By Jay Holmes
As an intelligence operative, I need a good foundation in history to do my job. After all, if we don’t understand what happened in the past, we can’t understand what is happening today or why. This series outlines Iran’s past as we move toward an analysis of that country’s current nuclear capability and what it means to the West. (See Part I, Part II, Part III, Part IV, Part V, Part VI, Part VII, and Part VIII.)
Today, we review Iran’s history from 2005 up to the present in preparation for an analysis of Iran’s current nuclear capability and what it means to the West.
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Ahmadinejad and Vladimir Putin
image from the Presidential Press and Information Office of the Russian Federation, wikimedia
After the election of ultra-conservative hand puppet Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as President of Iran, his boss, the Supreme Ayatollah Khamenei, ordered the International Atomic Energy Agency (“IAEA”) seals at the Isfahan nuclear site to be broken. The seals had been installed as part of an economic agreement with the European community. Europe responded by quietly attempting to get Iran to adhere to the agreement that it pretended to agree to in 2003.
Iran broke the IAEA seals at the Natanz uranium enrichment facility. Muhammad al Baradei was concerned and showed it publicly. US President George Bush announced that the US would not accept uranium enrichment by Iran. He failed to mention what “non-acceptance” would consist of beyond condemnations.
Ahmadinejad proudly announced that Iran had enriched uranium to 3.5% concentration. This level of uranium was concerning, but not anything like the approximately 80% that is needed for a uranium fission weapon. Ahmadinejad understood this, and he knew the US wouldn’t go to war for 3.5% uranium. However, he hoped to show that he defied the US and the West. His minority of supporters in Iran cheered. The majority of Iranians were not thrilled by the news.
July 31, 2006
UN Security Council Resolution 1696 demanded that Iran stop enriching uranium. Russia and China both cooperated with the resolution because both were trying to sell Iran reactor grade enriched uranium at high prices. The resolution proved to be as effective as most UN resolutions. Not at all.
The Iranian regime hosted an international conference for Holocaust denial. Ahmadinejad pretended to think that Western allies invented the Jewish Holocaust after World War Two. Iranian apologists in the West would later pretend that Ahmadinejad never said the many hateful things that he frequently said. More than anything, the “conference” showed how ignorant Iran’s Ayatollah Khamenei is about how people outside of Iran think.
Iran’s Holocaust denial scheme backfired on Iran. The UN passed a previously stalled resolution blocking all vendors from selling Iran any nuclear equipment and technology that could be used in the development of a nuclear weapon.
The IAEA said Iran ignored yet another deadline for ceasing its uranium enrichment and called for more economic sanctions. Hand puppet Ahmadinejad screamed more of his usual nonsensical denouncements against the evil Western World and the Zionists. Everyone wished this guy would get another speech writer. Most Iranians were embarrassed every time he opened his mouth near a microphone.
Operating on the principal that one can never have enough enemies to fully enjoy in one lifetime, Iran kidnapped fifteen British sailors from international waters near Iran. The UK protested. Iran thumbed its nose. A few of the UK’s least intelligent journalists questioned how “this disaster could occur.”
It’s always a comfort to know that not all of the West’s most asinine journalists live in the US.
The IAEA announced that Iran could develop a nuclear weapon within three to eight years if left unchecked in its efforts.
Riots broke out in Iran over gasoline rationing. It occurred to Iranians that it takes a truly talented and gifted government to produce a gasoline shortage in a petroleum exporting nation. The various embargos had some impact. Iran couldn’t manage its oil industry well without outside help.
The US came to its senses and finally cut off the Iranian Revolutionary Guards and their many lucrative corporations from US banks. The White House admitted what lots of folks knew for a long time. Iran was financing, training, and controlling the most active and best armed insurgents in Iraq. Big surprise. Not.
Iran launched a test missile and said it was for scientific research.
Yes. That particular branch of science is called, “Hitting Europe and Israel with nuclear weapons.”
Ahmadinejad visited Iraq for a rousing round of denouncements of Zionists and the West. Everyone outside of his Shia radical supporters in Iraq and Iran yawned.
After disqualifying all of the opposition from running for office, the “conservatives” won another round of uncontested elections in Iran. In Iran “conservative” means, “I support Ayatollah Khamenei.”
The IAEA announced that Iran was still withholding information about its atomic programs. I was in Washington that day. My friends and I chuckled about the “shocking” news.
Ahmadinejad congratulated Barack Obama for winning the US Presidential elections. Obama cringed.
The Iranian police state raided the office of the human rights coalition led by Nobel Peace Prize winner, Shirin Ebadi. Iran said the office was acting as an illegal organization.
This is true. Human rights in Iran are certainly not legal.
March of 2009
Iran’s support for US President Obama ran out. Iran accused him of being another Zionist. Obama was relieved by the denouncement.
Being liked by Iran is even more damaging to an American politician’s reputation than being liked by Fidel Castro. I can only assume the White House considered it a good day PR-wise.
Iranian-American journalist Roxana Saberi was convicted of spying for the US by an Iranian court. She was sentenced to eight years in prison. That it was an eight year sentence rather than hanging was clear proof that the Iranians knew she was not spying.
The US State Department announced that Iran was the world’s leading terrorist supporter. The folks over at CIA shrugged. Many employees remembered to be grateful they didn’t work for State and didn’t have to talk to the press.
Iran freed Roxana Saberi and she returned to the US. I’m not sure who got it done. I’m glad they did.
After Mahmoud Ahmadinejad defeated a popular opposition leader named Mir Hossein Mousavi in a rigged presidential election, protests erupted across Iran. Mousavi was hardly a reformer, but he wasn’t Ahmadinejad so the public supported him beyond what the regime had calculated they would. Khamenei ordered crackdowns against the protestors.
After the murder of a female protester named Neda Agha-Soltan was filmed on a cell phone and posted on YouTube, cell service was interrupted in Iran. Approximately one hundred protesters were believed to have been murdered by the Khamenei’s goons. Hospitals reported over a thousand seriously wounded protestors.
The international press caught on to what teenagers with cell phones were aware of for over a week and started covering the protests as well as they could. Several foreign journalists suffered beatings, arrest, and banishment from Iran. Several Iranian journalists and journalism students who covered the protests vanished.
Ayatollah Khamenei got tired of Ahmadinejad pretending to be a real president and humiliated him by publicly demanding that he dismiss some of his key appointees. Ahmadinejad was filmed pouting.
Khamenei announced that he decided the “opposition candidate” and his top supporters were not actually foreign agents. Brilliant.
Iran stopped denying that it was building another uranium enrichment plant at Qom, Iran. The IAEA was angry, and it only took them two months to formulate a statement denouncing the Qom uranium plant.
The denouncement was so effective that Iran announced it would build ten more uranium enrichment plants. Given that they were already operating 1,300 uranium processing centrifuges, ten more plants would be eleven more plants than they could possibly need for running nuclear reactors for generations of electricity.
The death of the one time Ayatollah Khomeini supporter-turned-dissident, Grand Ayatollah Hoseyn Ali Montazeri, triggered a new wave of protests in Iran. About twelve people were murdered or vanished. Montazeri was once considered Khomeini’s natural successor, but had broken with Khomeini because of the mass murder of opposition members in Iran, and because of Khomeini’s insistence on absolute authority.
Nuclear physicist Masoud Ali-Mohammadi was murdered in Tehran. The regime blamed the killing on Israel and the US in an attempt to damage Iran’s nuclear program. However, Mohammadi was not important to Iran’s nuclear program. He likely was murdered for openly supporting opposition candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi and for refusing to step back into line. He had told his students to not fear death when considering protest because death can only hurt for a few seconds, but that the regime had hurt Iran for decades.
Iran stepped up missile production. The US announced that US Patriot Air Defense Missiles would be deployed to Bahrain and other parts of the Persian Gulf to defend against possible missile attacks.
Iran announced that it was “willing to ship its uranium overseas for conversion to fuel rods for peaceful use in Iran.” The offer was welcomed, but not followed by action. Russia had been offering the service to Iran for years. Nobody took Iran too seriously in its announcement. In any event, the process did not prevent them from continuing to enrich uranium beyond the levels needed for fuel rods.
The UN imposed its fourth set of economic sanctions against Iran. Iran responded with its standard anti-American/anti-West/anti-Zionist nonsense.
The international community condemned Iran for condemning Sakineh Ashtiani to death for “adultery.” Iran changed its mind about the stoning. Instead, it stoned her to death for an imaginary murder plot.
This sort of thing happens frequently in Iran, along with publicly hanging of juveniles who are accused of homosexuality. Few cases make it to the attention of the international community so when they do, some people are shocked. The condemnation means nothing to the police state that runs Iran under the guise of a theocracy.
Someone in the Bushehr Nuclear Facility forgot to not open porn on their work computer, and the system was infected with the Suxtnet Worm. The infection spread to other Iranian nuclear facilities. The press said it could have been a “Nation State” that did it. Yeah. Maybe so.
Switzerland hosted international talks with Iran. It proudly announced that a diplomatic breakthrough had occurred. The breakthrough? They had agreed to hold more talks in the future.
Protests started up again in Iran.
Iran is an old hand at dealing with this now. They have a regular “protest response crisis team.” They beat a few hundred protestors bloody, kill a few more, and the others go home.
Iran sent one war ship and a support ship through the Suez to Syria. This was the first time that an Iranian war ship had transited the Suez since the mullahs came to power in Iran in 1979.
In the dark comic opera that we call Iran, the rebellious child Ahmadinejad again made the mistake of pretending to be a grown up president, and again Khamenei publicly humiliated him by flexing his “supreme authority muscles.” Remember, Ahmadinejad ran on a sickening sycophantic political platform of “anyone who suggests disagreement with the Supreme Leader must be stoned to death twice.” The Iranian president’s restrained temper tantrums were rather hilarious to observe. Most Iranians found it the only thing about him that’s funny at all.
Iran announced that the Bushehr Nuclear Power plant was on the grid. It was the first Middle Eastern nuclear power plant to go on line. The plant was originally a joint project between Iran and the US during the reign of the Shah. The funny thing was that if Khomeini had not forced Iran back into his personal Dark Age in 1979, the plant would have been on line around 1985.
The US foiled a plot by Iranian intelligence forces to assassinate the Saudi Ambassador to the US. Iran denied responsibility.
An unexplained explosion occurred at an Iranian Missile Development Center. A Revolutionary Guards General was killed.
The IAEA announced that it had irrefutable evidence that Iran was attempting to build a trigger for a nuclear weapon. The US, Canada, and the UK increased financial sanctions against Iran and froze Iranian assets. The European community did not follow suit.
In its state of financial crisis, the EU could not ignore Iranian oil. The first Iranian missile could fall on Paris some day, but in the meantime, Paris could not survive without the oil. The US and Canada could promise the UK that it would reopen wells and keep the UK supplied, but it could not promise to do so for all of Europe.
Apparently concerned that not everyone on the planet was completely despising his regime, the Ayatollah Khamenei’s thugs attacked the British embassy in Tehran. Some of the younger thugs wanted to attack the US embassy, as well. The old timers had to remind them that the US has no embassy in Iran. The the average person in Iran wondered why in the name of God after thousands of years of seeking to refine a civilization they must endure such madness.
European intelligence services anguished over the increase in uranium refinement in Iran. Iran had the missiles. Successive Western politicians had put the day off for “tomorrow” for a long time. Tomorrows ran out. Faced with threats of yet more sanctions, Iran announced it would close the Gulf to oil traffic. It didn’t. Within the confines of White House instructions, the Pentagon tried to answer media questions about “what if.”
The EU decided it couldn’t wait any longer to act, and it announced an embargo against Iranian oil. Iran responded by claiming that it would destroy any US naval vessels that attempted to transit the Straits of Hormuz. The US Navy sent another carrier into the Gulf, joined by British and French war ships. Iran did not attack them.
The value of Iranian currency plummeted on world markets. Financial panic set in in Iran. Many Iranians had their accounts frozen.
Oil prices climbed. Saudi Arabia (our “friend”) reduced oil production.
Iran denied IAEA inspectors access to critical nuclear sites in Iran. The IAEA gave up and left Iran.
The US and Israel openly held joint meetings. The US started issuing more direct statements concerning possible joint strikes by the US and Israel. At that point, the only substantial, unsettled question between Israel and the US was what would be the trigger to any strikes against Iran.
The White House was told that within two months, Iran could build a nuclear weapon. During the last week of February, doors in the Capitol started opening, and people started talking across the aisle. The political chatter decreased. Congressmen were looking more serious and less theatrical. Hell, they were starting to look like a “government.”
Welcome to the fight, people.
February 29, 2012
The Pentagon entertained the press openly. It announced that it was determined to stop Iran’s nuclear weapons program. When the press asked if the US had the capability to destroy the deep underground uranium enrichment facilities at Natanz and Fordo, the Pentagon stated that it could destroy these sites with large, conventional weapons.
Short of a substantial strike, nothing would dissuade Khamenei from seeking nuclear weapons. My best guess was that he was not convinced that Obama would make that strike, and especially not before the 2012 election. So far, Khamenei’s been right.
In the next installment, we will analyze Iran’s current nuclear capability and what it means to the West today.