5 years, 4 months ago
On occasion someone will say, “That news is too good to be true.” You won the lottery without even playing. McDonald’s Big Macs have been discovered to lead to weight loss and longer life. Obama wakes up one day and realizes that Leftist policies are killing this country.
Conversely, there ought to be a saying that some news is just so bad, it has to be true. The opinion piece printed the other day in The Washington Times falls into this category: so bad it has to be true.
Afterall, would anyone who has kept up with the pathetic Kabuki dance of anti-proliferation involving Iran since 2000 have any reason to doubt that Iran not only has The Bomb but has had The Bomb for quite awhile now and is simply working on expanding their stockpile?
I suppose we must always take a pseudonymous writer with a grain of salt, so this opinion piece by Reza Khalili must bear an asterisk, however small. But I submit that, even if we were to exclude what Khalili says in his article about his days with the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, the remaining portions of his account that do not depend upon his inside information are plenty persuasive.
Here is the bad news:
The pressure the United States and the West is bringing to bear on Iran to keep it from acquiring nuclear weapons is all for naught. Not only does the Islamic Republic already have nuclear weapons from the old Soviet Union, but it has enough enriched uranium for more. What’s worse, it has a delivery system.
When Iran began its nuclear program in the mid-1980s, I was working as a spy for the CIA within the Revolutionary Guards. The Guards‘ intelligence at that time had learned of Saddam Hussein’s attempt to buy a nuclear bomb for Iraq. Guard commanders concluded that they needed a nuclear bomb because if Saddam were to get his own, he would use it against Iran. At that time, the two countries were at war.
Mohsen Rezaei, then-chief commander of the Guards, received permission from the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini to start a covert program to obtain nuclear weapons, so the Guards contacted Pakistani generals and Abdul Qadeer Khan, the Pakistani nuclear scientist.
Commander Ali Shamkhani traveled to Pakistan, offering billions of dollars for a bomb, but ended up with a blueprint and centrifuges instead. The first centrifuge was transferred to Iran on Khomeini’s personal plane.
This is pretty damning stuff. But even if we disregard what Khalili says about his days as a C.I.A. agent, the rest of his allegations are more than sufficient:
In a second but parallel attempt to amass nuclear weapons, Iran turned to the former Soviet republics. When the Soviet Union dissolved in 1990, Iran coveted thousands of tactical nuclear warheads that had been dispersed in the former republics.
In the early 1990s, the CIA asked me to find an Iranian scientist who would testify that Iran had the bomb. The CIA had learned that Iranian intelligence agents were visiting nuclear installations throughout the former Soviet Union, with particular interest in Kazakhstan.
Kazakhstan, which had a significant portion of the Soviet arsenal and is predominately Muslim, was courted by Muslim Iran with offers of hundreds of millions of dollars for the bomb. Reports soon surfaced that three nuclear warheads were missing. This was corroborated by Russian Gen. Victor Samoilov, who handled the disarmament issues for the general staff. He admitted that the three were missing from Kazakhstan.
Meanwhile, Paul Muenstermann, then vice president of the German Federal Intelligence Service, said Iran had received two of the three nuclear warheads and medium-range nuclear delivery systems from Kazakhstan. It also was reported that Iran had purchased four 152 mm nuclear shells from the former Soviet Union, which were reportedly stolen and sold by former Red Army officers.
To make matters worse, several years later, Russian officials stated that when comparing documents in transferring nuclear weapons from Ukraine to Russia, there was a discrepancy of 250 nuclear weapons.
Last week, Mathew Nasuti, a former U.S. Air Force captain who was at one point hired by the State Department as an adviser to one of its provincial reconstruction teams in Iraq, said that in March 2008, during a briefing on Iran at the State Department, the department’s Middle East expert told the group that it was “common knowledge” that Iran had acquired tactical nuclear weapons from one or more of the former Soviet republics.
Lt. Col. Tony Shaffer, an experienced intelligence officer and recipient of a Bronze Star, told me that his sources say Iran has two workable nuclear warheads.
An editorial in Kayhan, the Iranian newspaper directly under the supervision of the Office of the Supreme Leader, last year warned that if Iran were attacked, there would be nuclear blasts in American cities.
When you stop to think about it, this just makes too much sense to not be true.
It perfectly explains the behavior of every U.S. administration since the time that Iran allegedly gained possession of the nuclear weapons in the 1990’s. From Clinton to Bush to Obama, all have almost robotically stated that it was “unacceptable” for Iran to obtain nuclear weapons. But not one of these administrations did anything concrete about it.
Think about this for a moment. When the U.S. declares something to be “unacceptable,” one would naturally believe that the U.S. is going to act accordingly. So when the Soviets began installing nuclear missile sites in Cuba, the U.S. imposed a blockade on the island and dared the Soviet Union to try to break it. When the U.S. declared that a communist South Vietnam was unacceptable, the U.S. invested over half a million soldiers to prevent the takeover. In more recent history, in the case of Bill Clinton, he refused to put up with the Serbian ethnic cleansing in the Balkans and launched a unilateral air war to stop it. President Bush took bold military action to dislodge Al Qaeda from Afghanistan after 9/11 and remove Saddam Hussein. Obama has gone on a drone strike frenzy since he took office, all in order to kill leaders who have not yet shown any ability to launch any sort of large-scale strike against the U.S.
But, strangely enough, when Iran pursues nuclear weapons– a regime whose fanatically religious leadership has universally pledged itself to the utter destruction of the U.S. and its allies in a way that Cuba, the Soviet Union, North Vietnam, China, Serbia and even Iraq never did– the U.S. does what? All these presidents who have used the U.S. military on numerous occasions did nothing to halt Iran’s progress. (And I am confident in the sophisticated readers of TCJ that no one will even think of the sanctions as real action).
Is there something about Iran’s conventional forces that is so menacing and so advanced that the success of any U.S. action against Iran would be in doubt? Of course not. Yes, Iran is always threatening that they will turn the Persian Gulf into a lake of bloody fiery oily fiery blood, or something to that effect. But beyond an initial ability to cause havoc in the shipping lanes, it is bluster. The U.S. has more than enough capabilities to ensure sufficient safe transit through the Straits of Hormuz, particularly after Iran’s military is reduced to ashes. (Think of the Kuwaiti “Highway of Death”).
To my mind, the only thing that can account for the pusillanimous treatment of Iran by the U.S. is the certainty, in those secret briefings that new presidents always get, that Iran already has The Bomb and, furthermore, has the capacity to use them in at least some fashion that a president would find extremely unpleasant. So, each administration has been putting on a brave face and declaring that the U.S. will not allow Iran to get The Bomb, all the while knowing that they have it and the most that we can do is try to slow down, interrupt, forestall or complicate their tireless efforts to expand their stock of bombs and delivery systems.
Cold comfort, that.
Khalili’s closing thoughts are chilling:
“History suggests that we may already be too late to stop Iran’s nuclear bomb. Why do we suppose Iran cannot accomplish in 20 years of trying – with access to vast amounts of unclassified data on nuclear-weapons design and equipped with 21st-century technology – what the U.S. accomplished in three years during the 1940s with the Manhattan Project?” asks nuclear weapons expert Peter Vincent Pry, who served in the CIA and on the EMP Commission, and is now president of EMPact America.
Mr. Pry concludes that Iran only needs a single nuclear weapon to destroy the United States. A nuclear EMP (electromagnetic pulse) attack could collapse the national electric grid and other critical infrastructures that sustain the lives of 310 million Americans.
Are we ready to finally realize what the goals and the ideology of the jihadists in Tehran are and take appropriate action against them? The Iranian people themselves, who oppose the dictatorial mullahs, for years have asked us to do so. Thousands of them have lost their lives to show us the true nature of this regime. We must act before it’s too late.
But isn’t it already too late? What can be done at this point? Isn’t the game over?
Assuming that Khalili’s article is correct, it may be over in the sense of preventing the Regime from acquiring nuclear weapons, but that does not mean that the U.S. must accede to a Regime that continues to enhance and expand its nuclear capabilities. Presumably this is the intent and aim of the Regime: an ongoing capability to manufacture a large number of nuclear weapons, something that the Regime presently lacks.
The goal may now have changed from prevention to neutralization, i.e. regime change. Afterall, if it is already too late to take the nukes away from the Regime, the only option may be to take the Regime away from the nukes. There is much, much more that the U.S. could be doing to ensure the downfall of the Regime and the rise of a pro-Western democracy in Iran.
This is not nation-building and this is not containment. This is good, old fashioned covert operations and insurgency tactics designed to take out critical infrastructure like oil facilities, refineries and the electrical grid with plausible deniability. The Iranian economy already teeters on the edge of ruin with high rates of inflation, massive corruption across every industry and a population that is seething for change. The U.S. and its allies need to do everything possible to push the Iranian economy over the edge and support to the fullest extent those segments of the Green Movement that favor a pro-Western policy. We need to push the buttons on Iran that fatally weaken them– the 1,000 cuts– without giving the Regime the excuse to launch a major terror attack. At the same time, if the U.S. is smart, it will be doing everything possible to increase domestic production of oil and natural gas as a buffer against the predictable rise in oil prices as Iranian exports plunge due to disrupted drilling, sabotaged pipelines and industrial accidents.
An Iran with a limited number of nuclear weapons is not yet a hopeless situation. In a nuclear age, possessing nukes is not enough. A nation must possess a sufficient quantity to convince an opponent that any attack against it will result in a counter-strike of apocalyptic proportions. When facing a regime like the one in Tehran with a so far, very limited stockpile of nukes, it is, ironically, the one who launches first who loses. Iran lacks a large stockpile of nukes with which to threaten the U.S., so it cannot afford to initiate any type of nuclear attack. If it does, it invites certain annihilation from the U.S. stockpile. Strategically, Iran’s nukes, at this stage, only serve as a deterrent against conventional attack. Like a bee with a very large stinger, the Regime’s nukes raise the cost of directly attacking it, but cannot, in the long run, serve as an absolute deterrent or prevail.
Instead, the Regime likely would welcome a direct attack and then claim such an attack as justification to use its small number of nukes as its only, real means of defense while counting on the international community’s protection after the fact and the sympathy generated by the initial attack launched by the U.S. (or Israel, perhaps). The U.S. cannot fall into that trap. By using covert means, the U.S. can work to eliminate the Regime and ensure that a democratic Iran emerges, one which will either relinquish the nuclear weapons or pose no more threat to the West than Israel or France. The U.S. must find a way to become adept at the use of proxies even as the Regime has used Hezbollah and Hamas as its cat’s paw against Israel.
Whether the U.S. can find an elected leader with the courage and determination to pursue such a course is another matter altogether. The current occupant of the White House is not going to do it. It is hard to know at this point whether any of the current GOP candidates are up to the task, either. One thing is clear, if we assume as a worst-case scenario that Iran already has at least a few, working nuclear devices and the means of delivery, every year that the Regime stays in power allows them to expand their nuclear capabilities and stockpile to the point where even covert action would be too risky. That, to my mind, would be the very definition of “too late.”