Does Iran Have Nuclear Weapons?

Posted By Levi

February 24th, 2012 5:53pm

Category: Middle East

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UPdate Below - Sat. 2/25/12

As tension increases between the United States and Israel on one hand and Iran on the other, it’s quite likely we might soon be headed for another war in the Middle East. According to this recent  CNN/ Gallup poll, nearly three quarters of Americans believe that Iran already has a nuclear weapon. This is not true. Iran does not have nuclear weapons.

But why would so many people believe Iran has nuclear weapons? Part of the reason is that the mainstream media is once again beating the drums for war with scary headlines about Iran just as they did prior to the invasion of Iraq 2003. Read this. You can also take a trip down memory lane by looking at this.

We have just ended one war – the Iraqi War – which was waged at enormous cost to the nation, both in blood and treasure. This chart from the Congressional Budget Office gives us an idea of the colossal waste of money on that war.

But the final cost of the war for the American people in the long run will be much, much higher. According to the Wall Street Journal, the overall cost will be around $4 trillion in the years to come.

“The direct costs for the war were about $800 billion, but the indirect costs, the costs you can’t easily see, that payoff will outlast you and me,” said Lawrence Korb, a senior fellow at American Progress.

Those costs include interest payments on the billions borrowed to fund the war; the cost of maintaining military bases in Kuwait, Qatar and Bahrain to defend Iraq or reoccupy the country if the Baghdad government unravels; and the expense of using private security contractors to protect U.S. property in the country and to train Iraqi forces.

The country is barely recovering from the worst recession in recent times- millions of people are still unemployed, tens of thousands of families already lost their homes and millions more simply don’t see much of a future for themselves and their children.  The country simply cannot afford another war at this time. Yet the war hawks in Washington – both Republicans and Democrats – and those in Israel,  are determined to start a new conflict with Iran.

Just the talk of war has already sent the price of oil to $121 per barrel, meaning we could be paying up to $5 per gallon for gasoline by summer.

And what would be the purpose of this new war, if there is one? To prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons. And what if we bombed and invaded Iran only to find that there is no such weapons? Remember Iraq? What was the invasion for? Ten years of occupation and we still have not found the weapons of mass destruction that Saddam Hussein was building to slaughter his neighbors.

Yes, the current leadership of Iran is not a nice one and the Iranian people would be better off without them. But to attack that country militarily on very little evidence that it is developing nuclear weapons would be wrong and illegal.Haven’t we learnt anything from the Iraqi misadventure?

Look, I don’t know if Iran wants to have nuclear weapons. Based on my own reading, Iran does not have any nuclear weapons and does not possess the technical capability of making one any time soon if it so desired. How do I know this? Simply by listening to the people who are supposed to know these things. Let me share the advice of a few of them with you.

• Let’s start with the United States National Intelligence Estimates of 2007 and 2010. These represent the views of country’s best minds on intelligence matters. Both estimates conclude that Iran ceased work  on developing a nuclear weapon back in 2003 and that there is no conclusive evidence demonstrating it resumed. Here is the New York Times:

“A new assessment by American intelligence agencies concludes that Iran halted its nuclear weapons program in 2003 and that the program remains frozen, contradicting judgment two years ago that Tehran was working relentlessly toward building a nuclear bomb.”

•  Secretary of Defense,Leon Panetta, appears on CBS’ Face the Nation just the other day and says “Iran is Not Building a Nuclear Weapon.” See here

• The Israeli newspaper, Haaretz, recently reported that “the Israeli view is that while Iran continues to improve its nuclear capabilities, it has not yet decided whether to translate these capabilities into a nuclear weapon.”

 Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said in a CNN interview on last Sunday that the United States had advised Israel that a strike now would be “destabilizing,” adding that Iran had not yet decided whether to build a weapon.

At a hearing in the Senate last week, Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, pressed James R. Clapper Jr., the director of national intelligence.

“Do you have doubt about the Iranians’ intention when it comes to making a nuclear weapon?” Mr. Graham asked.
“I do,” Mr. Clapper replied.

“You doubt whether or not they’re trying to create a nuclear bomb?” Mr. Graham persisted.

“I think they are keeping themselves in a position to make that decision,” Mr. Clapper replied. “But there are certain things they have not yet done and have not done for some time,” he added.

• Tamir Pardo, the current chief of the Israeli Mossad, recently rejected the claim that Iranian nuclear weapons would pose an existential threat to Israel:

“The head of the venerable Israeli spy agency Mossad reportedly told a group of Israeli ambassadors that even if Iran should get a nuclear weapon, it would not pose an existential threat to the Jewish State.”

I could provide more but you get the idea.

Finally, look at these two charts. Some of these countries say they are afraid of Iran. Notice that Iran doesn’t belong to the club. Isn’t it ironic that the countries which are condemning Iran for wanting a bomb are themselves in possession of tons of these weapons of mass destruction and refuse to give them up. The possession of these nasty weapons is, in itself, a crime against humanity.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Update – 2/25/12
From the New Tork Times Today:
Even as the United Nations’ nuclear watchdog said in a new report Friday that Iran had accelerated its uranium enrichment program, American intelligence analysts continue to believe that there is no hard evidence that Iran has decided to build a nuclear bomb.

Recent assessments by American spy agencies are broadly consistent with a 2007 intelligence finding that concluded that Iran had abandoned its nuclear weapons program years earlier, according to current and former American officials. The officials said that assessment was largely reaffirmed in a 2010 National Intelligence Estimate, and that it remains the consensus view of America’s 16 intelligence agencies.

 

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