Amb. Henry F. Cooper, Chairman . . . Lt. Gen. Daniel Graham, Founder
High Frontier . . Building Truly Effective Defenses . . Reagan’s Vision Lives
E-Mail Message 130813
Definitely a Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing!
By Ambassador Henry F. Cooper
August 13, 2013
As is clear from a recent video, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani is proud of shepherding a major expansion of Iran’s uranium enrichment programs, a decade ago while leading Iran’s negotiations with the West—consistent with the continuing objectives and policies of Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. These policies call for destroying the “little Satan” Israel and the “great Satan” America. His implied approach, which many describe as “moderate,” actually promises more of the same under Khamenei, as Iran approaches—possibly within months—a uranium and/or plutonium nuclear capability. While a softer diplomatic approach from than Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s bombastic pronouncements, Western leaders should expect no different bottom lines as time runs out on preventing a nuclear armed Iran.
As we wrote in our June 18th message, shortly after Rouhani was elected President, we should hope for the best but prepare for the worst in thinking about our future dealings with Iran. As Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on CBS’s July 14th Face the Nation, Iran had replaced a “wolf in wolf’s clothing” (Ahmadinejad ) with a “wolf in sheep’s clothing.” Click here to watch the entire interview. The following discussion reinforces Netanyahu’s views.
In his first press conference after becoming Iran’s President, Rouhani offered an apparent olive branch by stating he was prepared to engage in “serious and substantive” negotiations on Tehran’s disputed nuclear program, raising hopes of progress after years of stalemate. Netanyahu’s immediate response was, “The only thing that has worked in the last two decades is pressure. And the only thing that will work now is increased pressure. I have said that before and I’ll say it again, because that’s important to understand. You relent on the pressure, they will go all the way. You should sustain the pressure.” Rouhani’s past negotiating history on this issue suggests considerable support for Netanyahu’s view.
A recent World Net Daily article by Reza Kahlili included a video of Rouhani boasting about when he led Iran’s negotiations with the West on Iran’s nuclear programs, between October 2003 and August 2005. Click here to watch the entire video for his full message—his body language reflects obvious pride in hoodwinking the West while Iran marched ahead, enriching uranium for nuclear weapons. (Reza Kahlili is a pseudo name of a counterterrorism expert who served in CIA Directorate of Operations as a spy in the Iranian Revolutionary Guard. He currently serves on the Task Force on National and Homeland Security, an advisory board to Congress, and the advisory board of the Foundation for Democracy in Iran.)
Rouhani summed up the purpose of his negotiations: “We needed time” to complete the uranium enrichment. Iran invited Britain, France and Germany to engage in the so-called E-3 talks and successfully sought to get them to block U.S. efforts to transfer the Iranian nuclear dossier to the United Nations, which might have provided more scrutiny of Iran’s programs and inhibiting sanctions. He observed that Iran’s number of spinning centrifuges grew from 10 to 1700 while he was the Chief Negotiator.
Rouhani called Iran’s widely publicized claim that it stopped its nuclear program in 2003 a statement for the uneducated and admitted that the program not only did not stop, it significantly expanded during and after his tenure as Chief Negotiator. By 2005, there were over 3000 spinning centrifuges, growing to over 10,000 today.
While President George W. Bush was increasing pressure on Iran in 2007, a report by American intelligence agencies concluded that Iran halted its nuclear program in 2003 and that the program had remained frozen since—contradicting a 2005 judgment that Tehran was working relentlessly toward building a nuclear bomb. This National Intelligence Estimate (NIE), representing the consensus view of all 16 U.S. spy agencies, stated that Tehran then was likely keeping its options open with respect to building a weapon; rather Iran’s “decisions are guided by a cost-benefit approach rather than a rush to a weapon irrespective of the political, economic and military costs.”
That 2007 NIE also indicated Iran’s enrichment program could provide enough raw material to produce a nuclear weapon by the middle of this decade, not inconsistent with today’s estimates that Iran has stockpiled enough low-enriched uranium for six nuclear bombs while its stock of the higher-enriched uranium has been constantly rising.
Then national security adviser, Stephen J. Hadley, quickly issued a statement describing the NIE as containing positive news rather than reflecting intelligence mistakes. He said, “It confirms that we were right to be worried about Iran seeking to develop nuclear weapons . . . It tells us that we have made progress in trying to ensure that this does not happen. But the intelligence also tells us that the risk of Iran acquiring a nuclear weapon remains a very serious problem . . . The estimate offers grounds for hope that the problem can be solved diplomatically — without the use of force — as the administration has been trying to do.”
The Past as Prologue?
Fast forward to August 2013—in view of Rouhani’s record of deceit and his recent offer to negotiate on Tehran’s nuclear program, we are approaching “crunch time,” as recently discussed in the New York Times by Amos Yadlin and Avner Golov. Yadlin is a former chief of Israeli military intelligence and is now director of Israel’s Institute for National Security Studies, where Golov is a researcher. In their August 9th New York Times article, “Iran’s Plan B for the Bomb,” they argue:
“[I]t would be dangerous to think that Iran’s proposal for negotiations alone would pave the way for a deal”—and that any effective negotiation must deal with three dimensions:
- Uranium enrichment from a low level (3.5 percent to 19.75 percent) to weapons-grade level (90 percent);
- Iran’s progress toward a quick “breakout capability” through the stockpiling of large quantities of low-enriched uranium that could be further enriched rapidly to provide weapons-grade fuel; and
- Iran’s parallel track to a nuclear capability through the production of plutonium.
They acknowledge Iran’s thousands of centrifuges and enough low-enriched uranium to produce several nuclear bombs if it chooses to further enrich the fuel, while not yet crossing what is perceived as Israel’s red line: 240 kilograms (about 530 pounds) of uranium enriched to a level of 19.75 percent. And they include a sobering fact that Western experts like Graham T. Allison Jr. (Director of Harvard’s Belfer Center and a Former Assistant Secretary of Defense) and Olli Heinonen (Senior Fellow at Harvard’s Belfer Center and a former deputy director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency) estimate that if Iran decided to develop a bomb today, it could do so within three to five months—and that a recent Institute for Science and International Security report estimates that at the current pace of installation, Iran could reduce its breakout time to just one month by the end of this year, and by mid-2014 to less than two weeks.
Yadlin and Golov also emphasized the near-term possibility of an Iranian plutonium bomb—via a heavy-water reactor in Arak that could become operational in time to produce weapons-grade plutonium next summer. Note that of the three countries that have publicly crossed the nuclear threshold since the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty entered into force in 1970, two — India and North Korea — did so via the plutonium track.
At the September 2012 United Nations session, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu focused on uranium enrichment, reinforcing the wide perception of the Iranian nuclear program. This year’s update of his “red line” analysis should include Iran’s potential to attain such a swift breakout capability using uranium—and should add a concern about Iran’s possible ability to build a plutonium bomb without detection. Time is running out.
An inescapable bottom line: Despite U.N., U.S. and European sanctions, the Islamic regime never halted its nuclear program and is inching ever closer to production of nuclear bombs. Its decade of negotiations with the West managed to buy time to make gains in both its nuclear and missile programs. And now what is next?
World leaders have shown an eagerness to engage the new Iranian president, hoping that Rouhani will break with the impasse and join in constructive negotiations over Iran’s illicit nuclear program. The White House issued a statement that Rouhani would find “a willing partner” in the U.S. if he chooses to “to engage substantively and seriously to meet its international obligations and find a peaceful solution” to the country’s nuclear program.
If negotiations with Iran should resume, Western leaders should increase their current leverage — sanctions and credible military threats. They should ensure that any future agreement with Iran addresses all the above three dimensions of Iran’s nuclear program, and we should increase our support for programs to defend against the growing possibility that Iran may succeed in getting nuclear-armed ballistic missiles that can attack the U.S. homeland as well as our overseas troops and allies.
Moderate messages from Tehran should not be allowed to camouflage Iran’s continuing progress toward their goals—especially given President Rouhani’s record of deception coupled with his image of moderation.
One More Time: Missile Defense and EMP Concerns.
If/when Iran gets nuclear weapons, there is the issue of delivering them against their intended targets—e.g., in Israel and the United States. Kahili quotes reports that indicate Iran will likely achieve an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) capability in 2014, which would put the United States within its reach, with launches over the North Polar region. This timing dovetails nicely with Iran’s apparent nuclear potential schedule. They already have many ballistic missile systems that can deliver nuclear weapons over shorter distances—which can be launched from ships off our coasts or from Latin America to attack the U.S. And they have demonstrated a capability to launch satellites over the South Polar region that overfly the U.S. from the south in their first orbit.
As we have laid out in our previous emails, there are four threats we need to prepare to counter if/when Iran gets nuclear weapons and can mate them to ballistic missiles:
- Nuclear-armed ICBM attacks over the North Pole—we need to strengthen our current defenses especially for the Eastern Seaboard; congress is aware of this problem.
- Nuclear-armed Satellite attacks over the South Pole—we are vulnerable to this mode of attack today; and it appears to be being ignored.
- Nuclear-armed short, medium, or intermediate range missiles launched from vessels off our coasts—we are vulnerable to this mode of attack, but could employ Aegis ships normally near or on our coasts to provide limited defenses if we trained their crews to do so. Aegis Ashore sites, like those to be built in Romania and Poland, also could address this problem.
- Nuclear-armed short, medium or intermediate range missiles launched from the south—from the vessels in the Gulf of Mexico or from Latin America—and we are totally vulnerable and will require the deployment of effective defenses to counter such attacks. Aegis Ashore sites could provide this defense.
All of these attack modes can be used to detonate a nuclear weapon above the United States to create an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) that could cause irreparable damage to the key large transformers of the electric power grid—and that under certain well known conditions could cause a complete failure of the electric power grid for an indefinite period. The ultimate result anticipated by credible experts could be that the consequent chaos would lead to the death of several hundred million Americans within the following year.
It is very important to harden the electric power grid so that if an attacking missile gets through the defense and detonates its nuclear weapon high above the United States, we will not lose our electric power indefinitely. If we can accomplish this hardening of the electric power grid, then we will have a good chance of reinstating other critical infrastructure upon which our survival depends.
And don’t forget that in its current state the electric power grid can be destroyed by a natural condition, which will be produced one day by a major solar storm. The only question is “Will we be prepared when it occurs?” Missile defenses won’t help us counter this threat—it is essential to protect the electric power grid in this case.
For a more complete summary of these issues, see our August 2nd email.
In addressing these concerns, it should be emphasized that the federal government’s first duty is to provide for the common defense. Providing effective missile defenses and hardening the electric power grid as quickly as possible should be a national priority.
High Frontier Plans.
We at High Frontier will continue to inform the powers that be of existential threats to the American people—as we have discussed in our emails for many months—and to urge them to “provide for the common defense” as charged by the Constitution they are sworn to uphold. Hopefully, key federal authorities and members of congress will soon begin to deal more effectively with this existential threat. Key initiatives are to undertake both the Shield Act and efforts to enhance our ballistic missile defenses, especially for our citizens on the East Coast and around the Gulf of Mexico, where they are completely vulnerable to ballistic missiles launched from vessels in the Gulf—or from Latin America, e.g., Venezuela.
We will also be taking the message to grass roots America. Our local and state authorities need to understand these issues and what they might do if their federal representatives continue to fail “to provide for the common defense.” It would be wise for them to follow Maine’s initiative and harden the electric power grid in their states, while holding the Washington authorities accountable for their oath to provide for the common defense.
And what can you do?
Join us at High Frontier in seeking to alert the public and your local and state authorities to the existential threats posed by both man-made and natural EMP events—and what can be done about these threats.
We can use your help in spreading this information to the grass roots and to encourage all “powers that be” to provide for the common defense as they are sworn to do. Will you do your part?
Begin by passing this message to your friends and suggest they visit our webpage, www.highfrontier.org for more information. Also, please encourage your sphere of influence to sign up for our weekly e-newsletter!