“Moderate” Rouhani misled West; sneaked in centrifuges?

Iran’s nukes: known unknowns.

There is a particularly interesting aspect to the video that has recently surfaced, in which Iran’s new president, Hassan Rouhani, gloats over Iran’s success in coopting European negotiators to keep the Iranian nuclear program on track in the mid-2000s, in spite of pressure from the United States.

The video clip, from an Iranian news-program interview of Rouhani in Farsi, was published by Reza Khalili.  Ryan Mauro highlights it at the Clarion Project, tying it to a report from 31 July in which Mauro outlined Rouhani’s extensive history of using deception about the Iranian nuclear program back when he was the chief nuclear negotiator for Tehran.

The deception and Rouhani’s gloating are important (see especially his characterization of the top-cover he received from European negotiators); I will let readers visit the reports and soak in the information at your leisure.  What I want to focus on here is Continue reading ““Moderate” Rouhani misled West; sneaked in centrifuges?”

Bushehr: And So It Begins, Part III

Bushehr: it’s the geopolitics.

Parts I and II are here and here.  Part II’s ending included the following:

“An Iran mobilized and empowered, and unchecked by the United States, will force on the whole Eastern hemisphere confrontations and decision points that are only latent today.”

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But there’s another point that is almost never discussed, and it can be summarized thus:  geopolitics abhors a vacuum.  Iran is not a great enough power, even with nuclear weapons, to step into America’s shoes in the region.  Someone else will try to, and we don’t have to guess who. Continue reading “Bushehr: And So It Begins, Part III”

Bushehr: And So It Begins, Part II

Bushehr: it’s the geopolitics.

Part I is here.

Earlier this week, Jeff Goldberg of The Atlantic wrote an extensive piece about US and Israeli decision factors for a strike on Iran’s nuclear program.  I wanted to post a piece of my own in response to it, but found myself stumped as to how to say anything fresh on the topic.  It seemed that the most efficient approach would be to link to the number of pieces I’ve written before, which have treated all the points raised by Goldberg’s very comprehensive summary.  Yes, Israel’s is a one-shot option.  Yes, the Israelis would have to prioritize and hit far fewer targets than an American force could.  Yes, Iran will have Hezbollah attack Israel from the north and Hamas from the south.  Yes, the Iranian regional backlash will be hard to contain.  Yes, these things are all dangerous to mess with and hard to predict, even though the Arab nations don’t want to be under nuclear-armed Iranian hegemony either, and would be allies of convenience for Israel – for a few hours, at least – in a pinch.

Caroline Glick this week makes a profound point that I made here last year: Continue reading “Bushehr: And So It Begins, Part II”

Inflection Point: Bushehr

Why Bushehr matters, but we won’t be striking it.

The silly season may be about to get sillier. A number of bloggers picked up this week on reports that drones “crashed” in southwest Iran near the site of the Bushehr nuclear power plant. (More on that in a moment.)

Russia contracted some years ago to complete the construction of the light-water reactor (LWR) at Bushehr, which was begun by the French during the Shah’s reign, in the 1970s. Bringing the reactor online – fueling it with enriched uranium and taking it critical – has been postponed repeatedly since 2007.  The Russians are an integral part of this process, so it has depended to some extent on political calculations in Moscow.

The Russians have stated on multiple occasions this year, however, that they expect to have the Bushehr LWR online in the August-September timeframe. It being now August, the global Bushehr Watch is going into overdrive. And what happens with Bushehr will, in spite of countervailing technical reality (see below), be a bellwether of how things are likely to go with Iran’s nuclear weapons program, the fate of Russia’s association with it, and the alignments of the Middle East. Continue reading “Inflection Point: Bushehr”