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November 11, 2011 9:21 AM   Subscribe

The IAEA report on Iran has been leaked to the public. But are the new allegations "a game changer"... or, even new, for that matter?
posted by markkraft (38 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

 
"Why are you ruining the prestige of the [UN nuclear] agency for absurd US claims?" Mr. Ahmadinejad asked, speaking before a flag-waving crowd in the central Iranian town of Shahr-e Kord. "The Iranian nation is wise. It won't build two bombs against 20,000 [nuclear] bombs you have. But it builds something you can't respond to: Ethics, decency, monotheism and justice."

He's full of it, of course. But I do like his style.
posted by Trurl at 9:51 AM on November 11, 2011 [3 favorites]


"Why are you ruining the prestige of the [UN nuclear] agency for absurd US claims?" Mr. Ahmadinejad asked, speaking before a flag-waving crowd in the central Iranian town of Shahr-e Kord. "The Iranian nation is wise. It won't build two bombs against 20,000 [nuclear] bombs you have. But it builds something you can't respond to: Ethics, decency, monotheism and justice."
The red herring that Ahmadinejad is presenting here, casting aspersions on the idea of Iran engaging in an "arms race" with the US or any other nuclear power, is part of the problem.

Nukes are, generally speaking, a deterrent. Pakistan didn't need more than a handful of nuclear weapons at first to command respect and distance to settle its own affairs from the international community. Iran has no reason to start an arms race. But possession of the weapons themselves would allow them to act unilaterally throughout the region with little fear of retaliation. They could supply arms to countries and have them fight proxy wars. Force their military and political ideologies on other countries. Etc. (Just as the US has, in fact.)

The situation is more complex than Ahmadinejad is suggesting. And for Iran, the goal is to obtain the security to act with impunity, not to become another US or Russia and attempt to dominate the planet.
posted by zarq at 9:54 AM on November 11, 2011 [5 favorites]


This isn't exactly on point, but "$X and $X-related program activities" continues to be one of my favorite turns of phrase. Pants, and pants-related program activities. Whiskey, and whiskey-related program activities.
posted by mhoye at 9:54 AM on November 11, 2011 [8 favorites]


Sometimes whiskey and whiskey-related activities lead to pants and pants-related activities.
posted by TheRedArmy at 9:59 AM on November 11, 2011 [8 favorites]


After years of neo-con hand-wringing and openly aggressive talk, Iran has every reason to want to enhance their security with a little Dr. Strangelove doomsday machine.

The charge that Iran wants nuclear capability so that they can act with impunity on other matters would seem to be a charge of the pot calling the kettle black.
posted by three blind mice at 10:10 AM on November 11, 2011 [4 favorites]


three blind mice: "The charge that Iran wants nuclear capability so that they can act with impunity on other matters would seem to be a charge of the pot calling the kettle black."

Didn't read my entire comment, huh?
posted by zarq at 10:15 AM on November 11, 2011


IPS just skewered the report too... "IAEA's "Soviet Nuclear Scientist" Never Worked on Weapons". (More details here from a blogger who discovered the same facts a few days ago, before the report was leaked, simply by using Google.)

So, basically, using explosions to make nanodiamonds for harddrive/semiconductor applications = pants... which still aren't whiskey, but have been shown to be very useful in making pants.
posted by markkraft at 10:17 AM on November 11, 2011


And for Iran, the goal is to obtain the security to act with impunity

See Pakistan, India, South Korea, Israel and all the permanent members of the U.N. Security Council.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 10:22 AM on November 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


Not a big fan of the current regime, but Iran clearly needs a bomb if they're going to avoid becoming the next victim of American aggression. So, best of luck to them.
posted by Meatbomb at 10:45 AM on November 11, 2011 [3 favorites]


More details on the nanodiamond researcher in Iran, who the IAEA claimed was a nuclear scientist.

Contacted by the newspaper, the 76-year-old scientist, now retired, refused to discuss his work in Iran, saying only: “I’m not a nuclear physicist and I’m not a father of Iran’s nuclear programme.”

His former colleague confirmed Mr. Danilenko’s words. Vladimir Padalko, head of a company producing nanodiamonds, said experts from the IAEA and the U.S. State Department had interviewed him several times about Mr. Danilenko’s work in Iran.

“I explained to them that nanodiamonds have nothing to do with nuclear weapons,” Mr. Padalko told Kommersant.

He confirmed that Mr. Danilenko did work in Iran in the second half of the 1990s: “He worked there on nanodiamonds and read lectures, which later became the basis for a monograph on the subject.”

posted by markkraft at 10:47 AM on November 11, 2011


Juan Cole: The Little Iran Nuclear Report that Couldn’t

Iraq, Iran and the Nuclear Phantasm: We’ve Seen this Picture
posted by homunculus at 10:50 AM on November 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


AElfwine Evenstar: " And for Iran, the goal is to obtain the security to act with impunity

See Pakistan, India, South Korea, Israel and all the permanent members of the U.N. Security Council.
"

Yes, this is precisely my point. Nearly every country that has become a nuclear power did so not to engage in an arms race with either the US or Russia, but for both deterrence and the security to be able to operate with minimal international oversight or control.
posted by zarq at 10:59 AM on November 11, 2011


And for Iran, the goal is to obtain the security to act with impunity

I'm sorry, but that strikes me as obfuscating. I see no reason to conflate "obtain security" with "to act with impunity". Why can't it be, that Iran is seeking security, period - security from arbitrary military attack based on nothing but lies and forgeries? The history of what happened in Iraq is still reverberating - and it's right next door. The world's only remaining military superpower has openly called for regime change in Iran - a call they've backed up by money that's resulted in deadly terrorist attacks inside of Iran, a call backed up by exploratory military activity inside Iran, a call backed up by massive sanctions and hostile intelligence acts.

I think Iran's primary goal is security. I don't think they're sitting there saying "we need nuclear weapons so that we can act with impunity against other countries". I think they say "we need nuclear weapons as security in a world where there are parties bent on destroying us". Now, perhaps it would eventually translate into "acting with impunity" once security has been achieved, but that's a lot of speculation, given that we don't even have proof that they're seeking nuclear weapons (though I think that's exceedingly likely - and quite understandable from their point of view).

One wonders if those who make such claims would also say that "Israel obtained nuclear weapons so that it can act with impunity" - even though Israel has certainly acted with impunity in multiple ways, feeling quite free to attack, consequence-free, any country that they wish to deny nuclear weapons to - like Iraq, or Syria. And are now threatening such attacks against Iran. One wonders if they know something about impunity, and want to deny that to others.
posted by VikingSword at 11:00 AM on November 11, 2011 [3 favorites]


I don't think they're sitting there saying "we need nuclear weapons so that we can act with impunity against other countries".

But would it not make sure that there will be no end to their impunity against their own people. Who would've set up a no-fly-zone in Libya if Gaddafi had nukes?
posted by Anything at 11:06 AM on November 11, 2011


VikingSword: " I think Iran's primary goal is security. I don't think they're sitting there saying "we need nuclear weapons so that we can act with impunity against other countries". I think they say "we need nuclear weapons as security in a world where there are parties bent on destroying us". Now, perhaps it would eventually translate into "acting with impunity" once security has been achieved, but that's a lot of speculation, given that we don't even have proof that they're seeking nuclear weapons (though I think that's exceedingly likely - and quite understandable from their point of view)."

Countries that become part of the nuclear club rarely turn completely isolationist. Whether the ability to act with impunity Iran's overt intention or not, it comes with the territory. A perq, if you will. It's something worth considering, considering the ways in which Iran has inserted itself into regional wars and conflicts over the last few decades, and their saber-rattling towards Israel.

We might as well add 'domestically' to 'internationally,' because lord knows very few countries that have nuclear weapons allow themselves to be dictated to wrt their domestic policies. Criticized, sure. But not dictated to.

One wonders if those who make such claims would also say that "Israel obtained nuclear weapons so that it can act with impunity"

I have not the slightest shred of doubt that this is the case. The Arab countries in the region would have intervened long before this if it wasn't.
posted by zarq at 11:09 AM on November 11, 2011


I first read this as "The IKEA report on Iran has been leaked to the public." And I thought, "Man, they really ARE a global force to be reckoned with."
posted by ZenMasterThis at 11:11 AM on November 11, 2011 [4 favorites]


But possession of the weapons themselves would allow them to act unilaterally throughout the region with little fear of retaliation.

Iran already does act unilaterally throughout the region with little fear of retaliation - who do you think helped defeat the US occupation of Iraq?
posted by KokuRyu at 11:13 AM on November 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


Introducing Büüm, the IKEA Nuclear Containment Vessel.
posted by zarq at 11:15 AM on November 11, 2011 [6 favorites]


KokuRyu: "Iran already does act unilaterally throughout the region with little fear of retaliation - who do you think helped defeat the US occupation of Iraq?"

Sad but true.
posted by zarq at 11:16 AM on November 11, 2011


Anyway, it makes sense for Iran to try to develop a nuclear deterrent, as it is surrounded on all sides by enemies: Iraq, the US in Afghanistan, Russia, Saudi... Actually, I'm not sure about Russia, but I do believe Iran is probably helping fund some militias in the the "stan" republics of the former Soviet Union.

No allies, except for Syria (and India).
posted by KokuRyu at 11:22 AM on November 11, 2011


"Iran already does act unilaterally throughout the region with little fear of retaliation - who do you think helped defeat the US occupation of Iraq?"

That's actually quite a leap.

Several US officials had to back off of statements linking the Iranian government to any organized effort to arm the insurgency in Iraq, though it is pretty much an absolute certainty that the porous nature of the Iraq/Iran border in the early years of the conflict, combined with the huge potential for profits, meant that weapons and drug smuggling from Iran to Iraq was a virtual certainty... one with a history of commerce that existed well before the war began.

If you wanted to find people who were ideologically motivated to arm Iraq's insurgents, you would actually do better looking to the south. The Saudi Arabian government was quite concerned about the fall of Saddam -- and the Sunnis in general -- because the Sunni dominate the upper crust of their society too. Increased Shi'a influence meant increased unrest at home, and a possible destabilization of their dictatorship.
posted by markkraft at 11:46 AM on November 11, 2011


No allies, except for Syria (and India).

Iran supports Assad (but not at any cost)
posted by homunculus at 12:04 PM on November 11, 2011


Why do most Americans think it exceedingly likely that Iran has a nuclear weapons program, when its own National Intelligence Estimate on Iran says that they probably don't anymore.

"We know the program is halted... the reason it's a warning signal is that it can be restarted." - GWB

Even the head of the IAEA says "the substance of the current report is quite similar to its previous reports", with no diversion of nuclear material.

Is it somehow difficult to imagine that the actual threat of Iran has been politicized, exaggerated, and completely overblown by politicians, both at home and abroad, who don't want to appear weak on defense, on Israel, etc?

Sarkozy: "I can't stand (Netanyahu). He's a liar."

Obama: "You are sick of him, but I have to work with him everyday."

posted by markkraft at 12:08 PM on November 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


On a side note, a US diplomatic cable released by WikiLeaks has something to say about the potential politicization of the IAEA.

"In a meeting with Ambassador on the eve of the two-week Board of Governors (BoG) and General Conference (GC) marathon of mid-September, IAEA Director General-designate Yukiya Amano thanked the U.S. for having supported his candidacy and took pains to emphasize his support for U.S. strategic objectives for the Agency. Amano reminded Ambassador on several occasions that he would need to make concessions to the G-77, which correctly required him to be fair-minded and independent, but that he was solidly in the U.S. court on every key strategic decision, from high-level personnel appointments to the handling of Iran's alleged nuclear weapons program."
posted by markkraft at 12:34 PM on November 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


markkraft: IPS just skewered the report too... "IAEA's "Soviet Nuclear Scientist" Never Worked on Weapons". (More details here from a blogger who discovered the same facts a few days ago, before the report was leaked, simply by using Google.)

IPS:
But it turns out that the foreign expert, who is not named in the IAEA report but was identified in news reports as Vyacheslav Danilenko, is not a nuclear weapons scientist but one of the top specialists in the world in the production of nanodiamonds by explosives.

...

The member state obviously learned that Danilenko had worked during the Soviet period at the All-Russian Scientific Research Institute of Technical Physics in Snezhinsk, Russia, which was well known for its work on development of nuclear warheads and simply assumed that he had been involved in that work.

However, further research would have revealed that Danilenko worked from the beginning of his career in a part of the Institute that specialised in the synthesis of diamonds. Danilenko wrote in an account of the early work in the field published in 2006 that he was among the scientists in the "gas dynamics group" at the Institute who were "the first to start studies on diamond synthesis in 1960".

Another chapter in the book covering the history of Russian patents related to nanodiamonds documents the fact that Danilenko's centre at the Institute developed key processes as early as 1963-66 that were later used at major "detonaton nanodiamond" production centres.

...
Are IPS and the blogger seriously arguing that if Danilenko had written reports on how to build a nuclear implosion device, you're supposed be able to find that information in some diamond synthesis journal, or any other publicly available resource? Look it up on JSTOR perhaps?
posted by Anything at 12:40 PM on November 11, 2011


Part of the quote from IPS was missing in my above comment:
Danilenko's recollections of the early period of his career are in a chapter of the book, "Ultrananocrystalline Diamond: Synthesis, Properties and Applications" edited by Olga A. Shenderova and Dieter M. Gruen, published in 2006.
posted by Anything at 12:47 PM on November 11, 2011


Shouldn't we expect the IAEA to put forth one iota of evidence that the guy in question was a nuclear scientist -- as opposed to someone actively working in making diamonds -- before we start speculating that he wrote reports on building a nuclear implosion device?

More recent IAEA "intelligence":
"After a four-year search for hidden atomic facilities in Syria, U.N. officials appeared this week to have finally struck gold: News reports linked a large factory in eastern Syria to a suspected clandestine effort to spin uranium gas into fuel for nuclear bombs.

But after further probing by private researchers, Syria’s mystery plant is looking far less mysterious. A new report concludes that the facility and its thousands of fast-spinning machines were intended to make not uranium, but cloth — a very ordinary cotton-polyester.

“It is, and always has been, a textile factory,” said one of the researchers, Jeffrey Lewis, a nuclear policy expert at the Center for Nonproliferation Studies."


Pants, and pants-related program activities?! Clearly, we can't allow Iranians to have pants, for fear that they may one day produce a quality single malt.
posted by markkraft at 1:04 PM on November 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


markkraft: Even the head of the IAEA says "the substance of the current report is quite similar to its previous reports", with no diversion of nuclear material.

I'm sorry, that's not helpful. That is a clip uploaded March 8. Also, it is by the Iranian state TV, and it alters the IAEA chief's message of 'we are not saying Iran has a nuclear weapons program' into 'Iran has no nuclear weapons program'.

I'm not happy to be misled by any side of the argument.
posted by Anything at 1:06 PM on November 11, 2011


@Anything I think you're right about the motivation of Press TV, however, the quote stands, and was not taken out of context. The clip was simply used to provide the quote itself.

Iran may indeed have a nuclear weapons program. That's certainly something I am not trying to deny. However, the IAEA is actively monitoring Iran's known nuclear materials for verifying compliance, and has no evidence to support an active nuclear weapons program.

With the exception of intelligence dating to 2003 added to the annex -- the year in which the US National Intelligence Estimate says Iran halted their nuclear weapons program -- the current report is very similar to the last one. There are still serious questions regarding the validity of the added intelligence, however.
posted by markkraft at 1:22 PM on November 11, 2011


Looks like there is a very recent speech by Mr. Amano that lays out what he knows about Iran's nuclear program.

Basically, he says that Iran's declared nuclear program stays in peaceful purposes, but that they continue to refine uranium -- under IAEA monitoring -- and that "some of their activities aren't that clear and some of their activities may have military implications."
posted by markkraft at 1:46 PM on November 11, 2011


I'm leery of "official reports" stating that nation X is building a nuclear armament. Let's not get fooled again.
posted by Renoroc at 1:48 PM on November 11, 2011


In other Iran news just reported, massive explosions at (Revolutionary Guard?) ammo depot 25 miles from Tehran.

CBS
Haaretz
posted by Anything at 3:39 AM on November 12, 2011


The explosions 'shook the capital'.

From 25 miles away.
posted by Anything at 3:41 AM on November 12, 2011


Several US officials had to back off of statements linking the Iranian government to any organized effort to arm the insurgency in Iraq

Sadly the accusations and subsequent walk backs have nothing to do with facts. We don't know the facts. The Cheney-Iraq-WmD fiasco demonstrated that even presidents don't get facts anymore. The military-industrial complex works hard to make sure that te only facts policy makers get are the onwards lead to the conclusions they want.
posted by humanfont at 1:46 PM on November 12, 2011


The explosion 'killed a senior commander in charge of the country's missile development programme, the authorities have said, prompting speculation Mossad, the Israeli intelligence service was involved.'
posted by Anything at 4:45 PM on November 13, 2011


Seymour Hersh: Iran and the I.A.E.A.
posted by homunculus at 9:07 AM on November 21, 2011


Bored Condi Calls For Attacking Iran, Because What Else Is There To Do
posted by homunculus at 5:17 PM on November 21, 2011


Has Iran Killed This Advanced US Stealth Plane?
posted by homunculus at 12:51 PM on December 4, 2011


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