The Iranian Facade
The Russians and the Chinese are trying desperately to save their nutty customer Iran from itself, as the Iranians steadfastly attempt to pursue a suicidal path. Russia and China have billions to lose in a war between the West and Iran. The presence of the West’s allies military build up and the irrationality of the Iranians may force the Russians’ hand to sabotage and "solve" the crisis before their assets are destroyed, just like they were destroyed in Iraq.
Written by Dagny D'Anconia
Thursday 16 March 2007
During a speech delivered in the Western Iranian province of Javanroud on December 20th 2006, Ahmadinejad said: "The Islamic Republic of Iran is now a nuclear power, thanks to the hard work of the Iranian people and authorities....Iranian young scientists reached the zenith of science and technology and gained access to the nuclear fuel cycle without the help of big powers... The Iranian nation will continue in its nuclear path powerfully and will celebrate a nuclear victory soon." Ahmadinejad also said Israel, US, Britain will vanish – “this is a divine promise”.
Thus Ahmadinejad took credit for all the nuclear work and told the Russians that they were no longer needed. Around that time, Iran also ceased to pay the Russians. Iran was thumbing its nose at not only Israel, the US and Britain. It was thumbing its nose most of all at Russia.
The Iranian news agency said an upcoming dramatic announcement on Iran's nuclear "rights" would be made on February 11. "Giant achievements" by Iran will be unveiled by its president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, in the coming days, the Iranian Fars news agency reported. The report was accompanied by a series of announcements heralding alleged Iranian technological and medical breakthroughs, including an "AIDS cure."
A cure for AIDS - something the West’s scientists had not managed over two decades of well funded effort? Saeed Vaqefi, secretary of the Iranian Pharmacists Society, said the herbal medicine IMOD would cure AIDS and HIV and would be given to Iranian AIDS patients free of charge.
As if that were not wild enough, on March 2nd the Iranians issued a new 50,000 rials bank note with a nuclear symbol and a quote from Mohammed next to it: "Men from the land of Persia will attain scientific knowledge even if it is as far as the Pleiades." (The Pleiades is a star cluster 440 light years away.) The new note is their highest denomination - twice the previous highest denomination Iranian note.
The Big Nuclear Accomplishment announcement was to be on February the 11th, but after the death of one of their leading nuclear scientists, the Iranians delayed the announcement for two months. The next day the AIDS cure was also suddenly delayed for two months. That timing suggests that the claim of a cure for AIDS was made to discourage any preemptory attacks on Iran. After all if Iran was attacked, the precious cure would be lost forever...
Iran also claimed on the 26th of February that they had “launched a rocket capable of reaching space” - however that must have been one very stealthy rocket. Even the US military could not find any evidence of such a launch, and had to conclude it never happened.
The Iranians have made enough false claims to reach the Pleiades: AIDS cures, invisible rockets, slighting the Russians and taking all the credit for the nuclear program, and the news of a impending major nuclear accomplishment. They would say anything to hold off attacks and glorify the Persian civilization. Thus when the two months were up on the 10th of April, many listened with great curiosity and skepticism for the Big Nuclear Announcement.
At the two month deadline there was no mention of an AIDS cure, but Iran did announce it had started injecting gas into 3,000 atomic centrifuges at Natanz “on an industrial scale”. If true it would be enough to make a nuclear bomb in about a year. A few days later the IAEA inspectors observed a little over 1300 centrifuges up and running and “some” uranium gas being injected. Whether the Iranians can keep them running is another matter of much discussion.
The Russians, who have been scorned and cheated by the Iranians, were quick to claim there was nothing to the nuclear claim. Furthermore, the Russians still hoped to be paid for the work they had done, and hope to continue to do for Iran. Thus they would want to make it clear to the world that there is no nuclear bomb potential there. A bombed nuclear plant and destroyed Iranian economy would make it hard to collect their Iranian debts.
Even as Russia was denying the reality of the centrifuges, Putin was quickly meeting with the President of China to jointly tell Iran not to even try to make their own fuel. (Better to buy it from those nice Russians as planned. Russia had a deal to supply $30 million worth of nuclear fuel each year to Iran.)
Putin and Hu said in a joint statement that “a comprehensive, long-term and mutually acceptable solution to the Iranian nuclear problem” was needed and that it should be solved "exclusively through peaceful means." Russia also warned Iran that they would withhold nuclear fuel unless Tehran made them their sole source for nuclear materials: No enrichment allowed.
China and Russia were the suppliers of last resort for Iran’s nuclear program - but even so, the price tag has been large. Bushehr was originally built by a German company (Siemens) under the Shah. Subsequent bombings raised the price to finish it into several additional billions. India considered doing the rebuilding work but decided not to under pressure from the US. Iran sought enrichment technology from many countries over the years including Germany, Spain, Argentina and Czechoslovakia - in each case discouraged by the US and its allies. Unable to get help, Iran turned to North Korea, Russia and China.
China and Russia were both in the awkward position of trying to save their customer from itself. China is investing nearly $100 billion in developing Iranian oil and gas fields. Iran is now the third-largest oil supplier to China’s oil-thirsty economy. Chinese firms are also building Tehran's billion-dollar subway system, and Beijing plans to invest over $200 million to help finance a new highway connecting Tehran to the Caspian Sea coast. Other projects also are in the works.
China has also been the second largest seller of weapons to Iran. (Russia is the largest seller of weapons to Iran.) Thus both of Iran’s largest suppliers and creditors presented a united front to Iran in an attempt to save their investment
Even if the Iranians listen to their business partners, the Iranians may have little choice regarding nuclear enrichment. Centrifuges are not easy to run.
One of the top figures in the Iranian nuclear program said that earlier in the program the technicians assembling the centrifuges did not wear cloth gloves. Tiny beads of sweat were transferred to the rotor which spins inside the centrifuge which became unbalanced and exploded. Centrifuge explosions were even reported in the Iranian press in April of 2006.
Such a delicate system would probably be seriously disrupted by even a little vibration, such as would be caused by a bomb. Iran is in a seismically active area and an earthquake could also cause similar great disruption. If such a vibration happened while the centrifuges were spinning, it would probably lead to a spectacular catastrophic disassembly chain reaction (mechanical, not nuclear). Furthermore such a system is also vulnerable to sabotage.
An important Iranian nuclear scientist was reported killed by “gas poisoning” a month after Ahmadinejad had blown off the Russians and taken credit for the Iranian nuclear program. As usual, the assassination was blamed on the Jews. However, Israel is not the only one to have an interest in delaying the Iranian nuclear program.
The Russians would have known exactly who to kill to make their Russian nuclear services more necessary. They have shown little hesitation to kill enemies - particularly in the last few months. It was probably no coincidence that the Big Announcement was delayed shortly thereafter, and some limited payments by the Iranians to the Russians did resume.
"The fact that our Iranian partners have overcome their difficulties is positive, however, it far from compensates for the requirements of the (project) that have arisen during the period of nonpayment," Atomstroiexport spokesman Sergei Novikov said in a statement.
The company also said the new payment was just half of the monthly amount needed for a normal construction schedule to be resumed.
The defection of an Iranian general in early February may also have given the Iranians pause. Still they continue in their literal go-for-broke attempt. They are spending money on this Shiite crusade while their economy founders:
An Iranian dissident claims that there were over 4,000 antigovernment demonstrations in the last year. Even though Iran has the second largest oil reserves in the world, oil production has dropped to just slightly more than half of what it was under the shah. Payoffs and subsidies to various groups help to hold a diverse Iran together. As the money dries up so does the peace between the different ethnic groups in Iran (see Jack’s Imploding Iran http://www.tothepointnews.com/content/view/2477/2/ , Dick Morris How to Stand Up to Iran http://www.newsmax.com/archives/articles/2007/3/30/141826.shtml and Iran Unraveling? http://www.tothepointnews.com/content/view/2291/44/).
Furthermore, Iran’s Islamic crusade against the West has been expensive. Massive quantities of weapons have been smuggled to Hezbolla in Lebanon, and that activity has been increasing. Hamas militants have been training in Iran. Iran has also been funding military expenditures in Syria in preparation for the retaking of the Golan Heights.
Iran has also been prosecuting a religious offensive - attempting to convert Sunnis to Shiites throughout the Gulf region. Rumor has it that Iran has been paying $10,000 per Syrian family if it will convert to Shiite Islam.
With all these expenditures, the Iranians are literally “going for broke”. Willing to say and do anything it takes - they have cashed in on their flimsy reputations for truth and damaged relations with their creditors - principally China and Russia.
The British hostage crisis is another example of the Russians trying to keep the peace to preserve their investment. Ahmadinejad was going to travel to the UN to seek a delay from sanctions, but made an excuse and stayed home when the hostages were announced. With hostages to use, there was no need to beg for a delay at the UN.
The hostages were not promptly released, and the British government made it clear that they were not willing to confess to trespassing. Thus it appeared that the hostages might provide a pretext for an attack on Iran, including the Russian nuclear facilities. The Russians had to help convince the Iranians to let the hostages go.
Four days after the hostage taking, Russian Col. Gen. Leonid Ivashov warned Iran of a “massive air strike” the Americans were planning. "Preparations to strike Iran's strategic facilities continue”. "Three major groups of U.S. forces are still in the Arabian Sea and the Persian Gulf. Altogether, they have up to 450 cruise missiles on alert."
British PM Tony Blair also helpfully and simultaneously warned Iran of “a different phase” if the hostages were not released.
Ivashov publicly laid out a battle plan in great detail, showing how many aircraft of what types and the targets. Russian intelligence services said publicly that there was a flurry of U.S. Armed Forces activity near the Iranian border. The Russians warned of both a land and air assault. Still the Iranians held onto their captives.
It was not until another carrier group (the USS Nimitz) left San Diego for the Gulf on April 2nd, that Iran reconsidered the release. That seemed to do it. Two days later the hostages were freed. A few days after that Ivashov said that the Iranians had let the hostages go just in time to avoid a war.
The situation almost seems comical: The Russians and the Chinese are trying desperately to save their nutty customer Iran from itself, as the Iranians steadfastly attempt to pursue a suicidal path. Why would Iran be so public about its centrifuges with American and other forces building up in the Gulf? It is asking for trouble. As Israel’s Dr. Eldad said “Iran is behaving on a state level as a suicide bomber behaves on the personal level, . "The Iranian regime is willing to sacrifice millions of their own people just to beat the Big Satan [the United States] and the Small Satan [Israel]."
With the possible help from Turkmenistan’s nuclear supplies (see Turkmenistan’s Nukes and Iran’s Messiah http://www.tothepointnews.com/content/view/2635/84/), and on again off again help from Russia and China, Iran keeps seeking nuclear weapons as it has for decades. They are closer to achieving that end and are willing to lie like a Persian rug to hold off an attack until they have the nuclear genie in their bottle.
Meanwhile the Western Allied forces have been building up in the Persian/Arabian Gulf. The IAEA has personally witnessed a little over 1300 centrifuges running and “some” uranium gas introduced into them - thus providing a smoking gun to justify an attack. If Iran has acquired materials that are richer sources than expected (such as materials from Turkmenistan, or from North Korea (http://www.tothepointnews.com/content/view/2474/44/)) then even a cascade such as this may result in bomb grade materials in a shorter time. The Chinese and Russian investments are in jeopardy.
It is ironic that the Russians have such a great incentive to sabotage the Iranian nuclear program. They have had close contact with the Iranian nuclear program, and the most direct knowledge of the operations. Unlike us, the Russians are also coldly ruthless and have no accountability to their media. The presence of the West’s allies military build up and the irrationality of the Iranians may force the Russians’ hand to solve the crisis before their assets are destroyed, just like they were destroyed in Iraq.