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Iran's Last Chance

Hassan Rouhani, Iran's newly elected president, will serve for four years. By the end of his term, Iran and the U.S. will either reach an agreement, or they will go to war.

Last March, Obama told an Israeli television station that it would take "over a year or so" for Iran to develop a nuclear weapon, the first time an American president stated a timeframe on the record. The dates coincide with a U.S. intelligence estimate during George W. Bush's administration: "sometime during the 2010-2015 time-frame."

These predictions are merely estimates and conjectures, but their accuracy is almost beside the point. What matters is that the U.S. and Israeli governments believe that Iran will have the capability to build a bomb while Hassan Rouhani is president.

Given the uncertainty, the U.S. and Israeli militaries will not wait until the last possible minute to attack Iran's nuclear facilities. They will wait until they see no alternative.

With Rouhani's election, the last remaining alternative is coming into focus. The Iranian regime shows no sign of collapsing, despite the economic sanctions and the popular protests of 2009. The technical failures and sabotage that had slowed uranium production have subsided. There is only one possible alternative remaining: a peace deal.

Some evidence suggests that Rouhani, if given the choice, would embrace such a deal. He has spoken of engaging the United States and rebuilding Iran's economy. Unfortunately, the choice will not be Rouhani's. He can sign no deal without the approval of Sayyed Ali Khamenei, Supreme Leader of Iran.

Khamenei has stated, "We don't want to build atomic weapons," but he has resisted all efforts to halt Iranian uranium production at great cost to the nation. And as with the intelligences forecasts, his actual intentions are almost beside the point. The U.S. and Israeli governments believe that he will direct Iran to produce a bomb, and they will attack if they believe there is no alternative.

And so, Iran's last chance is a peace deal, brokered by Rouhani and approved by Khamenei. The U.S. and Israel will grant Iran enough time for them to determine whether it's a genuine possibility. If they conclude that it is not--that there are no more alternatives to a nuclear Iran---they will go to war.

Why do you use the terminology "they will go to war"?

How do you know the destruction of a reactor site would result in a war?

"Operation Orchard" didn't result in a war, all that happened is this. The results of "Operation Opera" were this. Is that what you consider "war"?

The mullahs have a vested interest in continuing to look all powerful and knowing. Maybe they'd act like it didn't hurt very much at all, but voice outrage at the breach of sovereignty and just start rebuilding the program. Allah's on their side, after all, and he willed it, just sending them anotther test, try again. And continue to play the persecuted innocent peace-loving card while doing so. I think that's just as likely as them "going to war." One thing I do pretty much believe is that they are not as crazy or egomaniacal as Saddam. They also did really "go to war" with him, and may have learned some things from that about how useful it is, not to mention they had ringside seats watching what "boots on the ground war" did for all involved parties recently in Iraq.

I doubt that Iran will roll over as quietly as Syria or Iraq. Their commitment to building nukes has been much more serious, and they have a history of retaliating against attacks, e.g. the Budapest bombing and computer hacking. Also, and this is more of a feeling than a coherent argument, my sense is that Iran is more nationalistic than the others. It's not a post-colonial mishmash with a dictator propped up over it but a true nation-state with thousands of years of history.

Uh, we hacked Iran first with the Stuxnet virus. So retaliation against a first strike is terrible of them?

And whatever their "commitment to building nukes", they ain't got very far forward since that Axis of Evil speech a decade ago - still talking about trying to get enough nuclear fuel with outdated centrifuges, ignoring a dozen other difficult technical hurdles. Hint: I hear there's yellow cake in Nigeria...

[how far do you think they'd get to actually deploying in warheads with our satellites watching their every move, and sanctions that are likely a good deal more enforceable than those against Hussein in former years]

Its my understanding that Iran's nuclear facilities are in hardened bunkers that would require much more high powered bombs that used in Iraq and Syria. Many of these bunkers are in populated areas, again unlike Syria and Iraq, so there would be significant loss of civilians lives. If there's a significant number of civilians killed its much harder for Iran to just pretend it didn't hurt that much.

I would be apprehensive, when they say "we dont want to build nuclear weapons" In other words  "We don't want to, but we will, if we must."  Michael; are the Sunnis and the Shites and all the lesser groups that far apart, that they couldn't unite against their common foe? The Seven day war will be avenged. "and all the kings and their armies of the Earth, were gathered for the Great Day" ?

Sounds like he's basically one of the main architects of their savvy cat-and-mouse game on the matter:

How Iran's Next President Sees the Country's Nuclear Program
By Elias Groll @ ForeignPolicy.com, June 15, 2013 -

[....] Though Rowhani's plans for the program remain largely a mystery, a fascinating speech he delivered sometime between October and November 2004 offers some insight as to his thinking about the program and how his country deals with the West.

For those seeking a diplomatic resolution to the stand-off, the speech offers both good and bad news. On the one hand, Rowhani argues that Iran should engage more directly with the West through diplomatic channels. On the other hand, he observes that Iran's strategy of slow-playing the West through negotiations while covertly developing its nuclear program has largely served the country well [....]

Rowhani is nothing if not an expert on Iran's nuclear program -- he says he led a mid-2003 interagency review of the program and served as the chief nuclear negotiator from October 2003 to August 2005  -- and he also has a clear sense of how to navigate the international waters [....]

Why do  don’t you use the terminology "they will go to war"?  “We will start another aggressive war”?  

How do you know that destruction of a reactor site would result in a war?  an act of aggressive war would result in a response of defensive war?


The mullas free world’s leaders have a vested interest in continuing to look all powerful and knowing. Maybe they'd act like it didn't hurt very much at all, They will never turn the other cheek when hit back but voice outrage at the breach of sovereignty international norms by Iran and just start rebuilding the program continue to do what has been working out so well.  Allah’s on their side,   God’s on our side, after all, and he willed it, just sending them us another test command to stay the course and continue to play the persecuted innocent peace-loving card while doing so. I think that's just as  likely as them "going to war” all they know how to do. One thing I do pretty much believe is that they are not as crazy or egomaniacal as Saddam John McCain but will likely end up following his lead. They also did really "go to war" with Saddam the Middle East in Iraq and may have learned some things  didn’t learn diddly from that about how useful it is, not to mention they had  even though they had voyeuristic ringside seats watching what "boots on the ground war" did for all involved parties recently in Iraq.

So, you're trying to say that it's also the case that U.S. & Israel won't necessarily go to all out war over this? Because that is what I was saying about Iran.

You have an annoying habit of presuming that people trying to analyze what's going on in foreign policy situations realistically are all secret warmongers and need a lecture about warmongering. Ever consider that just because they are trying to figure out what parties might do does not necessarily mean they would be in support of it?

Sorry, I didn't mean to annoy, really. I guess it just goes with the [mental] territory I think from. In this case I just edited your stencil to comment as if from some other point of view though not consistently either that of the U.S. or Iran. Dissecting your analysis is done in the same spirit of trying understand the situation realistically, along with a tendency to predict, but yes, I do approach it with an acquired attitude. I don't see anyone who does differently and I don't see how any engaged person could do so. I try to avoid the "I" word nowadays unless it is particularly relevant.  
 I do not believe that either Israel or the U.S. wants an all out war, but they do continuously exert the right to achieve their objectives militarily if sanctions, threats, and covert activities do not accomplish whatever they demand. Someday, I predict, this policy will blow up in their face.
I think the risks are very great that their policies, as threatened, could very well lead to a very big war if not just a small war leading to quagmire. I didn't pull this conclusion out of thin air, I have paid attention to lots of analysis too,  including yours, in an attempt to understand. Sometimes I am afraid that I do.
 While I use the term 'war monger' quite often but not, I believe, loosely, I have never suggested that you are a warmonger in the case of Iran, or any other. I rarely know what you would choose, what you would do, because I have never seen you take a strong position of your own either for such a war or even a non-war of one sided bombing, but I also do not recall seeing your analysis lead to a strong position against any military action by the U.S. or Israel either.  I have a poor memory, maybe I am completely wrong on that last part.

I did not mean to imply that because he seems to have been an architect of the recent games that his opinions can't change. I meant to point out his skills in playing the game.

If you read the speech, you will see that he is very much into making sure Iran becomes known as a technological and scientific giant. So as far as weaponizing, it's open--you could say it all depends on whether the world continues to be as impressed with nuke weapons as it has been. I.E., if we all continue to be impressed, he probably wants them. But who is willing to predict the future about that? Not me. I can just as easily see humanoid drones as the newest whatever cyberwar thingie as the new power-must-have, the way technology has been developing before a half decade is over. And nuke weapons becoming more like a chain and ball around countries' necks, that they have to worry about the security of them.

  I also think that Obama is unlikely to go to war with Iran. I'm not sure he'd even been willing to launch an air strike or two on nuclear reactors.

  But I also thought Obama was going to stay out of Syria.

Something could definitely happen.  One of the issues here is that even Iran's reformers seem to support the nuclear ambitions.  People aren't going to tolerate that Israel is the only exception in the region forever.  The only real moral authority that the U.S. has over other countries is that they signed the NPT.  Iran signed, but under its previous dictatorship.  If we do something to stop Iran from getting nuclear weapons, we're basically doing it because we can.  I just don't see how we can keep up with this kind of policy.  The energy of the atomic nucleus is fundamental to the universe.  We may as well try to deny people magnetism or gravity. 

The whole anti-nuclear-proliferation apparatus is set up for "just do whatever you can" to delay and stymie and then to regulate when that fails. See Pakistan, etc.

Just like police work, no police say they are going to eliminate crime.  If you look at it that way, extended cat-and-mouse with countries on this is a success: the longer you keep up with the games, the better.

Also on People aren't going to tolerate that Israel is the only exception in the region forever, I would point out that Israel has shown (long term) that it will not be as frightened of others' weapons in the region when the leaders stop with the wipe-Israel-off-the-map rhetoric. And a hell of a lot depends upon "regime change" in Israel and in all the surrounding countries. So if you can delay acquisition of nuclear weapons in a neighborhood for a decade, at the end of that decade, you might find a completely changed neighborhood.

Exactly. Your first two paragraphs put it more succinctly than I did.

I'm not so blase nor pessimistic that this is something that is just going to happen. The cost and complexity has so far kept all but a handful of countries from achieving it, and only a few extremely determined nations have pulled it off.

Does the prospect of a nuclearized middle east not scare the shit out of you? I highly doubt that Saudi Arabia and Egypt will sit idly while Iran builds a nuclear arsenal.

What really scares me is not that one of these regime will launch nukes but that one of them will collapse, and someone else even less responsible will get their nukes. I figure that human civilization is in a race with itself to see whether stable democratic nation-states materialize before nuclear-armed dictatorships. If Iran and Saudi Arabia get the bomb before becoming stable democracies, it means we're losing the race.

I don't know how much the U.S. can influence that balance, but if we can even slow down nuclear proliferation without resorting to equally destructive tactics, I think we must.

In short, "because we can" is a perfectly good reason for intervening, given the risks. My only hesitation is that I'm not sure that we can in this case, at least not without incurring even greater devastation.

I'm not unconcerned but the prospect of other countries gaining these capabilities does not scare me as much as other things do.  I think you're absolutely right that the big risk is failed states, broken governments, coups and the like.  I almost said regime change, but I kind of want to add that phrase to my banned list.  But, we lived through the major upheaval of a nuclear power when the Soviet Union broke up.  The risks can be managed.

As for an arms race in the middle east -- there already is one.  Israel is way ahead.  I agree with you and artappraiser that we can act to keep it that way but I really don't worry that a nuclear Iran would be a threat to the U.S. or that it wants more than what Israel already has.  Maybe after a childhood of "crazy Russian" talk, I've become unwilling to believe that even the worst governments would use these weapons, were they available.

I'm pretty amazed by this article. First, "weapon's grade Uranium" has been dumbed down to 20%,instead of previously much higher. Second, it takes thousands of centrifuges to do anything and Iran can't get parts because of sanctions. The recent 700 new style being put in place, well, aren't yet in place, and even if 2-3 times as efficient, they're 1970's grade.

And that's just about getting enough Uranium fuel to be able to make a bomb, far in the future if even Iran's realistic aim. So no, no brownie points to George W Bush for being right about Iran.

What's more important is that independent observers don't believe this, but we & Israel control the data pushing us to war or some other Mideast intrigue anyway. How many times does our supposed intelligence have to be wrong and how many times can they lie to us before we stop taking their word for it as being accurate and disinterested?

EmptyWheel's been on this before, with some jackass's claim that that the Iranians are just rinsing away radioactive evidence at Parchin with garden hoses [hint: no, radiation doesn't disappear that easily]. Apparently no claims are too stupid as long as they're about Iran.

Jahn wastes no time, opening the article by proclaiming that the US supplies the bulk of intelligence on Iran’s nuclear program to the IAEA and that US credibility on weapons intelligence took a huge hit in 2003 with the Iraq fiasco:

The U.N. nuclear agency responsible for probing whether Iran has worked on a nuclear bomb depends on the United States and its allies for most of its intelligence, complicating the agency’s efforts to produce findings that can be widely accepted by the international community.

Much of the world looks at U.S. intelligence on weapons development with a suspicious eye, given American claims a decade ago that Iraq had developed weapons of mass destruction. The U.S. used those claims to justify a war; Iraq, it turned out, had no such weapons.

Jahn even went so far as to get IAEA sources to provide an estimate of how the US and its allies dominate the intelligence that is provided:

The International Atomic Energy Agency insists that it is objective in evaluating Iran’s nuclear program and that its information comes from a wide range of sources and is carefully vetted. But about 80 percent of the intelligence comes from the United States and its allies, The Associated Press has been told.

Two IAEA officials, who gave the 80 percent figure, told The AP that the agency has been forced to rely more and more on information from Iran’s harshest critics — the U.S., Israel, Britain, France and Germany — because Tehran refuses to cooperate with international inspectors.

In following on the Iraq intelligence fiasco comparison, Jahn even obtained a quote from former Iraq weapons inspector Hans Blix, who stated flatly to Jahn that there is no evidence Iran is developing a nuclear weapon.

Remarkably, Jahn also cites a well-known Wikileaks document later in the article, where we learned that the director of the IAEA claimed to be solidly on the side of the US just before he was nominated for the job:

A cable from the U.S. mission to the agency citing IAEA chief Yukiya Amano telling mission officials that he is “solidly in the U.S. court” on Iran — published by Wikileaks in 2009 — also helps those arguing that the case against Tehran could be overblown.

- See more at: http://www.emptywheel.net/2013/05/25/jahn-does-complete-reversal-questions-sources-instead-of-transcribing-iran-nuke-propaganda/#sthash.pSMMW2Al.dpuf

Yesterday, the stage was set for Jahn to transcribe more propaganda into the record. A new IAEA report was available (pdf; I see that there is a typo on the date on the cover page, it is a 2013 report instead of the 2012 appearing there, note 2013 embedded in the document ID code) and David Albright had already taken to the fainting couch, proclaiming the evil portents of the sudden appearance of New Asphalt (!) at the Parchin site in Iran where the US and Israel claim Iran has carried out blast chamber experiments to develop a trigger for a nuclear weapon (and where the suspect building, and presumably the blast chamber itself, itself remains standing, despite a hilarious cat and mouse game Iran has played at the site). But, in true “man bites dog” fashion, Jahn chose not to play the New Asphalt game and instead published an article that puts much of the intelligence gathering of the IAEA into a perspective that calls into question the motives of those who supply the bulk of that intelligence to the UN’s nuclear watchdog agency.

Jahn wastes no time, opening the article by proclaiming that the US supplies the bulk of intelligence on Iran’s nuclear program to the IAEA and that US credibility on weapons intelligence took a huge hit in 2003 with the Iraq fiasco:

    The U.N. nuclear agency responsible for probing whether Iran has worked on a nuclear bomb depends on the United States and its allies for most of its intelligence, complicating the agency’s efforts to produce findings that can be widely accepted by the international community.

    Much of the world looks at U.S. intelligence on weapons development with a suspicious eye, given American claims a decade ago that Iraq had developed weapons of mass destruction. The U.S. used those claims to justify a war; Iraq, it turned out, had no such weapons.

Jahn even went so far as to get IAEA sources to provide an estimate of how the US and its allies dominate the intelligence that is provided:

    The International Atomic Energy Agency insists that it is objective in evaluating Iran’s nuclear program and that its information comes from a wide range of sources and is carefully vetted. But about 80 percent of the intelligence comes from the United States and its allies, The Associated Press has been told.

    Two IAEA officials, who gave the 80 percent figure, told The AP that the agency has been forced to rely more and more on information from Iran’s harshest critics — the U.S., Israel, Britain, France and Germany — because Tehran refuses to cooperate with international inspectors.

In following on the Iraq intelligence fiasco comparison, Jahn even obtained a quote from former Iraq weapons inspector Hans Blix, who stated flatly to Jahn that there is no evidence Iran is developing a nuclear weapon.

Remarkably, Jahn also cites a well-known Wikileaks document later in the article, where we learned that the director of the IAEA claimed to be solidly on the side of the US just before he was nominated for the job:

    A cable from the U.S. mission to the agency citing IAEA chief Yukiya Amano telling mission officials that he is “solidly in the U.S. court” on Iran — published by Wikileaks in 2009 — also helps those arguing that the case against Tehran could be overblown.

- See more at: http://www.emptywheel.net/2013/05/25/jahn-does-complete-reversal-questions-sources-instead-of-transcribing-iran-nuke-propaganda/#sthash.pSMMW2Al.dpuf

 

Yesterday, the stage was set for Jahn to transcribe more propaganda into the record. A new IAEA report was available (pdf; I see that there is a typo on the date on the cover page, it is a 2013 report instead of the 2012 appearing there, note 2013 embedded in the document ID code) and David Albright had already taken to the fainting couch, proclaiming the evil portents of the sudden appearance of New Asphalt (!) at the Parchin site in Iran where the US and Israel claim Iran has carried out blast chamber experiments to develop a trigger for a nuclear weapon (and where the suspect building, and presumably the blast chamber itself, itself remains standing, despite a hilarious cat and mouse game Iran has played at the site). But, in true “man bites dog” fashion, Jahn chose not to play the New Asphalt game and instead published an article that puts much of the intelligence gathering of the IAEA into a perspective that calls into question the motives of those who supply the bulk of that intelligence to the UN’s nuclear watchdog agency.

Jahn wastes no time, opening the article by proclaiming that the US supplies the bulk of intelligence on Iran’s nuclear program to the IAEA and that US credibility on weapons intelligence took a huge hit in 2003 with the Iraq fiasco:

The U.N. nuclear agency responsible for probing whether Iran has worked on a nuclear bomb depends on the United States and its allies for most of its intelligence, complicating the agency’s efforts to produce findings that can be widely accepted by the international community.

Much of the world looks at U.S. intelligence on weapons development with a suspicious eye, given American claims a decade ago that Iraq had developed weapons of mass destruction. The U.S. used those claims to justify a war; Iraq, it turned out, had no such weapons.

Jahn even went so far as to get IAEA sources to provide an estimate of how the US and its allies dominate the intelligence that is provided:

The International Atomic Energy Agency insists that it is objective in evaluating Iran’s nuclear program and that its information comes from a wide range of sources and is carefully vetted. But about 80 percent of the intelligence comes from the United States and its allies, The Associated Press has been told.

Two IAEA officials, who gave the 80 percent figure, told The AP that the agency has been forced to rely more and more on information from Iran’s harshest critics — the U.S., Israel, Britain, France and Germany — because Tehran refuses to cooperate with international inspectors.

In following on the Iraq intelligence fiasco comparison, Jahn even obtained a quote from former Iraq weapons inspector Hans Blix, who stated flatly to Jahn that there is no evidence Iran is developing a nuclear weapon.

Remarkably, Jahn also cites a well-known Wikileaks document later in the article, where we learned that the director of the IAEA claimed to be solidly on the side of the US just before he was nominated for the job:

A cable from the U.S. mission to the agency citing IAEA chief Yukiya Amano telling mission officials that he is “solidly in the U.S. court” on Iran — published by Wikileaks in 2009 — also helps those arguing that the case against Tehran could be overblown.

- See more at: http://www.emptywheel.net/2013/05/25/jahn-does-complete-reversal-questions-sources-instead-of-transcribing-iran-nuke-propaganda/#sthash.pSMMW2Al.dpuf

Jahn wastes no time, opening the article by proclaiming that the US supplies the bulk of intelligence on Iran’s nuclear program to the IAEA and that US credibility on weapons intelligence took a huge hit in 2003 with the Iraq fiasco:

The U.N. nuclear agency responsible for probing whether Iran has worked on a nuclear bomb depends on the United States and its allies for most of its intelligence, complicating the agency’s efforts to produce findings that can be widely accepted by the international community.

Much of the world looks at U.S. intelligence on weapons development with a suspicious eye, given American claims a decade ago that Iraq had developed weapons of mass destruction. The U.S. used those claims to justify a war; Iraq, it turned out, had no such weapons.

Jahn even went so far as to get IAEA sources to provide an estimate of how the US and its allies dominate the intelligence that is provided:

The International Atomic Energy Agency insists that it is objective in evaluating Iran’s nuclear program and that its information comes from a wide range of sources and is carefully vetted. But about 80 percent of the intelligence comes from the United States and its allies, The Associated Press has been told.

Two IAEA officials, who gave the 80 percent figure, told The AP that the agency has been forced to rely more and more on information from Iran’s harshest critics — the U.S., Israel, Britain, France and Germany — because Tehran refuses to cooperate with international inspectors.

In following on the Iraq intelligence fiasco comparison, Jahn even obtained a quote from former Iraq weapons inspector Hans Blix, who stated flatly to Jahn that there is no evidence Iran is developing a nuclear weapon.

Remarkably, Jahn also cites a well-known Wikileaks document later in the article, where we learned that the director of the IAEA claimed to be solidly on the side of the US just before he was nominated for the job:

A cable from the U.S. mission to the agency citing IAEA chief Yukiya Amano telling mission officials that he is “solidly in the U.S. court” on Iran — published by Wikileaks in 2009 — also helps those arguing that the case against Tehran could be overblown.

- See more at: http://www.emptywheel.net/2013/05/25/jahn-does-complete-reversal-questions-sources-instead-of-transcribing-iran-nuke-propaganda/#sthash.pSMMW2Al.dpuf

 

I didn't write this piece to describe my opinion of what the U.S. should do, mainly because I don't know what the U.S. should do. Nor do I know how close Iran is to a bomb. I meant the article as an assessment of what I believe the U.S. will do sometime in the next four years--absent a deal with Iran.

To your point, skepticism of U.S. intelligence claims is healthy, and I support the discussion. But I have to say, I'm bored of the Bush-WMD comparisons and would like to add it to Maillo's list. Yes, I get it. Intel can be terribly it wrong. It does not follow that it's always wrong.

You have me confused.

Your 2nd paragraph seems to give Bush credit for prescience, yet I'm supposed to overlook that (and now by a Godwin corollary ignore his WMD lie, even though it's during the same period. But you have a point - I'm bored with Afghanistan and still more insurgent bombings across Iraq. Please tell me how to get rid of the boredom)

Then I actually clicked the URL you provided, and it gives this:

(Reuters) - A new U.S. intelligence report says Iran halted its nuclear weapons program in 2003 and it remains on hold, contradicting the Bush administration's earlier assertion that Tehran was intent on developing a bomb.

That was before his administration got a firm hold of the national intelligence assessments so that this kind of embarrassment wouldn't happen again.

Your "Given the uncertainty, the U.S. and Israeli militaries will not wait until the last possible minute to attack Iran's nuclear facilities. They will wait until they see no alternative." seems to me utter bullshit, no offense.

Instead, I think they have no intention of attacking Iran, but instead will milk the ever impending "crisis" for another decade. What else would Bibi govern on if it weren't "The Russians Iranians Are Coming", especially with Syria rather preoccupied and Iraq out of the way?

That it was the US that overthrew Mossadegh & put in the Shah's son (sorry, boring again) and Iraq that attacked Iran in '79, and oddly Iran that didn't attack anyone over the last what, 100 years, should give an idea of how threatening they are to their neighbors, no? (especially since the famous Ahmadinejad "quote" on wiping out Israel has been widely debunked for years, being boring yet again)

The warnings emanating from the U.S. and Israeli governments are more serious than they've ever been. Just saber rattling for the galleries? Could be, but I'm betting against it. I guess we'll find out soon enough.

The new head of IAEA Yukiya Amano is firmly in the US' corner, whereas El Baradei was much more independent.

There were the same pronouncements of impending war against Iran under Baradei's leadership, and he publicly refuted Bush's view of Iraq reconstituting its nuclear program just as he refuted a number of claims of Iran's non-cooperation with inspectors.

AP’s George Jahn released the infamous cartoon around which he built a dubious nest of mostly anonymous charges that Iran had conducted work toward developing a neutron trigger device for nuclear weapons, using an explosive containment chamber at the Parchin military site. Jahn further repeated anonymous claims from “diplomats” that satellite imagery showed activity claimed to be Iran “cleaning” the site to remove traces of radioactivity.

It is simply impossible to “clean” radioactivity from a steel chamber in which uranium has been used to generate neutrons, as the neutrons would result in making the entire thickness of the steel chamber radioactive, as I showed in this post. The only way that Iran would be able to hide evidence of work on a neutron trigger device at Parchin would be to dismantle and remove the entire chamber. It most likely would be necessary to raze the entire building as well, since the structural steel in the building surrounding the chamber also likely would have been made radioactive by the neutrons.

- See more at: http://www.emptywheel.net/2012/05/25/george-jahn-once-again-grants-anonymity-for-dubious-iran-accusation/#sthash.TpoBt7hK.dpuf

It is simply impossible to “clean” radioactivity from a steel chamber in which uranium has been used to generate neutrons, as the neutrons would result in making the entire thickness of the steel chamber radioactive, as I showed in this post. The only way that Iran would be able to hide evidence of work on a neutron trigger device at Parchin would be to dismantle and remove the entire chamber. It most likely would be necessary to raze the entire building as well, since the structural steel in the building surrounding the chamber also likely would have been made radioactive by the neutrons.

- See more at: http://www.emptywheel.net/2012/05/25/george-jahn-once-again-grants-anonymity-for-dubious-iran-accusation/#sthash.TpoBt7hK.dpuf

But maybe it's been since Bibi showed us definitive photographic proof of Iran's nuclear program and AP found a high school student's crude graph of what might be a nuclear trigger roadmap if it didn't have a big error that everyone's been persuaded:

  

More to the point, Jim White at Empty Wheel has been reporting on the continual Great Game with Iran, including ridiculous stuff like this:

Jahn further repeated anonymous claims from “diplomats” that satellite imagery showed activity claimed to be Iran “cleaning” the site to remove traces of radioactivity.

It is simply impossible to “clean” radioactivity from a steel chamber in which uranium has been used to generate neutrons, as the neutrons would result in making the entire thickness of the steel chamber radioactive, as I showed in this post. Th

- See more at: http://www.emptywheel.net/2012/05/25/george-jahn-once-again-grants-anony...

[note- quotations have stopped working - just me?]

White: Jahn further repeated anonymous claims from “diplomats” that satellite imagery showed activity claimed to be Iran “cleaning” the site to remove traces of radioactivity.

It is simply impossible to “clean” radioactivity from a steel chamber in which uranium has been used to generate neutrons, as the neutrons would result in making the entire thickness of the steel chamber radioactive, as I showed in this post.
-

You can see more Parchin stories here, search for Iran for other parts of the story, such as how they're hiding their nuclear program by covering it in a huge pink tarp, a note from Moon of Alabama re: how much of that 20% Uranium is diverted into reactor plates rather than potential fuel, and just that the standard for weapons-grade uranium used to be 85%.

Jahn further repeated anonymous claims from “diplomats” that satellite imagery showed activity claimed to be Iran “cleaning” the site to remove traces of radioactivity.

It is simply impossible to “clean” radioactivity from a steel chamber in which uranium has been used to generate neutrons, as the neutrons would result in making the entire thickness of the steel chamber radioactive, as I showed in this post. Th

- See more at: http://www.emptywheel.net/2012/05/25/george-jahn-once-again-grants-anonymity-for-dubious-iran-accusation/#sthash.TpoBt7hK.dpuf

 

I think you meant less to the point. The question I'm asking is not whether Iran is close to getting the bomb but whether The U.S. and Israeli leaders believe that Iran is close to getting the bomb. Bibi's bomb chart is significant because of what it says about his thinking. Likewise Obama's comment. No president or prime minister has said anything so specific before with such a short timeframe. 

Actually, Obama's time frame is pushing back on Bibi's. Again, if you read Jim, there was the speculation last Nov/Dec that Bibi was looking for a March attack. This time Obama's saying it won't be until at least a year, and it won't be because of making fuel, it'll be because of ability to actually field a bomb.

If we go back to the 2008 elections, there was a heavy push to bomb Iran the following year - if you recall Lieberman's campaign & other signals.

And presumably someone in Bibi's government knows how to read the Jerusalem Post, where they'll also learn:

The report also said Iran had increased to 167 kg (367 pounds) its stockpile of uranium refined to a fissile purity of 20 percent - a level it says it needs for conversion into reactor fuel. About 240-250 kg of 20 percent enriched uranium is needed for one atomic bomb if refined to a high degree.

Though fat man & little boy used about 50kg of uranium at 89%. Good luck with that huge amount of low-grade uranium combined with the huge casing to contain it. And Bibi's red line is the amount to produce 1 such bomb - i.e. no New Mexico test shot, just a crappy heavy dirty bomb in the head of a missile that can barely loft it.

I think Bibi's sad because the new guy isn't nearly as hateable as Ahmadinejad. What's a guy who only works on hate and fear to do? Good thing elections are behind him at least.

I agree. Bibi wanted an attack this spring. Obama pushed him back by at least a year. My thesis is that neither will wait until 2017.

I hope you're correct that U.S. and Israeli leaders are just posturing for politics sake, but I doubt it.

Churchill got thrown out despite success from WWII. Bush Sr was voted out 1 1/2 years after the successful Gulf War I. Levi Eshkol had to share power with Begin over the 6 day war, Golda Meier had to resign because of perceived lack of preparation for the Yom Kippur war, and the war in Lebanon knocked out Ariel Sharon as Defense Minister for excesses/atrocities.

It's easier to survive ginning up a war than actually waging one.

And yet people keep waging them

Very interesting Pew global poll about Iran released June 11:

Main chart:

The summary on nukes:

....Across the E3+3 countries – the U.S., Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China – which are involved in on-again, off-again nuclear talks with Tehran, at least six-in-ten oppose Iran acquiring nuclear weapons.

In the Middle East, Israelis are nearly unanimous (96%) in their opposition to Tehran developing nuclear weapons. But some Muslim publics in the region also voice strong objections to a nuclear-armed Iran, including roughly six-in-ten or more in Jordan (79%), Egypt (73%), Turkey (69%), and Lebanon (59%).

These are among the key findings of a new survey by the Pew Research Center conducted in 39 nations from March 2 to May 1, 2013. The poll also finds that, despite broad opposition to Iran obtaining nuclear weapons, key publics continue to disagree on policy toward Tehran. Among the E3+3 countries, for instance, at least seven-in-ten among those who oppose Iran’s nuclear program in the U.S., Britain, France and Germany back tougher economic sanctions, but the Russians and Chinese are divided on the issue. Meanwhile, only in the U.S. and France are clear majorities of people who oppose a nuclear armed Iran willing to support military action in order to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear arms.....

If you scroll down from there to Widespread Opposition to a Nuclear-Armed Iran, there is more detail and some charts on that as well. While there is not strong support for military action about it, it seems highly unlikely that a hit on a nuclear site would garner them a big victim card. Seems like they've a lot of global goodwill P.R. to do before anything like that sort of support could happen.

President-Elect of Iran Talks of Easing Tensions With U.S.

By Thomas Erdbrink, 1:43 PM ET, New York Times

Speaking for the first time since his election victory, Hassan Rowhani called Iran’s nonexistent ties with the United States a “wound” that must be healed.

Monday, June 17, 2013, Angry Arab News Service

Rohani

I went to sleep yesterday learning from the media that Rohani belongs to the Saudi-Israeli-US alliance.  But I woke up this morning learning that he after all belongs to the Iranian-Syrian-Russian alliance. 

A Churchill-Atlee moment in Iranian political history?
By Mark Pyruz, Uskowi on Iran, June 16, 2013

Kerry: U.S. Ready to Engage Directly with New Iranian Government
By Nader Uskowi, Uskowi on Iran, June 16, 2013

The other outcome, of course, is that we end up with a regional version of the old Mutally-Assured-Destruction scenario.

Iran has a bomb, but can't use it to attack Israel without inviting nuclear retaliation. Israel has a bomb, but can't attack Iran without inviting nuclear retaliation.

I don't like it. I didn't like the U.S.-Soviet version, and the regional version strikes me as potentially more volatile. (I dislike the India-Pakistan situation for the same reason.) But an all-out war to prevent that scenario might be a worse outcome than the scenario itself.

Asia Times Online:

Rouhani's outlook riles Israeli hardliners
Some Western countries have welcomed the election of Hassan Rouhani as Iranian president as a chance to break the nuclear impasse, but hardliners in Israel who exploited the confrontational style of his predecessor to crystallize global opinion against Iran have been thrown off-guard. Discounting the chance of a new chapter, it's clear who many members of the US Congress are listening to.
- Shahir Shahid Saless (Jun 26, '13)

Did president-elect dupe Europe?
European powers accused Iranian president-elect Hassan Rouhani of duping them over a 2003 agreement he negotiated that allowed Tehran to press ahead with the enrichment of uranium. Yet the record shows no trickery involved, and that in defending Iran's interests Rouhani can and will drive a hard but honest bargain and will be true to his word.
- Peter Jenkins (Jun 26, '13)

Haleh Esfandiari @ NY Review of Books blog has a pretty thorough analysis of what to expect from Rouhani in Iran’s Man in the Middle and she is not one of those typical American foreign policy dilettante prognosticators; her bio clip:

Haleh Esfandiari is the Director of the Middle East Program at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, D.C., and the author of My Prison, My Home: One Woman’s Story of Captivity in Iran. She was held in solitary confinement in Evin Prison in Iran for 105 days in 2007. (April 2011)

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