Iran’s Approaching Nuclear Capability

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 IPart IIPart IIIPart IVPart VPart VIPart VIIPart 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.

*   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *

*‘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.

You may contact them in blog comments, on Twitter at@piperbayard, on Facebook at Piper Bayard, or by email at

© 2012 Jay Holmes. All content on this page is protected by copyright. If you would like to use any part of this, please contact us at the above links to request permission.


12 comments on “Iran’s Approaching Nuclear Capability

  1. K.B. Owen says:

    This is scary stuff, but I so appreciate being well-informed! Fab stuff, as always, Jay. Thanks.

  2. I doubt pressure on Iran is going to stop them developing a nuclear weapon. But, like Syira, if you’ve got enough guns you can stay in power no matter what the people think. On the pen is mighitier than the sword, Iran is developing its own, segregated Internet. It’s being rolled out to universities etc and they’re gradually broadening it’s reach. I suspect the regime will eventually control all intenet traffic in the country through a few access points.


    • Jay Holmes says:

      Hi Nigel. Yes gestapo types all over the world are wanting more and more control over the internet. Unfortunately that includes a few of our own power-lusting political slimebags here in the USA.

      Human rights can only reasonably be expected when people have freedom of speech and the means to oppose tyrany.

  3. There is so much about to spill over…troubling times…(and all we hear about is basketball rims may be lowered, party girls with Prince Harry, and Gucci bicycles?)
    Concerning people can’t see what’s going on.
    Nice post. Thanks

    • Jay Holmes says:

      Hi Philosopher. The traditional news sources are definately getting rich on “fluff”. Hopefully the internet is changing that in a positive way.

  4. tomwisk says:

    Iran is basically immune to any actions by the West because the radical Islam faction is making enough noise so as to deafen the President and any sane members of the government. We have to look at the big picture. Is being entwined with Israel, who insists on a combative attitude towards anyone who is not Israel, coloring our dealings with Iran? Can “influence” by members of the intelligence community be used to influence Ahmadinejad ,i.e. looser restrictions, a blind eye toward Iran’s leper status in the international community? We should become pragmatic toward our non-friends and realize that we’re all heading toward MAD and if we can’t slap the small, loud, troublemaker in the schoolyard we could at least try to buy him off. Everything else seems not to work. The most militant of bullies will become at least tolerable if they can retain honor and make some “material” gains.

    • Jay Holmes says:

      Hi tomwisk. Thank you for your well reasoned response. In the past a variety of Western governments including the USA attempted to use the “buy off” strategy. It didn’t work. I agree with you about using pragmatism in dealing with Iran or any other nation. The more complicated question is which reactions and steps will result will prove to be pragmatic and which reactions and steps will prove to be disastrous.

      “The most militant of bullies will become at least tolerable if they can retain honor and make some “material” gains.” History indicates that this is not always the case. Appeasing Hitler when he entered the Sudetenland was one of the greatest mistakes ever made by Western European Governments and the USA. More recent history with Iran itself indicates that letting them save face and make material gains has had no positive results.

      Although many members of Western governments have already accepted a Nuclear armed Iran it is still possible to avoid the “MAD” paradigm with Iran.

  5. I would think we are just waiting for a change of government for the attack on Iran’s nuke facilities to take place.

    To be followed directly by huge forces, boots on the ground on the Iranian border with the straits of Hormuz.

    We’ll be at war, a nasty, very long war by Christmas.


    • Jay Holmes says:

      Hi Brendan. I hope that something less than all out war with Iran can prevent Iran from building a nuclear weapon. Any war with Iran AFTER they have a nuclear weapon would be much worse.

  6. I know I don’t fully understand all the players on the chess board in this pending calamity, but it seems we continue to be duped by Iran and we (along with our allies) have little credibility with use of sanctions. We’ve too often backed down and softened our position.

    More talks? Please. Reminds of The Spider and the Fly poem. We’re the flies, getting sucked into this web of deceit.

    If Iran gets nuclear weapons, it’s checkmate for the rest of the world.

    At least that’s how I see it. Am I missing something?

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