Monday, February 6, 2012

Bombast or a Warning?

The rhetoric continues to mount as to Iran's nuclear program. On Sunday, Pres. Obama stated that the U.S. and Israel are "in lockstep" on Iran. (Although, given Obama's history toward Israel, Israel shouldn't count on his support any further than election day). Although I have read a couple articles indicating that even with nuclear weapons, Iran hasn't the capability to deliver the weapons to a target, this may not be accurate.
It is claimed that Iran has accumulated several thousand short- and medium-range mobile ballistic missiles. Iran’s ballistic missiles could also be configured to carry nuclear warheads if Iran can develop them.

Iran continues to put on a defiant face, threatening anyone that assisted Israel or the United States:
Gen Hossein Salami, deputy commander of the elite Revolutionary Guard, Iran’s most powerful military force appeared to be warning to Iran’s neighbours not to let their territory or airspace be used as a base for an attack.

“Any place where enemy offensive operations against the Islamic Republic of Iran originate will be the target of a reciprocal attack by the Guard’s fighting units,” Gen Salami said according to the semiofficial Fars news agency.
(Full story here). General Suleimani has been described as Iran's most dangerous general. (See PDF article here--the article notes, however, that Suleimani is more a tactician than a strategist). Suleimani is a general in the Iranian Revolutionary Guard.
Following the Islamic Revolution of 1979, Iran divided its armed forces into regular and revolutionary components. This means Iran has two active armies: the Islamic Republic of Iran Army (Regular army) and the Army of the Guardians of the Islamic Revolution (Revolutionary Guards, IRGC). The IRGC is a combined arms force with its own ground forces, Navy (IRGCN), Aerospace Force (IRGC AF), Intelligence, and Special Forces. Whereas the regular military defends Iran's borders and maintains internal order, the Revolutionary Guards are intended to protect the country's Islamic system. Both armies operate in parallel and share military facilities, but the IRGC has a higher status and a preference in receiving modern inventory.

Iran's political/religious leadership is also threatening the destruction of Israel:
A website with close ties to Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has outlined why it would be acceptable to kill all Jews and annihilate Israel.

Conservative site Alef has published a doctrine detailing why the destruction of the nation and the slaughter of all its people would be legally and morally justified.

It warned that the chance to remove the 'corrupting material' of Israel must not be lost - and that it would only take nine minutes to wipe it out.

And it said it was a 'jurisprudential justification' for Iran's Islamic government to then take the helm.

The article, written by Khamenei's strategy specialist Alireza Forghani, is now being run on most state-owned conservative sites, indicating it has the regime's support.

The crux of piece said Iran would be justified in launching a pre-emptive strike against Israel because of the threat the Jewish state's leaders are posing against its own nuclear facilities.
(Full story here). Of course, this policy is why Iran cannot be allowed to have nuclear weapons--it is a threat, not only to Israel, but its neighbors.

A big question mark is Russia's stance on the issue. There are a few hints. From a January 12, 2012, Reuters story:
Russia fears Israel will push the United States into a military conflict with Iran which could retaliate by blocking oil shipments from the Gulf, a confidant of Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said.

“There is a likelihood of military escalation of the conflict, towards which Israel is pushing the Americans,” Nikolai Patrushev, who heads the Kremlin’s Security Council, told Interfax news agency.
However, Patrushev said there was still no proof that Iran was on the brink of creating nuclear weapons.

“Talk about Iran creating an atomic bomb by next week we have heard for many years,” he said, adding that the United States was trying to topple the Iran’s leadership using “all available means” to make the country into “a loyal partner”.
In other words, Russian officials seem to be signaling that they are more concerned about U.S. efforts to turn Iran into a friendly power than they are of Iran's nuclear program. (See also this article about Russia downplaying U.S. fears of an Iranian missile strike into Europe).

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