IAEA On Iran: Nothing But Know-How

John Glaser, November 07, 2011

Most of what I think needs to be said on the Iran nuclear weapons issue I’ve already written, or has already been written elsewhere. Namely, U.S. policy influences Iran strongly towards attaining a nuclear deterrent, so the notion that Iranians have intent here should not be a surprise. The U.S. has waged two aggressive, unnecessary wars directly along Iran’s east and west borders, constantly floods the Persian Gulf with fleets of navy warships, bribes client states surrounding Iranian territory with weapons systems and money to be subservient to U.S. interests and allow U.S. military bases there, and heaps restrictive sanctions on Iran’s energy and banking industries. Despite reprehensible policies of both governments, the U.S. is very close friends with Saudi Arabia and Israel, two of Iran’s top security threats, one of which the U.S. lets have nuclear weapons and both of which have recently called for unilateral strikes. In addition, towards the end of their reign, the Bush administration asked Congress for funding for a program of support for anti-Tehran rebel ethnic groups to work to undermine the government, as well as for intelligence gathering and sabotage of the nuclear program. For years now, a concerted covert U.S. campaign of cyber-terrorism, commercial sabotage, targeted assassinations, and proxy wars has been under way in Iran. Add to that the constant public statements by U.S. officials of the highest order literally urging military attack and regime change in Iran.

In such an environment, why wouldn’t the Iranian government want a nuclear weapon so as to prevent an attack against their country? As former IAEA chief Hans Blix recently said, Tehran is acting out of a perception of threat, and must be reassured that it does not need a nuclear deterrent: “I think the talks that will resume should give Iran insurance that they will not be attacked from the outside under any circumstances.”

But, I did want to add one important point in addition to the above context I’ve already laid out here multiple times. The media echo chamber, in tandem with relentless rhetorical aggression by politicians, has essentially decided from the leaks of the IAEA report due out tomorrow that Iran has nuclear weapons capability. The leaked statements say no such thing. In the Washington Post article, former IAEA official David Albright said the report claims that all Iran has is the information needed to make weapons. That’s it, just know-how…not material necessities or resources or anything else. Just information.

Albright said IAEA officials, based on the totality of the evidence given to them, have concluded that Iran “has sufficient information to design and produce a workable implosion nuclear device” using highly enriched uranium as its fissile core. In the presentation, he described intelligence that points to a formalized and rigorous process for gaining all the necessary skills for weapons-building, using native talent as well as a generous helping of foreign expertise.

And this conforms to U.S. intelligence, says the Post:

U.S. intelligence officials maintain that Iran’s leaders have not decided whether to build nuclear weapons but are intent on gathering all the components and skills so they can quickly assemble a bomb if they choose to.

Honestly, this seems like an understandable posture for a government that is under attack both by implication and in actual reality (as I explained above, garrisoning Iran’s surroundings with provocative militarism, funding violent rebel groups within Iran, conducting terrorist attacks and targeted assassinations on Iranian nuclear scientists, etc.). If the leaks, the IAEA report, and U.S. intelligence are accurate – and, as we know, even that is questionable – it seems the Iranians are holding on to this information in case of an act of international aggression against them.

But the media and the government have latched onto these leaks as evidence of inherent Iranian evil that is aggressively working to attain a nuclear weapons to obliterate Israel and incinerate the U.S. homeland or bases abroad. Psychotic babble, particularly but not exclusively from the Republican Party, has shifted the debate into one of belligerence, fear, and war. On ABC News, presidential candidate Michele Bachmann said the following: “They [Iran] have already stated that they would use a nuclear weapon to wipe Israel off the face of the map. Iran has also stated they would be willing to use a nuclear weapon against the United States of America. I think if there’s anything that we have learned over the course of history, it is that when a madman speaks, we should listen.” Yes, except when he hasn’t spoken. Nobody in Iran has said they will use a nuclear weapon to attack the U.S. or Israel. Iran denies in the first place that its nuclear program is for anything other than civilian purposes, so how could they have said that? Ah, yes…Bachmann, like the rest of her extremist war-mongering allies in Washington, simply made it up. Back on Earth, even Israeli intelligence doesn’t believe Iran is an existential threat.

Iran is on the defensive, not the offensive. If the U.S. and its allies reversed the aggressive militaristic postures and rhetoric and terrorism that I mentioned at the top, the Iranian nuclear issue would be moot. All of this seething, rabid rallying for war against Iran would be irrelevant if the U.S. simply took the opportunity to establish a nuclear-weapons-free-zone in the Middle East, a treaty that would be viable but for Israel’s nuclear weapons that it will not give up even for peace and stability in the region.

Instead of these reasonable, peaceful approaches, we get Bachmann-type rhetoric and successive crankings of the war machine. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been pushing his cabinet to support a unilateral attack on Iran, and on Wednesday Israel tested a ballistic missile while making public statements about an Iranian nuclear threat. Reports the following day revealed that Netanyahu ordered an investigation into a leak of plans to attack Iran, with the prime suspects being two former Israeli intelligence officials with a history of advocating against such a unilateral attack. Meanwhile, Britain unveiled preparations and plans to attack Iran, supposedly in case of a U.S. attack in which they would play an assisting role. Additionally, a bipartisan House committee unanimously pushed forward two bills that would impose harsher sanctions on Iran’s energy and banking sector. Who really believes these measures – or worse – would convince Iran it doesn’t need a nuclear deterrent?




15 Responses to “IAEA On Iran: Nothing But Know-How”

  1. I'm willing to bet that IF Iran wanted a nuke, t'would be no freaking problem to acquire one. Ready made, off the shelf, and rarin' to go. Maybe Brazil? They'd probably fix Iran up if the price was right.
    Hell, Iran wouldn't have to bother with all the IAEA/US/NATO crap-o-la. Sure would be a darn sight easier than the grief they're going through now.

  2. "[...]David Albright said the report claims that all Iran has is the information needed to make weapons. That’s it, just know-how…not material necessities or resources or anything else. [...]." –Months ago Antiwar mentioned James Risen's book State of War, which reported that CIA handed Russian designs to Iran – ostensibly with flaws inserted -as a sort of international sting(?) operation. That would be another reason not to be surprised that Iran has e.g. done computer simulations, and another reason a weapons program would be directly attributable to US actions.

  3. Read my lips.

    Iran does not have and by all accounts has never had a nuclear weapons development and deployment program.

    By some accounts, Iran MAY have had some paper studies on how to build a nuclear weapon. This is clearly what ANY military of ANY country would do if threatened by a nuclear-capable enemy.

    The leadership of Iran has made it clear that they do not approve of, feel the need for or have any intention of acquiring, let alone using, nuclear weapons.

    This is for the perfectly logical reason that any low number of nuclear weapons would be useless to them strategically, tactically and geopolitically. Such weapons would cause Iran more problems than they solve – and the Iranians know this.

    There is no way they will ever achieve nuclear parity with Israel, let alone the United States. All a clear drive for nuclear weapons would do would be to subject Iran to immediate attack by at least Israel and probably the US. The Iranians know this and aren’t nearly stupid enough to make the effort.

    The rhetoric over the alleged Iranian nuclear weapons program is as bogus as the Iraqi WMD claim. The sole purpose of this “crisis” is to produce justification for regime change in Iran for the benefit of Israel, the oil companies, and the US military-industrial complex.

    Period. End of story.

  4. errr, no!

  5. This is interesting. Absolutely John Glazer, you're dead on that the environment created mainly by the "West" only creates an incentive for Iran pursue a nuclear weapons program. I don't know what Iran's internal politics are, and it could be that advancing a real nuclear weapons program is cost prohibitive; but if they can do it, it only makes rational sense for them to continue…especially considering what has happened in Libya.

  6. What I want to know now is the specific terms of the "tougher sanctions" needed to satisfy everyone calling for them? Will it require the cooperation of Russia and China, who may be reluctant to go along with them? If these "tougher sanctions" aren't realized, will it only force the hand of, at least, Israel to act militarily after all of this huffing and puffing has taken place?

  7. Even if all of this saber rattling only started out as a "bluff", it would seem difficult for the decision makers in Israeli, as well as in the US (ie. members of Congress and/or the Administration), who will go ballistic with fear mongering—probably propagating the notion that we’re in greater danger now than ever before in human history—to back off their hysterical claims if, and when, the IAEA report claims Iran "could" create a nuclear bomb at some point in the future and if, and when, the "tougher sanctions" demanded are not realized and, in turn, Iran ‘rationally’ responds to demands to cease their “enrichment” of uranium by extending their middle finger. Can Israeli and the US just turn around and say to the public: "never mind, it wasn't as big a deal as we once thought”…pretend the whole thing never happened by continuing business as usual? Sometimes a "credible threat" that is only intended as a "bluff" turns into a "forced hand", even though that wasn't the design or intention of those who "bluffed" in the first place.

  8. When the Israelis were through with Iraq, they moved on to Iran; when they're done with Iran, the next thing we will hear is that Pakistan's nuclear weapons are unacceptable; when Pakistan is taken care of, China will suddenly be discovered to possess nuclear weapons that might be a threat to Israel… the world will never be perfectly safe for Israel, and attempting to make it so may destroy it, as it has already gone a very long way toward destroying it's most important patron.

  9. If there ais a conflict between the US/Israel and Iran, how long would it take for Israel/US to decide that they should use nuclear insted of conventional weapons? does the bully (s) demand that their opponent lay down its arms, stop defending itself unless they want to face total destruction? How did we really become this evil?

  10. Israel war mongering nobel prize winner president and other cabinet members and its liar PM just want to threaten Iran and make noise .In this way they make the USA to become worried about an attack on Iran, so the USA appeases Israel by putting more pressure on Iran. this the cycle.

  11. If they want a safe world for Israel, they should be nice to neighbours.not attacking them time to time. you will get back what you give one day. As for iran if they prove they have nothing, its enemies will feel safe and attack iran like iraq. if they show they have something in progress they will get attacked too anyways. so they have the right policy same as israel nuclear policy.

  12. the IAEA report purporting "new damning evidence" has just been announced, but conveniently, the report is nowhere to be found; not even on the iaea website.

    once again. many questions and all left un-answered

  13. [...] authored by Iranian scientists. According to Khan, what was transferred  to the Iranians was know-how: theoretical knowledge and contacts  with suppliers. Yet throughout the IAEA report, although [...]

  14. [...] authored by Iranian scientists. According to Khan, what was transferred  to the Iranians was know-how: theoretical knowledge and contacts  with suppliers. Yet throughout the IAEA report, although [...]

  15. [...] That said, Iran’s current strategy, according to Flynt Leverett is “to create perceptions on the part of potential adversaries that Tehran is capable of building nuclear weapons in a finite period of time, without actually building them.” A de facto deterrent, without breaking any rules and causing instability. [...]