Saturday 30th of August 2014

blasphemy .....

blasphemy ....

In testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee on Tuesday March 12, 2013, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper reaffirmed what the U.S. intelligence community has been saying for years: Iran has no nuclear weapons program, is not building a nuclear weapon and has not even made a decision to do so.

The annual “Worldwide Threat Assessment,” which compiles the collective conclusions of all American intelligence agencies, has long held that Iran maintains defensive capabilities and has a military doctrine of deterrence and retaliation, but is not an aggressive state actor and has no intention of beginning a conflict, let alone triggering a nuclear apocalypse.

While the U.S. intelligence community assumes that Iran already has the technical capability to produce nuclear weapons, “should a decision be made to do so,” Clapper’s report states (as it has for years now), “We do not know if Iran will eventually decide to build nuclear weapons.”

Were this decision ever to be made, Iran wouldn’t even be able to secretly start building a nuclear bomb. “[W]e assess Iran could not divert safeguarded material and produce a weapon-worth of WGU [weapons-grade uranium] before this activity is discovered,” Clapper told Congress.

Even Clapper, who is no stranger to alarmism, acknowledges that “Iran prefers to avoid direct confrontation with the United States” and would only act defensively “in response to perceived offenses.”  Iran’s “decision making is guided by a cost-benefit approach” based on considerations of “security, prestige and influence, as well as the international political and security environment,” Clapper said, thereby dismissing allegations that the Islamic Republic is an irrational martyr state. Speaking at a national security conference in Herzliya on Thursday, Israel’s own military intelligence chief concurred with Clapper’s assessment. While sure to continue advancing its nuclear program in the coming year, he said, Iran had not actually decided to build a bomb.

Such findings are wholly consistent with past assessments.

In April 2010, Defense Intelligence Agency director Ronald Burgess told the Senate Committee on Armed Services, “Iran’s military strategy is designed to defend against external threats, particularly from the United States and Israel” and “to slow an invasion and force a diplomatic solution to hostilities.” The following year, he explained that “Iran is unlikely to initiate or intentionally provoke a conflict or launch a preemptive attack,” and reiterated this conclusion in early 2012.

With these findings in mind – assessed and reaffirmed as they are year after year – it is alarming indeed that journalistspundits, establishment think tank analysts, and awide array of government officials continue to parrot the claim that Iran is “the world’s most dangerous state” and “one of the gravest threats to international security.”

Such hysteria and fear-mongering, as always, is simply not borne out by the facts.

UPDATE:

April 18, 2013 - Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and director of the Defense Intelligence Agency Army Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee today and reiterated the same assessment regarding Iran as was delivered in March 2013.

The exact same statements - verbatim - were included in Clapper's unclassified report, including the assessment that "Iran is developing nuclear capabilities to enhance its security, prestige, and regional influence and give it the ability to develop nuclear weapons, should a decision be made to do so. We do not know if Iran will eventually decide to build nuclear weapons."

Of course, as Clapper notes, Iran's ability to potentially manufacture the components is inherent to its advanced nuclear infrastructure and is not an indication of an active nuclear weapons program, which all U.S. intelligence agencies agree Iran does not have.

As such, Clapper told the Senate Committee, "Iran has the scientific, technical, and industrial capacity to eventually produce nuclear weapons. This makes the central issue its political will to do so."

In his testimony, Clapper stated that, were the decision to weaponize its nuclear energy program to be made by Ayatollah Khamenei, Iran could theoretically reach a "breakout" point within "months, not years." His report repeats the assessment, though, that "[d]espite this progress, we assess Iran could not divert safeguarded material and produce a weapon-worth of WGU before this activity is discovered."

Again, undermining the bogus claims that Iran is an irrational and reckless actor, Clapper maintained the judgment that "Iran's nuclear decision-making is guided by a cost-benefit approach," balancing its own domestic interests with "the international political and security environment."  Iran also has a defensive - not aggressive - military posture, one based on "its strategy to deter - and if necessary retaliate against - forces in the region, including US forces" were an attack on Iran to occur.

 

the usual sanctimonious hypocrisy .....

Barack Obama has been accused of reneging on his disarmament pledges after it emerged the administration was planning to spend billions on upgrading nuclear bombs stored in Europe to make the weapons more reliable and accurate.

Under the plan, nearly 200 B61 gravity bombs stockpiled in Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, Italy and Turkey would be given new tail fins that would turn them into guided weapons that could be delivered by stealth F35 fighter-bombers.

"This will be a significant upgrade of the US nuclear capability in Europe," said Hans Kristensen, a nuclear weapons expert at the Federation of Nuclear Scientists. "It flies directly in the face of the pledges Obama made in 2010 that he would not deploy new weapons."

In its Nuclear Posture Review in 2010, the US undertook to do reduce the role and numbers of its nuclear weapons, in part by not developing new nuclear warheads, and pledging it would not "support new military missions or provide for new military capabilities".

According to newly published budget figures, the US will spend about $10bn (£6.5bn) on a life extension programme for the B61 bombs, and another $1bn on adding controllable tail fins. Kristensen said the tail kit would give it a new mission and new capabilities, once some of the upgraded weapons were deployed as scheduled in Europe in 2019 or 2020.

"What will be going back to Europe will be a guided nuclear bomb," he said. "Especially when you combine it with F35 with stealth characteristics, that expands the targets you can hold at risk from Europe, because by placing the explosion closer to the target you can choose a lower explosive yield. That is very important as there is less radioactive fallout. For many people this is a great concern because it means making nuclear weapons more 'usable'."

The new B61 Mk12 will be a 50 kilotonne weapon, like most of the "tactical" nuclear bombs currently in Europe. The bigger, strategic versions of the B61, stockpiled in the US, would be discontinued. Some European countries, led by Germany, have attempted to get the American B61 bombs withdrawn from Europe on the grounds they serve no military purpose following the end of the cold war and that they represent a security risk because of the possibility of their theft by terrorists. But some eastern European states have resisted their withdrawal, fearing it would show a weakening of US commitment to defend them against Russia.

US administration officials say the addition of tail fins to the bomb does not represent a significant change in its mission and therefore does not break the 2010 pledge. They insist that Obama remains committed to the disarmament agenda he outlined in a 2009 landmark speech in Prague, in which he promised to work towards a world free of nuclear weapons.

Since then, the US signed the new Start treaty with Russia, limiting both sides' strategic arsenals to 1,550 deployed warheads each. This spring, Obama was expected to make a speech outlining proposals to make further cuts to about 1,100 warheads. But US officials have said the crisis over North Korea and the time needed to install a second-term national security team have delayed the speech.

Obama's national security adviser, Tom Donilon, went to Moscow earlier this month to deliver a message from the president to his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, which included proposals to cut the two countries' nuclear arsenals and finding a compromise in the long-running dispute over US plans for a missile defence system in Europe. Sources familiar with the talks described the Russian response as positive. Obama and Putin are to meet at the G8 meeting at Lough Erne in Northern Ireland in June, but it is unclear whether the new nuclear weapons cuts will be ready by then.

Joseph Cirincione, the president of the Ploughshares Fund, an arms control pressure group, said the B61 modernisation plans were largely driven by domestic political considerations but risked sending mixed messages to Russia at a time when Washington and Moscow needed to strike a deal.

"I'm convinced the president wants to the continue his efforts to reform US nuclear policy," Cirincione said. "But the administration had a schizoid approach on this issue. They believe they have to buy off legislators with billions of dollars in expenditure in their states in order to get votes for arms control measures later.

"The billions of dollars we are lavishing on the B61 is criminal. This is billions of dollars spent on a weapon whose mission evaporated at the end of the cold war. It's clearly aimed at buying senators' votes."

Obama Accused - Nuclear Guided Weapons Plan