Saturday, October 27, 2012

Matt 24 watch, 174: Caroline Glick of the Jerusalem Post, on the Nuclear Red Line, Iran . . .

I believe that, with the tightening up of the US Election, we may have ducked a bullet in the Middle East in the window before Winter weather sets in.

The red line marking the Iranian nuclear
weapons threshold [Source, Russia Today. Fair use]
This has to do with the Nuclear Red Line Prime Minister Netanyahu of Israel announced in his September UN Speech (video here). 

For, at about the 25:33 mark in the speech, the Israeli Prime Minister indicated that by Spring next year, Iran will pass the red line indicated in the clipped image, the threshold of moving to creating enough highly enriched Uranium to build weapons. Once that threshold is reached, within weeks or months (and in underground facilities, many of which are under civilian establishments) Iran will be able to complete the ambition it set for itself in the mid 1980's and has steadily pursued ever since: nuclear weapons.

In the last post in this blog on that saga, in August, it was noted:
the Iranian leadership must know that a credible threat or actual use of nukes -- however disguised -- would obviously leave Iran as a smoking, glowing pile of slag within hours. And, once Iran nears such a capacity, Israel -- on the track record of 1967 and in light of the repeated genocidal threats made by Iranian leaders -- will definitely strike, strike as hard as it deems necessary and willingly accepting even appalling losses in return as the alternative they see is genocide. And, they will be grimly determined that a bad press or even global pariah state status is better than a good eulogy.

(We should all remember that Israel's credible capacity includes sea-launchable cruise missiles, with 1,500 km range. With all that that implies. Where also, Iran's leaders have shown a bellicosity that takes the sort of mutual deterrence that stabilised the Cold War situation for decades off the table. Israel obviously cannot afford to allow Iran to deploy nukes, and -- just using basic common sense -- it plainly will not.)

The path to nukes Iran has pursued since the 1980's cannot possibly come to a good end. 
Unfortunately, there are no good signs that Iran has any intention to back down. That is what makes Ms Glick's remarks in a recent Jerusalem Post article highly relevant:
If there was ever much to recommend it, the "sanction Iran into abandoning its nuclear weapons" policy is no longer a relevant option. The timetables are too short . . . . 
[W]here will Iran's nuclear weapons program likely stand by next summer?

In his speech before the UN General Assembly last month [September], Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said that by next spring or at the latest next summer Iran will have reached the final stage of uranium enrichment and will be able to acquire sufficient quantities of bomb-grade uranium for a nuclear weapon within a few months or even a few weeks.

Netanyahu said that the last opportunity to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons will be before it reaches the final stage of uranium enrichment - that is, by the spring. At that point, a hypothetical Romney administration will have been in office for mere months. A new national security leadership will just be coming into its own.

It is extremely difficult to imagine that a new US administration would be capable of launching a preemptive attack against Iran's nuclear installations at such an early point in its tenure in office.

Indeed, it is hard to see how such a new administration would be able to offer Israel any material support for an Israeli strike against Iran's nuclear installations by next spring.

So this leaves us with Israel . . . 
Where also, the recent reported mysterious bombing raid on Sudan that took out an Iranian-built factory building weapons for Hamas may or may not be a subtle message to Iran. At just short of 1,000 miles range from Israel, the warning could not be clearer if that was intended. Though of course the degree of challenge to reach out to and carry out strikes in Iran would be much higher. But, as a Ynet news article comments:
. . . if Israeli jets did carry out the strike, it means it took place some 1,600 kilometers from Israel, nearly the same distance between central Israel and the uranium enrichment plants in Iran – one near the city of Kashan ("Natanz") and the other near Qom ("Fordo"). Therefore, the attack, if it was carried out by Israel, also sent a strong message to Tehran. 
Until now the Iranians did not take Israel's threats seriously. They did not believe Israel had the ability to attack its nuclear installations or that the Israeli government would have the courage to risk losing dozens of pilots and planes. But now, after the attack in Sudan and the bombing of a Syrian reactor in 2007, which foreign media attributed to Israel, the Iranians may reassess Netanyahu and Barak's seriousness when they declare that "all options are on the table."

In the meanwhile, we can take it for granted that the bomb designs have long since been purchased from North Korea or Pakistan, and the rest of the components have long been assembled. Ballistic missiles, of course, have long been in hand, and some of the prospective nukes may be back-pack demolition nuke designs that can literally be walked or driven to the target by terrorists with visions of 72 virgins in paradise.

In short, the clock has now essentially been run out, and only drastic measures unlikely to win approval of the political and media establishments of the world are likely to avert the creation of a nuclear armed Iran, sitting on the Persian Gulf and backing global terrorism and subversion of governments across the Middle East and beyond.

Ironically, many are inclined to see such an Iran as "balancing" the dangerous threat posed by Israel.

Such a fundamentally flawed and shallow notion, however, only underscores the failure to understand the difference between a fundamentally democratic state and one that is an apocalyptic tyranny with global subjugation ideas and a publicly declared intention of genocide against Israel.

Sadly, then, we are very likely to be in for a rough ride in the Middle East over the next few months and onward, with the possibility of nuclear threshold war centred on Iran being right at the top of the agenda. 

The only softening point I can find, is that if Iran continues on its reckless path, but is hit before the final enrichment stage is reached (it is already deep in the second "to 90%" stage),  precision strikes could possibly discombobulate hard to rebuild bottleneck facilities that are needed to go to the final stage of enrichment. 

I frankly have very little hope that Iran will listen to reason now, any more than it did over the years when it negotiated with the obvious aim to buy time to reach where it now is.

All of this is of course of general relevance and interest.

In terms of significance for us in the Caribbean, we need to think about what a war centred on the Persian Gulf, or even just an unsettled state short of war, will do to the price of oil and the general economic climate, not to mention to tourism.  END