Not a Hollywood version starring left-wing nut Martin Sheen but another little fellow who plays a real president and puppet master for evil Mullahs. 'Apocalypse Now' is not playing at a local theatre but still in the planning stages on a back set in the Middle East.
“The annihilation of the Zionist regime will come... Israel must be wiped off the map... And God willing, with the force of God behind it, we shall soon experience a world without the United States and Zionism”
“They have invented a myth that Jews were massacred and place this above God, religions and the prophets.”
“I officially announce that Iran has joined countries with nuclear technology.”
~ Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
Iran poses a threat to the United States and its allies due to its sponsorship of terror, probable pursuit of weapons of mass destruction, and support for the insurgency in Iraq. Iran thus bears significant responsibility for the recent violence in Israel and Lebanon.
Tehran's willingness to endure international condemnation, isolation, and economic disruptions in order to carry out nuclear activities covertly indicates Iran is developing nuclear weapons.
Since 2002, the IAEA has issued a series of reports detailing how Iran has covertly engaged in dozens of nuclear-related activities that violate its treaty obligations to openly cooperate with the IAEA. These activities included false statements to IAEA inspectors, carrying out certain nuclear activities and experiments without notifying the IAEA, and numerous steps to deceive and mislead the IAEA.
The IAEA has also uncovered evidence that Iran has pursued another route for nuclear weapons by producing plutonium. Plutonium can be separated from irradiated nuclear material such as "spent" fuel rods from a nuclear power reactor. North Korea is believed to have produced plutonium for nuclear weapons by separating plutonium from spent fuel rods.
Iran has covertly pursued two parallel enrichment programs – a laser process based on Russian technology and a centrifuge process. The Russian government terminated cooperation with Iran on laser enrichment in 2001, following extensive consultations with the United States, and it appears to be no longer active.
To produce plutonium, Iran has built a heavy water production plant and is constructing a large, heavy water-moderated reactor whose technical characteristics are well-suited for the production of weapons-grade plutonium. In support of this effort, Iran admitted in October 2003 to secretly producing small quantities of plutonium without notifying the IAEA, a violation of its treaty obligations.
The IAEA has discovered documentation in Iran for casting and machining enriched uranium hemispheres, which are directly relevant to production of nuclear weapons components. The IAEA is also pursuing information on nuclear-related high-explosive tests and the design of a delivery system, both of which point to a military rather than peaceful purpose of the Iranian nuclear program.
The IAEA discovered evidence in September 2003 that Iran had covertly produced the short-lived radioactive element polonium 210 (Po-210), a substance with two known uses: a neutron source for a nuclear weapon and satellite batteries.
Iran announced in April 2006 that it plans to build a 3,000-centrifuge cascade by early 2007 and ultimately plans to construct a 54,000 centrifuge cascade.
Spent fuel from the LWR Russia is building for Iran in the city of Bushehr could produce enough weapons-grade plutonium for 30 weapons per year if the fuel rods were diverted and reprocessed.
Although it does not have unequivocal evidence, the U.S. Intelligence Community believes Iran has an offensive chemical weapons research and development capability.
The U.S. Intelligence Community believes Iran probably has an offensive biological weapons program but lacks clear intelligence proving that this is the case. The U.S. Intelligence Community stated in its November 2004 721 Report:
“Tehran probably maintains an offensive BW program. Iran continued to seek dual-use biotechnical materials, equipment, and expertise. While such materials had legitimate uses, Iran's biological warfare program also could have benefited from them. It is likely that Iran has capabilities to produce small quantities of BW agents, but has a limited ability to weaponize them.”
This finding was echoed in the Department of State’s 2005 Report on Adherence and Compliance with Arms Control, Nonproliferation, and Disarmament Agreements and Commitments:
"The Iranian BW program has been embedded within Iran’s extensive biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries so as to obscure its activities.
"The United States judges that, based on available information, Iran has an offensive biological weapons program in violation of the BWC. Iran is technically capable of producing at least rudimentary biological warheads for a variety of delivery systems, including missiles."
Iranian Ballistic Missile Program
Iran claimed last fall that its Shahab-3 missile can currently strike targets at distances up to 2,000 km (1,200 miles), including Israel, Egypt, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, India, Pakistan, and southeastern Europe. It is believed that Iran's Shahab-4 will have a range of 4,000 km (2,400 miles), enabling Iran to strike Germany, Italy, and Moscow.
The U.S. Intelligence Community concluded in its November 2004 721 Report:
"Iran's ballistic missile inventory is among the largest in the Middle East and includes some 1,300-km-range Shahab-3 medium-range ballistic missiles (MRBMs) and a few hundred short-range ballistic missiles (SRBMs)-including the Shahab-1 (Scud-B), Shahab-2 (Scud C), and Tondar-69 (CSS-8)-as well as a variety of large unguided rockets.
The report also covers other processes by Iran, which silently fights its war against the U.S., Coalition Forces and Israel.
"Iran is pursuing a multi-track policy in Iraq, consisting of overtly supporting the formation of a stable, Shia Islamist-led central government while covertly working to diminish popular and military support for U.S. and Coalition operations there. Additionally, sophisticated bomb making material from Iran has been found in improvised explosive devices (IEDs) in Iraq."
Iran could at any time significantly ramp up its sponsorship of violent attacks against U.S. forces in Iraq and elsewhere in the Middle East if it believed doing so would keep the United States distracted or would otherwise be in Iran’s national interest.
Non-government observers believe that Tehran consciously works to gain leverage with multiple political leaders, parties and organizations in the current Iraqi political system -- even those who are no fans of Iran, such as Shia cleric and Mahdi Army leader Muqtada al-Sadr -- to ensure it has options for influencing events no matter which group gains prominence in the Iraqi polity.
The U.S. Intelligence Community, the Department of State, and the Department of Defense have reported that Iran provides training, funds, and weapons to a variety of Shia militias in Iraq which have been linked to assassinations, human rights abuses, and the planting of improvised explosive devices (IEDs) designed to maim and kill U.S. troops.
Department’s annual Country Reports on Terrorism 2004 (issued April 2005) calls Iran “the most active state sponsor of terrorism,” stating that the MOIS and the IRGC both “provided Lebanese Hezbollah and Palestinian terrorist groups -- notably HAMAS, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, the al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigade, and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command --with funding, safe haven, training and weapons.”
Iranian assistance to Hezbollah consists of funds, training, equipment, and intelligence. Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasarallah stated in a May 2005 speech that Hezbollah had more than 12,000 rockets with ranges of 25-45 miles. The IRGC reportedly has a strong presence in Lebanon to coordinate aid to Hezbollah, including Stinger surface-to-air missiles, Katyusha rockets, mortars, and other weaponry. The State Department Country Reports on Terrorism stated that Iran provided Hezbollah an unmanned aerial vehicle that it flew in November 2004 into Israeli airspace, providing target reconnaissance regarding northern Israeli cities.
Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)
The Department of State provided a persuasive assessment of Iran and WMD terrorism in its 2005 Country Reports on Terrorism:
"State sponsors of terrorism pose a grave WMD threat. A WMD program in a state sponsorof terrorism could enable a terrorist organization to acquire a sophisticated WMD. State sponsors of terrorism and nations that fail to live up to their international obligations deserve special attention as potential facilitators of WMD terrorism. Iran presents a particular concern, given its active sponsorship of terrorism and continued development of a nuclear program. Iran is also capable of producing biological and chemical agents or weapons. Like other state sponsors of terrorism with WMD programs, Iran could support terrorist organizations seeking to acquire WMD."
Truth or Consequences
Although it is likely that Iran is pursuing nuclear weapons, there is the possibility that Iran could be engaged in a denial and deception campaign to exaggerate progress on its nuclear program such as Saddam Hussein apparently did concerning his WMD programs. U.S. leaders need more definitive intelligence to judge the status of the Iranian nuclear program and whether there have been any related deception efforts.
In the end Iran and its leaders are playing a deadly game with announced threats of their intentions, if these are believed. Should the free world accept these threats as bluster or take them seriously before the Middle East, Europe and potentially the United States become a ball of nuclear fire?
The final conclusion of this report is the United States needs better intelligence to better assess conditions in Iran. The United Nations remains feckless and the Security Council will never deliver on its number resolutions.
Most disturbing is the intelligence community is out of touch and admits to having huge gaps in its ability to determine the actual realities on the ground in the Middle East. We hope the resources are appropriated to change this and politicians from both sides refrain from using this as a political football.
Iran cannot be trusted, the U.N. Security Council is useless, and therefore pre-eminence must be considered as a fact of survival. Open threats of annihilation need to be taken seriously and waiting for disaster to occur should not be an option.
If Iran continue down the path of creating a nuclear arsenal then a military solution must be taken to remove the imminent threat of a nuclear Iran. The Iranian government has also most recently made threats to any sanctions that may come from the U.N. Security Council. It seems diplomacy is out of the question.