Monday, August 15, 2005

N & Q: Once bitten, twice shy

Category: [Global Politics]

Mr. Bush said last Saturday that he did not rule out a military intervention in Iran to prevent its alleged nuclear build-up in the uranium (U-235 to U-238) conversion plant in Isfahan. The plant was temporarily shut down in November 2004 to allow for talks with the EU, after the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency), a Vienna-based UN organization, blamed Iran for not fully cooperating with its inquiry into nuclear activities. But on August 10, 2005, Iran rejected the EU proposals, it broke the UN seals, and resumed uranium enrichment work in the Isfahan nuclear plant.

The EU and US suspect Iran's scheme is a cover for a nuclear weapons programme. Iran denies, and it claims it just wants to produce nuclear fuel for peaceful energy production. Of course, it all depends on the degree of enrichment. A nuclear power plant needs 5% U-238 in the fuel mix, an atomic weapon needs at least 90% (read here). For the Belgian situation, read here. For an overview on the Iran issue by the IAEA, see here.

The reaction of the IAEA on Iran’s move was swift: reinstate the seals, while the EU wants Iran back to the negotiating table. The French foreign minister, Philippe Douste-Blazy, called the Iranian actions "a grave crisis". Gerhard Schröder, the German chancellor, told ARD television that the nuclear issue "will end up at the Security Council if Iran does not give in". European diplomats said Iran would be presented with an ultimatum during a meeting of the agency's board of governors in Vienna next Tuesday: "Cease the uranium conversion, or face sanctions" (source: NYT). Now, the US is not happy with wanting, urging and insisting but it has gone a step further by not excluding a military operation to stop Iran from further uranium enrichment. Iran claims it has done nothing wrong. Shutting down the plant was voluntary, reopening it too (read here).


I have some technical questions. How rich does Iran wants its uranium to be? 5% or the full 90% weapons grade? Does Iran need expensive nuclear energy at all as it sits on top of an oil bubble? Let’s just assume the IAEA does its expert job, and it’s worried, to say the least. Will the real slim shady nuclear expert please stand up, please stand up?

And what if Persia doesn’t comply? Sure, the UN can condemn it. My bet is Iran can live with that, and get richer anyways. What about an economic boycott? We have seen how ineffective it was in Iraq’s case after the first Gulf War. The only ones hit were the people, not the leading politicians and their goals. What about a weapons or technology embargo? It has proven leaky before in Iraq's case, and prone to corruption as in Iraq’s food for oil programme. And is Europe really ready for that? Unlike the US, the EU has considerable trade links with Iran. We can do without their carpets and agricultural products but can we do without their oil? And without they buying our products? Does Airbus sound a bell?

But Bush doesn’t mind. Nuke them! Who is afraid of Virginia Woolfowitz? I don’t assume any of his neocon puppet masters have any business interests in Iran? It’s not tough at all to be tough when none of your own money is involved. Germany’s Schroeder was fast: "the military option for resolving the dispute over Iran's nuclear programme should be 'taken off the table'". In other words, "not with my money". But does Bush really mean it? Or is his threat just another move on the diplomatic checker board? Well, we don’t have a straight view into Mr. Bush’ mind, just assuming for the sake of argument that he has one. But his threat does not stand any reality check. He simply can’t invade Ira q n. Why?

Major US military invasions into other countries after WWII have been based on hoaxes to create a casus belli. The Tonkin Bay “incident" has been colorfully described by Barbara Tuchman, but that was 1968.

The first Gulf War was not a hoax, as Kuwait was brutally occupied by Iraq and the question – if unsolved – would have created a major local imbalance. But the second Gulf War was based on a hoax fabricated by the well-respected CIA. L’histoire Vietnamienne se répète.

They were totally sure Saddam had WMD’s, even if UN inspectors couldn’t find any. Who would doubt the CIA, backed by MI6? The masters of Intelligence, and one reconnaissance satellite that rules them all? Come on, do you really think they made a mistake?

"Sorry people, we saw some nuclear plants near Baghdad on the printouts but it turned out later that the janitor did it as a Photoshop exercise for her Sunday recreative class and somehow the sheet ended up on the President’s table. We really apologize". Another giant leap forward in The March Of Folly. Whatever.

Barbara taught us a lesson: "in the future the American electorate ought to choose candidates for high office who have more courage and character". Her hope was in vain, Mr. Bush got reelected after all his lies, and the American people knew it. The bottom line is, just don’t expect us, dear Mr. Bush, to believe your crap once again, ever. This time you might actually be right as to WMD’s, but you blew it. Once bitten, twice shy.

And the truth? Well, the American President just can’t pay for it after his Iraq’s debacle. You know it, Schroeder knows it, Iran knows it.
Talk to the hand man.


No weapons in Iraq? We’ll find them in Iran (June 2000).


Getty Images, AP.


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7:32 AM  
Anonymous dof said...

Nerd Alert:

Enrichment is a FILTERING process, there is no conversion of U238 in U235 involved.

U235 is used for the plain uranium fission bomb. Using U238 for bombs involves bombarding it with neutrons to create fissile plutonium.

10:35 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

America had no obligation to find WMD in Iraq. Iraq had an obligation to account for its stockpiles - the Kurds in Halabji did not all drop dead in March 1988 because of liposuction accidents - and the ingredients for them. Iraq did not comply.

The designers of the Iraqi weapons program were not Willy Coyotes ordering rocket parts from Acme. They were very sophisticated engineering types and their JIT training was as good as anyones.

You do NOT want to have WMDs sitting around the house. Why?

Once primed, they might just accidentally go off; or, and a big factor to someone as paranoid about power sharing as Saddam was, they might be used against you.

We have already found undeclared weapons stocks (ingredients, delivery systems, safe houses for assembly).

causes belli, QED.

3:57 AM  

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