Category Archives: Nuclear

The Iran regime’s unstoppable path to nuclear weapons

It matters not where any national leader stands as far as the Iran deal is concerned, the greatest concern to the international community should be why Iran has been seeking the capability to build nuclear weapons for more than two decades.

During the early 1990s, the Israeli secret service reportedly obtained Iranian government documents, stating that Iran had acquired several nuclear warheads from the former Soviet Union. The documents were authenticated by experts in the US, all of which were said to be correspondence between officials in the Iranian government and leading commanders of the IRGC, verifying that the missiles had been successfully acquired. Although these weapons were no longer operational due to age, they were still useful to nuclear scientists as a blueprint for a future weapon.

It is now believed that during the 1980s, when Iranian boffins were struggling to master nuclear technology, Iran obtained the know-how to overcome its problems in the more difficult aspects of nuclear technology, and from then on, the two countries shared future technological advances.

Since the founding of the Islamic Republic, Iran has been working all out to become the Middle East’s most powerful military nation, so with it its constant confrontational policies concerning the export of terrorism, and its meddling in the politics of neighboring countries, it has led to it having to face many foes throughout the region.

So adding that to the fact that a number of its near neighbors are armed with nuclear weapons, including its arch enemy Israel, it made perfect sense to the regime’s hawks to arm Iran in a similar manner.

It was in 1985, Iran began its gas-enrichment program, and when this was discovered many years later, the regime went on the defensive, claiming that its nuclear program was solely for it wanting to become self-sufficient in its energy needs, and for the purpose of medical isotopes.

When questioned as to why it had kept its nuclear program a secret, the leadership claimed it was under no obligation to declare it under the terms of the IAEA safeguards agreement. The agreement stated that it only had to inform the IAEA of the existence of its facilities, six months before any nuclear material was actually being produced and so as far as the Iranian administration was concerned any infringements were minor.

During the time of its secret nuclear sites being discovered, when questioned about its refusal to answer many crucial questions on its program, the regime claimed it hadn’t spoken out due to it being an intrusion of its rights. This was in addition to the fact that it didn’t want commercial secrets being leaked to its opponents, and also the fact that it wanted to safeguard the security of the sites in question.

Energy self-sufficiency

Then when it came to the need for such a program, the regime’s claims for it to be solely for self-sufficiency in its energy needs, and medical purposes just didn’t hold up under scrutiny. Even with the Bushehr reactor up and running, which it wasn’t at the time, it would only result in the production of 3 percent of Iran’s electricity needs, and that the rest of the facilities that were in action or in the pipeline, was not feasible for civilian use.

So much about Iran’s nuclear program just didn’t add up even with the fact that there was no evidence at the time that it was operating a reprocessing program meant little. The regime had been known to be seeking to acquire hot-cell heavy manipulators and lead glass shielding windows from a foreign state, which would be required should it be wanting to embark on such a program.

Suspicions arose as to why the regime would want to acquire such components, which it claimed was for the use of producing medical isotopes. However, after studying specifications for the project, which the IAEA had acquired from a foreign state, it showed that the hot cells being fitted out had walls of 1.4 metres in thickness, which were more suited to the handling of spent fuel, rather than for the purpose of radioisotope production, and pointed towards a military use rather than a medical one.

Then in the summer of 2002, the Iranian dissident group the MEK revealed the existence of a series of nuclear sites in Iran, and within a year it was discovered that Iran was in the process of conducting uranium enrichment at Natanz.

An unidentified IAEA inspector cuts the connections between the twin cascades for 20 percent uranium enrichment at the Natanz facility, some 322 kilometers south of Tehran on Jan. 20, 2014. (AP)

With suspicions beginning to be raised even further that Iran was at work developing nuclear weapons, this further heightened when it was discovered that the regime was mining uranium at Saghand as well as operating a yellow cake production plant in the vicinity of Ardakan, and with a pilot uranium enrichment plant up and running in Natanz, it was also operating a commercial scale enrichment facility close by.

To produce nuclear weapons, enriched uranium is essential, and it takes a full-blown nuclear program to produce it. Uranium ore is a natural element much like iron, often taken from the ground in open cast mining; but it needs to be processed to extract pure uranium from the base material.

Centrifuges are essential in processing of uranium. They are cylindrical tubes that whirl at great speed, separating out or purifying the desired uranium isotopes. Iran’s Fordow Fuel Enrichment Plant was designed to hold around 3,000 centrifuges, producing in the region of 19.75 percent enriched uranium, which Iran claimed is part of the process to produce medical isotopes.

Where nuclear weapons are concerned, their design requires the use of weapons grade uranium to make them functional, and it takes 90 percent enrichment of uranium to take it to weapons grade, which would take only a matter of weeks to produce in Iran’s new and advanced centrifuges.

Doubling down on centrifuges

Back in August 2012, Iran was known to have doubled the number of centrifuges at its Fordow plant in just three months, increasing the number to 2,000. Until the time of the Iran Deal, the number had increased to 2,800, with Fordow running at full capacity.

During that period of time, Iran had increased its supply of a more purified form of enriched uranium, which was much easier to convert into weapon’s grade fissile material. But at this present time, with the regime now mass producing much more efficient centrifuges, with more than 10,000 installed at the Natanz facility alone, they had enough low-enriched uranium to produce at least six nuclear weapons.

Before the Iran Deal, with Iran having built at least five secret facilities, where work was believed to have been carried out on the development of nuclear weapons, it can only be said that the Iran deal has put this work on hold, as most of Iran’s nuclear program is still continuing in a limited capacity. Should the deal eventually collapse, it would only take Iran a matter of months to reinstate its nuclear activity, and the road to a bomb would be fast coming.

So with these nuclear sites carved into the side of mountains, with the regime protecting them with state of the art air defences throughout the country, it leaves them virtually immune to airstrikes. This made it difficult to completely halt Iran’s nuclear program through a bombing campaign would be near impossible, due to the regime’s instalment of the Russian S-300 long-range air defence system.

So adding this to the fact that Iran has already developed its own long-range air defense system, named the Bavar-373 (Bavar meaning “Belief) – and has claimed it is far superior to the Russian S-300, it also gives it the ability to operate both on and off roads. And with the system using Sayyed-3 missiles, which have been successfully tested, it utilizes target acquisition radar, target engagement radar, and phased array radar to direct the primary functions of the system. The system can strike mid-altitude targets with great accuracy, is able to down bombers as well as various other combat aircraft including drones and cruise missiles.

But as far as the Iran deal is concerned, the Iranian regime is in a win-win situation, because as far as an armed confrontation is concerned, it is fast heading toward becoming untouchable. So the only way to bring an end to its nuclear program, other than through a one-sided deal that only benefits its clerical leadership, would be through sanctions or hostilities.

But whatever option is chosen, a regime change would be needed at the end of it, in order to deter Iran from the nuclear path in the future, and at the moment, this seems to be a long way off.

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Could North Korea Destroy the US?

As both Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson have stated, the Clinton-Obama era of “strategic patience” with North Korea is over. The usual suspects in the mainstream media have been warning that Trump is provoking Pyongyang into war on the Korean peninsula. The counter is that the administration isn’t willing to wait till North Korea has the operational capability to nuke an American city like Seattle or Honolulu.

What is not being discussed is a much bigger and more imminent threat that makes action imperative, an existential one for the United States.

The nightmare scenario of an America sent back centuries in time before electricity, refrigeration, and smart phones has grown unnervingly closer with the presence of two North Korean satellites with orbits over a blissfully unaware American populace and an Obama administration that was indifferent to the apocalyptic threat of an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) attack.

On Feb. 7, 2016, North Korea launched a second satellite, the KMS-4, to join their KMS-3 satellite launched in December of 2012. In an article in the Washington Times on April 24, 2016, R. James Woolsey,  former director of the Central Intelligence Agency, and Peter Vincent Fry, executive director of the Task Force on National and Homeland Security as well as director of the Nuclear Strategy Forum, both congressional advisory boards, warned of the dangers of an apocalyptic EMP attack that these and similar satellites pose:

Both satellites now are in south polar orbits, evading many U.S. missile defense radars and flying over the United States from the south, where our defenses are limited. Both satellites — if nuclear armed — could make an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) attack that could blackout the U.S. electric grid for months or years, thereby killing millions.

Technologically, such an EMP attack is easy — since the weapon detonates at high-altitude, in space, no shock absorbers, heat shield, or vehicle for atmospheric re-entry is necessary. Since the radius of the EMP is enormous, thousands of kilometers, accuracy matters little. Almost any nuclear weapon will do.

Moreover, North Korea probably has nuclear weapons specially designed, not to make a big explosion, but to emit lots of gamma rays to generate high-frequency EMP. Senior Russian generals warned EMP Commissioners in 2004 that their EMP nuclear warhead design leaked “accidentally” to North Korea, and unemployed Russian scientists found work in North Korea’s nuclear weapons program.

Woolsey and Pry, along with former Reagan science adviser William R. Graham, chairman of the Congressional EMP Commission, Ambassador Henry Cooper, director of the Strategic Defense Initiative and chief negotiator at the Defense and Space Talks with the USSR; and Fritz Ermarth, chairman of the National Intelligence Council; warned of the North Korean EMP threat an article in the February 12, 2016, issue of National Review:

Naïve reliance on their transparent disavowals could end up costing millions of American lives.

North Korea launched its second satellite on Saturday, yet the national press continues to ignore this existential threat. The White House has not recognized that a nuclear-armed North Korea has demonstrated an ability to kill most Americans with an electromagnetic-pulse (EMP) attack. And White House spokesmen and the media have misled the public with unjustified assurances that North Korea has not yet miniaturized nuclear warheads for missile or satellite delivery.

We, who have spent our professional lifetimes analyzing and defending against nuclear-missile threats, warned years ago that North Korea’s Unha-3 space launch vehicle could carry a small nuclear warhead and detonate it a hundred or so miles over the United States to create an EMP, leading to a protracted nationwide blackout. The resulting societal chaos could kill millions.

The image of an America gone dark, an America suddenly transported from an era of iPads to an era of horse and buggy travel, recently depicted in the NBC series “Revolution” is not science fiction but a very real possibility. As Investor’s Business Daily described the threat in an aptly titled April 2013 editorial, “How North Korea Could Destroy The United States”:

The three-stage missile North Korea launched last December that also orbited a “package,” which experts say could be a test to orbit a nuclear weapon that then would be de-orbited on command anywhere over the U.S. and exploded at a high altitude, releasing an electromagnetic pulse (EMP). That would fry electronic circuitry and the nation’s power grid.

This concern recently has been reinforced by a little-publicized study released in May 2011, titled “In the Dark: Military Planning for a Catastrophic Critical Infrastructure Event,” by the U.S. Army War College that said a nuclear detonation at altitude above a U.S. city could wipe out the electrical grid for hundreds, possibly thousands, of miles around.

The satellite launched by Pyongyang coincided with a third round of nuclear tests described as a “nuclear test of a higher level,” most likely referring to a device made from highly enriched uranium, which is easier to miniaturize than the plutonium bombs North Korea tested in 2006 and 2009, said Cheong Seong-chang, an analyst at the private Sejong Institute in South Korea.

Such an EMP device would not have to be particularly high yield. It would not be designed to create a big explosion, but to convert its energy into gamma rays, that generate the EMP effect.

Any nuclear weapon detonated above an altitude of 30 kilometers will generate an electromagnetic pulse that will destroy electronics and could collapse the electric power grid and other critical infrastructures — communications, transportation, banking and finance, food and water — that sustain modern civilization and the lives of 300 million Americans…

Nobody is harmed or killed immediately by the blast. But life in the U.S., the world’s only superpower and the world’s largest economy, would come to a screeching halt as a country dependent on cutting-edge 21st century technology regresses in time almost a century instantaneously.

North Korea has also been working on a submarine launched ballistic missile, which would put the continental U.S. with striking distance. While North Korean submarines are not yet as sophisticated as our ballistic missile submarine fleet, it would only take a sub modified to launch a single missile, or even one launched from a disguised container cargo ship off our West Coast, to pose an apocalyptic threat.

As Woolsey and Pry note in the March 29 edition of The Hill, the threat of North Korean sending the U.S. back to the Stone Age is real and imminent:

The mainstream media, and some officials who should know better, continue to allege North Korea does not yet have capability to deliver on its repeated threats to strike the U.S. with nuclear weapons. False reassurance is given to the American people that North Korea has not “demonstrated” that it can miniaturize a nuclear warhead small enough for missile delivery, or build a reentry vehicle for an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) capable of penetrating the atmosphere to blast a U.S. city.

Yet any nation that has built nuclear weapons and long-range missiles, as North Korea has done, can easily overcome the relatively much simpler technological challenge of warhead miniaturization and reentry vehicle design….

…on October 7, 2015, (Admiral William) Gortney again warned the Atlantic Council: “I agree with the intelligence community that we assess that they [North Koreans] have the ability, they have the weapons, and they have the ability to miniaturize those weapons, and they have the ability to put them on a rocket that can range the [U.S.] homeland.”

In February and March of 2015, former senior national security officials of the Reagan and Clinton administrations warned that North Korea should be regarded as capable of delivering by satellite a small nuclear warhead, specially designed to make a high-altitude electromagnetic pulse (EMP) attack against the United States. According to the Congressional EMP Commission, a single warhead delivered by North Korean satellite could blackout the national electric grid and other life-sustaining critical infrastructures for over a year — killing 9 of 10 Americans by starvation and societal collapse.

Deploying THAAD missile defense system in South Korea and and the GMD system in Alaska, developed under Republican administrations, is a start, but more force or other moves might be necessary. Fortunately, unlike President Obama, President Trump is unwilling to keep whistling past our own graveyard.

Daniel John Sobieski is a freelance writer whose pieces have appeared inInvestor’s Business Daily, Human Events, Reason Magazine and the ChicagoSun-Times among other publications.

What Iran shows us about the global jihadist movement

According to the very State Department that pushed so hard for the Obama administration’s Iran appeasement deal, that same nation upon whom we have lavished over $100 billion, lobbied on behalf of and promised protection of its nuclear infrastructure, remains the world’s leading state sponsor of terror.While many are aware of the pernicious activities of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard across the globe, and the Khameinist regime’s support of Shia jihadist groups like Hezbollah, lesser discussed is Iranian collaboration with Sunni jihadists.

For the latest evidence of an alliance that might surprise those who view Sunni and Shia Muslims as diametrically opposed mortal enemies, look no further than the recent news out of the U.S. Treasury Department.

As reported in the always-insightful Omri Ceren’s latest dispatch, Treasury announced that it was imposing sanctions on three senior Al Qaeda members stationed in Iran.

According to the Treasury press release, it took such action to “disrupt the operations, fundraising, and support networks that help al-Qaida move money and operatives from South Asia and across the Middle East.”

As Ceren highlights, one such Al Qaeda operative, Abu Bakr Muhammad Muhammad Ghumayn, controlled the financing and organization of Al Qaeda in Iran.

Another operative, Yisra Muhammad Ibrahim Bayumi, engaged in direct dialogue with the Iranian government, serving as a mediator. He was “reportedly involved in freeing al-Qaida members in Iran.”

It strains credulity to believe that a closed Shia nation like Iran, often competing against Sunni forces, would be unaware of Al Qaeda officers within its borders. And in this case we have clear evidence that it was comfortable with Al Qaeda operating on its soil because Iranian authorities were negotiating with the aforementioned Bayumi.

What are we to make of this revelation?

While Sunni and Shia Islamic supremacists may differ in terms of theology, strategies and tactics, their overarching goals are very much aligned – namely ensuring the dominance of Islam throughout the world by killing the infidel or forcing him to submit, with a focus on the “Great” and “Little Satans” of the United States and Israel.

The case of Israel, threatened by Sunni jihadists like Hamas on the one hand, and Shia jihadists like Hezbollah on the other, is most illustrative of this fact.

Another element of this story is relevant in light of the fact that 9/11 is again a live subject now that the federal government has finally released the 28 pages of its report regarding Saudi involvement in the attack.

Much though such ties have been ignored in our Ben Rhodes fantasy world, there is ample compelling evidence indicating Iranian support for the 9/11 attack as well.

In fact in 2011, U.S. District Judge George B. Daniels held in Havlish, et al. v. bin Laden, et al. that “Iran and Hezbollah materially and directly supported Al Qaeda in the September 11, 2001 attacks,” holding the Islamic Republic responsible for damages to family members of the attack’s victims.

The facts and findings of that court case detail chapter and verse the extensive ties between Iran and its proxies and Sunni jihadists spanning multiple decades and covering all manner of operations and activities. Some of the key high-level findings from page 15 of the report are chronicled below:

Bridging the divide

Foreign policy necessarily involves dealing with hostile regimes, and sometimes making common cause with them in order to advance greater interests.

But there is little to indicate that as concerns the global jihadist threat, comprised of state and non-state actors Sunni and Shia each with competing but often overlapping interests and motivations, that America has the faintest clue as to how best to proceed in its national interest, whether in the form of the 9/11-tied Saudis or the 9/11-tied Iranians.

With great regularity we appear to be on every side of every conflict, evincing a lack of clarity about ourselves and our enemies.

For the jihadists are playing a game of “Heads I win, tails you lose.”

They know what they want and are doing everything in their power to achieve it. Does America?

– See more at: https://www.conservativereview.com/commentary/2016/07/what-iran-shows-us-about-the-global-jihadist-movement#sthash.XRDi0Cjo.dpuf