February 12, 2010
Trend News, 12 Feb 10: Interview with Clare Lopez (Vice President of the Intelligent Summit and CI Centre Professor, retired CIA case officer)
Trend News: Iranian president announced yesterday that the country has finished producing its first batch of 20-percent enriched uranium. Do you believe the nuclear program influences Iran’s domestic policy?
Lopez: Iran’s nuclear weapons program is considered by its clerical rulers to be indispensable for both domestic and foreign policy. Internally, the mullahs believe that acquisition of a deliverable nuclear weapon would encourage national pride, but also convince dissidents and internal opponents that if the entire world could not stop Iran from getting a bomb, then their quest for liberty is also a hopeless one. Externally, Tehran wants a nuclear weapons capability for two key objectives: geostrategic dominance, including adventuresome aggression, in the Persian Gulf and Middle East region, and to seize leadership of the international Jihad movement away from the Sunnis. The idea is ‘Shi’a Rising,’ Persian Empire reborn, and Shi’a at the forefront of the Islamic Jihad vs. the Western, non-Muslim world.
Q: Do you think that Iran has the necessary technology to use the enriched uranium that it supposedly has?
A: It is my conviction that Iran has already developed nuclear warheads and tested them in non-chain reaction, non-fission, trigger device testing, probably in deep underground sites. I don’t think there is any doubt whatsoever that Iran has mastered the full nuclear fuel cycle….moving to 20 percent enrichment is merely the latest challenge to the impotence of the international community. Once a nation has mastered enrichment even to 4-5 percent, moving additional steps beyond that is merely an exercise in the re-calibration of the centrifuges. The hardest technological challenge comes at the beginning, learning how to build and install and calibrate centrifuges and to link them into cascades. Once that is mastered, the rest is actually much easier – also a quicker process to reach Highly Enriched Uranium (HEU) at 90 percent or even Weapons Grade, which is 93 percent enriched. Finally, we are fools if we think that Natanz and Qom are Iran’s only two nuclear enrichment sites. We have no idea at what stage of enrichment the other clandestine sites are.
Q: Do you think that Iran’s nuclear program will stop under pressure of economic sanctions?
A: No, Iran’s nuclear weapons process will not stop for any reason whatsoever except actual credible threat to the survival of the regime itself. Sanctions are useless.
Q: On the whole, what is the possibility to stop Iran’s nuclear program with discounts? What is the role of the U.S.?
A: The only possibility to stop Iran from achieving a deliverable nuclear weapon in the very near future is forcible destruction of their known sites, and/or regime change. Regime change is possible by a number of conceivable methods: internal implosion (the founders of the revolution actually fighting among themselves); internal dissident movement, like the Green opposition, but this has a long, long way to go and is under severe repression; external attack by Israel, the U.S., and/or the international community. It seems highly unlikely that the U.S. will lift a finger to either support or assist the internal dissidents because the Obama administration wants to preserve what it naively thinks to be a possibility of negotiating a nuclear deal with the mullahs. This will never succeed. The international community, especially the IAEA, the U.N., and the Security Council are essentially impotent, in part because China and Russia do not see it in their national interest to stop Iran right now. Only Israel retains the ability and will to act. I believe Israel will strike eventually when it perceives that its final red lines have been crossed, or when Iran is about to acquire a game-changing air-defense missile system (like the S-300 from Russia), or when it decides is the best moment to achieve tactical surprise. For Israel, this is an existential question.
Got a little story for you…
Back in the early 90′s after the Sov state fell, there was a little operation designated “SAPPHIRE” that managed to move about half a ton of U235 out of Kazakhstan and at least one box of Beryllium that was marked “Tehran” on it.
For those not in the know, this is an element that is used in the manufacture of nuclear weapons and either the Sov’s had intended selling it to Iran or, those in charge of it when the Sov’s pulled out decided to make a quick buck. Either way, this would have put the Iranian program much further ahead than they are today had this not been discovered and removed.
Fast forward to today, well a couple days ago, when Mahmoud announced that Iran is a Nuclear nation for having enriched some uranium. Of course their enrichment is not up to the level it would need to be for making a nuclear bomb, it is a step closer to their ambitions. It’s the thought that counts huh?
We are at a precipice in time with Iran’s Mullah controlled nation state and their most fervent desire to be a nuclear power. I fear that this administration has got some balls to grow and not spend so much energy on talking to Mahmoud and his handlers in Iran.
Talk will get us nowhere with them. Just as much as talk will get us nowhere with the AQAP and all of the other jihadist groups. This analyst is right. Natanz was just one facility of more than a few I would agree and the Israelis are the only ones who have the balls and are crazy enough to just nuke it from orbit…
“It’s the only way to be sure”
Last I checked too, we were in a bad way with regard to assets “in country” in Iran. So the intelligence gathering there is likely to be less than stellar too. Sound familiar? Kinda like a few other nation state *cough Muslim cough* situations we have?
So big O wants to talk and sanction them. Say, how long did Muammar go with sanctions and still stand tough against us? How about Saddam? Yeah, those examples don’t really bode well for this situation do they? The fact is sanctions will only allow the people to suffer and the repression of said people to increase. We have tried this and hoped in the past that the people would rise, but, that didn’t go well either did it.
I fear this will go badly.