Nuclear Middle East

BY Herschel Smith
9 years, 10 months ago

In an odd occurrence today, Defense Secretary Robert Gates argued that diplomatic efforts to resolve the nuclear standoff with Iran are working and should be given a chance to succeed.  This pronouncement comes on the heels of an announcement by General Peter Pace that Iran is supplying weapons and other support to insurgents in both Iraq and Afghanistan.

Iran is shipping arms and explosives to Afghanistan, in addition to providing deadly armor-piercing bombs covertly to Iraqi insurgents, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said yesterday.

“It is not as clear in Afghanistan which Iranian entity is responsible, but we have intercepted weapons in Afghanistan headed for the Taliban that were made in Iran,” Marine Corps Gen. Peter Pace told reporters at a breakfast meeting …

A U.S. official with access to intelligence data confirmed that there are new signs of Iranian arms shipments to the Taliban in recent months. “We are concerned about Quds Force links to the Taliban, and there is reason to believe that shipments of rockets, mortars, small arms and other weapons are making their way from Iran to Afghanistan,” the official said …

“We know that there are munitions that were made in Iran that are in Iraq and in Afghanistan,” Gen. Pace said. He noted that members of the Quds Force are part of the IRGC, which is under the direction of Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei …

There are also reports Iran is stepping up support for Iraqi insurgents. Army Lt. Gen. Ray Odierno, commander of Multinational Corps-Iraq, told reporters Friday there are new signs that Iran is “not only providing support to Shia groups, but also Sunni insurgent groups.”

Just why Gates feels that whatever bargains are struck with Iran can be relied upon when Iran has denied a thousand times that they are involved in Iraq is not manifestly obvious.  But a far better indicator of the danger that lies ahead may be found the in reaction of Iran’s neighbors.  There appears to be a mad rush throughout the Middle East to go nuclear.

Two years ago, the leaders of Saudi Arabia told international atomic regulators that they could foresee no need for the kingdom to develop nuclear power. Today, they are scrambling to hire atomic contractors, buy nuclear hardware and build support for a regional system of reactors.

So, too, Turkey is preparing for its first atomic plant. And Egypt has announced plans to build one on its Mediterranean coast. In all, roughly a dozen states in the region have recently turned to the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna for help in starting their own nuclear programs. While interest in nuclear energy is rising globally, it is unusually strong in the Middle East.

“The rules have changed,? King Abdullah II of Jordan recently told the Israeli newspaper Haaretz. “Everybody’s going for nuclear programs? …

“One danger of Iran going nuclear has always been that it might provoke others,? said Mark Fitzpatrick, a senior fellow at the International Institute for Strategic Studies, an arms analysis group in London. “So when you see the development of nuclear power elsewhere in the region, it’s a cause for some concern? …

“If push comes to shove, if the choice is between an Iranian nuclear bomb and a U.S. military strike, then the Arab gulf states have no choice but to quietly support the U.S.,? said Christian Koch, director of international studies at the Gulf Research Center, a private group in Dubai.

The Persian pursuit of nuclear technology has, in fact, been called a threat to the security of the region by not only the U.S., but Iran’s neighbors.

NCRI – The announcement by the mullahs’ regime in Iran stating that they have in fact achieved industrial grade uranium enrichment process has the countries in the region concerned over the objectives of the Iranian nuclear program.

Samer Ali, Kuwait’s Deputy Chief for National Security described the Iranian regime’s nuclear program and its atomic power plants as a “threat to the security of the region.?

“Persian Gulf countries should acquire methods to deal with dangers of Iran’s nuclear program, in order to protect their own interests,? stressed Samer Ali, speaking at the Strategic Studies Seminar held at the University of Kuwait.

The Iranian nuclear threat to the region was also addressed by other speakers at the seminar.

A Kuwaiti Parliamentary delegation visiting Emirates and Bahrain also expressed grave concerns over Iran’s nuclear program.

Muslim ElBrak, an MP in the Kuwait’s parliament, said that during his trip with the Kuwaiti authorities to the Persian Gulf countries, he met with Parliamentarians from Emirates and Bahrain and warned them about the dangers of nuclear confrontations with Iran.

“We are asking all members of the Persian Gulf Council Cooperation to take steps toward dealing with Iranian regime’s nuclear plans,? said ElBrak.

In Egypt, Al_Ahram, the Egyptian official daily also commented that, “By announcing the production of industrial grade nuclear fuel, the Iranian regime is pushing the region in to a dangerous path of nuclear race.?

At this point the curious reader may ask, “what does a commercial nuclear power program have to do with a nuclear weapons program?”  First of all, having a commercial nuclear power program at least gives the appearance of needing enrichment plants for the purpose of commercial nuclear power rather than for weapons.  Of course, it is difficult to hide highly enriched Uranium from the IAEA without completely prohibiting access, but a commercial nuclear program buys time with the IAEA.  Second, it would be difficult to have an efficient nuclear weapons program without the aid of a commercial nuclear power program.  Simply having nuclear engineers who have gained experience in criticality calculations, safety precautions, and other aspects of nuclear science, is a benefit to a weapons program.

The world has tarried so long with Iran that its own neighbors have decided in favor of a nuclear program as a deterent to Persian nuclear ambitions.  They know that in spite of the fact that the more moderate population in Iran doesn’t exactly buy into all of the religious radicalism of the Mullahs, the nuclear program is separate from this.  For Iran, it is a matter of Persian pride.  To the Iranians, they have an inherent right to go nuclear.  But while Gates wants more time, the sentiments expressed by Victor Davis Hanson seem more appropriate to the dangerous times.

The idea of a nuclear Wahhabi State, nearby a nuclear theocracy in Iran, with nuclear Pakistan looking over their shoulders is horrific—especially when coupled with Western appeasement as evidenced by many European diplomats deploring the “militarization? of their continent by US offers to base an ABM shield in Eastern Europe, and the culturally relativistic arguments that if the Western powers are nuclear (US, France, UK, Israel), who is to say a Sharia-run Saudi Arabia or 7th-century Iran should not likewise be? The fact is that already we are confronted with the nightmare that the majority of nuclear powers in the world today is (with India) only democratic by a small margin, and the illiberal states are multiplying and may soon compose an antithetical majority—Russia, China, Pakistan, North Korea, Iran?.

We have the worst choice of leaving this mess to our children who will be faced with both oil and atomic extortion, or the bad one of dealing with it now when the will to is nearly nonexistent in the West. A 1939 all over again. When reading jihadist websites, one is struck not about their worries over the morality of preempting and using a nuclear device against a Western city but only the practicality of carrying it out.

Indeed.  Just so.

  • leon

    You need to check out the accuracy of the May 15th Prophecy in regards to what is happing in Iraq, Lebanon and Syria and the return of the Hidden Imam

  • Herschel Smith

    You hold to a version or brand of eschatology that I do not. You might want to go find a forum that more closely suits your interests. This one is about war, counterinsurgency, terrorism, Soldiers, Marines, etc.

  • Dominique R. Poirier

    Countries such as Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and others in the greater Middle-East express little interest for Jihadist considerations (as yet, I agree). Their likely future need or will to acquire nuclear energy is at least understandable and justifiable, in my own opinion. For some of those countries are probably nurturing some concerns and may seriously envisage alternative energy solutions at some point so as to save their own oil as we do, when they have some. It doesn’t mater how considerable is their proven reserves. They are just not inexhaustible and this point may easily sustain their possible claims in the future.

    We have to walk in their shoes today if we want to understand them tomorrow.

    It is none of my intention to play the doomsayer, but it is much likely that we will have to seriously face this reality someday. There is a dilemma that seems obvious to me and it unfolds as follow:

    Either we consistently manage to deny them access to nuclear energy –yes, I insist on energy, however— and they will inescapably protest and manage to make us passing as an authoritarian and uncompromising leading power that wants to impose its will upon the whole world sor selfish reasons.
    If they don’t do that themselves, some other countries having a vested interest in influencing them toward that way will do it for them, doubtless.

    Or we find a consensus allowing them access to nuclear energy and, thenceforth, we expose ourselves to the risk of seeing eventually the coming of a political/religious upheaval somewhere in this region that will make place for a reckless Islamic fundamentalist regime equipped with nuclear technology. We play dices, in short.

    Nonetheless, it remains that if the case of Iran is particular and justifies everyone’s concerns for obvious reasons, then we can hardly justiy a denial of access to progress to those others Arabic countries, even though we cannot know what will be their political future. As seen from a today’s viewpoint, it is a tricky problem, of course, but we may surmise, at least, that the future will bring its share of new and unexpected events; disappointing and good ones either.

    In such a context I consider that acting may either consist in doing something or be temporarily passive. It happens sometimes that a moderate decision or a concession requires far greater political courage than confrontation. This is particularly true when relations with a political adversary are involved; but there is no such adversity as yet, fortunately. I hope this last sentence will not be misunderstood; for it has nothing to do with cowardice.

You are currently reading "Nuclear Middle East", entry #496 on The Captain's Journal.

This article is filed under the category(s) Iran,Nuclear and was published April 19th, 2007 by Herschel Smith.

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