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Thursday, 29 October 2009
Nuclear Iran
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The following is from The Bangladesh Today and the article can be found at this page by scrolling down just a little way. 

Iran would need 18 months for atom bomb: diplomats
(Reuters, United Nations)
 
Intelligence agencies estimate that it would probably take Iran a minimum of 18 months to develop a nuclear weapon if it chose to build one, Western diplomats and intelligence officials said.
 
For years the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, Britain's MI6, Israel's Mossad, their French and German counterparts and other spy agencies have been struggling to penetrate Iran's secretive nuclear program, often disagreeing internally and with each other on when Iran could have a nuclear weapon.
 
Tehran insists that its nuclear program is peaceful and says Western spies are lying when they suggest Iran is pursuing nuclear weapons [...] several Western diplomats told Reuters that the top spy agencies generally agreed that Tehran would need at least 18 months to build an atomic weapon if it decided to make one – a much shorter timeline than some of the agencies' publicly released assessments of Iran's nuclear plans.
 
[...]
 
[A] Western diplomat confirmed the agreement, adding that the assessment was based on the assumption that Tehran would need at least six months to purify its uranium stocks to weapons-grade level and another 12 months for "weaponization" – building the actual nuclear weapon.
 
The minimum possible timeline is crucial because it gives an indication of how much time the six countries spearheading efforts to persuade Iran to halt its enrichment program – the United States, Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China – have before Tehran could theoretically have an atomic weapon.
 
Now, let’s analyse that piece. The senior editor, and chairperson, of ‘The Bangladesh Today’ is the respected Colonel Syed Shahabuddin Ahmed (Ret’d.) and the day to day editor of the paper is the equally as well respected Colonel Mahmud ur Rahman Choudhury – he who gave a keynote address at the BIPSS conference, organised jointly with ‘The Bangladesh Today’, back in March of this year. The honourably retired Colonel Ahmed and the editor Colonel Choudhury are not fools. They are both ‘insiders’ in the Bangladeshi political establishment and very well aware of the current, Salafist inspired, turmoil in the Islamic world, as well as in their own country, in which they both live and work. Editor Colonel Choudhury went so far as to assert in the paper which he presented to the BIPSS conference that all the 4 core state institutions [in Bangladesh] are equally ineffective, inefficient and incompetent. That is a very brave position to take in Bangladesh today and it must reflect the opinions of many who make up the membership of the Bangladesh Institute of Peace and Security Studies (BIPSS).
 
So what can we in the West glean from that event and the papers presented at that BIPSS conference back in March (and I apologise for being so behind hand in offering my analysis of that meeting, but sometimes one has to, one must, allow a few weeks, months, of sober and mature thought and reflection to colour ones responses to events – not everything is susceptible to a knee-jerk reaction, you know). Well, it seems to me, and I might be wrong, that some significant few prominent members of the ruling elite in Bangladesh are members of the BIPSS and that in that article at ‘The Bangladesh Today’, and on the BIPSS website, they are plainly warning the West (and others) about Iran’s nuclear intentions and about that country’s (Iran’s) obfuscations, if not downright lies, about its intentions in the field of nuclear science and nuclear weapons.
 
The prominent and well-informed Major General (Ret’d.) A.N.M. Muniruzzman is the current head of the BIPSS and he presided over a meeting of the BIPSS which featured no less a person than the renowned climate change expert Dr. Atiq Rahman. But, and let’s be plain here, Dr. Rahman is a discredited expert. He blames the West for all of Islam’s ills. For him, it is our burning of their fossil fuels which is the issue. We can do no right, according to Dr. Rahman. For him, we buy and we burn and we are wrong – if we don’t buy and we don’t burn then we are also wrong. For him there is no right action for the infidel. ‘Damned if we do and damned if we don’t’ is his position. However, he doesn’t offer any solution to the conundrum – he merely condemns everyone involved and that is his weakness.
 
But, and to quote the BIPSS’s own words:
 
Bangladesh Institute of Peace and Security Studies (BIPSS) will be the first such institution in Bangladesh for informed analysis on all aspects of broad spectrum of security, peace and security studies in the region as well as of the global. It will serve as a critical space for reflection, a forum for research, training, exchanges and dialogue between practitioners, academics and activists at all levels. The view that growth and development cannot be realized without a secure and stable environment in which every citizen is a stakeholder, able to participate fully in the processes that govern his or her life, is rapidly gaining ground in many parts of South Asia. Previously, discourse on peace and security was considered the sole preserve of the military, and not civilians. And security was seen largely in the narrow sense of defending a state from threat external to that state. The conflicts, insecurity, human misery and slow pace of development across South Asia, which resulted partly from decades of social exclusion, gross human rights violations and poor governance have compelled new thinking on what security is all about.
 
Please, do let us hope that the fascistic nature of Islam has indeed compelled new thinking about human rights in Bangladesh – and the rejection of Salafist Islamist norms. Not the rejection of belief for that’s too much to expect – just the rejection of the philosophically invalid Sharia norms. Although Dr. Rahman blames the West for the self-caused implosion of Islam he is nowhere naive enough to believe that more, and stricter, Islam is the answer to the problem – quite the reverse, in fact.
 
However, Dr. Rahman aside, members of the Bangladeshi ruling elite believe, as insiders in the Islamic world, that we in the West face a threat from a nuclear Iran and that that threat could be realised within some few months. They believe that they, too, are under threat! Further, they believe that the fundamentalist nature of this new attack upon our, and their, freedoms is serious and that we should, as they do, take it seriously.
 
The sub-text to Dr. Rahman’s criticism of the West and its burning of fossil fuels is something that Hugh has often mentioned in his posts here at NER (and elsewhere). By burning the fossil fuels found so abundantly underneath those countries within which Sharia holds sway we merely transfer our wealth (Hugh mentions in his articles, I think, some ten trillion dollars (US) or more to date) into the hands of those people who mean to do harm to our societies.
 
What the BIPSS see, rightly in my opinion, is that those Muslim countries which have benefited from this vast transfer of wealth also mean to harm such Muslim countries as Bangladesh as it strives to modernise and understand a broader and much more wholesome path of law and decency than the restrictive Sharia interpretation of the Koran as embodied by the Salafist fundamentalists and the traditionalist (and as exemplified by some Egyptian clerics) believers can assert.
 
What the existence of the BIPSS demonstrates is not that that Islam is monolithic, as all Salafists would like to assert, but that there are strands and divisions within Islam and within the Islamic world which choose to believe differently from the Salafist/al-Qaida norm and that they do so with some theological and philosophical validity. However, and much more importantly, the existence of the BIPSS also demonstrates just how little we understand the modern Islamic world. Hear the undersong and not the air.
 
And as far as Britain is concerned – well, at least those few of us British who still exist – hear the undersong and not the air: hear it here.
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Posted on 10/29/2009 6:38 AM by John M. Joyce
Comments
30 Oct 2009
Jack R

 

I agree an Israeli first strike is the best option; however, the dispersal of the Iranian nuclear facilities and Iranian defences around the nuclear sites, and the long distances to the targets from Israel limits the amount of ordinance that Israel could get over the target.  

The situation for Israel today is not as simple as when the strike was carried out against the Osirak reactor in Iraq. Any Israeli strike would have far less effect, and the delay to the Iranian nuclear program could be measured in months, not years as would be hoped for.

 

 


30 Oct 2009
Alan R

 

How do we non-military strategists assess the probabilities associated with two alternative strategies, a.) and b.) below, re: Iran - Israel conflict?

a.) Iran continues with developing nuclear weapons' capability; Israel makes a first strike there; Iran retaliates; next steps? Total effects?

OR

b.) No Israel first strike; Iran has full nuclear weapons' capability, to be opposed, in the very near future, it is hoped, by Israel's new SM-3 automatic nuclear defences (as part of US shield). A 'cold war' situation. In that situation, Israel may have about 10 minutes warning of any Iranian nuclear attack. (In the 'Cold War era' of yesteryear, Britain e.g. had about a 4 minutes warning of any nuclear attack by the USSR.) Such a neurotic situation is not stable, militarily nor politically.

 Of course, it would be politically desirable if the Iranian regime were got rid of by some democratic Iranian opposition (not by some jihad-sympathetic group). This is really an option c.)., and although unlikely, should be supported, as it could avoid  options a.) and b.).



29 Oct 2009
Send an emailRebecca Bynum

Assuming Israel only hits the nuclear facilities, they would have to prepare for retaliation.

I can't see how any body in his right mind could conclude that Israel could live with a nuclear Iran.



29 Oct 2009
Alan R and Jack R

 

  News has been announced of a hopeful military development for Israel, which relates to the reported development time span of 18 months for Iran's nuclear capability.  

 Israel is looking for defensive measures to counter the Iranian nuclear IRBM threat by expanding an American missile shield.

Land-Based SM-3s for Israel

Such a change in Israel's defence policy towards Iran indicates the declining chance of an Israeli first strike at any Iranian nuclear facilities.