Update: war watch – Iran

Summary:  The wardrums continue to beat, building support for a US attack on Iran.  This is a status report, with at the end some excellent links to further information.

The battle continues hot and heavy, as factions in Washington strive to shape the US citizenry’s view of Iran.  Leaks and lies, authoritative statements and rumors.  A repeat of the pre-invasion info ops warning about Iraq’s nukes.   We uncritically chear and boo on command, as peasants should.


  1. Recent news and studies
  2. Other interesting articles and reports (especially useful!)
  3. FM’s forecast and recommendations
  4. For More Information on the FM site

(1)  Excerpts from Recent news and studies

Excerpts appear for these articles:

(a)  Intelligence Agencies Say No New Nukes in Iran“, Newsweek, 16 September 2009 — “Secret updates to White House challenge European and Israeli assessments.  Excerpt:

The officials, who asked for anonymity when discussing sensitive information, said that U.S. intelligence agencies have informed policymakers at the White House and other agencies that the status of Iranian work on development and production of a nuclear bomb has not changed since the formal National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) on Iran’s “Nuclear Intentions and Capabilities” in November 2007. Public portions of that report stated that U.S. intelligence agencies had “high confidence” that, as of early 2003, Iranian military units were pursuing development of a nuclear bomb, but that in the fall of that year Iran “halted its nuclear weapons program.” The document said that while U.S. agencies believed the Iranian government “at a minimum is keeping open the option to develop nuclear weapons,” U.S. intelligence as of mid-2007 still had “moderate confidence” that it had not restarted weapons-development efforts.

(b)  Iran admits secret uranium enrichment plant“, Guardian, 25 September 2009:

Iran sent a letter to Mohamed ElBaradei, the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), on Monday, saying it had established a second pilot uranium enrichment plant, parallel to the one monitored by the IAEA in Natanz.

(c)  Why Iran confessed to secret nuclear site built inside mountain“, The Guardian, 25 September 2009:

The Qom uranium enrichment plant first appeared in 2006, in grey satellite photographs of the sort the world has become familiar with through the long years of the Iran crisis.

North-east of the mosques of Qom, the theological heart of Iran, the revolutionary guard had established an anti-aircraft missile battery at the base of the mountain, western officials said.

As intelligence analysts tried to discover what the missiles were there to protect, satellite imagery began to reveal intensive activity at the side of the mountain. “There was extensive excavation and construction work under way,” a western official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

… A senior US administration official described the site as “a very heavily protected, very heavily disguised facility”. The official added: “We’ve been aware of this facility for several years; we’ve been watching the construction, we’ve been building up a case so that we were sure that we had very strong evidence, irrefutable evidence, that the intent of this facility was as an enrichment plant.”

At some point this summer, US, British and French intelligence agencies were able to corroborate the information they had, and concluded that the Qom site was an enrichment plant. “We believe that it’s not yet operational. We think it’s most likely at least a few months, perhaps more, from having all of the centrifuges installed and being capable of operating if the Iranians made a decision to begin operating it,” the senior American official said.

… the plant, which intelligence reports say is set to start operation next year, could be set up for advanced domestically developed centrifuges that enrich uranium at much higher speed and efficiency than the decades old P-1 type centrifuges acquired on the black market and in use at Natanz.

(d)  SecDef Robert Gates on CNN’s “State of the Nation”, 27 September 2009:

The reality is, there is no military option that does anything more than buy time. The estimates are one to three years or so. And the only way you end up not having a nuclear capable Iran is for the Iranian government to decide that their security is diminished by having those weapons as opposed to strengthened. So I think, as I say, while you don’t take options off the table, I think there’s still room left for diplomacy.

(2)  Other interesting articles and reports


  • Spying on the Bomb: American Nuclear Intelligence from Nazi Germany to Iran and North Koreaby Jeffrey T. Richelson, Norton, 702 pp (2006)

Online articles (I esp recommend the first two listed):

More recent news:

Stratfor’s articles — free registration required:

(3)  FM’s forecast and recommendations

A prediction (aka guess):  Neither the US nor Israel will attack Iran.  We may levy sanctions, but they will be even less effective than those against South Africa.  Esp if still in place when the global economy recovers and oil prices scream higher.

FM’s recommendations:

  • Make  a maximus effort to get better intelligence about Iran.
  • Attempt to develop links to factions inside Iran.
  • Keep the public dialog cool; constant waving of the big stick makes us look weak.
  • Use diplomatic tools to encourage and discourage Iran (to join the nonproliferation club and end its nuke program, respectively)

(4)  For more information from the FM site

To read other articles about these things, see the following:

Reference pages about other topics appear on the right side menu bar, including About the FM website page.

Some of the posts on the FM website about the possibility of war with Iran:

  1. 4GW at work in a community near you , 19 October 2007 — Propaganda warming us up for war with Iran.
  2. Stratfor’s analysis of US reasons for invading and occupying Iraq , 4 March 2008
  3. Will we bomb Iran, now that Admiral Fallon is gone? , 17 March 2008
  4. More post-Fallon overheating: “6 signs the US may be headed for war in Iran” , 18 March 2008
  5. A militant America, ready for war with Iran , 6 May 2008
  6. Another step towards war with Iran?, 7 May 2008 — About Andrew Cockburn’s article in  Counterpunch.
  7. “War With Iran Might Be Closer Than You Think”, 13 May 2008 — About Philip Giraldi’s 9 May story in The American Conservative (see below).
  8. The most expensive psy-war campaign – ever!, 13 July 2008
  9. ISIS: “Can Military Strikes Destroy Iran’s Gas Centrifuge Program? Probably Not.”, 8 August 2008
  10. Proposed legislation prepares the way for war with Iran!, 25 August 2008
  11. Will trade sanctions work against Iran, as they did against Japan in 1941?, 27 August 2008
  12. Is the War on Terror over (because there are no longer two sides)? Part 1, 3 September 2008 — Rumors of covert ops by us against Iran.
  13. Update on the prospects of war with Iran, from Stratfor, 6 September 2008
  14. Psywar, a core skill of the US Military (used most often on us), 26 November 2008
  15. Iran’s getting the bomb, or so we’re told. Can they fool us twice?, 16 February 2009
  16. Another general advocating war with Iran, 18 August 2009

59 thoughts on “Update: war watch – Iran”

  1. Atheist writes: “Is he [Ahmedinejad] … the David Duke of the middle east? Or is he just trying to be an asshole in order to rattle Israel? Or, does he just really hate Jews? For all I know it is all three.”

    He gives me the impression of making provocative statements just for the sake of irritating the West. I’m not convinced that he even believes his own statements and questioning regarding the Holocaust.

    It may interest people here to know that there are some 25,000 Jews living in Iran, and that they have the freedom to practice their religion. The BBC reported on this back in 2006: “Iran’s proud but discreet Jews“, BBC, 22 September 2006 — Opening:

    Although Iran and Israel are bitter enemies, few know that Iran is home to the largest number of Jews anywhere in the Middle East outside Israel. About 25,000 Jews live in Iran and most are determined to remain no matter what the pressures – as proud of their Iranian culture as of their Jewish roots.

    The article mentiones that “today many Iranian Jews travel to and from Iran’s enemy Israel”, which is interesting since Americans are not allowed to travel to their nominal enemy, Cuba.
    Fabius Maximus replies: Thank you for posting this interesting comment.

  2. Patrick,
    Jews lived in Germany before Hitler consolidated power. Your argument isn’t very strong.
    Fabius Maximus replies: Why? Is something happening now to change conditions in Iran? Or is this “all our enemies are Hitler”, like Simon was saying?

  3. It makes no difference who the queen is, or how many times it’s killed. Iranians, Safavids, Persians have been meddleing in Mesopotania for a long time. So what don’t you understand about “from the beginning of recorded history.”

  4. Fred.. you don’t get it. this isn’t about iraq.. this is about the US. as the president, you are sworn to protect the constitution and the american people. soldiers are americans. if you allow iran to kill our soldiers, you are failing in your sworn duties. besides that, iranian influence in iraq was minimal under saddam. he was brutal to anyone that opposed him and had no problem killing or deporting anyone. we currently don’t have that sort of dedication to internal security.
    Fabius Maximus replies: This simple-minded little lesson illustrates why we have civilian control of the military. It does not take many people like this to plunge the nation into a bloodbath.

    “iranian influence in iraq was minimal under saddam. … we currently don’t have that sort of dedication to internal security.”

    Who is “we”? News from the front: Iraq is not the 51st state! As a result of our adventure, a secular opponent of Iran has become a fellow-Shiite ally of Iran. Not exactly a victory for American interests.

  5. So what didn’t you understand in No. 39 about “Of course, the US should try, even if only 1% (Iranian spies) is caught and killed.”

  6. Our company shipped a multi-million dollar skid mounted waste treatment system to Lebanon two months ago. Our selling agent there was installing the thing when military trucks pull up and he is arrested because, get this, not even the valves, just the valve actuators, were made in Israel. On step removed from jailing him because the screws holding the actuators were made in Israel I suppose. Our small company found this job, performed tests for feasibility, specified, designed, built, tested, and delivered this complex system all through the internet. This never could have happened even five years ago.
    My sense is that govt. and military “proving it is relevant”, mostly by being jerks, is not unique to this country. I believe the internet is inducing unprecedented communication, collaboration and cooperation across borders at an economic/commercial level. Not a competing “World Government” by any stretch, (yet) but certainly an incipient threat to selected regimes, especially insecure ones like Iran, and Lebanon. Expect more of this.

  7. >Fabius Maximus replies: This simple-minded little lesson illustrates why we have civilian control of the military. It does not take many people like this to plunge the nation into a bloodbath.

    We have civilian control because civilians don’t want to live in a country run people still living in the 18th century, but bizarrely he seems to think that soldiers have a right to be protected from the enemy – no wonder they keep on losing.

    I always liked the imperial Japanese approach where a soldiers life was forfeit to the emperor on signing up.

    >Our company shipped a multi-million dollar skid mounted waste treatment system to Lebanon…

    Lucky that it was the “pro-western” Lebanese army.

  8. FM.. i’m not asking for protection from my enemies. i’m asking for the permission to kill them before they kill me. tying our hands and letting the enemy kill us is morally wrong.

    what you call war-mongering i call an alternate opinion to your peace-mongering. if you want to silence differing opinions that’s your call but you certainly lose credibility.. not that i think you care about that anyway.
    Fabius Maximus replies: Enough. You’ve made your point. No more. The problem with this unsupported macho bs is that it comes to dominate a thread. If you have a substantial geopolitical analysis, post it. Ideally with some sort of support. More about how you like to kill your enemies will will be snipped as off-topic. Nobody cares about your personal views.

  9. From Long Wars Journal, July 2008:

    Iraqi Special Operations Forces captured two members of the Iranian-backed Mahdi Army Special Groups during separate raids in Baghdad. On July 24, Iraqi operators captured a leader who smuggled weapons from Iran into Diyala province. The next day, Iraqi special forces captured a Special Groups operative who assembled and employed improvised rocket-assisted mortars, or IRAMs, for use against Coalition forces. US forces also captured a “commander responsible for transporting weapons from Iran” during a raid in New Baghdad.

    Happy now?
    Fabius Maximus replies: This is becoming childish, and I’m rapidly losing patience. First, please try to click thru to the actual source, instead of relying on an advocate’s paraphrasing. In this case, the actual Coalition report said:

    Soldiers conducted a successful operation to detain a suspected criminal who is believed to be a commander responsible for transporting weapons from Iran. In addition to detaining the suspect, Soldiers seized an AK-47 rifle, a passport, several CDs and numerous documents. “Detaining this suspected criminal leader will increase stability and security in Baghdad and across all of Iraq,” said Maj. Joey Sullinger, a spokesperson for 4th Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division (Light).

    It’s a press release about the capture of one guy, about whom they said some stuff. These reports often have proven exaggerated or outright wrong. Such as the long series announcing the discover of WMD’s.

    Instead find actual analysis. Like the government reports I cited saying that there was little evidence that Iran was a major supplier of weapons to Iraq insurgents. Just as some weapons move from the US to Mexico, there is of course some cross-border traffic. And, as there are many US agents active in Latin America politics and wars, Iran of course has agents in Iraq. Neither of these thigns are by themselves a basis to draw conclusions about US or Iranian government activity.

  10. OK, Major Scarlet, you have two examples of Iranian operatives smuggling weapons into Iraq, apparently with the blessing of part of the Iranian military, and thankfully, being captured by US forces. I admit that that’s better & more solid evidence, although its still not an Iranian-made weapons factory, like you initially said. So the USA can and should use this to its advantage when treating with Iran.

    Though, like I said earlier, honestly it doesn’t surprise me a bit.

    i’m asking for the permission to kill them before they kill me. tying our hands and letting the enemy kill us is morally wrong.

    Who said your hands should be tied? Who wants US soldiers to be killed? I want US troops to capture and/or kill any Iranian operative selling weapons in Iraq that they can get. The point for me wasn’t how soldiers in Iraq act… the point was about using this as a pretext for airstrikes and an invasion on Iran itself.

  11. Also, when one talks about targeting Iran’s proxies, that’s fine, but you shouldn’t forget that the USA is also using proxies against Iran, in much the same way, and with much the same effect: (“Acts of War“, Scott Ritter, Truthdig.com, July 29, 2008.)

  12. athiest.. read the bold part more closely. an iranian agent was caught in iraq and he was assembling ieds in iraq.
    Fabius Maximus replies: Please assume that others know how to read. This is a useless comment. My reply explained, I believe, his objection in more detail. As for this, the actual report says:

    Iraqi Special Operations Forces} detained a suspected Special Groups criminal allegedly associated with improvised rocket assisted mortar attacks in Baghdad July 25. He is believed to have IRAMs assembled and ready to use against Coalition force bases.

    Anyone familar with US police reports knows how little this says. It does not say he was caught with IRAM’s, or indeed that they have any evidence of this. Just “he is believed”. Not vvery strong.

  13. I read the bold print! I don’t think one guy assembling weapons is the same as a factory. Maybe its semantic, but, if I spend a couple days working on my bike, does that make me a bike factory? I don’t think so.
    Fabius Maximus replies: You are too kind, The Coalition action report says nothing about finding any factory, just that he was believed to be doing something or other. If they had evidence, they would have said so. Nobody familar with this sort of raw evidence takes it seriously without further analysis. It’s not worth considering, let alone as a basis for drawing large conclusions — like waging war.

    These tactics — giving tiny examples of dubious evidence and drawing bizarre large conclusions — have characterized the war’s advocates (as seen dozens of times on this site), and constitute much of evidence while they should be ignored unless providing real evidence. From Bush’s claims of Saddam’s nukes in 2002 through “Captain Scarlett’s miscounting (2=4), then and now, large and small.

  14. FM.. your reading comprehensions skills are childish.. read this very carefully.. it talks about 4 individuals.. make sure you count them..

    Iraqi Special Operations Forces captured two members of the Iranian-backed Mahdi Army Special Groups during separate raids in Baghdad. On July 24, Iraqi operators captured a leader who smuggled weapons from Iran into Diyala province. The next day, Iraqi special forces captured a Special Groups operative who assembled and employed improvised rocket-assisted mortars, or IRAMs, for use against Coalition forces. US forces also captured a “commander responsible for transporting weapons from Iran” during a raid in New Baghdad.

    I’ll help you… 2 were member of the Mahdi Army, the next day.. the bomb maker was captured.. then (meaning additionally) they captured a “commander responsible” 4 different operatives..
    Fabius Maximus replies: The actual Coalition report headline for the report is “ISOF detain two suspected Special Groups criminals in separate Baghdad operations”. Reporting this the Long War Journal says “Iraqi Special Operations Forces captured two members of the Iranian-backed Mahdi Army Special Groups during separate raids in Baghdad”, then paraphrases the capture of these two guys.

    Besides, this is all immaterial to the objections about this trivial report. Enough. Back to the actual post, or further comments will be snipped.

  15. Nicholas Weaver

    One of the real problems is that Iran is actually behaving very rationally with regard to their nuclear program.

    Iran has two problems: they may produce a lot of oil and have huge reserves of natural gas, but have poor electrical generation.

    Iran is in a very vulnerable position, having suffered through a devastating war with Iraq in the 80, and surrounded by potentially hostile powers (the US in Iraq and Afghanistan) and in close proximity to potentially hostile nuclear armed states (Pakistan, India, Israel).

    For the first, they need nuclear power. Really, the writing is on the wall, peak fossil fuel is likely a reality, and building nuclear power not only would give them a good electricity supply, but saves the fossil fuel for export.

    For the second, they desire the nuclear bomb. North Korea and Pakistan have both demonstrated the huge value tha a nuclear capability has.

    And they have concluded their best strategy is a convertable civilian program: one that can be run for power but can be converted for military application.

    Since they are using a light-water reactor design (externally provided) thats not good for plutonium production, they need an indigeous fuel cycle for HEU if they want to be able to convert their nuclear program to a military use sometime in thefuture, and a fuel cycle, that, to much as possible, would resist an israeli or US air strike.

    If I was in charge of Iran, I’d be following the exact course they are. This is actually the problem! From Iran’s viewpoint, they are acting rationally and in their interest. Its not crazy for Iran to want a nuclear capability. Rather, it would be crazy for them not to!

  16. Nicholas Weaver

    The other thing this thread reinforces is how so many lack empathy. It is first necessary to understand your opponent and understand yourself.

    We really need to understand why an entity behaves the way that it does. Talking about Iran as crazy doesn’t help. What are the objectives of the Iranian leaders? How would you behave in their position? Just calling them “crazy” is useless.

    But just because you have empathy for someone doesn’t mean you can’t still want to punch him in the face! Empathy is understanding, not sympathy.

  17. Nicholas,
    the united states and other countries have offered to help iran pursue nuclear energy that won’t result in iran having a nuclear weapons program. they have refused. would a rational person take the risks they are taking?

    re: empathy. is this the same empathy that the iranian mullahs are showing their people? the mullahs are savages. i’m just not afraid to say it. i have empathy for the people of iran and the tyranny they are suffering.

  18. Major Scarlet: YES, thats my point.

    Iran want a civilian nuclear program that is “convertable”. Light water reactors (which they have a design from Russia that they bought) are not (they are poor plutonium producers), but an indigenous fuel cycle is.

    Thats actually what makes it so dangerous, but so restrict our options: it IS a legitimate civilian nuclear program. Its not a cover for a military program, but rather it is a civilian nuclear program designed to give a short-term route to a military weapon should the desire arrive.

    Just like Japan has. Japan has no nuclear weapons. But if the political will changed in Japan, they could field a host of weapons within a year, probably within 6 months. And Japan likes it that way.

    And you can hardly blame Iran. It is perfectly rational for them to act in this way. If your near-neigbors were a nuclear armed Pakistan, a nuclear armed Israel, a nuclear armed India, and two countries on your border were being occupied by a nuclear armed and then some United States, while all you have is an easy-to-steal load of oil under your ground, you’d want a nuclear weapon too.

    And you need to understand what empathy means. Emapthy is NOT sympathy. Empathy is understanding (Wikipedia) the position of others, not sympathizing with them.

    I can empathize with someone who I’m punching in the face. They won’t get any sympathy, however.

  19. Nicholas..
    ok.. i see your point.. however, i don’t agree they are behaving rationally. IMO, the risks outweigh the rewards especially since they are persian and may set off an arms race with the arabs. i’m also not so sure there is a lack of empathy in this case. i think most people understand what iran is up to and want to stop them. however, there is a lack of seriousness from most governments to do anything meaningful.

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