Thursday, April 27, 2006


The Treasure Hunt|تصویرگنج

What are we seeing in this picture?

مادیدن دراین تصویرچه چیزی هستند؟

Tuesday, April 25, 2006


Iran's Illusion?|چراهسته ای ایران ؟

We can assume that if Iran simply wanted to increase its energy resources, it would build more refineries, which it lacks. Therefore, one might assume that Iran's nuclear program is actually military, rather than defensive in nature. Thinking back to Iraq, Wood, Lacey and Murray point out in Foreign Affairs that:
According to Chemical Ali, Saddam was asked about the weapons during a meeting with members of the Revolutionary Command Council. He replied that Iraq did not have WMD but flatly rejected a suggestion that the regime remove all doubts to the contrary, going on to explain that such a declaration might encourage the Israelis to attack.
The article argues that Saddam created an illusion of weapons of mass destruction to deter US/Israeli attacks. But the illusion ended up inviting attacks. Why does Iran want to create an "illusion" of wmd, despite this risk?

  1. Nuclearity as a political assertion of sovereignty. Iran has no intention of using nuclear weapons for offensive purposes, and doesn't necessarily forsee them for defensive purposes, but is sees nuclearity as a measure of state success. Probablility: 0.5.
  2. Nuclearity as a defensive measure. Iran feels a definite threat from other nations, and is creating the illusion of nuclearity to defend itself in the future via the threat of nuclearity. Probability: 0.4.
  3. Nuclearity as an offensive measure. Iran is developing the illusion of nuclear weapons in preparation to widen its percieved offensive capabilities against other nation states. Iran forsees itself as a player in a future offensive military operation. Probability: 0.1.
I have assigned the probability of each of these reasons based on my personal perceptions. Each deserves more detailed discussion, which I will undertake in future posts.

مامی توانیم آن فرض بکنیم اگرایران به سادگی بخواهدکه افزایش بیابیم منابع انرژیش ،

خودآن خواهدتوانست که پالایشگاه های زیادتری ،بسازدکه آن فاقدباشد

بنابراین ،یک ممکن بودفرض بکندکه برنامه مال ) متعلق به ( ایران هسته ای واقعاارتش ،

تااین که دفاع درطبیعت است

درامورخارج آن خاطرنشان می کند : Murray و Lacey ، Wood Foreign Affairs تفکرپشت به عراق ،

Command راجع به سلاح درطی یک ملاقات باعضوهاازشورا Saddam علی شیمی طبق ،

پرسیده شد Revolutionary

داردامامطلقاردکردیک رژیم که توصیه تمام شکها WMD اوپاسخ دادکه عراق انجام نداد

به مقابل ،بردارد

بعنوان نظریه سیاسی استقلال Nuclearity

به آنها forsee ایران قصدسلاح اتمی های کاربردبرای مقصودهای حمله ،نداردولزوما

بعنوان اقدام موفقیت حالت است nuclearity برای مقصودهای تدافعی ،امادیدنها

بعنوان اقدام تدافعی Nuclearity

nuclearity ایران یک خطرصریح ازملتهای دیگر،احساس می کندودارداشتباه حسی

حمایت بنماید nuclearity می آفریندکه خودش رادرازطریق آینده خطر

احتمال :

بصورت یک اقدام تعرضی Nuclearity

ایران دارداشتباه حسی سلاح اتمی هادرآماده سازی پرورش می یاب

من احتمال هریک ازاین مبنی بردلیلهاادراکهاشخصیم تعیین کرده ام

مشروحتربحث ،که من درمحل خدمتهای آینده تعهدخواهم کرد deserves ه

Thursday, April 20, 2006


The Tactical Nuke: A Misnomer

Dearjude asked for some explanation on what exactly a tactical nuclear weapon is, as opposed to any other class of nuclear weapons. I found a good explanation here, which I have condensed below:

"Tactical Nuclear Weapons (TNW) are hard to define precisely... TNW were often thought of as lower yield and opearating over shorter distances than multi-megaton, inter-continental strategic weapons, but such definitions are from the perspective of the Cold War nuclear calculus between the United States and the Soviet Union. In the 21st Century, a 100 kiloton weapon delivered into a port city by a ship would destroy much of the city, hardly a "tactical" attack. A small country may have a few nuclear devices of "tactical" size, but they may be enough to deter their neighbors, a strategic deterrant. [TNWs are] usable by a theater commander ... They will be targeted based on rapidly changing local circumstances, not pre-targeted like a strategic deterrant. However, under present conditions, using even the smallest nuclear weapon is considered a "threshhold decision" and is under the control of the highest national authorities, not local commanders, in all nuclear nations."
In other words, there is currently NO SUCH THING as a tactical nuclear weapon. All nuclear weapons are just that -- nuclear weapons, and none are currently left to the discretion of those in the field. Even as they are proposed for use in Iran, nuclear bombs (such as bunker busters) would not represent TNW -- commands for their use would certainly filter down from the President himself. Instead, TNWs refer to a hypothetical war in which TNW are used as regular arms in the field.

So here's my definition of tactical nuclear weapons, which differs from the previously defined version. TNWs are nuclear bombs intended to destroy specific, limited military (rather than civilian) targets that conventional weapons cannot effectively destroy, while producing a minimum of fallout and collateral damage. This is the definition that is currently in use just about everywhere, and it's probably not worth worrying about semantics.

Additional topics that you would like me to investigate can be emailed to me directly via or on skype @ conplan8022.


Other Persian Gold Steady

The "other" Persian Gold, that is the mineral, metal, Gold, Au, appears to be holding steady.

Persian Gold plc is an AIM listed UK company set-up to identify and exploit gold opportunities in Iran.

Since this is a foreign investment in a product not yet being actively produced, its value is based upon the potential for continued future exploration in Iran (granted world gold prices are rising also). If bad stuff was about to go down there, foreign investment stocks like this should plummet. So while Iranians are running out to buy all the gold coins they can, and to open their own gold exchange, and while the price of oil is shooting up on speculation, foreign investment in the real gold seems to remain secure, for the moment.

Sunday, April 16, 2006


A Nuclear Bill of Rights

A contact, Amirreza, in the northern Iran city of Tabriz told me that he isn't proud about Iran's nuclear program, but views it as a right, and that every country has a right to nuclear energy. He also pointed out that Iran is not a provacator of war, and he views the U.S. as such (indeed, Iraq provoked the Iran-Iraq war). Iran's nuclear power will be used for peace, he told me, and that throughout Iran's long history, they have always valued peace, a respectable life, and freedom.

It's helpful for me to hear what the people of Iran are thinking. And if Amirreza is any representation of that, they're not thinking about war and global supremecay, but about their own proud heritage and how they may continue that.


Confluence of Religions

In addition to Easter and the continuation of Passover, this weekend is also the birthday celebration of the prophet Mohammad(1436 years) and the sixth Imam, Jafar Sadiq. I believe the actual celebration may have been Saturday evening, April 15th, which corresponds to Night of 17th Rabiul Awwal. Today, many religions seem to be celebrating!

According to a contact, Mansoor, I spoke with from Tehran, "The celebration is usually simple at our houses. There's no gifts in fact. People usually meet each other or call each other and congratulate by phone. But some people arrange parties that a lot of people participate."

In researching this on the web, I found very few resources to guide me along the way. For example, many sites used the word Wiladat instead of birthday, but I could not find out what this term means (Mansoor told me that it means "date of birth"). As these statements attest to my ignorance of Islam, I will devote additional time in this blog to sharing with you what I learn about Islam, particularly as practiced in Iran.


Introducing Maurice Motamed

Maurice (or Morris) is member of the Iranian Parliament, representing the Jewish community.

According to Mr. Motamed, in the current climate set up byIran President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad "a backlash in the wake of [U.S. or Israeli] air strikes becomes a real possibility."

Regarding Iran's right to nuclear power: From MEMRI: "I have traveled many times outside Iran, and have discussed the issue [of the Iranian nuclear project]. I have been asked for my opinion and that of the Iranian Jewish community, and I have always emphasized that the Iranian people has the right to obtain nuclear technology and energy for peaceful purposes. The Iranian people must not give up this right under any circumstances - and indeed, it will not."

I have read and heard from Iranian contact a lot about the right to nuclear status. This is something I will be discussing a lot in coming days.


All quiet in the trenches

When I asked a friend of mine who is an officer in the marines what he thinks about the prospects of a conflict with Iran, he said that he hasn't heard anything about such a prospect specifically, but that in his line of work, one enemy is as good as the next.

Saturday, April 15, 2006


Iran's Satellites

After the launch of the Sina-1 on a Russian rocket in October, there was some speculation about what exactly it is going to be used for. Official word is that it is to be used to monitor natural phenomenon, such as earthquakes. I am curious to know how it is functioning, since simply launching a satellite on another countries rocket doesn't necessarily mean that Iran has a successful Satellite program. Now, Iran has announced plans to launch Sina-2, also presumably on a Russian rocket, but has not announced what it will be used for. Iran is working towards launching its own Mesbah satellite on a Shahab-4 rocket, but it's not exactly clear when that will happen. The purpose of such a launch is clear: it will show Iran has superiority in the Middle East technologically and militarily.

Thursday, April 13, 2006


Dancing with Uranium Gas


Dancers perform as they hold capsules of uranium hexaflouride, or UF6 gas during a ceremony in Mashhad, Iran’s holiest city, Tuesday, April 11, 2006. In a nationally televised speech, Ahmadinejad called on the West "not to cause an everlasting hatred in the hearts of Iranians" by trying to force Iran to abandon uranium enrichment.

Is dancing with UF6 safe?

According to Wikipedia, it forms solid grey crystals at standard temperature and pressure (STP), is highly toxic, reacts violently with water and is corrosive to most metals. According to Argonne National Lab, in addition to being radioactive, released UF6 can have toxic chemical effects (primarily on the kidneys) if it enters the bloodstream by means of ingestion or inhalation. HF is an extremely corrosive gas that can damage the lungs and cause death if inhaled at high enough concentrations. According to the Board on Environmental Studies and Toxicology, UF6 is one of the most highly soluble industrial uranium compounds and, when airborne, hydrolyzes immediately on contact with water to form hydrofluoric acid (HF). Thus, an inhalation exposure to UF6 is actually an inhalation exposure to a mixture of fluorides. The HF component may produce pulmonary irritation, corrosion, or edema, and the uranium component may produce renal injury.

Be it resolved, therefore, that dancing with uranium hexaflouride is not generally advised.


All quiet on capitol hill

As the debate continues over whether Iran' announcment of uranium enrichment is political posturing or even technically realistic (as pointed out in a previous comment by dearjude), a friend of mine on capitol hill points out that everything there is quiet. Our congressman aren't up in arms about a potential crisis -- they're on vacation. Bush and Rumsfield have let us know that nothing is happening soon, and Condi's emergency plan is to wait until next month's security council meeting. My prediction: nothing's happening fast ... this is going to be a long drawn out Cold War. Or rather, a second front of the Long War.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006


How close is 3.5% to 90%?

I asked contact who is a nuclear engineer at Argonne National Lab and specializes in the design of nuclear fuels to decrease the risk of proliferation if he thought a jump from 3.5% uranium enrichment to 90% bomb grade enrichment was a major technical hurdle for Iran to overcome. First of all, there are lots of small research reactors spread all over the world at universities and labs which use high enriched uranium. The easiest way to make a bomb would be to get your hands on some of this basically already enriched uranium from these very low security operations. Second, he emphasized that the technology to make a bomb is basically out there, and that if Iran already can enrich to 3.5%, there is very little to keep them from enriching to 90% and getting some sort of bomb made. While its delivery system may not be the most sophisticated, they could get something together. Note that a much more isolated North Korea may have already done this ... put a bunch of engineers in a room, and they'll figure out a way to make it happen.


The treasure hunt.

What's going on in these pictures?
Picture dated 24 October 2004 shows Iranian MPs inspecting parts of the nuclear plant in the central Iranian city of Isfahan which is used as Uranium Conversion Facility

The turbine of the Bushehr nuclear power plant.
Bushehr has a very interesting history. A german company started construction of it in the late 70's, but as it was nearing completion in the early 80's, the revolution and war prevented its completion and damaged it. Iran refused proposals to convert it to natural gas, and has (with Russian help?) almost finished rebuilding it for nuclear use.

What exactly is in the mystery barrel? How many pictures like this have we seen?

As the WP pointed out for Iraq, there is a difference between pictures of people in white coats standing around a dangerous barrel, and the real thing. None of this stuff may be anything real, and we wouldn't know the difference!


It's too early for ennui...

A friend of mine from Israel, who happens to be a law professor, is already suffering from Iran overload. She says, "i don't want to talk about iran. don't understand a thing about it. and it is too frustrating." While this may just be the beginning of a long ride for us, Israelis have already been on this ride for some time. However, I think we may all sense some frustration, that once again, the situation seems to be running away, and the rest of the world has no control.

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