TOC Ready Room 24 Feb 2022: Putin in Ukraine, “C’mon man” Thursday edition

C’mon man.

We now proceed to wait-and-see mode on practically everything, as the intelligence coming out of the combat theater will be uniformly unreliable at this point.  We can at least say with some confidence that Kyiv has not fallen, and it doesn’t appear that Russia has established full control of the Odessa environs, much less the entire southern coast.

Various unrealistic claims have been made about the number of Russian weapon systems destroyed, shot down, etc. by the Ukrainian armed forces, and there’s no point in overloading on salt to go with them.  I wouldn’t assert that the Ukrainian defense minister is deliberately lying, but the chaos of combat is probably clouding the vision of battle damage assessors.  Some of the numbers don’t seem to add up because there’s been no evidence of the kind of combat that would produce such losses – but there are big chunks of Ukraine into which we have little visibility, at least in real time.

As others have mentioned, watching activity around Lviv, in the west, will be informative. Continue reading “TOC Ready Room 24 Feb 2022: Putin in Ukraine, “C’mon man” Thursday edition”

Iran: Now for the not-so-funny part

The missiles of 2014?

Alternate title: Sink the Kharg!

Intellectual honesty required putting the recent threats issued by Iran in a realistic perspective.  While we should take Iran’s geopolitical posture seriously, it does our own deliberations a disservice to accept absurdities from Iran rather than calling them out.  Someone’s bound to notice eventually, so it’s best to sort the nonsense out up front.

That said, we should be concerned about what Iran has been doing in the last 48-72 hours.  This is not because Iran can make good on threats like those depicted in the truly moronic Lenziran video (see link above); it’s because the Iranian regime has escalated its verbal attacks dramatically.  These aren’t random bursts of rhetoric.  They appear to have a specific purpose. Continue reading “Iran: Now for the not-so-funny part”

Yet another reminder: Iran still closing in on bomb

Faking injuries in a winning 4th quarter? Iran at the precipice.

So, who’s up for another round of graphs showing that Western diplomacy, sanctions, and technology have yet to out-maneuver Iran in the mullahs’ push for a bomb?

A long-time IAEA expert, Olli Heinonen, predicted this past week that, using her newer, advanced centrifuges, Iran could produce enough high-enriched uranium (HEU) for a first nuclear warhead in as little as two weeks from making the decision to go for the “breakout.”  (See here also.)

For clarity, this does not mean Iran is “two weeks from a bomb.”  It means that once Iran decides to take the final enrichment step, it could take as little as two weeks Continue reading “Yet another reminder: Iran still closing in on bomb”

The Shakiest Nukes in the West

“Listen up, yo: I’m deterring you now”

In case everyone in Northeast Asia missed it, in spite of their intelligence and early-warning networks which have assuredly been tracking it in fine detail, the Obama Defense Department announced on Monday that the U.S. has been deterring North Korea by sending B-52 bombers on practice runs in its vicinity.  The specter of nuclear deterrence was clarified by Deputy Secretary Ashton Carter:

Deputy defense secretary Ashton Carter said during a visit to South Korea on Monday that the bomber flights are part of the U.S. “extended deterrence”—the use of U.S. nuclear forces to deter North Korea, which conducted its third underground nuclear test Feb. 12.

Nukes! I say.  Nukes!  Pay attention, dudes.

As Bill Gertz demurely puts it, Continue reading “The Shakiest Nukes in the West”

Iran: Conflicting reports on new blast near Esfahan

Blowing (stuff) up.

Local officials are offering different explanations for the blast that rocked Esfahan (also spelled Isfahan) a few hours ago.  It will be some time before there is enough information to make a good assessment, but a few things can be said now.

First, although the probable location of the explosion hasn’t been clarified, comments from the provincial governor suggest that it was on the east side of the city.  The governor claimed that the blast resulted from a military training exercise at the air base co-located with the Esfahan International Airport, which is situated on the east side of the city.  Presumably his comments, whether true or not, were intended to offer an explanation consistent with the local inhabitants’ experience of the blast.

The Esfahan nuclear compound is located east of the metro area, but there are good reasons to doubt Continue reading “Iran: Conflicting reports on new blast near Esfahan”