April 12, 2006

Iran Story: Now, With Extra Crazy

And by extra crazy, I mean to say that the Bush administration is doing its usual dance of playing upon the paranoia of the American public by spreading lies. In today's frantic, couldn't-get-it-out-of-the-gate-fast-enough message to the press, they suggest that Iran is mere days from nukes, now that they've announced a plan to move to industrial scale production:

... "Using those 50,000 centrifuges they could produce enough highly enriched uranium for a nuclear weapon in 16 days,'' Stephen Rademaker, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for International Security and Nonproliferation, told reporters today in Moscow.

Rademaker was reacting to a statement by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who said yesterday the country had succeeded in enriching uranium on a small scale for the first time, using 164 centrifuges. ...

Ummm... Juan Cole, who has a better track record with the truth than the Bush administration says that they're nowhere near having enough for a bomb:

... all President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said on Tuesday was that it had enriched uranium to a measely 3.5 percent, using a bank of 180 centrifuges hooked up so that they "cascade."

The ability to slightly enrich uranium is not the same as the ability to build a bomb. For the latter, you need at least 80% enrichment, which in turn would require about 16,000 small centrifuges hooked up to cascade. Iran does not have 16,000 centrifuges. It seems to have 180. Iran is a good ten years away from having a bomb, and since its leaders, including Supreme Jurisprudent Ali Khamenei, say they do not want an atomic bomb because it is Islamically immoral, you have to wonder if they will ever have a bomb. ...

That's a lot of divergent numbers. What did Iran actually say?

... Saeedi said Iran has informed the International Atomic Energy Agency that it plans to install 3,000 centrifuges at its facility in the central town of Natanz by late 2006, then expand to 54,000 centrifuges, though he did not say when.

... Iran, which has made no secret of its plans to ultimately expand enrichment to around 50,000 centrifuges to fuel reactors, is still thought to be years away from a full-scale program. ...

So, they plan, sometime in the next several months, to install a number of centrifuges that's too small by almost an order of magnitude to produce enough material for a nuclear weapon. The article says that they currently are believed to have enough parts for about 1500 centrifuges. Sometime after that, and we can only presume that it would take longer to set up an additional 47,000 centrifuges beyond the yet-to-be-installed 3,000, they intend to do something that they've already told the world they plan to do.

Yet the Bush administration would like us to believe that Iran is days away from being able to build a nuke, notwithstanding that it takes additional years beyond having nuclear material to build a functioning weapon. Even the Israeli Lt. General quoted in the article believes they're at least three years away, and when your paranoia about a Muslim state in the Mideast exceeds that of the Israelis, something is very, very wrong.

The only surprises in Bush administration foreign policy tangles so far spring from all the outrageous lying emanating from the White House. That, and also that in Ahmedinejad, the Iranians now get to have a president every bit as embarassing as ours. Lucky them. It's the rare government who can go toe to toe with America in that arena.

This is a story that just doesn't seem to quit giving lately, but Billmon nails the thing about it that is most worrying:

... The U.S. government is planning aggressive nuclear war (the neocons can give it whatever doublespeak name they like, but it is what it is); those plans have been described in some detail in a major magazine and on the front page of the Washington Post; the most the President of the United States is willing to say about it is that the reports are "speculative" (which is not a synonym for "untrue") and yet as I write these words the lead story on the CNN web site is: ABC pushes online TV envelope ...

How low have we sunk as a society when our media no longer thinks that a nuclear first strike against Iran is a big deal? They haven't invaded nor threatened to invade any of their neighbors, they aren't known to be carrying out genocide within their borders and have been long term hosts for refugees from Afghanistan. This is not a country that the rest of the world is going to look at and say, 'yeah, well, they had it coming.' Even if Billmon's possible scenario is correct and everybody pretends not to notice.

America will officially be a country that exercises power exclusively through fear and caprice, like the old European monarchies in their assumptive divine right of kings. If the media and American public have to have it explained to them how perverted that is, they miss the bigger point. It isn't about Iran, or Iraq, or whatever the bogey of the week is, it's about us.

Is this a nation that shrugs at the death of innocents because they don't live here? Is this a nation whose government and financial elite's overweening greed is only exceed by their hypocrisy? Is this a nation that has utterly lost its dream of building a better world through mutual advantage?

I don't mean to downplay the fact that for an Iraqi, for instance, this couldn't be less about us. It's about their cities in ruins, their family members and neighbors taking fire from all sides or getting kidnapped for ransom, unidentified men coming in the night to take people out of their homes without any idea of where they're going, busloads of police and military recruits being executed by roving militias as collaborators, spotty water and electricity in the desert heat and an ever decreasing standard of medical care. Yeah, it's definitely and in large part about all of that.

Yet failing to consider our role as a nation, to care about the implications of our founding statements, to take the message of the equality and worth of all mankind seriously, means that Iraq will happen again. Because it's as easy as ordering a test strike on a military firing range, as easy as figuring that we might as well fire whatever ordnance is about to pass its use-by date. A snap. Like ordering extra coffins for the troops. Just as there has been Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Afghanistan and Iraq, there might be an Iran. Horror and suffering in a far-off land, a national shame quickly swept under the rug here at home. How many people must our 'culture of life' president order killed before we wake up to the tragedy of this repeated history and tell them that it has been too many already?

Posted by natasha at April 12, 2006 12:21 PM | International | Technorati links |

People in the US not only look as if we can't be bothered to object to our government waging aggressive nuclear war -- we're also apparently scared out of our wits. A couple of months ago, 8 in ten of us thought Iran would give a nuke to terrorists. This doesn't seem likely, but our rulers have the people convinced.

I weep for this country.

Posted by: janinsanfran at April 12, 2006 04:19 PM