GRAND THEFT URANIUM
IN HORMUZ, IRAN WINS
***NOTE: TEXT HIGHLIGHTED IN YELLOW IS MY EMPHASIS. IF ANY OF MY LINKS ARE BROKEN, THEY HAVE BEEN SEPARATELY SAVED AND ARE AVAILABLE UPON REQUEST***
If the Americans attack Iran, the world will change. They will not dare to make such a mistake.
-- Akbar Rafsanjani, Former President of Iran
The results of an American or Israeli military strike on Iran could, in my view, prove catastrophic, haunting us for generations in that part of the world.
It is impossible to predict exactly how a war with Iran would play out, other than, like all war, as a calamity.-- Former Defense Secretary Robert Gates
Indeed, we cannot even be sure who will launch a war. This election will be interesting. While there is of course time for some October Surprise, I highly doubt a war will begin. Netanyahu has backed down in the face of opposition to any strike from intelligence, military, and political leaders both of the United States and his own country.
But it is pretty clear who Netanyahu would prefer to win, having known Romney for over thirty years from their business careers.
As awful as Obama has been, one thing I can praise about his Administration is that they are indeed working to at least delay this insanity. Though I wouldn't want to give them too much credit. The praise primarily belongs to military brass and intelligence communities in condemning the prospect of a needless strike on Iran.
But still, this is perhaps the most amusing foreign policy gaffe of Obama's Presidency: an open mic moment caught between him and then-French President Nicholas Sarkozy. On Netanyahu, the President said:
You may be sick of him, but I have to deal with him every day.Delightful! Though, to provide a counterpoint over the semi-praise of the Obama Administration, aid to Israel has not budged. In fact, it has risen. And it's really just bribes. [12/23/2012 EDIT: AN ABSURDLY LARGE SHIPMENT OF BUNKER BUSTER BOMBS IS BEING GIVEN TO ISRAEL FROM THE UNITED STATES]
But predictions are just those: predictions. I have been "predicting" a war with Iran since 2006. I put timetables on it, for example, "by the end of the Bush presidency," or "by August 2010," after which the United States handed sovereignty over much Iraqi airspace to the Iraqi government, which of course would ***never*** allow Israeli warplanes to fly over towards Iran.
But when I was wrong, I decided that it was perhaps detrimental to my warnings to have timetables. But that does not make the situation any less dire. Instead of predicting the timing, we must focus on the ***conditions*** the world is in, and the implications of a strike on Iran in such conditions..
Everyday I am wrong about this war, I thank God. But I only have to be right once.
Will Israel make a surprise first strike (as their military history shows they favor)? Such a move would be quite foolhardy, however, as Israel, for all its military pomp, simply lacks the equipment and weaponry to pull off a meaningful air strike [12/23/2012 EDIT: EVEN WITH THE BUNKER BUSTER BOMBS MENTION IN THE ABOVE EDIT, THEY STILL HAVE TO ***GET*** THEM FROM ISRAEL TO IRAN].
A recent overview of that pomp and a look at Israel's possible military actions included a scenario I had never heard suggested until then. The author refers to it as "The Entebbe Option." This harkens to an IDF mission called Operation Thunderbolt or Operation Entebbe from the 1970s, in which commandos from the Sayeret Matkal (Israeli Special Forces) attacked the Entebbe Airport in Uganda to rescue Jewish/Israeli hostages after a hijacking.
Tragically, it seems that at least two of the lost Jewish civilians were killed by friendly fire. A third was killed in a less clear case of crossfire. Having been separately taken to an area hospital and killed there, a fourth was lost a day after the raid.
But as 102 others were saved and all of the hijackers were killed (along with several dozen Ugandan soldiers), the undoubtedly daring mission was a near total success.
Five Israeli commandos were wounded. But, most importantly, the brother of the current Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was the only Israeli soldier killed. For this reason, the raid is also referred to as Operation Yonatan (Jonathon). This loss, obviously, hit the Netanyahu family hard. I am certain that it heavily influences the Prime Minister's thinking to this day.
E5JSo what would an Iranian version of Entebbe look like? Well, first of all, it must of course be noted that this would not be a ***rescue mission*** into a country that all of a sudden held hostages.
Rather, it would be a covert strike and extraction of ***guarded nuclear material (which is, unlike hostages, a bit radioactive)*** from a country that is on high alert and has been for a decade. And thus the comparison is already seen to be baseless.
Still, the article describes the fantastical victory version of such an operation:
Israel's likely inability to destroy Iran's nuclear capacity in a single stroke, even in a best-case scenario, has led U.S. war planners to speculate about a second, out-of-the-box, and extremely dangerous military option: what they're calling an "Iranian Entebbe."
In this scenario, the Israelis would forego a massed air attack and instead mount a high-risk but high-payoff commando raid that would land an elite Sayeret Matkal (special forces) unit outside of Iran's enrichment facility at Fordow, near Qom. The unit -- or other elite units like it -- consisting of perhaps as many as 400 soldiers, would seize Iran's enriched uranium for transport to Israel.
The operation's success would depend on speed, secrecy, simplicity, and the credibility of Israeli intelligence. According to the Pentagon war planner, Israel's access to intelligence on Iranian military and policy planning is unprecedented, as is their willingness to share it with U.S. intelligence officials.
The Israeli unit would be transported on as few as three and perhaps as many as six C-130 aircraft (which can carry a maximum of 70 troops) that would be protected by a "swarm" of well-armed F16Is, according to the scenario being considered by U.S. military officers. The C-130s would land in the desert near Fordow. The Israeli commandos would then defeat the heavily armed security personnel at the complex, penetrate its barriers and interdict any enemy units nearby, and seize the complex's uranium for transport back to Israel. Prior to its departure, the commando unit would destroy the complex, obviating the need for any high-level bombing attack. (Senior U.S. military officers say that there are reports that some of the uranium at Fordow is stored as uranium hexafluoride gas, a chemical form used during the enrichment process. In that case, the material may be left in place when the commandos destroy the complex.)Whew! It sounds like a very fun level in the Call of Duty video game series. The only difference is that there are no do overs. I especially loved how it is acknowledged that the forces guarding these sites will be "heavily-armed" as if someone put the game in "most difficult" mode. Let's look at this statement:
The unit-- or other elite units like it -- consisting of perhaps as many as 400 soldiers, would seize Iran's enriched uranium for transport to Israel. The operation's success would depend on speed, secrecy, simplicity, and the credibility of Israeli intelligence.Ah... intelligence.
In 2007, all sixteen US Intelligence Agencies (***yup, sixteen!*** The Intelligence Community) reported a consensus that enrichment of uranium tot weapons grade was ***not*** occurring. Throughout the years, and earlier just this year, they reiterated this position. The Israeli Mossad agrees.
[3/14/2013 EDIT: DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE JAMES CLAPPER REITERATES THAT IRAN CANNOT BUILD NUCLEAR WEAPONS WITHOUT BEING DETECTED]
On top of this, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA, the global nuclear watchdog organization) has been in Iran since the 1950's. The current head, Yukiya Amano of Japan, came to office in 2009 openly stating that he was "solidly in the US court" on the Iranian issue. And yet, they too have found no evidence that Iran is weaponizing its nuclear material.
Indeed, just recently, the Iranians converted a large amount of their twenty percent enriched uranium into a state which is used for cancer treatment. It is labor-, technology-, and time-intensive to reconvert it into something that can again be weaponized.
[03/14/2013 EDIT: FURTHER ON IRAN'S CONVERSION]
Iran's two Supreme Leaders, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini (1979 - 1989) and Ayatollah Ali Khamenei (1989 -present (2013)), repeatedly condemned weapons of mass destruction in general and nuclear weapons in particular, as forbidden to Islamic nations. After Saddam Hussein's Iraq had used chemical weapons on Iranians, Iranian military leaders suggested that they respond in kind with the stockpiles of chemical weapons the corrupt Shah of Iran had prior to the 1979 overthrow. Khomeini forbid it. And this stance is reiterated by Khamenei on a regular basis:
We don't have any belief in the atomic bomb and we do not pursue it. Our religious principles forbid the acquisition and use of such weapons of mass murder. They are a symbol of destruction.[FEBRUARY 14TH, 2013 EDIT: DESPITE WARM RELATIONS, THE IRANIANS CRITICIZED THE RECENT NORTH KOREA NUCLEAR TEST, INSISTING THAT ALL NUCLEAR WEAPONS (AND ALL WEAPONS OF MASS DESTRUCTION) BE DESTROYED]
Oh! How crazy they are! Sigh....
Therefore, any Israeli operation to steal nuclear material would amount to nothing more than a well-armed burglary of Iran's rightful stock of uranium for civilian use.
And the notion that such an operation would be successful is absurd.
Say they did it. Say they actually got it all out and with minimal losses. End of story? No retaliation whatsoever? Since Iran has no nuclear weapons program, it is ridiculous to believe that the Iranian government will come to this sort of conclusion:
Shucks! They took our non-weaponized uranium used for fuel and radiation therapy of cancer. Now we can't build the bomb we weren't building. Let's just call it a wrap then!
Further dire consequences for Israel will be an almost endless barrage of rockets and ballistic missiles. Iran has thousands of long-raged conventional arms. But even more danger comes from Iranian-supported Hezbollah in Lebanon just to the North of Israel. Their missile strength is estimated to be as high as 40,000. While it was so celebrated for its so-called "success" against the rockets of comparatively puny Gaza Palestinian armed groups such as Hamas, Israel's Iron Dome missile defense will be completely overwhelmed.
On his show, Bill O'Reilly and Mitt Romney had an exchange on Iran:
ROMNEY: I’m ready to make sure we have military options combined with crippling sanctions.
O’REILLY: Of course we have military options.
ROMNEY: But we have developed in a way that Iran understands we would use military options.
O’REILLY: You’re a tough guy? You’re going to stare them down and say ‘Look, I’m gonna use them’? If you bomb Iran that starts World War III. You know that. They’re going to try to block Hormuz. Oil will double. The unintended consequences to the United States all across the Muslim world will be horrible. That’s what Iran is banking on.Romney nodded.
With the outbreak of war, what will happen in the Strait of Hormuz will be a tragedy, and one that some seem to believe is impossible. But make no mistake, Iran ***will*** win in the Strait of Hormuz. Indeed, the more warships sent to reopen the waterway, the faster Iran will triumph.
We know this is so because of the results of an infamous war game, the Millennium Challenge 2002, which was the largest war game ever (and I think still is).