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The USA is making progress with Iran on the nuclear issue.
That's what I keep hearing, anyway. Progress in this case is defined as Iran allowing the UN's nuclear watchdog, the IAEA, to inspect it's uranium processing facility outside Qom on October 25th. IAEA head Mohammed El Baradei said the inspection is to insure Iran's nuclear plant is "for peaceful purposes." This is interesting, because the Iranians attempted to hide that "peaceful" nuclear facility from the outside world for years, and didn't acknowledge it's existence until very recently, after several Western intelligence agencies blew Iran's cover. I'm going to go out on a limb here and predict that the IAEA will not find nuclear weapons sitting around at the Qom facility during their inspection. I'm basing my prediction on the fact that the Iranians are not the Three Stooges. They are not THAT dumb. They just think we are.
Even more interesting is the fact that we don't know how many other secret nuclear enrichment plants Iran has. Back in january, the NY Times reported the following about a 2007 National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) that concluded Iran had suspended it's pursuit of nuclear weapons in 2003:
The public version [of the NIE] made only glancing reference to evidence described at great length in the 140-page classified version of the assessment: the suspicion that Iran had 10 or 15 other nuclear-related facilities, never opened to international inspectors, where enrichment activity, weapons work or the manufacturing of centrifuges might be taking place.
The Israelis didn't buy the American conclusion in 2007 that Iran had stopped working on nuclear weapons, and reportedly presented evidence to the U.S. that Iran was still pursuing nukes. Israel requested bunker-busting bombs from the U.S. in 2008, which were capable of penetrating Iran's underground nuclear facilities. Israel also requested refueling equipment that would allow Israeli aircraft to fly to Iran and back to Israel, along with the right to fly over Iran. Obviously, Israel wanted to take out Iran's nuclear sites. President Bush turned the requests down. Bush pursued further covert ops instead. Israel wasn't the only one who thought the CIA's 2007 NIE was wrong. British intelligence agreed.
So here we are in 2009, knowing for certain that Iran has engaged in deception regarding it's nuclear ambitions, and the problem has been kicked down the road to President Obama. The Iranians continue with their nuclear plans unabated, while America and the UN continue the same path as always, negotiations and threats of sanctions. In the meantime, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is meeting with Vladimir Putin to ask Russia to stop helping Iran build a nuclear bomb. I assume Russia cannot stop helping unless they have already BEEN helping.
The problem with negotiating with Iran is simple - the Iranians lie.
The problem with sanctions against Iran are mainly two - Russia and China, who have shared economic interests with Iran, namely, oil. India is also heavily interwined with Iran's oil industry, along with many other countries. The Russians and the Chinese help Iran negate the power of any sanctions. One of the sanctions being discussed against Iran now is a ban on importation of oil products to Iran. Even though Iran is an oil-rich country, a lack of oil refining facilities causes Iran to import much of it's gasoline and other petroleum products. China opposes those sanctions and has restated it's prioritization of Iranian oil. Russia said recently it will "consider" new sanctions against Iran (my translation: Russia will vote against any truly harsh sanctions, or will continue to help Iran get around them. I'd love to be wrong about this).
If negotiations are fruitless, and sanctions can be gotten around, what's left ? Military action against Iran ? Non-military regime change ? Can anyone see Obama or the UN actually taking military action against Iran ? Very doubtful, and the American people are extremely war weary already. The way I see it, Israel is the only one who'd be willing to take military action, but they'd most likely have to do it without American or UN approval, which makes that a lot more dicey, and since we don't even know how many nuclear facilities Iran has, it may not even work.
In conclusion, welcome to the dawning of a new age - an Iranian theocratic, terrorist-supporting government, with a holocaust-denying, apocalyptic President who openly states that he wants to destroy Israel, having nuclear weapons. What could possibly go wrong ? Besides everything. Various experts say Iran could have a bomb between next year and 2013, but the experts have been wrong about quite a lot in the Middle East in recent years, so who knows ?
I sure hope I'm wrong. We need your help, President Obama. This is way beyond partisanship or political ideology. If Iran acquires nuclear weapons, it could and probably would start an arms race throughout the Middle East. I can barely think of a less desirable outcome.