By Jay Holmes
For the past several weeks, we have reviewed Iran’s history in our efforts to understand current dynamics with that nation. After all, if we don’t understand what happened in the past, we can’t understand what is happening today or why. (See Part I, Part II, Part III, Part IV, Part V, Part VI, Part VII, Part VIII, and Part IX.)
image by Fastfission at wikimedia commons, public domain
In February of 2012, Iran publicly threatened to attack any US Navy ships that entered the Arabian Sea via the Straits of Hormuz. In response, the US Navy’s 5th Fleet, joined by warships from France and the UK, sent a carrier task force through the Straits. Iran did not attack them. That same month, Iran denied International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspectors access to the Parchin site, south of Tehran. The Parchin site is where the US and the UK believe Iran is attempting to construct an 800-mile range missile for the delivery of nuclear warheads.
In March of this year, UN inspectors announced that traces of uranium enriched at 27% were found at Iran’s Fordo nuclear site. Europe, Canada, and the US held talks with Iran about its nuclear program. Iran continued to stall and the talks proved to be as useless as the last hundred or so attempts at diplomacy with the Iranian government.
From March 2 to May 4, Iranian President Ahmadinejad, getting testy and wanting more money and power, ran his own anti-Western/anti-reason supporters against Ayatollah Khomenei’s anti-Western/anti-reason supporters in parliamentary elections. Not surprisingly, the Ayatollah’s supporters won. No one else did. Approximately 60% of Iranians are in neither of these two extremist camps, but their opinions and votes don’t matter because no serious challengers were allowed to run in the elections.
In June, the US exempted India, Malaysia, South Africa, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Taiwan and Turkey from any economic penalties for continued trade with Iran in exchange for them agreeing to cut oil imports from Iran. The original deal was that no one could import any oil. These countries wanted to violate the embargo so the US negotiated this reduction in consumption of Iranian oil.
The European Union boycott of Iranian oil took effect in July. The Iranian economy took yet another turn for the worse. Social unrest increased, but unarmed protestors were beaten and arrested by the Republican Guards and the regime’s other supporters.
An unarmed majority cannot influence a well-armed minority, and a well-armed minority rules Iran. If the pen is indeed mightier than the sword, freedom of speech must be instituted in Iran before reason can conquer ignorance and brutality in that country.
The IAEA announced in September that Iran doubled its production capacity at Fordo uranium enrichment facility. It also significantly hampered an IAEA attempted to inspect the Parchin military site. Canada broke off diplomatic relations with Iran due to Iran’s nuclear program and Iran’s continued support for the Assad regime in Syria.
Now, in October, Iran’s currency is at a record low against the US dollar. The Iranian Rial has lost 80% of its value since 2011, in part because of international sanctions and in part because of waning public confidence in Iran. Black Market currency trading is increasing in that country.
The EU announced more economic sanctions against Iran. The Iranian regime ordered that more riot police and political thugs be kept on alert, but it made no policy changes to alleviate the stress on the Iranian people.
Ahmadinejad’s mouthpieces now claim Iran has achieved a uranium enrichment concentration of 83%. They will need better than 90% concentration for fission weapons. The Iranian government continues to stall the West as it attempts to produce such weapons in the form of nuclear warheads and nuclear armed missiles. The West continues to make that easy for Iran by procrastinating in taking any effective action.
Clandestine operations have thus far prevented the Iranian regime from adequately refining uranium to the high concentration necessary for the assembly of a nuclear warhead. This success has been helped by the fact that not all of Iran’s scientists and members of government agree with the regime’s desire to create a nuclear arsenal. Low cost, “low kinetic” operations against Iran are attractive because of the low political risks to Western governments that such operations present, but such operations cannot prevent the assembly of a nuclear weapon indefinitely.
It is possible that the US will become more aggressive in opposing Iran’s nuclear weapons program, its Hezbollah operations in Lebanon, and its support for the Assad regime in Syria after the November elections are concluded.
The Iranian regime has been consistent and predictable in its foreign policy and military objectives since the 1979 founding of the Islamic Republic. They are quite open about the fact that they see themselves as the Pan-Islamic Caliphate and have said as much in the past.
Predicting the reaction of Western governments remains the more difficult challenge both for the Iranian regime and for Western voters. Those voters can only hope that the continued procrastination of their governments does not enable Iran to field a credible nuclear force. If the West finds Iran difficult to deal with under present circumstances, it will not find it any easier once Iran has obtained nuclear weapons.
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*‘Jay Holmes’, is an intelligence veteran of the Cold War and remains an anonymous member of the intelligence community. His writing partner, Piper Bayard, is the public face of their partnership.
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