Free Markets, Free People


Calling Out Iran (update)

Appearing before microphones at the G-20 conference, the Presidents of the US and France along with the PM of the UK made an announcement concerning Iran:

President Obama and leaders of Britain and France accused Iran on Friday of building a secret underground plant to manufacture nuclear fuel, saying the country has hidden the covert operation from international weapons inspectors for years.

Appearing before reporters in Pittsburgh, Mr. Obama said that the Iranian nuclear program “represents a direct challenge to the basic foundation of the nonproliferation regime.” French President Nicholas Sarkozy, appearing beside Mr. Obama, said that Iran had deadline of two months to comply with international demands or face increased sanctions.

Essentially the argument is the facility is too big for the manufacture of nuclear fuel for peaceful purposes and can only exist to enable the pursuit of nuclear weapons.

American officials said that they had been tracking the covert project for years, but that Mr. Obama decided to make public the American findings after Iran discovered, in recent weeks, that Western intelligence agencies had breached the secrecy surrounding the project. On Monday, Iran wrote a brief, cryptic letter to the International Atomic Energy Agency, saying that it now had a “pilot plant” under construction, whose existence it had never before revealed.

So now Iran has been called out. That’s the easy part. Increased sanctions are promised. That’s the hard part. Russia may possibly come on board (we’ll see if the unilateral decision to remove the missile defense shield from eastern Europe), but China is an unknown (although the Chinese foreign ministry recently said it was not in favor of increased sanctions). That’s assuming the Obama administration plans on working all of this through the UN.

One of the sanctions that the US and others are considering is one which would restrict the importation of gasoline. While Iran sits on a sea of oil, it has very limited refining capacity. It must import most of what it uses. Cutting those imports would seriously effect the country. However Venezuelan strong man Hugo Chavez, during a recent visit with Iran, promised to provide the regime with gasoline. That could set up a confrontation between the US (and others) and Venezuela. Hugo Chavez might finally get the confrontation with the US he’s been claiming was coming very soon.

This is about to get complicated and nasty. December is the date in which France has demanded compliance with international demands. In the interim, both sides are going to be scrambling to line up their allies. And then there’s the wild card – Israel.

This will be an interesting couple of months. But one question I have – why wasn’t this presented to the UN before the president of Iran spoke?

UPDATE: Dale sends me a link to this article by Simon Tisdale at the Guardian in reference to this story:

…Now it seems the Iranian regime has been caught red-handed, and clean out of trumps, by the forced disclosure that it is building, if not already operating, a second, secret uranium processing plant.

The revelation will bring a triumphal roar of “told you so!” from Bush era neoconservatives in the US to hawkish rightwingers in Israel. The likes of former vice-president Dick Cheney and UN envoy John Bolton, and the current Israeli leader, Binyamin Netanyahu, have long insisted that Tehran’s word could not be trusted.

Yet the argument about who was right and who was wrong about Iran is hardly important at this juncture…

As Dale sarcastically notes:

Yes. Whatever we do, let’s not try and keep track of who was right and who was wrong about Iran. We certainly wouldn’t want to have a track record of foreign policy reliability we could consult in the future.

Because this is about, uh what was it again, oh, yeah, change!

~McQ

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27 Responses to Calling Out Iran (update)

  • Well, the last question is easy: the UN speeches are fluff and symbolism, and only one speaker at a time. It’s pretty meaningless, let the world leaders have that chance for generalities. I think the US, UK and France wanted together to present a united front at the G-20. The proper place to discuss this at the UN is not before the General Assembly (which has no authority) but the Security Council.

    • I guess you didn’t catch any of Netanyahu’s speech, Scott. Not a lot of “fluff” in that one.

      Nor was Bush’s speech to the General Assembly in 2002 when he challenged the UN as a whole to take itself seriously for once. That led into the passage by the Security Council of 1441.

      Also, I would be remiss if I failed to point out that Obama chaired the Security Council just a day or so ago and didn’t bring up the Iran question. Oh, the opportunities missed to do more than yank his own crank.

      He’s so wonderful!

      And he thinks just like you, Scott.

  • The word going around is that we just got intel that Israel was preparing to strike this weekend, while Ahmedinejad was away and thus complicating communications with Iran, and Obama pre-empted them by buying time for Diplomacy

  • I think there’s an incomplete sentence in one of the later parahraphs:

    Russia may possibly come on board (we’ll see if the unilateral decision to remove the missile defense shield from eastern Europe)

    I assume that there’s some additional thought that was supposed to come at the end of that.

    I think that it’ll be interesting to see how Iran reacts to the disclosure of this plant, assuming that the situation develops in a way that forces them to offer more than denials. If Russia and/or China don’t get on board, it’s possible that Iran will just laugh off any effort at getting them to acknowledge their intentions.

    After all, they’re not a threat.

  • It’s all sort of like the SNL skit where Mohamed ElBaradei claims that he will write them a “stern letter” if the don’t comply.

  • Wait a minute…

    1) A mid-eastern regime seeking WMD
    2) The leader keeps baiting America and making threats about destruction
    3) Doesn’t reveal all of their WMD/Nuke capabilities when it is supposed to
    4) Trying to get sanctions through the security council, probably won’t happen
    5) A major world leader demands we “draw a line in the sand” about making this nation toe the UN line by deadline.

    Has anyone seen this before? Looks vaguely familiar….

    • sharkA major world leader demands we “draw a line in the sand” about making this nation toe the UN line by deadline.

      Important difference: this major world leader doesn’t mean it, and everybody knows it.

      O’ course, starting a war is a good way to look strong and distract people from a failing domestic policy. With TAO, anything is possible (so long as it isn’t good for the United States, that is).

      • After the past 8 years, I don’t think I’ll support ANY Democrat starting any war unless we’re hit first.

  • I don’t think there has been a lot of doubt that Iran had secret facilities or anything, so there isn’t anything surprising about this news. In fact, it’s heartening that intelligence agencies had been monitoring this — it shows that so much punditry about Iran and arm chair quarterbacking is made with a lack of inside knowledge. The White House knows more about the reality of the situation than any of us here. War with Iran would be devastating — the US can’t afford the costs, and it would certainly spread to Israel. Also, war with Iran might save Iran’s hardline regime rather than topple it — remember, the regime is not that strong, as evidence by the protest movement.

    The key is to find a way to help push the hardliners into a situation where they have to give up their nuclear program or risk losing control of the country to the moderate opposition that represents the middle class and reformers. And much of what is done to accomplish that won’t be visible to us while it is happening.

    A simplistic ‘war or do nothing’ approach doesn’t work for this kind of case.

    • I don’t think there has been a lot of doubt that Iran had secret facilities or anything, so there isn’t anything surprising about this news. Wait, don’t stop reading yet! I’ll say something that’s not pointless and trite in just a second, really. Stop laughing! In fact, it’s heartening that intelligence agencies had been monitoring this — it shows that so much punditry about Iran and arm chair quarterbacking is made with a lack of inside knowledge. But my own arm chair quarterbacking concerning Iran during the imperialistic Iraq war doesn’t count, of course. It just doesn’t. I decree it.

      The White House knows more about the reality of the situation than any of us here. This White House, I mean. The last one, of course, was clueless, no matter how many intelligence reports they received, and everything they did was wrong. War with Iran would be devastating — the US can’t afford the costs, and it would certainly spread to Israel. Why exactly that would be bad thing, to finally obliterate Israel’s worst enemies, is a complex political science thing that only someone like me who deeply feels the ickiness of war would understand. Also, war with Iran might save Iran’s hardline regime rather than topple it — remember, the regime is not that strong, as evidence by the protest movement. And of course Obama was completely correct not to support that protest movement, even though had it succeeded all of this would be moot, just because Obama is perfect and wise and wonderful and has a Christlike visage that makes a tingle go up my leg.

      The key is to find a way to help push the hardliners into a situation where they have to give up their nuclear program or risk losing control of the country to the moderate opposition that represents the middle class and reformers. No, wait, I have not either returned to saying something trite and pointless! That’s a clever and insightful analysis, I tell you, something that could only have been made by someone with a godlike power of political science! And much of what is done to accomplish that won’t be visible to us while it is happening. That means you dense righties can wail all you want about your so called facts when I assert something, but you can’t prove I’m wrong! You can’t prove it, because there might be something hidden you don’t know about. Of course, on the other hand my godlike powers of political science allow me to dismiss anything you say with a wave of my hand, because it’s just impossible that any of this hidden evidence would ever support the rantings of ex-military basket cases.

      A simplistic ‘war or do nothing’ approach doesn’t work for this kind of case. No, we need negotiation. I’ve explained before why negotiation is a magical process in which we just explain clearly why what those Iranians are doing is a bad idea, and they acknowledge it and promise to do something else, and we give them all kinds of wonderful stuff for their cooperation, and they hug us and maybe we all get a tear in our eye from the magnificence of making history without any icky war. So no war! Don’t even threaten it! That causes the magic not to work.

    • “it shows that so much punditry about Iran and arm chair quarterbacking is made with a lack of inside knowledge”

      And yet you keep going on….

    • “The White House knows more about the reality of the situation than any of us here.”

      LOL.
      My, how things have changed in the last eight months.

  • Note the competence of Obama — slowly making sure a cooperative intelligence agency operation get unambiguous evidence before charging a country of WMD, compared to Bush’s approach of uncertainty, fake intelligence from Cheney and Bolton’s office, and an utterly incompetent approach that led to devastating results. Bottom line: Obama is 1000% better and more competent on security policy than the reckless and disastrous Bush administration.

    • “Bottom line: Obama is 1000% better and more competent on security policy than the reckless and disastrous Bush administration.”

      ROTFLMAO!!!! Thanks Scott. I’ll be chuckling about that one all weekend.

      • But you don’t deny my claim, me again. Bush bumbled us into wars on false intelligence, meaning that due to his incompetence hundreds of thousands died world wide, American service people were abused (PTSD, broken families, failed businesses, death and severe injury), the US lost considerable power and prestige, and our economy went into a state of collapse. The Bush administration will be remembered as the most incompetent administration in history concerning foreign policy. They manufactured intelligence in the backrooms of Bolton and Cheney, and essentially pushed us headlong into decline. Maybe Obama can reverse that trend, but you’re in another world if you think Obama is worse than Bush. Maybe you should take my summer on line foreign policy course!

        • Bush bumbled us into wars on false intelligence

          So Erb is arguing that we went into Afghanistan based on falsehoods? Erb is a truther?

          They manufactured intelligence

          Which is it Erb? Was Bush incompetent or a liar?

    • Let me guess– this was an attempt to upstage Ott, wasn’t it?

    • Your beloved French disagree.

  • Erb:
    “Note the competence of Obama — slowly making sure a cooperative intelligence agency operation get unambiguous evidence before charging a country of WMD…”

    Would a mushroom cloud over Israel be enough “unambiguous evidence” for you, Professor?

    • There is a large space inbetween a mushroom cloud and wild fits of fancy like the Bush administration followed. Obama is doing it, working with world intelligence agencies and getting the allies on board for a rational response. If only Bush had done that with Iraq, perhaps a lot of people would not be dead, suffering PTSD, and America might not have lost so much power and prestige. After Bush, we’re no longer a dominant power, even though the bluster talk of a few in these comments suggests some people are in denial.

      • If only Bush had done that with Iraq

        Yes, if only Bush hadn’t just jumped into Iraq right away without first spending months talking to the UN and getting commitments from member nations with similar intel.

        Oh, wait…

  • Pitiful. Even his trolling is incompetent.

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