Exclusive: Nuclear Terrorism: ‘The Arrows of Allah’ (Part Three of Ten)

by PETER HUESSY March 25, 2010
 
The Iranians are seeking both nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles to deliver them. They have now succeeded in deploying missiles with ranges in excess of 2,000-2,400 kilometers, bringing the entire Middle East and eastern and central Europe under such threats. While current sanctions have obviously not stopped Tehran’s missile programs, there is still a belief that sanctions can stop their nuclear weapons enterprise.
 
For this to happen, Russia, China and North Korea, among others, would have to stop facilitating the arming of Iran with such weapons, let alone actively assist in enforcing whatever new sanctions resolutions emerge from the United Nations Security Council. The role of this “cartel” of Iranian allies is not well understood. Much media attention focuses on China’s dependence upon Iran for oil imports, and Russia’s assistance to Iran for nuclear energy, but far less attention on how both nations are actively involved in the business of cooperating with Iran across the spectrum of weapons purchases and economic investments – in short, accomplices and partners with the premier terror master on the global stage today.
 
The Role of Russia
 
Current Russian opposition to sanctions is based in part on keeping oil prices high. It’s good business to keep the Middle East pot boiling. In addition, as nations from North Africa to the Persian Gulf contemplate building nuclear energy reactors, in part as a hedge against an emerging nuclear program in Iran, Russian nuclear energy technology deals are being offered.
 
It is doubtful Russia will support severe sanctions especially against the Iranian oil sector. Russia's contribution, in part, may well be simply to solve a problem they helped create in the first place – agreeing to sell air defenses to Iran, and then promising not to deliver them! This is not unlike their bribing of Kyrgyzstan to deny the U.S. access to its Manas military base, and then offering the use of Russian airspace to deliver the same supplies to Afghanistan or allowing a land convoy to move the supplies as well.
 
Real sanctions would go after the banks and energy companies affiliated with the IRGC. Such sanctions might very well threaten the regime in Tehran. But the sanctions being contemplated are primarily to push the existing regime in Iran toward making a deal, which implies leaving the current regime in power, a course favored by Moscow. See especially Ilan Berman, in the 3/15/10 edition of Forbes.
 
The Role of China
 
Chinese companies continue to evade U.S. sanctions, says the Washington Times’ Bill Gertz in a January 6th article, quoting a report from the Wisconsin project on Nuclear Arms Control: “What you have is a trader in China single-handedly undermining the sanctions against the Iranian missile program and the Chinese government is doing zero..."
 
As earlier reported, the mullahs wanted U.S. dollars to purchase ingredients necessary for ballistic missiles and atomic warheads according to an April 2009 118 count indictment of Chinese firm LIMMT by the attorney for the City of New York. Lloyds TSB Group was also involved in helping Iran transfer funds to correspondent banks in New York. LIMMT, under sanctions for its role in the spread of WMD since 2006, set up shell companies to sell weapons technology to the Iranian Ministry of Defense, says the April 9, 2009, Wall Street Journal.
 
The Wisconsin Project on Nuclear Arms Control says Chinese companies banned from doing business in the U.S. for selling missile technology to Iran continue to do a brisk trade with American companies, including 300 shipments from CPMIEC since 2006, a company first sanctioned in 1991 for selling missile technology to Pakistan.
 
As noted, China gets 15 percent of its oil from Iran, and is Iran's second-biggest customer after Japan. As with Sudan, China pays for its oil by protecting Iran against UN sanctions over its nuclear program. Even with Russia threatening to support sanctions against Iran, China's foreign minister has repeatedly made clear that Beijing opposes sanctions.
 
According to a member of the Australian Parliament and chair of their Foreign Affairs Committee, “This is a very dangerous game. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is determined to build nuclear weapons and has threatened Israel with destruction many times. He may be bluffing, but this is not a risk Israel can afford to take. If the international community cannot restrain Iran, the government of Israel will face great pressure to take pre-emptive steps to protect the country against attack.”
 
“Thus, China's greed for secure oil imports and its willingness to deal with outlaw regimes to get these imports is causing a breakdown in the world's only system for disciplining countries that endanger peace. If the UN sanctions break down in Iran, this opens up a serious danger of war – and China will bear a heavy share of the blame.”
 
The Role of North Korea
 
According to the U.S. “Strategic Assessment” released February 2, 2010, “North Korea’s export of ballistic missiles and associated materials to several countries including Iran and Pakistan, and its assistance to Syria in the construction of a nuclear reactor, exposed in 2007, illustrate the reach of the North’s proliferation activities.”
 
The report also concludes that after denying the presence of a highly enriched uranium program since 2003, North Korea announced in April 2009 that it was developing a uranium enrichment capability to produce fuel for a planned light water reactor (such reactors use low enriched uranium); in September it claimed its enrichment research had “entered into the completion phase”.
 
The Pentagon’s 2010 Ballistic Missile Defense Review also says that North Korea will be able to deploy a nuclear-tipped missile capable of reaching the United States within the next decade and that missile threats from several states, including Iran, Syria, Russia and China are growing quantitatively and qualitatively.
 
This capability has to be examined in the context of the Khan network having supplied Iran, North Korea and Libya with nuclear weapons expertise which reportedly included Chinese documents dealing with small nuclear warhead designs. North Korea could have several nuclear warheads capable of delivery by ballistic missiles and that despite test failures, Pyongyang had demonstrated the technologies associated with an ICBM. At a time of crisis, deterrence alone which relies exclusively on the threat of offensive retaliation may not be adequate to the task to deter North Korea. U.S. missile defenses are thus critical to strengthening regional deterrence. U.S. capability to intercept long-range ballistic missiles with the Navy's standard missile might be available by 2020 but the threats may certainly materialize sooner, whether from Asia or the Middle East. Therefore, whatever progress has been made by North Korea can be assumed to have been made by Iran and vice versa.
 
And it is not as if these developments in North Korea are recent. According to the South Korean Foreign Minister, the DPRK decided to pursue a uranium enrichment program not later than 1996. Abdul Qadeer Khan, the father of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons program, recently revealed that North Korea built a plant to produce gas required for enrichment of nuclear weapons fissile material in the 1990s, even while having agreed to the Agreed Framework that supposedly ended such activities. Khan also says North Korea could have been enriching uranium by 2002 even as it received technical information and machinery from Pakistan. Khan said he saw three completed nuclear warheads in 1999. But the North Korean ambassador to the UN said uranium enrichment only began after April 2009, "when US hostility reached a critical stage."
 
Thus, any sanctions package must include measures to preclude China, Russia and North Korea from transferring, selling or aiding in Iran’s acquisition of nuclear weapons, or for that matter, ballistic missile technology. Former Prime Minister Blair echoed these concerns in a speech March 23rd when he said, “Iran must not be allowed to acquire nuclear weapons capability” while the French Foreign Minister said there was “no other choice” but to impose fresh sanctions against Iran, while also underlining North Korea’s “exports of insecurity” to the Middle East, in a reference to Pyongyang’s missile technology transfers.
 
While China has supposedly agreed to discuss sanctions, both Russia and China apparently want to see Iran agree to ship its current stock of enriched uranium out of the country to be further processed for use in medical isotopes and then transferred back to Iran. But even such a deal does not get to the heart of the matter: what is the nature of Iran’s nuclear enterprise and its relationship to the regime’s growing arsenals of ballistic missiles?
 
If the proposed sanctions do in fact include an arms embargo, and a ban on insurance or reinsurance of shipments to and from Iran, and include the banking and energy sectors, then the US Congress can pass its own complementary Iran sanctions legislation which is now in conference to iron out the differences between the House and Senate.
 
Unfortunately, the proposed sanctions may not do the trick, as former Secretary of State Powell argues: “I don’t see a set of sanctions coming along that would be so detrimental to the Iranians that they are going to stop [their nuclear] program…ultimately, the solution has to be a negotiated one.” If that is the case, why would Iran possibly give up nuclear weapons if they are squeezed hard enough, but would not do so with more modest sanctions, but at the same time make a deal to end its nuclear program simply through negotiations – what is it we can give Tehran in return for an end to their terrorism, nuclear weapons and missiles?  
 
And even while a deal on Iran’s enriched uranium might buy us time re: the disposition of a portion of Iran’s currently enriched uranium – it does not address Iran’s search for nuclear weapons, its continued role as the world’s premier “terror master”, nor what I term the “Arrows of Allah”, the missiles that threaten the security of the U.S., our allies and friends around the world. 
 
FamilySecurityMatters.org Contributing Editor Peter Huessy is President of GeoStrategic Analysis, a defense consulting company in Potomac, Maryland.
 

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