Hogan's Alley

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Iran Reported Clearly On Its Way To Nuclear Bomb

According to that bastion of Bush bashers, the Guardian, an intelligence assessment being used to brief European ministers states that Iran is clearly trying to develop a nuclear bomb and the means of delivering it as far as Europe. Key quote:

The 55-page intelligence assessment, dated July 1 2005, draws upon material gathered by British, French, German and Belgian agencies, and has been used to brief European government ministers and to warn leading industrialists of the need for vigilance when exporting equipment or expertise to so-called rogue states.

It concludes that Syria and Pakistan have also been buying technology and chemicals needed to develop rocket programmes and to enrich uranium. It outlines the role played by Russia in the escalating Middle East arms build-up, and examines the part that dozens of Chinese front companies have played in North Korea's nuclear weapons programme.

But it is the detailed assessment of Iran's nuclear purchasing programme that will most alarm western leaders, who have long refused to believe Tehran's insistence that it is not interested in developing nuclear weapons and is trying only to develop nuclear power for electricity. Governments in the west and elsewhere have also been dismayed by recent pronouncements from the Iranian president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who has said that Holocaust denial is a "scientific debate" and that Israel should be "wiped off the map".

The leak of the intelligence report may signal a growing frustration at Iran's refusal to bow to western demands that it abandon its programme to produce fuel for a Russian-built nuclear reactor due to come on stream this year.

The assessment declares that Iran has developed an extensive web of front companies, official bodies, academic institutes and middlemen dedicated to obtaining - in western Europe and in the former Soviet Union - the expertise, training, and equipment for nuclear programmes, missile development, and biological and chemical weapons arsenals.

This is very scary stuff, but will Europe be able to do anything effective to stop Iran? I fear the answer is no. The European elites have put themselves in a box with their opposition to American adventures in the middle east. Ironically, the only hope may be that a democratic Iraq spreads a fervor for freedom and liberalism to its neighbor that leads to a popular demand for a new government in Iran. This dream of the neocons and nightmare of the left may be all that is left to play in this high stakes game. If this fails, we may yet have to take on the much tougher military task of intervention in Iran, but given the current atmosphere it will take the actual explosion of a bomb to embolden any western government to take action. I would not be buying real estate in Israel just now, which makes the Israelis the most likely ones to act to prevent the Iranians from doing what their president says they want to do, destroy the State of Israel.