Saturday, March 10, 2012

Ron Smith: Looking at maps of war

For some weeks now an Iranian website has contained a long article detailing the targeting of Israel by Iranian missile forces. (http://www.alef.ir/vdcepw8zwjh8ewi.b9bj.html?142262) The site is administered by a prominent Iranian member of parliament who is also Director of the Iranian Parliamentary Research Centre. His name is Ahmad Tavakkoli. At various earlier times he has held senior governmental positions and is said to be close to the Iranian supreme leader, Ali Khamenei.

The article in question is entitled, ‘The Theological Necessity of the Destruction of Israel’! and apart from a series of detailed maps of Israel, naming specific sites for destruction, it has a substantial commentary on their significance in both Farsi and English. Here is sample which follows the heading, “Israeli people must be annihilated”:

“Residents of Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and Hifa can be targeted even by Shahab 3. Population density in these three adjacent areas composes about 60% of Israeli population. Sejjil missiles can target power plants, sewage treatment facilities, energy resources, transportation and communication infrastructure; and in the second stage Shahab 3 and Ghadr missiles can target urban settlements until final annihilation of Israel people..."

This cannot be otherwise interpreted than an aspiration for genocide, and the fact that it is published by a person close to the Islamic leadership of Iran (and that the contents have not been disavowed by that leadership, or removed from the site) suggests that it ought to be taken very seriously by the international community. For Israel, of course the matter is different. The world may be content to watch impending genocide and wring its collective hands, as it did in Rwanda, but Israel cannot.

This is where the significance of Iran’s nuclear weapons programme comes in. The project of ‘annihilating the Israeli people’ takes on a different character when such a capability is introduced into the mix. There may be some doubt about the extent of damage that could inflicted by using conventional warheads, having regard to the air defences that Israel could muster. This is clearly much diminished if the possibility of nuclear explosive devices is included. There are also the wider issues of a regional nuclear arms race. Saudi Arabia has indicated that it would acquire nuclear weapons by the simple expedient of buying them, and given its enormous wealth, could we really dismiss the possibility?

Of course, I am aware that Iranian spiritual leader, Ali Khamenei has said, only a few days ago, that, ‘the Iranian nation has never pursued and will never pursue nuclear weapons’, and that ‘the possession of nuclear weapons is a grave sin’. I am afraid I don’t believe him. I have set out my reasons for concluding that Iran is pursuing a nuclear weapon capability on a number of occasions; in these columns on 6&9 September, 2009; 1 September, 2010; and, again, earlier this year (9 January). The enormous expense of nuclear developments in Iran over the last decade, makes no sense at all in the context of providing fuel for a single civilian power reactor (Bushehr) and a small research reactor. The deal with Russia to complete the building of Bushehr, included the provision of fresh fuel and the reprocessing of spent fuel, and the small amount of fuel for the Tehran reactor is easily available. I repeat, the prodigious Iranian expenditure on enrichment, and on other parts of the nuclear fuel cycle (not to mention the cost of sanctions), is incomprehensible unless it is intended to provide the basis for nuclear weapon production. Sinful, or not, Iran is pursuing nuclear weapons.

Additionally, we might note that the International Atomic Energy Agency has regularly, and again recently, expressed concern about what Iran is doing, especially in the way of activities that only have relevance to nuclear weapon construction. This is the context of Iran’s continuing refusal to cooperate with IAEA inspectors, including those who were recently in Tehran for the purpose of inspecting ‘sensitive sites’. Specifically, they wanted to visit a facility at Parchin, which is particularly concerned with weaponisation. The latest news is that IAEA inspectors will be able to visit at some future date. Meanwhile, satellite images of the Parchin site, obtained by IAEA inspectors suggest considerable activity there, right now. According to a Guardian report (8 March):

‘crews at the Parchin military site may be trying to erase evidence of tests of a small experimental neutron device used to set off a nuclear explosion (which) could only be in the context of trying to develop nuclear arms.’

It is suspected that attempts at sanitisation are being made, ahead of a possible visit (‘because ‘some of the vehicles at the scene appeared to be haulage trucks and other equipment suited to carting off potentially contaminated soil from the site’).

There are ‘smoking guns’ wherever you look, and the ‘guns’ are pointed in the first instance at Israel, but also, as the text of the article cited makes clear, more generally at the United States and the West.

The question, then, is what is to be done and by whom? Sanctions are having a substantial effect on the Iranian economy but no impact on their nuclear weapons programme. The IAEA inspection programme is being frustrated and protracted. Meanwhile, activities directed towards the acquisition of nuclear capability continue. Is there any alternative to direct action, to address the threat for those who plausibly feel threatened (notably Israel)? Pre-emptive, or preventative action is clearly a high-risk strategy. It may not be entirely successful. It may delay, not end, Iranian nuclear capability. It may simply provoke them to re-double their efforts. Immediately, Iran may seek to broaden the conflict by striking out at other parties in the region (as it has threatened). Oil prices will go up.

On the other hand, the ‘maps’, and the intentions they accompany, are clear. The rest of the world, including America, may think they have a choice but Israel has not. It faces a threat to its very existence and to the lives of its citizens, which it really cannot ignore.

7 comments:

Kiwiwit said...

Excellent article, Ron, but I suspect all to little avail when weighed against the overwhelmingly pro-Iranian, pro-Arab liberal Western media. I am pessimistic as to the prospects of Western nations helping Israel to face down the threat of Iranian nuclear weapons and agree that the existential threat to Israel is very real. The truly horrifying aspect of all this is that many Western liberals think the destruction of Israel would be no bad thing. However, it will not go the way they think it will. The country that was founded by Holocaust survivors a mere 60-odd years ago will, of course, use everything in its arsenal to pre-empt an Iranian nuclear attack.

Brian said...

Lookings at maps of war.
In the Saturday edition of the NZ Herald was an interview of the Iranian Ambassador by Audrey Young, the heading being “We want peace, says Ambassador”. The first impression was it satire? However further reading found that this article was a grand piece of banal writing glossing over the threats emanating from the Iranian” Parliamentary”? Government.
It certainly conflicts with the rhetoric calling for the complete destruction of Israel, while the “interview” itself hardly touched upon this subject, rather strange that, in view of the fact that it has been the major area of conflict in the Middle East. Then we must remember that the media “thinking” in New Zealand generally favours the Islamic version of what is needed to achieve peace in that area.
It has been obvious for a long time that Iran leads the Muslim world in a hatred of Israel; and in calling for its elimination, one can hardly blame Israel having concern over its future and preparing to defend itself by destroying Iran’s nuclear plants. In military terms this is the obvious tactic, Strike First.
The problem Israel has of waiting for Iran to strike is, would they be able to retaliate?
Overriding whoever strikes first the moot question is, would the United States strike back at Iran following an attack on Israel? With a further question how would Russia and to lesser extent China re-act if this did take place?
There is another far question if Iran uses its nuclear capability then their best, and only option, would be to strike at both Israel and the USA simultaneously. The downside being that until Iran develops enough missiles and nuclear war heads to reach key strategic targets in the USA; the result would be the annihilation of Iran.
There are other methods of using commercial vessels with nuclear devices etc., to gain peaceful access to various ports, but it would be best to leave those scenarios to the writers of fiction.
The mood of the United Nations is to use sanctions, which have seemed up to now, ineffective. The recent statement by Kofi Annan over the civil war in Syria is to continue peaceful negotiations, aa opposed to any military intervention. We can regretfully expect the same from United Nations over Iran.
A case of “Classic 1930’s politics of appeasement, with a modern interpretation”.
Brian

Collie said...

Interesting article.Israel is a United States "protectorate" and any aggression against Israel would inevitably attract retribution in kind by the US.
Kiwiwit, you need to do some history reading. Israel was not founded by holocaust survivors, it was "founded" as a result of the Balfour Declaration of 1917, in which Lord Balfour generously gave the jews half of Palestine, "as promised in the Bible". He didn't bother to OK this with the residents of Palestine, who rather foolishly believed that since they had been there for thousands of years they had some claim to the place.In 1945 displaced refugee european jewry, realising they had been given a country in 1917 then preceded to occupy Palestine, setting a precedent that holds to this day.

Anonymous said...

I think that israel has little option, with or without U.S support, they are sooner rather than later going to use conventional bombs to destroy Iran's nuclear sites.
Problem: Russia built it, China & Pakistan are supplying research expertise, so they won't take this kindly, reactions?-God knows!
Should Iran develope then use nukes on Israel, well, Israel is about the South island in size, two or three nukes would destroy it, this, Iran well knows.
Reaction? Israel will turn Iran into a glass desert.

Donald McKenzie said...

Collie, your history comment too broad brush.Jewish people in whats is/was palestine from recorded history.Arab people relative newcomers measured in hundreds of years.After the Turks chased out by the British (including Jewish Battalions)Indian, Australian and New Zealand forces the conqueror surely had a right to mark out boundaries.In the light of history Lord Balfour could be seen to be fair.The United Nations after WWII which gave the green light by resolution for the modern state of Israel must have approved of the intent of Lord Balfours Declaration.I am not sure what you mean by setting a precedent.

Tiger said...

Jews have lived in the Jewish holy city of Hebron for 4,000 years, Jerusalem 3000 years, Iran, Iraq, and Egypt 2600 years, North Africa 2,000 years.

The 7,800,000 people in Israel include roughly 1 million native Muslims, 1 million Arabic speaking Jewish refugees, 1 million Russian economic refugees of vague Jewish ancestry, and some native Christians and Druze.

Most Jews are refugees or children of refugees. Jews were a small minority after the crusades. Numbers increased during the Spanish Inquisition, 19th century Russian pogroms, 1920s Polish oppression, then Hitler’s holocaust.

Israel’s greatest enemies have been Iraq and Iran, not the countries which border Israel.

United States will not retaliate. I doubt that Israel will retaliate to destroy Iranian cities. Muslims and Marxists may rejoice; otherwise few in the world will really care if Israel is destroyed.

Then what? Missiles on European and Indian cities?

Gerald Lynch said...

Tiger and Donald McKenzie covered most of the responses I would have made to Collie's remarks, however perhaps Collie could answer these questions for us.
1. If you are sure that "palestine" the country, goes back for thousands of years could you please inform us when and by whom was it founded?
2. What were it's borders?
3. What was it's capital?
4. What were it's major cities?
5. What constituted th basis of it's economy?
6. What was it's form of government?
7. Can you name one "palestinian" leader before the Egyptian Yassar Arafat?
8. Was palestine ever recognized by a country whose existence,at that time, or now, leaves no room for iterpretation?
9. What was the language of the country of Palestine?
10. What was the prevelant religion of the country of Palestine?
11. What was the name of it's currency? Can you produce a palestinian coin or monetaery unit? Choose any date in history and tell us what the exchange rate was against the British Pound, the French Franc, the German Mark, Japanese Yen, USA Dollar or the Israeli Shekel or the Chinese Yuan?
12. And since there is no such country today, what caused it's demise?
13. And if it ever existed, what were it's acheivements?

These same questions were asked of Nitwit Newt Gingrich by Yashiko Sagamori, Newt couldn't answer them and neither will you.

Your distorted reading of history condemns you.