And Iran, so far away

By Phil Plait | February 13, 2009 2:00 pm

This actually happened a couple of weeks ago, but didn’t get much press: On February 2, Iran has successfully launched a satellite into space using its own domestically-built technology, a first (another satellite of theirs was launched in 2005 on a Russian booster). Called Omid ("Hope"), it is ostensibly a telecommunications satellite.

On the face of it, this may be a good thing. More countries seeking access to space is better for everyone. However, of course, Iran is run by a theocratic system with a fundamentalist bent, so I’m not overly thrilled with this. I’m glad it happened once Bush was out of office, since he was rattling his saber about Iran. Still, this event has stoked some fears, reasonably, that Iran has intercontinental missile capabilities; if you can get to orbit, you can potentially place a warhead anywhere on Earth you want. But in and of itself the launch is not a threatening event.

I’ll note that Iran faked a missile launch photo last July, but independent observers have verified the satellite launch (it even has a NORAD ID number).

So we’ll see where this goes. There’s not really much more to say here, except that I hope Iran is serious when it says that this was for peaceful purposes.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Piece of mind, Politics, Space

Comments (94)

  1. Hmm, first Iran launches a satellite, then two satellites collide and leave a trail of debris not long later. Coincidence? I think not!

    p.s. Why, yes! I am wearing my tinfoil hat. How did you know?

  2. Wow, I can’t believe I didn’t send you something on this. I’m just barely a stone throw’s away from Iran really on a global perspective.

    Let’s just say a lot of people were watching this one! ;)

  3. Helioprogenus

    Hopefully, Iran’s launch is more an indication of their technological capabilities for progress, than an aggressive tactic towards destabilization. Yet, it doesn’t help that Israel’s presidential elections have resulted in highly conservative war hawks who rattle saber’s like fencers in the Olympics. What’s unsettling is that Iran’s staged rockets along with Israel’s over 200 nuclear weapons are a lethal global combination. Why are we panicking over Iran’s possible future nuclear capabilities, while Israel consistently claims that an attack on Iran is an option? It’s not wonder the world views us as pariahs when we use such blatant double standards. Iran must declare any and all nuclear production, but Israel can declare nuclear ambiguity, hasn’t signed the nuclear non-proliferation treaty (which Iran has), and continues to channel our hard earned tax dollars towards fancy weapons that are used on mostly innocent civilians. In essence, Iran and Israel act like two bratty children, while we favor one, and the other develops resentment long enough to fester a conflict…only bratty children don’t have nuclear capabilities aimed at each other.

  4. MadScientist

    Didn’t get much press? Which rock were you living under? I suspect you just didn’t notice it because you were busy with other things like making your brother jealous by being photographed with an actress he idolizes.

    I don’t know why you bring up the faked Iran missile test – those were tiny missiles incapable of even a sub-orbital flight; on top of that, some missiles actually flew – the Iranians just embellished the number that flew for propaganda purposes. They weren’t lying about conducting a missile test and they weren’t lying about missiles working.

  5. Elmar_M

    I dont like Iran, I say it openly. You named the very reason for that. The other reason is that many members of the population there have a high potential for showing overly agressive reactions. It is quite a dangerous mix.
    Anyway, their rocket launch is still quite an achievement, especially for a country as small as that. One should not underestimate the know how needed for such a success.
    I am not worried about the military applications of this yet. They would still need more sophisticated targeting systems, reentry bodies, etc. This would take a lot more research. Also they do not have nuclear weapons yet. But they might have soon. Even a nuclear bomb and a rocket dont make an ICBM yet. You need more technology for that.
    However it is sure a sign that technology that was once deemed to be a privilege of superpowers and big “defense pact”- states is now within reach of pretty much every nation. It will be a challenge for the politicians of the next decades to make sure small conflicts dont end up becoming outright nuclear wars.

  6. Miranda

    Gak!! That song is now stuck in my head … thanks for that! ;)

  7. @Elmar: Unfortunately, you don’t have to be accurate with nuclear weapons. Any country with the capability to put a satellite in a stable orbit, should be able to lob a missile with a bomb strapped to it accurately enough to hit a target at least as big as a country.

    I’m not saying that’s what their ultimate goal is, just a possibility.

  8. Russ

    I don’t see why people want to be willfully blind of the facts. I don’t think its an accident that Iran launched this after Obama took office. They know that our leadership is soft, and they know that they can get a whole new lease on delay delay delay of accountability. There is no doubt that within 4 years Iran will be testing a nuclear weapon, and they will have the means to deliver it anywhere they would like. At that point, they can support terrorist organizations much more openly and have them carry out much large scale attacks.

    This isn’t just about a ideological theocracy thing. This is a country that currently is actively supporting terrorism. Khobar towers anyone? Hamas? Hezbollah? Marine Barracks Bombing? Any activities they take part in now they face at least some credible threat of reprisal. Once they have ICBMs, do you think they’ll fear reprisals?

  9. Bob

    According to BBC, mr. Ahmadinejad said the satellite was launched to spread “monotheism, peace and justice”. Spreading peace is cool, but I’m somewhat afraid of Iranian version justice. And monotheism? That’s downright scary 8(

  10. Russ

    Oh, and for some reason, people keep saying that Iran is “small”. It is not a small country either in population or capability. Its a powerhouse of the region with 70m highly educated inhabitants. For comparison, Germany has 82M people, England 58M.

  11. Does this mean we can comment on Stevo’s previous posts without being OT?

  12. Grand Fromage

    For I have photoshopped the surly bonds of Earth…

  13. @StevoR “Well done Iran, well done! Folks I think this is a very good thing & I think people’s fears of Iran stem from an ignorance fed the media and Israeli lobby. Iran has far more to fear from us than we do from it. Iran is not the cardboard cartoon villian all too many people in America & the wider “Western” world seem to think it is – it is a complex, rich and diverse country withalongerand deeper historyof civilisation than the USA’s and most other nations globally. Iran deserves to be respected and better understood than it is…”

    http://www.amnesty.org/en/news-and-updates/feature-stories/human-rights-violations-persist-iran-30-years-islamic-revolution-20090209

    “Human rights violations persist in Iran 30 years after Islamic revolution

    9 February 2009

    Thirty years ago, the change of government in Iran changed the landscape of the Middle East. The government that took power on 10 February 1979 led to the creation of the world’s first Islamic Republic.

    The Islamic Republic of Iran was created following a nationwide referendum on 1 April 1979. Another referendum, in December 1979, approved the constitution and confirmed Ayatollah Khomeini as Supreme Leader.

    Previous governments appointed by the former Shah, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi were widely regarded as corrupt and responsible for egregious human rights violations.

    Ayatollah Khomeini promised that all Iranians would be free. However, the past 30 years have been characterised by persistent human rights violations.

    The multitude of especially severe violations that marked the early years of the Islamic Republic declined over time, but today the human rights situation still remains grim. Hopes for a sustained improvement rose during the period of reform under President Khatami (1997 to 2005), which saw some easing of restrictions on freedom of expression, but have been firmly dashed since the election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in 2005.

    Four years later, ahead of new Presidential elections later this year, impunity, torture and other ill-treatment, as well as the use of the death penalty remain prevalent.

    Some sectors of society – including ethnic minorities – continue to face widespread discrimination, while the situation for other groups – notably some religious minorities – has significantly worsened under the current President.

    Those seen as dissenting from stated or unstated official policies face severe restrictions on their rights to freedom of belief, expression, association and assembly. Women continue to face discrimination – both in law and practice. Impunity for human rights abuses is widespread.

    In the last three months alone, Amnesty International has received reports of waves of arbitrary arrests and harassment, directed particularly against members of Iran’s religious and ethnic minority communities, students, trade unionists and women’s rights activists.

    Amnesty International is aware of the apparent arbitrary arrest of, or other repressive measures taken against, over 220 individuals. Many of those arrested, if not all, are at risk of torture or other ill treatment. Other individuals arrested before this period have been sentenced to death.

    In addition, several newspapers have been closed down, and access to internet sites has been restricted, including some relating to human rights or operated by international broadcasters. These measures may in part be intended to stifle debate and to silence critics of the authorities in advance of the forthcoming presidential election in June 2009.

    Amnesty International has been documenting human rights violations in Iran since the middle of the 1960s. Representatives of the organization have not, however, been permitted to visit Iran for first-hand investigation of the human rights situation since shortly after the Islamic Revolution.

    “Thirty years on, some of the worst abuses of the Shah’s time – torture, executions and the suppression of legitimate dissent – are still being replicated in Iran, despite the efforts of the country’s growing and valiant community of human rights defenders,” said Malcolm Smart, Director of Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Programme. “It is high time that Iranian authorities lived up to their obligations under international human rights law.”
    .
    .
    .

  14. This is interesting news for me. I am currently writing a novel which involves Iran directing a nuclear strike against the U.S., and I was having trouble imagining how they would pull it off (ICBM? Bomber wing?). Obviously ICBM is the most reasonable way to go.

    Now in the real world, it obviously better not come to that.

  15. Cheyenne

    A nuclear armed Iran is a scary thought. I think I agree with what Russ is saying in terms of what some of the potential worries are.

    I like Iran’s people but can’t stand their meddling Mullahs (ooh, good name for an Iranian rap group).

    @Arik – ICBM is the most unreasonable way to go. They would be obliterated in a reprisal launch. Container ship delivery would probably work best. But I’m not too worried about that either. I’m much more worried about them using a new nuclear status to flex their muscle in the region and therefore encouraging other petro states (Saudi Arabia in particular) to feel the need to develop their own nuclear programs.

  16. Here is a transcript of Mr. Ahmadinejad’s conciliatory speech concerning the new Obama administration delivered on Jan. 28, 2009. The dude wants an apology direct from Obama’s mouth. It will be interesting to see if he gets it.

    http://www.mohammadmossadegh.com/news/iran-to-obama-show-us-the-change

    “From the dawn of victory until now, the American government has stood in opposition to our nation. They turned their embassy into a spy den, they invaded Tabas [a city in the east of Iran used by American forces in an attempt to free hostages], plotted a military coup, protected terrorists [MEK guerilla organization] who killed more than 16,000 people, they encouraged and supported Saddam to go to war with Iran; eight years of war with their help, with their support, with their weapons against the nation of Iran.

    This very heroic Kermanshah was bombed hundreds of times and Saddam and his bombing was condoned by the American governments. They even defended the use of chemical weapons by Saddam. They insulted our nation and culture, frequently announced their intention to uproot the Iranian nation. They downed our passenger plane and commited hundreds of crimes against the people of Iran. They even rudely opposed our nation on the nuclear issue. Those who possess more than 10,000 atomic bombs shamelessly voice their concern about our nation.

    I think those who say they want to create change; this is change, to apologize to the nation of Iran and try to make up for their dark history and crimes they have commited against the Iranian nation.”

  17. tacitus

    Once they have ICBMs, do you think they’ll fear reprisals?

    Oh, for Pete’s sake, get a grip. Any number of nuclear powers would squash Iran like a bug if they got into a nuclear exchange. Do you think for one minute that Israel wouldn’t launch everything it had into Iran if they were attacked with a nuke. Just having a nuclear weapon doesn’t make them invincible.

    The Iranian regime can get away with sponsoring terrorism because even though there is plenty of evidence to connect them, they can still get away with their “plausible denials.” since, so far, no one is interested in escalating the conflict over the action of proxies. That would change in an instant if terrorists started using nukes, and Iran would have nowhere to hide. I doubt they will ever go down that road, since it would be putting their whole future into the hands of an fanatical terrorist cell, which would be suicide.

    The Iranian leaders (and I mean the ayatollahs, not Ahmadinejad, who is irrelevant and is likely to be out of power in June anyway) may be religious fundamentalists, but they are not idiots, nor are they immune to the benefits the trappings of power they have enjoyed for the past 30 years. Fat cats in fancy religious garb are still fat cats, and only the most deranged fanatics are typically willing to throw it all away for a cause they know will end up in their death. There is a reason why they don’t recruit suicide bombers from ranks of the powerful and wealthy.

    Finally, Iranians are a sophisticate people, with a long and proud history. While their leaders may be stuck in a Dark Ages religious mindset, most of the nation’s young and vibrant population are little different in their aspirations from the likes of you and me. But they do want to be treated as equals, and not looked down upon as some second rate, terrorist nation. Cutting off talks and assigning them to the axis of evil has simply forced their regime to become more entrenched, so I welcome Obama’s new approach in his attempts to open a dialog with them.

    It won’t be easy, and the Iranian leaders will have to play their part, but there is much to gain in the Middle East if this educated country can be persuaded to cooperate with the USA and its allies.

  18. Rift

    “Didn’t get much press? Which rock were you living under? I suspect you just didn’t notice it because you were busy with other things like making your brother jealous by being photographed with an actress he idolizes.”

    That was uncalled for MadScientist. Now I know why I don’t blog and usually don’t read comments on blogs…

    I’m not sure why, but the readers of this blog have really gotten very uncivil in the past few years.

  19. I hope that’s a comedy novel Arik. To suggest that the Iranian leadership would launch some vainglorious first strike against the United States even if they had a nuclear weapon — which they don’t — is preposterous. One US missile submarine — one submarine — could reduce the Republic of Iran to radioactive dust ten minutes after such an attack. The Iranian leadership is perfectly aware of that fact and they would conduct themselves accordingly if they had a nuclear weapon — which they don’t. Persia has been in existence for three thousand years. In comparison the United States has been around for about fifteen minutes. The Iranian leadership is not going to invite the complete and utter destruction of their ancient culture and civilisation by attacking the United States (or Israel, which has 200+ nukes itself for that matter) with a nuclear weapon.

  20. Joe Meils

    Maybe it’s just the reactionary in me, but I think Iran had better start allowing people to observe their orbital launches. That, AND announce well ahead of time when they intend to put up another “communications sat.” Otherwise, we may well have to adopt a policy of “shoot it down first, ask quaetions later” on any surprise launches. It’s part and parcel with the “prestige” of being a nation hell bent on aquiring nukes.

  21. Russ

    tacitus: Reread what I wrote. I’m talking specifically about non-nuclear exchanges and actions and the deterrent of a nuclear/ICBM capable Iran against reprisals.

  22. Good for Iran; having said that, perhaps cooler heads will prevail there, and everywhere.

  23. Helioprogenus

    @ Tom Marking,

    Speaking of human right’s violations, don’t turn a blind eye towards Israel either. If you want to look at the UN resolutions that Israel continues to violate to this day, please see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_United_Nations_resolutions_concerning_Israel.

    Also, because most Western journalists were excluded from witnessing the atrocities in Gaza, it’s a near certainty that Israel is further responsible for more human rights violations. Mind you I’m not letting Iran off the hook here, but don’t get caught up in using the typical double standards we set for Israel. Further, any rational human being knows that Israel’s nuclear ambiguity status is certainly not beneficial to the west, especially when they’re using American tax-payer dollars to commit humanitarian crimes.

  24. @Rift:
    Humor, a sense of it doez madscientist haz…

  25. tacitus

    Russ, it take any years and many nuclear weapons before Iran feels safe from reprisals, if ever. Iran isn’t going to escalate just because they get a nuke. They already know that Israel wanted to come after them in the wake of the latest round of attacks from Hezbollah last year, with only the US talking them down. If an attack that costs the lives of thousands of Israelis is linked back to Iran then nuclear weapon or no nuclear weapon, Israel will not be stopped. And the Iranian nukes would be useless since they know their country would be destroyed if they launched them.

    The Iranian quest for nuclear weapons is all part of the Great Game in that part of the world. Pakistan and India have already reached got theirs (with Pakistan being a much less stable Islamic country, btw) and Iran wants to join the club. It’s all about the prestige and power it will allow their leaders to wield at home and abroad.

    Frankly, I don’t think there is anything we can do to stop them getting a nuke without major concessions on our side, which I don’t believe we’re ready to make, even with Obama as president. But I fear a nuclear Iran much less than some loony End-Times cult with access to weapons-grade biological agents.

    The human rights record of the Iranian regime is terrible, and I would not miss them one iota if they were forced out of power tomorrow, but the West (in the form of the British Government and the CIA back in the 50s) is partially responsible for the mess in that country and we have to live and deal with what we have.

    There is an understandable urge to punish the wrongdoers, but it’s often not the best approach. There are hundreds of terrorists and murderers freely walking the streets of Northern Ireland today, but that was the price a majority of their citizens was willing to pay for being able to live in a society without the daily threat of terrorist violence. The situation with Iran is different, of course, but if the price of gaining Iranian cooperation over ending the sponsoring of terrorism and human rights violations is to reward the leaders responsible for it in the first place, then it will be worth it.

  26. David D

    @Rift–

    “I’m not sure why, but the readers of this blog have really gotten very uncivil in the past few years.”

    Actually this ain’t the same blog that it was a few years ago. . .

    Sigh. I have a feeling this thread is going to get real ugly.

  27. Russ

    Those are some pretty cool rose colored shades you got there tacitus. Lets just say we view things differently. I view making concessions to Iran as having the same effect of making concessions to pre WWII Germany. It didn’t change any of their endgame plans, it only accelerated them. My view of the Iranian regime includes goals beyond sovereignty and personal interests.

    Its like when people tell you if you have an attacker threatening your life, you do what you are told, give them what they want. 9/10, sure great, whatever. But what about if what they want is your life?

  28. bjn

    I agree with Tacitus. I live in the only country that has used nuclear bombs against human populations. The rest of the world has had to live with that fact and the fact of the remaining cold war stockpiles of tens of thousands of nuclear weapons. If you want to worry about something reality-based, worry about all the poorly guarded civilian industry’s plutonium and uranium that we’ve got stored around the country or the material that’s even less safeguarded in the former USSR.

    A terrorist use of a nuclear weapon wouldn’t come aboard a missile, and especially not an ICBM with its easily traced launch site. It would be delivered in a car, van, or a small boat. After recently reading John McPhee’s “The Curve of Binding Energy”, published in 1974, I find it amazing that we’ve yet to see a nuclear terrorist event. I really doubt we’ve been lucky enough not to have terrorists obtain nuclear material. I can only conclude that even “crazy” terrorists may understand the scale of death and devastation that would come in the form of nuclear retaliation.

    I’d like to think that Iran’s embrace of science and technology sufficient to launch a satellite into space is an indication of enlightenment and civility. But we’ve proven that technological achievement means little in regard to how rationally and morally we act as a nation.

  29. Windyshrimp

    How large of wusses do we (the US and others) have to be when a place like Iran gets one bomb? We have millions of them, yet we fear when some tiny country gets a hold of one and do everything we can to stop them.

  30. Anon

    Year ago I met a young Iranian student in a bus here in Finland. We talked about four hours about everything. He told me how much young Iranian people loathed the populistic Ahmadinejad and his goverment. It was about as much as young people in western world loathed the Bush government. The greatest fear of both governments was secularization, at least that was our theory that night.

    We were quite sure that there is a global culture currently forming that contains very little of religious fanatism. It’s the culture of Internet and it is not pretty, or very intelligent, but it is our collective culture. The Iranian youth is laughing to the same stupid Youtube videos as Americans, everyone knows the Chocolate Rain, and Anime has corrupted everything. This is humanity. This is us, with no clothes on.

    We are winning. Sometimes we lose a battle, but the culture is steadily drifting into more open direction in every country, west and east. Popular culture is the only true global culture.

    But that was enough about politics.

    The rest of the night we talked about heavy metal. We both were Judas Priest fans, and in Finland he had found Lordi. The Devil is a loser and he’s my bitch! Yeah!

  31. Iran is many things, but people confuse saber rattling with instability. The true supreme leader of Iran, the Ayatollah, has a reputation for being a little more level-headed than he allows Ahmedinejad to be. Someone else rightly pointed out that Pakistan is less stable (though the media tends to exaggerate).

    Another country in space, great. Another country with nuclear weapons, not so great, but the thing about nukes is that no amount of embargoing and technological sanctions is going to stop their production. People seem to be under the illusion that nukes are difficult to build, Iran has already jumped its first (and only real) hurdle- uranium enrichment. From here, skilled metallurgy and explosives experts with 1930′s tech can create an “inefficient” WWII era bomb.

    Let’s remember two things though:

    1. Iran knows official US policy is that we do not nuke non-nuke equipped countries. This is a strong disincentive to having a weapons program- regardless of how dove-ish the administration is. Iran has the upper-hand in the region right now, we’re practically giving them Iraq on a silver platter. They aren’t going to jeopardize their ascendency in the region, and trust me, ascendant they are.

    Most Americans didn’t watch the Hassan Nasrallah give his speech regarding the Palestinians in the latest round of fighting. I was in the region at the time the conflict broke out and listened with great interest. Okay, that’s a lie, Nasrallah is one of the most boring speakers I’ve ever listened to. However, he is a sort of Iranian mouthpiece to the Arab world. Everyone knows he won’t make a move without the Ayatollah’s implicit assent. It was a long, very boring, speech but basically it was hedging. He was doing his best to mitigate some of the anger to come at his organization’s non-involvement. Hezbollah did not involve itself in the conflict, despite pressure from their constituency. Iran already assisted them in the so called July War. There is strong evidence that Iran is more than capable of staying its hand when strategically necessary.

    2. Iran does NOT have a weapon yet, and there is no evidence that they are creating one.

    So long as the Iranians have no real incentive to create a bomb, I strongly doubt they will. There is this tendency here in the US to think that all the Iranians think about is how to destroy Israel, but all evidence points to planning on a longer timescale than some sort of obsessed rush to destruction. They’re playing a skillful game, and for some reason we keep getting pump-faked.

  32. First sentence should read, “Iran is many things, but don’t confuse saber rattling with instability. “

  33. 2. Iran does NOT have a weapon yet, and there is no evidence that they are creating one.

    Obama disagrees with you:

    http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/mideastemail/la-fg-usiran12-2009feb12,0,586423.story?track=newslettertext

    Reporting from Washington — Little more than a year after U.S. spy agencies concluded that Iran had halted work on a nuclear weapon, the Obama administration has made it clear that it believes there is no question that Tehran is seeking the bomb.

    In his news conference this week, President Obama went so far as to describe Iran’s “development of a nuclear weapon” before correcting himself to refer to its “pursuit” of weapons capability.

    Obama’s nominee to serve as CIA director, Leon E. Panetta, left little doubt about his view last week when he testified on Capitol Hill. “From all the information I’ve seen,” Panetta said, “I think there is no question that they are seeking that capability.”

  34. Russ

    I think mentioning instability is a straw man. It might actually be nice if Iran was unstable. But nope, at least from the outside they seem rock hard, quite determined, and 100% in control.

  35. You know, having nukes doesn’t seem to make Israel feel invincible. And considering how hard we slapped Iran down back in 2003, I feel we have to take a lot of the blame for their current hard-line position. Axis of Evil and all that – they offered us a helluva lot and our State Dept said “We don’t talk to evil people; Switzerland, STOP delivering their messages.”

  36. pablo

    With the United States invading its neighbor without cause, and with powerful Israeli lobby within the US pushing for a strike against Iran, it is perfectly reasonable for Iran to want to develop nuclear weapons. In fact, they would be crazy not to.

  37. Hannah

    I ran, I ran all night and day;
    Couldn’t get away.

    GWAA!

  38. In his news conference this week, President Obama went so far as to describe Iran’s “development of a nuclear weapon” before correcting himself to refer to its “pursuit” of weapons capability.

    In this context, prolly just means a higher grade of enrichment.

    As my old professor used to say, you need to put the em-PHA-sis on the right syl-LAB-les.

  39. I don’t know why the second part of my comment shifted to the right like that.

  40. Melektaus

    This may come as a suprise to the Americans reading this, but Iran having nuclear weapons, the ability to launch them intercontinentally and a highly religous/fundamentalist populace, is only slightly more concerning than the USA having same for a lot of other people around the world.

  41. Elmar_M

    [quote]“Unfortunately, you don’t have to be accurate with nuclear weapons. Any country with the capability to put a satellite in a stable orbit, should be able to lob a missile with a bomb strapped to it accurately enough to hit a target at least as big as a country.”[/quote]

    Yeah and what does that do? I mean hitting a country? So you are blowing up a piece of worthless dessert somewhere? That does not do anything. The US did that during the 60ies many times, as did the russians and later the chinese and the french.

    Possessing nuclear weapons and delivery systems has two uses:
    1. Deterrance. You hit us, we hit you back.
    2. Strategic use. We destroy your command center, or your government center, etc.

    The first does not require quite as precise delivery systems as the second does.
    The second can not even be planned for unless you do have a precise targeting system.
    Also you need a reentry termal protection system to bring a nuclear bomb down from orbit in one piece. Getting the thing into orbit is one thing, but getting it down and then detonating it precisely (within the destruction range) above a target and then in the correct hight is not so easy.
    One reason why the russians built these extremely huge bombs (multi megaton range) was because their targeting systems were inferior. In order to make certain that they destroy the US minuteman silos (strategic use, yes), they had to build the nukes extremely strong, since they would only hit within a few miles of the target.
    The US did not require such strong nukes because their delivery and targeting systems were superior.

    A few more things: Plutonium makes a much better bomb material than uranium (higher yield and much less dirty).
    I actually think that if you want to build a H (fusion) bomb you absolutely have to use plutonium for it.
    Without using fusion or atleast advanced fission mechanisms, the bombs wont have much yield. I guess arround 20 Kilotons. That is still a lot, but with a bomb like that you have to come rather close to your target in order for it to be of any strategic value.
    Then of course Iran would have to test their device. Building a bomb is one thing, delivering it another, but if you dont test it, you might end up with one expensive “dirty bomb” and thats all.
    Also in order for it having any value as a deterrend, you have to test it. It is basically proofing it to your neighbours that you have it.
    Now of course the next problem is: So you have built your bomb and you have tested it, now you have to build another one. As we know getting the fissile material was not easy the first time and it wont be much easier the second time. So the whole spiel starts over again.
    By that time Israel will have most likely already leveled Iran with the blessing of the rest of the world (other than China and Russia) that does not like the thought of a nuclear Iran.

  42. @ anon:

    He told me how much young Iranian people loathed the populistic Ahmadinejad and his goverment.

    Indeed. My Iranian friends express dismay equally toward Ahmadinejad and the bearded bigots who hold the real power.

    That the U.S. government does not understand (nor try to understand) the nature and desires of the very young population of Iran is a continuing failure. It seems our policy toward the country is based solely on the twisted politics of the middle east (i.e. petroleum and blind support for Israel) than any real “intelligence.”

  43. David D

    @kuhnigget–
    What makes you think that there aren’t covert operations that seek to engage the young population that are diamyed by their leaders?

  44. Russ

    Elmar, O dear god, Iran is nuking our desserts? This is worse than I thought, but I guess I always knew inside that they hated us for our bread pudding a la mode.

  45. I wrote about this on my blog when it happened and then got several fairly nasty emails from people accusing me of sympathizing with the enemy. All I said was that I thought perhaps Iran should be beefing up its infrastructure before spending money on rocket launches. The country is losing its middle class, creating a permanent class of people who can’t get jobs, etc. The young people are Iran’s future… but what have they got to sustain their future?

  46. LukeL

    remember Islam allows lying and deceit if it furthers the cause of Islam. History has shown that before nations undertook global campaigns of violence they offered the olive branch of peace.

    I am not about to trust Iran until there is drastic changes and they recognize Israel’s right to exists.

  47. tacitus

    Don’t be ridiculous Luke. Claims that Muslims believe that it’s okay to lie for the cause of spreading Islam is one of those bigoted, twisted neocon lies intended as a slur against all Muslims. There is no such thing. And even if some Muslim leaders claim there is, it is certainly not a widespread belief in the Muslim world.

    If you’re going to judge all Muslims by the actions of a fringe sect then you might as well judge all Christians by the actions of people like Fred Phelps and other fringe, bigoted Christians. And given that I have seen many, many fundamentalist Christians quite happy to lie through their teeth in promotion of their beliefs (and even perjure themselves in court–e.g. the Dover trial) then right-wing attacks against Islam like this is calling the kettle black.

    History has shown that all religions can be a great force for evil in the world. None of them has needed codified permissions to lie, kill, cheat, or steal before committing such crimes.

  48. Grinspoon

    I am still yet to actually see a proper reason, and evidence that Iran is such a dangerous country.

    You hear iraq bandied about, with the problems blame on them, which is crap. They helped to stabilise Iraq which gets little to no press in the mainstream media. They have been vital in getting sides to stop fighting. Their president even walks through the streets of Iraq, announced a head of time, with minimal security. Unlike our western leaders.

    You hear the support for the Palestinians bandied around.. which is supporting people who are in the process of being ethnically cleansed from their homeland.

    The wanting to destroy israel is a complete fabrication. They don’t like Israel, and there’s plenty of reasons not to, they are involved in ethnic cleansing and invasion and racial oppression. Which people tend to ignore and just point to the actions of those resisting it.
    For those saying israel wants peace and is fighting back, why then in the last 8 years did they increase their illegal(even according to the usa) settlements in Palestinian land by 40% if not because they want the land for themselves at the expense of those living there.

    Who has Iran actually invaded, or threatened or done that makes them such a threat? All the anti-iran stuff does is make them paranoid, and builds support the fundamentalists there. The younger generations aren’t fundamentalist for the most part, and threatening them, when they really just want to be left alone, only stops them from developing and being a more free society as it is used by the fundamentalists for their own advantage.

    Their nuke program, there are plenty of other countries doing similar, and more advanced research all around the world, and no one cares. Pakistan has nukes and the government could collapse at any time and they are fundamentalists. Concentrate on the real threats. Anti0iran propaganda is a distraction from the real threats.

  49. @ David D:

    What makes you think that there aren’t covert operations that seek to engage the young population that are diamyed (sic) by their leaders?

    What would be the point of such operations being covert? I mean, apart from the spooks getting their jollies trying to undermine a sovereign nation, as they are wont to do?

    If the U.S. government would free up communication and trade, the young people of Iran would be able to get their hands on the western products and culture they love so much more easily and in such greater quantities that the bearded bigots couldn’t stop it.

    Besides, making a comment like yours is tantamount to saying an invisible rabbit named Harvey is secretly running the government. Of course you can’t see him, he’s invisible!

  50. David D

    @kuhnigget–
    Your statement–”That the U.S. government does not understand (nor try to understand) the nature and desires of the very young population of Iran is a continuing failure.”

    I simply suggested that perhaps at some level of our government (for example, a covert agency like the CIA) we actually do understand the young population of Iran. It wouldn’t be the first time that an analysis of a foreign, less than friendly country has been done.

    Somehow, this comes across to you as a complex hallucination on my part, involving a rabbit named Harvey.

    You’re not always an easy person to have a conversation with. Do you always wake up on the wrong side of the bed?

    Jeesh.

  51. Zoomer

    There seems to be re0ccuring miss conceptions in the plurality of comments on this thread. Chief among them are that the Iranian government has a western mindset when it comes to their strategic thinking. The current government’s stated goal is to free mankind from the evil that that western civilization represents. In their stated view no price, including self destruction, is too high in this ‘service to God’. The primary threat from a Iran acquiring a nuclear weapon and a mechanism to deliver same isn’t a strike on CONUS. That wouldn’t achieve their stated goal of bringing down western civilization and the ‘evil’ it represents. Among the several much more plausible scenarios are vaporizing the Saudi oil fields or spearheading an attack on Israel. Accepting Ahmadinejad’s numerous statements outlining his worldview and longitudinal goals isn’t Neocon raving or Bush saber rattling. It’s looking things in the face and knowing them for what they are (props to Marcus Aurelius).

    “Hoping Iran is serious when it says that this was for peaceful purposes” is a myopic and rather polly-annish pleasure the west can’t afford to adopt.

  52. Iran is just a piece of land, just like the US of A is a piece of land. Its a piece of land on the only planet we, humanity, has ever known. Lets stop f**king it up in the name of religion and actually respect people for the accomplishments at hand. Rocket science isn’t easy and I’m glad some countries are continuing their science, education and research programs. Lord knows the conservatives are hell bent on making Americans as dumb as possible.

    Yeah, there are bad people all over the world but maybe just for once we could talk about the good people of the world. Engineers who can make pieces of metal explode into the atmosphere and successfully deploy a man made satellite are A++ in my book regardless of what piece of god forsaken land they’re from.

  53. tacitus

    Accepting Ahmadinejad’s numerous statements outlining his worldview and longitudinal goals isn’t Neocon raving or Bush saber rattling.

    If it’s not those things then it’s just plain dumb. Any number of people who actually know something about the political system in Iran will tell you that Ahmadinejad is all but irrelevant when it comes to foreign policy and military affairs. The mullahs control the Iranian armed forces, including the Revolutionary Guard. Ahmadinejad could no more order the destruction of Israel than Sarah Palin could order the invasion of Siberian Russia.

    Really, that’s what’s so infuriating about people who shudder at the words of Ahmadinejad. They are simply falling for his shtick, when they should know better. Stop being ‘fraidy cats and get out there and engage them. Perhaps then we might actually get somewhere.

    Nobody is calling the Iranian leaders a paragon of virtue. They are a bunch of religious fundamentalist thugs when it boils down to it. But, unlike Ahmadinejad, the real power base in Iran does have rational actors, and there is very little chance they will suddenly launch a suicide attack on anyone.

  54. I feel we have to take a lot of the blame for their current hard-line position. Axis of Evil and all that – they offered us a helluva lot and our State Dept said “We don’t talk to evil people; Switzerland, STOP delivering their messages.”

    The idea of a “Grand Bargain” offered by Iran in 2003 is a complete myth. The whole thing was a fairy story promulgated and originated by a Swiss Diplomat. It had nothing do with either Iran or the US.

    http://www.americanthinker.com/2008/11/did_iran_offer_a_grand_bargain.html

  55. But, unlike Ahmadinejad, the real power base in Iran does have rational actors, and there is very little chance they will suddenly launch a suicide attack on anyone.

    Wishful thinking, alas.

    http://archive.newsmax.com/archives/ic/2005/12/14/10132.shtml

    Ruling Iranian cleric Ayatollah Ali Akbar Hashemi-Rafsanjani declared Friday that the Muslim world could survive a nuclear exchange with Israel – while accomplishing the goal of obliterating the Jewish state.

    “[The] application of an atomic bomb would not leave anything in Israel – but the same thing would just produce damages in the Muslim world,” Hashemi-Rafsanjani said, in quotes picked up by the Iran Press Service.

    “If a day comes when the world of Islam is duly equipped with the arms Israel has in possession, the strategy of colonialism would face a stalemate,” he posited.

  56. MadScientist

    @Elmar_M:

    You should visit Iran before saying you don’t like it. Like every other place on the planet there are some great people, some loons, and some total losers. I think sensibility still has a chance though and Iran may evolve into a secular nation again. Although the nation has been run by the iron fist of the Supreme Islamic Council (don’t you just love the names these guys give themselves) for over 3 decades now, they still haven’t beaten all citizens into submission. You shouldn’t equate the leaders of a country with its people in general – I certainly wouldn’t want people getting bad impressions of the USA just because Dubbyah was president.

  57. Brasidas

    I’d say Iran has every right to produce the weapons it needs to defend itself. As another post said, Iran has more to fear from the US than vice versa.

    The CIA imposed an evil dictator (the Shah) who murdered many Iranians, they also overthrew any attempt at democracy there.

    When the Iranians had the temerity to overthrow the US’s pet monster, the US helped another evil git, Saddam Hussein, to prosecute a war in which probably a million |ranians died, about 100,000 of them by means of WMDs which the West helped Saddam develop and target. (The US was the only member of the UNSC to vote against condemning Iraq’s use of chemical weapons – bizarrly cosidering more recent events.)

    So if Iran’s development of nuclear weapons and ICBMs will stop the West from inflicting more misery on the Iranians then good luck to them.

  58. Elmar_M

    [quote]Russ Says:
    February 13th, 2009 at 7:13 pm
    Elmar, O dear god, Iran is nuking our desserts? This is worse than I thought, but I guess I always knew inside that they hated us for our bread pudding a la mode.[/quote]

    Ahem, did you read my entire post, yes?
    I meant that if they do not have a good targeting system they would end up nuking a (comparably) worthless piece of desert instead of a city, or military base. Is that more understandable?

  59. Leo

    Maybe I’m naive, but I think Western space agencies could entirely subvert politics and just ask Iran if they’d like to collaborate on some science. If NASA sent an Iranian astronaut to the ISS it would send a powerful message of peace.

  60. Phil I think these fears are rather misplaced. India for example has had a very good indigenous space program for a long time now. However it is still not ICBM capable. The maximum range missile in the pipeline right now is about 5000 kms, a deterrent against China basically.

  61. @ David D.

    You’re not always an easy person to have a conversation with. Do you always wake up on the wrong side of the bed?

    Yes, I know. That is why I sit alone in my cubicle, unloved, unwanted, unwashed. Well…I did spritz myself with mountain dew the other week.

    But seriously, David, why take it personally? You asked me my opinion of your supposition. I gave it to you.

    No, it wouldn’t be the first time a government agency such as the CuIA has gotten involved in another country. And they perform so well….koff!Iraq….koff!Iran….koff!Greece…koff!Vietnam….et cetera.

    And the rabbit? Yes, well, the rabbit is a symbol, you see, a comparison for secret programs that might be (yes, they might), but for which there can never be any real argument for or against because…wait for it…they remain forever “invisible.” And judging by the policies of our government the past 30 years, they don’t seem to be having a positive effect.

    Now I’ll take my medication and things will be okay. Gulp! Ahhhhhhhhhh…… I love you all.

  62. Radwaste

    You guys going on about nuclear weapons should probably look at The Nuclear Weapon Archive.

    Also, a missile is in no way necessary for nuclear warfare. It just means that total secrecy isn’t a necessary part of the action. Devices in the ’60s weighed under 200 pounds. Put five of them on ships in the trunk of a car in a container and you can get Baltimore, Jacksonville, New York, Philadelphia and Boston all on the same day, but even better, the first one will empty port cities in a panic that will kill thousands and bankrupt millions from the unplanned crowding inland. And guess what? Until you can prove where they came from, you can’t shoot back.

    And those who think that Islam is a “religion of peace” really ought to look at what’s happening to France and Britain now.

  63. Rift

    Michael L- Oh yes, the old “I can say anything rude I want because I’m trying to be funny” argument. Nice try, but it was not funny and still uncalled for. Being sarcastic is no excuse for being rude.

    David D.- This use to be a place of civil and intelligent feedback to Phil’s blog. Now it’s full of political rants, unfunny people trying to be funny, and people going WAY off topic. I had stopped reading the comments ages ago and wish I hadn’t started again…

    Any government that hangs 15 year old teenagers on the suspicion of homosexuality is not ‘well educated’ and not one that jokes and sarcasm should be made of just because Phil noted that they launched a communications satellite. The comments on this blog veer off topic faster then a Floridan trying to drive in an ice storm. You all do realize Phil is part of a forum where your unfunny jokes, off topic rants, and sarcastic remarks are welcome, and under appropriately titled threads so innocent people who want to remain on topic can avoid them…

    bautforum.com

  64. Rift

    That should have been “one that jokes and sarcasm should NOT be made’

    I’m going to go back to hiding in my shell now…

  65. unfunny people trying to be funny

    That would be me, of course.

  66. Elmar_M

    [blockquote]you shouldn’t equate the leaders of a country with its people in general [/blockquote]

    Yes, but in contrast to Iran, most other countries with idiots at the helm manage to replace them after 8 years at most. The mullahs in Iran haven been leading the country for what? 30 years? And they are still there instead of having been removed (one way or the other) from government by the people. However, since the majority of the people there (that have an opinion on there own) obviously support the mullahs, they are still able to annoy most of the world and me (worst of all) ;)

  67. Joe Meils

    It could be, in the long run, that Iran aquiring a nuke or three will be it’s undoing. Look at what happened with other countries: as soon as they got a nuclear capability, they became a target to so many more countries than those who just neighbored them. It’s quite possible that the population of Iran, seeing that the religious fundamentalists are getting that sort of power in their hands, will be moved to remove them from the government just to preserve the peace, and assure the rest of the world that they are NOT gibbering madmen with their fingers on the button.

  68. RovetS

    That the U.S. government does not understand (nor try to understand) the nature and desires of the very young population of Iran is a continuing failure.

    Where do you people get this bilge? Do you just read left wingnut sites and accept it as gospel?

    From a speech by Bush in 2004: “We see the struggle in Iran, where tired, discredited autocrats are trying to hold back the democratic will of a rising generation.”

    and

    “There are people inside of Iran who are watching what’s happening — young, vibrant, professional people who want to be free. And they’re wondering whether or not they’ll have the opportunity.”

    And that’s Bush, everyone’s evil bogeyman of the 21st century.

    The Voice Of America broadcasts in the area are aimed directly at Iranian youths.

  69. Quiet Desperation

    Engineers who can make pieces of metal explode into the atmosphere and successfully deploy a man made satellite are A++ in my book regardless of what piece of god forsaken land they’re from.

    Thank you! :-)

    Although I do deal more with the communications after the bird has deployed it’s solar arrays and antennas, we engineers get so few shout outs. :-(

  70. Quiet Desperation

    But, unlike Ahmadinejad, the real power base in Iran does have rational actors, and there is very little chance they will suddenly launch a suicide attack on anyone.

    Am I the only one who realizes that official government policy is irrelevant? I raised the same issue when potential WMDs in Iraq were the hot topic in the 1990s. Just got blank looks by people unable to think outside their little boxes.

    It doesn’t matter if the local government types are rational or secular. All it takes is some people sympathetic to the current jihad du jour getting placed inside one of these nuclear/biological/chemical facilities. I’m afraid I don’t have confidence in their security and screening programs being very good. Ours are pretty thorough, and we still get cases of espionage carried out by paid employees. A few crates of stuff goes missing, someone is in the right place shuffles some papers, and someone somewhere puts a WMD in an anonymous shipping container.

    Hey, there you go. I got 24′s next season plot so they can stop with the impossible “they haXOrz our system an we can’t cut a freaking cable to stop them” storylines and do something a little more realistic.

  71. Quiet Desperation

    And as for the US government not being aware of the situation inside Iran, what the heck do you think all those recon assets are doing all day every day. Trust me, we have a fairly good overview of the world even if the details can be hard to see at times.

    Remember, Bush’s idiot decision to attack Iraq ran *counter* to what the intelligence info indicated. And there *was* chatter and evidence (much of it good, solid low tech legwork that got ignored) leading up to 9/11.

    http://www.pbs.org/newshour/media/media_watch/july-dec03/iran_07-07.html

    Broadcasts in Farsi aimed squarely at the younger folks in Iran.

  72. Forget Iranian nukes… the greater terror is the nightmare I had last night… I was singing that song and then was attacked by a weird ’80′s hair-do

  73. @ Rovets:

    Ah yes, George Bush. Mr. Axis of Evil. Now there’s how to encourage understanding amongst nations.

    @ QD:

    Thanks for bringing up Voice of America, one of the more effective programs (IMNSHO) run by the Department of State.

    Let’s see…2009 proposed VOA budget = just over 600 million.
    2008 State Department budget = just over 20 billion
    2008 Intelligence Authorization Act = over 715 billion

    Yeah, that’s some good investing there. Especially when the commander in chief chooses to ignore all that intelligence the taxpayers bought for him.

  74. Dropped a decimal. That 715 should be 71.5

  75. Beelzebud

    Anyone who gets their information from Newsmax (i’ve seen it linked in this thread) is a moron. Period.

    It doesn’t take much to get the war mongers all fired up like a group of angry gorillas.

  76. Beelzebud,
    Thank goodness I get mine from WorldNet Daily!

  77. MadScientist

    @Rift:

    If you think I’m being rude, I can’t imagine how you’d survive in any large city on the planet. Come to think of it, I can’t imagine how you’d survive any typical office environment.

  78. Rovets

    kuhnigget, that was my point if you could stop with the wingnuttery for a moment and look beyond the bogeyman. Bush was referring to the Iranian *government* with the Axis Of Evil speech, but he clearly recognized that it started and stopped with the government.

  79. Rovets, I’ll stop the wingnuttery if you’ll stop the moonbattery.

    My point was, the sort of language Bush routinely used and abused when talking up the bad ol’ Axis of Evil did more to set back our image in the eyes of those young Iranian democracy lovers (sarcasm rating: yellow) and actually helped to further empower the otherwise strongly disliked Ahmadinejad. Nobody likes a global bully calling them names, especially when they’ve just invaded a sovereign nation that did not attack them and no capability of doing so. That the commander in chief was never able to grasp that simple fact, and compounded his bad presidenting by ignoring ample intelligence vis. Iraq, did little to raise his respectability in many a non-wingnut point of view.

  80. Gary Ansorge

    Obama has no need to apologize for the actions of the Bushies.

    I, on the other hand, am abjectly sorry that 1/2 the US population voted for a nincompoop. Note however, the power of the US democracy is such that we only have to tolerate idiots for 8 years, then we get to chuck them out.

    Now Iran has to deal with a president with brains. That will likely be just as troublesome for them as their previous experience, but for different reasons, ie, Obama may be willing to talk but he will also expect and require some real world results from those discussions. Get ready for some hard bargaining, Iran.

    ALL of the Iranians I’ve known despise being referred to as Arabs, since from their POV, it was Arabs that destroyed the Persian empire. Of course, one should note, that didn’t happen until Arabs were united under Islam,,,

    GAry 7

  81. Thanks for finally posting on this BA – I was interested to see your opinion here &glad to note they were rational and hopeful. If I may ask, what took you so long? ;-)

    Of course, Iran is NOT the villain of the international stage that Americans (in general) seme to fear it is. Iran is a far more complex, decent and reasonable place than its powerful, wealthy and excessively influential neo-con / Israeli lobby enemies make it out to be.

    Iran has far more to fear from the Western world (esp. Israel) than we have to fear from it & it too deserves the right to exist and defend itself.

    I hope the launch of Omid marks a step in the right direction towards Americans becoming more understanding and accepting of Iran
    and less-prone to fanatical Jewish lobby incited anti-Iranian hysteria and Islamophobic racism.

    The Israelofascist Neo-Con lobby has unjustifiably demonised Iran in a manner Goebbels himself would’ve been proud of .. & sadly too
    many otherwise rational Americans and Westerners have fallen for the Jewish lobbies lies. :-(

    Isn’t it ironic – & tragic – to see the Jews of all people voting for far-right extremists and making the Jewish state into a hotbed of racist bigotry
    and persecution of Semitic peoples – the Palestineans and their neighbours.

    (Yes, the Arabs are *also* Semitic – making Israel ironically the world’s
    worst anti-Semitic state!)

    Oh & Iranophobes – at least try to get your facts right – The Iranian republic is also a Democracy with an elected president.

  82. Oh & memo to Iranophobes & those taken in by the lies of the Neo-Con-Israeli lobby that has already done so many people, so much harm around the world :

    How many nations has Iran invaded lately?

    None! Not a one since the Republic of Iran came into existence.

    OTOH : How many times has the USA and Israel attacked and threatened to wipe out other nations – ones that pose them far less threat than Iran faces from its foes?

    All too durn many! Gaza, Lebanon, Palestine, Iraq, Syria, Egypt, Afghanistan, Vietnam, Cuba, Panama, the list is long and blood-stained….

    Iran lacks WMDs, Israel has them – in violation of UN laws.

    Iran obeys international law. Israel & the US flout it.

    Iran has US troops and a number of US proxies on its immediate borders – & a bellicose nuclear-armed Russia to its North as well.

    So you can hardly blame Iranians for wanting to be able to defend themselves against the real, clear and present dangers to them.

    Look up the CIA role in the Shah’s regime – that might give you some inkling why they see the US as the “Great Satan.”

    They *don’t* hate us because we’re supposedly so free and democratic (both arguable claims btw.) they hate us because we threaten them and have done tonnes of really nasty stuff to them in the past. :-(

    Try and see the other side of the story for once, Islamophobes and esp. Iranopobes.

    Go on just try & see things from the other side of the Palestinean & Muslim World / Israeli & Jewish lobby divide I dare you! ;-)

  83. It never ceases to amaze and appall me how many atrocities Israel can get
    away with :

    - murdering children, women, peace activists and journalists,

    - bombing densely populated civilian areas and ambulances,

    - constantly attacking, invading and occupying neighbouring lands,

    - torturing and assassinating its political opponents and critics

    - exterminating and persecuting the people whose land it has stolen,

    ad nauseam ..

    Yet Israel always gets portrayed as being somehow “in the right” and even “the heroic underdog” by the (surprise, surprise) Jewish owned media. :-(

    What other country could get away with the sort of barbarity that Israel commits on a daily basis? I wonder? :-(

    Israel even persecutes and discriminates against anyone non-Jewish – such things as Settler only roads, towns and facilities plus the Jewish only “Right of return” to a land the Jewish migrants didn’t even come from & have never even seen before! Israel’s ultra-fanatical, ultra-orthodox extremists even restrict some “lesser forms” of Judaism from full acceptance within Israel.

    Israel is far more theocratic than Iran as well as being an apartheid state most comparable to apartheid era South Africa.

    Yet somehow it is Iran – a victim of Western aggression which has NEVER in
    its history attacked anyone else* – that the US people seem to fear and loathe … :-(

    Also note the Jewish claim to the Mandate of Palestine was based essentially on their self-proclaimed promise of their racist god who – according to them – told them they were his “Chosen people” and had the right to claim the so-called “Promised Land” by exterminating the inhabitants already there! 8-(

    This is the inextricable, defining core belief at the heart of Judaism – and it is also horrendously racist, unethical, selfish and cruel. To me, it seems this ugly defining belief makes Judaism less a religion than it is a religious cover for supposedly divinely sanctioned racism.

    It seems to me that believing this tenet – which is an inextricable and defining part of Judaism – makes any Jewish claim that others are racist into utter hypocrisy.

    Why this key truth has not been understood more broadly and condemned for what it is, is beyond me. :-(

    Given that Palestineans, Lebanese and other Arabs neighbours & victims of Israel are also Semitic it is an ironic truth that Israel and the Jewish lobby which demonises those same people that it also murders and oppresses is itself the worst anti-Semitic state and people on the planet. :-(

    Yet as soon as anyone criticises Israel or Judaism, they immediately jump up and scream that their critic must be some evil anti-Semitic monster in an attempt to silence dissent and ensure that the only viewpoint ever presented is their own.

    We all know that’s true but I challenge you : Try the experiment of posting some reasonable criticism of Israel yourself if you don’t believe me. It won’t take long for those intrinsically anti-Semitic-yet-themselves- Semitic Jews to start accusing you of all sorts of rubbish.

    Yet for all this Jewish fundamentalist bigotry and bad thinking, ultimately, Israel will harm everybody incl. the Jews themselves.

    There is no better way to wipe out the Jewish people, should you actually want to – which I don’t – than get them all together in one small piece of land then really, & I mean really get the neighbouring countries of that land to hate you – for, it must be said, very good reasons.

    Israel will not remain militarily superior forever. One day it will lose its ability to terrorise its neighbours into submission – and will have the choice – learn to respect & get on well with its neighbours – or perish.

    If Israel, regrettably, chooses to perish then who knows what the damage will be and how much of the rest of the planet it will take with it? :-(

    In the long run, the best solution is for the Jewish people to take a long hard look at what they’ve become, at their own racist core beliefs and their own grim situation and worse likely future. Then decide to do the right thing and evacuate “Israel” (which should never have been created in Palestine in the first place) to the USA or Europe and behave a bit more compassionately and wisely towards others.

    Sadly, instead the Jewish and Israelis seem to be resorting to the extreme right-wing racist uber-extremist side of politics and violence in the illusion that they can bomb their way into acceptance and racist supremacy over their neighbours. :-(

    Its long overdue that the world told the Israelis : “Enough. No more killing Palestineans, no more persecuting Arabs. No more threatening and attacking your neighbours! Make peace or move out now!”

    ——–

    * Yes I know there was the time of the Persian empire & its attempts to conquer Greece long before Iran existed which was of course, crudely portrayed in bad cartoon terms in that stupid ’300′ movie. That wasn’t Iran and was in any case about two thousand years ago. To those that spout about Jews existing in Palestine before the Palestineans did – rubbish – Abraham the first man to supposedly worship Jehovah / Yahwah originally came from the city-state Ur in what is now Iraq and the Jews were nomadic wandering from place to place within SouthWest Asia and settling only occasionally & temporaily anywhere. They were frequently expelled from the land where the Canaanite civilisation arose & then spent the past two thousand years in Europe making them essentially a rootless- Euro-Semitic group.

  84. Romeo Vitelli said(February 13th, 2009 at 2:31 pm) :

    “Hmm, first Iran launches a satellite, then two satellites collide and leave a trail of debris not long later. Coincidence? I think not!..”

    Actually I think it happened the other way round – the satellites collided and then Iran launched – at least it was a fair way into the satellite collison thread that the news broke here. ;-)

    kuhnigget wrote on Feb. 14th, 2009 at 7:13 pm :

    … My point was, the sort of language Bush routinely used and abused when talking up the bad ol’ Axis of Evil did more to set back our image in the eyes of those young Iranian democracy lovers (sarcasm rating: yellow) and actually helped to further empower the otherwise strongly disliked Ahmadinejad. Nobody likes a global bully calling them names, especially when they’ve just invaded a sovereign nation that did not attack them and no capability of doing so. That the commander in chief was never able to grasp that simple fact, and compounded his bad presidenting by ignoring ample intelligence vis. Iraq, did little to raise his respectability in many a non-wingnut point of view.”

    (bolding mine.) Spot on & well said! :-)

    Leo wrote : (Feb 14th, 2009 at 5:51 am)

    Maybe I’m naive, but I think Western space agencies could entirely subvert politics and just ask Iran if they’d like to collaborate on some science. If NASA sent an Iranian astronaut to the ISS it would send a powerful message of peace.

    Now * that’s * a great idea and approach. I’m with you on that! 8)

    Anyone remember the positive news of Iranian-American female (& ratner hot! ;-) ) space tourist Anousheh Ansari?

    (Hope that’s spelt right, haven’t checked.)

    Brasidas on February 14th, 2009 at 4:43 am said :

    I’d say Iran has every right to produce the weapons it needs to defend itself. As another post said, Iran has more to fear from the US than vice versa.

    The CIA imposed an evil dictator (the Shah) who murdered many Iranians, they also overthrew any attempt at democracy there.

    When the Iranians had the temerity to overthrow the US’s pet monster, the US helped another evil git, Saddam Hussein, to prosecute a war in which probably a million |ranians died, about 100,000 of them by means of WMDs which the West helped Saddam develop and target. (The US was the only member of the UNSC to vote against condemning Iraq’s use of chemical weapons – bizarrly cosidering more recent events.)

    So if Iran’s development of nuclear weapons and ICBMs will stop the West from inflicting more misery on the Iranians then good luck to them.”

    Also absolutely spot on with the history and truth of the situation!
    Also very well said! :-)

    @ MadScientist saying (Feb 14th, 2009 @ 3:51 am)

    … You should visit Iran before saying you don’t like it. Like every other place on the planet there are some great people, some loons, and some total losers. I think sensibility still has a chance though and Iran may evolve into a secular nation again. Although the nation has been run by the iron fist of the Supreme Islamic Council (don’t you just love the names these guys give themselves)

    Yeah, like the have a *Supreme * Court .. ;-)

    & on Pluto our leader is titled the Supreme Pizza! ;-)

    Also absolutely correct there. All nations are made of people, all people are individuals with differing personalities, abilities and levels of intelligence. No nation is composed of entirely good – or evil – folk.

    Oh & well said & spot on also to pablo, Grinspoon & tacitus
    You three are so right in your comments!

  85. Anon

    I just add this. Please watch the French/Iranian animation movie Persepolis: http://www.sonypictures.com/classics/persepolis/

    It is an easy way to gain some perspective to an anoter culture. If you like the movie the comic is even better.

  86. @ Anon:

    Persepolis is great! I liked the graphic novel, but the movie had some hysterically funny animation. That it didn’t do better is a shame, as it further demonstrates how out of sync the reality of modern Iran is relative to its image in the west, and particularly the u.s.

  87. StevoR’s cut-and-paste anti-semitic rants would sound better in the original German, to be frank.

  88. Really?

    @Dave

    Did you read his last post? You can actually read, right?

  89. @Stevo “Oh & memo to Iranophobes & those taken in by the lies of the Neo-Con-Israeli lobby that has already done so many people, so much harm around the world : How many nations has Iran invaded lately? None! Not a one since the Republic of Iran came into existence.”

    I see Stevo completely ignored my URL concerning Amnesty International’s assessment of the human rights situation in Iran. No doubt, AI is filled with Neocon-Zionist stooges so their opinion doesn’t count.

    I wonder if Stevo has ever heard of a religion called the Bahais which originated in Iran, and the treatment of the Bahais by the Iranian government. It seems several hundred Bahais have been executed by the peace loving Iranian government because they do not share the same religious views as the peace loving ayatollahs. Thousands of others have been arrested, tortured, and forced to flee Iran.

    Your comments, Stevo? Is this another Zionist conspiracy to defame the peace-loving government of Iran?

    http://www.bci.org/boise/persecut.htm

  90. Yes, and its a virtual cut and paste from various neo=nazi websites that list the *exact* same reasons why they apparently aren’t actually raving anti-semites but rather just “anti-zionist” or whatever codeword they’ve hidden their hatred behind.

  91. http://utah.indymedia.org/news/2006/09/19479.php

    Ahmadinejad’ s World
    by By Matthias Küntzel Tuesday September 26, 2006 at 10:00 AM

    More child combatants

    In pondering the behavior of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, I cannot help but think of the 500,000 plastic keys that Iran imported from Taiwan during the Iran-Iraq War of 1980-88. At the time, an Iranian law laid down that children as young as 12 could be used to clear mine fields, even against the objections of their parents. Before every mission, a small plastic key would be hung around each of the children’s necks. It was supposed to open for them the gates to paradise.

    “In the past,” wrote the semi-official Iranian daily Ettela’at, “we had child-volunteers: 14-, 15-, and 16-year-olds. They went into the mine fields. Their eyes saw nothing. Their ears heard nothing. And then, a few moments later, one saw clouds of dust. When the dust had settled again, there was nothing more to be seen of them. Somewhere, widely scattered in the landscape, there lay scraps of burnt flesh and pieces of bone.” Such scenes could henceforth be avoided, Ettela’at assured its readers. “Before entering the mine fields, the children [now] wrap themselves in blankets and they roll on the ground, so that their body parts stay together after the explosion of the mines and one can carry them to the graves.” The children who thus rolled to their deaths formed part of the mass “Basiji” movement that was called into being by the Ayatollah Khomeini in 1979. The Basiji Mostazafan – the “mobilization of the oppressed” – consisted of short-term volunteer militias. Most of the Basiji members were not yet 18. They went enthusiastically and by the thousands to their own destruction. “The young men cleared the mines with their own bodies,” a veteran of the Iran-Iraq War has recalled, “It was sometimes like a race. Even without the commander’s orders, everyone wanted to be first.” The western media showed little interest for the Basiji – perhaps because journalists could not be present during the hostilities or perhaps because they did not believe the reports. Such disinterest has persisted to this day. The 5000 dead of Saddam Hussein’s poison gas attack on the Kurds of Halabja have remained in our memory. History has forgotten the children of the minefields.

    Today, however, Ahmadinejad appears in public in his Basiji uniform. During the war, he served as one of the Basiji instructors who turned children into martyrs. The generation that fought in the Iran-Iraq War has come to power along with Ahmadinejad. He owed his election in Summer 2005 to the contemporary Basiji movement. In Fall, he announced a “Basiji Week.” According to a report in the newspaper Kayan, some 9 million Basiji heeded the call, “forming a human chain some 8,700 kilometers long… . In Tehran alone, some 1,250,000 people turned out.” In his speeches, Ahmadinejad praises the “Basiji culture” and the “Basiji power” with which “Iran today makes its presence felt on the international and diplomatic stage.” Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati, Chair of the Guardian Council, goes so far as to describe the very existence of Iran’s nuclear program as a triumph of those Iranians who “serve the Basiji movement and possess the Basiji-psyche and Basiji-culture.”

    Far from being the subject of criticism, the sacrifice made of the Basiji in the war against Iraq is celebrated nowadays more than ever before. Already in one of his first television interviews, the new President enthused: “Is there an art that is more beautiful, more divine, more eternal than the art of the martyr’s death?” The Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei, held up the war against Iraq, on account of the fearlessness of the Basiji, as a model for future conflicts.

    This would already be reason enough for us to be interested in the history of the Basiji. But there is another reason. The deployment of the Basiji in the Iran-Iraq War is the primordial crime of political Islam: here the cult of the religiously- motivated suicide attack finds its origins. If we want to understand why a woman sits in the Palestinian parliament who is honored, above all, because she sent three of her five sons to martyrs’ deaths, if we want to know why still today 50,000 young Iranians volunteer for suicide missions – there is no avoiding the Basiji.

  92. *crickets*

    *crickets*

    *crickets*

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