prime minister and former envoy to NATO.
“Iran is our close neighbor, just south of the Caucasus. Should anything happen to Iran, should Iran get drawn into any political or military hardships, this will be a direct threat to our national security,” stressed Rogozin.
A grim Ministry of Defense bulletin issued to Prime Minister Putin and President Medvedev today states that President Hu has “agreed in principal” that the only way to stop the West’s aggression led by the United States is through “direct and immediate military action” and that the Chinese leader has ordered his Naval Forces to “prepare for warfare.”
Hu’s call for war joins Chinese Rear Admiral and prominent military commentator Zhang Zhaozhong who, likewise, warned this past week that: “China will not hesitate to protect Iran even with a Third World War,” and Russian General Nikolai Makarov who grimly stated last week: “I do not rule out local and regional armed conflicts developing into a large-scale war, including using nuclear weapons.”
A new US intelligence report has also stated that China has up to 3000 nuclear weapons compared with general estimates of between 80 and 400. To further pour more gasoline on the fire, the Washington Times has just reported that North Korea is making missile able to hit the US.
The comments by Chen Xiaodong, head of the Foreign Ministry’s West Asia and North African affairs division, was China’s strongest warning yet not to use force to resolve the dispute.
“If force is used on Iran, it will certainly incur retaliation, cause an even greater military clash, worsen turmoil in the region, threaten the security of the Strait of Hormuz and other strategic passages, drive up global oil prices and strike a blow at the world economic recovery,” he said.
“There may be 10,000 reasons to go to war but you cannot remedy the terrible consequences of plunging the people into misery and suffering and the collapse of society and the economy caused by the flames of war,” Chen said on a web chat hosted by Communist Party mouthpiece the People’s Daily.
‘Hostile’ U.S. policy could spark nuclear war, North Korean minister warns
“The only way to prevent war and ensure lasting peace on the Korean peninsula is to put an end to the U.S. hostile policy towards the DPRK,” he said, using the initials of the country’s official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
On CBS last week, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad waxed rationally: “Let’s even imagine that we have an atomic weapon, a nuclear weapon. What would we do with it? What intelligent person would fight 5,000 American bombs with one bomb?”
The IAEA’s Iran Report: Assessment and Implications
The report suggests that Iran is working to shorten the timeframe to building the bomb once and if it makes that decision. But it remains apparent that a nuclear-armed Iran is still not imminent nor is it inevitable.
Comparison of the IAEA’s Findings with Public U.S. Intelligence Assessments
Because the IAEA report is based largely on intelligence the United States and other IAEA member states have been sharing with the agency for some time, in addition to the agency’s own investigations, the information in the report likely provides greater insight into current U.S. assessments about Iran’s nuclear program.
The U.S. intelligence community appears to stand by the judgment made in the 2007 NIE that Iran had a nuclear weapons program that was halted in the fall of 2003. Moreover, in his testimony before a Senate committee in March 2011, U.S. Director of National Intelligence James Clapper confirmed that the intelligence community still had a high level of confidence that Iran has not yet made a decision to restart its nuclear weapons program.
Consistent with the finding of the 2007 U.S. National Intelligence Estimate, the IAEA report says that a comprehensive weapons program (known as the AMAD Plan) “was stopped rather abruptly pursuant to a ‘halt order,’” in late 2003
Talk of military strikes against Iranian nuclear and military targets is unhelpful and counterproductive. Military strikes by the United States and/or Israel would only achieve a temporary delay in Iran’s nuclear activities, convince Iran’s leadership to openly pursue nuclear weapons, rally domestic support behind a corrupt regime, and would result in costly long-term consequences for U.S. and regional security and the U.S. and global economy.
Nuclear program of Iran
To address concerns that its enrichment program may be diverted to non-peaceful uses, Iran has offered to place additional restrictions on its enrichment program including, for example, ratifying the Additional Protocol to allow more stringent inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency, operating the uranium enrichment facility at Natanz as a multinational fuel center with the participation of foreign representatives, renouncing plutonium reprocessing and immediately fabricating all enriched uranium into reactor fuel rods. Iran’s offer to open its uranium enrichment program to foreign private and public participation mirrors suggestions of an IAEA expert committee which was formed to investigate the methods to reduce the risk that sensitive fuel cycle activities could contribute to national nuclear weapons capabilities.
Is Iran Trying to Build a Nuclear Weapon?
Yet in “outlaw” Iran, the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organization has three seismic monitoring stations and has other monitoring in place to detect any evidence of nuclear weapons testing.
The IAEA regularly sends inspectors to Iran, has cameras providing 24-hour coverage of several key nuclear sites in the country, and measures and seals enriched uranium containers to prevent tampering. IAEA scientists also regularly analyze data provided by intelligence agencies to detect any evidence of nuclear weapons activity.
All of this surveillance is possible because Iran signed the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) in 1968 and ratified it in 1970. The NPT gives ratifying countries the right to enrich uranium for peaceful purposes and provides strict international safeguards—IAEA inspections—to verify that member countries are not building nuclear weapons. Since 1968, the only countries to obtain nuclear weapons either never signed the NPT (India, Israel and Pakistan) or left the NPT (North Korea) before obtaining a weapon.
Russia, China agree to back IAEA resolution critical of Iran
While expressing “serious concern” over continued Iranian uranium enrichment in defiance of the UN Security Council, the six nations say they back the “inalienable right” of countries that have signed the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty to develop nuclear energy for peaceful purposes. That is a bow to arguments by Iran, an NPT signatory, that it has a right to enrich uranium.
The resolution “stresses” that the IAEA has not reported any nuclear material missing from Iran sites it is monitoring. Missing material could mean that Tehran is using it elsewhere for weapons purposes.
It only “notes” that the agency cannot conclude there is no hidden nuclear activity going on because of “lack of cooperation” by Iran on agency requests that it be given greater powers to monitor the country.
Netanyahu’s posture, however, does not attract widespread support in Israel. A recent poll showed that 61% of Jewish Israelis oppose a unilateral strike against Iran. Prominent opponents of precipitous military action range from the predictable, such as the internationally celebrated, left of centre novelist, David Grossman, to the unprecedented, like the hard-line former Director of Israel’s famously ruthless Mossad intelligence service, Meir Dagan.
The US and its other allies, including the UK, are keeping the military option open. But they are scrupulously avoiding setting deadlines for Iran and getting locked into commitments to attack. For them, military action against Iran is the last resort because it would be extremely complicated, bloody and costly. There is no guarantee that a military attack would do anything more than delay, rather than eliminate, Iran’s nuclear programme. Even if – and it is a big if – all of the carefully concealed physical sites, some of which are buried deep underground, could be hit successfully, the nuclear knowledge already acquired by Iran cannot be bombed out of existence.
Some of Iran’s nuclear facilities are located close to major population centres and bombing them would almost certainly cause numerous civilian casualties. Iran is also a much bigger country than, for example Iraq or Libya. It has larger, much more capable military forces and surrogate organisations such as Hezbollah that could be used to foment widespread chaos. In addition, conflict with a nation that has the capacity to block the supply of 20% of the world’s oil resources would cause fuel prices to sky rocket. That prospect is deeply unappealing to global leaders at a time when the world is still struggling to emerge from the economic crisis.
Moreover, multiple reports by the IAEA have confirmed non-diversion of Iran’s nuclear activities and the body is constantly watching various stages of the country’s nuclear fuel enrichment activities through its 24-hour surveillance cameras and also its snap inspections of the nuclear facilities.
At present Iran has just under 9,000 Jews living in its country, though many believe there are closer to 20,000. Iranian Jews live a relatively peaceful life in Iran and suffer no more persecuted than Canadian Jews. This is because after the revolution, Ayatollah Khomeini issued a fatwa or religious decree barring discrimination against any minority, including Jews, and allocating them seats to Iran’s parliament, the Majles. It is also interesting to point out that throughout the brutal, eight-year-long Iran-Iraq War, Israel was Iran’s closest ally, I repeat ALLY. During the war, Israel sold millions of dollars of weapons to Iran in exchange for allowing thousands of Iranian Jews emigrate to Israel.
In 2010, the Obama administration made public a National Intelligence Estimate that concluded that Iran had ceased its nuclear weapons program right around the time of the US invasion of Iraq, fearing they were next. This was the consensus of all sixteen of America’s intelligence. And in March 2012, the Israeli newspaper, Haaretz, reported that Mossad officials agree entirely with the US conclusion that Iran has not yet decided to build a bomb.
Since 2007, U.S. intelligence services have asserted that no evidence suggests that Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei has made the final decision to construct nuclear weapons, but it is clear that he is accumulating the necessary resources and technologies that will provide him with that option. “They are certainly moving on that path, but we don’t believe that they have actually made the decision to go ahead with a nuclear weapon,” stressed James Clapper, the director of National Intelligence, in his testimony to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence in February 2012.4 Although the acquisition of these fuel cycle capabilities could be justified under the same legal theory that Iran is entitled to the benefits of nuclear technology for civil, peaceful purposes, Iran elected to carry out this work secretly and often in violation of its nuclear safeguards commitments to the IAEA.
Iran was in good standing as a nonnuclear weapons state party to the 1968 Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. The central bargain in the NPT is that the nonnuclear weapons states party to the treaty foreswear the acquisition of nuclear weapons; in return, they are guaranteed access to nuclear technology for peaceful purposes. In the mid-1990s, as it does today, Iran argued that it had an international legal right to benefit from civil nuclear power, as many other nations have.
The following countries are known to operate enrichment facilities: Argentina, Brazil, China, France, Germany, India, Iran, Japan, the Netherlands, North Korea, Pakistan, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Belgium, Iran, Italy, and Spain hold an investment interest in the French Eurodif enrichment plant, with Iran’s holding entitling it to 10% of the enriched uranium output. Countries that had enrichment programs in the past include Libya and South Africa, although Libya’s facility was never operational. Australia has developed a laser enrichment process known as SILEX, which it intends to pursue through financial investment in a U.S. commercial venture by General Electric.
It is quite ironical that 2012, the year which in many ways saw a revival of the non-proliferation norm on issues such as nuclear security with the Seoul Summit in March 2012, the use of sanctions and immense negotiations to curb any Iranian weapons program, has also become the year to witness a series of nuclear-capable missile tests by North Korea, India, Pakistan and Iran. With the exception of Iran, all these states are non-NPT signatory states and that continue to remain outside the non-proliferation treaty (NPT), which grounds the norm of nuclear non-proliferation.
North Korea, India, Pakistan and Israel continue to remain outside the nuclear non-proliferation treaty.
For his part, the head of the IAEA, Yukiya Amano said the agency was committed
to intensifying dialogue with Iran, despite the lack of progress so far. The
last meeting on 24 August ended without agreement.
Iranian Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani reiterated Tehran’s steadfast opposition to the acquisition and possession of nuclear arms, but at the same time stressed Iran’s right to access peaceful nuclear energy.
“Based on the religious teachings and the Supreme Leader’s Fatwa (religious decree) which has banned nuclear arms and Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMDs), the Islamic Republic of Iran has not sought and will not seek the production and proliferation of such weapons,” Larijani said, speaking in a meeting with Chairman of China’s Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress Wu Bangguo here in Tehran on Monday.
He stressed Iran’s inalienable right to use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes, and added, “The Islamic Republic of Iran, as one of the founders of a nuclear-free Middle-East, believes that like other member states of the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), Iran’s access to peaceful and knowledge-based nuclear technology is its inalienable right.”
Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei
issued a fatwa on April 17, 2010 declaring that the production, stockpiling, and
use of nuclear weapons are all haram (religiously prohibited).
“Iran is not after a nuclear bomb. Why would Iran want a nuclear bomb? Moreover, when an atomic bomb is detonated, it does not just kill enemies. Rather, it kills innocent people as well, and this goes against Islamic beliefs and the principles of the Islamic Republic of Iran. An atomic bomb does not discriminate between good and bad people, and it is not something that the Islamic Republic would use. The Islamic Republic is relying on something that is not affected by bombs, foreign invasions and other such things. Such things only strengthen what the Islamic republic is relying on. The Islamic republic is relying on the people,” a part of the fatwa said.
Analysts believe that the fatwa of the Leader of the Islamic Revolution can well serve as a beacon of light for Washington in order to find its way out of darkness and ignorance.
The fatwa issued by the Supreme Leader forbidding the production, proliferation and
use of nuclear bombs is to be considered a political milestone in Iranian history and one which can salvage the Islamic nation from the spate of external threats and plots.
Fatwa is a religious decree issued by a Muslim leader against a specific issue and it is incumbent upon all Muslims to abide by it. However, in this particular case, the issuance of the fatwa has not only religious but political force as well as the leader in the Islamic Republic is the prime decision-maker.
Focusing only on Iran’s nuclear program as premise for confrontation with this country has practically deprived the U.S. to seek Iran’s much prized assistance on some critical issues that both countries have shared interest such as the stability in the post-occupation Iraq and Afghanistan, peace and stability in the wider Middle East region following the Arab Spring’s upheavals, and preference for a ‘soft landing’ of revolutionary fervors in the region and especially if it spreads to Saudi Arabia with all consequential effects including on the world oil markets.”
Iranian nuclear experts are also offering compromise proposals reported by IPS journalist Gareth Porter but not yet any major media outlets:
“Iran has again offered to halt its enrichment of uranium to 20 percent, which the United States has identified as its highest priority in the nuclear talks, in return for easing sanctions against Iran, according to Iran’s permanent representative to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
Low-enriched uranium (LEU) – has a lower than 20% concentration of 235U. For use in commercial light water reactors (LWR), the most prevalent power reactors in the world, uranium is enriched to 3 to 5% 235U. Fresh LEU used in research reactors is usually enriched 12% to 19.75% U-235, the latter concentration being used to replace HEU fuels when converting to LEU.
Highly enriched uranium (HEU) – has a greater than 20% concentration of 235U or 233U. The fissile uranium in nuclear weapons usually contains 85% or more of 235U known as weapon(s)-grade, though for a crude, inefficient weapon 20% is sufficient (called weapon(s)-usable);in theory even lower enrichment is sufficient, but then the critical mass for unmoderated fast neutrons rapidly increases, approaching infinity at 6% 235U. For criticality experiments, enrichment of uranium to over 97% has been accomplished.
Ali Asghar Soltanieh, who has conducted Iran’s negotiations with the IAEA in Tehran and Vienna, revealed in an interview with IPS that Iran had made the offer at the meeting between EU Foreign Policy Chief Catherine Ashton and Iran’s leading nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili in Istanbul Sept. 19.”
Soltanieh revealed that two senior IAEA officials had accepted a key Iranian demand in the most recent negotiating session last month on a “structured agreement” on Iranian cooperation on allegations of “possible military dimensions” of its nuclear program — only to withdraw the concession at the end of the meeting.
The issue was Iran’s insistence on being given all the documents on which the IAEA bases the allegations of Iranian research related to nuclear weapons which Iran is expected to explain to the IAEA’s satisfaction.
The Feb. 20 negotiating text shows that the IAEA sought to evade any requirement for sharing any such documents by qualifying the commitment with the phrase “where appropriate.”
At the most recent meeting on Aug. 24, however, the IAEA negotiators, Deputy Director General for Safeguards Herman Nackaerts and Assistant Director General for Policy Rafael Grossi, agreed for the first time to a commitment to “deliver the documents related to activities claimed to have been conducted by Iran,” according to Soltanieh.
At the end of the meeting, however, Nackaerts and Grossi “put this language in brackets,” thus leaving it unresolved, Soltanieh said.
Former IAEA Director General Mohamed ElBaradei recalls in his 2011 memoirs that he had “constantly pressed the source of the information” on alleged Iranian nuclear weapons research — meaning the United States — “to allow us to share copies with Iran.” He writes that he asked how he could “accuse a person without revealing the accusations against him?”
Israel demanding Iran stop their nuclear program?
• In accordance with the conditions set in the NPT, Iran informed the IAEA of its intention to build a new uranium enrichment site within six months before it went online.
• The IAEA and all 16 United States Intelligence Agencies are unanimous in agreement that Iran is not building and does not possess nuclear weapons.
• Documents from the former South African regime declassified in 2010 reveal that Israel not only possesses, but also offered to sell nuclear weapons to South Africa as far back as 1975.
• Last Spring, Rose Gottemoeller, an assistant secretary of state and Washington’s chief nuclear arms negotiator, asked Israel to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). Israel refused.
• The United Nations passed a resolution calling on Israel to sign the NPT and to submit to IAEA inspections. Israel refused.
• The IAEA asked Israel to sign the NPT and allow inspections. Israel refused.
• Israel made the same accusations against Iraq that it is making against Iran, leading up to Israel’s bombing of the power station at Osirak in Iraq. Following the invasion of 2003, international experts examined the ruins of the power station at Osirak and found no evidence of nuclear materials or a clandestine weapons factory in the rubble.
Bottom Neck of the World Oil Economy
Strait of Hormuz (only 32 km wide of navigatable waters)
20% of all oil shipments
90% of Persian Gulf exports
40% of seaborne oil shipments
Millennium Challenge 2002
Even the Pentagon’s own war simulations have shown that a war in the Persian Gulf with Iran would spell disaster for the United States and its military. One key example is the Millennium Challenge 2002 (MC02) war game in the Persian Gulf, which was conducted from July 24, 2002 to August 15, 2002 and took almost two years to prepare. This mammoth drill was amongst the largest and most expensive war games ever held by the Pentagon. Millennium Challenge 2002 was held shortly after the Pentagon had decided that it would continue the momentum of the war in Afghanistan by targeting Iraq, Somalia, Sudan, Libya, Lebanon, Syria, and finishing off with the big prize of Iran in a broad military campaign to ensure U.S. primacy in the new millennium.
In Millennium Challenge 2002’s war scenario, Iran would react to U.S. aggression by launching a massive barrage of missiles that would overwhelm the U.S. and destroy sixteen U.S. naval vessels – an aircraft carrier, ten cruisers, and five amphibious ships. It is estimated that if this had happened in real war theatre context, more than 20,000 U.S. servicemen would have been killed in the first day following the attack.
Next, Iran would send its small patrol boats – the ones that look insignificant in comparison to the U.S.S. John C. Stennis and other large U.S. warships – to overwhelm the remainder of the Pentagon’s naval forces in the Persian Gulf, which would result in the damaging and sinking of most of the U.S. Fifth Fleet and the defeat of the United States.
If aerial attacks were to be launched, Iran would retaliate with missile attacks directed against Israel as well as against US military facilities in the Persian Gulf, Iraq and Afghanistan.
Iran has an advanced Russian S 300 air defense system. It is equipped with medium and long range missile capabilities: The Shahab 3 and Sejjil missiles have a range of approximately 2,000 km, enabling them to strike targets in Israel. The Ghadr 1 has a range of 1,800 km. (See Haaretz, September 28, 2009)
The war with Iran would not be limited to aerial bombardments. A land war could follow with Turkey playing a strategic military role on behalf of the US-Israel led coalition.
Turkey’s ground forces are of the order of 500,000. Iran’s are of a similar order of magnitude: 465,000 regular forces. Turkish forces would be deployed in border areas with Iran as well as in Northern Syria.
Iran’s Air Force and Navy personnel are respectively of the order of 52,000 and 28,000. (see Table below)
The Revolutionary Guards, which constitute Iran’s elite forces, are of the order of 120,000. Moreover, Iran has a significant paramilitary force of several million men and women called the Basij.
THE ISLAMIC REPUBLIC OF IRAN: MILITARY CAPABILITIES
Total Population: 77,891,220 
Available Manpower: 46,247,556 
Fit for Military Service: 39,556,497 
Of Military Age: 1,392,483 
Active Military: 545,000 
Active Reserve: 650,000 
Total Land Weapons: 12,393
Tanks: 1,793 
Armoured Personnel Carrier/Infantry Fighting Vehicles (APC/IFV): 1,560 
Towed Artillery: 1,575 
SPGs: 865 
MLRSs: 200 
Mortars: 5,000 
Anti Tank (AT) Weapons: 1,400 
Anti-Aerial (AA) Weapons: 1,701 
Logistical Vehicles: 12,000
Total Aircraft: 1,030 
Helicopters: 357 
Serviceable Airports: 319 
Total Navy Ships: 261
Merchant Marine Strength: 74 
Major Ports & Terminals: 3 Aircraft Carriers: 0 
Destroyers: 3 
Submarines: 19 
Frigates: 5 
Patrol Craft: 198 
Mine Warfare Craft: 7 
Amphibious Assault Craft: 26 
Current, Iranian oil trade – despite UN sanctions
In fact, on May 11, 2012, one Indian official told the U.S. to ‘F’ themselves over the Iran oil sanctions: “Government of India is perfectly free to take a decision (on this issue). We do not take note of sanctions by other countries….So far as our sovereignty is concerned, we can assure that we will never allow any pressure…There will be less oil or more oil imported from Iran depending on demand. The oil [Indian] companies will decide that.”-Jaipal S. Reddy, India’s Minister of Petroleum and Natural Gas
Japanese media has just reported that Japanese oil companies are increasing the number of oil tanker ships. JX Nippon Oil & Energy has just bought three 5,000 ton class tankers, and is planning on buying a fourth. Cosmo Oil is buying an additional tanker.
Japan won an exemption from the U.S. oil sanctions against Iran, so guess where those new tankers are probably going to go for their crude cargo?
Another claim in the Washington Post article is that ships carrying Iranian oil can’t get insurance, because most maritime insurance companies are based in Europe. However, China and Japan are in the process of buying insurance from Iranian companies! The Iranian government is conducting a review to allow Iranian insurance companies to cover foreign ships.
Pakistan and Iran are in the process of creating a banking system that will allow Pakistan to buy Iranian oil and gas without going through the usual U.S./U.K. dominated international banking system.
The Iranian government is on the verge of privatizing 15 government controlled petroleum businesses. As part of the privatization process, the Iranian government has already sold 555 million shares of stocks in the companies, and more stocks will be issued!
On May 12, 2012, the Iranian Oil Ministry revealed they had “ratified” 16 new oil projects last year. That was out of 28 projects submitted.
In December 2011, Amnesty International reported that 600 people had been executed in Iran through the end of November, with 488 of the executions carried out for alleged drug offenses. Amnesty warned of a “new wave of drug offense executions” based on its figures that showed a threefold increase in drug-related executions from 2009. The report said that Afghan nationals were particularly at risk for drug offense, with as many as 4,000 Afghans on death row in Iran.
In 2011, Amnesty International reported that 43 people had been executed in the US.