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Thursday, June 1, 2006
Study wants nuclear weapons outlawed
By The Permanent Guest Blogger: Steven L. @ 9:52 pm

Hans Blix — you may remember the name — comes out with a startling revelation here.

He says nuclear weapons are dangerous, and would like to get rid of them.

A study led by former U.N. chief weapons inspector Hans Blix called Thursday for outlawing nuclear weapons and reviving global cooperation on disarmament including security guarantees to curb the nuclear programs in Iran and North Korea.

* * *

But he said “we are going to have to come much further in the area of a settlement of the Middle East before this can be a possibility.”

No kidding. So two news flashes in a row: (1) Nuclear weapons are dangerous, and (2) the Middle East may be a problem. My goodness, this study is certainly shaping up to be a standard UN one. It took a long time, cost a lot of money, and then reports things that are either known by everyone, have no real solution offered, or both.

If only there were some way to blame the US, it would be the perfect UN report. Oh, wait.

In the broader effort to free the world of weapons of mass destruction, the commission said the single most important thing that countries can do is to ratify the nuclear test ban treaty, which the U.S. Senate has rejected.

“We don’t see any sign of that here in the current administration, and the U.S. is opposed to a ratification but the reality is probably that if the U.S. were to ratify then China would, if China did then India would, if India did Pakistan would, if Pakistan did then Iran would. So it would set in motion a good domino effect,” Blix said.

Perfect.

Yes, if we just signed the treaty, then the elves would come and spread pixie dust, and they would fix all the shoes and replace the missiles in North Korea and Iran with ponies, and . . .

I do apologize to the readers expecting Steven T.’s more thoughtful analysis, but this has been a long week and frankly, I cannot see that this report merits a thoughtful response. North Korea signed a treaty in the 90’s, then promptly broke it. Their leader had no intention of *ever* following through on it. the USSR broke arms control treaties whenever it felt like it benefited from such a breach. It is baffling that Mr. Blix feels that this next treaty will somehow be magically different.

Unless you believe the elf theory.

Filed under: General, Global Politics, Iran | Comments (2) |Send TrackBack | Show Comments here
Monday, May 22, 2006
Iran and “Pre-War Propaganda”
By Dr. Steven Taylor @ 11:06 am

In regards to the bogus story about the Iranianss putting Jews and other non-Muslims to wear distinctive clothing, James Joyner notes the following chilling notion:

It’s classic pre-war propaganda.

That isn’t a comforting thought.

See Jim Henley for more.

Filed under: US Politics, Iran | Comments (5) |Send TrackBack | Show Comments here

Non Partisan Pundit linked with Beware the Exiles
By the Way § Unqualified Offerings linked with [...] e been excellent in their follow-up to the Taheri story. See Outside the Beltway, Hot Air, Poliblog and the Politburo Diktat for starters. Also, in comments to the last, the latest outbreak in the tra [...]
The Politburo Diktat » Blog Archive » The Iran ‘Jew badge’ story - “pre-war propaganda?” linked with [...] ourhardani, Minister of Islamic Orientation.” Joyner: It’s classic pre-war propaganda. Taylor  notes the above comments, presumably with concurrence, adding: That isn’t a comforting thought [...]
Saturday, May 6, 2006
Iran-Iraq Border Concerns
By Dr. Steven Taylor @ 10:50 am

Via the BBC: Iraq warns on Iran border moves

Iraq has expressed concern about troop build-ups by both Iranian and Turkish forces along their borders with Iraq.

Outgoing Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari said Iran had been told of Iraqi concerns but said his country wanted to resolve any problems through dialogue.

Like Turkey, Iran has its own Kurdish population, and it is likely that the build-up in that area of the Iran-Iraq border is solely related to security concerns on that issue, should Iraq fall into full civil war in such a way that the Kurds might seek autonomy-a move that could spark secessionist movements in Kurdish Turkey and Iran.

If this is the motivation, then it is a reasonable security precaution being made by the Iranians. Indeed, this seems to be the case:

Recent weeks have seen a number of cross-border bombardments by Iranian troops along Iraq’s north-east border, directed against Iranian Kurdish opposition groups taking refuge in the Iraqi Kurdish area.

Now, cross-border bombardments is another matter, as such moves are a violation of Iraqi sovereignty.

The piece notes that the Turks have similarly built up forces on their border with northern Iraq as well

Filed under: Iraq, Iran | Comments (0) |Send TrackBack
Friday, April 28, 2006
The Shocker of the Day
By Dr. Steven Taylor @ 6:01 am

Via Reuters: Iran spurns UN pressure in nuclear dispute.

And I so thought they would listen.

Filed under: Iran | Comments (1) |Send TrackBack | Show Comments here

Morning Coffee linked with Iran: we do not give a damn
Friday, April 21, 2006
After Jaafari, Who?
By Dr. Steven Taylor @ 6:45 am

Via Reuters it would seem that yes, Jaafari is willing to withdraw as the PM nominee for the Alliance (Iraq Shiites scramble for new PM nominee):

The Alliance’s original choice for the job, Ibrahim al-Jaafari, indicated in a televised speech on Thursday he was ready to step aside at the request of the bloc after resisting widespread calls for his resignation for months.

[…]”The delay proved that the democratic experience failed in Iraq. We see many politicians who are actually not fit for any post,” said Adil Abdulamir, 40, a university professor in Iraq’s second city of Basra in the mostly Shiite south.

“The core of the problem is not Jaafari himself. The real issue is that all the alternate figures are lacking the political experience to run the country.”

I am not sure if the process can be yet deemed a failure, but I do agree that there has been a failure of leadership. Of course, I suppose it shouldn’t be a surprise that after decades of autocratic rule, and with all the folks with serious political experience in jail, that it is hard to find actors with the requisite skills. Building a political class, especially a democratically oriented one, out of nothing is something of a challenge.

Filed under: Iran | Comments (0) |Send TrackBack
Wednesday, April 19, 2006
Shocker of the Day
By Dr. Steven Taylor @ 6:14 am

Via Reuters: Iran unlikely to meet UN nuclear demands: Straw

Britain does not expect Iran to comply with United Nations Security Council demands to halt uranium enrichment by the end of April, Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said on Wednesday.

The real question does anybody whatsoever think that they will comply? If so, I have some oceanfront property in Arizona I’d like to show them. From the front porch you can see the sea and everyything.

Filed under: Iran | Comments (2) |Send TrackBack | Show Comments here
Tuesday, April 18, 2006
Taylor in TCS
By Dr. Steven Taylor @ 8:47 am

After an almost two year absence (man, time flies), I make a return to Tech Central Station: Madmen or M.A.D. Logic?

Filed under: My Columns, Iran | Comments (0) |Send TrackBack
Oil Hits New High
By Dr. Steven Taylor @ 8:23 am

Via Reuters: Oil hits record $72 on Iran fears

Iran is not the market’s only concern.

With almost a quarter of Nigerian oil production still shut after rebel attacks two months ago, oil consumers feel almost as vulnerable as they did during the Arab oil embargo in the 1970s.

Oil prices have soared from $20 at the start of 2002 and are now nearing the inflation-adjusted peaks of over $80 hit in 1980, the year after the Iranian revolution.

And, as the story notes, the Iraqi oil industry is in shambles, which is also contributing to the situation.

Filed under: Iraq, The Economy, Iran | Comments (0) |Send TrackBack
Sunday, April 16, 2006
Consequences of an Attack on Iran
By Dr. Steven Taylor @ 9:40 am

Richard Clarke (who, I will confess, has often annoyed me in the past) and Steven Simon write about the potential results of an attack on Iran in today’s NYT )Bombs That Would Backfire).

I think that their three areas of possible direct harm from such an attack are all, forgive the phrase, on target:

First, it could attack Persian Gulf oil facilities and tankers — as it did in the mid-1980’s — which could cause oil prices to spike above $80 dollars a barrel.

Second and more likely, Iran could use its terrorist network to strike American targets around the world, including inside the United States. Iran has forces at its command that are far superior to anything Al Qaeda was ever able to field. The Lebanese terrorist organization Hezbollah has a global reach, and has served in the past as an instrument of Iran. We might hope that Hezbollah, now a political party, would decide that it has too much to lose by joining a war against the United States. But this would be a dangerous bet.

Third, Iran is in a position to make our situation in Iraq far more difficult than it already is. The Badr Brigade and other Shiite militias in Iraq could launch a more deadly campaign against British and American troops. There is every reason to believe that Iran has such a retaliatory shock wave planned and ready.

These are all clearly likely, if not certain, results of such an attack. The economic consequences would be grave (indeed, even if the Iranians didn’t do anything directly, the oil futures markets would go ballistic) and I would think that we would almost certainly suffer terrorist attacks.

And, I think that if tactical nuclear weapons were used that the global backlash against us would substantial-far more than what we saw after the invasion of Iraq.

These are serious and real issues that need to be considered despite the inflammatory rhetoric of the Iranian president.

Filed under: Global Politics, Iran | Comments (2) |Send TrackBack | Show Comments here
Thursday, April 13, 2006
How Many Centrifuges Does it Take to Change a Light Bulb?
By Dr. Steven Taylor @ 8:22 am

Via the NYT: Analysts Say a Nuclear Iran Is Years Away

The official, Muhammad Saeedi, the deputy head of Iran’s atomic energy organization, said Iran would push quickly to put 54,000 centrifuges on line — a vast increase from the 164 the Iranians said Tuesday that they had used to enrich uranium to levels that could fuel a nuclear reactor.

Still, nuclear analysts called the claims exaggerated. They said nothing had changed to alter current estimates of when Iran might be able to make a single nuclear weapon, assuming that is its ultimate goal. The United States government has put that at 5 to 10 years, and some analysts have said it could come as late as 2020.

[…]

It took Tehran 21 years of planning and 7 years of sporadic experiments, mostly in secret, to reach its current ability to link 164 spinning centrifuges in what nuclear experts call a cascade. Now, the analysts said, Tehran has to achieve not only consistent results around the clock for many months and years but even higher degrees of precision and mass production. It is as if Iran, having mastered a difficult musical instrument, now faces the challenge of making thousands of them and creating a very large orchestra that always plays in tune and in unison.

I am no expert on this topic-indeed, most of those commenting on this topic aren’t either. As such, it is near to impossible to say, with any degree of accuracy, as to how far away the Iranians really are on this issue.

I do think that it is likely that any estimates given by the Iranians themselves are to be taken with a shaker of salt, as they are clearly in self-aggrandizement mode.

I say this not to downplay the potential threat, which is real, but I also wonder as to the degree to which the threat is as serious as many are making it out to be.

Filed under: Global Politics, Iran | Comments (0) |Send TrackBack


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