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Some See an Increased Threat from Iran

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A report from The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which was leaked on Saturday, reports that Iran may start building a nuclear bomb in a matter of months. The report makes the claim that Iranian President Ahmadinejad has a top secret explosive testing facility at a site just outside the capital, Tehran, and is conducting experiments. It is believed that foreign scientists are taking part in the Iranian program and that Iranian scientists are attempting to link a nuclear payload to their Shahab 3 missiles. International law allows nations to develop nuclear capacity, and also to develop missile technology, but it is illegal to attempt to link the two.

The report author, Yukiya Amano, says indications are that Iran is attempting to build a nuclear arsenal.
Iran has issued statements that the IAEA report is politically motivated, and ties in with speeches delivered in the United States and Israel.

In Saturday evening’s Republican presidential candidates’ debate, the Iranian threat was discussed at length. Many of the Republicans would, if elected to the presidency, continue and vastly strengthen sanctions against Iran. Experts agree that potential sanctions are weak, because of the number of Muslim nations that do not participate in sanctions, and who take the side of the Iranians.

Interestingly, several on the debate stage characterized the people of Iran as being in a position to form one more chapter of the “Arab Spring.” Experts agree that there is no potential for an Arab Spring in Iran, although much of the population is dissatisfied. Some Republicans used the term “nation building” in spite of the fact that the U.S. has taken a position that nation building is ineffective and costly, and in fact doesn’t work.

There were many on the podiums who would intervene militarily if all else failed, such interventions to include pre-emptive strikes against Iran. They may underestimate the ability of Iran to promote assistance from Muslim extremist organizations in the Near East, and even from distant Pakistan and Afghanistan. While it is praiseworthy to show support for Israel, it may be foolhardy to move too quickly in military measures. Some on the stage would reinforce American naval capacity, and American missile capacity. Few of the represented Republicans see any benefit to be derived from diplomatic dialogue.

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About John Lake

John Lake had a long and successful career in legitimate and musical theater. He moved up into work behind the camera at top motion pictures. He has done a smattering of radio, and television John joined the Blogcritics field of writers owing to a passion for the liberal press, himself speaking out about the political front, and liberal issues. Now the retired Mr. Lake has entered the field of motion picture, television, and video game (now a daily gamer!) critique. His writing is always innovative and immensely readable!
  • John Lake

    Think of me as your “Prime source of breaking news!”

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Cannonshop –

    Fortunately, most terrorists aren’t too bright, because either you or I could think of a hundred different ways to paralyze any city in America – and more than a few ways to even shake the entire nation…and that’s without even resorting to having access to a suitcase nuke or two.

    But I suspect you won’t post the most workable of them for the same reason I won’t – because we don’t want to give anyone any ideas.

  • Cannonshop

    Let’s start with detection. For a boost-phase system to work, your engagement elements have to be in position, with line-of-sight on the launch site/vehicle BEFORE the missile is fired. This requires 24/7 coverage, and knowledge ahead of time of where enemy missiles are sited.

    Second, your interception weapon has to be able to kill a missile without having the test rigged. That requires either being close enough for a projectile to reach the moving target before it’s moved out of the way, or your chemical laser (as in the 747 ABL) has to retain sufficient energy to penetrate the casing while it’s both moving upward, and likely spinning. There’s a limit to the effectiveness of lasers in atmosphere as a destructive system, the ABL can’t penetrate the sheetmetal skin of a rocket that is spinning-the energy is dispersed instead of concentrated-at long ranges, and it goes back to knowing that the launch is going to happen, and where-and then ordering your ABL, or your THAAD Battery into a position to detect, and engage the target.

    With sufficient warning, and only a single, or handfull of missiles to engage launching from a tightly constrained area, this might work-but even third world countries can now afford the necessary transport and launch vehicles to make this obselete before it’s even deployed.

    Nevermind things like submarine platforms-the Soviets sold off a LOT of their fleet when the USSR folded up shop, including boomers…and the expertise to operate them.

    Finally, in a theatre-level situation, you don’t have a lot of reaction time. An intermediate range ballistic missile fired from outside Teheran can hit targets in Western Europe reliably, in a matter of minutes to seconds, assuming they didn’t do like ol’ Saddam and try to redneck another fuel-tank onto it.

    For boost-phase to work, you need “Right Now” accurate intelligence and foreknowledge of when the weapon is being deployed-with sufficient lead time to get your counter-forces into position.

    It might be feasable if you sacrificed all other military expenditures into your missile-defenses, but even then, your probability of success is less than fifty percent.

    Now, here’s the thing that should scare the stuffing out of you…

    You don’t need ballistic missiles to launch a nuclear attack-esp. a surprise attack. Just going with thirty year old technologies, a 5 to 15 KT bomb can fit into the casing of a single 155mm artillery shell with an average weight of 180 lbs, and while hte shell might not travel very far, 180 lbs is about the weight of a man-it’ll fit in the side-seat of a Cessna. Add one suicide bomber with flight training, and you’ve got a cruise missile that doesn’t have to be all that accurate, it only needs to get ‘close’.

    NOt to say that gun-delivered ordinance is out of the question either-in a regional conflict (say, Israel vs. Iran), artillery delivered tactical ordinance is not only viable, but the platforms, with sufficient NBC protection, are on the market and have been since the Soviet Union folded up in the early nineties, not to mention the systems WE sold the Shah…

    Ballistic Missiles “Look Cool”, but they’re a far range from the only means or method to deliver Nuclear or conventional (or Bio, or Chemical) weapons at long range, and they’re actually less reliable than other systems that are simpler to construct, or readily available on the foreign market.

  • Igor

    Tell me why you think BPI is technically unworkable. I can see why it’s a political hot potato.

  • Cannonshop

    #13 Roger, I was being NICE, and not tearing into him over his (DoD inspired) Fantasies of a working antimissile system with boost-phase-intercept capability.

  • @8

    Igor’s response is quite legitimate, Cannon. You’re asking him to play your kind of game, and then you dismiss him for saying the game should be scrapped.

    He just doesn’t want to play that game because he thinks it’s silly.

    Nothing illegitimate about Igor’s response.

  • I pity you.

    You might as well go and make another pot of coffee – there’s nothing much happening here!

  • We know who you are, Doctor Dreadful, and we are watching you!

  • (Hey, the Iranian Secret Service usually shows up round about now. I’m surprised we haven’t heard from them yet.

    Pay attention, lads.)

  • Since Iranians aren’t Arabs, and the country is distinct from its Arab neighbours in so many respects, I think the question of whether it is in line for another “Arab Spring” uprising is moot.

    The Iranian regime is basically totalitarian but does tolerate a fair bit of internal dissent as long as it doesn’t touch the wrong nerves.

    I think if there’s going to be a revolution in Iran it will be a gradual one along the lines of China rather than an apocalyptic Libyan-style one.

    And Igor is correct regarding Ahmadinejad. He has a lot less real political power than a western president or prime minister typically possesses, so he’s free to indulge in dramatic posturing designed principally to win votes.

    (He doesn’t appear to own a tie, though, which does endear him to me somewhat.)

    Rather than Ahmadinejad’s theatrics, it’s the words and actions (or otherwise) of the Supreme Leader and the Guardian Council that we should be examining and trying to interpret.

  • Igor


    “Whereas (2) is…just spewing. Sorry, Igor, but you’re NOT asking the right questions.”

    I didn’t ask any question in #2, Cannon. So, I have reason to doubt your reading comprehension.

  • Cannonshop

    #6, So…it kind of comes down to whether the Wilsonian Delusions in D.C. are:

    1) affordable in terms of finance
    2)worthwhile morally
    3) Actually achievable? Note that in the two cases where it’s actually worked, the nations in question had to be blown back to the stone age (Literally in some areas), then occupied over the span of DECADES (really, seriously-U.S. troops even now are stationed in Germany, without a credible threat on the German border, and similar for Japan…)

  • John Lake

    As to objectives, we are hearing again the phrase “nation building.” Potentially costly and probably not feasible. Here we go again.

  • John Lake

    2: That was Ahmadinejad’s strategy for many years, along with promises to spread oil revenue to all the population.
    He is now viewed less favorably,and the Iranian people would probably rather not be involved in bloody conflict.

  • Cannonshop

    an interesting little tidbit from the news this morning. Kind of makes one wonder what the game in D.C. really is, and how many americans are going to be ‘acceptable casualties’ in it?

    Short form is that Embraer, a company that, among other things, is wholly government owned in Brazil, with contracts in Iran, has effectively got a no-competition bid courtesy of the White House on the Light COIN competition, being as the only DOMESTIC competitor in that competition has just been thrown out, not for crony reasons or other acceptable to anyone not in the bag reasons, but because..?

    Just really interesting. when you take it in light of the drumbeat warnings about Iran, and the sabre rattling we’re hearing, this kind of action should send up some kind of warning flare that something is up.

  • Cannonshop

    (1) is asking the right questions. “What is the Objective?”, “What Timetable?”, and “What Cost/HOW are we supposed to pay for it?”

    Whereas (2) is…just spewing. Sorry, Igor, but you’re NOT asking the right questions.

    The first question asked by Mr. Mack is the most important: “What is the Objective?” because it defines WHAT the goal is, it covers both the moral questions AND the functional definition. It’s “neutral”, yet it’s the question that can halt even the loudest ‘cowboy’ armchair generals in their tracks.
    “What is the Objective-What are you trying to do” also covers the practical aspects, as it opens consideration of alternatives to direct military action, and fundamentally defines the limits OF military action-if the action is fundamentally not going to work, then you can eliminate it by “What is the Objective” far faster than “Oooh, those poor Arabs/Persians/Africans!!” can ever do.

    Timetable is less of a power in these considerations, no timetable has ever survived contact with reality, much less armed, hostile, reality. but it’s a good question nonetheless, as it helps define how serious one is in pursuing military action-if there is a definable timetable from initiation to departure from the theatre, obviously it’s a situation better handled by diplomats, than by soldiers. If it ain’t worth going the duration, it’s probably not worth one American Soldier’s life (or the post-combat stress of even one american soldier or marine).

    Three is another good defining question: What cost are you willing to bear? How’re you going to pay for it, and what about the human cost? if you can assign hard numbers to the human cost, then it’s probably not worth sending one soldier, or missile, or marine in. There is no such thing as “Acceptable Casualties”, there is only “Defeat, or Victory”, when you start playing numbers games and bodycount math, it’s time to get out of the game entirely, because you’ve sacrificed your own humanity, and the lives of who knows how many military personnel, on something you’re not serious about.

    AS for financial costs? That’s a good one for limiting objectives to what CAN be achieved, which in turn opens the discussion to what SHOULD we try to achieve, at what human cost, for what intended outcome.

    Military force is something you should NEVER use unless you’re absolutely certain of your intent, and that said intent can only be achieved by the force of arms, and that the sacrifice of lives is secondary to that objective because it reaches beyond the scope of those immediate casualties.

    Fighting the Nazis was such an undertaking, as was stopping Imperial Japan. Containing the Soviet Empire may have been, but playing at interventionism in Libya was not, and it’s arguable about Iraq and Afghanistan.

  • Igor

    I’m sure that Israel would like to send the USA into Iran to fight their enemy (Israel has never been reluctant to sacrifice American lives or security for their own narrow interests). But it’s totally unnecessary for the USA to attack Iran because we can deter their whimpy threat with BPI (Boost Phase Intercept) which kills missiles within 300 seconds of launch. This means that a misstep by Iran would be an unholy disaster within Iran so IMO Iran won’t really do it. But Akma-what’s-his-name is in poor favor so he uses nukes as a distraction, trying to improve his domestic position. Iran doesn’t need them to fend off Israel, so what we’re seeing is a lot of saber-rattling.

  • Republican presidential candidates Romney and Perry are floating the idea of military intervention in Iran. At a time when Republicans have made the US deficit such a huge issue, how is the country supposed to pay for yet another war? There are two choices: deficit financing as President Bush did or a surtax as President Johnson did.

    Three other things need to be addressed. First: What would be the objective of military action against Iran? Second: How long would it take to achieve such an objective? Three: at what human cost?