Monday, March 26, 2007

New House Resolution on Brit Soldiers

On March 26, Rep. Mark Kirk (R-IL) and Rep. Robert Andrews introduced a resolution calling for the release of British troops taken captive in the Persian Gulf and calling on the United Nations Security Council to condemn the kidnapping and explore new sanctions against Iran. Below is the text of the resolution.

(Original Signature of Member)
H. RES. ___

Calling for the immediate and unconditional release of British marines and
sailors held captive by Iran, and for other purposes.

Mr. KIRK (for himself and Mr. ANDREWS) submitted the following resolution;
which was referred to the Committee on ______


Calling for the immediate and unconditional release of British
marines and sailors held captive by Iran, and for
other purposes.

Whereas on March 23, 2007, the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Navy seized 15 British marines and sailors;

Whereas the British Navy personnel were engaged in routine boarding operations of merchant shipping in Iraqi territorial waters when they were accosted by Iranian vessels;

Whereas Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons in defiance of the international community continues to threaten America’s national security and Middle East regional stability;

Whereas the kidnapping of the British sailors came on the same day the United Nations Security Council introduced a new resolution to sanction the Government of Iran for its continued defiance of the International Atomic Energy Agency and its noncompliance with the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons;

Whereas Great Britain remains one of the strongest allies of the United States and a partner in the Global War on Terror;

Whereas the Government of Iran’s decision to kidnap British marines and sailors in the Persian Gulf violates international law and militarizes commercial sea lanes;

Whereas the Government of Iran depends on the Persian Gulf waterway for delivery of imported gasoline;

Whereas mismanagement of Iran’s economy has resulted in a sprawling, inefficient state sector, high unemployment and inflation, and flight of foreign investment; and

Whereas if the supply of gasoline to Iran is restricted, the impact on Iran’s economy would be considerable:
Now, therefore, be it

Resolved, That the House of Representatives—
(1) condemns the Islamic Republic of Iran for the seizure of 15 British marines and sailors and demands their unconditional release; and

(2) calls on the United Nations Security Council to condemn this kidnapping and explore new sanctions against the Islamic Republic of Iran, including the restriction of the supply of gasoline, to prevent further Iranian hostile action, deny Iran’s ability to militarize the Persian Gulf, and enforce Iran’s nonproliferation commitments.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Open Letter from Reform Movement Calls for Enrichment Suspension

Sohkhahi, which means "Demanding Peace" has published an open letter signed by 310 Iranians from the Reform Movement, academia, student organizations, political activists and religious figures demanding that the Iranian government accept the proposal from the International Atomic Energy Agence for a temporary suspension of enrichment. The letter warns the government about the ramification of sanctions and also the possibility of a conflict with the US. The letter can be viewed (in Persian) here.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Draft Security Council Resolution

Here is the new draft Security Council Resolution agreed upon by the five permanent SC members and set to be debated on in the full council, probably early next week.


The Security Council,

PP1 Recalling the Statement of its President, S/PRST/2006/15, of 29 March 2006, and its resolution 1696 (2006) of 31 July 2006, and its resolution 1737 (2006) of 23 December 2006, and reaffirming their provisions,

PP2 Reaffirming its commitment to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, and recalling the right of States Party, in conformity with Articles I and II of that Treaty, to develop research, production and use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes without discrimination,

PP3 Recalling its serious concern over the reports of the IAEA Director General as set out in its resolutions 1696 (2006) and 1737 (2006),

PP4 Deploring that, as indicated by the IAEA Director General's report GOV/2007/8 of 22 February 2007, Iran has failed to comply with resolution 1696 (2006) and resolution 1737 (2006),

PP5 Emphasising the importance of political and diplomatic efforts to find a negotiated solution guaranteeing that Iran's nuclear programme is exclusively for peaceful purposes, and noting that such a solution would benefit nuclear non-proliferation elsewhere, and welcoming the continuing commitment of China, France, Germany, the Russian Federation, the United Kingdom and the United States, with the support of the European Union's High Representative to seek a negotiated solution,

PP6 Determined to give effect to its decisions by adopting appropriate measures to persuade Iran to comply with resolution 1696 (2006) and resolution 1737 (2006) and with the requirements of the IAEA, and also to constrain Iran's development of sensitive technologies in support of its nuclear and missile programmes, until such time as the Security Council determines that the objectives of these resolutions have been met,

PP7 Recalling the requirement on States to join in affording mutual assistance in carrying out the measures decided upon by the Security Council,

PP8 Concerned by the proliferation risks presented by the Iranian nuclear programme and, in this context, by Iran's continuing failure to meet the requirements of the IAEA Board of Governors and to comply with the provisions of Security Council resolutions 1696 (2006) and 1737 (2006), mindful of its primary responsibility under the Charter of the United Nations for the maintenance of international peace and security,

PP9 Acting under Article 41 of Chapter VII of the Charter of the United Nations,

1. Reaffirms that Iran shall without further delay take the steps required by the IAEA Board of Governors in its resolution GOV/2006/14, which are essential to build confidence in the exclusively peaceful purpose of its nuclear programme and to resolve outstanding questions, and, in this context, affirms its decision that Iran shall without further delay take the steps required in paragraph 2 of resolution 1737 (2006);

2. Calls upon all States also to exercise vigilance and restraint regarding the entry into or transit through their territories of individuals who are engaged in, directly associated with or providing support for Iran's proliferation sensitive nuclear activities or for the development of nuclear weapon delivery systems, and decides in this regard that all States shall notify the Committee of the entry into or transit through their territories of the persons designated in the Annex to resolution 1737 (2006) or the Annex to this resolution, as well as of additional persons designated by the Security Council or the Committee established pursuant to paragraph 18 of resolution 1737 (2006) (herein "the Committee") as being engaged in, directly associated with or providing support for Iran's proliferation sensitive nuclear activities or for the development of nuclear weapon delivery systems, including through the involvement in procurement of the prohibited items, goods, equipment, materials and technology specified by and under the measures in paragraphs 3 and 4 of resolution 1737 (2006), except where such travel is for activities directly related to the items in subparagraphs 3 (b) (i) and (ii) of that resolution;

3. Underlines that nothing in the above paragraph requires a State to refuse its own nationals entry into its territory, and that all States shall, in the implementation of the above paragraph, take into account humanitarian considerations, including religious obligations, as well as the necessity to meet the objectives of this resolution and resolution 1737 (2006), including where Article XV of the IAEA Statute is engaged;

4. Decides that the measures specified in paragraphs 12, 13, 14 and 15 of resolution 1737 (2006) shall apply also to the persons and entities listed in the Annex to this resolution;

5. Decides that Iran shall not supply, sell or transfer directly or indirectly from its territory or by its nationals or using its flag vessels or aircraft any arms or related materiel, and that all States shall prohibit the procurement of such items from Iran by their nationals, or using their flag vessels or aircraft, and whether or not originating in the territory of Iran;

6. Calls upon all States to exercise vigilance and restraint in the supply, sale or transfer directly or indirectly from their territories or by their nationals or using their flag vessels or aircraft of any battle tanks, armoured combat vehicles, large calibre artillery systems, combat aircraft, attack helicopters, warships, missiles or missile systems as defined for the purpose of the United Nations Register on Conventional Arms to Iran, including related materiel and spare parts, and in the provision to Iran of any technical assistance or training, financial assistance, investment, brokering or other services, and the transfer of financial resources or services, related to the supply, sale, transfer, manufacture or use of such items in order to prevent a destabilising accumulation of arms;

7. Calls upon all States and international financial institutions not to enter into new commitments for grants, financial assistance, and concessional loans, to the Islamic Republic of Iran, except for humanitarian and developmental purposes;

8. Decides that all States shall report to the Committee within 60 days of the adoption of this resolution on the steps they have taken with a view to implementing effectively paragraphs 2, 4, 5, 6 and 7 above;

9. Expresses the conviction that the suspension set out in paragraph 2 of resolution 1737 (2006) as well as full, verified Iranian compliance with the requirements set out by the IAEA Board of Governors would contribute to a diplomatic, negotiated solution that guarantees Iran's nuclear programme is for exclusively peaceful purposes, underlines the willingness of the international community to work positively for such a solution, encourages Iran, in conforming to the above provisions, to re-engage with the international community and with the IAEA, and stresses that such engagement will be beneficial to Iran;

10. Welcomes the continuous affirmation of the commitment of China, France, Germany, the Russian Federation, the United Kingdom and the United States, with the support of the European Union's High Representative, to a negotiated solution to this issue and encourages Iran to engage with their June 2006 proposals (S/2006/521), which were endorsed by the Security Council in resolution 1696 (2006), for a long-term comprehensive agreement which would allow for the development of relations and cooperation with Iran based on mutual respect and the establishment of international confidence in the exclusively peaceful nature of Iran's nuclear programme;

11. Reiterates its determination to reinforce the authority of the IAEA, strongly supports the role of the IAEA Board of Governors, commends and encourages the Director General of the IAEA and its secretariat for their ongoing professional and impartial efforts to resolve all outstanding issues in Iran within the framework of the IAEA, underlines the necessity of the IAEA continuing its work to clarify all outstanding issues relating to Iran's nuclear programme, and stands fully behind the IAEA in the pursuit of its tasks in Iran with the reinforced authority accorded to it in resolution 1737 (2006);

12. Requests within 60 days a further report from the Director General of the IAEA on whether Iran has established full and sustained suspension of all activities mentioned in resolution 1737 (2006), as well as on the process of Iranian compliance with all the steps required by the IAEA Board and with the other provisions of resolution 1737 (2006) and of this resolution, to the IAEA Board of Governors and in parallel to the Security Council for its consideration;

13. Affirms that it shall review Iran's actions in light of the report referred to in paragraph 12 above, to be submitted within 60 days, and:
a) that it shall suspend the implementation of measures if and for so
long as Iran suspends all enrichment-related and reprocessing activities, including research and development, as verified by the IAEA, to allow for negotiations;
b) that it shall terminate the measures specified in paragraphs 3, 4, 5,
6, 7 and 12 of resolution 1737 (2006) as well as in paragraphs 2, 4, 5, 6 and 7 above as soon as it determines that Iran has fully complied with its obligations under the relevant resolutions of the Security Council and met the requirements of the IAEA Board of Governors, as confirmed by the IAEA Board;
c) that it shall, in the event that the report in paragraph 12 above
shows that Iran has not complied with resolution 1737 (2006) and this resolution, adopt further appropriate measures under Article 41 of Chapter VII of the Charter of the United Nations to persuade Iran to comply with these resolutions and the requirements of the IAEA, and underlines that further decisions will be required should such additional measures be necessary;

14. Decides to remain seized of the matter.


A. Entities involved in nuclear or ballistic missile activities

1. Ammunition and Metallurgy Industries Group, AKA Ammunition Industries
Group (AMIG) - AMIG controls 7th of Tir, which is designated in SCR 1737 for its role in Iran's centrifuge programme. AMIG is in turn owned and controlled by the Defence Industries Organisation (DIO), which is designated under SCR 1737.

2. Esfahan Nuclear Fuel Research and Production Centre (NFPRC) & Esfahan
Nuclear Technology Center (ENTC) - Part of the AEOI's Nuclear Fuel Production and Procurement Company, which is involved in enrichment-related activities.

3. Kavoshyar Company - Front company of AEOI. It has sought glass
fibres, vacuum chamber furnaces and laboratory equipment for Iran's nuclear programme.

4. Parchin Chemical Industries - Branch of DIO that produces ammunition,
explosives, as well as solid propellants for rockets and missiles.

5. Karaj Nuclear Research Center - Part of the AEOI's research division.

6. Novin Energy Company - operates within the AEOI and has transferred
funds on behalf of AEOI to entities associated with Iran's nuclear program.

7. Cruise Missile Industry Group - Production and development of cruise
missiles. Also known as Naval Defence Missile Industry Group - Responsible for naval missiles including cruise missiles.

8. Bank Sepah (and Bank Sepah International) - Bank Sepah provides
support for the Aerospace Industries Organisation (AIO) and subordinates, including SHIG and SBIG, both of which were designated by UNSCR 1737.

9. Sanam Industrial Group - subordinate to AIO, Sanam has purchased
equipment on its behalf for the missile programme.

10. Ya Mahdi Industries Group - subordinate to AIO, involved in
international purchases of missile equipment.

Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps entities
1. Qods Aeronautics Industries (Produces: UAVs, parachutes,
para-gliders, para-motors, etc. IRGC has claimed it is using these products as part of its asymmetric warfare doctrine.)

2. Pars Aviation Services Company (Maintains various aircraft including
MI-171, used by IRGC air force.)

3. Sho'a' Aviation (Produces micro-lights. The IRGC has claimed it is
using these products as part of its asymmetric warfare doctrine.)

B. Persons involved in nuclear or ballistic missile activities
1. Fereidoun Abbasi-Davani - Senior MODAFL scientist with links to the
Institute of Applied Physics, working closely with Fakhrizadeh

2. Mohsen Fakhrizadeh-Mahabadi, Senior MODAFL scientist and former head
of the Physics Research Center (PHRC). The IAEA have requested to interview him about the activities of the PHRC over this period but Iran has refused.
3. Seyed Jaber Safdari, manager of the Natanz Enrichment Facilities.

4. Amir Rahimi, Head of Esfahan Nuclear Fuel Research and Production
Center - Part of the AEOI's Nuclear Fuel Production and Procurement Company, which is involved in enrichment-related activities.

5. Mohsen Hojati - Head, Fajr Industrial Group. Fajr Industrial Group
is designated under UNSCR 1737 for its role in the ballistic missile programme.

6. Mehrdada Akhlaghi Ketabachi - Head, Shahid Bagheri Industrial Group
(SBIG). SBIG is designated under UNSCR 1737 for its role in the ballistic missile programme.

7. Naser Maleki - Head Shahid Hemmat Industrial Group (SHIG). SHIG is
designated under SCR 1737 for its role in Iran's ballistic missile programme. Maleki is also a MODAFL official overseeing work on the Shahab-3 ballistic missile programme. The Shahab-3 is Iran's long range ballistic missile currently in service.

8. Ahmad Derakhandeh - Chairman and MD of Bank Sepah. Bank Sepah
provides support for the AIO and subordinates, including SHIG and SBIG, both of which were designated by UNSCR 1737.

Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps key persons
1. Brig. Gen Morteza Rezaie, Deputy Commander IRGC

2. Vice Adm Ali Akbar Ahmadian, Chief, Joint Staff

3. Brig.Gen Mohammad Reza Zahedi, Commander, ground forces

4. Rear Adm Morteza Safari, Commander, Navy

5. Brig. Gen Mohammad Hejazi, Commander, Bassij resistance force

6. Brig. Gen Qasem Soleimani, Commander, Qods force

7. General Zolqadr, IRGC officer, Deputy Interior Minister for Security

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Pulling of Iran Language Not So Coincidental

Last night, Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and the democratic leadership decided to pull language from the Supplemental Appropriations bill which stated that no funds may be authorized for military operations in or related to Iran unless specifically authorized by the Congress.

The move, not so coincidentally, coincides with AIPAC's annual conference, which Ms. Pelosi addressed on March 13, 2007. It also follows Vice President Dick Cheney's address to the AIPAC annual conference on March 12, 2007, during which he pleaded with AIPAC to "reign in anti-war democrats."

Thousands of AIPAC members are in Washington DC for the annual meeting and are lobbying individual lawmakers on the Hill for the rest of today. A priority for the group is to convince Congress to approve tougher sanctions on Iran, which is seen as a growing threat to Israel.

Rep. Pelosi's attempts to appease AIPAC and AIPAC-supported Members of Congress by taking out the language to prevent a military attack on Iran are particularly hypocritical given that in the same breath, she calls the Iraq war a failure. Congressional sources say she is attempting to finesse the move by saying that the language will be placed in some other piece of legislation. However, it is unclear which legislation, who will sponsor and when the vote on it would take place.

House Majority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD) may also have had a role in the decision to remove the language. In the 2006 mid-term elections, Hoyer received $34,500 in pro-Israel PAC contributions. (In the 2004 cycle, Pelosi received a mere $20,650 from pro-Israel PACs).

It is deplorable that Congress continues to subject itself to the power of AIPAC's purse. And it is deplorably hypocritical that at the same time the Democratic leadership issues statements saying that "the Bush Administration enjoyed virtually unfettered and unchecked power over our federal government - because one of the most complicit, complacent Congresses in history abdicated its constitutional obligation to conduct oversight," the leadership itself continues to abdicate its war-making authority to the administration.

It's not too late to re-insert the language into the Supplemental Appropriations bill, and the Committee members should do so hastily.

Americans for Peace Now on Iran

On March 12, 2007, Americans for Peace Now put out a policy statement on Iran:

APN and the Challenge of Iran

For many years Iran’s leaders have espoused virulently anti-U.S., anti-Israel positions, complemented by reckless moral and financial support for extremists and terrorist organizations, including Hamas and Hezbollah. The threat posed by Iran has grown over the past decade, as that country has tenaciously pursued a nuclear program and the capability to produce nuclear weapons. The rise to power of current President Mahmoud Ahmedinijad – arguably the most anti-Western, anti-Israel, anti-Semitic Iranian leader in history – has heightened this threat. From the day he was elected, Ahmedinijad has taken an explicitly confrontational stance with the international community regarding the nuclear issue, making clear his determination to fully develop Iran’s nuclear capability, including developing a full “fuel cycle” that would enable Iran to develop nuclear weapons. He has coupled this policy with repeated threats to destroy Israel.

Israel cannot ignore the threat posed by Iran to its security and stability in the entire region. Nor can the U.S. A belligerent Iran armed with nuclear weapons represents a dangerous and alarming scenario – one that the international community must exert all efforts to avoid.

The Failure of Current U.S. Policy

We believe that current U.S. policy toward Iran – focusing almost exclusively on sanctions and saber-rattling – is non-constructive and potentially counterproductive, in terms of both Israeli and U.S. interests. We believe that in pursuing its present course, the U.S. is squandering valuable time – time Iran is exploiting to continue developing its nuclear program.

Experience in the region demonstrates that sanctions alone are not likely to do the job. What is necessary for an effective policy is to combine sanctions with diplomacy, as the Iraq Study Group recommended. A broader strategy that included carrots as well as sticks worked with Libya; a similar approach should be developed with respect to Iran. Following the first Gulf War, the U.S. imposed far-reaching sanctions against Iraq – sanctions that had a terrible impact on the civilian population but completely failed to mobilize the Iraqi people against the government of Saddam Hussein. The U.S. has already maintained strong sanctions against Iran for years, with little or no impact on Iran’s determination to develop its nuclear capacity. Even in the West Bank and Gaza, where the U.S. and international community imposed crippling sanctions in the wake of last year’s election victory by Hamas, recent polling (January 2007) found that support for Hamas, while declining slightly, remains strong, and nearly 45% of Palestinians blame Israel and the U.S. for the current crisis, while only 21% blame Hamas.

As for the military option, threats of pre-emptive military action – by Israel or the U.S. – to stop Iran’s nuclear program, are reckless and counterproductive. Such action would be of questionable efficacy and entail potentially catastrophic unintended consequences. Even under the most optimistic scenarios offered, it is clear that military strikes against Iran’s nuclear sites would be of limited value, at best setting back Iran’s nuclear program but not eliminating it. At the same time, such strikes would almost certainly have undesirable consequences, including possible retaliatory attacks by Iran against Israel, against available U.S. targets like U.S. soldiers in Iraq, and against other targets in the region, carrying with it the possibility of setting off a regional war. In the aftermath of a U.S. attack, Iran could also be expected to intensify its destabilizing role in the region, including in Syria and Lebanon, thus increasing the threat to Israel on its immediate borders.

Some have suggested that an alternative strategy would entail U.S. military strikes against civilian targets – e.g., roads, bridges, power plants – in order to send a message to the Iranian regime and to mobilize the Iranian people to oppose their own government. However, such a strategy would not only open the door to all of the unintended consequences associated with a strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities, including retaliation against Israel, it would also put the U.S. in a very difficult position vis à vis its allies in Europe and the Middle East, whose support the U.S. needs if any strategy toward Iran, military or non-military, is to succeed. Images of suffering civilians would quickly overtake and render null and void, in the mind of many in the region and around the world, any political rationale for the strikes, and at the same time likely eroding support for any subsequent U.S. efforts to pressure Iran. Far from persuading the Iranian public to oppose their government, military attacks on Iran are most likely to generate intense nationalistic support for the most extreme policies of the Ahmedinijad regime

Finally, the U.S does Israel no favor by stubbornly maintaining unilateralist policies in this arena: the Bush Administration has spent the greater part of the past six years pursuing unilateralist policies that are responsible, in large part, for launching the current debacle in Iraq and the instability sweeping the region.

The Way Forward: Constructive, Limited Engagement

The national security interests of both Israel and the U.S. are best served by the U.S. adopting a constructive, proactive approach in dealing with Iran. What is needed is a pragmatic approach focused on achievable goals. It is time to stop thinking in terms of non-negotiable policy goals such as regime change, good-and-evil leaders, zero-sum politics, and particularly any policy of U.S. first-strikes against Iran. In short: it is time for direct, U.S.-led diplomacy and engagement with Iran, including:

· Adopting a policy of limited, constructive engagement. Continuing the current U.S. policy toward Iran, consisting exclusively of threats and sanctions, will only further perpetuate U.S. inaction on Iran. The time has come to instead adopt a carefully crafted policy of limited, constructive engagement. Together with the Europeans and other relevant parties, the U.S. should develop a basket of meaningful diplomatic and economic carrots and sticks sufficient to persuade Iran to halt further development of its nuclear program. Such a policy, if successful, will require compromises by both Iran and the international community. Iran must relinquish what it views as its sovereign right to pursue a full-fledged nuclear program and agree to intrusive oversight and inspections. At the same time, the U.S. and international community will likely have to accept that Iran will maintain a non-militarized nuclear program.

· Enhancing bilateral relations. The U.S. must end its dogmatic and myopic focus on President Ahmedinijad. Ahmedinijad is only one player on the Iranian political stage, brought to power in no small part by U.S. policies that undercut the more moderate leaders who preceded him. Today, by making him the sole focus of U.S. policy, the U.S. is in effect enhancing his status and increasing his power – even as there is growing evidence of popular dissatisfaction with Ahmedinijad, based on his poor performance in the domestic political arena. A more enlightened, self-interested policy would recognize that there are other important actors on the Iranian political stage, both in and out of government. The U.S. and the international community should work together to engage these actors, marginalizing Ahmedinijad and bolstering the more moderate voices in Iran, making clear that better leaders could deliver more to their people and improve Iran’s relations with the international community.

· Enhancing regional diplomacy. The threat Iran poses to the region is in large part linked to Iran’s ongoing influence and interference in various countries of the Middle East. In particular, Iran’s influence in Syria, through which it supplies Hezbollah, and in Lebanon, from which Hezbollah threatens Israel and where it is playing an overtly destabilizing role in domestic politics, are of particular concern. Similarly, Iran’s role in Iraq, bolstered by Syria’s non-cooperation in securing its border with Iraq, poses a serious threat to U.S. interests. An enlightened policy toward Iran would include active efforts to chip away at Iran’s sphere of influence in the Middle East. Improving U.S.-Syria relations, and in particular making progress toward Syria-Israel peace, could remove several important cards from Iran’s hand. Similarly, progress on the Israeli-Palestinian and Israeli-Arab conflicts would also strengthen other regional actors vis à vis Iran, giving them a stronger hand to deal with Iran’s destabilizing behavior within their own borders.

· Reaching out to Iranian civil Society. Iran is a country with a strong civil society in the areas of academia, non-governmental organizations and the media. As in the context of civil society dialogue between the U.S. and USSR before the fall of the Soviet Union, serious dialogue between civil society organizations of the United States and Iran could be helpful in building an understanding that the development of nuclear weapons and other belligerent policies can only hurt Iran. Similarly, U.S. interests can be served by further U.S. understanding of Iranian perceptions of their own national interests as the U.S. develops its policies toward Iran.

There is no guarantee that such a policy will succeed, but for the sake of both Israel and the U.S., we believe it is critical to try.

A sure way to scuttle diplomacy

This new Op-Ed, by USA*Engage Director Jake Colvin and myself, appears in today's San Fransisco Chronicle, and editorializes on Congressman Tom Lantos' (D-San Mateo) new legislation (H.R. 1400) that would attempt to sanction foreign companies doing business in Iran, reinstitute a total ban on Iranian imports and influence pension fund investments involving companies that do business in Iran.

It concludes:
"Congress should create space for these diplomatic efforts to work, not entangle the United States in a diplomatic and legal nightmare involving the very countries whose cooperation is essential to ensure a successful diplomatic solution."

Monday, March 05, 2007

Military strikes could speed Iran’s development of nuclear weapons, warns new report

Military strikes, instead of setting back Iran’s nuclear program, could actually speed up their production of a nuclear weapon, according to a new report written by one of the UK’s leading nuclear scientists published on 5 March 2007.

The report shows that following an armed attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities, Iran could change the nature of its program to assemble a small number of devices relatively quickly.

The report is written by Dr. Frank Barnaby, who worked as a weapons scientist at the headquarters of the UK’s Atomic Weapons Establishment (Aldermaston) during the development of Britain’s own nuclear weapons, and is published by Oxford Research Group, one of the UK’s leading global security think tanks.

“If Iran is moving towards a nuclear weapons capacity it is doing so relatively slowly, most estimates put it at least five years away.

However attacking Iran - far from setting back their progress towards a bomb - would almost certainly lead to a fast-track program to develop a small number of nuclear devices as quickly as possible. It would be a bit like deciding to build a car from spare parts instead of building the entire car factory. Put simply, military attacks could speed Iran’s progress to a nuclear bomb,” said the report’s author Dr Barnaby.

According to the report, previous estimates that air strikes could set back Iran’s nuclear program by 2-3-years are based on the false premise that Iran would restart its existing large-scale program on similar lines.

The report argues that it is much more likely that, following an attack, all resources would be focused on the manufacture of one or two crude nuclear devices. This realignment of Iran’s nuclear program towards a so-called ‘crash program’ could lead to a nuclear-armed Iran within one or two years.

The report’s conclusions are backed by Dr. Hans Blix, the former head of the UN Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC) and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). In a foreword to the report, he says:

“Armed attacks on Iran would very likely lead to the result they were meant to avoid – the building of nuclear weapons within a few years.”

The report sets out three routes through which a ‘crash program’ could develop following attacks:

Taking plutonium from an unguarded Bushehr reactor – Under current agreements the Russians will control all fuel and spent fuel from the reactor at Bushehr. However following military strikes the Russians would be likely to leave the country providing Iran with full access to salvage plutonium from the spent fuel assemblies. In a specially built chemical facility this could be done within a few weeks. Even if the plant were destroyed in military attacks, enough material could still be retrieved to construct a nuclear weapon.

Black market – Following an attack Iran could turn to the black market to acquire weapons useable plutonium or uranium. The quantities involved (the size of an orange) would be relatively easy to smuggle. The political costs of being detected would decrease following military action and the motivation for using any means necessary to build a nuclear weapon is likely to increase.

Clandestine facilities - the US have stated that their intelligence on Iran is poor and it is thus feasible that Iran has already set up clandestine facilities housing centrifuges that could escape an attack. Whereas Iran is currently relying on its own scientists, as part of a crash program Iran could seek external support, to overcome any technical difficulties.

Following an attack the potential speed of recovery would be accelerated further by Iran’s likely withdrawal from the non- proliferation treaty - which would enable it to proceed without further inspections – and by bolstered domestic support for nuclear production.

Commenting on the launch of the report, Dr. John Sloboda, Executive Director of Oxford Research Group, said:

“This report doesn’t get into the rights and wrongs of military strikes on Iran - it asks whether they will achieve their objectives of destroying or setting back Iran’s nuclear program. The conclusions should be food for thought for even the most hawkish: military strikes against Iran will simply not work. Indeed they could even bring a nuclear-armed Iran closer.”

Dr. Blix added:

“In the case of Iraq, the armed action launched aimed to eliminate weapons of mass destruction – that did not exist. It led to tragedy and regional turmoil. In the case of Iran armed action would be aimed at intentions – that may or may not exist. However, the same result – tragedy and regional turmoil – would inevitably follow.”

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Opportunities for Action

The following resources provide action and education opportunities on US-Iran-related matters.
After Downing Street has a “Don’t Attack Iran” petition, with more than 100,000 signatures to date. Visit:

The Arms Control Association contains a comprehensive and chronological series of articles on Iran’s nuclear dispute:

The British American Security Information Council (BASIC) is publishing a series of Discussion Papers on Iran’s nuclear program and its international legal and geopolitical context. The first paper, "General, you have the advantage of time: Iran's Response to the US Military Option", by Sam Gardiner, is available at: We also publish with Crisis Action, Iran Update, a free weekly email news and comment digest on the diplomatic movements over Iran's nuclear program. Read current and back issues at:

The Campaign Against Sanctions and Military Intervention in Iran (CASMII) website contains articles and resources promoting US-Iran dialogue at:

Cato Institute scholars are speaking in about a dozen cities over the next few months, specifically discussing policy options vis-à-vis Iran. If your organization has grassroots in the cities where the speaking tour will be, please encourage them to organize events in local venues or help coordinate local media. To read Cato’s analyses and recommendations for US policy towards Iran, visit: For more information on helping to organize the speaking tour, please contact: Christopher Preble, Director of Foreign Policy Studies, or (202) 218-4630.

The Center for Arms Control and Nonproliferation’s website contains information on the devastating impact of a nuclear strike on Iran:

The Center for Arms Control and Nonproliferation has an outreach program over the next 18 months featuring former senior military officers who are participating in a speaking tour in ten cities across the United States to engage the American public and opinion leaders in dialogue on national security issues, including effective measures to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons as well as policy options related to the nuclear aspirations of Iran. For further information and to find out whether the retired military officers can speak to your community, please contact Leonor Tomero at or (202) 546-0795 ext 119.

The Council for a Livable World provides a “Letter to the Editor” action resource and various resources on the Iran nuclear issue at its website:
CLW also has a comprehensive list of legislative initiatives on Iran at:

Enough Fear is an international effort to prevent war between the US and Iran and the campaign is collecting photos of Americans and Iranians on its website to demonstrate solidarity in this cause.

Faithful Security, an interfaith group, also drafted a petition calling for direct talks between the US and Iran and it can be viewed at:

Friends Committee on National Legislation is doing a speaking tour, featuring Joe Volk, FCNL Executive Director, who recently returned from Iran on a religious delegation. For more information or find out if Joe is available to speak in your community, please contact Jim Cason at

The Hip Hop Caucus is doing a “Make Hip Hop, Not War” tour this spring. If your organization has grassroots in the cities where the speaking tour will be, please encourage them to organize events in local venues or help coordinate local media. For more information on speaking tour dates, contact Liz Havstad at

Iran Nuclear Watch is a blog maintained by Carah Ong at:

Just Foreign Policy has an action page where you can write to your Representatives in support of the Jones and DeFazio resolutions against attacking Iran:
It also keeps a tally of which Representatives have signed on: .
It has a searchable archive of articles in the press about Iran:

Ray McGovern is available to speak to your organization or community on intelligence-related aspects of the US-Iran situation. For more information, contact Ray at: (703) 994- 1459 or by email at: has a “Stop Bush from Escalating into Iran” petition. Visit:

National Iranian American Council’s (NIAC) LegWatch program provides weekly news updates on Capitol Hill activity concerning Iran: and offers issue briefs and memos through their US-Iran Media Resource Project

Peace Action’s “No War with Iran" petition drive has gathered more than 50,000 signatures to date. For more information on this petition or to become a signatory, visit:

Peace Action’s Organizing, Political and PAC Director, Paul Kawika Martin, was part of a Fellowship of Reconciliation delegation to Iran in late February 2007. To find out whether Paul can speak to your organization or community, please contact him at: or (301) 565-4050 x 316.

Physicians for Social Responsibility is leading an ad campaign, with efforts from other organizations, based on a phrase developed by Jim Walsh, “If you like war in Iraq, then you’ll love war with Iran.” The ad can now be used by local groups across the country to run in their papers. For more information, contact Ira Shorr at PSR at

The Project on Defense Alternatives has a new web page with critical perspectives on the current crisis, its origins, and implications. For more information, please visit:, set up by Wesley Clark and, houses a petition urging President Bush to enter into dialogue with Iran. The site also provides a “Write a Letter to the Editor” resource to send letters to your local newspaper. For more information, visit:

United for Peace and Justice offers a “No War on Iran” campaign site at:

Win Without War, Fourth Freedom Forum and Center for Arms Control and Nonproliferation sponsored a statement from former military leaders and top ex-security advisors urging President Bush to engage in unconditional talks with Iran: